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Taylor Run

"Schenectady is a lot older than Alexandria," points out Ellen Stanton of King Street. "My grandmother lives in a 17th-century house connected to the Mohawk River by a secret tunnel used to flee Indian attacks."

We were discussing the deep interest in history and historic preservation which has influenced Ellen, a native of Schenectady, N.Y. to do so much to further preservation efforts in her eight years in Alexandria.

A tour guide at Mount Vernon, where she teaches school programs, Ellen is a docent at Gadsby's Tavern in her spare time, and is chairman of the Alexandria Historical Resources Commission.

Ellen is excited about the upcoming Historic Preservation Forum sponsored by Alexandria City Council, Department of Planning and Zoning, Office of Historic Alexandria, Historic Alexandria Foundation, Historic Alexandria Resources Commission, Historical Restoration and Preservation Commission, Alexandria Archaeological Commission, Old Town Civic Association and the Alexandria Historical Society.

It will take place right here on top of Shuter's Hill in the George Washington Masonic National Memorial starting at 6:30 p.m. April 26.

Joseph P. Riley Jr., who has been mayor of Charleston, S.C. for many years and is nationally known as the voice of historic preservation, will be the featured speaker.

"This city is so rare," says Ellen. "Some residents do not appreciate what we have here. I hope we can preserve it for future generations."

THE LUCKY CHILDREN who live on Park Road, where residents simply love to give parties, gathered to hunt Easter eggs all up and down the road, then ate lunch with their parents at the Swindells, where Amy, Richard, and children Emma, Nathaniel and Holden have just survived an extensive renovation of their house.

The O'Briens were there, Ann, David, Bridget and Jessica on vacation from the University of Delaware, where she majors in journalism.

Sandy Rossi and Karen Penrod were there from Sidwell Friends School where Richard works. The Rutherfords — Paula, David, son Doug, Susan and grandsons Carter and Quinn came.

There were lots of Hunts — Rachel with sons Wyatt and Gabriel Qualiana, Nathaniel with daughter Dakota Kelso Hunt, and Lisa and Charles with Kincaid.

Janet and David Beckmann were there, but John was in Bavaria, playing tenor sax with the Bishop Ireton wind ensemble.

Joann and Richard Bussey, were there as were Bonnie and Ron Parker, just back from Costa Rica. Grace and David Lawson, with son Luke, told people about the mammoth excavation in their front yard. They had brought friends Sarah Snyder and Megan and Kee Proffitt.

Darlene and Richard Johnson came with daughter Cassandra and her children Faye and Sebastian.

— Lois Kelso Hunt

*****

Seminary Valley

Next Monday’s Brookeville-Seminary Valley Civic Association meeting is one not to miss. On April 24 at 7 p.m. at the Beatley Library, the Washington Post’s Dr. Gridlock is coming to answer your traffic questions. There will even be door prizes. Also expect a discussion about traffic calming plans for upper Pegram Street … the project is number 3 on the city’s list of planned traffic calming actions. Holmes Run Park improvements are also on the docket for the evening.

THE RESULTS ARE IN, and Jimmy Miller and Jackie Krooneman are officially Seminary Valley’s Biggest Losers. At a celebratory dinner at Fuddruckers, the participants celebrated their success and handed over the “pot” to Jimmy and Jackie. Most are continuing on their weight-loss quests, although Jimmy, who lost 40 pounds, could be heard to say that he went a little overboard. Jackie, just as competitive, managed to lose 7 pounds in the competition’s last week.

OUR NEIGHBORHOOD is no stranger to vehicle theft, because it’s so close to I-395. The Alexandria Police Department is hosting the Virginia State Police H.E.A.T. program, at which you can have your car’s Vehicle Identification Number etched into your car’s glass surfaces. Come out to Cameron Run Regional Park at 5001 Eisenhower Ave. on April 29 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., rain or shine, and take advantage of this service. All it takes is about 20 minutes and you are on your way.

NOW THAT DAUGHTER Katie has her learner’s permit, it seems like I am more attuned to road hazards than ever before. With the spring weather upon us, keep an eye out for errant soccer balls and team members wafting across Pegram and Latham Streets. And, please be patient with new drivers!

— Mia Jones

*****

Old Town

Big Month at OTCA — Seems they’re always busy at the Old Town Civic Association, but April has been particularly busy and it’s far from over. OTCA, as most of you know, is the city’s unofficial watchdog — keeping a wary eye on any and all miscreants who may seek to gentrify (screw up) our old port town. Its work is good and noble and the pay is terrific — almost as good as what I get for writing this column every week or so.

Anyhow, the OTCA City Council Candidates Forum is set for 5:30 p.m. on April 28 at the Lyles-Crouch Traditional Academy, 530 S. St. Asaph St. (not the usual Lyceum venue for space reasons). OTCA President Michael Hobbs notes that five candidates are seeking Council re-election — Ludwig Gaines (D), Rob Krupika (D), Andrew MacDonald (D), Del Pepper (D) and Paul Smedberg (D). Seem like a lot of "D's?" If you don't know why, you're new to Old Town, but that's another story. Six candidates are seeking a first term — Ken Foran (R), Tim Lovain (D), Craig Miller (R), Bernie Schulz (R), Pat Troy (R), and Van Van Van (that might seem like too many "Vans," but I'm in a hurry to write this, so forgive me) Fleet (R). (Just kidding, Van.)

OTCA'S CANDIDATES FORUM is a big deal in Old Town. But so, too, is OTCA's own election of officers. Nominees will be announced at the May 10 members meeting and the down-and-dirty election itself is set for the June 14 meeting. Officers to be elected for one-year terms include President, Vice President, Treasurer, Corresponding Secretary and Recording Secretary. We'll tell you who'd like to be what later, if that's OK. (Actually, it has to be. This is my column).

Historic Preservation Forum — mark Wednesday, April 26, down for another big deal in Old Town. At 6:30 that evening at the Masonic National Memorial we'll get together for the 2006 Historic Preservation Forum. Highlights will be a presentation of the Alexandria Historical Society's annual City History Awards at 6:30; a keynote address by Mayor Joseph P. Riley Jr. of Charleston, S.C. at 7 and a reception sponsored by the Historic Alexandria Foundation at 9. Mayor Riley, who has championed historic preservation, urban design and livability, will be introduced by Dr. Morgan Delaney, HAF president. Among the co-sponsors of the evening are City Council, the Alexandria Historical Restoration and Preservation Commission and the aforementioned OTCA. For more information, call Lee Webb at 703-838-4666.

FINALLY, the Northern Virginia Fine Arts Association announces a new showing at the Athenaeum Gallery by Sheep Jones April 23 through June 4. Gallery hours are 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

— Bob Feldkamp