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Second Bull Run

Bull Run Creek

It may not have been a battle, but – seeing as how it was my second attempt at getting a good look at Bull Run Creek – coupled with the fact that I’m a native Northerner – I felt a bit skittish as I headed down that little dirt road to encounter the unknown. See – I’d looked as closely as I could at my computer mapping for the end of the line on Peach Tree Lane – way down on the Southern border of Loudoun County – and it looked as if the narrow gravel corridor just sort of dead-ended at the water line; driving to the spot that day, as I recognized some of the landmarks that signaled I was getting close, I slowed down to a crawl, and, as I rounded the last corner, my suspicions were confirmed: I’d found Bull Run Creek, alright – and I’d also found another location in our gnarly little locality where a roadway travels underwater. … Continue Reading

Just Like Nothing (Else) On Earth: Rotary Park

January 7, 2016 Columns, Just Like Nothing (Else) on Earth Comments Off on Just Like Nothing (Else) On Earth: Rotary Park
Rotary Park

I couldn’t help thinking, as I strolled around this little green space – with a basketball court on one end – that if Robin Hood and his band had wanted to do some hoopin’ out in Sherwood Forest, the setting may not have looked too much different than these immediate surroundings. Sure, they wouldn’t have had a paved street 10 yards from their playing area, and their wooded greenery – understandably – would have been much thicker and infinitely more expansive – but I don’t think I could find a ‘greener’ place for an impromptu game of buckets around these parts. … Continue Reading

Just Like Nothing (Else) on Earth: Lovettsville

December 2, 2015 Columns, Just Like Nothing (Else) on Earth Comments Off on Just Like Nothing (Else) on Earth: Lovettsville
Lovettsville

Historically quaint architecture, quiet side streets, grown-over vacant lots, views of the Blue Ridge – and entire neighborhoods of new homes planted into the mix; if Loudoun County is rapidly changing, the little Town of Lovettsville is experiencing its own building boom up in the northern section of the locality. The modest population level – approaching, at best estimate, the 2,000 mark – fails to rival that of Sterling or Broadlands or South Riding, but you get the feeling that it’s no longer a ‘sleepy little place,’ tucked far away from the rapid development in the busier South and East.

And, I guess that’s a large part of the attraction to live in this unique place: It’s still a very small Town by 21st Century Northern Virginia standards, it is far and away from the traffic on Route Seven or 28 or the Greenway – or the Leesburg Bypass – and that long line of mountains offers a constant – and consistent – visual backdrop as a geographic reminder of your place in the world. On these merits alone, I can understand why folks would choose Lovettsville as a place to raise a family. … Continue Reading

Just Like Nothing (Else) On Earth: Phil Bolen Memorial Park

bolen_park

I never knew Phil Bolen as the Loudoun County Government Administrator; I never even got to know him as Director of Parks and Recreation, and I certainly never knew Phil Bolen the teacher and coach at Loudoun Valley High School. No – the summer I moved to Loudoun County – July of 1997 – Phil Bolen was the beloved sportscaster at Wage Radio – formerly at 1200 on your AM dial. It was as if – to me – Phil had had only one occupation his entire life: that of scholastic sports announcing on our little, local radio station; if you ever heard one of his sportscasts, I’m gauging you know what I’m talking about. … Continue Reading

Just Like Nothing (Else) on Earth: Willisville

September 30, 2015 Columns, Just Like Nothing (Else) on Earth Comments Off on Just Like Nothing (Else) on Earth: Willisville
willisville

You may never feel the urge to travel to this little, unincorporated community; it’s not exactly a conduit for commuter traffic, and there aren’t really any places to shop, or gas up, or procure much of anything else from a consumer standpoint. Nestled in that No-Man’s Land between Round Hill, Middleburg and the Blue Ridge, Willisville is sort of tucked away in an area pretty much forgotten by time – and most of the rest of the county. And, I’m sure many of the folks who live down there will get along just fine if things continue this way for the foreseeable future; they’ve gotten this far without being on the cover of Rolling Stone, they’ll probably be OK on their own – and I don’t think they have a village press agent or anything to lure us out to the coming attractions. … Continue Reading

Just Like Nothing (Else) on Earth: Suzanne Kane Nature Preserve

September 2, 2015 Columns, Just Like Nothing (Else) on Earth Comments Off on Just Like Nothing (Else) on Earth: Suzanne Kane Nature Preserve
suzanne kayne nature

This innocuous little area lay smoldering in my semi-consciousness for several years – and after thousands of passings-by – I finally woke up one morning and just had to find out what was to be found out there. See – for the last half-dozen years or so, I’ve had to drive by the Suzanne Kane Nature Preserve and Chapman DeMary Trail signs on my way to earning the daily bread at the Purcellville Postal Facility. Some mornings – not to mention late afternoons or early (or even late) evenings those formally-worded placards left no noticeable impression on my senses; I may have been on overload from the rigors and concerns of rural mail (and parcel) delivery. But I had made mental notes to check out this local resource at some point: I’d noticed the ‘cool-looking,’ shaded little picnic area behind the Inova Medical Offices off Hirst Road, I’d watched some of the ‘developments’ unfold on the other end of the Park and Trail off 21st Street, and I’d even seen a red fox high-tailing it into the brush a time or two along the South Fork of Catoctin Creek as it crosses Hatcher Avenue on the north side of town. … Continue Reading

Just Like Nothing (Else) on Earth: Morven Park

August 7, 2015 Columns, Just Like Nothing (Else) on Earth Comments Off on Just Like Nothing (Else) on Earth: Morven Park
morvenpark

I think what strikes me most about this place – as over the top as it is in many ways – is how understated it really is; I know that’ll take some explaining.

I’ve been to Morven Park hundreds of times (for radio interviews and news stories, and I even directed a couple of Shakespeare productions on the grounds), so it’s hard to approach the site without some (or a lot of) preconceptions; that said, a quiet, overcast, weekday morning visit allowed me to walk through the gardens and grounds in complete solitude – as if I were sole owner and proprietor of the castle-like mansion and the surrounding thousand-plus acres. … Continue Reading

Brandon Park

June 3, 2015 Columns, Just Like Nothing (Else) on Earth Comments Off on Brandon Park
timjon

Considering its location – amidst the swirl of transportation axes, commercial and industrial scenery, residential neighborhoods, and the shadow of the busy downtown section of Leesburg, I was surprised to have this quiet little oasis of (mostly) green to myself – if you exclude the family of geese (who got their goslings into the water lickety-split for safekeeping). Brandon Park sits just off the junction of Catoctin Circle and Harrison Street – and the confluence of a couple of little waterways: Tuscarora Creek and the Town Branch, so it’s no surprise that lots of us may quite frequently pass this way, yet take it completely for granted without stopping for what Loudoun County is supposedly known for: a breath of fresh air. … Continue Reading

Just Like Nothing (Else) On Earth: Telegraph Springs Road

May 6, 2015 Columns, Just Like Nothing (Else) on Earth Comments Off on Just Like Nothing (Else) On Earth: Telegraph Springs Road
timjon

There’s one guy out here who proudly informs all visitors arriving at his locked gate (at the end of a short driveway) that he owns a firearm and a backhoe; I’ve got a mental note to avoid this address at all costs after the sun goes down. Speaking of which, there are any number of places along this little lane where you can stand transfixed by that circular yellow orb and the splashes of light created by the not-so-random intervening objects. Warnings, and sunlight: Two key components of a journey up or down Telegraph Springs Road – which runs from Purcellville down to its junction with Snickersville Turnpike a half-dozen miles or so to the South. … Continue Reading

Oatlands Mill Road

March 4, 2015 Just Like Nothing (Else) on Earth Comments Off on Oatlands Mill Road
oatland mills road

I’ve never joined in on the bird-watching activities in the big swamp off to the side of this little dirt road, and I’ve never seen the crumbling walls of the 19th Century mill site that sits on the bank of the nearby Goose Creek; I have, however, taken a good look at some of the historic buildings that lie a bit closer to the public right-of-way – and I’ve seen what changes can be wrought on its features by the cycle of seasons, or a particular misty morning, or brilliant sunset. Oatlands Mill Road only runs for something over a mile from Route 15 to its intersection with Gleedsville Road to the east, but its corkscrew corners, chuckholes and washboard surfaces may make it seem much longer by the time you’re on more reassuring surfaces. This short, dirt road harbors some treasures along the way, though; you can read internet documents about archeological research done on the Oatlands Mill ruins site back in the 1970’s (by the National Trust for Historic Preservation)- the structure once stood tantalizingly close to today’s commuter corridor of James Monroe Highway, just north of Goose Creek. … Continue Reading

Just Like Nothing (Else) On Earth: Elizabeth Mills Riverfront Park

February 3, 2015 Columns, Just Like Nothing (Else) on Earth Comments Off on Just Like Nothing (Else) On Earth: Elizabeth Mills Riverfront Park
timjon

I’m still curious to see if that little trail goes all the way along the Potomac to the eastern end of the Park; see, I’d left my car in the lot off Riverpoint Drive and walked along Goose Creek all the way to the meeting place with its bigger sister; I turned around at that point in order to keep an important appointment in Leesburg, but a substantial portion of me wanted to just keep going – into what was, for me – undiscovered, unexplored country. In planning this little excursion, the name didn’t sound real exciting on paper: Elizabeth Mills Riverfront Park – or my access point: Kephart Bridge Landing – but, hey – what’s in a name? I was rewarded by my gamble that I’d be able to negotiate my way along the Goose and find its outlet into the Potomac River, and see sights along the way that could have been witnessed centuries earlier: Mature forest, an undisturbed river, and its often-rocky opposite bank. … Continue Reading

Just Like Nothing (Else) On Earth: Keyes Gap

January 6, 2015 Columns, Just Like Nothing (Else) on Earth Comments Off on Just Like Nothing (Else) On Earth: Keyes Gap
keyes gap

This is a place I have seen in all weathers, in all seasons and under a variety of circumstances: It’s not a location I’d send a friend (or just about anyone else) during anything like inclement weather, as the local microclimate at that particular spot can be almost otherworldly. But, on a sunny, summery day, it’s a destination for many travelers – whether they seek high adventure or merely a nice view from the car. Keyes Gap (at the Western Loudoun Border on Rt. 9 – Charles Town Pike) stands just over 900 feet above sea level (compare that to just over 340 feet for good, old Leesburg), and the nature of the ‘pass’ through the Blue Ridge Mountains can bring the nearly constant breeze to the ‘howling wind’ stage – not something you’d relish, say, during a snow- or ice-storm.

One of the rural mail routes out of the Purcellville Post Office takes the carrier up to that spot, then back down the mountain to more sheltered areas and neighborhoods. It’s always a pleasure (for me, at least) to attain that elevation, get a quick glimpse of Charles Town and surrounding West Virginia hundreds of feet below, and then turn around and resume delivery on the downslope for the rest of the day’s travails. … Continue Reading

Just Like Nothing (Else) on Earth: Woodburn Road

Point of Rocks

You know, when you look at a body of water, you never really know what lies beneath that often peaceful-looking surface; in Loudoun County (our little locality of contradictions and seeming time vortexes) the same can be said of many of its solid landforms. I don’t know if I ever saw the ruins of the historic Woodburn General Store before it was demolished almost 15 years ago. If I did, it may not have really registered that the artifact held any more importance than an old, rotting fence line or nameless shack along the roadside. Heck, I didn’t even recall its existence – or that of the community of Woodburn itself – until a little research unearthed the machinations of the State Highway Department- going over the heads of our local government – in widening and paving Woodburn Road – and in so doing – demolishing all that was left of the former General Store. The County Board – otherwise far less poetically known as the Loudoun Supervisors – had made an earlier decision to leave the Road unpaved; whether we’d have seen an organized effort to save the Store or not – is left – I surmise – to the imagination.

But– even in the 21st Century – there’s still good reason to climb that ridge from Dry Mill Road in the north and go up that slope to the furthest eastern hump of the Catoctin Mountains as they sweep down from Maryland and into Loudoun County; Woodburn Road just happens to skirt the ridge just west of Leesburg and offer a sense of elevation and distance – as you glance off in the direction of the rising sun – where the piedmont meets the coastal plain, and the land levels out in what some might call a more civilized fashion. But up here, the topography offers enough challenging variation to prevent the rate of bulldozing, cementing, asphalting and building that we’ve seen just to the east. Not that all that stuff’s bad – I like to have a roof over my head at night – not to mention places to buy socks and groceries – as much as the next guy; I also like having that almost-inaccessible rocky outcropping covered in pines on my western horizon. And, if you follow Woodburn Road for its entire length – just a few miles, actually – all the way to Route 704 – Harmony Church Road – you’ve got limitless options for exploration to the south and west – whether on- or off-road.

So: as in other portions of our lives – we’ve lost some of the physical manifestations of our history on Woodburn Road; rarely can we move into the future while maintaining all the amenities of the past – unless you’ve a much larger attic than mine. Perhaps the improvements made on Woodburn Road outweigh the loss of the historic Woodburn General Store; maybe I’d have driven past it, thinking, “Why doesn’t somebody just tear that old eyesore down and put in something new – something useful?” Maybe.

Then again, I may have thought it was a really cool little milestone along my way. I won’t lose too much sleep over it, but I do wonder what it may have looked like, and if there was any chance to salvage this artifact before the swing of the wrecking ball.

Loudoun County has the blessing of being very popular – both to newcomers and a rapid birth rate among current residents. It’s a good problem – in many ways; with ongoing change comes varied opportunity – and with the ability of foresight – if we use even our most limited talents – we can choose which parts of our past to store in our attic, so to speak: do we want that old, falling-down Woodburn General Store?

We let the State Highway Department, in all its wisdom, make that decision for us. What other – perhaps more cherished sites along our path – would they (and maybe other, less benevolent agencies) choose to eliminate in favor of that new overpass, parking lot or utility? I once heard a wise man say that a growing community will always need jails and toilets. These institutions – both popular and unpopular – are all well and fine, but I’d need to hear some real fancy selling before I’d put in a prison or a sewage plant on some of my most favored locations across Loudoun County. How ‘bout you?


 

 

 

 

Columns

Asterisk No More

moore-sobelnewmug

By Samuel Moore-Sobel “Moods come and go, but greatness endures.” These prescient words were uttered by President George H.W. Bush, a man who knows firsthand the truth of his own saying. In 1992, President Bush garnered only 37 percent of …

Second Bull Run

Bull Run Creek

It may not have been a battle, but – seeing as how it was my second attempt at getting a good look at Bull Run Creek – coupled with the fact that I’m a native Northerner – I felt a …

Snowmageddon III?  Seven Survival Tips for Parents

Michael_Pic

By Michael Oberschneider, Psy.D. “snOMG,” “snowmageddon,” “snowpocalypse,” and “kaisersnoze” are a few terms to describe what just happened in Northern Virginia. The storm was reported to be the second worst storm on record. And while many children and teens gladly …

What Is a Sport?

Lunde new

By Mary Rose Lunde On January 10, hundreds of talented dancers from across the East Coast competed at the Universal Dance Academy Regional Championship at West Springfield High School. Tensions were high and the stakes couldn’t have been greater. What …

Six Things to Know to Weather a Market Downturn

Smith0035

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 …

El Nino Evolution

Figure 3. Sea-surface height as inferred by by NASA satellites during the current El Niño (December 27, 2015, at left, from Jason-2) and at a comparable point during the last “super” El Niño (December 28, 1997, at right, from TOPEX/Poseidon). Warmer temperatures in the upper ocean result in higher sea-surface heights, as the seawater expands. In 1997, the above-average sea surface height was generally more intense and peaked in November. In 2015, the area of high sea levels was less pronounced but considerably broader. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech. (see [4])

Figure 1 shows the annual global temperature anomaly since 1980 up to November 2015 using the NASA GISS data set [1]. NASA has not yet published December’s data though BEST has [2] and yes 2015 was the hottest year on …

Editorial

Grief and Greed

blueridge2

By Matthew Parse What would drive a single individual to cause so much emotional stress and financial burden on hundreds, if not, thousands of families? What would drive the Town …

Op-ed

Oh No, It’s the Christians!

blueridge2

By Nicholas Reid In the hours and days following every massacre perpetrated by radical Muslims, there is one unifying theme across most news coverage of the massacre, wherever it may …

Dear Editor

Job Well Done!

town of purcellville sign

Kudos to Town Manager Rob Lohr and his awesome hard working staff. You did a fantastic job of snow removal throughout the Town of Purcellville this past week. Mr. Lohr …

View From the Ridge

An Open Letter to the Citizens of Purcellville

blueridge2

Mark Your Calendar, They’ve Asked for Our Input So Let’s Give It To Them By Steady and Nobull The Purcellville Planning Commission has tentatively scheduled a series of public input …

Student News

Four Scouts Achieve Eagle Scout Rank

3 Feb 2016

eaglescout

Joel Gicker, Kyle Siecker, Sam Soltis and David Watson achieved the rank of Eagle Scout at a Court of Honor conducted at Blue Ridge Bible Church in Purcellville on January 9. The four Eagles are members of Troop 711 of …

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8th Grade Writers Honored At Blue Ridge Middle School

2 Jul 2015

blueridgemiddleschool

Sixty-seven Blue Ridge Middle School eighth graders have been honored for their writing during the 2014-2015 school year. Many students had their writing selected for publication by Creative Communication, a program for student writers, while others won county-wide writing contests. …

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Ben Kellogg Achieves Eagle Scout

1 Jul 2015

benkellog

Benjamin Robert Kellogg achieved the rank of Eagle Scout at a Court of Honor conducted at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Purcellville on March 29. Friends, family and troop leaders attended the celebration, including his parents, Robert and Deirdre Kellogg. …

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Calendar

February 2016
M T W T F S S
1 2 3

Loudoun Valley Boys Basketball Spirit Night at Coach's Corner

4

Music Together Classes - Winter Session

5

Loudoun Centre Theater: HAIRSPRAY

6

Loudoun Centre Theater: HAIRSPRAY

Notaviva Vineyards - Bluegrass Jam - FREE event

Loudoun Centre Theater: HAIRSPRAY

7

5K Race to Benefit Riverside High School Athletic Department

8 9 10 11

Music Together Classes - Winter Session

12

Loudoun Centre Theater: HAIRSPRAY

13

Loudoun Centre Theater: HAIRSPRAY

14

Gallery Coffeehouse: READERS THEATRE "LOVE LETTERS" BY A. R. GURNEY

15 16 17

Mad Cap Puppets: UNDER THE BONSAI TREE

18 19

LAST HAM STANDING COMEDY IMPROV

20

CHINESE NEW YEAR EVENT: Year Of The Monkey

21

Loudoun Symphony presents A LITTLE CHAMBER MUSIC

Gallery Coffeehouse: THE COMEDY CULT IMPROV

Gallery Coffeehouse: THE COMEDY CULT IMPROV

22 23 24 25 26 27

THE EDGE: Malone Benefit Concert

28

Loudoun School of Ballet Winter Showcase

29 1 2 3 4

VSA of Loudoun Spring Musical: SPECTRUM’S JOURNEY

5

Notaviva Vineyards - Bluegrass Jam - FREE event

VSA of Loudoun Spring Musical: SPECTRUM’S JOURNEY

6

VSA of Loudoun Spring Musical: SPECTRUM’S JOURNEY

GALLERY COFFEEHOUSE: Readers Theatre, 100 Lunches" by Jack Sharkey & Leo Sears

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Lifestyle

Creation and Evolution in Native American Spirituality

9 Feb 2016

turtle_swartz

In celebration of Evolution Weekend, an annual event led by clergy to encourage serious discussion and reflection on the relationship between religion and science, St. James United Church of Christ in Lovettsville has invited Roger and Deborah “Turtle” Swartz to guide a discussion of traditional Native American Spirituality and its wisdom in celebrating human relationship to the earth. In a …

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Run and Walk To Your Nearest 5K Pregame Event Happening on Super Bowl Day In Leesburg

3 Feb 2016

runandwalk

There is a new Running Company, the Pace Makers Running Company, in town and they are on a mission to help the local population with their health goals while raising money for selected charities. The race at The National Conference Center in Leesburg on February 7, is to help benefit the Riverside High School Athletic Department. The upcoming race on …

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Lovin’ Leesburg for All Its Beauty

3 Feb 2016

lovinleesburgrealestate1

By Hannah Hager We may be in the thick of winter, but this home on Cherry Spring Lane will melt your heart. Come spring you’ll fully be able to enjoy this simple, yet elegant brick home and its surrounding green pastures enclosed by miles of black wooden fences. Beyond your immediate yard are sweeping views of the mountains and valleys …

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Around Virginia

Education Savings Accounts Make Big Move in House

Dave_larock

The Virginia House of Delegates gave a strong push to House Bill 389, Delegate Dave LaRock’s (R-33rd District) innovative Education Savings Account legislation, as the House Education Committee voted 13-9 in favor of advancing the bill forward. “This is definitely an exciting development for parents and students in the Commonwealth,” …

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Kaine to Hold Hearing on Opioid Abuse

Kaine

On Monday, February 1, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine, a member of the Senate Special Committee on Aging, will hold a field hearing in Loudoun County to examine the ongoing fight against opioid misuse and abuse among older Americans. Kaine has met with families, law enforcement and business leaders across Virginia …

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Youth Can Apply for 2015 Livestock Exhibitor Scholarships

Virginia_seal

Youth who exhibited beef cattle, sheep, meat goats or swine in the 2015 State Fair of Virginia 4-H and FFA youth livestock program are eligible to apply for 12 new scholarships being offered by the State Fair of Virginia. Scholarships will be offered in three age groups: Juniors (9-12), Intermediate …

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Sports

Western Loudon Volleyball Club “Hitmen” Team Finishes Second

3 Feb 2016

westernloudounvolleyballclub

The Western Loudon Volleyball Club U14 boys team, called the “Hitmen,” finished second in a tournament held January 17. This is the first ever boys team for the WLVBC (and only the second boys club in the area). Coach Allan Kotmel led the seven-member team. WLVBC started eight years ago, …

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ODFC West Travel Soccer Program Shines

2 Dec 2015

ODFCsoccerpics

The Old Dominion Football Club West boys and girls middle school travel soccer program scored big the weekend of November 21 and 22.  The girls Quest Premier 22 team took home the championship in the U12 Girls Premier Division of the Hunt Country Classic located in Fauquier County. The boys …

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