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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 by Tim Jon Columns, Just Like Nothing (Else) on Earth Comments Off on Brandon Park
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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 by Tim Jon Columns, Just Like Nothing (Else) on Earth Comments Off on Just Like Nothing (Else) On Earth: Telegraph Springs Road
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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 by Tim Jon 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 by Tim Jon Columns, Just Like Nothing (Else) on Earth Comments Off on Just Like Nothing (Else) On Earth: Elizabeth Mills Riverfront Park
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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 by Tim Jon 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

December 10, 2014 by Tim Jon Columns, Just Like Nothing (Else) on Earth 1 comment
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?

Just Like Nothing (Else) on Earth: Point of Rocks

November 5, 2014 by Tim Jon Columns, Just Like Nothing (Else) on Earth Comments Off on Just Like Nothing (Else) on Earth: Point of Rocks
point of rocks

Yeah, I know; I seem to be coming up with a list of contradictions for this particular place: Imposing yet stimulating, simultaneously calming and invigorating, ethereal and grounding, still and moving. Those are just some of the pairs of opposing impressions and sensations I recall from my last visit to the banks of the Potomac River at the spot we call Point of Rocks.

Now, I know that the village by this name lies across the way in Frederick County, Md., but the views afforded by the place (in my opinion) are far more rewarding from the northern shores of Loudoun (yes, I know that’s the south bank of the river). You can get there easily enough: take the Boat Landing access from Lovettsville Road – immediately off Route 15 just before the bridge – and you can get out of your car and traipse around – and under – the huge pylons that support the structure for some inspiring sights – both natural and man-made. … Continue Reading

Just Like Nothing (Else) On Earth: Aldie Mill

October 1, 2014 by Tim Jon Columns, Just Like Nothing (Else) on Earth Comments Off on Just Like Nothing (Else) On Earth: Aldie Mill
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I guess what I’m impressed by the most – in addition to just the scale of the entire facility – is the indications of the sheer abundance which this county must once have offered in the form of sustenance. See, these days, if you need bread for your table, you just head down to your local supermarket – or even 24 hour convenience store; at the time of the early operations at the Aldie Mill, just about everybody made their own loaves of bread at home – and this was after somebody planted, grew and harvested the wheat – and then had it ground into flour at one of many of these mill complexes scattered across early American farmland. … Continue Reading

Bloomfield

September 3, 2014 by Tim Jon Columns, Just Like Nothing (Else) on Earth Comments Off on Bloomfield
timjon

Maybe it’s just my imagination (most people who know me stress that it’s one of my stronger – or maybe, stranger – traits), but I’d swear that there are places around this unique county of ours where the past not only still lingers in distant memories and references in musty documents, but it practically reaches out and grabs you. You probably think of some of the same places I’d list – if that’s what I were setting out to do here; you drive, walk or ride past some of your favorite landmarks and feel as if you’d just spent some time not only in another place – but in another era. … Continue Reading

Shreve Mill Road

August 6, 2014 by Tim Jon Columns, Just Like Nothing (Else) on Earth Comments Off on Shreve Mill Road
timjon

It’s quintessential Loudoun County in transition: In less than two miles, this sleepy, little country road passes by decrepit, abandoned structures (apparently just waiting for demolition and development), some surprisingly tranquil waterways, and stretches of mature forest that would entice Robin Hood, and yet – it offers access (at its mid-point) to the biggest superhighway in our locality (the Dulles Greenway). The real hallmark of mixed identity for Shreve Mill Road, though, for me – at least for now – lies in its claim as a paved – and an unpaved – road. The eastern section offers a very narrow strip of blacktop (almost wide enough for two vehicles), which turns to gravel just after the imposing juncture with the Greenway. Little old County Road 653 even becomes a ‘four-laner’ as it crosses over its bigger counterpart – as if to make an impression in the presence of all that Green. … Continue Reading

Just Like Nothing (Else) On Earth: Blue Ridge Mountain Road

July 3, 2014 by Tim Jon Columns, Just Like Nothing (Else) on Earth Comments Off on Just Like Nothing (Else) On Earth: Blue Ridge Mountain Road
timjon

It wasn’t until I saw it all under heavy fog that this place really came to speak to me; sure, I’d seen it in rain, snow, sleet and just about every other condition you could name, but before that blanket of milky white from the descended clouds covered it head to toe, I never really felt that palpable sense of what I call the Top of Loudoun County. Blue Ridge Mountain Road lives up to its name and more, as it cuts sharply uphill from Route Seven; it ascends in pretty much a straight path until you reach the summit – more or less – a couple of miles into the climb. This rate of incline – by the way – can be most dramatically brought home by viewing it from across the highway – several hundred yards up on Raven Rocks Road – another hair-raiser of a journey during anything like inclement weather.

… Continue Reading

Shelburne Glebe Road

April 30, 2014 by Tim Jon Columns, Just Like Nothing (Else) on Earth Comments Off on Shelburne Glebe Road
Shelburne

I guess you could say I have a thing for those sometimes overlooked, innocuous little roads that just kinda end someplace – for most of us in the middle of nowhere – but for some of us – just exactly where you’d want ‘em to. I’m not sure how other travelers feel about coming to an abrupt halt at the southern end of Shelburne Glebe Road (County Road 729), but I always like to know when I’ve come to the end of the line – so I can do a ‘180’ and head in the opposite direction. It tells me that I’ve pursued this path as far as I can, and I may as well direct my energy into other destinations. Life can be like that. … Continue Reading

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Sustainable Planet

Not Your Father’s El Nino

15 Aug 2015

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NASA and other agencies now forecast the incipient El Nino conditions to continue at least into the winter and the early part of 2016. Figure 1 compares Pacific sea surface temperature anomaly for the El Nino of 1997- 1998 with …

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Ask Dr. Mike

At Wits End

7 Aug 2015

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Dr. Mike, My sister’s son is autistic, but she is in complete denial. I’ve done my research and he fits a diagnosis of autism. He is three years old and doesn’t talk or socialize. He has meltdowns that are out …

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Just Like Nothing (Else) on Earth

Just Like Nothing (Else) on Earth: Morven Park

7 Aug 2015

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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 …

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Mount Zion Church

1 Jul 2015

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– By Tim Jon So: You’ve never given the American Civil War a great deal of thought, much less walked the grounds of Gettysburg or some of the other, major battleground sites located in our region; you may not be …

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Sushi's Corner

March Sushi

4 Mar 2015

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Hello everyone, this is Hokie Cat from Fields of Athenry Farm. Sushi is in big trouble as we speak and is residing in doggy dungeon. I am here to fill you in on what took place. My brother Mountie loves …

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Virginia Gardening

Planting an Allergy-Free Garden

5 May 2015

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By Donna Williamson Tom Ogren has a long-time interest in allergy-inducing plants. He has written several books on the topic and in February released his latest The Allergy Fighting Garden. He explains why plants can stir up allergies and has …

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Samuel Moore-Sobel

What It Means To Be a Man

7 Aug 2015

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By Samuel Moore-Sobel As I have gotten older I have noticed that there are more and more young men who ask me for advice. To me it seems silly – I am often not much older than the person asking, …

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Amy V. Smith's Money Talks

A Social Security Strategy Could Enhance Your Retirement Income Plan

7 Aug 2015

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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 …

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Student News

8th Grade Writers Honored At Blue Ridge Middle School

2 Jul 2015

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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

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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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Blue Ridge Middle Places 11th In National Science League

1 Jul 2015

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Blue Ridge National Science Day Declared Tuesday, June 10 has been officially been declared Blue Ridge National Science Day. At a recent Purcellville Town Council Meeting, Mayor Kwasi Fraser and members of the town council signed a proclamation designating this …

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Events

September 2015
M T W T F S S
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Afghan Treasures Trunk Show

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Afghan Treasures Trunk Show

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Afghan Treasures Trunk Show

Notaviva Vineyards Monthly Bluegrass Jam is BACK w/Short Hill Mountain Boys

Notaviva Vineyards - Bluegrass Jam - FREE event

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Afghan Treasures Trunk Show

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Afghan Treasures Trunk Show

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Afghan Treasures Trunk Show

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Afghan Treasures Trunk Show

COFFEEHOUSE: J.RILEY STEWART

COFFEEHOUSE: LOVE, LOSS & WHAT I WORE

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Afghan Treasures Trunk Show

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KAYDEE PUPPETS: SHEEP DOG DETECTIVES

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Afghan Treasures Trunk Show

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LAST HAM STANDING COMEDY IMPROV

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Afghan Treasures Trunk Show

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Afghan Treasures Trunk Show

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Afghan Treasures Trunk Show

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Afghan Treasures Trunk Show

September Fourth Friday at Breaux

26 27

Rally for the Cure

Afghan Treasures Trunk Show

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Afghan Treasures Trunk Show

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Afghan Treasures Trunk Show

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Afghan Treasures Trunk Show

Notaviva Vineyards - Bluegrass Jam - FREE event

BUSH BROTHERS LIVE!

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Recent Comments

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  • Mark Gunderman on Gifts Within: Second Mount Olive Baptist Church, located in Hamilton, VA, was founded in 1872. The congregation desires to exalt God and...
  • Kathleen Hannon on What It Means To Be a Man: Great article Samuel! We have two daughters and we try to teach them to look for qualities such as...
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View From the Ridge

An Open Letter to the Citizens of Purcellville

5 May 2015

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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 sessions June 4, 11 and 18 at 7:00 p.m. at town hall for the proposed sweeping zoning changes. These major …

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Editorial

Getting Purcellville Out of the Conflicts of Interest Trap

7 Aug 2015

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Three Virginia laws address openness in government: the Virginia Freedom of Information Act (VFOIA), The Virginia Public Records Act (VPRA) and The Virginia State & Local Government Conflict of Interests Act (VCOIA). VFOIA guides how public bodies conduct their meetings and regulates access to government records. VPRA establishes basic rules about what constitutes a public record and what the government’s …

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Lifestyle

Loudoun Health Officials Remind Septic System Owners of Need to Pump Out

28 Aug 2015

Loudoun County Seal Color

The Loudoun County Health Department reminds owners of septic systems that routine pumping out of their systems can extend the system’s life and reduce the risk of untreated sewage surfacing or backing up into a house. Loudoun County requires owners of conventional onsite septic systems to have their tanks pumped out at least every five years. Tanks must be pumped …

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Historic Village Prepares for 46th Annual Bluemont Fair

25 Aug 2015

IMG_4106

The sleepy Blue Ridge village of Bluemont in western-most Loudoun County, Virginia, is bustling with activity as it prepares for the 46th ANNUAL BLUEMONT FAIR, September 19 & 20, 2015 from 10AM to 5PM both days, rain or shine. Admission is still only $5/adults, under 10 free, with free parking available. One-way traffic and crosswalks will be enforced in the …

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Register for Rally for the Cure™

24 Aug 2015

blueridge2

Want to participate in a fun tournament for a great cause? Then sign up to participate in the Stoneleigh Women’s Golf Association’s annual Rally for the Cure ™ golf tournament in Support of Breast Cancer Awareness Month! This is a great opportunity to play at the golf course recently cited as being the Prettiest Golf Course in Northern Virginia by …

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Wild Loudoun

Dragonflies – To See Is To Believe

7 Aug 2015

wildloudoundragonflies

Shadow Darner. Unicorn Clubtail. Black Shouldered Spinyleg. Blue Dasher. Ebony Jewelwing. Calico Pennant. Sanddragon. Their names conger up some magical place inhabited by devils and demons, elegant queens, daring lovers – creatures you would need to see with your own eyes to believe really existed. But, each of these, including the Calico Pennant, is actually one of the most common …

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Around Virginia

Governor McAuliffe Launches Governor’s Council on Youth Entrepreneurship

McAuliffe

Governor Terry McAuliffe today signed Executive Order 47 establishing the Governor’s Council on Youth Entrepreneurship, which shall be responsible for coordinating and implementing youth entrepreneurship initiatives and fostering the growth of the entrepreneurial ecosystem for young people in Virginia. “The foundation of the new Virginia economy rests on the strength …

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Congress and MWAA VS Loudoun Taxpayers

davelarock

By Delegate Dave LaRock It’s no secret that population growth and business development have left Loudoun County, especially busy areas to the east, with some pretty challenging traffic. The process of expanding the local network of roads and transit always seems to be playing catch-up, usually tied to availability of …

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Governor Signs Senator Black’s Campus Sexual Assault Bill

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On Thursday, May 28, Sen. Richard Black traveled to Richmond for the bill signing ceremony of his bill, Senate Bill 712, the Campus Sexual Assault Bill. Black’s law will change the way that Virginia’s colleges and universities handle sexual assault cases.  “When I heard about the Hannah Graham case, I …

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Sports

Drew Hunter Heading To Pan American Games

7 Aug 2015

drewhunter

Loudoun Valley’s Drew Hunter placed second in the United States Track and Field 1500-meter run Junior National Championship. That earned him a spot on the United States Junior Team going to the Pan American Games in Edmonton, Canada in late July. Drew lost to college freshman Blake Haney of the …

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American Legion Post 34 Hosting Mid-Atlantic Regional Baseball Tournament

5 Aug 2015

americanlegionpost34

Batter up! Chartered in 1919 by an act of Congress, the American Legion is one of our country’s oldest, largest and most prestigious veteran’s organizations – dedicated to mentoring youth, sponsoring community programs, promoting national security and supporting veterans and members of the armed forces. Specific programs include scholarships, scouting, …

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This Month in History

July, 1776: Loudoun’s Revolution Within A Revolution

1 Jul 2015

thismonthhistory

– By Andrea Gaines Loudoun County was heavily invested in the fight for independence from Great Britain. Loudouner Francis Lightfoot Lee was one of 56 delegates to sign the Declaration of Independence. More Loudouners served in General George Washington’s army than any other county in Virginia, and the county’s enormous …

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Mary Rose Lunde

More Than a GPA

7 Aug 2015

Lunde new

By Mary Rose Lunde In school we are measured in every way based on a number system from a point scale resulting in grades then translated into a GPA that can’t be easily fixed in just one semester. Students are forced to think that all they have to achieve is …

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Sarah's Closet

Go Pink … As Pink As You Like

1 Jul 2015

sarahcloset3

– By Sarah Nearis Look at these sweet and summery pink blouses and tops. Don’t you want to try one on? Some women are afraid to wear pink, thinking it’s a bit too feminine. But, pink comes in such a wide variety of shades – from soft mauves to fuchsias …

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Letters

Thank You Purcellville

7 Aug 2015

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I want to express my sincere appreciation for the outpouring of support by the local business owners and residents in relationship to my challenge to …

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Independence Won – Much Left To Be Done

1 Jul 2015

speak

With graduations behind us and summer vacations ahead, we have much to look forward to. My summer will be full of events and opportunities to …

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Reflections for Father’s Day, a Child’s Constitutional Rights

15 Jun 2015

Bob Ohneiser

I’ve been a licensed attorney and a father since the late 80’s. Yet, I wonder about how many of our country’s legal theories – theories …

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