Archive: March 2006

Churches Help Growing Number of Homeless

With numbers on the rise, Fairfax County's homeless population has faced difficulties in getting services and shelter. A coalition of churches, mindful of deaths a couple of winters ago, banded together to help. The story is in this week's Fairfax Extra....

By | March 31, 2006; 12:16 PM ET | Email a Comment

Have You Heard? The Washington Post Has Gone Am and FM

Washington Post Radio went on the air yesterday at 1500 AM and 107.7 FM. Have you had a chance to check it out? Is it a good addition to the local airwaves? What's missing? What's good?...

By | March 31, 2006; 11:33 AM ET | Email a Comment

Same Man May Have Hit 4 Banks in 3 Days

From today's Metro section: A man who robbed two banks in Loudoun County yesterday may be on a spree, with authorities saying he resembles the person who robbed a bank in Fairfax County earlier yesterday and another Fairfax bank Tuesday. The suspect is a white man in his forties, about 5 feet 7 inches tall, and in surveillance photos from both counties he is wearing sunglasses on top of his head. The first robbery occurred at 1:44 p.m. Tuesday at the BB&T bank branch at 13821 Lee Jackson Memorial Hwy. in Chantilly. The man demanded cash and did not show a gun. Police believe that at 10:30 a.m. yesterday, the same man robbed the Virginia Commerce Bank at 13881-G Metrotech Dr. in Chantilly. About an hour later, at the BB&T branch in the Junction Plaza shopping center in Ashburn, he is believed to have robbed again. Loudoun sheriff's office spokesman...

By | March 31, 2006; 11:15 AM ET | Email a Comment

Reston Referendum May Miss Quorum

The outlook for Reston Association's four-year effort to revise the community's governing documents for the first time in 22 years is increasingly dim, say association officials. The 60-day voting period on the revisions was scheduled to end today and the number of ballots turned in is still short of the 40% of Reston homeowners required to make it valid....

By | March 31, 2006; 11:01 AM ET | Email a Comment

Moran Proposes Admission Fee For Smithsonian

Rep. James P. Moran (D-Va.) has proposed charging a $1 admission fee to the museums that make up the Smithsonian Institution to help offset the cost of much-needed repairs. Is giving up the Smithsonian's official free-to-all status worth it?...

By | March 30, 2006; 10:35 AM ET | Email a Comment

Student Pleads Guilty to Rape

A Marshall High School student pleaded guilty yesterday in Fairfax County to raping two women near the Dunn Loring Metro station last fall and could face 30 years or more in prison at sentencing in July....

By | March 30, 2006; 10:24 AM ET | Email a Comment

How About This Patriot Act?

Updated 3/31Jim Larranaga's neighbors say he has always been a champion in their Oakton neighborhood according to this Metro article from today. The Sports section today takes a look at the thinking behind the recruiting the Patriots did to help land them in the Final Four and this column which profiles freshman forward Sammy Hernandez. Flipping back to today's front page, there is an article about Mason's coming task of striking a balance in its new reputation as a home to both athletic and academic stars.    Updated 3/30The excitement continues to mount. I must have counted a half dozen hastily erected "Go Mason" yard signs on my drive in to work this morning. The Washington Post's stories today include Metro's coverage of yesterday's team send-off, Marc Fisher's column about the University's status as the most diverse college in America. Sports writes about the basketball players' families and the bond...

By | March 30, 2006; 9:30 AM ET | Email a Comment

High School Walkouts

Updated 3/31The protests continue; I saw a group of students lining the sidewalks with signs and Latin American flags near Thomas Edison High School today. Now, according to this Metro article the demonstrations are spreading into Maryland. Originally posted 3/29For the second day, students across Northern Virginia demonstrated against proposed crackdowns on illegal immigration. The Post's coverage is here....

By | March 29, 2006; 1:27 PM ET | Email a Comment

More Time to Dispute Tax Bills

From today's Washington Post: Fairfax County homeowners who are unhappy with their real estate tax assessments have until April 30 to appeal them, the Board of Supervisors decided Monday. The board also said it would consider a system of automatic appeals starting next year for residents whose house values jump by 50 percent or more. As of Friday, 984 homeowners had filed appeals, officials said. -- Lisa Rein...

By | March 29, 2006; 10:44 AM ET | Email a Comment

MetroWest Is a Go

Updated 3/29According to an article from this morning's Metro section, construction on MetroWest will begin next spring with transportation improvements. Under Pulte's planned timeline, the first homes would go on sale in 2009 and the project is scheduled to be finally completed sometime between 2012 and 2014. Originally posted 3/28The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors yesterday approved the high density development at the Vienna Metro station, ending three years of debate. The article was on the front page of this morning's Washington Post....

By | March 28, 2006; 2:14 PM ET | Email a Comment

Warner: Va Could Lose Transpo Funding if No Budget Deal

Sen. John W. Warner (R-Va.) yesterday said that the state could lose federal transportation funding unless lawmakers can resolve a budget impasse. The Post's report from Richmond is here. ...

By | March 28, 2006; 10:58 AM ET | Email a Comment

Drugs in Our Sewage? Feds to Check

So just how much cocaine do county residents use? The White House wants to know and officials are willing to submit the county to a collective urine test to find out. Say what? Check out this article....

By | March 27, 2006; 12:08 PM ET | Email a Comment

Survey Shows Increase in Homelessness

The most recent count, conducted in January, found 2,077 homeless people in Fairfax County, a 6.5 percent increase over last year. The  Washington Post article on the annual county survey and its finding--presented to the board of supervisors today-- is here....

By | March 27, 2006; 11:56 AM ET | Email a Comment

School Boundaries, A Different Kind of Split

The fight is not always ABOUT school boundaries, as countless blog entries indicate, but is sometimes ACROSS them. Take the case of split siblings, like Eva and Erica Hollenberg, who square off against each other on the soccer field today. Eva and Erica Hollenberg, split with the opening of the new South County Secondary School, which Erica, 15 now attends. Eva, 18 and a senior, stayed at Hayfield Secondary School . The story was in yesterday's Metro section....

By | March 27, 2006; 11:42 AM ET | Email a Comment

Big Turnout For Connolly's Fundraiser

Nearly 500 people showed up at Fairfax board chairman's Gerald E. Connolly's (D) St. Patrick's Day fundraising event to share corned beef and cabbage and hummus (?). He had a good fundraising week. The Virginia politics column from this week's Fairfax Extra is here....

By | March 24, 2006; 4:15 PM ET | Email a Comment

Democrat Blogosphere Abuzz About Upcoming Elections

Michael D. Shear reports in this week's Fairfax Extra that Virginia's Democrat bloggers are already on fire about this year's mid-term elections and about what an early straw poll result could mean....

By | March 24, 2006; 4:06 PM ET | Email a Comment

Gang Task Force Wants Faith-Based Groups to Help

Leesburg Police Chief, co-chairman of the Northern Virginia Regional Gang Task Force, community and religious leaders recently it is time that faith-based groups help combat Northern Virginia's gang problem. The story is in this week's Fairfax Extra....

By | March 24, 2006; 3:59 PM ET | Email a Comment

Multilingual Police Unit Working

The Fairfax County Police Department added a language skills support unit whose officers include speakers of Spanish, Korean, and Vietnamese. A Fairfax Extra article explains how the new unit is helping with investigations in Fairfax's multicultural communities....

By | March 24, 2006; 2:03 PM ET | Email a Comment

Plan Calls For Affordable Residences at Former Lorton Correction Complex

Remember "The Prisoner," the 1960s BBC TV series about a secret agent who is kidnapped and forced to live in what appears to be a seaside resort but is, in fact, a prison? Lorton may soon offer something that seems the flipside of that, for unsecret agents. As reported in this week's Fairfax Extra cover story, a citizens panel has a proposal it hopes will attract developers to take what still looks like a prison and turn it into a residential village....

By | March 24, 2006; 1:32 PM ET | Email a Comment

No Charges in Police Shooting of Fair Lakes Optometrist

Updated 4/17 An article in Saturday's Metro section reports that the FBI has begun a preliminary review of the case. Updated 4/14According to a Metro section article in this morning's paper, Culosi's family is expressing frustration that their request to the FBI to investigate the case has not been acknowledged. Meanwhile they are saying that the police department's five-hour delay in notifying family members of Culosi's death prevented him from receiving last rites. Originally posted 3/24Fairfax County's chief prosecutor has declined to file charges against a police officer who fatally shot a man who was suspected of running an illegal gambling operation, according to this article from this morning's Metro section. His family decried the decision. Salvatore J. Culosi, 37 was killed in January while a police SWAT team was attempting to arrest him outside his Fair Lakes townhouse. Investigators have concluded that the shooting was an accident....

By | March 24, 2006; 1:09 PM ET | Email a Comment

Patriots Players, Fans Gear Up For Wichita State

George Mason University's men's basketball team takes on the Shockers of Wichita State in their NCAA tournament round of 16 game tonight at the Verizon Center. Washington Post stories on the hoopla are here and here. Check out full coverage, including fan tension and reaction in tomorrow's Washington Post. Anybody have any guesses as to tonight's outcome?...

By | March 24, 2006; 12:48 PM ET | Email a Comment

Price Torpedos Metro Tunnel at Tysons

Yesterday the proposed rail tunnel through Tysons Corner was rejected by project managers who said the price for digging deep was simply too prohibitive. The Metro article is here....

By | March 24, 2006; 9:19 AM ET | Email a Comment

More Money For Dulles Rail Extenson?

A Metro section article today looks at proposals to scale back certain aspects of the planned rail extension to Dulles International Airport in the face of a projected rise in the project's cost....

By | March 23, 2006; 10:57 AM ET | Email a Comment

Way Cleared For Altar Girls in Arlington Diocese

Northern Virginia Catholic churches now have the option of using female altar servers, Arlington Bishop Paul S. Loverde has decided. The policy change leaves Lincoln, Neb., as the country's last Catholic diocese to prohibit girls from serving. The Metro article is here. Are Catholic readers of Focus on Fairfax pleased with decision? Loverde said that the change will allow the 21 counties in the diocese "to participate more reverently, more actively, more fully" in Mass. How do you think the decision will affect your church? What do you think about the decision?...

By | March 22, 2006; 1:12 PM ET | Email a Comment

Annandale Gang Slaying Trial

Updated 3/24 The jury has returned a guilty verdict in the case. Originally posted 3/21 The trial of an Asian gang member for the murder of a rival outside an Annandale pool hall in 2002 began yesterday with eyewitnesses to the shooting. The story is inside today's Metro section....

By | March 21, 2006; 10:44 AM ET | Email a Comment

Special Ed Teacher Arrested in Chantilly Student's Case

A special education teacher who has worked in the county school system since 1989 was arrested yesterday and charged with giving marijuana to a student at Chantilly High School during a break between classes on Friday. Read about it in today's Metro section. The school principal's letter to parents about the incident is here....

By | March 21, 2006; 10:37 AM ET | Email a Comment

GMU Basketball Bandwagon Suddenly Very Crowded

The GMU Patriots have advanced to the round of 16 in the annual NCAA basketball tournament. The Post's latest coverage of the excitement surrounding the team's first ever wins in the quest to be named the nation's best collegiate hoops squad is here and here....

By | March 21, 2006; 10:23 AM ET | Email a Comment

Is There Room In a Transit-Friendly Tysons For Car Dealers?

Car dealerships occupy 80 acres of land in the stretch of Leesburg Pike in Tysons Corner where an elevated rail line is expected to be built in five years. Now some Fairfax County planners are saying that the dealerships have got to go if the area is going to be remade as a transit-friendly community. Read about it in this morning's Metro section....

By | March 20, 2006; 10:41 AM ET | Email a Comment

Hanley On Deck To Advise Kaine On Appointments

Update 1:20 p.m.The official notice of Hanley's appointment has been released by the governor's office. It reads:GOVERNOR KAINE APPOINTS SECRETARY OF THE COMMONWEALTH~ Former Fairfax Board Chair Hanley to advise on appointments, other matters ~ RICHMOND - Governor Timothy M. Kaine today appointed Katherine K. Hanley, a former Fairfax County board chairman, to serve as Secretary of the Commonwealth. The Secretary advises the Governor in his appointments of over 4,000 individuals to serve on various Virginia boards and commissions, and the Secretary's office processes annual disclosure reports required by lobbyists, applications for restoration of voting rights, and other ministerial functions.            Hanley, 63, served on the Fairfax County School Board from 1984 to 1986, and the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors from 1986 to 2004. She also served a combined 14 years on the Board of Directors of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, which operates one of...

By | March 20, 2006; 10:32 AM ET | Email a Comment

Fairfax First Reponders Recognized For Valor

Last week marked the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce's annual Valor Awards and 51 fire, police and rescue personnel were awarded for bravery. An article about the awards and a list of recipients is in this week's Fairfax Extra....

By | March 17, 2006; 12:06 PM ET | Email a Comment

Changes on the Theater Scene

Focus on Fairfax reported last week on the McLean Community Center's plan to restrict some productions at its Alden Theatre because of a drop in ticket sales. Two of the community theater companies that call the Alden Theatre home, the Great Falls Players and C.A.S.T. in McLean plan to merge. Meanwhile at George Mason University, the school's resident professional company the Theater of the First Amendment will temporarily suspend operations and cancel its 2006-07 season while company leaders try to engineer a viable business model....

By | March 17, 2006; 11:47 AM ET | Email a Comment

Survey: Northern Virginia's Elderly Need More Transportation Options

Officials at the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission say that their survey of more than 1,600 Northern Virginians 75 and older shows a need for expanded services and to encourage seniors to live within walking distance of services and transit. A detailed article in this week's Fairfax Extra....

By | March 17, 2006; 11:35 AM ET | Email a Comment

Consolidated Schools Offices in New Building

A new administrative office building now houses more then 600 formerly far-flung employees of Fairfax County Schools. Officials say that the consolidation will save millions. The story is in this week's Fairfax Extra....

By | March 17, 2006; 11:16 AM ET | Email a Comment

Five Fairfax Freshman Legislators Learn The Lawmaking Life

This week's Fairfax Extra cover story offer a glimpse into the lives of the five newly elected members of the Virginia delegation who represent parts of Fairfax County as they adjust to life in Richmond....

By | March 17, 2006; 11:10 AM ET | Email a Comment

Property Tax Rate Cut in Fairfax City?

From today's Washington Post: Fairfax City Manager Robert Sisson proposes trimming the city's real estate tax rate by 7 cents to contain property taxes. The assessed value of property increased by 21 percent last year. Under the $119.1 million budget proposed for the fiscal year beginning July 1, homeowners would pay 74 cents for each $100 of assessed property value. They now pay 81 cents....

By | March 17, 2006; 10:33 AM ET | Email a Comment

Road Projects Imperiled by Lack of Budget?

About $750 million dollars would have to be cut from Virginia's six-year program for road construction according to Pierce R. Homer, because lawmakers have been unable to approve a budget. Details in this article from today's Metro section....

By | March 17, 2006; 10:30 AM ET | Email a Comment

County's Poor Wait Months, Years for Help

According to the Fairfax-Falls Church Community Services Board, getting hooked up with a therapist can take as long as six months and it may take years to get a spot in a group home. Staff shortages and voluminous caseloads are the cause, officials say. The story is on the front page of this morning's Washington Post....

By | March 17, 2006; 10:23 AM ET | Email a Comment

Metro West Gets Planning Commission Vote

In what could be the penultimate step to the approval of the controversial Vienna project, the commission voted unanimously with two abstentions to send it to the Board of Supervisors for a March 27 decision. Today's Metro section has the story....

By | March 16, 2006; 10:39 AM ET | Email a Comment

Fairfax Teachers Demonstrate For More Pay

In a series of low-key demonstrations in schools across the county yesterday, teachers called for higher salaries. See the story in today's Metro section....

By | March 16, 2006; 10:30 AM ET | Email a Comment

What's Your Raise? Supervisors May Get 27% Boost

County Executive Anthony H. Griffin has proposed raising the Board of Supervisors salaries to bring them more in line with what neighboring jurisdictions pay their top governing officials. The story is here....

By | March 15, 2006; 1:20 PM ET | Email a Comment

Region's Traffic Woes Win Shrugs From Many Lawmakers

Caught (again) in traffic and wonder if rural lawmakers care? Try this quote from Del. Robert Hurt (R-Pittsylvania): "The way I look at it, it seems that it really is a huge amount of time, a huge amount of fuel people waste sitting in traffic in Northern Virginia. But that's not our issue." Read the entire article in this morning's Metro section....

By | March 13, 2006; 11:19 AM ET | Email a Comment

Connolly vs. Devolites Davis in War of Words

The long political rivalry between Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Gerald E. Connolly and state Sen. Jeannemarie Devolites Davis erupted in heated statements: Connolly accused Devolites Davis of casting the deciding vote to kill a bill to ban teenagers from using cell phones while driving. Read about the battle here....

By | March 13, 2006; 11:08 AM ET | Email a Comment

Machete Attacker Gets 28 Years

Wilber A. Rivera, 19, of Falls Church was unrepentant for the 2005 machete attack in Merrifield at his sentencing  on Friday. The story is here....

By | March 13, 2006; 10:51 AM ET | Email a Comment

In Praise of Density

Post editorial writer Lee Hockstader wrote this op-ed Monday: Say the word "density" to a local homeowners association and brace yourself for brickbats. Say it to a group of Washington area business, development and political leaders, as economist Richard Florida did at a conference the other day, and you get a spontaneous burst of applause....

By Steve Fehr | March 7, 2006; 4:46 PM ET | Email a Comment

Fairfax City Homeless Shelter Overwhelmed

Homeless in Fairfax City?  You bet. More and more people. The city has one of Northern Virginia's only daytime shelters for the homeless, and it has closed until tomorrow morning so its overwhelmed staff can determine its future....

By Robert Samsot | March 7, 2006; 12:04 PM ET | Email a Comment

Assessments Up Everywhere in No. Va.

Fairfax is not the only county facing double digit increases in home assessments. Read ">here for a roundup of other local governments....

By Steve Fehr | March 6, 2006; 2:57 PM ET | Email a Comment

A Tale of Two Properties

   Fairfax County officials have been inconsistent in their approach to development around the Vienna Metro station, as the people of the Poplar Terrace neighborhood will tell you....

By Steve Fehr | March 5, 2006; 2:57 PM ET | Email a Comment

Asking For Your Patience

The father of Woody Irvin, our main blog poster, died early today. He will be out a few days for the funeral. We ask for your patience as we attempt to keep the blog as current as possible during his absence. Thank you....

By Steve Fehr | March 5, 2006; 2:47 PM ET | Email a Comment

Legislation Seeks To Curb Gangs

Richmond lawmakers are working on a number of bills aimed at making it easier for police and judges to combat criminal gangs. A detailed story is in this week's Fairfax Extra....

By | March 3, 2006; 4:26 PM ET | Email a Comment

McLean Community Center Cuts Number of Theater Productions

McLean Community Center, home to a number of local community theater groups, has decided to reduce the number of plays staged at its Alden Theatre. Why? Declining attendance, they say.Arts groups say cuts will reduce their visibility and put their futures in jeopardy. Read about it in this week's Fairfax Extra....

By | March 3, 2006; 4:17 PM ET | Email a Comment

Outgoing Fairfax Extra Editor To Answer Questions Online

3/2 - Reminder:The online discussion is today. On the 5th anniversary of the Washington Post's Fairfax Extra, outgoing Fairfax Extra Editor Stephen C. Fehr will be online Thursday, March 2, at 1 p.m. ET to examine Virginia's Fairfax County. Submit your questions and comments before or during the discussion....

By | March 2, 2006; 10:00 AM ET | Email a Comment

 

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