Those attending the Annual Mount Vernon Town Meeting on January 25 will have an extra treat this year. The last stop on Mount Vernon District Supervisor Gerald W. Hyland's (D) virtual tour "bus" will be at the "Taste of Mount Vernon."
For the first time in the Town Meeting's 16-year history attendees will be feted to a "real," not virtual, smorgasbord of restaurant offerings assembled in the cafeteria of Mount Vernon High School, 8515 Old Mount Vernon Road.
Nearly a dozen eateries from throughout Mount Vernon and Lee Districts have signed up so far, according to Holly Dougherty, executive director, Mount Vernon-Lee Chamber of Commerce. Sampling will begin at 1 p.m. and last for an hour.
"We were trying to find a venue for our members to get more exposure and Supervisor Hyland was very gracious to work with us," Dougherty said. "There will be restaurants from all over the area. In addition to food samples, coupons will be available for use at the individual establishments for those who want to enjoy a full meal."
Doughtery expressed the hope that "in future years we will be able to have more of our member businesses on display at this event." The Mount Vernon-Lee chamber encompasses a wide variety of enterprises from throughout both districts of Fairfax County.
SOME OF THE restaurants who have committed to participate in the Taste of Mount Vernon thus far are Thai Herb; Roy Rogers; Old Country Buffet; Chef Haung; Red,Hot and Blue; Dishes of India; Hunan Royal; and Ruby Tuesday.
Starting at 8 a.m. with coffee, donuts, and interaction with exhibitors in the school cafeteria, the Town Meeting formal program kicks off at 9 in the high school "Little Theater." The entire event has been described by Rose Lambert, Hyland's chief aide, as "an informational county fair."
According to the advance program, presentations are expected on the following topics:
. Rejection of the Sales Tax Referendum and What Next by Katherine K. Hanley (D), Chairman, Fairfax County Board of Supervisors.
. Fairfax County's Challenges in 2003 and What This Will Mean to Citizens by Anthony H. Griffin, county executive.
. Fiscal Year 2003-2004 Budget Overview by Edward Long, chief financial officer, Fairfax County.
. Affects of Development on Our Schools and Systems by Dana Kauffman, (D) Lee District Supervisor.
. Public Safety - 2002 in Review and What Lies Ahead? by Captains Larry Moser, Dorian Portee, and James Morris — commanders Mount Vernon, West Springfield, and Franconia police district stations.
. Fort Belvoir Highlights by Colonel Thomas Williams, Garrison Commander.
. Mount Vernon Schools' Successes and Steps for Continuing Improvement in a Challenging Fiscal Environment by Daniel Domenech, county school superintendent and Isis Castro, newly elected chairman, Fairfax County School Board.
KICKING OFF THE formal part of the program at approximately 9:15 a.m., Hyland will take the audience on a one half hour virtual "bus tour." Donning bus driver attire, he will guide his audience to "an overview of the Mount Vernon District" through slides and commentary.
Two 15-minute question and answer sessions are scheduled at specific breaks during the two-hour program topic session. This will be followed by an hour devoted to citizen comments and general questions.
More than 60 exhibitors are expected to be available for interaction with attendees in the school cafeteria for an hour prior to the presentations and during the Taste of Mount Vernon, immediately following.
Some of those confirmed to be present are Fairfax County Police Department; Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department; Safe Crossings; Fairfax County departments of Housing and Community Development, Tax Administration, and Public Affairs; Virginia Department of Transportation; Woodrow Wilson Bridge Project; United Community Ministries; Good Shepherd Housing; Fairfax County Park Authority; and the National Park Service.
In addition, the event usually draws both state and federal elected representatives. It is scheduled to conclude shortly after 2 p.m.