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Blue Ridge Leader News – January 16, 2011

January 17, 2011 by Blue Ridge Leader filed under Tim Jon with BRLN No Comments
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Exchanging Fire

A young man from Manassas has some explaining to do- that is, if he recovers from the gunshot wound sustained in a shoot-out that killed a Leesburg man. Thursday’s incident took the life of 29 year old William Henry Welch III, of Bride Crest Square.

The Prince William County Sheriff’s Office said that the two men knew each other, and that they were the only ones involved.

Both men were shot in the upper body; emergency personnel flew the surviving Manassas man to Inova Fairfax Hospital.

At last word, the investigation remained active, charges pending.

The Last Third

After a local family lost two members in a recent car crash, the man who initially drove into the path of their vehicle to cause the tragedy, has himself passed away from injuries in the accident. George Radston of Ashburn died this past Wednesday at Inova Fairfax Hospital; he was 58 years old.

The Christmas Eve crash on Route Nine in western Loudoun took the lives of Timothy Doane of Harpers Ferry and his father, David, from Tennessee.

Investigators believe Radston’s eastbound Pontiac struck the Doanes’ Toyota Prius after he lost control and crossed the center line; the Pontiac rolled, throwing Radston from the vehicle, and it struck a third car- a Volkswagen Jetta, whose driver and passenger suffered minor injuries from the impact.

Condolences now extend to the family and friends of George Radston, as well as Timothy Doane and his father David.

Good Places to Crash

You’ll recall that we discussed the most dangerous intersections in the County last Sunday; well, this week, we’ll focus on Leesburg- you should be able to come pretty close to guessing the results. Town Police listed the top five crash sites for 2010, with the Bypass and Sycolin Road crossing the most accident-prone; it had 50 incidents last year.

Another spot on the Bypass- at Edwards Ferry Road- came in at Number Two, with 31 crashes.

Three spots along East Market Street finished up the Top Five List: the Battlefield Parkway intersection with 28 accidents, Cardinal Park Drive with 22, and Fort Evans Road, with 14.

As you can see, the Top Five crash sites in Leesburg all came on the Bypass or East Market Street- all in the eastern part of Town.

Drive safely in the East and the West, the North and the South.

Some of the best driving advice I ever heard came from a former Loudoun County State Trooper- Lieutenant Tom Martin; he transferred to another position down in the Virginia Beach area. He told me that Loudoun’s roads had become so congested (and this was back about 10 years ago!) that you can’t afford to lapse even for an instant in attention. Both hands on the wheel, both eyes on the road, and NO multi-tasking.

Just drive.

I’d like to know, if all the participants were completely honest, how many of our local crashes in a year stemmed from some form of driver inattention.

Come on now, be honest: how many times have you had a close call when changing a CD, or making a quick cell phone call, or performing some other, ‘innocent’ procedure?

And- remember: you got lucky.

Lincoln- the Enemy

We are being threatened by three pennies. Those little Lincolns can be pretty scary when they outnumber you and get you cornered.

I know I’m frightened.

The County Administrator announced that the Supervisors would have to raise the local tax rate by exactly three cents on the dollar, if the Board so chooses to pass a budget which would cover the request by the Public School System, which has yet to officially approve its own financial plan for the next cycle.

The local tax rate currently stands at $1.30; the Supervisors plan to talk about that extra three cent issue at this week’s meeting.

The School’s proposed budget of $727 million ($47 million up from last year) would include salary increases (some say overdue), and accommodations for the growing student population.

At times like this, I have to see Loudoun as a very funny place.

Some of us are obscenely wealthy, and still complain about taxes; others in the rich column gladly pay their share.

A portion of the population struggles to maintain a semblance of ‘normal’ living, by working several jobs; many of them complain of the high cost of surviving in the area- others are happy just to be able to pay their rising bills.

And some of our population, no doubt, have no legal resident status in the United States; we probably educate some of their children as well.

Local and regional influences (see last week’s news story on this topic) continue to raise the price tag on public education in Loudoun County.

It’s as predictable as the movement of the planets.

I’m not surprised when we’re told (on an annual basis) that it’s gonna cost more money to cover the cost of schools for the next 12-month cycle.

And I’m certainly not surprised, in an area where I see unchecked tempers flare on the highway nearly every day, that this complicated phenomenon turns us against one another.

It’s a scenario akin to a truckload of chickens, pecking each other to death on the way to the slaughterhouse.

Just don’t be a chicken.

Over the Edge?

A sense of bravery will surely be needed for the small army of staff workers in the County Seat over this current budget discussion. The Town Manager urged Council Members to consider reductions in employee numbers as a means of closing a $2 million affordability gap in next year’s financial picture, and they complied.

Some assurance (small, indeed, for those who find themselves on the short end of the stick) came in the announcement that the Town would provide extended notice to any workers to be laid off, as well as a three-month severance package, with health insurance coverage during that time.

A cold winter, indeed, for the Town employees who receive those pink slips.

I’m sure it’ll be a long budget process for those who feel their jobs may be in jeopardy.

It’s a Real Holiday, Now

But, the Good News in Leesburg over this past week is: the Town Council declared Christmas!

Well, sort of.

They voted to change the name of some of the December festivities to “The Christmas Tree and Menorah Lighting Ceremony,” which evidently seeks to accommodate rites of both Christian and Jewish faiths.

Not so for the annual December Parade, however; the Town Attorney warned against labeling the activity with any particular religious branch, as this could make the appearance of issues involving possible exclusion of various groups.

The current, generic (holiday), label evidently allows for more flexibility.

So, Christmas returns to Leesburg, albeit in January.

The Thrilla, or the Rumble?

I’m reminded, writing this on Sunday morning, that- every so often- a snazzy boxer like Muhammad Ali would come up against a real no-nonsense fighter (in the prime of his career) like Joe Frazier, as in their bout at Madison Square Garden in 1971. This thought came in reading over the latest shenanigans in the PATH energy application.

They evidently tried to dance away from the proceedings (again) in requesting another stay in the timeline; they weren’t knocked out of the ring, but the hearing examiner did veto their bid for extension.

The tactics, over the past couple of years, for the folks behind the Potomac Appalachian Tramsnission Highline, have been to (seemingly) get all their ducks in a row for passage or denial by the State Corporation Commission, then try to put the process in the deep freeze.

Why?

Well, maybe to exhaust the mounting opposition.

The PATH design would string wires from West Virginia to Maryland, including a stretch across Northern Loudoun; you can imagine the feathers they’ve stirred up, especially since they’ve had trouble convincing the SCC of the need for the project.

Going back to one of my favorite analogies, I recall the early Cassius Clay possessing enough stamina to elude the best of heavyweight boxers (Sonny Liston, among others), simply wearing them down for the eventual bee’s stings.

Well, in this case, the referee, or SCC Hearing Examiner, denied the PATH request to dance away from the fight; he ordered them to box.

He plans to bring the applicants to the table this week to formalize the next steps.

A local public hearing comes up on the 4th of February at Loudoun Valley High School in Purcellville.

You can bet the opposition will be out in force at that one- they had better; I’ve had the smart money on Allegheny Energy and American Electric Power all along. I would be very surprised if they- eventually- don’t get their way and prevail in the application.

I came to greatly appreciate the skill of the more mature Muhammad Ali, particularly in the bout against the heavily favored George Foreman, in Zaire in 1974. The eluding (and illusion) still paid off.

But, then again, the PATH opponents, this time, may have just caught their opponent in a vulnerable state, as Larry Holmes did with Ali in 1980.

The day of consolidated, overhead transmission lines may one day end in this part of the country, and the current amalgam of opposition seem to be on top of their game.

Just don’t put the lights out.

MLK

Lest we all forget the reason that many of us can sleep in tomorrow morning, here’s a reminder of local observances for Martin Luther King Junior Day. Activities in Loudoun County start with an assembly at 10 o’clock in the morning at the Courthouse Square in Leesburg, followed by a march to the Douglass Community Center- with organized programs for much of the afternoon.

Observances take sponsorship by cooperative efforts by the Douglass Alumni Association, Loudoun NAACP, the Bluemont Concert Series and the Baha’i Community of Loudoun.

Martin Luther King Junior came into the world 82 years ago in Atlanta- the son of a schoolteacher and Baptist Minister.

The Reverend King fought discrimination for over a decade until his assassination in 1968.

The United States began celebrating his birthday just 24 years ago.

We remember the man’s name today as almost synonymous with the words love, equality and non-violence.

Tim Jon for the Blue Ridge Leader

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