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Vienna’s Top Stories of 2013

Sequestration and two-week-plus federal government shutdown in October of 2013 loomed over the local economy as thousands of federal employees were furloughed during the shutdown. Essential personnel did show up but with no bonus compensation even after furloughed federal employees were paid for their time not working. Essential personnel were heard to grumble on social media about the inequity.

The murderer of Vanessa Pham, a James Madison High School graduate, was arrested at a construction site in Vienna in August 2013. Julio Blanco Garcia stabbed Pham to death in the presence of his baby daughter. He was high on drugs when Pham, a good Samaritan, gave Garcia and his child a ride from a Falls Church shopping center in spring of 2010. She was stabbed 13 times. Garcia was convicted and sentenced to 49 years in prison for the murder.

Jim Morris succeeded Robert Carlisle as Vienna Chief of Police in February. Carlisle headed Vienna’s police department of 41 sworn officers for 12 years and retired in late 2012. Town Manager Mercury Payton credited Carlisle with transforming the way the town’s police department does business. Chief Morris had 24 years with the Fairfax County Police Department before taking over Vienna’s top law enforcement position.

With extensive input from the community, the Town Council voted to expand and renovate the Vienna Community Center. The Department of Parks and Recreation hosted focus groups to gather and prioritize wants and needs of the community, and solicited views in surveys. In 2014, the Town Council will present a plan.

The three-level parking garage proposed for Church Street was canceled after the contracted construction company went bankrupt. Parking along Church Street is a town issue. Many businesses complain their shoppers and diners cannot find parking spaces.

The Vienna Business Association, in partnership with the Town of Vienna, presented the first-ever First Night Vienna celebration, a family-friendly New Year’s Eve party that took over Church Street. First Night Vienna was a vision orchestrated by Caffe Amouri owner and Vienna resident, Michael Amouri. The Vienna Business Association was chartered in August of 2012 with an initial base of 26 members; it ended 2013 with a membership of 130 local businesses.