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Dragonflies – To See Is To Believe

August 7, 2015 by Andrea Gaines Columns, Wild Loudoun Be the first to comment
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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 and numerous insects with which we share our Wild Loudoun world. Dragonflies.

The dragonflies of Loudoun County, some 80 or so in all, are grouped under seven categories – including Darners, Clubtails, Spiketails, Cruisers, Emeralds, Skimmers and the related Damselflies. … Continue Reading

Belted Kingfisher – Streamside Rock Star

June 3, 2015 by Andrea Gaines Columns, Wild Loudoun Comments Off on Belted Kingfisher – Streamside Rock Star
wildloudoun

It’s hard to say what you noticed first.

The cool blue streak of color. The piecing cry – a sharp rattle – here one second and gone the next. The splashy exit as a very spirited bird made off with a very unlucky fish.

These are the behaviors, sights and sounds of the belted kingfisher, one of our local waterways’ most dramatic avian hunters.
Belted kingfishers are loud, colorful and fast, but their noisy, bandit-like disruptions don’t last long. The bird spends most of its time perched above its watery kingdom scoping out the food sources in and around the streams, marshes, ponds, rivers and shorelines below – including small fish, crayfish and shellfish, salamanders, lizards and frogs. … Continue Reading

Brook Trout – Colorful Aquatic Gems

May 5, 2015 by Andrea Gaines Wild Loudoun Comments Off on Brook Trout – Colorful Aquatic Gems
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In his 2006 book The Road, author Cormac McCarthy writes a beautiful passage about a lush, living landscape that once was, as a father tells his son about what had lived in a now spoiled waterway. “Once there were brook trout in the streams in the mountains … You could see them standing in the amber current where the white edges of their fins wimpled softly in the flow. They smelled of moss in your hand … On their backs were vermiculate patterns that were maps of the world in its becoming …” … Continue Reading

Northern Cardinal – Celebrating the Language of Love

February 3, 2015 by Andrea Gaines Columns, Wild Loudoun Comments Off on Northern Cardinal – Celebrating the Language of Love
cardinal

Most wildlife biologists classify the northern cardinal as a bird that mates for life. And, why wouldn’t they?

The unmistakably brilliant lipstick red of the male cardinal cannot be described as anything other than inspiring the language of love. Catching that bolt of red as it streaks across a field of freshly fallen snow is like watching a modern oil painting emerging from its bright white canvas.
Female cardinals are often described as sporting plumage of “an attractive tan/grey” or a “dull brown.” But, that’s not what I see. I see a sophisticated pale olive lady edged along its brow, neck, tail, wings and pointy crest with a subtle watercolor red. And, when you see a pair of these birds perched together on a twig or fence railing, it is clear that they are perfectly suited for each other. Perfectly. … Continue Reading

See a Skunk Doing a Handstand? Run.

January 6, 2015 by Andrea Gaines Columns, Wild Loudoun Comments Off on See a Skunk Doing a Handstand? Run.
wildloudoun skunk

Skunks and humans have something in common: they don’t want to be near us and we don’t want to be near them.

With their bold and dramatic markings, if they weren’t so darn smelly – and for that reason, scary – we might actually consider them to be a quite the handsome/pretty member of our local wildlife community. But, only one bad encounter with a skunk makes for one perfectly clear message … don’t go there!

Skunk Varieties

Worldwide, there are eleven species of skunk, nine of which are found in our western hemisphere. … Continue Reading

The Red-Legged Partridge – Here in Song, Spirit, and … the Flesh?

December 10, 2014 by Andrea Gaines Columns, Wild Loudoun Comments Off on The Red-Legged Partridge – Here in Song, Spirit, and … the Flesh?
wildloudoun

“The Twelve Days of Christmas” was first published in the late 1700s. Celebrating a wealth of gift giving and other activities that take place from late December through early January, the famous carol is most well known for its iconic opening verse, “On the first day of Christmas my true love sent to me a partridge in a pear tree.”

Now, people who know partridges argue that the song is talking about the common grey partridge, for it – in contrast to it’s more colorful, rocky habitat cousin the red-legged partridge – is a tree-dweller.

However, the famous carol is thought to be of French origin, and that settled it for me. … Continue Reading

Raccoons – the Fascinating Commoner

November 5, 2014 by Blue Ridge Leader Columns, Wild Loudoun Comments Off on Raccoons – the Fascinating Commoner
raccoons

By Andrea Gaines

It’s not a good idea to come in physical contact with a raccoon – or any wild animal for that matter – or to allow your dog or cat to do so. As I found out one night trying to aid a raccoon that had been hit by a car, they do not like to be cornered and can be very aggressive as well as vocal. Luckily, the Animal Control professional I called knew just what to do – put on big heavy gloves, lasso the raccoon with a long stick and protective noose, ease it slowly into a sturdy cage and get it some medical attention as quickly as possible. … Continue Reading

Beavers – Biodiversity with a Paddle

October 1, 2014 by Andrea Gaines Columns, Wild Loudoun 1 comment

It is a bit of a touchy subject to write about beavers. Recent news reports document, for example, how a beaver, later found out to be rabid, threatened children fishing in a pond in Fairfax County and went after an elderly woman swimming in a lake in Reston.

As a now life-long conservationist and someone who has related to wildlife in the most fundamental of ways from my earliest years, I’ve learned that the best way to protect wildlife is to promote the idea of living in community with them. We don’t need to share our Sunday dinner with the groundhog or squirrel in our yard, but, otherwise, maybe we can make some adjustments to just let them be. … Continue Reading

Nature, Moving from Season To Season on a Wing and a Prayer

September 3, 2014 by Andrea Gaines Columns, Wild Loudoun Comments Off on Nature, Moving from Season To Season on a Wing and a Prayer
hummingbird

The term “on a wing and a prayer,” or “coming in on one wing and a prayer” is a WWII reference to the hardships pilots faced desperately trying to guide their disabled aircraft home and land safely, rather than be lost between the last place they were seen and the home base they were so desperately trying to reach. Using their wits, their instincts, any tools at their disposal and their desire to live, they make do with what they have to survive another day.

While it is not a reference to nature, the term on a wing and a prayer is very relevant to the life around us as we leave summer’s warm temperatures and abundant food sources and head into the lower temperatures and scarcity of fall and winter. … Continue Reading

Mighty Little Crayfish

August 6, 2014 by Andrea Gaines Columns, Wild Loudoun 2 comments
wildloudoun

Several years ago I was walking along W&OD Trail in Reston when I saw a mighty little thing – maybe two inches long – strutting directly toward me in a very menacing way. It was moving pretty fast and had two large claws raised. I didn’t know if this was how this thing behaved – vulnerable and out in the open – or, if it had “seen” me and was preparing for a fight. As I got closer I saw that it was a crayfish. A perfectly proportioned mini lobster intent on what, I didn’t know.

In doing research for this article I learned that crayfish are very territorial and pack a mighty pinch when handled. Glad that at that moment I decided to leave the crayfish alone instead of picking it up for closer inspection. … Continue Reading

Wild Loudoun- Milkweed – Sustenance of the Monarch

June 3, 2014 by Andrea Gaines Farm and garden, Lifestyle 1 comment
milkweed

Where there is milkweed, there are monarchs. Sounds like a simple enough idea. Butterflies like flowers and milkweed is a flower. But the connection between the monarch butterfly and the milkweed plant is as strong as the connection between you and the oxygen you take into your lungs every time you draw a breath.
Humans and monarchs live in the same world, but, we don’t use it in the same way. While you and I can survive in just about every climate on just about any kind food, and find shelter and successful ways of producing the next generation in, literally, billions of different ways, the monarch butterfly is quite different.

Adult monarchs can draw nectar – food – from a fairly wide variety of flowering plants: asters, goldenrod and bee balm, for example. But, as they leave their southern wintering grounds – including small patches of high forest in Mexico – and head north and east through Texas, Louisiana, Tennessee, the Carolinas, Virginia and beyond, they are 100 percent dependent on the milkweed plant. Female monarchs lay their eggs on milkweed and milkweed alone, and the tiny caterpillars that emerge from those eggs to take a fighting chance at life eat milkweed and milkweed alone. … Continue Reading

Wild Loudoun: Saving Lives in Vernal Pools

April 30, 2014 by Andrea Gaines Farm and garden, Lifestyle Comments Off on Wild Loudoun: Saving Lives in Vernal Pools

As winter surrenders its stubborn cold and spring gathers the sun’s warmth around us, vernal pools explode with the wonderful frogs and other amphibians that but for them would simply not exist.
“Vernal pools” – otherwise known as ephemeral or temporary pools – are large or small watery areas that appear in late winter to early spring.

They take many forms, from small woodland depressions, to larger areas that look like a typical wetland, to collections of water occurring around special geological features such as underground limestone formations. You might have a vernal pool on your property or have seen one … not really knowing you were looking at something very special and very important to nature – a patch of woodland that holds water as winter snows melt and early spring rains come our way, or a soggy, grassy area in a low spot on your lawn. Or, perhaps you walked by a place that despite the still chilly air had a haze of green life on it, even as winter had not yet fully departed. Or, a place that, as you drive by just after nightfall is filled with the sound of spring peepers – tiny, very vocal frogs sending out their calls to attract a mate. … Continue Reading

Wild Loudoun: The Constant and Private Red Shouldered Hawk

March 4, 2014 by Andrea Gaines Farm and garden, Lifestyle Comments Off on Wild Loudoun: The Constant and Private Red Shouldered Hawk
Red-Red shouldered hawk inside

A female red-shouldered hawk is one of my most constant wild companions here on the farm. Three or four times a week I see her perched in a willow above the pond, on the fence line or in one of the larger trees on the property. With open fields, water sources and mature trees, it’s good habitat for her; more often than not she is flying off with something in her talons. She is exceptionally cautious as I drive down the driveway – private and wary somehow. She doesn’t really like me to pause and take a picture, most times flying off to a spot several hundred feet away – especially if she is in the middle of a meal. So, I’ve named her “Wary.”

Red-tailed hawks are common in my area, too. But, the bird I see has distinct reddish-brown shoulders, peachy under parts streaked with white and the dramatically banned tail characteristic of the red-shouldered hawk. Red-shouldered hawks are smaller than the bulkier red-tail, as well, and I notice that size difference, too. … 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

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

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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

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

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

  • Merlis on Congress and MWAA VS Loudoun Taxpayers: Yes! What a great idea.
  • 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...
  • R. Ohneiser Esq. on Congress and MWAA VS Loudoun Taxpayers: Interesting discussion but let's consider how to actually resolve this problem permanently FOR THE BENEFIT OF LOUDOUN NOT JUST FOR...
  • Nan Siegel on Remembering Mabel: A lovely, heartfelt tribute. Though I never met Mabel, I think she must have had a wonderful life, full of...

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

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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

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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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