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Send announcements to The Loudoun Connection, 7913 Westpark Drive, McLean, VA 22102, e-mail to loudoun@connectionnewspapers.com or fax to 703-917-0991. Deadline is Friday, two weeks before the event. Photos/artwork encouraged. For more information, call Jennifer Lesinski at 703-917-6454.

This free listing is reserved for activities and events that are open to the public at no or minimal cost.

In honor of Black History Month in February, the Lions Club of Sterling with Melodee Music of Sterling will be holding the annual Lions of Virginia, James A. Bland Music Competition Sunday, Feb. 26, at 2:30 p.m., at Melodee Music, 46077 Lake Center Plaza, Potomac Falls. Admission free.

Individuals wishing to compete can pick up an application at Melodee Music or request one from the Lions Club by calling 703-723-0077, writing Sterling Lions Club, P.O. Box 45, Sterling, Va. 20167-0045 or e-mailing sterlinglions@adelphia.net. Applications due Jan. 26.

The contest is open to boys and girls, vocalist or instrumentalists, who live in Virginia and attend elementary through high school or is being home schooled. Contestants cannot be previous state winners. The winner of the club-level competition moves onto the regional contest and has an opportunity to advance to the state competition. At the club level first- and second-place winners in each category receive a $75 and $50 savings bonds respectively. The state winner receives a $2,000 music scholarship.

For complete details and rules visit http://www.valions.org/sterling/Bland.htm.

Auditions for the Alexandria Singers 2006 spring season will be held at the Lincolnia Senior Center, 4710 N. Chambliss St., Alexandria, every Tuesday in January, at 7 p.m. For an appointment, call Barbara Keefer at

703-707-0590 or e-mail audition@alexandriasingers.com.

AARP Tax-Aide is the nation's largest free, volunteer-run tax preparation service available to taxpayers with low and middle income, with special attention to those age 60 and older. AARP Tax-Aide is administered by the AARP Foundation in cooperation with the IRS. All tax preparation volunteers receive training in tax law and must pass an IRS certification examination.

All taxpayers must bring a government issued picture identification and Social Security cards for all persons included on the tax return.

The AARP Tax-Aide program operates between Feb. 1-April 17, at Falcons Landing Senior Residence, 20225 Falcons Landing Circle, Sterling. Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays, 1:30-4:30 p.m. Appointment required, call 703-404-5216.

The Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation is now accepting applications for public transportation, commuter services and human service transportation grants.

The annual applications period is open through Feb. 1. Approximately $134 million in state funding is available through Transportation Trust Fund and Transportation Efficiency Improvement Fund allocations.

Fiscal year 2007 funding availability is based on official revenue estimates of the commonwealth, which will be finalized in May 2006.

Complete details on eligibility and application procedures are available online. To apply, or to learn more information about public transportation funding in Virginia, visit www.drpt.virginia.gov and click on the OLGA (On-Line Grants Administration) spotlight box.

Loudoun MADD is holding its annual poster/essay contest with the theme ÒDrunk Driving Destroys Dreams.Ó

All entries must appropriately communicate the contest theme although the actual theme does not have to be written on the entry. Attractiveness, use of color, expression, are items to consider with posters. Spelling, grammar, emotional appeal, are things to remember when writing an essay.

Clarity and visual impact are important in any black-and-white photograph, as well as in a video PSA. PSAs may be submitted on either VHS or DVD formats. Radio ÒspotsÓ may be submitted on compact disc.

There are four categories with individual divisions based on age groups: poster, grades first-third, fourth-fifth, sixth-eighth and ninth-12th; essay, grades fourth-fifth, sixth-eighth and ninth-12th; PSA video, grades sixth-eighth and ninth-12th; and black-and-white photograph, grades sixth-eighth and ninth-12th. Deadline is Feb. 28.

Mail entries to MADD Loudoun County, P.O. Box 4252, Leesburg, VA 20177.

Questions may be written to maddloudoun@aol.com or leave voice mail message at 703-771-8127.

Entry forms can be downloaded from the MADD Loudoun County Web site at www.maddloudouva.org.

Contest is open to all public, private and home-schooled Loudoun County students.

Last year, Loudoun MADD $2,500. worth of savings bonds were awarded to the winning students. The 2006 winners will be announced at the award ceremony in April.

Plant-A-Memory is a countywide program that provides a living, growing, memorial to a person's loved one or special event, offered by the county's Parks, Recreation & Community Services. All donated trees will be marked with Plant-A-Memory plaques with the loved one's name.

Trees will be planted in the park of your choice. Tree selection and planting location will be administered by the staff. Available locations are Banshee Reeks Nature Preserve, Claude Moore Park, Franklin Park, or Potomack Lakes Sportsplex.

Prices range from $150-$300, based on plaque and tree size. The next round of trees will be planted in April, orders must be received by March 1. If needed, a special gift certificate noting the Plant-A-Memory donation can be provided.

Contact Claude Moore Park at 703-444-1275.

Loudoun MADD is selling the red MADD CHOOSE COURAGE community awareness wristbands for $1, which can be mailed for an additional $.50 each. The wristbands can be purchased by sending a check to Loudoun MADD at P.O. Box 4252, Leesburg, VA 20177, with the number of wristbands for purchase. Visit the Loudoun MADD Web site at www.maddloudounva.org to see a picture of the wristbands. For questions send an e-mail to maddloudoun@aol.com.

Residents and businesses using the Loudoun County Recycling Drop-off Centers are reminded that the recycling centers accept only mixed bottles, cans, and paper. Specifically, items that are accepted at the recycling centers include clear- and colored-glass bottles and jars; aluminum and steel cans; plastic bottles and jugs Ñ beverage, detergent and squeeze bottles and jugs only; newspapers; magazines; phone books; catalogs; junk mail; office paper; cardboard; and paperboard such as cereal boxes.

Items that are not accepted at the centers include plastic bags; plastic flower pots; Styrofoam; or any other type of plastic that is not specifically a bottle or jug; window glass; plate-glass; porcelain; wood; yard waste; furniture; needles; nails; construction materials; electronics; hazardous chemicals or chemical containers; and motor oil containers.

If an item is not listed on the sign as acceptable for recycling, do not deposit it in the recycling bin, and instead call the Loudoun County Office of Solid Waste Management at 703-777-0187. For more information visit www.loudoun.gov/oswm.

Loudoun Volunteer Services seeks nominations for Student Volunteer of the Month. Loudoun students will be recognized for their volunteer efforts during the 2004-2005 school year. Nominate students, or groups of students, elementary-12th grade, who volunteer their time in a variety of ways in their schools, churches, and towns. A one-page narrative may be sent to the Loudoun Volunteer Services Board at pivs@loudoun.gov or to 1 Harrison St., S.E., P.O. Box 7000, Leesburg, VA 20177.

The one-page narrative should include the student's name, address, telephone number, school and a description, including length of service of the exemplary volunteer efforts of the student. Contact information for the person nominating the student should also be included.

Volunteers will be featured in the Loudoun Volunteer Services Newsletter and on the Loudoun County Government Web site. Contact Lisa Rose, volunteer coordinator, at

703-777-0113.