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Victoria Ross

Stories by Victoria

Let the Sparks Fly in Reston and Herndon

It’s not too late to enjoy local 4th of July festivals, parades and fireworks.

So. It’s July 4, 2013. Independence Day. A federal holiday celebrating our freedom from Great Britain. The National Day of the United States. And you have nothing planned.

When a Bill Becomes a Law

On July 1, sales taxes go up for Fairfax County residents.

“We needed to at least make it clear that you risk a reckless driving offense if you text and drive.” —Del. David Bulova (D-37)

Let the Sparks Fly in the County

It’s not too late to enjoy local 4th of July festivals, parades and fireworks.

So. It’s July 4, 2013. Independence Day. A federal holiday celebrating our freedom from Great Britain. The National Day of the United States. And you have nothing planned.

Fourth of July Fun Facts

Information provided by Smithsonian Children’s Magazine press releases. For more trivia, go to Joke courtesy of Elle Ross, 7, of Vienna.

Let the Sparks Fly

It’s not too late to enjoy local 4th of July festivals, parades and fireworks.

So. It’s July 4, 2013. Independence Day. A federal holiday celebrating our freedom from Great Britain. The National Day of the United States. And you have nothing planned.

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Housing's Roaring Rebound?

In February, Patricia Stack, a broker with Weichert Realtors, held an open house for a single-family home for sale in Vienna just listed for $739,000. Within three hours, more than 70 people toured the home.

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Housing’s Roaring Rebound?

Pent-up demand creates seller’s market for Northern Virginia real estate.

In February, Patricia Stack, a broker with Weichert Realtors, held an open house for a single-family home for sale in Vienna just listed for $739,000. Within three hours, more than 70 people toured the home. “The home went under contract substantially above list price,” Stack said. “2013 has started with a bang in Northern Virginia real estate. In fact, it appears to be a market more like 2005-2006 than anything we've seen since,” Stack said.

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Balenger Story: Walking Tall

Nick Balenger, paralyzed after a swimming accident, walks at the Lake Braddock graduation ceremony.

Every Lake Braddock senior who walked across the George Mason University Patriot Center stage for a diploma received applause and praise for 12 years of hard work. But only one student received a standing ovation for simply walking.

Tuberculosis Clinic Set Up at Lee High School

Three people at the school identified as having active TB.

Following reports that as many as 430 students and faculty at Robert E. Lee High School could have been exposed to tuberculosis, Fairfax County Health Department officials set up a special clinic on Friday, June 21, to provide testing and information on the infectious disease.

Housing’s Roaring Rebound?

Buoyed by low mortgage rates, low regional unemployment, growth in the number of households and rising consumer confidence, the residential real-estate market in the region has rebounded in a big way. Unlike the last five years, demand is up and supply is down. In fact, in some particularly desirable neighborhoods, the transition from a buyer’s market to a seller’s market is all but complete. Call it the new “reality in realty.”

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Housing’s Roaring Rebound?

Pent-up demand creates seller’s market for Northern Virginia real estate.

In February, Patricia Stack, a broker with Weichert Realtors, held an open house for a single-family home for sale in Vienna just listed for $739,000. Within three hours, more than 70 people toured the home.

Supervisors Pass Home Day Care Ordinance

Bulova calls for town hall meeting to educate providers on new rules.

“There is a tremendous need for quality child care in the county and we want to help make sure there are a sufficient number of providers available.” -- Board Chairman Sharon Bulova (D-at-large)

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Springfield Boy Scouts Help Plant Trees at Burke Lake Park

New trees replace mature ones torn down by Burke Lake Dam renovation.

When the renovation of Burke Lake Dam began last fall, many residents in the leafy South Run neighborhood were concerned about the dozens of mature trees construction crews had to rip out to gain access to the dam.

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Splat! Boom! Bang!

Springfield musician makes classical music playful and accessible to children.

"I love to see kids get involved during a concert. It’s absolutely hilarious; they are up and down, whooping and hollering, listening to the music and the story." —Cory Hills

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Carfest Revs Up Springfield Days

Popular event open to all makes, models.

Carfest fans, it’s time to start your engines. One of the most popular attractions of Springfield Days returns this year, featuring cars in all makes and models, including antiques, muscle, classics, street rods, customs and exotics.

Sundog Productions Expands in Fairfax

Sundog hosts grand opening of new 40,000-square-foot facility on June 1.

Sundog Productions, which has been creating custom tie-dye and screen-printed “wearable art” for more than 20 years in the City of Fairfax, announced Tuesday, May 28, the grand opening of its new 40,000-square-foot facility on Saturday, June 1, 2013, 11 a.m. at 3850 Jermantown Road.

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Richard Byrd Library Adds Mystery to Summer Book Sale

Every summer, booklovers and bargain hunters eagerly await the Friends of the Richard Byrd Library book sale, one of the largest in the region with more than 10,000 books, many in pristine condition.

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A Soldier’s Story

Burke man honored for heroism in disrupting pivotal “Easter Offensive.”

In November, 1971, Captain Denis Gulakowski began what he thought would be a relatively “safe” tour of duty in Vietnam. The Cold War military conflict had escalated steadily since 1955, and reached a high of 500,000 troops in 1967. By late 1971, the number of American troops in-country had been greatly reduced as President Richard Nixon implemented his “Vietnamization” program to extract the United States from the war.

Being a Warrior, Now and Then

Q&A with Lt. Col. Gulakowski: Reflections on Vietnam legacy.

Lt. Col. Denis Gulakowski of Burke is a retired Army officer who served more than 25 years. From November 1971 until November 1972, he did a tour of duty in Vietnam. While in Vietnam, he participated in several battles, one of which disrupted the North Vietnamese attempt to overrun areas of South Vietnam during the Easter Offensive (Nguyen Hue Campaign) of 1972.

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Celebrating Partnerships

Fairfax County, FCPS honor 12 public-private partners during awards ceremony.

He envisioned a service project, contacted Fairfax County Public Library staff to gauge interest, and put the wheels in motion to create a program where older students offer tutoring to younger students in communities where there is a significant need.

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We Are Family

Community celebrates foster families during annual 5K walk at Lake Accotink.

They walked, ran or rode trikes, all in celebration of foster families at Lake Accotink Park on Saturday, May 18.

Fairfax County Attracts Innovative Technology Firms

More than 1,400 jobs added to local economy in first quarter.

Continuing consumer demand for innovative technology such as web filtering, data security and cloud computing has helped Fairfax County post gains to the local economy, countering the sequester effect stalling business growth in other sectors. According to the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority (FCEDA), 27 businesses added more than 1,400 jobs in Fairfax County during the first quarter of 2013.

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Celebrating ‘Everyday’ Heroes

Molina Healthcare honors local residents for making a difference in the community.

In the 1980s, Vienna resident John Horejsi and a “ragtag” group of social justice pioneers learned that Virginia was charging sales tax on food stamps. They discovered the sales tax boosted the state’s coffers by $9.5 million every year, money that they believed belonged to poor families for food or other necessary items.

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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).