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Victoria Ross

Stories by Victoria

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Program Keeps Students ‘Jazzed’

The students packed into Halley Elementary School’s cafeteria were loud, unruly and boisterous. But then so were the teachers, parents and volunteers cheering them on. This display of school-approved rowdiness was a celebration of the success of an innovative after-school program that targeted at-risk and underprivileged students, courtesy of the Lorton Community Action Center (LCAC).

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Local Models in Down Syndrome Foundation Gala

Event raises more than $400,000.

Twenty-five models with Down syndrome rocked the runway at the Global Down Syndrome Foundation “Be Beautiful, Be Yourself” Gala on Wednesday, May 8, at the Ritz Carlton in D.C. The fashion show and fundraiser is designed to raise awareness about Down syndrome, one of the most frequent chromosomal conditions affecting an estimated 400,000 Americans.

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Quick Takes

Q&A with Pastor King Rhodes.

Pastor King Rhodes is founder and senior pastor of His Church International Christian Center (HCICC) in Springfield, and has been involved in Christian ministry and community outreach for more than 20 years. As a longtime advocate for foster youth, Rhodes and his ministry help support the mission of Fairfax Families4Kids, a foster-mentoring program for teens in Fairfax County. On Saturday, May 18, Rhodes’ church will sponsor the organization’s 5-K Walk during Foster Care Appreciation Month.

Through the Looking Glass

Northern Virginia Players presents “Alice in Wonderland, Jr.”

Beginning May 17, the Northern Virginia Players will perform Disney’s “Alice in Wonderland, Jr.” Join Alice's madcap adventures in Wonderland as she chases the White Rabbit, races the Dodo Bird, gets tied up with the Tweedles, raps with a bubble-blowing Caterpillar, and beats the Queen of Hearts at her own game.

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Burke Civil War Marker Unveiled

The sign commemorates the “Bog Wall Ambush,” an 1861 Civil War skirmish.

Supervisor John Cook (R-Braddock) and members of the Fairfax County History Commission gathered at the intersection of Dunleigh Drive and Braddock Road on Sunday, May 5, to dedicate a new historical marker commemorating the “Bog Wall Ambush,” an 1861 Civil War skirmish. The Fairfax County History Commission hosted the dedication ceremony, which was followed by a reception at historic Oak Hill.

Absentee Voting Starts Now for Democratic Primaries

Primaries held for lieutenant governor and attorney general.

The State Board of Elections reported Monday, May 6, that absentee voting began for the June 11, 2013 primary and all localities met the required 45-day deadline for mailing absentee ballots to voters.

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Helping Those Who ‘Can’t Catch a Break’

Community support for Northern Virginia Family Services grows during tough economic times.

“Most of us here lead privileged lives. You can and should make a difference in Northern Virginia.” —Earle Williams

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Women Mean Business

In the two months since the much-hyped and dreaded sequester took effect, the daily economic forecast has been almost as painful as the slow grinding of bureaucratic wheels. But here’s some good economic news, especially for aspiring female entrepreneurs: the numbers are in your favor.

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Governor McDonnell Endorses Springfield Site for FBI Headquarters

In letter to FBI director, McDonnell says Fairfax County site will advance “national security mission.”

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell has publicly endorsed the Springfield warehouse site for the new FBI building headquarters. In an April 30 letter to FBI Director Robert Mueller and Dan Tangherlini, the acting administrator of the U.S. General Services Administration, McDonnell said the federally owned warehouse is the best choice for a number of reasons.

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Opening Doors for Neighbors in Need

FACETS marks 25 years of community service.

“A few years ago my life underwent two major changes that shook my world. … My husband and I separated and then I lost my job.” Lisa, a Fairfax mother, delivered that blunt statement during her speech to a crowd of more than 400 people during FACETS’ “Opening Doors” Benefit Breakfast on April 25.

Fairfax County Union Officials Say Board’s Budget Fails Staff, Residents

Supervisors maintain cuts necessary to eliminate projected $169 million shortfall.

On the day the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors adopted the FY2014 budget, the leaders of Fairfax County’s four public employee unions issued a joint statement saying the budget “failed” staff and county residents.

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Fairfax Soldier Killed in Afghanistan

1st Lt. Robert J. Hess, 26, a highly-decorated Blackhawk pilot.

1st Lt. Robert J. Hess of Fairfax, a highly-decorated U.S. Army Blackhawk helicopter pilot, was killed Tuesday, April 23, in Afghanistan, according to a Pentagon report from Friday, April 26.

Get Ready to Shop!

LCAC Purse & Prom Sale starts Friday.

The Lorton Community Action Center will host its annual Purse & Prom Sale starting this Friday, April 26, through Sunday, April 28.

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A Beautiful Mind

Powerful play takes students inside the mind of autistic teen.

In 1996, Bernie DeLeo was exactly where he thought he should be. A former actor-turned-film producer and writer, DeLeo was living in New York City with his wife and young son. He had an agent, and had just gotten work on a sitcom—Life’s Work—starring Michael O’Keefe. But one weekend, while he was in Los Angeles, he got a call from his wife that irrevocably changed the course of his life. Charlie, his 3-year-old son, had been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, a form of autism.

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Fairfax County Budget Reflects ‘Increasing Needs, Decreasing Revenues’

"We as a board spend a lot of time talking about helping people in need, I can only say that when it came time to tax them, they were sadly forgotten." —Supervisor Pat Herrity (R-Springfield)

Autism Speaks Volumes for Student Volunteers

Fairfax County Public Schools use latest techniques to teach autistic students. v

In many ways, the three best friends—Anna Kate Martin, Devin Martin and Sarah Carmen—are typical sixth-grade girls.

Karen Garza Hired as Superintendent of Fairfax County Public Schools

FCPS Board lauds Garza’s “openness” and “willingness to engage” community.

The Fairfax County School Board unanimously approved educator Karen Garza of Texas to be the next superintendent of the 181,000 student district at its April 18 school board meeting.

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Helping Homeless ‘Close to Home’

Springfield man launches the 25th Project Charity Golf Classic to benefit homeless.

“On Christmas Eve, my church has a gift-wrapping party, and we’ll wrap whatever we have, from tents and sleeping bags to flannel shirts,” Herriott said. “As The 25th Project has grown, we have expanded our goals and now provide tents, batteries, sleeping bags, tarps and other life essentials.”

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The Comeback Kid

Paralyzed after tragic accident, Nick Balenger throws out WSLL’s Opening Day pitch.

"You always get a special kick on Opening Day, no matter how many you go through. You look forward to it like a birthday party when you're a kid. You think something wonderful is going to happen,” said baseball legend Joe DiMaggio.

‘We Have Not Forgotten’

Residents rally in Vienna to support stricter gun control measures.

Less than six miles from the National Rifle Association (NRA) headquarters in Fairfax, more than 100 people gathered on the Vienna Town Green Saturday, April 13, to urge Congress to support stricter gun control measures.

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West Springfield Woman at Boston Marathon Carried to Safety by NFL Champ Joe Andruzzi

Friends and family pray for the Wittich family.

The Wittich family of West Springfield was excited about attending the Boston Marathon, one of the historic city’s prominent annual civic pride events. On Saturday, April 13, Christine Wittich, a West Springfield High School student, posted several tweets about the upcoming trip. “Wittich invasion has commenced. Is Boston ready?” and “Yay for being that matching family,” with a photo of mom Julie and sisters in matching blue t-shirts. But after Monday’s bomb blasts transformed the Boston Marathon into a scene of chaos and terror, leaving three dead and more than 100 injured, Wittich’s tweets became more muted.

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City Votes 6-0 to Get Out of Water Business

Cost of owning water system outweighs civic pride.

After a half century of controlling its own water system, the City of Fairfax voted unanimously Tuesday, April 9, to get out of the increasingly costly water business.

County to Complete Road Projects

Projects that came in under-budget free up $11.2 million.

Motorists, pedestrians and cyclists received a bonus Tuesday, April 9, when the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors reallocated $11.2 million in existing funds to complete more than 12 planned pedestrian and road improvement projects.

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Animal Control Officer Nabs Elusive Shih Tzu

Officer’s dogged pursuit saves sly pup from life on the streets.

Just 13 pounds of matted fur and fluff, “Biscuit,” a sly shih tzu, evaded capture in the Franconia area for nearly two years, porch-surfing and stealing cats’ food to survive.

Children ‘Dress Up With Grown-ups’

Medical Care for Children Partnerships funds medical, dental care for children of uninsured working families in Fairfax County.

“To me, children are the most beautiful creatures of God and there is nothing comparable to being able to give them a healthy and happy smile.” —Dr. Tehreem Butt, recipient of the Dr. Jorge Arnoldson Award

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Artists at Work At Oakton Elementary

Public art project caps two-year renovation of school.

The kinetic sculpture—16-feet-tall, with bright blue and green swirling arrows—looks like a classic Alexander Calder mobile on exhibit at the National Gallery of Art.

School Promotes Family Fitness

First Oakton Elementary Fun Run features magician, face-painting and free fun!

On Sunday, April 21, local families will hit the pavement in the heart of Vienna in an effort to raise money to support educational and enrichment programs at Oakton Elementary School (OES).

The Perks of Planning a Park

The City of Fairfax launched a new website Monday— Our Parks, Our Future—where citizens can engage, communicate and collaborate with the Fairfax Parks and Recreation Department and other residents on a new parks master plan for the city.

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Egg Hunters on a Roll at Van Dyck Park

Van Dyck Park was filled with more than 1,500 egg-hunters on Monday, April 1, when the City of Fairfax hosted its annual Easter Egg Hunt at the new, larger location.

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Fairfax County’s Homeless Population Declines 12 Percent

Emphasis on rapid re-housing, prevention keys to success.

Despite economic obstacles and fallout from across-the-board sequester cuts, Fairfax County’s number of homeless individuals declined 12 percent decline in the past year, and 26 percent since 2007.

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Better Training, More Technology

The bipartisan commission released findings, recommendations regarding long lines on Election Day.

"The commission has identified a variety of improvements and efficiencies to ensure access and convenience for voters in future elections.” —Sharon Bulova

A Voice for the Voiceless

Q&A with SALT Coordinator John Horejsi.

“When there are bills affecting the wealthy the committee rooms are filled to capacity, but when issues affecting the needy, the hearing rooms are empty.” —SALT Coordinator John Horejsi

Local Perspective

Small-business owner tackles the sequester.

Raul Danny Vargas has beaten the odds all his life.

Armed Men Arrested After Burke-area Burglaries

Fairfax County police charged two Springfield men after connecting them with a series of burglaries that took place in the Burke area during the afternoon hours of March 19. Andrew Kovch, 27, of Vogles Way and Jimmy Le, 23 of Grey Fox Drive were charged with burglary, attempted burglary and grand larceny.

Herbstreith Receives LCAC’s Founder’s Award

Gala raised $120,000 for Lorton Community Action Center.

The Lorton Community Action Center (LCAC) presented Christine Herbstreith, a Lorton resident since 1954, with the organization’s Founders Award at LCAC’s “Spring into Action” Gala on Saturday, March 2, in front of a crowd of more 200 attendees.

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Going, Going, Almost Gone?

Signs of progress as old Springfield Mall gets torn apart.

“The more they tear it apart, the happier I get.” —Supervisor Jeff McKay

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Sequester’s Impact in Fairfax County? TBD

Local leaders say “uncertainty” biggest fallout of sequester so far.

“From the perspective of business community, businesses are adept when they understand what’s coming. They see a problem; they solve it. The uncertainty is driving them crazy.” —Jerry Gordon, president of the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority (FCEDA)

The Bad News, the Good News

Q&A with Supervisor Jeff McKay (D-Lee)

Q: What are you hearing from your constituents about sequestration concerns? A: “Where are the grownups?! I don’t think most folks are focusing on the economic or political impact, although there are certainly concerns about furloughs and potential job losses from those who work for the Federal Government or contractors that do business with the Federal Government. Most people seem to be shrugging their shoulders and commenting on Washington idiocy.”

Sequestration: Local Perspective

Springfield small-business owner tackles the sequester.

“The uncertainty is the worst thing. How did we get into this? How do I survive and make sure my employees have a good standard of living? It’s mind-boggling,” Tony Coombs, owner of TC Associates—a Springfield-based cyber-security and professional consulting firm—said during an interview at his headquarters last week.

Bulova Appoints Mary Cortina, Faisal Khan to Park Authority Board

Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Sharon Bulova (D-at-large) recently appointed two new representatives to the Fairfax County Park Authority Board.

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EPA Will Not Appeal Court Decision on Accotink Watershed

EPA regulations could have cost county $300 million.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) effectively ended a two-year legal battle with Fairfax County when the agency announced last week it will not appeal a federal court decision favoring Fairfax County’s handling of the Accotink Creek watershed.

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Bicyclists Pedal Onward, Despite Legislative Losses

FABB promotes extended hours on W&OD Trail.

As the weather gets warmer and the days get longer, Northern Virginia bicyclists are back on the roads and trails, despite the Virginia General Assembly’s antipathy for bike safety bills this session.

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Sharks Take a Bite Out of Cancer

Swimmers raise $17,000 for breast cancer awareness during annual marathon.

One woman is diagnosed with breast cancer every three minutes, and one woman will die of breast cancer every 13 minutes in the U.S. On Sunday, March 3, 38 members of the Shark Tank Racing Squad swam for three hours to put a dent in that brutal statistic.

Sisters Thai Come to Town

New restaurant adds spice to Old Town Fairfax.

With its bookcase-lined walls, artfully-arranged floral pillows, bone china tea cups and fresh flowers, the newest restaurant in Old Town Fairfax seems more European bistro than Asian contemporary. And that’s the point.

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Monopoly Players Win for Action Center

Ron & Susan Associates raise more than $5,500 for Lorton Community Action Center.

Although Allen Holder was placing bets with funny money and trading fictional real estate, the stakes were high for the sixth annual tournament at the Lorton Workhouse Arts Center on Feb. 23.

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Two Historic Measures Mark Assembly Session

Q&A with Delegate Eileen Filler-Corn (D-41).

Transportation funding was one of the big stories to come out of Richmond during the 45-day “short session,” but it wasn’t the only one. Unlike Congressional gridlock, where lobbyists, special-interest groups and political aspirations converge to slow down legislation, the pace in Virginia’s capitol is fast and furious. Legislation gets passed in the blink of an eye. It’s a pace Delegate Eileen Filler-Corn, the second-term Democrat representing nearly 90,000 residents in Burke, Fairfax and West Springfield, knows well.

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Putting a Face on Homelessness

462 homeless interviewed during Registry Week, an intense effort to document Fairfax County’s chronic homeless.

"We have to step up to this question. … Are we going to walk away from this tonight and say, 'That's just the way people live?’ Well, it's not the way people should live." —Supervisor Cathy Hudgins (D-Hunter Mill)

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The Snowquester Hits the Area

Snowstorm’s impact downgraded, but slushy roads still a problem.

The National Weather Service Wednesday downgraded its Snowquester forecast from 8-10 inches to about 4-6 inches in the region. At 3:18 p.m. Wednesday, March 6, the NWS predicted total snow accumulation of 3 to 5 inches in Fairfax County before the storm fizzles out later that night, and north winds with gusts up to 45 mph in some areas, making driving hazardous.

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Putting a Name and Face on Chronically Homeless

At 4 a.m., under a full moon, more than 200 volunteers fanned out across Fairfax County on Monday, Feb. 25, to identify the more than 300 people who are literally homeless, living in cars, on the street or in the woods around the county. Coordinated by the Fairfax-Falls Church Partnership to End Homelessness, the weeklong effort is part of the 100,000 Homes campaign, an intensive approach to identify and find homes for the chronically homeless.

$7 Billion Budget Proposal Unveiled

Typical county household would see real estate tax bill increase by $260 annually.

“We are also forced to recognize the significant yet unknown impact that is expected from federal sequestration and the continuing challenges of a slowly recovering economy.” —Fairfax County Executive Edward L. Long, Jr.