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Week in Loudoun

Kitchen Fire Displaces Family

<bt>Around 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 6, Loudoun County Fire-Rescue received a 911 call for a structure fire at 21 Sugarland Square Court in Sugarland. Fire and Rescue personnel from Sterling and Fairfax County responded to the scene. First units arriving on the scene discovered a small fire in the kitchen of the townhouse and were able to extinguish it quickly. The fire, which caused approximately $3,500 damage, was due to unattended food on the stove. Rescue personnel transported two people who attempted to fight the fire to Loudoun Hospital Center for treatment of smoke inhalation. The family, who was temporarily displaced, was staying with family and friends.

<sh>Laundry Room Fire Displaces Family

<bt>Around 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 7, Loudoun County Fire-Rescue received a 911 call for a structure fire in the 20400 block of Cool Fern Square in Ashburn. Fire and Rescue personnel from Ashburn, Sterling, Leesburg and Loudoun County responded to the scene. First units arriving on the scene discovered a small fire in the laundry room of the townhouse that had been extinguished by the sprinkler system. The fire, which was accidental in nature, started when combustibles close to the hot water heater ignited. The American Red Cross provided housing for the family, who was temporarily displaced as a result of the incident.

<sh>Stores Fail Alcohol Screening

<bt>A joint operation conducted Monday night by the Sheriff's Office Community Policing Unit and the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control found 30 percent of stores checked, failed to adequately screen customers purchasing alcohol. The joint alcohol enforcement operation saw an underage buyer attempting to purchase alcohol at 20 locations in Eastern Loudoun. Six stores in all sold alcohol to the underage buyer including the Mobil on Pigeon Hill Drive, the High Up Food Mart, the Safeway on Pigeon Hill Drive, the Shell gas station on Algonkian Parkway, the Parc City 7-11, and the Getty Mart on East Holly Avenue. Store employees charged in the operation with selling alcohol to an underage buyer were Parminder Sidhu, 24, of Leesburg; Akpedje Daketse, 33, of Sterling, Trilochan Syan, 57 of Manassas, Moses Cravan, 36, of Sterling; Adeel Safdar 20, of Ashburn; and Mohammed Shahabuddin, 47, of Sterling.

"The most serious problem was that even though the underage buyer was carded the employee failed to calculate the age correctly," said Sheriff Steve Simpson.

Several other ABC violations were discovered during this event and will be turned over to ABC for enforcement actions. The Sheriff's Office and the ABC plan to conduct more operations throughout the county.

<sh>Board Pursues Water Extension

<bt>The Board of Supervisors has adopted a resolution of intent to amend the zoning ordinance to allow the extension of central water and sewer service into the county's Transition Area to ensure the public health, safety and welfare. The Transition Area is a residential planning area of about 23,000 acres in central Loudoun. The board directed staff to prepare language for a draft zoning ordinance amendment, which will be the subject of a future joint public hearing between the board and the Planning Commission.

The board has also adopted a resolution of intent to amend the zoning ordinance to permit above ground decks, patios and other similar structures attached to dwellings in the River and Stream Corridor Overlay District (RSCOD) buffer zone and open fences in the RSCOD. This follows the board's adoption last month of a resolution of intent to amend the zoning ordinance to allow active and passive recreation facilities, such as ballfields, in the RSCOD as well as public utilities and storm drainage facilities.

<sh>Five Face Charges for Burglaries

<bt>Four Loudoun men and a juvenile were charged this week in connection with a series of burglaries occurring over the last year involving several churches, a business and a public school building. Three of the five suspects, Marc Stinebaugh, Louis Stieglbaur, and Adam James have all been charged in the burglaries of several churches. Stinebaugh and Stieglbaur are charged in connection with the burglary of the Sterling United Methodist Church that took place in February 2003. The church was also vandalized as fire extinguishers were emptied inside the building. The juvenile, a 17-year-old from Sterling, faces a charge of destruction of property in that incident. Stinebaugh and Stieglbaur also face charges for damage that occurred to the Sterling Church of Latter Day Saints on the same day. In the church the two are alleged to have smashed windows and lights. In April the two are also accused of returning to the Sterling United Methodist Church and damaging several windows and lights. James and Stieglbaur also face charges of a burglary at the Christian Fellowship Church. Louis Stieglbaur, Adam James and Jonathan Zupan are also facing various charges in connection with the burglary of the Dulles Executive Pet Center in Sterling. The first burglary occurred on May 3 of last year and continued into January of this year with the pet center being broken into eight times. Each time small amounts of cash were taken and on a few occasions computer equipment was removed. Stinebaugh and Stieglbaur face additional charges surrounding a burglary that occurred at Park View High School in March of last year.

Stieglbaur, Stinebaugh and James were held on a $15,000 secured bond at the Loudoun Adult Detention Center.  Zupan was released on a personal recognizance bond. Stinebaugh, 20, of Sterling is facing numerous charges including felony breaking and entering and attempted grand larceny of the United Methodist Church in Sterling. He was also charged with grand larceny, breaking and entering, destruction of property and petite larceny of Park View High School. Additionally Stinebaugh will be charged with two counts of destruction of property of the Sterling United Methodist Church and the Sterling Church of Latter Day Saints. Stieglbaur, 20, of Sterling has been charged with two counts of burglary and two counts of grand larceny of the Dulles Executive Pet Center. He also faces charges of felony breaking and entering, grand larceny, petit larceny, and destruction of property of Park View High School.  Additionally Stieglbaur will be charged with grand larceny, felony breaking and entering, and two counts of breaking and entering of the Sterling United Methodist Church. He has also been charged with destruction of property of the Sterling Church of Latter Day Saints and burglary of the Christian Fellowship Church. James, 19, of Leesburg has been charged with eight counts of burglary of the Dulles Executive Pet Center and one count of burglary of the Christian Fellowship Church. Jonathan Zupan, 18, of Ashburn has been charged with one count of burglary of the Dulles Executive Pet Center.

<sh>Housing Agency Receives Funding

<bt>Loudoun County Housing Services has been awarded an allocation of $2.5 million by the Virginia Housing Development Authority to finance 13 homes for residents who make no more than $59,360. The program will reduce sales prices by 50 to 60 percent for the ADUs in the program and will include downpayment and closing cost assistance of up to $5,000 per home.

<sh>Gang Task Force Issues Update

<bt>The 10th Congressional District Gang Task Force has netted 65 felony arrests and 137 misdemeanor arrests.  Additionally, the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (BICE) has detained 47 individuals on immigration violations. "Gangs have no jurisdictional boundaries," Loudoun County Sheriff Steve Simpson stated in a release, "the task force has enabled agencies in the area to share information and be proactive and aggressive in cracking down on gang activity." Recognizing that the gang problem crossed traditional boundaries, Northern Virginia law enforcement agencies worked with U.S. Congressman Frank R. Wolf to secure a $516,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice to fund the Gang Task Force. The multi-jurisdictional task force connects law enforcement agencies from the counties of Loudoun and Prince William, the towns of Leesburg and Herndon, the cities of Manassas and Manassas Park and several federal agencies. The task force began operation in July 2003 to address violent gang activity in Northern Virginia.

To date a total of 30 training sessions have been provided to more than 500 school staff members, 200 law enforcement personnel, and 200 citizens. The task force has also seized numerous items over the last six months including 46 weapons, 208 grams of cocaine, 31 grams of heroin, and 20 grams of marijuana.

<sh>'Battlefield' Added to Park Name

<bt>The Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority Board voted at its Jan. 15 meeting to add the word "Battlefield" to the name of the authority's "Ball's Bluff Regional Park," in Leesburg. The renamed Ball's Bluff Battlefield Regional Park is the site of the Oct. 21, 1861, Battle of Ball's Bluff, the largest battle in the Leesburg area. The Confederate victory resulted in the first congressional investigation into the conduct of war. Volunteer historians lead free weekend tours of the 223-acre park from May through October, on Saturdays at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. and on Sundays at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. The tour includes a visit to Ball's Bluff National Cemetery where records indicate 54 soldiers are buried. For information about the tours or the battlefield park, call 703-737-7800 or email templehallfarm@nvrpa.org.

<sh>Free Spay/Neuter Surgery

<bt>On Feb. 24, the Spay/Neuter Coalition of the DC-Metropolitan Area is offering Loudoun County pet owners in need of financial assistance the opportunity to have their cat or dog spayed or neutered free of charge. The county shelter only has 12 of the 500 applications for the coalition and applications will be distributed on a first come, first serve basis. An application for a free spay/neuter may be obtained by calling Tim Crum at 703-771-5456 or by stopping at the Loudoun County Animal Shelter, 39820 Charles Town Pike. Applications can be downloaded from the Spay Day DC web site: www.spaydaydc.org.

<sh>Sterling Foundation Memberships

<bt>The Sterling Foundation is seeking annual memberships and additional contributions for 2004 in order to continue the mowing of Sterling Boulevard. In an effort to maintain the attractiveness of Sterling Boulevard on a more regular basis than the twice yearly mowing provided by VDOT, the Sterling Foundation relies on dues and donations from members, proceeds from bulk newspaper recycling at Park View High School, and the pride of boulevard clean-up volunteers to keep the entire 3.3 mile stretch of Sterling Boulevard looking picturesque. If interested in keeping Sterling beautiful, a $20 annual family membership pledge will help Sterling Foundation maintain the Boulevard in the upcoming season.

Membership forms can be obtained by visiting the Sterling Community Center, or the website at www.sterlingfoundation.org, or by contacting Kevin Chroninger at 703-406-7749. The Sterling Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.