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It’s Time To Review Your Estate Planning Basics

February 1, 2017 Amy and Dan Smith, Columns Comments Off on It’s Time To Review Your Estate Planning Basics
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Beginners and billionaires alike should refresh their knowledge of these basic estate planning terms and concepts.

The word “estate” tends to conjure up images of billionaires and aristocrats, but estate planning is not just for the wealthy. It’s widely believed that estate planning in one form or another is needed by everyone, and it doesn’t need to be sophisticated, complex or costly to help fulfill final wishes and protect assets. Whether you are a prince or a pauper, refreshing on estate planning basics can help make sure your legacy is left the way you intended. … Continue Reading

Six Things to Know to Weather a Market Downturn

February 3, 2016 Amy and Dan Smith, Columns Comments Off on Six Things to Know to Weather a Market Downturn
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It’s natural to be nervous when the markets head for negative territory. Keep a positive perspective with these six investing reminders.
It can be very unsettling for investors when their portfolios and the markets start heading for the red and fear sets in that all you’ve worked for and set aside for retirement and other goals could be at risk. Here are six investing basics to keep in mind during volatile times:

Periods of volatility are normal – All markets move in cycles and periods of steep contraction are completely normal. While the length of market contractions varies, periods of growth and expansion are usually waiting on the other side. Since 1973, stocks have fallen more than 10 percent and subsequently rebounded eight times.

Don’t Panic – Letting emotions dictate your investing strategy is a risk you should not take. Short-term decisions can have long-term consequences on your portfolio. Being patient can pay dividends.

Know your portfolio – Understand your investments and how specific investments represent different goals and outcomes. Keep in mind your risk tolerance and investment timeline, and if either has changed, consider talking to your financial advisor about rebalancing your portfolio. Diversification can potentially help balance risk during a downturn and mitigate extreme swings in value.

Stay the Course – Remember your financial plan and long-term goals and stick to them. A disciplined investment approach is the best strategy for handling market downturns and will likely enable you to participate when the markets rebound.

Consider opportunities – Working with your financial advisor, determine whether periods of volatility are a good time to take advantage of investment opportunities in line with your long-term plan.

You’re not alone – Your financial advisor is available to help you when you need it. He or she can guide you through difficult markets and be the independent voice and “information bodyguard” that helps you stay focused on your long-term goals.

Investing involves risk and investors may incur a profit or a loss. Past performance may not be indicative of future results. Diversification does not ensure a profit or protect against a loss. The foregoing contains general information only and is not intended to convey investment advice. Amy V. Smith Wealth Management, LLC, an independent firm, CFP, CIMA, offers securities through Raymond James Financial Services, Inc., member FINRA/SIPC. Her office is located at 161 Fort Evans Road, NE, Suite 345, Leesburg, VA 20176. (703-669-5022, www.amysmithwealthmanagement.com) Dan Smith is not affiliated with Raymond James.

Amy and Dan Smith’s Planning for Life: When the Road To Success Leads Back Home

January 7, 2016 Amy and Dan Smith, Columns Comments Off on Amy and Dan Smith’s Planning for Life: When the Road To Success Leads Back Home
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Despite our best efforts, sometimes grown children aren’t quite ready to enter the real world.

The day our children move out of the house, graduate from college, or land their first full-time job isn’t always-or even often-the day they achieve independence. Life is full of twists and turns, and even young adults with the best laid plans can veer off course, turning to their parents for support when things get tough. One study, conducted by Arizona Pathways to Life Success, says that half of recent graduates ages 23 to 26 depend on their family’s financial support to meet their current needs. … Continue Reading

Amy and Dan Smith’s Planning for Life: Giving and Taxes

December 2, 2015 Amy and Dan Smith, Columns Comments Off on Amy and Dan Smith’s Planning for Life: Giving and Taxes
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There is a relationship among income, gift and estate tax which can appear complex. However, in reality most of gifts are not affected by taxes.

This column addresses non-charitable gifts. Unlike a gift to charity, a gift to a person is not deductible by the donor for income tax purposes. A gift to a person is not taxable income to that person.

There is a federal gift tax but (with the exception of Connecticut and Tennessee) states don’t impose gift taxes. Here’s how the federal gift tax works: A person may make as many gifts as he/she wishes each year so long as the total value of gifts to each person for the year is within the amount of the “annual exclusion.” The annual exclusion is subject to adjustment each year and is $14,000 for 2015 and 2016. So Dad can give up to $14,000 of gifts apiece to each child, grandchild and neighbor without having to file a gift tax return, no matter how many children, grandchildren and neighbors he has. Furthermore, Mom can do the same. In fact, if Dad wants to give up to $28,000 per donee and Mom doesn’t want to give anything, Dad can “borrow” Mom’s annual exclusion for that year. However, Dad will have to file a gift tax return which Mom will sign to show she is allowing him to use her annual exclusion. (To avoid that requirement gifts can be made from joint property, as with a joint bank account.) … Continue Reading

Amy and Dan Smith’s Planning for Life: Trusts

November 4, 2015 Amy and Dan Smith, Columns Comments Off on Amy and Dan Smith’s Planning for Life: Trusts
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A common estate planning device is the trust. A trust is simply an agreement between two people: the person who establishes the trust, who may be called the Settlor, the Grantor or the Trustor, and the person or institution who agrees to fulfill the terms of the trust, called the Trustee. There can be multiple Settlors, as, for example, a married couple; and there can be more than one Trustee. Quite often in estate planning the Settlor(s) and the Trustee(s) are the same person(s), as when a married couple creates a joint trust.

There are many different types of trust, too many to describe in the space of this article. In estate planning a “Revocable Living Trust” (RLT) is very common. This is a trust established during lifetime which the Settlor(s) can continue to change during lifetime. Usually the Settlor(s) and the Trustee(s) are the same person(s). … Continue Reading

How Divorce Affects Social Security Benefits

September 30, 2015 Amy and Dan Smith, Columns Comments Off on How Divorce Affects Social Security Benefits
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The 10-year rule and understanding your benefit options

When it comes to retirement income, Social Security typically accounts for the lion’s share, so it makes sense to understand how to maximize your benefits. As you may know, marital status is an important decision factor when it comes to timing benefits. But, did you know divorce also comes into play? Many people see divorce as a chance to start over, a clean slate, if you will. But just because your former spouse is out of the picture, doesn’t mean his or her Social Security benefits have to be, especially if he or she earns more money than you. In fact, your ex can actually mean extra when it comes to what you’re eligible to collect.

Here’s why. If you were married at least 10 years before your divorce, you may be eligible to receive Social Security benefits based on your ex-spouse’s record, assuming he or she is entitled to them. If your ex-spouse hasn’t applied for retirement benefits yet, you can still collect on his or her record if you’ve been divorced for at least two years. This holds true even if your former spouse has remarried. And, claiming benefits on his or her record has no effect on what a new spouse can claim. Of course, you have to qualify to do so. … Continue Reading

When To Take Social Security: Timing Is Everything

September 3, 2015 Amy and Dan Smith, Columns Comments Off on When To Take Social Security: Timing Is Everything
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As you approach retirement, there are several decisions that can impact the level of income you will receive when you stop working. One such decision will be about claiming your Social Security retirement benefit.

More than half of eligible Americans take their benefits “early”-after they reach 62, even though they are locking in a permanent reduction in their monthly payment by as much as 25 percent. Still, “early” makes sense for many if they have little in savings and simply need the money. However, many do it because they can, without realizing they are giving up progressively higher payments each year they wait to claim, potentially losing as much as 32 percent than if they had waited to age 70. Surveys have shown that nearly 40 percent in this camp actually regret their decision to claim “early” once they realize how much they have given up in lifetime income. For some couples, this could translate into hundreds of thousands of dollars for not adopting a “wait to take” strategy. … Continue Reading

A Social Security Strategy Could Enhance Your Retirement Income Plan

August 7, 2015 Amy and Dan Smith Comments Off on A Social Security Strategy Could Enhance Your Retirement Income Plan
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By Amy & Dan Smith

What do you think of when someone mentions Social Security? Many people consider Social Security and retirement as one and the same. More than 90 percent of working Americans plan for Social Security to replace part of their current incomes when they leave the workforce. Sadly, what really happens is that, because of timing decisions, 75 percent of those already receiving benefits are drawing a reduced amount.*

Your benefits can be greatly affected by your specific circumstances during retirement. Your monthly payment amounts as well as your tax status can change if you decide to work part time or start a second career. There is also your and your spouse’s beneficiary eligibility to consider. … Continue Reading

Challenges for Blended Families

June 3, 2015 Amy and Dan Smith, Columns Comments Off on Challenges for Blended Families
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By Amy & Dan Smith

The blended family has become more the norm than the exception in our society. As with most second marriages, Amy and I came into our marriage with our own children, our own careers and our own estates. We have experienced the challenges of the blended family.
Typically, a parent in a second marriage has conflicting loyalties. There is the desire to provide for the well being of the second spouse while, often at the same time, there is a felt duty to preserve some part of the estate (especially, of that acquired before the second marriage) for his/her children of the first marriage. This conflict can be especially acute if there is a significant age difference between the spouses. Thus, the older spouse could provide a trust for the life of his/her spouse, but this could delay significantly the benefit to the children of the first marriage by many years. … Continue Reading

Planning for Lives after Death

May 5, 2015 Amy and Dan Smith, Columns Comments Off on Planning for Lives after Death
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By Amy & Dan Smith

This past month I once again experienced life as prelude to practice. It started with an email two weeks ago from a hospice caregiver at my father’s request with words every child dreads: “Your Dad has asked me to write and tell you he thinks the end is near. He says you’ll know what to do.” What had been planned as a birthday celebration in Florida within 48 hours ended as a death vigil for my father. My immediate family members were gathered at my parents’ home to say good-bye. Dad died quickly and peacefully after struggling for years with chronic pulmonary dysfunction. Two of us were on either side of him holding his hands while he was sitting up on the couch, and we noticed that he had stopped breathing. … Continue Reading

Amy and Dan Smith’s Planning for Life: Looking Beyond U.S. Borders

March 4, 2015 Amy and Dan Smith, Columns Comments Off on Amy and Dan Smith’s Planning for Life: Looking Beyond U.S. Borders
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By Amy and Dan Smith

Even though U.S. equities still represent the single largest portion of the world stock markets, more than half of the world’s total stock market capitalization lies outside the United States, and economic growth rates outside the United States have in some cases exceeded that of the United States. Investors are beginning to consider diversifying their holdings beyond U.S. borders as a result. In the past, I have often recommended allocating no more than 10-20 percent of an investor’s overall portfolio to international funds. However, with the growth of global markets and the European Central Bank’s recent initiation of quantitative easing, many experts now suggest an even higher percentage can be appropriate given the right circumstances. … Continue Reading

Amy and Dan Smith’s Planning for Life: Five Equity Market Themes for 2015

February 3, 2015 Amy and Dan Smith, Columns Comments Off on Amy and Dan Smith’s Planning for Life: Five Equity Market Themes for 2015
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By Amy and Dan Smith

Each year I read many market forecasts for the coming year from investment experts around the globe. Accordingly, I’d like to provide you with a recent article from Jeffrey Saut, Raymond James Chief Investment Strategist titled “Five Equity Market Themes For 2015”. (Readers may find the complete 2015 Outlook from Raymond James Investment Strategy Quarterly on my website www.amysmithwealthmanagement.com under “Market Views.”)

Lower Fuel Prices

This extended period of lower fuel costs should benefit companies that are dependent upon fuel as an input, such as the airlines, trucking and cruise lines, railroads, shipper, etc. Additionally, consumers are paying less at the pump and the hope is that those savings will now flow into other areas of the economy, like the consumer discretionary sector. … Continue Reading

Amy & Dan Smith’s Planning for Life: Planning Your Will

January 6, 2015 Amy and Dan Smith, Columns Comments Off on Amy & Dan Smith’s Planning for Life: Planning Your Will
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By Amy and Dan Smith

A will is a highly protected form of writing. The requirements for a valid will must not be casually regarded. With rare exception in Virginia, only the original of a will – not a copy – may be admitted to probate. To be admitted to probate a will must (1) be in writing, (2) signed by the testator (the person making the will) and (3) signed by two competent witnesses who were both present with the testator either to watch him sign it or to hear him acknowledge his signature. There is a popularly known exception for a will, which is entirely in the handwriting of the testator, called a “holographic” will. However, it is dangerous to rely on this exception because it is very narrowly applied by the courts.

The requisite formalities may not be strictly applied to wills made by persons in military service. Wills made by a person deemed of “unsound mind” or by a minor are not valid. … Continue Reading


 

 

 

 

 

 

Columns

The Holocene Climate

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(Public Input Loudoun County Board of Supervisors, 7 March, 2017) Figure 1 shows the climate variation over the last million years. The low points on the curve correspond to ice ages when glaciers up to a mile thick covered New …

Choosing To Forgive

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By Samuel Moore-Sobel “Truly forgiving is the ability to say, ‘Thank you for giving me that experience.’” James Arthur Ray vaulted into fame on the Oprah Winfrey Show back in the mid-2000’s. Stunned hearing these words while watching The Rise and …

Five Key Retirement Questions

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Beyond asking yourself where you see yourself and even what your lifelong goal are, effective retirement and longevity planning begs some very big questions. Review the points below and consider how housing, transportation and health considerations all play a role …

Work Woes

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By Michael Oberschneider, Psy.D. Dr. Mike, I’m a manager at a large tech company and my boss has directed me to fire someone on my team, but as a Christian, I just can’t do it. It’s true that the employee …

Joy or Suffering

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By Mary Rose Lunde No one likes to suffer. When given the chance, many people would choose to laugh rather than cry, to sit in silence with their friends rather than talk through their feelings, because not even their friends …

Wage Radio

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I will always remember – very fondly – the first time I ever set foot on the property at 711 Wage Drive Southwest in Leesburg, Virginia. It was a warm, sunny July morning in 1997, and I’d driven all the …

Speaking Truth to Power

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“With public sentiment nothing can fail. Without it nothing can succeed.” Abraham Lincoln On Thursday evening, February 23, I requested the Board of Supervisors pass a proclamation resolving to support the March for Science on Earth Day, April 22 [1]. …

Student News

Congratulations, Class of 2016

6 Jul 2016

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Woodgrove High School’s Class Of 2016 Graduation – By Amanda Clark On June 16, Woodgrove’s Class of 2016 was the 5th graduating class to walk the stage and accept their diploma. The ceremony was filled with anticipation as the chorus, …

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Buckland Earns Degree In Medicine

6 Jul 2016

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Molly Buckland, D.O., graduated from the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine with a degree of Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine on May 28. While at WVSOM, Dr. Buckland received the Dr. Roland P. Sharp President’s Award and the James R. …

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Adams Promoted To Lieutenant

6 Jul 2016

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Lt. James Adams, from Sterling and a Potomac Falls Halls Graduate, earned the promotion to the rank of Lieutenant. Adams is a Navy Week and Executive Outreach Planner for the Navy Office of Community Outreach in Millington, Tennessee. U.S. Navy …

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Calendar

March 2017
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
February 27, 2017 February 28, 2017 March 1, 2017 March 2, 2017 March 3, 2017

LAST HAM STANDING COMEDY IMPROV

LAST HAM STANDING COMEDY IMPROV
March 4, 2017

Notaviva Vineyards - Bluegrass Jam - FREE event

Notaviva Vineyards - Bluegrass Jam - FREE event
March 5, 2017
March 6, 2017 March 7, 2017 March 8, 2017 March 9, 2017 March 10, 2017 March 11, 2017 March 12, 2017
March 13, 2017 March 14, 2017 March 15, 2017 March 16, 2017 March 17, 2017 March 18, 2017

Wine & Chili Weekend

Wine & Chili Weekend
March 19, 2017

Joshua Carr River Safety Foundation Rummage Sale

Joshua Carr River Safety Foundation Rummage Sale
March 20, 2017 March 21, 2017 March 22, 2017 March 23, 2017 March 24, 2017

March Fourth Friday

March Fourth Friday
March 25, 2017 March 26, 2017

Spring Brunch

Spring Brunch

Spring Brunch

Spring Brunch
March 27, 2017 March 28, 2017 March 29, 2017 March 30, 2017 March 31, 2017 April 1, 2017

”Homage to Mother Earth”

”Homage to Mother Earth”

Nebbiolo Vertical Tasting

Nebbiolo Vertical Tasting

Notaviva Vineyards - Bluegrass Jam - FREE event

Notaviva Vineyards - Bluegrass Jam - FREE event
April 2, 2017

”Homage to Mother Earth”

”Homage to Mother Earth”

GALLERY COFFEEHOUSE: Readers Theater, “One Slight Hitch”

GALLERY COFFEEHOUSE: Readers Theater, “One Slight Hitch”
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Steady and NoBull

Lifestyle

Loudoun Workforce Resource Center Presents STEM Career Fair March 28

16 Mar 2017

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Anyone interested in a career in the rapidly growing field of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) is encouraged to attend an upcoming STEM Career Fair in Loudoun. The Loudoun Workforce Resource Center, in partnership with Northern Virginia Community College (NVCC)’s Loudoun campus and NOVA SySTEMic Solutions, is holding a STEM Career Fair Tuesday, March 28, from 1:00 to 4:00 …

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Keep Loudoun Beautiful—Greater Lovettsville Area Volunteers Needed

16 Mar 2017

Lovettsville Boat Launch 7-26-09

The Keep Loudoun Beautiful spring clean-up takes place the entire month of April and greater Lovettsville needs volunteers. Bags, vests, gloves and grabbers are available at the Lovettsville Community Center during normal business hours, Monday-Friday. This is a great group or individual activity that can be scheduled around your availability. E-mail Lovettsville Area Leader, Laura Lieberman, for details and to …

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National Awkward Moments Day

8 Mar 2017

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?Laughing at Yourself Is the Best Medicine No one knows who invented National Awkward Moments Day, Saturday, March 18. That’s no surprise, since it probably came about as the result of one stunningly awkward moment that the owner of that moment was hoping to forget. We surveyed our readers and friends to ask them about their most awkward moments, sharing …

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Editorial

Priscilla Nabs Plum Planning Commission Post

Loudoun County Seal Color

Appointment Shocks Many On January 3 Supervisor Tony R. Buffington Jr. (R-Blue Ridge) nominated Tom Priscilla for the Loudoun County Planning Commission to represent the Blue Ridge District. Priscilla was …

Op-ed

Opinion: Terrorism, Debt, and China: Oh My!

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– By Nick Reid world can be a very dangerous place sometimes, especially for a nation state such as the United States. Although danger is always present, the number and …

Metro Money Mess Pushing West

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– By Delegate Dave LaRock (R-33rd) A local paper recently quoted Loudoun Board Chair Phyllis Randall as saying that in her observation “some of the concerns raised by the people …

Dear Editor

Why Williams Gap Road Should Not Be Paved

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Today, most residents of Loudoun County know nothing about Williams Gap, even those living on Williams Gap Road (Route 711). Knowing who “Williams” was, why a gap in the Blue …

Vote No To the Minor Special Exception

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We are a group of Loudoun County citizens who will be adversely affected if the board grants a special exception for the Catesby Farm property at your upcoming meeting. You …

View From the Ridge

Broken Promises, Hidden by a Six-Foot Berm

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By Andrea Gaines On August 9, 1825 at the age of 69, French military officer the Marquis de Lafayette was honored in Leesburg by former President James Monroe. The French-born …

Around Virginia

Protecting Free Speech

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By Dave LaRock (R-33) As elected officials and members of the legislature, our most fundamental responsibility is to protect God-given constitutionally protected rights. The First Amendment of the United States Constitution prohibits the government, including governmental public colleges and universities, from infringing on free speech and the free exercise of …

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Walbridge To Run for State Delegate in the 33rd District

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Tia Walbridge announces her run for the District 33 seat in the Virginia House of Delegates. Walbridge is a wife and mother of two daughters and an active member of the Round Hill community. “Like many people in our district, my family has found its prosperity in a Virginia-based small …

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Office Building on Capitol Square To Be Named After Civil Rights Pioneer Barbara Johns

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Governor Terry McAuliffe announced that the newly renovated state building located at 202 N. 9th Street on Capitol Square in Richmond (currently known as the 9th Street Office Building) will bear the name of civil rights pioneer Barbara Johns. The building, which reopened last year, houses the Virginia Attorney General’s …

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Sports

Vikings Runner-Up at the State Championship 

8 Mar 2017

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The Loudoun Valley Vikings are the boy’s runner-up at the VHSL 4A State Indoor Track and Field Championships at Roanoke College.  During the 2015-2016 school year, the Loudoun County School Board approved Indoor Track and Field as a Tier 2 (self-funded) sport.  The seven boys competing scored 48 points, second …

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WLVBC U14 Boys Finish 3rd at VA Beach Event

23 Feb 2017

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The Western Loudoun Volleyball Club’s U14 Boys Team garnered 3rd place in their first travel tournament of 2017, the Virginia Beach Invitational. This event was held Feb. 18-19 and featured more than 24 teams from the U14 to U18 age group. The team was second on their net on day …

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