Stories for September 2013

Stories for September 2013


Friday, September 27

People Announcements

To have engagements, weddings, obituaries, or other significant personal events listed in The Arlington Connection, e-mail arlington@connectionnewspapers.com. Deadline is noon the Thursday before publication. Photos are welcome.

Military Notes

Email announcements to gazette@connectionnewspapers.com. Photos are welcome.

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Cycling for Charity in Coast-to-Coast Journey

Son and father ride 3,700 miles.

Alexandria Students reflect on their charitable summer bike rides.

Commentary: In Search of Affordable Housing

Challenges for Residential Studio Units and the need to address them.

Fairfax County’s Planning Commission will hold two workshops on Wednesday, Sept. 25 and Oct. 2 to expand the discussion about the proposed residential studio unit (RSU) amendment to the Zoning Ordinance. There will be a staff presentation on Sept. 25, and questions submitted online by citizens to the Planning Department will be answered in the second workshop on Oct 2. The plan is for both workshops to be televised on the county’s cable station.

Thursday, September 26

Editorial: Vote

It will matter who is elected governor.

To vote on Election Day, you must be registered at your current address no later than Oct. 15, 2013. You can check your registration status online by visiting the State Board of Elections website at www.sbe.virginia.gov. There you can also download a voter registration form and mail or fax it to your elections office address.

Column: A Study in Contrasts

The decision for yours truly to participate in a Phase 1 Study at N.I.H. or Johns Hopkins (depending upon availability and qualifications) discussed in last week’s column has been put on hold, temporarily. It seems that my oncologist was thinking about me over the holiday weekend and called me on Wednesday following Labor Day to say he had a diagnostic idea concerning me: a 24-hour urine collection (a “Creatinine Clearance Study”) which would provide a more accurate reading (than the regular lab work I have; from blood) of my kidney function.

Column: A Peculiar Existence

I’m not exactly pretending that I don’t have stage IV lung cancer (non-small cell, to be specific), but ever since my hospital admission on August 2nd, I have been treatment-free; no I.V. chemotherapy, no oral medication, no targeted treatment, no nothing. And during this sabbatical (I use that term loosely; being off chemotherapy has been as much about recovering from surgery and recuperating from my hospital “stay-cation” as it was anything necessarily intended), I have progressed from feeling crappy and being short of breath—while being infused previously, to where I have become relatively asymptomatic, breathing normally and for the nearly eight week treatment-free interval mentioned, have felt mostly OK.

Residential Studios Put on Hold

Supervisors establish committee, plan additional public outreach.

At the recommendation of Chairman Sharon Bulova (D-At-Large) and Supervisor Michael Frey (R-Sully), the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, Sept. 24 deferred its Nov. 20 public hearing on a proposed residential studios (RSUs) amendment to conduct additional community outreach. The board also established a Planning Commission Residential Studios Committee.

Northern Virginia Supports Day to Serve

The Northern Virginia Regional Commission (NVRC), a coalition of 14 counties, cities and towns that work together on regional issues, passed a unanimous resolution endorsing Virginia Governor Robert F. McDonnell’s call to participate in the 2013 Day to Serve.

New Nosy Recruits ‘Bolt & Silas’ Prepare for Duty

Although they are just a few months old and still in their bonding and training phases, two new bloodhound pups are preparing for the rigors of police work in Fairfax County. Bolt and Silas are the police department’s newest additions to their bloodhound team. The agency purchased the pups in August when they were just 6 weeks old. They join Shnoz and Cody, sisters from the hills of Northern Alabama who joined the agency in 2008 at 19 months old.

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McAuliffe, Cuccinelli Highlight Small Business Summit

Gubernatorial candidates speak at the Mason Inn & Conference Center.

Virginia gubernatorial candidates Terry McAuliffe and Ken Cuccinelli were the keynote speakers at the fourth annual Virginia Small Business Partnership (VASBP) Summit, hosted by Miller/Wenhold Capitol Strategies LLC at The Mason Inn in Fairfax on Friday, Sept. 20. “We are thrilled to have them join us,” said Paul A. Miller, chairman of the VASBP.

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SSSAS Field Hockey Coach Celebrates Win No. 500

Marsha Way is in her 35th season as Saints head coach.

Saints off to an 8-0 start in 2013.

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Wear Jeans to Work, Help End Homelessness

Register now to participate in Jeans Day Fairfax on Oct. 18.

Just by wearing jeans to work, you can actively help nearly 3,000 men, women and children in Fairfax County who face homelessness and hunger every day. On Tuesday, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors proclaimed Friday, Oct. 18 “Jeans Day Fairfax,” the third annual Jeans Day event in Fairfax County.

Tuesday, September 24

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Full Disclosure? Forms Plagued By Lack of Information, Absence of Oversight

Fairfax County goes so far as to redact disclosure documents.

Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell is in hot water for taking gifts without disclosing them, and legislators are talking about increasing disclosure requirements for family members. But here in Northern Virginia, personal financial disclosure forms are often incomplete and inconsistent.

Friday, September 20

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Review: A Stitch in Time

Powerful “Gee’s Bend” debuts at MetroStage.

It’s officially known as Boykin, Ala., with a population of 275. But the former slave plantation on the banks of the Alabama River gained prominence as Gee’s Bend, an isolated African American community known for the role its folk art quilts played in the struggle for Civil Rights.

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Review: Mean Girls

"The Children’s Hour” at Port City Playhouse.

In 1809, a girls’ boarding school opened in Edinburgh, Scotland, closing a few months later amid rumors involving two of its teachers. The decades-long lawsuit that followed was the inspiration for playwright Lillian Hellman, who more than a century later penned the critically acclaimed “The Children’s Hour,” now playing at Port City Playhouse.

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One Step at a Time

TC grad makes 3,600-mile run for veterans.

When Brendan O'Toole was in high school, he and his friends repeatedly watched “Forrest Gump,” with O'Toole joking that one day he was going to recreate the film character's run across the country. For most young men, the conversation would end there but for O'Toole, a 2007 graduate of T.C. Williams, it was just the beginning.

Thursday, September 19

Alexandria Home Sales: August, 2013

In August 2013, 215 Alexandria homes sold between $2,006,250-$96,000.

Alexandria Home Sales: August, 2013

Editorial: Addressing Virginia’s Economy

Ending gridlock in Congress and supporting health care reform would be huge steps in supporting economic recovery in Virginia.

The strength of Virginia’s economy, especially Northern Virginia’s economy, comes significantly from federal spending. So while the governor and other elected officials claim that Virginia’s success is because Virginia is a low-tax state with fewer regulations, it’s worth considering that the sequester and continuing gridlock in Congress threaten Virginia’s most important resource, federal spending.

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Navy Yard Shootings Hit Close to Home

Four Fairfax County victims killed in Washington Navy Yard rampage.

“Marty was a kind and caring man. He had such a sweet spirit and was in every way a man that lived his life to honor Christ.” —Pastor Steve Holley of Immanuel Bible Church in Springfield

Full Disclosure?

Forms plagued by a lack of information, absence of oversight; redacted documents.

Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell is in hot water for taking gifts without disclosing them, and legislators are talking about increasing disclosure requirements for family members. But here in Northern Virginia, personal financial disclosure forms are often incomplete and inconsistent. Some elected officials choose to disclose a great deal of information while others disclose very little. Fairfax County officials have decided to redact information that's supposed to be part of the public record. And nobody is reviewing the forms to make sure they are accurate.

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Art Matters for All Ages

Local experts say art classes help children develop new skills.

If you walk into Art at the Center in Mount Vernon on a Tuesday morning, you might find a group of preschool students and their parents or caretakers squishing potting clay with their fingers. In the same room, several other tots could be brushing an array of paint colors across art paper, making a mess but having fun. The children are part of the Center’s Art Explorers class, designed for children ranging from 18 months to 5 years old.

Classified Advertising Sept. 18, 2013

Read the lastest ads here!

Tuesday, September 17

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A New Beginning for Fairfax County Public Libraries?

Library trustees vote to discard beta plan in favor of more public outreach sessions.

On Wall Street, a “beta” test refers to assessing the risk, volatility and expected return of a particular portfolio. If Fairfax County Public Library (FCPL) officials had a crystal ball to assess the volatility of its planned beta tests this fall, it’s likely they may have steered clear of the project that became a quagmire of epic proportions.

What’s Wrong With This Picture?

County suspends discarding of library books.

Just when Sam Clay, Fairfax County’s Public Library director, thought FCPL’s public image couldn’t get any worse, Supervisor Linda Smyth (D-Providence) released photos of bins filled to the brim with discarded library books.

Letter: Joining Forces to Prevent Homelessness

You can prevent homelessness, you can end chronic homelessness, you can move people rapidly out of homelessness. What you cannot do is stand aside and let people fall. This simple belief—that together we can change the rate and severity of people losing their homes—brings together nonprofits, for-profits, civic leaders and government staff. We each play a special role, depending on our location and mission. For United Community Ministries (UCM), prevention is the key.

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Beckford Carries Episcopal Football Past Flint Hill

Senior running back runs for 312 yards, 5 touchdowns.

Episcopal offense looks strong in season opener.

Monday, September 16

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Get Ready for Fort Hunt Park Community Day

Event will celebrate — and clean up — local park.

On Sunday, Sept. 29, the first-ever Fort Hunt Park Community Day will take place at the Fort Hunt Community Park, a 197-acre historical park located off the George Washington Memorial Parkway in Alexandria. The non-profit organization, the Friends of Fort Hunt Park, Incorporated, is co-sponsoring the event with the National Park Service and the National Parks Conservation Association to both celebrate the park and for an official clean up. “We want to celebrate Fort Hunt Park as a vital part of the community and to enhance its recreational resources and its rich history,” FFHPI president Dorothy Canter said.

‘Gee’s Bend’ at MetroStage

The beauty of regional theatre is that each theatre has its own personality, its own character, both on and off the stage. So when seasons are announced there is usually a common theme, thread, tone that connects the choices made by the Artistic Director, reflecting individual interests, passions and personalities. As scripts cross our desks, actors and directors discover scripts that may be of interest. Media coverage of playwrights and plays are perused and a season slowly takes shape. What may appear as a random series of plays and musicals will ultimately reflect the aesthetic and intent of the theatre company.

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Life in the Farce Lane

Cooney’s “Caught in the Net” opens at LTA.

Few will ever compare Ray Cooney to Shakespeare. The king of British bawdiness doesn’t pretend to be the Bard of high-brow literature, but as Britain’s recognized “master of farce,” Cooney’s comic genius is unmatched and on display in “Caught in the Net,” now playing at The Little Theatre of Alexandria. Written as a sequel to “Run for Your Wife,” “Caught in the Net” is a fast-paced farce that finds taxi driver John Smith juggling two families in different parts of London. When his teenaged children discover each other on the internet and decide to meet, John’s already complicated life descends even further into disarray.

Friday, September 13

Letter: Appreciates Extra Pool Time

I wrote a letter in June bemoaning the closing of Chinquapin Recreation Center and the lack of aquatic facilities in Alexandria. I also mentioned it was too hot to swim laps outside in bath tub temperature water. Now that the summer is over, I want to say that due to cooler temperatures than our usual sizzling summers, it has been possible to swim outdoors most days. The hours were lengthened at The Cameron Street Pool. Thanks to the hard working staff, the facility was kept cleaner than it has been in past summers.

Letter: Sherman’s Efforts Appreciated

As former and current PTA presidents in Alexandria, we would like to recognize and thank Dr. Morton Sherman for his five years of dedicated service to our school system. Throughout his tenure, Dr. Sherman was a passionate and tireless advocate for our children. On a personal level, he maintained an admirable open door policy for us and was always willing to listen to our concerns, show up at our meetings and respond to our emails, sometimes at 3 a.m.

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Letter: Resolving Parking Lot

My name is Miles Holtzman and I am the president of the Old Dominion Boat Club. We have been an Alexandria institution since 1880 and support many charitable activities within the city including underwriting the Fall Rowing Program for the T.C. Williams Crew Boosters and fundraising activities for those in need. Among others, our efforts have benefitted the Lombardi Cancer Center, APD Officer Peter LaBoy and children with special needs from the Alexandria Public Schools through parties and things of a like nature. We have been in our current facility since 1923 and acquired our parking lot in 1935.

Letter: Streetlight Outages

Dominion Virginia Power has a convenient way to report streetlight outages and track the progress of repair: just call Dominion customer service center at 1-866-366-4357, wait 10 minutes or more for a person. You will need the street address of the nearest house or building and the streetlight's 9-digit utility pole number found on a metal plate on the pole.

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For Fallen Heroes

Post 24 hosts newest Medal of Honor recipient.

The Medal of Honor is the U.S.’s highest military honor, awarded for personal acts of valor above and beyond the call of duty. On Aug. 26, Army Staff Sgt. Ty Carter became one of only 79 living recipients of the award during a whirlwind day that began at the White House and ended at American Legion Post 24 in Alexandria. “It’s an honor and privilege to have a Medal of Honor recipient at our Post,” said Commander Jim Glassman at a private dinner welcoming Carter, his family and members of his unit to the historic Old Town American Legion building. “We not only welcome Sgt. Carter but also his fellow soldiers whose bravery during the Battle of Kamdesh kept the outpost from being overtaken.”

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All in the Family

Trio rocks Hard Times Café.

After a 20-year absence in Alexandria, the female trio of Huxtable, Christensen and Hood took to the stage Sept. 8, performing to a capacity crowd at Hard Times Café in Old Town. Cheering on the group were Hard Times founders and brothers Jim and Fred Parker, husband of vocalist Carol Christensen, along with their sons Ned and Jonathan Parker. “I think I'm the only Parker without any musical talent,” laughed Ned Parker, whose brother Jonathan is a professional jazz saxophonist. “I guess that's why I'm taking the tickets at the door.”

Column: Timing Is Everything

If the hearing is scheduled for 10 a.m., Judge William D. Hamblen is enrobed and on the bench. Prosecutors, defense lawyers, the defendant, security and visitors are in their respective places. All quiet. Hamblen is the retired chief judge of the 31st judicial district of the Commonwealth, Prince William County. He is well-respected and expects nothing but the best in courtroom manner, this includes the attire for brothers and sisters at the bar, defendants and anyone just watching.

Column: Now This is What

Do nothing (no more treatment) and live life to the fullest (for as long as I’m able, and right now, I’m extremely able); start another chemotherapy protocol – with an I.V. chemotherapy drug which, according to my oncologist, has not been proven in any clinical setting to be better than the patient doing nothing; or, try to get into a Study (Phase 1, 2 or 3) at either N.I.H. (National Institutes of Health) or Johns Hopkins (in Baltimore) and let the treatment chips fall wherever experimental/research medicine takes them. This is what my oncologist discussed with Team Lourie at my most recent appointment, my first appointment with him since my hospitalization and subsequent release.

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NVAR Summit at GMU’s Mason Inn

Complex shortage of homes for sale likely to persist; boomers not planning to retire, not planning to move, experts say. Rising mortgage rates should inspire renters to buy soon.

Nationally syndicated columnist and moderator Kenneth R. Harney introduced the expert panel for the Northern Virginia Association of Realtors (NVAR) 17th annual Economic Summit Thursday morning, Sept. 5. Dr. David Crowe, chief economist and senior vice president of the National Association of Home Builders, joined economic experts David E. Versel, a senior research associate at the George Mason University Center for Regional Analysis, and Dr. Lawrence Yun, senior economist for the National Association of Realtors.

Condo Renovations

As sales of condominiums grow, so does demand for luxury renovations.

More people are moving from leafy, sprawling suburbs to more urban areas, neighborhoods both in the city and in Northern Virginia that offer close proximity to restaurants, jobs, cultural activities and Metro.

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Big Ideas for Small Spaces

Local designers offer ideas for decorating small rooms.

Whether one is sprucing up a small powder room or decorating a studio apartment, space limitations often pose a design challenge. However, local designers say that no matter how a small space’s square footage or how awkward the layout, there are plenty of decorative cures for small spaces. Whether one is sprucing up a small powder room or decorating a studio apartment, space limitations often pose a design challenge. However, local designers say that no matter how a small space’s square footage or how awkward the layout, there are plenty of decorative cures for small spaces.

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Top-to-Bottom Makeover Embraces Longterm Horizons

The Hollis family wanted a house that would work better today — and long into the future.

Sometimes it’s not limited square footage that makes a house feel inadequate — it’s how that square footage is configured.

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Like Magic

New plan in built-out 1940s colonial gains vital square footage as young family looks ahead.

In the end, a skillful spatial reconfiguration is like a deft magician's trick — you've seen it with your own eyes, but you still can't figure out how they did it. “Really, I don't know how this plan created so much more usable space,” Alexandria resident Alice Goulet said, discussing a recent reconfiguration to several rooms in the family's 1,800-square-foot center-hall Colonial.

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Northern Virginia Designers Awarded Rooms in Showhouse Event

Northern Virginia/metro area interior designers Kelley Proxmire of Kelley Interior Design and Wayne Breeden of E. Wayne Breeden Design are among 17 designers awarded rooms at the benefit Winchester Showhouse & Gardens, open to the public through Sept. 29.

Sun Design Named One of U.S.’s Fastest Growing Private Companies

Sun Design Remodeling Specialists, Inc., of Fairfax, was named by Inc. Magazine as one of America’s fastest-growing private companies. This is the fourth time the magazine has included Sun Design on its annual Inc. 5000 list.

Thursday, September 12

Editorial: Small Steps to Fight Homelessness

Efficiency apartments would serve 20-somethings, service workers, retirees and more.

One way to prevent homelessness is to think small. It doesn’t take much space to house one person. Sure, many houses in our area have 1,000 square feet and sometimes two or three times that much per person, but that’s really not necessary.

Classified Advertising September 11, 2013

Read the latest ads here!

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Incendiary Remarks in West End Fire Investigation

No arrests yet, but fire chief says investigation puts one individual in the hot seat.

Alexandria Fire Chief Adam Thiel stopped short of calling it "arson." But the chief was clear that city officials believe that the person of interest identified by the investigation into last week's six-alarm fire on the West End started the fire on purpose.

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Uneasy Easement: 1789 Deed at Issue as City Hall Takes on Boat Club

Virginia Supreme Court justices say city is putting one private interest ahead of another.

John Adams was president of the United States when two land owners on Wales Alley secured a deed that gave them private use to a 30-foot easement in the alley.

Wednesday, September 11

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Annual Ride Raises Funds for Lymphoma Research

Alexandrian patient among the participants.

On Sunday, Sept. 22, the Lymphoma Research Foundation will hold its seventh annual Lymphoma Research Ride. Hundreds of present and former lymphoma patients, as well as families, friends and supporters, will embark on a fundraising bike ride

Thursday, September 5

Update on Tree Lighting Fund

Letter to the Editor

Gold company asures readers that Alexandria's spring tree lights will be on this coming season.

Going Beyond A-F in Virginia

One reader urges for as much needed time as possible to be taken when constructing a new school evaluation scale.

Sherman: A Vision to Close the Achievement Gap

What Sherman Did Accomplish

Yvonne Folkerts Discusses Mort Sherman's Educational Legacy

Sherman Resigns — Finally

It's good that Mort Sherman Resigned from Alexandria County Public Schools, says a reader, but that doesn't mean that the school board itself will improve over night.

‘Iron’ Versus ‘Golden Age’

A Letter to the Editor

An Alexandria citizen says citizens aren't being heard in issues involving development.

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Women’s Movement Got Him Involved in Politics

Lonnie Rich: Governance and Public Service.

Lonnie Rich is celebrated for his time in office, and discusses how he helped to change Alexandria.

Opinion: Dangers of Failure To Act

Our current and future standing in the international community is on the line.

President Obama has sought Congressional approval to carry out limited surgical strikes in Syria against the regime of Bashar al Assad in response to his use of chemical weapons to attack Syrian civilians, which killed 1,429 people, including 426 children.

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Wellbeing: How To Set Realistic Goals

Local experts say the key to success is setting achievable goals.

Laura Wheeler Poms, of Fairfax, set out to earn a doctorate degree and make a career change. As a wife, mother and working professional, the goal, she said, often felt lofty. “Writing my dissertation at times felt overwhelming, especially if I looked at it as one huge project,” said Poms, who now holds a Ph.D. in industrial/organizational psychology and is an assistant professor of global and community health at George Mason University in Fairfax. “I set goals like writing one page or doing one analysis each day and I was able to get it done. I also gave myself little rewards along the way.”

Covert Matters

Supermarkets on the Corner

Harry Covert relives his first job

Column: Indeterminate Sentence

And no, that’s not another made-up phrase by yours truly describing my occasionally cluttered/run-on prose with which many of you extremely patient regular readers are all too familiar. No, it has to do with how I perceive my future now that I’m post-hospital and sleeping in my own bed. Instead of nurses, respiratory therapists, X-ray technicians, doctors and miscellaneous other hospital staff too numerous to list, I have one wife and five cats to do my bidding. And though they’re not nearly as attentive as the hospital staff, I know that they all have my best interests at heart.

‘Shared Work:’ A Win-Win-Win Solution

Preventing layoffs, maintaining the well-being of employees and their communities and keeping businesses competitive.

How do we mitigate the devastating effects of layoffs on employees, employers and their communities? Is there a "win-win-win" solution?

Del Ray United Methodist To Celebrate 120 Years

Building on a sense of community.

An Alexandria Church celebrates its past and present, and also bridges the gap between new and old members alike.

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Morton Sherman Era Draws to Dramatic Close at Alexandria City Public Schools

Controversial superintendent oversaw school system during tumultuous five-year term.

As members of the Alexandria School Board were behind closed doors in a one-hour executive session last week, Glenn Hopkins was thumbing through a draft report he was preparing to the release from the Student Achievement Advisory Committee.

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City Leaders Consider Eminent Domain if Boat Club Rejects Final Compromise

Eight years of negotiation coming to a dramatic conclusion on the waterfront.

City officials and elected leaders are considering using the power of eminent domain to accomplish its goals on the waterfront if members of the Old Dominion Boat Club reject their latest compromise.

Week in Alexandria

Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli is weighing into the debate about school takeover with a surprising move this week, announcing that his office will not be defending the Opportunity Educational Institution.

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Battle for Transparency at State Corporation Commission Moves Online

Agency makes official request to remove information from Wikipedia page.

The battle lines in the war over transparency at the Virginia State Corporation Commission have shifted from the committee room to the Internet.

Wednesday, September 4

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Cause of Massive Blaze at West End Warehouse Yet to be Determined

Charred bits of foam litter the scene as officials begin investigation.

Firefighters from across the region battled a massive six-alarm fire Monday on the West End, a fight that enlisted help from across the region and gave four firefighters minor injuries.

Cost to Taxpayers

Letter to the Editor

Resident brings to attention the money that former school superintendent has cost.

Classified Advertising Sept. 4, 2013

Read the latest ads here!

Monday, September 2

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Massive Fire Burns Warehouse on South Pickett Street

Blaze sends heavy black smoke into the air.

Firefighters from across Northern Virginia and Maryland are battling a massive, five-alarm fire at 801 South Picket Street, a warehouse building tax records say was originally constructed in 1965.