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News Briefs

<b>Tree Safety Tags And Tips</b>

Residential fires are usually on the increase throughout the holiday season. The primary cause is improper care of Christmas trees, according to fire officials.

To combat this threat, Fairfax County Fire & Rescue Department firefighters began delivering Christmas tree tags to businesses and tree vendors on Nov. 26. The green and white, 5 by 8 inch safety information card provides seven safety tips in five languages. They will be provided to customers with each tree purchased.

Those tips are: Keep tree base immersed in water. Do not permit smoking near the tree. Use only lights that are U.L. approved. Use flame retardant decorations and papers. Inspect lights for frayed or cracked wiring, broken plugs, and defective sockets. Unplug lights at night and when leaving the home. Remove the tree soon after the holidays, before the needles dry out. Tree safety tags are also available online under the educational winter safety category at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/fr/educate.htm.

<b>Car Raffle To Benefit Graduation Party</b>

Someone will have a new 2008 Mazda GX3 sports car this Christmas thanks to a raffle drawing during halftime at the West Potomac/Oakton high school basketball game at West Potomac Dec. 18.

As the major fund-raiser for the high school's All Night Graduation Party next June at Washington, DC's ESPN Zone, 3,000 tickets are being sold at $20 each. Any business or individual buying at least $500 worth of tickets will be noted as a sponsor on all contribution posters and will be acknowledged in a media advertisement, according to the parent group sponsoring the raffle.

"The all-night party gives our seniors a way to celebrate their graduation safely," said John Howell, parent of a West Potomac senior and chairman of the raffle's volunteer organizing committee.

"We plan to have great food, prizes and all kinds of fun activities during the party. We even will provide the transportation to and from the ESPN Zone. We are grateful to a multitude of local businesses that donate money, prizes and time to make this party possible," Howell said.

Tickets can be purchased at the school's sporting and fine arts events, the holiday tree sale behind Carl Sandberg Middle School, Hollin Hall and Belle View Safeways, Wal-Mart, Beacon Mall Giant, and at Brown's Alexandria Mazda dealership on Richmond Highway. Tickets are now on sale at all locations.

They can also be purchased by mail with checks made payable to West Potomac PTSA ANGP, and sent to West Potomac High School, 6500 Quander Road, Alexandria, VA 22307.

"We have to sell at least 1,000 tickets to be able to cover our expenses in purchasing the car. Funds from the sale of the next 2,000 tickets will provide the money for the party," said Regina Howell.