Recognition Offered to Many
In honor of the official observance of the Prisoners of War/Missing in Action National Recognition Day being moved to Sept. 14, the Town Council recognized the POWS/MIAs with the local American Legion Post 184 in a resolution.
As a part of the recognition, Councilman Harlon Reece spoke for the council, as well as the chairman of the committee for Post 184. In attendance for the recognition were members of the Post, including one member specifically who was a part of the Bataan Death March in the Philippines in 1942.
The council also recognized Timothy Ryan, the Herndon High School student who, on July 22, attempted to save the life of an unconscious man at the Herndon Centennial Golf Course. Ryan administered CPR until paramedics arrived on the scene.
Jim Deuel was recognized by the council for his dedicated service to the community during the eight years he served as general manager at the Dulles Hyatt Hotel. Deuel was active in many community organizations in Reston and Herndon. Deuel recently accepted the position of general manager in Rosemont, Ill., managing a hotel property in the Chicago area.
The council also recognized the Judy Downer for her dedicated service to the town as a member of the town's Planning Commission. Downer stepped down after being offered the re-appointment because she felt it was time to let other interested members get involved in the community.
The council recognized September as Hispanic Heritage Month, asking all residents of the town to observe this month with the appropriate programs and activities.
Public Speaks Out About Concerns
As a part of the Town Council pubic hearings, members of the town and other area residents are encouraged to speak on public record about upcoming issues, current ordinances and amendments before the council as well as any concerns they may have in the community.
At Tuesday night's Town Council public hearing many were in attendance to comment on the good deeds and express their appreciation for Judy Downer and Jim Deuel.
There were also many citizens concerned with a memorandum of use, or MOU, before the council regarding the Cultural Arts Center and its funding, as well as concerns about recent comments made by Council member Ann Null.
The concerns raised with the Herndon Foundation for the Cultural Arts dealt with the planning, funding, construction and operation of the proposed community cultural arts center for the downtown.
Melody Fetske, president for the foundation, assured members of the council and community, that the MOU was created in conjunction with the town attorney, and the foundation planned to raise funds via private donations and other means, to help support the creation of the proposed $3 million arts center.
"The foundation is unique in relation to other nonprofit foundations," said Fetske. "The foundation is there to raise money to assist the town ... the foundation will never own the arts center."
By approving the MOU, the Town Council would undertake the public initiative of the town to create a public community arts center in the town with the help of a formalized citizens' committee and not the purchase of services.
Bill Tirrell, Planning Commission member and resident, said he thinks the center will benefit the town, but that the current MOU appears to identify Herndon tax payers as "100 percent" responsible for annual operations.
Other citizens expressed similar concerns, that it would be the town and ultimately tax payers who fund the construction and operations of the arts center, and that the foundation could have an easy out with the current MOU.
Fetske assured the council that the foundation only wants the support from the town so the group can continue in their effort to raise funds for the creation of the center.
"We want the town to issue a stronger statement to commitment to the arts center," she said. "We will work together to write something we both like, but we need a document to work."
ANNA ROCHAC, along with a handful of other Herndon residents, spoke out about recent comments made by Council member Ann Null, in relation to issues that have evolved and carried over from the El Salvadorian Consulate visit to the town in August.
Rochac said she was offended by specific comments made by Null against the Hispanic community and more specifically "all persons who work as cooks, maids and janitors," and asked for a public apology.
"Ms. Null, with her remarks, is making Herndon more divided," said Rochac. "Today I ask that Ms. Null apologize to all citizens who call Herndon their home."
Following Rochac's lead to publicly address the controversial statements that were made in the past few weeks, other members of the community took the opportunity, when done speaking about the arts center, to also ask for a public apology from Null.
Chris Smith, Herndon resident, said he was disturbed to learn of the statements printed in area newspapers by Null.
"This community has always had an element of every economic class," said Smith, adding when they first moved to Herndon they were barely getting by.
But, unlike some of the other members who spoke out against Null's comments, Smith questioned the community's ability to work through this rough spot.
"I'd like to take the next step, how do we bring these communities together?" said Smith. "It's a simple ignorance of facts, let's get past that ... we have to hold ourselves to a higher standard of leadership."
At the time of publication the public hearing was still in session, Null was not given an opportunity to respond until after the public hearing was closed and no decisions had been reviewed for the council's approval.