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To the Editor: On Saturday, March 8, I had the opportunity to volunteer for Reston Community Center’s annual Diva Central Event. Since RCC’s creation of this program twelve years ago, Diva Central has provided a chance for young ladies in our surrounding community the opportunity to shop and select a beautiful prom outfit, complete with gown, wrap, purse, shoes, and jewelry, absolutely free, relieving some of the financial burden of what we all know can be a lavish, and therefore, expensive event.

Letter: Improving Children’s Education

To the Editor: The CLIPUS Foundation is an organization that focuses on school supplies as a gateway to improving children’s education. Our members and volunteers share this same passion for children’s education and together we push forward, coming up with unique ways to raise money and ultimately providing supplies to children in need. With our main program designed to collect used toners from companies, schools, and individuals, we help spread environmental awareness while receiving the funds needed to buy the school supplies.

Column: A Letter from Sandy Hook

On the fourteenth of each month, the anniversary of the Sandy Hook tragedy, I join dozens of others at a vigil at the National Rifle Association headquarters to remind everyone of the need for sensible gun safety measures. After the most recent vigil, I got an email from Erin Nikitchyuk which I share with her permission to remind us of how we all need to be concerned about this issue.

Letter: Lying Already?

To the Editor: [Barbara] Comstock is not even on the ballot and already she’s throwing lies around in a letter designed to raise Republican hackles and raise money for her primary. She reported that John Foust, Dranesville Supervisor on the Fairfax Board and her likely opponent for the 10th District, “just voted last night for an 8.5 percent tax hike on homeowners.” Truth is that Foust actually voted for a cap on property taxes, which was agreed to by Republicans and Democrats working together on the Board. Really, Barbara, a bald-faced lie, and one so easy to catch, doesn’t help your image.

Mental Health and the Expansion of Medicaid

There is a growing consensus forming in the General Assembly that now is the time to improve the safety net for mental health services. Both the House and Senate budgets increase funding for these services by millions of dollars (House proposed a $10 million increase and the Senate $20 million) above the proposed budget of $36 million that Governor McDonnell presented in December.

President Rebuilding Together Alexandria

Her memories are vivid. She loves Alexandria. And she loves her home. After living in the city for 71 years, Mary* not only appreciates the city’s rich history but grows with it. In fact, everywhere she looks, she recollects memories from different parts of her life. As a native Alexandrian who grew up on Queen Street, Mary remembers when Quaker Lane used to be mud lands, and when shops on Mt. Vernon Avenue had to close due to the floods. As a private nurse who often worked at the Goodwin House during her 30-year career, she met and cared for many well-known people and their family members, including a relative of Jackie Kennedy. She experienced segregation during the Civil Rights era but felt that outside of school, boundaries faded and kids got along. This was especially the case during a family tragedy. When her brother drowned as a young boy, the entire community came together working to find him.

Letter to the Editor: Advice on Road Sand

To the Editor: To follow up on several recent letters regarding collection and disposal of residual road treatment sand from this winter's snows, I have the following suggestion:1. remove shovel and push broom from garage (1 minute)2. sweep sand from road into gutter (5-10 minutes)3. use shovel to scoop sand from gutter and place in low spots in yard or in flower beds, etc. (don't put it where the kids play or in your vegetable garden) (5 minutes)

Even Mean Speech Is Protected

The matter of free speech surely, completely and without exception is certainly alive and well. Contrarians and other questioners need only remember the name of Fred Phelps. Phelps is the odious man who masqueraded as a Baptist preacher. He pushed the limits of saying what you want, when you want, no matter where you are or who you hurt. To the utter astonishment, but truly proper perhaps, the U.S. Supreme Court backed up his rantings. I have known, met and worked with hundreds, probably thousands of ecclesiastical types all of my life from all sorts of denominations. Fortunately I never met a man or person of the Phelps ilk or who personified such hate as this disbarred attorney. There are certainly other malicious and despicable public personages in the United States and around the world, not attempting to pass as members of the cloth.

Letter: More on Great Falls Trails

More on Great Falls Trails

Thank you for your article in the March 19-25, 2014 issue of the Great Falls Connection ("Great Falls Citizens Association Talks Ticks and Trails"). We did, however, want to clarify a few points. The presentation by Robert Mobley focused on trails, not roads, where the question of surface material has been a matter of much discussion.

Letter: Taking Exception on ‘Citizens Involvement’

I'm not sure I understand the letter from Eric Knudsen ("GFCA Appeals for Greater Citizens Involvement," Great Falls Connection, March 19-25, 2014). He seems to suggest that if more people attended the meetings of the Great Falls Citizens Association, we could have prevented the ridiculous projects such as the narrowing of Walker Road from five lanes to two, walkways to nowhere that were not shoveled all winter, or the speed-traps on Georgetown Pike. He erroneously indicates that previous letters in the Connection "complain about the lack of public notice," when in reality they reflect the futility of participation in groups that know best.

Letter: Neighbors’ Side of Story

To the Editor: Reference: Special permit application for a riding stables business at 815 Blacks Hill Road.

Arlington Lifestyle Blooms in the Spring

The days are getting longer, the temperatures are on the rise, and Arlington residents are ready to finally enjoy the benefits of their urban neighborhoods. After what felt like an exceptionally long winter, people throughout Arlington have paid their dues and are planning their recreational activities for the upcoming months. Longtime locals and newer transplants to the area agree that a world of opportunities opens up in Arlington as springtime weather approaches. Whether in search of an endorphin rush, or somewhere to mingle with other Arlingtonians, places to go are aplenty and the area has more luster after the snow banks melt and the air loses its bite.

Editorial: Challenging Budgets

Local Government should be able to access income taxes to give relief on real estate taxes.

Northern Virginia governments are facing shortfalls in the classic budget sense: projected revenues are less than last year’s expenditures plus increases in costs.

Another Milestone

March 30, 2014. My age 59 and a half (9/30/54 is my date of birth). The age at which money deposited into an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) can be withdrawn without incurring a 10 percent early-withdrawal penalty from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Not that I’m retiring. I am remembering though when this cancer-centric life of mine began.

Commentary: Closing Healthcare Gap

As the General Assembly attempts to complete work in Richmond on the $90 billion state budget, the looming obstacle to an agreement is how to close the health insurance gap or cover uninsured Virginians. There are an estimated one million uninsured adults in Virginia today or about one in every eight Virginians.