<sh>House Fire in Sterling
<bt>The Loudoun County Fire Marshal’s Office reports that the Dec. 31 fire that displaced a family of three was accidental. The fire, which resulted in approximately $100,000 damage to the Sterling home in the 600 block of Nettle Tree Road, was started by a space heater that was too close to combustibles. Around 8:30 a.m., fire and rescue personnel from Loudoun County Fire-Rescue Services, Sterling and Fairfax County, responded to a 911 call. First arriving units reported that there was fire coming from the basement windows of the home. With reports that there was someone still inside, firefighters gained entry to the home through the front door. During their search, two firefighters located the adult female in the hallway on the second floor and carried her outside to safety. The 55-year-old woman was flown by helicopter to Washington Hospital Center for treatment of burn injuries. Her parents, also home at the time, were uninjured. The family will be staying with other family members pending repairs to their home.
<sh>Construction Worker Injured
<bt>Around 9:26 a.m. on Dec. 31, Loudoun County Fire-Rescue Services received a 911 call for a burn injury at 22300 Fontwell Square in Sterling. Fire and rescue personnel arrived on the scene and found an adult male who had sustained burns to his legs and fingers. The patient was flown to Washington Hospital Center for treatment of his injuries. The injuries were determined to be the result of an accident which occurred when the worker was trying to warm himself by a salamander, a device used to cure drywall. The move ignited his clothing.
<bt>Speed, alcohol, no seatbelts and driver inexperience were the combination that resulted in a fatal crash that killed a 17-year-old Ashburn boy.
At about 1:25 a.m. on Dec. 21, a 17-year-old Sterling boy was driving a 1997 Toyota 4-Runner north on the Fairfax County Parkway at Braddock Road in the Fairfax area when he lost control and flipped the vehicle. He was taken to Inova Fairfax Hospital where he was treated for lacerations to the head.
The front passenger, Phil Peters, 18, of Sterling, was also transported to Inova Fairfax Hospital and treated for injuries to his extremities. Passenger Ian Miller, 16, of Sterling, who was seated behind the driver, and 19-year-old Claudia Portillo of the Fairfax area were taken to Inova Fair Oaks Hospital where they were treated for minor injuries and released.
Christopher Jative, 17, of Ashburn was taken to Inova Fairfax Hospital where he died of head trauma a few hours after the accident. The occupants of the vehicle were not wearing seatbelts.
The driver and Portillo were ejected. Jative was partially ejected. The driver was charged with driving while under the influence of alcohol with further charges pending.
<sh>Three Die in Car Crash
<bt>Three teenagers died in a car accident that occurred Dec. 23 in the Falls Church area, including a 17-year-old Sterling boy.
At about 11:55 p.m., Jose Rodriguez, a resident of Carousel Court in Sterling, was driving a Honda Civic westbound on Arlington Boulevard when for an unknown reason, the car crossed the median near Marshall Street and slid sideways into the eastbound lanes. The car, which was reported stolen from the City of Falls Church, was struck broadside by a Lexus sedan traveling eastbound.
Rodriquez died at the scene. His passengers, Santos Elizabeth Ramirez, 15, of Harrisonburg and Danitza Corvarrubias, 16, of Alexandria, were transported to Inova Fairfax Hospital where they were pronounced dead.
Four other passengers in the Honda, along with the driver of the Lexus and his passenger were transported to area hospitals.
The accident remains under investigation. It is not known if speed, alcohol or seatbelt use were factors.
<sh>Woman Rescued from Creek
<bt>Fire and rescue personnel from Leesburg and Loudoun County rescued a woman Dec. 23 from a vehicle that went down an embankment into a creek.
The Department of Fire-Rescue Services was notified at 7:43 a.m. of an auto accident on Gleedsville Road at Sycolin Creek Bridge. Personnel from Leesburg and Loudoun Rescue responded to the scene. Upon arrival, the personnel climbed down the embankment to the woman, who was still in the vehicle in water up to her waist, opened the car door and assisted her onto a ladder that had been lowered down to her. She climbed up the ladder to safety and was transported by Loudoun Rescue to the Cornwall Campus of the Loudoun Hospital Center for evaluation.
<bt>Sheriff's Investigators are asking the public for help as they search for an Ashburn woman who suffers from depression.
Gayla Denise Churchman, 43, left her home Dec. 20 and is considered to be missing and endangered.
Churchman is described as a white female, 5 feet, 6 inches tall, weighing approximately 200 pounds. She has brown hair and brown eyes. She is possibly driving a powder blue 2002 Chrysler Sebring convertible.
Anyone with information regarding Churchman is asked to contact the Loudoun County Sheriff's Office immediately at 703-777-1021.
<sh>Missing Teens Found
<bt>Two Sugarland Run teenagers missing since Dec. 13, 2003 were found in Chesapeake, Va.
The teenagers were picked up by the Chesapeake Police Department and were discovered during a routine check to have been reported missing from Loudoun County.
Jennifer Walker, 17, who had left her family's residence for over a week, was believed to be with her 18-year-old boyfriend, who also was missing, according to the Sheriff's Office.
<sh>Body Found in Parking Lot
<bt>The body of Herndon resident Margarita Gonzalez, 40, was found Dec. 26 in a Sterling parking lot, an incident the Sheriff's Office is investigating as a homicide.
Investigators are working to determine the circumstances surrounding the woman's cause of death, which they deem as suspicious. The Sheriff's Office is withholding the exact cause during the investigation.
A landscaper discovered the body in a privately owned gravel parking lot shortly before noon on Friday, Dec. 26.
Late Saturday afternoon, Sheriff's investigators learned of a missing Hispanic female from Herndon whose description matched that of the victim in the parking lot. A family member made the missing person's report to the Herndon Police Department late Friday afternoon. Gonzalez was said to have left her residence at about 7 p.m. Dec. 25 and was not seen or heard from again until her body was discovered the next day.
"As with any unattended or unexplained deaths, the Sheriff's Office investigates these cases as a homicide until all aspects have been ruled out," said Sheriff Stephen Simpson.
Anyone who has information about the case is asked to contact Investigator Angelo at 703-777-0475 or to call Crime Solvers at 1-877-777-1931. If an anonymous tip leads to the identity, arrest and indictment of the person responsible, there is a cash reward of up to $1,000 from the Loudoun County Crime Solvers Committee.
<sh>Party Ends in Gunfire
<bt>A private party at the Sterling Cinema Draft House & The Hollywood Café in the Town Center Plaza ended in gunfire.
Sheriff's deputies arrived at the scene shortly before 1 a.m. on Dec. 21 and confirmed that one shot had been fired inside the business, which opened in Sterling one and a half years ago. No injuries or property damage occurred during the incident.
Dale Rinehart, 42, owner of the business, told the Sheriff's Office he overheard some patrons fighting in the party room, which had been rented out by a 63-year-old Reston woman. As the patrons began to flee the area towards the main exit, Rinehart heard members of the crowd shouting someone had a gun, he said, according to a press release from the Sheriff's Office.
"It's not a client we cater to," said a manager, who would not give her name. "This is a localized event. It's not something that is typical here."
Members of the Sheriff's Office Criminal Investigations Division are investigating the incident. Anyone who has information regarding the incident is asked to contact Investigator Fognano at 703-777-0475.
<sh>Attempted Robbery in Ashburn
<bt>A fast food restaurant manager was held at gunpoint during the overnight on Dec. 19 as he stood by his car. Shortly before 1 a.m. the 25-year-old Leesburg man had just closed the Burger King in the Ashburn Village Plaza Shopping Plaza when a vehicle pulled up behind his car.
A passenger in the suspect vehicle brandished a firearm and said to the victim to give him money. The driver of the suspect vehicle exited the car and also brandished a firearm.
The victim told the suspects he had no money. The passenger from the suspect vehicle then began to rummage through the victim's car.
Finding no money the suspects left the scene. The victim observed the vehicle heading towards Ashburn Village Boulevard.
The suspect vehicle is described as a late 1990s model Honda Civic two door that is black in color.
One of the suspects is described as a Hispanic male, in his early 20s, 5 feet, 7 inches in height and weighing approximately 170 pounds. He was last seen wearing a dark colored jacket, and black gloves.
The second suspect is described as a male of unknown race, in his early 20s. He was last seen wearing a black stocking cap with black gloves and a black jacket.
Anyone with information regarding the case is asked to contact Investigator Grau of the Loudoun County Sheriff's Office Criminal Investigations Division at 703-777-0475.
<sh>Ashburn Man Stabbed
<bt>An Ashburn man out for a walk with his dog was assaulted and then stabbed by an unknown assailant on Dec. 30.
At about 2 a.m., the 47-year-old victim was walking in a parking lot in the 20900 block of Timber Ridge Terrace with his German Shepherd when he confronted a black male and a white male standing near his vehicle.
A third man came up from behind the victim and assaulted and stabbed him. All three of the subjects fled the scene on foot towards Crossroads Drive.
The victim was taken to the Lansdowne Campus of Loudoun Hospital where he was being treated for non-life threatening injuries.
The assailant is described as a heavyset black male, 18 to 25 years old, 6 foot, one inch in height, with short-cropped dark hair. He was wearing a blue jacket, blue jeans and white tennis shoes at the time of the incident.
Anyone with information regarding this incident is asked to contact Investigator Craig of the Sheriff's Office Criminal Investigations Division at 703-777-0475.
<sh>Housing Program Changes
<bt>Loudoun County Housing Services has announced program changes to its Homebuyers Opportunity Program (HOP) and the Affordable Dwelling Unit Rental Program (ADU) effective Jan. 1. All new applicants and renewing certificate holders must provide Loudoun County Health Services with additional documentation.
HOP applicants and renewing certificate holders must provide a copy of a recent credit report containing a credit score and a copy of a recent pre-approval letter from a mortgage lender.
ADU applicants and renewing certificate holders must provide a copy of a recent credit report containing a credit score.
For more information, call 703-777-0389.
<sh>DUI Checkpoints Encouraging
<bt>A DUI checkpoint on Harry Byrd Highway (Route 7) showed encouraging signs as no one was arrested for driving under the influence. The information from the Loudoun County Sheriff's Office was made available in a release dated Dec. 23.
"This is a sign that the DUI checkpoints have been successful in encouraging drivers to use better judgment," said Sheriff Steve Simpson said in the statement. "Drivers are getting the message not to drink and drive."
The Sheriff's Office designed the checkpoints to raise public awareness and to discourage impaired driving.
Members of the Loudoun County Sheriff's Office Special Operations Division conducted the checkpoint Friday, Dec. 19 with assistance from the local chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD).
The checkpoint, which ran from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m., was held on Route 7 westbound just prior to Charles Town Pike (Route 9). A total of 397 vehicles passed through the checkpoint with five drivers being screened.
<sh>Homeless Shelter Contract
<bt>Loudoun County has selected Volunteers of America Chesapeake to operate the Loudoun Emergency Homeless Shelter. The program is a 24-bed, emergency shelter for families and women. With an initial stay of 30 days and an opportunity to stay up to 89 days, families and individuals work with a trained management team in an effort to turn their lives around. Program plans and goals are developed with each individual and family, taking into account their personal situation and needs. Residents are then connected to other resources in the community including emergency services, housing services, medical services, substance abuse treatment, adult education and job training.
<sh>Democrats' 'Citizen's Agenda'
<bt>The Loudoun County Democratic Committee recently adopted its "Citizen's Agenda" and called upon the Loudoun legislation to the General Assembly "to pledge to withdraw any legislation they have introduced, or co-patroned, to not introduce, and to reject any legislation which does not address the Citizen's Agenda."
Democrats urged legislators in a release to "not be distracted by legislative proposals concerning sex, prayer, God, reproductive decisions, consenting adults, composition of families, license plate slogans and compelled religious expression."
The Citizen's Agenda states:
"* Providing for the Education of our children in preparation for their participation in our community, democracy and economy;
* Providing continuing Education and Workforce Training opportunities for adults toward their success and prosperity;
* Providing for a Transportation infrastructure to sustain our economic prosperity and to improve our quality of life;
* Providing a Tax Structure which fairly and equitably distributes the burden of meeting The Citizen's Agenda in today's economy;
* Providing for the physical and mental Health needs of our children, elderly, families and workforce;
* Providing for Safety in our homes and community;
* Providing Justice in our criminal justice system and a responsive civil court system;
* Providing Ways and Means for local governments to meet their responsibilities;
* Providing Wages, benefits and rewards which are competitive, fair and livable for educators; public safety personnel and all other government employees doing The Citizen's Agenda;
* Providing for the Preservation of our natural resources;
* Providing a sound Business climate;
* Providing for the economic Prosperity of the Commonwealth;
* Providing adequate Resources to accomplish The Citizen's Agenda."
For more information, visit the LCDC Web site at www.lcdems.com.
<sh>Sugarland Run Ranks High
<bt>Money Magazine has ranked the Sugarland Run area of Loudoun County as one of the most desirable places to live in the country. The area tops the category of places in the eastern United States with a population of under 100,000.
The magazine describes the Sugarland Run area as a place that combines history, horses and high tech, saying: "It's near Civil War battlefields, horse country, the Potomac River and the Beltway. George Washington actually slept nearby."
The article goes on to say, "Newcomers find good schools and affordable housing options … all within half an hour of Dulles airport and … Washington. A rich nexus of employers in the area, many of them defense contractors and tech outfits, attracts workers flocking in from Atlanta, San Antonio, San Francisco and elsewhere."
More information about the rankings is available in the current issue of Money Magazine and online at www.money.cnn.com.
<bt>2004 marks the one-year anniversary of Loudoun County's revised recycling requirements for residents and solid waste collectors. Loudoun County residents are reminded that they need to recycle newspapers, magazines, cardboard, paperboard, glass bottles and jars, metal and aluminum cans and plastic beverage and detergent containers.
Recyclables must be set out for collection properly and separately from solid waste. They cannot be set out in plastic bags. Contact waste collectors for specific requirements.
Residents of incorporated towns should contact their town offices for more specific recycling information.
Loudoun County is offering five locations for residents to drop off their Christmas trees for recycling. Through Tuesday, Jan. 20, trees will be accepted free of charge at Franklin Park in Purcellville, the recycling center in Lovettsville, the Loudoun County landfill on Evergreen Mills Road, Northern Virginia Community College Loudoun Campus in Sterling and at Claude Moore Park, located at Cascades Parkway and Loudoun Park Lane in Sterling. Large red boxes will be used to collect the trees.
Residents who receive curbside recycling service should contact their homeowners association, town office, or private waste collector for information about Christmas tree curbside recycling.
Christmas trees should not be placed in bags. All decorations and stands should be removed before setting the trees out for recycling or taking them to any of the county's collection locations. Christmas trees placed in plastic bags, and trees with ornaments, lights or other items cause problems when they are processed into mulch.
More information about Loudoun County's recycling requirements is available at www.loudoun.gov/oswm or by calling the Loudoun County Recycling Hotline at 703-771-5318.