Archive: August 2007

UPDATE 8/31: Officers Cleared of Violating Koch's Civil Rights

Updated 8/31 News of the jury's verdict is in this morning's Metro section. Updated 8/30 The officers testified this week in federal court. Read what they had to say in this article. Originally posted 7/24 Ronald W. Koch, 62, a longtime member of the Fairfax County Planning Commission, is suing three Fairfax County police officers in federal court, accusing them of assaulting him while he was working as a process server. Koch said that the incident, which occurred at the Sully District Station two years ago, has shaken his faith in the county government and he will not accept reappointment to his government post in January. The details are in this article from today's Metro section....

By Focus on Fairfax | August 31, 2007; 9:56 AM ET | Email a Comment

Finding Enough Bus Drivers Challenges Schools

According to this article from today's Fairfax Extra, hiring and retaining enough school bus drivers to handle the more than 18 million miles the county system's buses travel in a year is increasingly challenging. The county's fleet is the nations' second largest. Renae Evans, a school bus driver from Fairfax County, Va. with her bus. (James A. Parcell For The Washington Post)...

By Focus on Fairfax | August 30, 2007; 3:43 PM ET | Email a Comment

Fairfax High School Football Preview

It's back to school and back to the gridiron for the student athletes of the county's high school football teams. The Fairfax Extra offers this preview of the upcoming season....

By Focus on Fairfax | August 30, 2007; 3:29 PM ET | Email a Comment

SAT Scores Still Higher Here

Despite a general downward trend in SAT scores nationwide, Fairfax County students' scores are holding steady and are still higher than students' scores elsewhere in Virginia. The Fairfax Extra has that news in its back to school edition as well as parents' response to Jay Mathews's suggestion in his Extra Credit column that elementary school homework be eliminated and traded in for increased reading time. ONE NOTE: The scores for South County High in 2006 were for juniors, not seniors, because the school had no seniors that year. The scores reported for 2007 were for seniors, as they were for all others reporting/rls...

By Focus on Fairfax | August 30, 2007; 3:21 PM ET | Email a Comment

Hispanic & Black Students Narrow Math Test Gap

Test results show that the county's Black and Hispanic students are narrowing the achievement gap in mathematics, but the news comes in the wake of Fairfax schools' failing 'No Child' grade. The story is here in the the Fairfax Extra's back to school edition....

By Focus on Fairfax | August 30, 2007; 3:15 PM ET | Email a Comment

UPDATE 8/30: New Nominee Is Chosen for Clerk

Updated 8/30 Fairfax County Democrats nominated McLean real estate agent Dale A. Evans this week to replace David H. Miller as the party's candidate for clerk of the Circuit Court. Miller withdrew from the race in July after court documents showed that he owed more than $38,000 in federal income taxes. Evans, 60, was nominated by acclamation at a brief convention Tuesday at the Fairfax County Government Center. Evans, a native of Flint, Mich., served as chairman of the Genesee County Board of Commissioners before relocating to Virginia in 1990 when his wife accepted a job on the staff of U.S. Sen. Donald W. Riegle (D-Mich.). Evans has been on the boards of the McLean Community Center and the McLean Little League and was chairman of the Dranesville Democratic Committee. The clerk is the chief administrative officer of the Circuit Court, with a staff of about 160 who manage land...

By Focus on Fairfax | August 30, 2007; 10:10 AM ET | Email a Comment

UPDATE 8/16: Herndon Will Operate Day-Labor Center

Updated 8/29 Unable to find a suitable private contractor, town officials say the center will be operated by the town government. The news is here. Updated 8/16 The Herndon town council voted last night to continue the operation of the day-labor center, but not to renew Project Hope and Harmony's operating contract. Now the council will renew the heretofore unsuccessful search for a new operator who will pledge to check workers' immigration status. The story is here. Originally posted 8/15 According to this article, last night's scheduled vote by the Herndon Town Council on the fate of the town's day-labor employment center was postponed after public testimony drove the council's meeting late into the night. The vote is now set for tonight....

By Focus on Fairfax | August 29, 2007; 2:43 PM ET | Email a Comment

Fairfax Schools Knew of, Treated Cho's Disorder

According to this article from today's front page, educators from Fairfax County Public Schools had recognized and responded to Virginia Tech shooter Seung Hui Cho's anxiety disorder while he was a student here, but were forbidden by privacy laws from passing that information on to the University. Only his parent or Cho himself could have let University officials know about his problem....

By Focus on Fairfax | August 27, 2007; 10:55 AM ET | Email a Comment

Legal Immigrants Win In-State Tuition

Foreign immigrants who are living and working in Virginia with federally granted temporary protected status have gained the right to pay in-state tuition following a legal challenge brought by a Northern Virginia Community College student. The news was in yesterday's Metro section....

By Focus on Fairfax | August 27, 2007; 10:22 AM ET | Email a Comment

UPDATE 8/27: Northern Virginia's Muslims Show Political Clout

Updated 8/27 A report from the picnic was in yesterday's Metro section. Originally posted 8/24 Showing evidence of what, according to this article from today's Metro section, is the growing political influence of Northern Virginia's Islamic community, more than 50 candidates for office are expected to attend a political picnic in Reston tomorrow, organized by a group of local mosques. Read about it in today's Metro section....

By Focus on Fairfax | August 27, 2007; 9:51 AM ET | Email a Comment

UPDATE 8/27: Local Leaders Point to Law's Inflexibility for Schools' Failure To Meet 'No Child' Test Goals

Updated 8/27 Fairfax school students' high achievements when measured by other criteria point to flaws in the No Child Left Behind requirements, say local leaders who cite the act's lack of flexibility when assessing school districts with high proportions of non-English speaking students. The latest is here. Updated 8/24 The Fairfax County Public school system for the first time has failed to meet achievement goals as set out in the No Child Left Behind Act and the blame is being laid at the feet of the acts requirements that non-English speaking students take the same tests as native English speakers. The news is on the front of today's Washington Post. Updated 4/23 Though they have retreated from their position of non-compliance, some Northern Virginia school officials say they are hopeful that their challenges will lead to significant changes to how the law is written. Today's Metro section has the details....

By Focus on Fairfax | August 27, 2007; 9:21 AM ET | Email a Comment

Former PTA President Charged With Embezzling

According to this article from today's Metro section,Triantafilitsa Mattfeld, the former president of the parent-teacher association at Navy Elementary School has been charged with embezzling $180,000 from the association....

By Focus on Fairfax | August 24, 2007; 10:02 AM ET | Email a Comment

Youth Football Makes Comeback in South County

Following a disastrous end to last season amid fired coaches and the collapse of an entire league, youth football has been reborn in the southern part of the county in the form of the South County Colts. Read about the new league and the high hopes for it in today's Fairfax Extra....

By Focus on Fairfax | August 23, 2007; 12:03 PM ET | Email a Comment

Lorton Arts Center Progress

The much anticipated arts center at the former Lorton prison is finally beginning to take shape as construction crews get down to the serious work of remaking the institution. Read about the progress in today's Fairfax Extra....

By Focus on Fairfax | August 23, 2007; 11:52 AM ET | Email a Comment

New Security Measures at GMU

Prompted by the shootings at Virginia Tech last April, officials at George Mason University have moved to make the campus safer and more secure by implementing new procedures on campus. Today's Fairfax Extra has the details....

By Focus on Fairfax | August 23, 2007; 11:45 AM ET | Email a Comment

Universal PreSchool Debate Heats Up

Gov. Kaine's decision to scale back his promise of state funded universal preschool for Virginia's four-year-olds has educators debating the merits of the idea versus the short-term cost cutting of providing the state dollars only for the neediest children. This article from today's front page takes a look at the issue....

By Focus on Fairfax | August 22, 2007; 10:31 AM ET | Email a Comment

TJ Now Requires Middle School Algebra for Entry

According to this article from yesterday's Metro section, algebra will now be a required course for those Fairfax County Public Schools students who hope to be admitted to Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology. School officials say the requirement reflects the growing perception that U. S. students need a more solid foundation in mathematics if they are to succeed in advanced science later....

By Focus on Fairfax | August 20, 2007; 10:31 AM ET | Email a Comment

A 'Night Out' for the Chief and the Chairman

Courtesy of today's Fairfax Extra here is a look at some of what went down with county police chief David M. Rohrer and Board of Supervisors chairman Gerald E. Connolly as they hit backyard barbecues and bike parades over a course of four hours during last week's National Night Out crime prevention event....

By Focus on Fairfax | August 16, 2007; 12:22 PM ET | Email a Comment

Bar Owner Turns to Patrons to Keep Music Playing

At T.T. Reynolds on main street in Fairfax City, the curtain might be falling for the final time on the tavern's stage, a longtime performance venue for local rock bands. According to this story in today's Fairfax Extra, the high price of the pending sale of the building that houses the bar has Jeremy Gifford nervous that the costs of a new lease may be out of reach. To that end he is looking to buy the building himself and to afford it, he hopes the fans and bands will help him out....

By Focus on Fairfax | August 16, 2007; 12:13 PM ET | Email a Comment

Benefactor Helps GMU Piano Program Hit High Note

Sidney Dewberry, a novice pianist at 79, with a little help from friends in high places, set out to buy 16 Steinway grand pianos for the music students at George Mason University, earning the school an elite designation as an all-Steinway school alongside Juilliard and Yale. Read his story here, in the Fairfax Extra....

By Focus on Fairfax | August 16, 2007; 12:00 PM ET | Email a Comment

Supervisor Wants Action on Springfield Eyesore

A dilapidated restaurant building in Springfield is being held up by some county officials as an example of the commercial blight that existing ordinances leave them ill-equipped to deal with. The story is in today's Fairfax Extra....

By Focus on Fairfax | August 16, 2007; 11:49 AM ET | Email a Comment

Electric Commuter Cars in Fairfax's Future?

Braddock District Supervisor Sharon Bulova (D) is asking transportation officials to study whether a small electric commuter car currently being developed at MIT could help solve local transportation woes. The idea is that the cars would be parked near rail transportation and borrowed and returned by commuters and tourists to get to and from other close-by destinations. Details were in yesterday's Metro section....

By Focus on Fairfax | August 13, 2007; 10:25 AM ET | Email a Comment

Sewage Dilemma in Harbor View?

With concerns about rising costs and safety, Harbor View, the county's only neighborhood with a privately operated sewage treatment plant, are asking the county to take over the processing of their sewage. But none of the options before the county are cheap. Read about it in this week's Fairfax Extra....

By Focus on Fairfax | August 10, 2007; 10:09 AM ET | Email a Comment

Inmates Tackle Tall Grass Along Braddock Road

Fairfax County has been using the free labor of inmates from the county's detention center to cut the grass along Braddock Road this summer. Considering VDOT's problems keeping up with their regular maintenance recently, the idea seems to be win-win for everyone. This week's Fairfax Extra has the story....

By Focus on Fairfax | August 10, 2007; 9:57 AM ET | Email a Comment

County Searching For Cemetery Land for Indigent

A longtime search for land in Fairfax County to bury the indigent dead continues. The Fairfax County Cemetery has been closed to new burials since 1993 and the county has been contracting with private burial grounds for most of its needs since then. There may be a solution ahead. Read the story in this week's Fairfax Extra....

By Focus on Fairfax | August 10, 2007; 9:48 AM ET | Email a Comment

Police Seek to Identify Cyclist Killed in July in Burke Area

From today's Metro section: A bicyclist killed last month while riding along Route 123 in Fairfax County remains unidentified, and Fairfax police asked yesterday for help in identifying him. The man was riding a red Mongoose bicycle with rear "trick pegs" and heading north on Route 123 (Ox Road) in the Burke area early July 28. Police said a 2005 Pontiac Grand Prix struck the bike about 1:45 a.m. and killed the bicyclist. The driver of the Grand Prix, Keith T. Slay, 18, of Burke, was charged with reckless driving. Police said the victim appeared to be a Hispanic man, 18 to 21 years old, 5 feet 6 inches tall and weighing about 140 pounds. He was wearing camouflage shorts, a dark green shirt, a dark hat with the words "Todo Por Nada" on it and red Converse sneakers. Anyone who might have information about him is asked to call...

By Focus on Fairfax | August 7, 2007; 11:06 AM ET | Email a Comment

Housing Slump Hurts Fairfax Coffers

A potential budget shortfall of $120 million dollars has Fairfax County officials struggling to fund all of its government programs. The poor real estate market is driving down revenue to its lowest point in 15 years and accounts for most of the problem which could particularly affect county school budgets. A news story is in today's Metro section....

By Focus on Fairfax | August 7, 2007; 9:32 AM ET | Email a Comment

Battling To Save Bats

Meet Leslie Sturges, the head of Bat World NOVA and a volunteer wildlife rehabilitator, who from her home leads a campaign to rescue the orphaned bats of Fairfax County....

By Focus on Fairfax | August 6, 2007; 10:16 AM ET | Email a Comment

Questions About Revitalization in Seven Corners

Critics are questioning the commitment of county officials who say they want to revitalize commercial districts like Seven Corners, pointing to the piecemeal approach in that neighborhood and the lack of planning as examples of that the efforts are half-hearted. The story is here....

By Focus on Fairfax | August 6, 2007; 10:04 AM ET | Email a Comment

Fairfax Politics

Remember those complaints Supervisor Gerald W. Hyland (D-Mount Vernon) said he was receiving about violations of home height restrictions in his district? It turns out his daughter lives next door to one of the houses in question and some neighbors are asking whether that has prompted the Supervisor's recent interest in a problem they have been complaining about for at least a year. Also in this week's Fairfax Politics column you can find items about a tiff over performance evaluations on the Falls Church City Council, Del. David B. Albo's (R-Fairfax) likely relief at running unopposed at a time when other supporters of Virginia's "abusive driver" fines are feeling the heat, and an end to the standoff between the Herndon Town Council and former mayor Carol Bruce over the status of her business license....

By Focus on Fairfax | August 2, 2007; 1:10 PM ET | Email a Comment

Military Matters: Peace Through Puppets

Today's Military Matters column reports on Army 1st Sgt. Bruce L. Reges who, with the help of his mother, a former professional puppeteer, is finding an unusual way of communicating with the children he encounters in Iraq where he works with a civil affairs unit....

By Focus on Fairfax | August 2, 2007; 1:04 PM ET | Email a Comment

National Merit and Achievement Winners

The list of winners from Fairfax County's public and private schools' senior classes is here. Congratulations to all....

By Focus on Fairfax | August 2, 2007; 12:40 PM ET | Email a Comment

Driving School Teaches Accident Avoidance

Most driver education programs can handle general driving instructions, but for real life experience in what to do when something goes wrong, young drivers enroll in programs like Drive2Survive. Read about the nonprofit safety school that specializes in teaching how to steer clear of crashes in today's Fairfax Extra....

By Focus on Fairfax | August 2, 2007; 12:30 PM ET | Email a Comment

Park Authority Steps Up Artificial Turf to Fight Shortage

To address the shortage of athletic fields, the Fairfax County Park Authority has stepped up its game with regard to installing more artificial turf fields. But according to this Fairfax Extra article, not everyone is happy with the move and concerns persist about artificial turf's benefits....

By Focus on Fairfax | August 2, 2007; 12:22 PM ET | Email a Comment

New Homeless Shelter Set To Open

Fairfax County's first new homeless shelter in 20 years will open its doors on Saturday. The shelter, named for Katherine K. Hanley, the former chairman of the Board of Supervisors and located near Centreville, will provide shelter for about 20 families for as many as 60 days while they look for permanent housing. Today's Fairfax Extra has the story....

By Focus on Fairfax | August 2, 2007; 11:59 AM ET | Email a Comment

Company Cleared in Firings Connected to Iraq Incident

A private Herndon-based security contractor was cleared of wrongdoing yesterday in the firings of two of its employees who had been terminated for failing to immediately report their supervisor -- they waited two days -- to the company after he shot into civilian vehicles in Iraq. Details are here....

By Focus on Fairfax | August 2, 2007; 10:22 AM ET | Email a Comment

Fairfax History Revealed by Digital Mapping

Local archaeologists are using high resolution digital images of aerial views of the county to discover forgotten historic sites: the parking lot at Fair Oaks shopping center was once the site of a Civil War battle. Learn more about it in this article from today's Metro section....

By Focus on Fairfax | August 2, 2007; 9:54 AM ET | Email a Comment

Bill on Public Safety Unions Has Local Ramifications

Virginia's prohibition on collective bargaining by public safety workers could be struck down if a bill just passed by the U.S. House of Representatives becomes law. Locally that could mean that the Fairfax County government might have to negotiate pay raises and benefits with police officers and firefighters in a way it never has before. Read the news story in today's Metro section here....

By Focus on Fairfax | August 1, 2007; 10:45 AM ET | Email a Comment

 

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