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Planting an Allergy-Free Garden

May 5, 2015 by Blue Ridge Leader Columns, Virginia Gardening Comments Off on Planting an Allergy-Free Garden
donnawilliamson

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 included information about 3,000 different species that we plant in our landscapes and grow in seasonal gardens. His ranking system relates to the level, size, stickiness, and potency of pollen produced. … Continue Reading

Enjoying the Harvest of Your Summer Garden – Now

February 3, 2015 by Blue Ridge Leader Columns, Virginia Gardening Comments Off on Enjoying the Harvest of Your Summer Garden – Now
donnawilliamson

By Donna Williamson

Bitter, windy, nasty weather has given me an opportunity to look at some of the books I’ve collected recently and think about plants I want to try this summer season.

From the book, The Resilient Gardener, I read about parching corn. With certain species of corn, you can drop a few kernels in a dry cast iron pan and cook them to deliciousness. The author also parches kernels in a custard cup in the microwave. The toasted kernels enlarge, split, and get soft and sweet. It doesn’t work with all kinds of corn; after doing extensive research it seems the red/purple varieties are the tastiest. Seeds of Change carries “Red Supai” (seedsofchange.com) while Seed Dreams (SeedDreams.blogspot.com) offers “Parching Lavender Mandan”. Siskiyou Seeds (siskiyouseeds.com) has “Magenta Parching Corn”. The author, Carol Deppe breakfasts on a cup of tea and a handful of parched corn. … Continue Reading

December A Time To Look Back – A Time To Plan

December 10, 2014 by Blue Ridge Leader Virginia Gardening Comments Off on December A Time To Look Back – A Time To Plan
donnawilliamson

By Donna Williamson

December is a great time to look back on the gardening year and remember what went well or failed miserably.

Last winter’s winter-sowing of seeds went very well in spite of the polar vortex and I was able to test the seed of a couple of woody plants including the Carolina rose, all of which germinated well. Though winter is not my best season, being able to start seeds of perennials and shrubs outside with hopes for the spring makes it much more tolerable.

After reading an article about delaying a second planting of tomatoes this spring, I held back some of my little ones in containers and planted them in the ground a month after my first tomato planting. Since I grow many heirloom tomatoes, diseases always hit them in late summer and they start to dwindle. The later planted tomatoes were robust and productive until killed by the frosty temperatures in November. So that is a tip to pass along – make two plantings of tomatoes a month apart and see for yourself. … Continue Reading

Achieving a Natural Balance in the Garden

November 5, 2014 by Blue Ridge Leader Columns, Virginia Gardening 2 comments
MagSieboldii

By Donna Williamson

This spring I noticed that my Magnolia sieboldii was looking wonky. This is usually a spectacular magnolia with downward facing blooms and red stamens in the center of the flower.

I thought maybe the terrible winter had damaged it. The leaves had come out but the closer I looked, I saw that it had sooty mold. It’s called sooty mold because it looks like soot staining the bark or the leaves. It is a fungus that grows on the sugary poo of tiny leaf-sucking critters, often aphids or whiteflies. And, in my experience, sooty mold is a harmless symptom of insect activity. It doesn’t really hurt the tree. … Continue Reading

Time To Plant Bulbs

October 7, 2014 by Blue Ridge Leader Columns, Virginia Gardening Comments Off on Time To Plant Bulbs
TSylvestriswithblues

By Donna Williamson

It’s time to plant bulbs again – seems like this year flew by.

It’s easy to fall in love with bulbs. They are not costly, they bring joy in the spring, and many of them will build colonies over time.

Even the woodland tulip will come back for you. It’s a charming short yellow tulip that seems to like our climate. Most big tulips are good for one year and then they are not able to cure in our hot spring weather, preferring the cool, moist landscape of Holland or Seattle. It’s called Tulipa sylvestris.

Oatlands has had a large colony of this tulip at the back of the mansion for many years. I’ve found them at older properties and include them in newer plantings. … Continue Reading

Goldenrod – A Major Fall Beauty

September 3, 2014 by Blue Ridge Leader Columns, Virginia Gardening Comments Off on Goldenrod – A Major Fall Beauty
donnawilliamson

By Donna Williamson

It’s easy to think that goldenrod causes autumn sniffles. It’s a native with species that tolerate all kinds of conditions, from full sun to shade, from moist soils to hot and dry. And it blooms everywhere around the same time that the real culprit – ragweed – is blooming and full of pollen.

Ragweed is a tall, coarse plant with tiny greenish flowers and huge quantities of yellow pollen. It’s a plant so non-descript and inelegant that many have never looked at it carefully. Ragweed just seems to be a green thing in the background of many paths and along the road. (And it’s not that very tall plant with yellow daisy-like flowers that bloom along the road – that’s called frost weed. If you look carefully at the stems you will see wings or thin, papery tissue along the stem. Frost weed got its name for erupting with ice at the base of the plant during the first frosts of the season. Harmless.) … Continue Reading

Tomato Harvest and Other Joys

August 6, 2014 by Blue Ridge Leader Columns, Virginia Gardening Comments Off on Tomato Harvest and Other Joys
potato

By Donna Williamson

Ah, it’s tomato time. As usual, I planted and grew many heirloom and newer varieties of tomato plants and am loving every minute of the harvest. Those little cherry tomatoes are so delicious and refreshing while working in the garden or roasted with a touch of olive oil for 20 minutes in a hot oven.

And the big, juicy tomatoes ready for a burger or a salad are the best. Warm from the garden and never refrigerated, tomato sliced with fresh basil and mozzarella is a memorable summer dish.

My tomato bounty is ready for processing and canning for winter use. Keeping up with the harvest and processing in small batches works for me. … Continue Reading

June – July Experiment Planting Tomatoes

June 3, 2014 by Blue Ridge Leader Columns, Virginia Gardening Comments Off on June – July Experiment Planting Tomatoes
junejulyexperiment

By Donna Williamson

It’s possible to be regularly fascinated if gardening is a pastime you love. Just last year I learned about winter-sowing and started growing baptisia, hydrangea, and many native perennials from seed easily and inexpensively.

Last month I read an article about planting tomatoes in succession. It’s good timing to think about that idea. I grow several varieties of heirloom tomatoes because I can/jar them in the late summer for winter use and good tomato taste is important. But the heirlooms have not been “improved” and are often susceptible to diseases as the summer goes on. They also can slow down in production of new tomatoes in late summer. … Continue Reading

Hurry Up – Plant Something

April 30, 2014 by Blue Ridge Leader Columns, Virginia Gardening Comments Off on Hurry Up – Plant Something
GoldenNinebarkFlowers

By Donna Williamson

Spring is here and while it’s possible there might be a few more chilly moments, the worst is over. What is more likely is that we will heat up and be in full summer before too long.

In an average year, the rains are plentiful in the spring and seem to disappear around the end of May. So get some planting done soon so the gentle rains can do the watering for you.

New plants need to be established – lots of plant professionals talk about that. It means that you cannot count on Mother Nature to care for your perennials, shrubs, trees, or even that basil plant until the roots have had time to dig into your soil and drink up ground water. So you need to shepherd your new plants, sometimes for months, to make sure they get enough water. … Continue Reading

Spring Is Coming

March 4, 2014 by Blue Ridge Leader Columns, Virginia Gardening Comments Off on Spring Is Coming
springiscoming

By Donna Williamson

March is an in-between month – some cold and the return of glorious warmth now and then.

One way to bring some delight inside is forcing spring-blooming branches.

You can cut branches of forsythia, cherry, crabapple, kerria, or gelsemium. Pound the cut end of the branch with a hammer, opening several cracks in the bottom of the stem. Then plunge the ends into warm-very warm water.

After several days, the buds will swell and open, flowering to assure you that spring is really coming. … Continue Reading

Planning Our Gardens for Spring

February 5, 2014 by Blue Ridge Leader Columns, Virginia Gardening Comments Off on Planning Our Gardens for Spring
donnawilliamson

By Donna Williamson

This winter has given us a good opportunity to assess our landscapes. When snow is on the ground, we can visualize the “bones” of the place – the fence, the tree trunks and canopies, the statues of gnomes, the walkways where we shovel a path, the sunny slopes that clear snow early and more.

This winter, you might think about adding a shrub border or two. Shrubs provide a background, a windbreak, a snow fence where drifts collect, and an opportunity for salamanders and over-wintering butterflies to snuggle into leaf litter.

The showy stuff – perennials, annuals, low groundcovers – are invisible in the snow. The stalwart shrubs enclose our gardens and, if chosen well, provide nesting space for the birds and food for the baby birds coming in the spring. … Continue Reading

Time To Order Seeds

January 8, 2014 by Blue Ridge Leader Columns, Virginia Gardening Comments Off on Time To Order Seeds
orderseedspics

By Donna Williamson

The holidays are over and we can relax into visions of spring. It’s the perfect time to start your winter seed sowing activities. If you bring up my article about this last February, all the directions are there. And if you need more detailed information, check out www.agardenforthehouse.com – great blog – and click on winter-sowing. It’s lots of fun and the plants did very well for me last season.

The tomatoes I started outside were robust and strong, not the wimpy, indoor grown plants I was used to. Of course I planted too much lettuce seed so I had to cut up the plant mass like a pan of brownies and plant each clump…will do better this year.

Several surprises delighted me. I had collected five Florentine iris seeds and all five germinated in one of my containers. They were transplanted in the spring and grew very well. Butterfly weed and white baptisia grew nicely too. I have struggled with perennial seeds in the past and this method made it easy and successful. … Continue Reading

Holiday Gifts for the Garden

December 3, 2013 by Blue Ridge Leader Columns, Virginia Gardening 1 comment
donnawilliamsonpic

By Donna Williamson

By now, all the outdoor plants have a nice base of oak leaves snuggled around their feet and the salamanders and solitary bees have found homes out of the weather.

Time to catch up on all those articles and books and think about what worked this past growing season and what to try next year.

In meandering around the internet, I sometimes find a little seed company with a charming seed variety or two that I would love to grow. Last year I found the most delightful 3-foot tall marigolds with big fluffy heads. I used the winter-sowing technique I shared with you earlier this year and germinated half of the seeds. They bloomed well into November and were spectacular. … 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

Childhood and Adolescent Depression: Tips for Parents and Caregivers

2 Sep 2015

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By Michael Oberschneider, Psy.D. According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), depression affects one in every 10 Americans.  And while the CDC’s data on depression currently shows that folks residing in the Commonwealth of Virginia fall slightly …

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Just Like Nothing (Else) on Earth

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

2 Sep 2015

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 – …

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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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Sushi's Corner

March Sushi

4 Mar 2015

pot of gold

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

donnawilliamson

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

A Man of Character

3 Sep 2015

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By Samuel Moore-Sobel “I thought it would be appropriate to reiterate my thoughts on power and quote something from Frederick Douglass that I believe is quite true,” Manfred Kory wrote to me after reading Lonnae O’Neill’s June 29 column in …

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Amy V. Smith's Money Talks

When To Take Social Security: Timing Is Everything

3 Sep 2015

Smith0035

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 …

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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

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

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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

View From the Ridge

An Open Letter to the Citizens of Purcellville

5 May 2015

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 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

town of purcellville sign

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

Rally for the Cure Golf Tournament

3 Sep 2015

stoneleigh

Stoneleigh Women’s Golf Association’s is having their 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 Golf Magazine and recently awarded a 3.5 star rating by Golf Digest. The format is …

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Irish Sessions at Corcoran Brewing

3 Sep 2015

noerpel150

Gina Faber and Tony Noerpel have started an “Irish Session” at Corcoran Brewing Company in Purcellville once a month on the second Sunday. The next session will be from noon to 3:00 p.m. on September 13. It is an open session, and anyone can bring an instrument and play along. Tony and his wife, Nancy, visited Ireland last year and were impressed by …

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September Calendar

3 Sep 2015

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Ongoing events Saturdays, September 12 to October 17, Interpreting Scripture Through Visual Arts, from 10:00 a.m. to noon. Jonathan Holland, artist and youth pastor, will take you on a journey to create powerful and moving art rooted within the Bible. Cost is $105. Go to opusoaks.org. On Saturday, September 12 at noon, Sunday, September 13 at 1:00 p.m., September 26 at noon and September 27 …

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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

Good Government Reinforces the Family

davelarock

By Delegate Dave LaRock Working as the elected Delegate for the 33rd House District has renewed my understanding of the value of a strong family. After decades of raising my family of mom, dad, and seven children and building my family’s business, which provided countless opportunities for mom, dad and …

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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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Sports

Las Vegas Tournament Good for Loudoun Teams

2 Sep 2015

basketball

D1 Sports & Athletics 15U Spartan Elite Boys basketball team won the Gold Elite Championship out of 158 teams from across the country at the Bigfoot Hoops Las Vegas Classic on July 26. D1SA Spartan Elite defeated Drive Bounce Elite from British Columbia, Canada, in the championship game with the …

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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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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

Perfection and Expectation in High School

3 Sep 2015

Lunde new

By Mary Rose Lunde If you think about high school, what do you think about? Do you think about the sports and how important they are to some students whose only dream of getting into college is a scholarship? Do you think about the high school student struggling for an …

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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

town of purcellville sign

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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