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Victoria Ross

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Get Ready to Shop!

LCAC Purse & Prom Sale starts Friday.

The Lorton Community Action Center will host its annual Purse & Prom Sale starting this Friday, April 26, through Sunday, April 28.

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A Beautiful Mind

Powerful play takes students inside the mind of autistic teen.

In 1996, Bernie DeLeo was exactly where he thought he should be. A former actor-turned-film producer and writer, DeLeo was living in New York City with his wife and young son. He had an agent, and had just gotten work on a sitcom—Life’s Work—starring Michael O’Keefe. But one weekend, while he was in Los Angeles, he got a call from his wife that irrevocably changed the course of his life. Charlie, his 3-year-old son, had been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, a form of autism.

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Fairfax County Budget Reflects ‘Increasing Needs, Decreasing Revenues’

"We as a board spend a lot of time talking about helping people in need, I can only say that when it came time to tax them, they were sadly forgotten." —Supervisor Pat Herrity (R-Springfield)

Karen Garza Hired as Superintendent of Fairfax County Public Schools

FCPS Board lauds Garza’s “openness” and “willingness to engage” community.

The Fairfax County School Board unanimously approved educator Karen Garza of Texas to be the next superintendent of the 181,000 student district at its April 18 school board meeting.

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Helping Homeless ‘Close to Home’

Springfield man launches the 25th Project Charity Golf Classic to benefit homeless.

“On Christmas Eve, my church has a gift-wrapping party, and we’ll wrap whatever we have, from tents and sleeping bags to flannel shirts,” Herriott said. “As The 25th Project has grown, we have expanded our goals and now provide tents, batteries, sleeping bags, tarps and other life essentials.”

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The Comeback Kid

Paralyzed after tragic accident, Nick Balenger throws out WSLL’s Opening Day pitch.

"You always get a special kick on Opening Day, no matter how many you go through. You look forward to it like a birthday party when you're a kid. You think something wonderful is going to happen,” said baseball legend Joe DiMaggio.

‘We Have Not Forgotten’

Residents rally in Vienna to support stricter gun control measures.

Less than six miles from the National Rifle Association (NRA) headquarters in Fairfax, more than 100 people gathered on the Vienna Town Green Saturday, April 13, to urge Congress to support stricter gun control measures.

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West Springfield Woman at Boston Marathon Carried to Safety by NFL Champ Joe Andruzzi

Friends and family pray for the Wittich family.

The Wittich family of West Springfield was excited about attending the Boston Marathon, one of the historic city’s prominent annual civic pride events. On Saturday, April 13, Christine Wittich, a West Springfield High School student, posted several tweets about the upcoming trip. “Wittich invasion has commenced. Is Boston ready?” and “Yay for being that matching family,” with a photo of mom Julie and sisters in matching blue t-shirts. But after Monday’s bomb blasts transformed the Boston Marathon into a scene of chaos and terror, leaving three dead and more than 100 injured, Wittich’s tweets became more muted.

County to Complete Road Projects

Projects that came in under-budget free up $11.2 million.

Motorists, pedestrians and cyclists received a bonus Tuesday, April 9, when the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors reallocated $11.2 million in existing funds to complete more than 12 planned pedestrian and road improvement projects.

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Animal Control Officer Nabs Elusive Shih Tzu

Officer’s dogged pursuit saves sly pup from life on the streets.

Just 13 pounds of matted fur and fluff, “Biscuit,” a sly shih tzu, evaded capture in the Franconia area for nearly two years, porch-surfing and stealing cats’ food to survive.

Children ‘Dress Up With Grown-ups’

Medical Care for Children Partnerships funds medical, dental care for children of uninsured working families in Fairfax County.

“To me, children are the most beautiful creatures of God and there is nothing comparable to being able to give them a healthy and happy smile.” —Dr. Tehreem Butt, recipient of the Dr. Jorge Arnoldson Award

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Fairfax County’s Homeless Population Declines 12 Percent

Emphasis on rapid re-housing, prevention keys to success.

Despite economic obstacles and fallout from across-the-board sequester cuts, Fairfax County’s number of homeless individuals declined 12 percent decline in the past year, and 26 percent since 2007.

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Better Training, More Technology

The bipartisan commission released findings, recommendations regarding long lines on Election Day.

"The commission has identified a variety of improvements and efficiencies to ensure access and convenience for voters in future elections.” —Sharon Bulova

Herbstreith Receives LCAC’s Founder’s Award

Gala raised $120,000 for Lorton Community Action Center.

The Lorton Community Action Center (LCAC) presented Christine Herbstreith, a Lorton resident since 1954, with the organization’s Founders Award at LCAC’s “Spring into Action” Gala on Saturday, March 2, in front of a crowd of more 200 attendees.

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Sequester’s Impact in Fairfax County? TBD

Local leaders say “uncertainty” biggest fallout of sequester so far.

“From the perspective of business community, businesses are adept when they understand what’s coming. They see a problem; they solve it. The uncertainty is driving them crazy.” —Jerry Gordon, president of the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority (FCEDA)

The Bad News, the Good News

Q&A with Supervisor Jeff McKay (D-Lee)

Q: What are you hearing from your constituents about sequestration concerns? A: “Where are the grownups?! I don’t think most folks are focusing on the economic or political impact, although there are certainly concerns about furloughs and potential job losses from those who work for the Federal Government or contractors that do business with the Federal Government. Most people seem to be shrugging their shoulders and commenting on Washington idiocy.”

Sequestration: Local Perspective

Springfield small-business owner tackles the sequester.

“The uncertainty is the worst thing. How did we get into this? How do I survive and make sure my employees have a good standard of living? It’s mind-boggling,” Tony Coombs, owner of TC Associates—a Springfield-based cyber-security and professional consulting firm—said during an interview at his headquarters last week.

Bulova Appoints Mary Cortina, Faisal Khan to Park Authority Board

Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Sharon Bulova (D-at-large) recently appointed two new representatives to the Fairfax County Park Authority Board.

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EPA Will Not Appeal Court Decision on Accotink Watershed

EPA regulations could have cost county $300 million.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) effectively ended a two-year legal battle with Fairfax County when the agency announced last week it will not appeal a federal court decision favoring Fairfax County’s handling of the Accotink Creek watershed.

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Bicyclists Pedal Onward, Despite Legislative Losses

FABB promotes extended hours on W&OD Trail.

As the weather gets warmer and the days get longer, Northern Virginia bicyclists are back on the roads and trails, despite the Virginia General Assembly’s antipathy for bike safety bills this session.

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Sharks Take a Bite Out of Cancer

Swimmers raise $17,000 for breast cancer awareness during annual marathon.

One woman is diagnosed with breast cancer every three minutes, and one woman will die of breast cancer every 13 minutes in the U.S. On Sunday, March 3, 38 members of the Shark Tank Racing Squad swam for three hours to put a dent in that brutal statistic.

Sisters Thai Come to Town

New restaurant adds spice to Old Town Fairfax.

With its bookcase-lined walls, artfully-arranged floral pillows, bone china tea cups and fresh flowers, the newest restaurant in Old Town Fairfax seems more European bistro than Asian contemporary. And that’s the point.

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Monopoly Players Win for Action Center

Ron & Susan Associates raise more than $5,500 for Lorton Community Action Center.

Although Allen Holder was placing bets with funny money and trading fictional real estate, the stakes were high for the sixth annual tournament at the Lorton Workhouse Arts Center on Feb. 23.

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Two Historic Measures Mark Assembly Session

Q&A with Delegate Eileen Filler-Corn (D-41).

Transportation funding was one of the big stories to come out of Richmond during the 45-day “short session,” but it wasn’t the only one. Unlike Congressional gridlock, where lobbyists, special-interest groups and political aspirations converge to slow down legislation, the pace in Virginia’s capitol is fast and furious. Legislation gets passed in the blink of an eye. It’s a pace Delegate Eileen Filler-Corn, the second-term Democrat representing nearly 90,000 residents in Burke, Fairfax and West Springfield, knows well.

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Putting a Face on Homelessness

462 homeless interviewed during Registry Week, an intense effort to document Fairfax County’s chronic homeless.

"We have to step up to this question. … Are we going to walk away from this tonight and say, 'That's just the way people live?’ Well, it's not the way people should live." —Supervisor Cathy Hudgins (D-Hunter Mill)

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The Snowquester Hits the Area

Snowstorm’s impact downgraded, but slushy roads still a problem.

The National Weather Service Wednesday downgraded its Snowquester forecast from 8-10 inches to about 4-6 inches in the region. At 3:18 p.m. Wednesday, March 6, the NWS predicted total snow accumulation of 3 to 5 inches in Fairfax County before the storm fizzles out later that night, and north winds with gusts up to 45 mph in some areas, making driving hazardous.

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Putting a Name and Face on Chronically Homeless

At 4 a.m., under a full moon, more than 200 volunteers fanned out across Fairfax County on Monday, Feb. 25, to identify the more than 300 people who are literally homeless, living in cars, on the street or in the woods around the county. Coordinated by the Fairfax-Falls Church Partnership to End Homelessness, the weeklong effort is part of the 100,000 Homes campaign, an intensive approach to identify and find homes for the chronically homeless.

$7 Billion Budget Proposal Unveiled

Typical county household would see real estate tax bill increase by $260 annually.

“We are also forced to recognize the significant yet unknown impact that is expected from federal sequestration and the continuing challenges of a slowly recovering economy.” —Fairfax County Executive Edward L. Long, Jr.

Local Leaders Praise Transportation Funding Bill

State Senator Chap Petersen wants you to curb your enthusiasm.

Politics makes strange bedfellows, and sometimes estranged ones as well. On Saturday, the last day of the Virginia General Assembly, state legislators struck a bipartisan 11th hour deal to pass a comprehensive transportation funding plan—the first long-term plan in 27 years.

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Virginia Lawmakers Strike Down Bike Safety Bills

Local cyclists vow return in 2014.

Virginia may be for lovers, but bicyclists? Not so much. On Monday, the Virginia House of Delegates killed the last bicycle bill to come before the body in a vote of 55-42. The bill, SB1060, would have added bicycles to the list of vehicles that cannot be tailgated.

Fairfax Attracts 8,400 New Jobs

Intelsat U.S. headquarters relocation most prominent announcement of the year.

In 2012, the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority (FCEDA) worked with 186 businesses adding 8,438 jobs to the Fairfax County economy.

New Approach to Helping Chronic Homeless

County joins "100,000 Homes" effort as chronic homelessness levels rise.

The number of chronically homeless individuals in Fairfax County is on the rise. Currently, nearly 300 individuals are considered chronically homeless, many living in cars or sleeping in tents. In an effort to find permanent homes for these individuals, the Fairfax-Falls Church Community Partnership to Prevent and End Homelessness is joining the 100,000 Homes Campaign, a national movement to find permanent homes for 100,000 chronically homeless throughout the nation.

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Life and Death Online

Virginia lawmakers pass “digital assets” bill to ease parental access to deceased child’s accounts.

In a rare display of bipartisan unity, the Virginia General Assembly overwhelmingly passed a bill Tuesday that makes it easier for parents and guardians to swiftly access minors online accounts after their death. The digital assets bill—co-sponsored by Delegates David Bulova (D-37) and Tommy Wright (R-Amelia)—is now headed to Governor Robert McDonnell’s desk for signature. Specifically, the bill allows a representative of the minor to obtain access to his or her digital accounts within 30 days of submitting a written request and death certificate to the social media site.

New Approach to Helping Chronic Homeless

County joins "100,000 Homes" effort as chronic homelessness on rise.

The number of chronically homeless individuals in Fairfax County is on the rise. Currently, nearly 300 individuals are considered chronically homeless, many living in cars or sleeping in tents. In an effort to find permanent homes for these individuals, the Fairfax-Falls Church Community Partnership to Prevent and End Homelessness is joining the 100,000 Homes Campaign, a national movement to find permanent homes for 100,000 chronically homeless throughout the nation.

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A Positive Reflection

Joan Brady gives foster children needed exposure.

On Monday, Sept. 10, 2001, Joan Brady of Great Falls had just started a three-month sabbatical from her job with an Internet company. Newly-married, Brady, who was 36 years old at the time, was exhausted from 80-hour work weeks in a rigid corporate environment. She wanted time that fall to contemplate what to do next with her life. The next day provided answers and a sense of urgency. It was Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2001. The terrorist attacks, and the moving stories of heroism and tragedy on 9/11, indelibly left their mark. Brady, like many Americans, was inspired to do something new, to take more chances, to change direction.

Time to Pass Go for a Good Cause

Sixth annual Monopoly Tournament benefits Lorton Food Pantry, offers volunteer opportunities.

You may not get a “Get Out of Jail Free” card, or prime boardwalk property, but Realtors Ron Kowalski and Susan Borrelli, founders of Lorton’s annual Monopoly Tournament, said players of all ages will have a blast competing in the sixth annual game tournament at the Lorton Workhouse Arts Center on Saturday, Feb. 23.

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Hats Off to Democratic Women of Clifton

DWC celebrates eighth anniversary in style.

Fine millinery was on full display as the Democratic Women of Clifton gathered on Sunday, Feb. 10, to celebrate its eighth anniversary in style. The theme of this year’s party was “Hats Off to Democratic Women!” and members complied by donning an assortment of colorful chapeaus—from the classic fedora, brim snapped and businesslike, to the romantic cloche and the whimsical Victorian.

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Helping Parents Battle Social Media Giants

Parents demand access to son’s Facebook account after his suicide.

Ricky Rash, a self-proclaimed “country boy” and second generation Virginia dairy farmer, enjoyed his bucolic life in Nottoway County. He and his wife, Diane, a nurse, were content to raise their four children in the same house Rash grew up in. The world of social media—Facebook, Tumblr, and Twitter—held little interest for the couple who considered faith and family the bedrock of their life. But after their 15-year-old son committed suicide on Jan. 20, 2011, social media became their focus.

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'Stuff the Bus’ Campaign Helps Feed the Hungry

Donations continue to increase as campaign enters third year.

Local grocery stores were packed this weekend with shoppers stocking up on Super Bowl snacks for the annual football fan party. At the Wal-Mart in Fairfax, shoppers were greeted with colorful displays of chips, dips and other party favorites. They were also greeted by volunteers from Our Daily Bread (ODB), who were handing out flyers and encouraging shoppers to donate gift cards or specific items to restock ODB’s pantry shelves. A Fairfax nonprofit for nearly 30 years, ODB provides food and other critical services to the working poor, the elderly and the disabled. More than half of ODB’s clients are local children.

Show off Your Civic Pride

Pre-order Fairfax County license plates now.

Residents of Fairfax County can now pre-order their Fairfax County license plates online at the new Visit Fairfax website—

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Civic Pride on the Road

Fairfax County license plates available soon.

You can flaunt your car and show off your civic pride, thanks to a customized Fairfax County license plate approved Tuesday, Jan. 29, by the Board of Supervisors.

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Keep Gas Tax; Cut Meals Tax; Add ‘Sausage’

Proposed changes to governor’s transportation funding plan receive local support.

After a week in which news from Richmond was dominated by partisan skirmishes, Northern Virginia Del. Dave Albo (R-41) joined with other lawmakers to refocus the legislature on the state’s transportation funding crisis, presenting an alternative to a controversial plan proposed by Governor Robert McDonnell (R).

A Chorus of Praise

Fairfax County mentors celebrated during National Mentor Month.

Can we get an “amen?” The joyful noise coming from the David R. Pinn Center in Fairfax on Saturday wasn’t a gospel revival, but it was just as inspiring and enlightening.

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Volunteering to Cheer

Special Olympics “Cheer Team” wows crowd with high-energy performance.

Like many girls, Jacquelyn Hoffmeier of Burke always wanted to be a cheerleader. The 25-year-old, born with Down Syndrome, finally got her chance to perform on Friday, Jan. 11. Hoffmeier, along with seven of her Special Olympics teammates, cheered and danced before a crowd of nearly 200 parents and students during halftime at the West Springfield High School girls’ basketball game.

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National Day of Service Launches Inauguration

Local residents give back to their communities and pledge ongoing service.

“Our volunteers packaged food at our Vienna Pantry and delivered it to 30 clients throughout the Fairfax County area who receive supplemental food from us every two weeks for approximately four months.” Lisa Whetzel, executive director, Our Daily Bread

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Four Northern Virginia Senators Targeted

Redistricting effort puts Fairfax County seats in the spotlight.

Four Northern Virginia state Senators are targets of a Republican-led effort to draw new districts — Sen. George Barker (D-39), Sen. Dave Marsden (D-37), Sen. Toddy Puller (D-36) and Sen. Chap Petersen (D-34). Democrats say the redistricting effort is a cynical attempt to take advantage of the absence of Sen. Henry Marsh (D-16), a prominent civil rights veteran, who was in Washington, D.C. for the inauguration on Monday. But state Sen. John Watkins (R-10) of Powhatan defended the effort as a way to create a sixth majority black Senate district in Southside. It passed the Senate on a 20-to-19 vote.

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Fairfax Families4Kids

Fostering bonds with children.

Nationwide, more than 463,000 children live in foster care. In many states, including Virginia, the number of foster youth has tripled in the last 25 years. As of Sept. 30, 2011, nearly 5,000 youth were in foster care in Virginia, according to the Administration for Children and Families (ACF), a division of the U.S. Health and Human Services Department. Physical abuse is the most common reason children enter foster, but it’s not the only reason. Often there’s emotional abuse, sexual abuse and the parent or caretaker’s inability to provide a safe environment due to substance abuse.

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A Family Made Whole

After a tragic loss, Reston couple creates a family through adoption.

The Granvilles look like a made-for-TV family. On a bright October afternoon, Chris, a computer engineer, is teasing his teenage son, Kenny, about what kind of pet to adopt, while Tiffany sits on a sofa, cradling Elijah, Kenny’s baby brother, who has just woken up from an afternoon nap. “Fish? No way,” Kenny, 15, says. “They just go ‘round and ‘round in a bowl.” Kenny is lobbying hard for a dog or—at the very least—a guinea pig or hamster.

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Saturday Night Fever at Milano’s

Friends, family throw surprise party to celebrate Milano’s restaurant and owner Jimmy Goranitis’ birthday.

On a typical Saturday night, Milano’s restaurant, a Springfield institution, is packed with regulars and newcomers. But last Saturday was different. There was standing room only in the restaurant as more than 100 family, friends, customers and employees eagerly waited for owner Jimmy Goranitis to walk through the doors so they could shout “surprise!” They were celebrating his 55th birthday as well as the 33rd anniversary of the family-owned restaurant.

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Fairfax Nonprofits Awarded $218,000 in United Way Grants

Several nonprofits providing health and education services in Fairfax County were awarded 20 grants totaling $218,360 from the United Way of the National Capital Area (United Way NCA) during the Tuesday, Jan. 1, Board of Supervisors meeting. The funds came through designations to the Fairfax/Falls Church Community Impact Fund in United Way NCA’s annual workplace giving campaign.