Pure democracy is about to make itself known again in Mount Vernon. On January 31, Mount Vernon Supervisor Gerald "Gerry" Hyland, will host his 17th Annual "New England style" Town Meeting.
As usual, it will be held in the Little Theater at Mount Vernon High School, 8515 Old Mount Vernon Road. But, it will start 15 minutes earlier — at 7:45 a.m., with coffee and donuts available in the exhibit area.
"We have heard from a lot of people who said they wanted more time at the exhibits," said Rhonda Hallesy of Hyland's office. "There will also be time to meet with exhibitors after the Town Meeting."
A new element of the six hour-plus event, introduced last year, entitled "A Taste of Mount Vernon," is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. Operated under the aegis of the Mount Vernon-Lee Chamber of Commerce, it will feature food from a variety of establishments throughout the district.
Some of the eateries confirmed to be present include Hollin Hall Pastry, Elsie's Magic Skillet, Pema's Restaurant, and the Hunan Royale.
Hyland's Town Meeting has also become a one-stop shopping event for citizens who wish to interface with various agencies and personnel from both county and state governments as well as non-governmental service organizations. This year is no exception. Some of the 60-plus exhibitors available for information and input between 7:45-9 a.m. will include:
NOVA Soil and Water Conservation, Fairfax County Parks, Gunston Hall, Animal Control, Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority, Fort Belvoir, Christian Relief Services, United Community Ministries, Fairfax County Consumer Protection Division, Woodrow Wilson Bridge Project Center, VDOT, Department of Tax Administration, and a host of others.
AS HE DOES each year, Hyland will initiate the meeting with his "Virtual Bus Tour." The audience is treated to a Hyland narrative of various sites throughout the district which have either been through a change in the previous year or are on his attention agenda for a variety of reasons.
Following the "tour," there will be a series of presentations touching on a multiplicity of subjects which impact his constituency. Heading this year's list is the newly elected chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, Gerald Connolly.
His subject is "County Priorities in Your First Year as Chairman."
One of the central themes of the last countywide election and one that is of perennial interest and concern to Connolly, Hyland, and Lee District Supervisor Dana Kauffman, is the divergence between the taxing power of counties and cities in Virginia. All have pushed for counties to have a parity with cities on that subject.
As for managing the county's myriad challenges, Anthony Griffin, county executive, will speak on the subject, "Challenges and Opportunities for Fairfax County in 2004." He will be followed by Ed Long, chief financial officer, Fairfax County, focusing on "An Overview of Fiscal Year 2005 Budget and Taxes."
NEVER FAR FROM the minds and concerns of residents of both Mount Vernon and Lee districts is Fort Belvoir. Colonel T.W.Williams, garrison commander, will highlight "Fort Belvoir - New Programs and Developments."
Following Williams, with a subject that impacts the entire southeastern portion of the county and is inextricably linked to the military base, will be Kauffman. His topic is one with which he is intimately involved, "Transportation Plans for the Coming Year."
Rounding out the agenda will be insights to public safety and public education. The former subject entitled "Public Safety - 2003 in Review and Looking Ahead," will be addressed by Captain Larry Moser, commander, Mount Vernon Station, Fairfax County Police, and Michael Neuhard, chief, Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department.
On the subject of "Mount Vernon Schools' Successes and Challenges," both Dr. Daniel Domenech, superintendent, Fairfax County Public Schools, and Dan Storck, newly elected Mount Vernon School Board member, will share the platform. Two 15 minute question and answer sessions are scheduled during the two hour presentations portion of the event.
IN ADDITION TO the scheduled speakers, public officials who have indicated their intention to attend are U.S. Representative James P. Moran (D-8), State Senator Linda T. "Toddy" Puller (D-36), and State Delegate Kristen J. Amundson (D-44), according to Hyland's office.
Both the exhibits and "A Taste of Mount Vernon" will be held in the school cafeteria, immediately across from the Little Theater.