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Janelle Germanos

Stories by Janelle

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School Calendar Changes Examined

Fairfax County considers ending half-day Mondays, at the cost between $4 to $7.6 Million.

Changes could be coming soon to school schedules in Fairfax County, under a new plan announced by Superintendent Karen Garza at a work session on May 28.

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Cross County Trail Renamed to Honor Rep. Connolly

“Gerry Connolly Cross County Trail” unveiled at ceremony in Lorton.

On National Trails Day on June 7, the Cross County Trail, which goes through each district in Fairfax County, was renamed to the “Gerry Connolly Cross County Trail” in honor of Rep. Connolly’s work to build the trail.

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Head Start Programs Face Wait Lists

Despite adding classrooms, need is growing in Fairfax County.

The Fairfax County Office for Children now has a waitlist of over 1,395 children. Of that number, 918 are on the waitlist for Head Start and Early Head Start programs in Fairfax County Public Schools, according to a new report presented at a school board work session on May 29.

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Community Meetings on Later Start Times Concluded

Final recommendation will be presented to School Board in July.

Parents and community members were presented with information regarding later start times in Fairfax County at a public meeting on June 10 at West Springfield High School. Leading the presentation were Danny Lewin and Judith Owens, doctors from the Children’s National Medical Center and experts on sleep medicine.

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Pirates’ Day Kicks off Summer

Fifth annual celebration followed by summer of camping, fun.

For the fifth year in a row, complete with cannons, ships and swords, pirates stormed the beach at Pohick Bay Regional Park in Lorton last weekend.

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Housing and Restaurants Coming to Prison Site

Board of Supervisors approves Laurel Hill Master Development Plan.

The site of the former Lorton prison will soon get a makeover, complete with townhouses, restaurants, apartments and single-family homes. Inside the renovated cell blocks and guard towers will be housing and businesses on 80 acres in Lorton, home to the D.C. prison that closed in 2001.

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Community Champion

Cheryl McDonald recognized at 2014 Volunteer Fairfax Awards.

Cheryl McDonald, a resident of the Braddock district for 15 years, has been working daily to ensure the Danbury Forest community near Accotink Creek in Springfield is a safe and pleasant place to live. This year, her hard work was recognized on a county-wide level when she was nominated by Supervisor John Cook as the 2014 Volunteer Fairfax Community Champion for the Braddock District.

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Lord and Lady Fairfax Honorees of Lee, Springfield and Braddock

Lords and Ladies of Fairfax Honored by Board of Supervisors

The 2014 Lords and Ladies of Fairfax were recognized in front of the Board of Supervisors on June 3 and presented with certificates honoring them for their dedication to their communities. This tradition, which began in 1984, comes every year with the Celebrate Fairfax Festival, which takes place this year June 6-8.

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Springfield Residents Save Neighbor’s Life

Mary Ager and Dayna Cooper receive Citizen Recognition-Lifesaving Award.

Michael and Carol Martinka, residents of South Run Crossing in Springfield, were clearing out their driveway yet again during one of the many snow days in Fairfax County this winter. Michael was clearing the driveway with a snow blower while Carol was at the front porch. All of a sudden, Carol heard the snow blower stop and found her husband lying face down in the snow. Panicked, she screamed for help.

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Bringing Science to the Community

Lee High School hosts annual Community Science Day.

Lee High School students are sharing their love of science with the community every year through their Community Science Day. This year, their May 31 event reached 280 guests, allowing attendees to participate in hands-on science projects and learn about issues such as renewable energy, stem cell research, genetically modified organisms, and other topics affecting the world.

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Area Students Presented with Scholarships

Scholarships presented by the Mount Vernon-Lee Chamber of Commerce.

The Mount Vernon-Lee Chamber of Commerce has awarded seven students with college scholarships this year. The students were honored for their achievements at River Farm next to the Potomac River on June 3.

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Enjoy the Summer at Huntley Meadows

Park offers more than 1,500 acres of wildlife and beauty.

ith the construction of the wetland restoration project complete and a variety of family activities, fun and learning are givens at Huntley Meadows this summer.

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100 New Citizens Welcomed in Fairfax County

New citizens welcomed at Naturalization Ceremony of the Fairfax County Asian American History Project.

New American citizens started off their Memorial Day Weekend in a very patriotic way: celebrating their newfound American Citizenship through a naturalization ceremony.

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Sharing A Passion for STEM

Summer Keating of Fairfax Station starts STEMaze group.

Summer Keating is only in sixth grade at Silverbrook Elementary School, but the 11-year-old Fairfax Station resident is already sharing her passion for science and math with the community. “We don't do enough hands-on science, there is too much work for SOLs,” Summer said. “When we do science, it’s not as creative as I would like.”

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Countdown to World Police and Fire Games Begins

The event will bring 12,000 athletes from 70 countries to region in Summer 2015

Even though the opening ceremony is still a little over a year away, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe joined officials from Fairfax County last week to announce the countdown to the 2015 World Police and Fire Games.

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Governor Launches Outdoor Fitness Challenge at Mason Neck

Mason Neck receives $55,000 grant, is named one of “America’s Favorite Parks.”

Located just miles from busy Interstate 95, Mason Neck State Park is a gem in the area for those looking for some outdoor recreation and an escape from the stress of Northern Virginia. The park’s allure was recognized last week as it received a $50,000 grant from Coca-Cola for being named one of America’s Favorite Parks through the “America is Your Park” campaign.

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Residents Learn the Ins and Outs of Fairfax County

Supervisor Cook’s Neighborhood College Program helps citizens navigate County.

Braddock District residents came to Supervisor John Cook’s Neighborhood College Program for a variety of reasons, from wanting to be better leaders of their civic associations to looking to refresh their knowledge of local government, but all will be better informed and more able to navigate Fairfax County after graduating from the class.

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McAuliffe Vetoes Bipartisan Ethics Bill

After Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe vetoed a bipartisan ethics bill last week, the bill’s co-sponsors, Del. Scott Surovell (D-44) Del. David Ramadan (R-87) and Del. Jim LeMunyon (R-67), joined other lawmakers throughout the state in expressing their disapproval of the decision. Surovell and LeMunyon’s bill, House Bill 1212, also had a Senate counterpart, Senate Bill 650, which was vetoed by the Governor.

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Springfield Days Kicks off Summer of Fun

Festival is May 31-June 1.

There’s no better way to kick off the summer than with Springfield Days, coming this year May 31-June 1. The community event, always the weekend after Memorial Day, starts with the Springfield 5K on May 31 at 8 a.m. The route takes runners along the upcoming Springfield Town Center and features live bands along the course.

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Over $45,000 Raised for Fragile X

Second Annual Fragile X Walk hopes to raise $50,000.

Families and friends of those with Fragile X gathered at Burke Lake Park last week to participate in the second annual Fragile X walk.

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Group Assembly Proposal Could Limit Home Gatherings

Residents voice opposition to proposal at public meetings.

After a heated public meeting on a proposed change to the Fairfax County Zoning Ordinance, which would limit gatherings of more than 49 people to three times in a 40--day period in a residential dwelling, Leslie Johnson, the zoning administrator for Fairfax County, told residents she doubts the proposal will go any further, based on the feedback that has been received.

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Distracted Driving Rising in Fairfax County, Interstate 95

Drivers are encouraged to avoid their phones

Although April was designated as National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, the issue continues to affect drivers in and around Fairfax County throughout the year. According to the Fairfax County Police Department, distracted driving resulted in 1,175 crashes in 2013. In the Lee district, Franconia Road and South Van Dorn Street was a top location for crashes involving distracted drivers.

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Honored for Enthusiasm and Dedication

West Springfield Senior Natalia Rivero Nogales recognized by Hispanic Leadership Alliance.

When Natalia Rivero Nogales graduates in a month from West Springfield High School, she plans on majoring in psychology so she can become a counselor and help people, something that she says is her goal in life.

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Bringing Hope and Health to Lorton

Hope and Health Festival provides health information and screenings for area residents.

In the south county area, many residents have trouble receiving health care, says Linda Patterson, executive director of the Lorton Community Action Center. It was this struggle to access care that was behind the motivation for the Hope and Health Festival, a collaborative effort between the Lorton Community Action Center, South County Church, and the Lorton Library.

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CERT Helps Citizens Prepare for Emergency Situations

Training provides hands-on disaster response skills.

Steve Willey, a member of Virginia Task Force One and lead instructor of Fairfax County’s Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), acknowledges that the police and fire department are dependable in the community after a major disaster. But, it’s important to be prepared, since police and fire and rescue are sent first to major incidents, making it important for community members to take control of their own safety. That’s where CERT comes in.

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Major Changes Coming to Interstate 95

All 95 Express Lane users will need an E-ZPass in 2015.

When the 95 Express Lanes open in 2015, all drivers, whether they are driving alone, in a carpool, a slug, or in a vehicle with a clean fuel plate, will be required to purchase an E-ZPass or E-ZPass Flex to use these lanes.

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Keeping Youth Happy and Healthy

NEXUS Conference discusses best strategies.

According to the Fairfax County 2012-2013 Youth Survey, youth with fewer assets were more likely to be depressed. These assets include high integrity, extra-curricular activities, help from parents, and more. This topic, along with ways to promote positive health for children and youth, was discussed at this year’s NEXUS conference at the Virginia Hills Center on May 9. The conference centered on ways to keep youth mentally and physical happy and healthy.

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Landfill Decision Deferred to June 17

If approved by Board of Supervisors, Lorton landfill will operate until 2034.

Before a public hearing on May 13 in which over 99 people signed up before the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors regarding an application to extend the life of the Lorton landfill until 2034, Frank McDermott, an attorney representing EnviroSolutions, said he had never experienced such nastiness and misrepresentation in a land use case. The EnviroSolutions application to extend operation of their construction landfill until 2034 has led to controversy in the Lorton community and beyond. Despite months of debate, the decision was deferred by the Board of Supervisors to June 17.

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Raising Awareness, Funds for Fragile X

Second Annual Fragile X Walk is May 17 at Burke Lake Park.

Throughout the United States, over 1,000,000 individuals are at risk of developing or already have a Fragile X disorder. Despite the numbers, many people still remain uneducated about Fragile X. The Fragile X Families of Northern Virginia are working to raise awareness and money for research and education on this syndrome with their second annual Fragile X walk, coming this Saturday, May 17 to Burke Lake Park in Fairfax Station.

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Celebrating 50 Years of Strong Community

Supervisor Cook honors Little Run Citizen’s Association.

With a strong neighborhood watch program, a 4th of July parade, and a hayride, the Little Run Citizen’s Association has had a productive 50 years.

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‘Disguised Learning’ with Bricks 4 Kidz

Lorton residents use Legos to reinforce education, fun.

It’s no secret that kids love building with Legos. But the fun can also be educational, as Lorton residents Jenny and Paul Ahn have recently discovered. The Ahns have been integrating the fun of Legos with educational concepts since starting a Bricks 4 Kidz franchise in the area in March.

Fairfax County School Board Addressing Budget Shortfalls

Budget shortfall is $17 million.

The Fairfax County School Board is considering options to close a $17 million shortfall in their 2015 budget. Superintendent Karen Garza presented the board with possible adjustments at a work session on April 28. The school board is set to adopt their final budget on May 22. On April 29, the Board of Supervisors approved the FY 2015 budget, including a school transfer of three percent, short of Garza’s requested 5.7 percent increase.

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Enjoy a Classic Clifton Experience

17th Annual Clifton Caboose Twilight Run is May 17.

Gary Anderson, chairman of the Clifton Caboose Twilight Run, isn’t entirely sure why the run was originally chosen to take place at twilight. It was already a twilight run when he became chairman in 2005, and he liked it that way. “It’s a classic Clifton experience and is sure to be a great time,” Anderson said. The 17th Annual Clifton Caboose Twilight Run is May 17 at 6 p.m., and features a 5K and a one-mile fun run.

South County Senior Awarded Scholarship

Christian Canales will be first in his family to attend college.

For his work as a leader in the Hispanic community, South County High School senior Christian Canales has been awarded a $1,000 from the Fairfax County Hispanic Leadership Alliance. Canales will be attending James Madison University in the fall where he will study education, and plans to be a high school teacher. “I want to help others and be a teacher, and help guide kids in the right direction. I just want to do the same for others that my teacher did for me. A lot of families don’t put education first, but I believe if you’re not educated, you won’t have a successful life,” Canales said. Canales will be the first in his family to attend college, which he says is a huge deal for him. “It’s not a weight on my shoulder, but I have to set the example,” Canales said. “I think me going to school and trying to show my cousins and other family that you need to go to school. I’m like a role model to them. I want them to go by my example and continue their education.”

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Robinson Students Receive Scholarships

Claudia Torres and Carolina Castedo honored by Hispanic Leadership Alliance.

Claudia Torres, a senior at Robinson Secondary School, and Carolina Castedo, also a senior at Robinson, both moved to the United States at a young age over 10 years ago. Torres is Peruvian, and Castedo is Bolivian and Chilean. Burke residents Torres and Castedo, both 18, wrote about challenges they have overcome as newcomers to the United States, as well as reasons they wish to attend college, in an application for a Fairfax County Hispanic Leadership Alliance Scholarship. “I didn’t know how to speak English, and that was hard for me when I got here,” Castedo said.

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Nurse Honored with Life Saving Award

All county nurses celebrated during Nurses Week, May 6-12.

In late February, Daryl Vasquez, a nurse with the Fairfax-Falls Church Community Services Board’s Community Readiness and Support Program in Springfield and a Burke resident, noticed that a CSB client having lunch was choking and could not breathe. “She managed to get her arms around him and perform the Heimlich maneuver, dislodging the obstruction and most likely saving this man’s life,” Gary Ambrose, a CSB board member, told the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors on April 29.

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Balloon Test Shows Height of Proposed Landfill Application

Landfill public hearing is on May 13.

If the EnviroSolutions application to extend the life of the landfill in Lorton is approved by Fairfax County Board of Supervisors on May 13, just how tall will the debris look to those from the ground? Just how tall is 395 feet, anyway? The proposed height was demonstrated to anyone within the general Lorton area on Friday, May 2, who could catch a glimpse of the landfill off of Interstate 95 and Furnace Road when a balloon test was conducted.

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Meals Tax Possible for Fairfax County

Tax could generate $88 million in revenue.

At a public hearing on the 2015 budget, Fairfax County resident Kimberly Adams joined numerous other individuals who urged the Board of Supervisors to consider a meals tax. “To have the quality of life that we’ve come to depend on in Fairfax County, we must move the needle closer to the regional average when it comes to taxes. We must not be afraid to look for new streams of revenue, such as a meals tax for instance,” Adams told the Board of Supervisors at the budget hearings. “Never have I actually thought, well, there’s a meals tax in Alexandria, so I’ll drive 10 more minutes into Fairfax and order my pizza. I go to the place that’s convenient and where I want to eat.”

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Enjoy a Magical Time with ‘Beauty and the Beast Jr.’

Area residents shine in Northern Virginia Players spring production

Members of Northern Virginia Players are sharing their enthusiasm and love for song and dance while also raising money for an 11-year-old with a brain disorder through their spring production of “Beauty and the Beast Jr.” Last weekend’s shows brought fun and cheer to packed audiences, with standing ovations every show, and the good times continue May 9 and 10 at Burke Community Church.

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Animals for Adoption In Fairfax Station

Organization rescues animals from high-kill shelters.

For Rebecca Goodhart, the most challenging part of being deputy director of Homeward Trails Animal Rescue in Fairfax Station is that the need to help animals never goes away. “We do what we can for those we can help, but the need is always there,” Goodhart said. Until people recognize the importance of spaying and neutering, pet overpopulation will continue and animals will unfortunately be needlessly euthanized, she said.

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Magic of Mothers Host Math Mania

Students ages 6-12 compete, share love of math.

Students from elementary and middle schools in Fairfax Station and Lorton practiced their math skills and experienced the excitement of competition by participating in the Magic of Mothers Math Mania competition on April 26.

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Mount Vernon-Lee Chamber Celebrates 60 Years

Chamber reflects on history and looks forward to future area revitalization

Of all that was discussed at the Mount Vernon-Lee Chamber of Commerce’s 60th anniversary celebration, Michael Gailliot’s announcement that the planned Wegman’s at the corner of Beulah and Telegraph Roads at the Hilltop Village received their building permit on April 24 was among the most exciting for those in attendance.

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Fifth Grade Class Reunites with Retiring Teacher

George Weiner and 1987-1988 fifth grade class reunite at White Oaks Elementary.

For a group of adults in their late thirties, coming together for their fifth grade class reunion is somewhat uncommon. But students of George Weiner, a teacher at White Oaks Elementary School in Burke, say he was such a special and amazing teacher that there was no way they could forget fifth grade.

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Fairfax County School Board Examining Later Start Times

High schools could start as late as 9:15.

Two years after the Fairfax County School Board adopted a resolution in favor of later start times, exhausted teenagers are one step closer to getting a full night’s sleep. The Children’s National Medical Center recently presented the school board with options for later start times, of which the school board selected four for public discussion. The new start times could be implemented as early as the 2015-2016 school year.

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Opening Doors to Hope

Previously homeless individuals share stories at FACETS Opening Doors Breakfast.

FACETS clients Carol Brown and Sandara Perry, sharing their stories to a crowd gathered at the FACETS Opening Doors breakfast on April 24, confirmed the unfortunate fact that homelessness and poverty do exist in Fairfax County.

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Meadowood Stables Remain Open During Renovation

Rep. Jim Moran, Supervisor Gerry Hyland support decision.

The barn at the Meadowood Special Recreation Area will remain open during renovation, the Bureau of Land Management announced on April 10.

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Pit Bull Debate Sparked in Springfield

Resident supports breed-specific legislation as animal shelter removes criteria for pit bull adoption.

In Fairfax County, no dog is considered dangerous simply because of their breed. In fact, any dog, regardless of breed, isn’t considered dangerous until it has bitten, attacked, injured, or killed another animal.

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Cell Phone Tower Debated in Burke

Residents, trustees clash over 16-story AT&T tower.

Susan Gaertner, a resident of the Landings in Burke Centre Conservancy, spent most of last summer enjoying the community’s pool and peaceful atmosphere. It is that sense of tranquility and beauty, she says, that makes the community an inappropriate place for a cell tower.

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Fall Cankerworm Spraying Debated

Some residents believe spraying of fall cankerworm is unnecessary.

Later this month, the Fairfax County Forest Pest Management Branch is scheduled to spray 2,200 acres of the Mason, Lee and Mount Vernon districts with insecticide in order to rid these areas of fall cankerworms, commonly known as inchworms.

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Audience Will Have a Blast

West Springfield presents “The Pajama Game” from May 1-4.

The West Springfield High School drama department is hard at work preparing for their spring musical, “The Pajama Game,” which lead cast member and junior Barbara Lawson says is a lively show with talented performers. “There are a lot of popular songs in it that you may not know are in the musical but that you’ve heard before,” Lawson said. “It’ll be a really fun show.”