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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
wildloudoun

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

Wild Loudoun: Snowy Owl – Interrupted Beauty, Flashing White

February 6, 2014 by Andrea Gaines Farm and garden, Lifestyle Comments Off on Wild Loudoun: Snowy Owl – Interrupted Beauty, Flashing White
snowy-owl-p1cmyk

Imagine winding your way to Dulles Airport on one of our recent cold January days. You can’t wait to get on the plane and wake up in sunny Florida the next day. Palm trees, warm breezes, ahhhh. But, as you drop off the last highway ramp and into the parking lot you notice a large snowy-white bird perching on an airport fence. It’s big. And, “Wow,” you think, “What the heck is that?”

Once in the airport, sipping your coffee and waiting to board your flight you see the news report about a snowy owl that was sighted in Washington, D.C. near a Washington Post building in January, and then taken to a local wildlife hospital after being hit by a bus. The bird appears to be OK, and veterinarians hope to release it, soon. Wow, you say to yourself, I just saw one of those birds. Wow. … Continue Reading

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Sustainable Planet

The Noisy Economist

25 Jul 2015

noerpel150

“[W]hereas classisists [economists] turned the spotlight on change, flow, process and dynamics, the neoclassicists [economists] spend their time analyzing states of rest, balance, equilibrium.” – Yanis Varoufakis [1] Updating the evolving global surface temperature anomaly monthly for the Loudoun County …

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Ask Dr. Mike

Help for Shark Phobia

8 Jul 2015

Michael_Pic

Dr. Mike, We go to the Outer Banks every summer as a family, but our seven-year-old daughter is now freaked out by the reported shark attacks at the Outer Banks. Thanks to her older siblings teasing her about sharks, she …

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Just Like Nothing (Else) on Earth

Mount Zion Church

1 Jul 2015

timjon

– 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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Brandon Park

3 Jun 2015

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 …

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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

Saving The Art Of Letter Writing

1 Jul 2015

moore-sobelnewmug

– By Samuel Moore-Sobel This year a woman in France received a letter in the mail. What made her experience unique was that the letter had been written on January 27, 1877, and was intended for her great-grandfather. Steve Insekeep, …

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Amy V. Smith's Money Talks

The Marital Agreement

2 Jul 2015

Smith0035

– By Amy & Dan Smith In Virginia, as in most states, a marital agreement can be entered into before or after marriage. It can cover a variety of topics but commonly addresses issues pertaining to the disposition of property …

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Student News

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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Blue Ridge Middle Places 11th In National Science League

1 Jul 2015

blueridgemiddleschool

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

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

Summer Expressions: an exhibit of abstract paintings by artist Rebeca Roman and ceramics by potter Steven Shiraishi

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Summer Expressions: an exhibit of abstract paintings by artist Rebeca Roman and ceramics by potter Steven Shiraishi

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Afghan Treasures Trunk Show

Moonlight Zip Tours in Middleburg Virginia

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Moonlight Zip Tours in Middleburg Virginia

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Afghan Treasures Trunk Show

Moonlight Zip Tours in Middleburg Virginia

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Notaviva Vineyards - Bluegrass Jam - FREE event

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Afghan Treasures Trunk Show

Garden Party

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Afghan Treasures Trunk Show

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Garden Party

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Afghan Treasures Trunk Show

Garden Party

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Garden Party

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Afghan Treasures Trunk Show

Garden Party

Willie White returns to North Gate Vineyard

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Garden Party

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Barns of Rose Hill Presents Lúnasa

Afghan Treasures Trunk Show

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Afghan Treasures Trunk Show

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Afghan Treasures Trunk Show

Friday Night Jazz with Maddy Curtis and Caleb Nei

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Afghan Treasures Trunk Show

Two Pound Sterling Live at North Gate Vineyard

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Afghan Treasures Trunk Show

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Afghan Treasures Trunk Show

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Disney’s The Little Mermaid Jr.

Culinary Garden Summer Music Series

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Afghan Treasures Trunk Show

Kipyn Martin Live at North Gate VIneyard

Disney’s The Little Mermaid Jr.

Event: Art Gallery Reception for Featured Artists – wood turner Harriet Maloney and photographer J Riley Stewart

The Gifts Within

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Afghan Treasures Trunk Show

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Afghan Treasures Trunk Show

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Afghan Treasures Trunk Show

Annual Summer Sidewalk Sale Returns with Bargains for Everyone

Friday Night Live with Emma Rowley & Saffron Gourmet Food Truck

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Annual Summer Sidewalk Sale Returns with Bargains for Everyone

Chef Sebastian Oveysi's Saffon Gourmet Food Truck at North Gate VIneyard

Book Signing: 'Beyond Jefferson's Vines' by Richard Leahy

Notaviva Vineyards - Bluegrass Jam - FREE event

Spinners

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Afghan Treasures Trunk Show

Annual Summer Sidewalk Sale Returns with Bargains for Everyone

Chef Sebastian Oveysi's Saffon Gourmet Food Truck at North Gate VIneyard

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

How Did We Get Here And How Do We Get Out?? A Summary Of Purcellville’s Sewer Debt And Strategic Solutions

1 Jul 2015

kwasifraser

– By Kwasi Fraser, Mayor of Purcellville Many of our fellow citizens are baffled by the proposed increase in our already high water and sewer rates, and not just about the increase that was proposed for the Fiscal Year 2016 but also about the proposed increases over the next nine years. This quote from one of our citizens to a …

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Lifestyle

Artist’s Profile: Michele Sommers, Mural Artist – The Beauty Of Life, Evolving Over Time

2 Jul 2015

artist3

– By Andrea Gaines Two things defy reason when it comes to mural artist and painter Michele Sommers. The first is her irrepressibly humble attitude towards her talent. The second is the absolute divinity of her work. I knew that in writing about her in this way she would be thinking, Oh … come on … I’m not THAT good! …

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Kicking Off Farm To Fork With Music

1 Jul 2015

farmtofork

Kicking off this year’s Farm-to-Fork Loudoun project is the second annual Farm, Fork & Art, with music added: a special concert from home grown, award winning folk and Americana singer-songwriter Andrew McKnight. Farm, Fork, Art & Music begins at 6 p.m. sharp at the unique Trinity House Cafe located at 101 E. Market St. in Leesburg on Wednesday, July 22, …

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Hillsboro Celebrates Independence Day July 3

1 Jul 2015

hillsborojuly3

Bring your friends and family to Hillsboro’s Old Stone School on Friday, July 3 for the annual Independence Day Celebration. The celebration will be preceded by the second of four seasonal outdoor markets which will open on July 3 at 4 p.m., and the Independence Day festivities begin at 6 p.m. at the Old Stone School located at 37098 Charles …

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Wild Loudoun

Ancient Oaks – The Great Providers

1 Jul 2015

wildloudoun

– By Andrea Gaines She feeds the birds. She shelters the mammal. She cools the air, provides us with shade and conserves the water and soil. She is the mighty old oak, an ecosystem unto herself. All except the smallest living things function as an ecosystem of sorts – whether harboring the bacteria and microscopic plants that break down organic …

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Around Virginia

Governor Signs Senator Black’s Campus Sexual Assault Bill

governorsigns

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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McAuliffe Announces Movie To Film in Virginia

McAuliffe

Gov. Terry McAuliffe announced that Virginia has been selected as the filming location for “Loving,” a motion picture based on the true story of Richard and Mildred Loving, a Virginia married couple who, in 1958, were arrested for violating a state law at the time prohibiting interracial marriage. The couple …

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Bipartisan Legislation Hopes To Reduce Wasteful Spending

blueridge2

U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) and Rand Paul (R-KY) have teamed up on a bipartisan proposal to empower federal workers to identify and cut down on unnecessary federal spending. The Bonuses for Cost-Cutters Act of 2015 would build on existing law by expanding a program that allows U.S. government …

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Sports

Upper Loudoun Little League Pre-Game Ceremony

1 Jul 2015

ULLLpic5

– By Carri Michon The Majors championship game for Upper Loudoun Little League dawned with prospects of stormy weather. Nonetheless, a nice crowd assembled for the pre-game ceremonies in the light rain. Following the announcment of the AL Royals and the NL Pirates teams, the ULLL Hometown Heroes scholarship given …

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WLVBC Ignite Takes 2nd at Tournament

13 May 2015

Ignite Takes Silver at Spring Fling resized

Western Loudoun Volleyball Club U15 Team Ignite placed second at the NVVA 15’s Spring Fling Volleyball Tournament on Sunday, May 10 at Belmont Ridge Middle School in Leesburg. Ignite met the host team, NVVA 15 Fairfax Black, in the finals. “I’m proud of each player for pushing hard through 10 …

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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

Locks Of Hope Easy, Helpful

1 Jul 2015

Lunde new

– By Mary Rose Lunde I’m not the first one who has written about and done what I am about to describe, and I hope I’m not the last. It’s not an action that seems heroic, but it does make a difference. The best part is that no one 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

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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Minimum Wage: A Wrench in the Gears

3 Jun 2015

Dave_larock

By Delegate Dave LaRock You may have read in the news recently that the second-largest city in the United States, Los Angeles, voted to raise …

(3 comments)

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