Falls Church News-Press 1-11-2024

Page 1

January 11 - 17, 2024

Letty Hardi Is 1st


F.C. Mayor

In a Decade

Letty Hardi, voted to a third term on the Falls Church City Council by the largest total in the election last November, was chosen by her colleagues on the City Council to be the first new mayor in a decade in the City of Falls Church by a 5-0 vote Monday night. She replaces outgoing Mayor David Tarter who served from 2012 through 2023.

By the same margin, Debora Schantz-Hiscott was elected vice mayor. Two Councilmen, Dave Snyder and Erin Flynn, failed to vote for either. The “yes” votes came from Hardi, Schantz-Hiscott, Carlone Lian, Marybeth Connelly, Justnie Underhill. Underhill and Flynn were attending their first meeting.

In her remarks upon election (printed in full elsewhere in this edition), Hardi noted that as a “first generation immigrant” she was the “first to go to college in her family where English was not her first language” who “now gets to do this job and try to open doors for others.”

She noted that “the Council is now composed of two people of color, three immigrants, some of us with business, private sector backgrounds, some of us with young kids, some even a grandchild now, and tenures spanning from eight days to nearly 30 years.” She added, “and yes, the obvious, we have a new groundbreaking historic Council with

Continued on Page 3


F.C. Schools’ Noonan Offers New Budget

In a significant move to address the educational needs of a growing student population, Falls Church City Public Schools Superintendent Peter J. Noonan presented a comprehensive and forward-looking budget for the 2025 fiscal year to the Falls Church School Board Tuesday night.

The presentation came after the board voted its new leadership, with Dr. Tate Gould as chair and Kathleen Tysse as vice chair both by unanimous 7-0 votes.

The proposed budget for FY 2025 strategically addresses the student population growth experienced and projected in FCCPS.

Acknowledging the increase of 100 students in FY 2024 and pre-

paring for the upcoming rise of 85 students in FY 2025, the budget emphasizes the need for additional staff to uphold the district’s educational excellence.

Dr. Noonan emphasized the need for growth, stating, “With our student population projected to increase significantly, it’s imperative that we expand our staff to maintain the excellence FCCPS is known for. This budget is a commitment to our students’ future.”

Key proposals include hiring five new elementary teachers, two new half-time paraprofessionals, and an additional secondary campus teacher. This plan sets the stage for managing further growth, anticipating an additional

125 students in FY 2026.

Acknowledging the rising costs due to inflation, the budget makes necessary adjustments for fixed costs such as fuel, electricity, and gas. A critical focus of the budget is to ensure competitive compensation for FCCPS’s dedicated staff and faculty. Dr. Noonan proposes a Step increase for all eligible employees and a 3.5 percent Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA), amounting to an average pay increase of 6 percent.

“Our faculty and staff are the backbone of FCCPS,” Dr. Noonan said. “The proposed salary increases reflect our dedication to ensuring our team is not only compensated fairly but also feels valued for their indispensable con-


Despite challenges posed by potential cuts in public education spending in the governor’s budget, Dr. Noonan assured that FCCPS can meet its obligations, thanks partly to the strong local economy and a successful revenue-sharing agreement with the City Council, now in its fifth year.

The proposed budget is a testament to FCCPS’s commitment to providing top-notch education and maintaining its status as a desirable destination for qualified educators. The School Board will finalize adjustments and adopt the “School Board’s Advertised Budget” on February 21, which will then be presented to the City Council on April 1.

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Top Vote Getter Lays Out Agenda for City’s Progress
HONORED AT MONDAY’S Falls Church City Public School Board meeting were members of the Meridian High School girls field hockey team that made it to the state finals with an undefeated record last fall before losing in the title game. The team’s mantra was to “play well, have fun and work together.” Nine of the team’s players made the All-District team, seven made the All-Regional team and four made the All-State first team. ( News-Press photo)

Rev. Martin Luther King Day Monday Features Service

The Falls Church City Council will gather with staff at the Falls Church Homeless Shelter for a service project in recognition of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day holiday Monday. They will meet at 12:30 p.m. at the Shelter on 217 Gordon Road, Falls Church, VA 22046.

The City of Falls Church commemorates the legacy of Dr. King, Jr. by declaring Monday, January 15, 2024, as a Day of Service and supporting and promoting civic engagement across The Little City.

The City Council proclamation read, “The Falls Church City Council believes that ordinary citizens, armed with compassion and the willingness to serve, can come together to change the world and pursue the Nation’s highest ideals.”

A march for unity and freedom will commence on Monday at the intersection of Tinner Hill Rd. and S. Washington St., directly in front of the old Target. Participants will then proceed north on S. Washington St. to E. Fairfax where the participants will turn onto E. Fairfax St. and then into the Falls Church Episcopal Church for a program in recognition of the holiday.

Falls Church Police advise drivers to expect road closures along the march route from approximately 11 a.m. to noon.

Meanwhile, the following City government offices, programs and services will be closed in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Closed will be City Hall and most government offices and services, including the Mary Riley Styles Public Library. But the Community Center will be open from 8:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.

McKay Hails U.S. Lowest Crime Rate in Fairfax Co.

Fairfax County chair of the board of supervisors Jeff McKay wrote this last week, “In September I had the pleasure of sharing our County’s second quarter violent crime rate report. I am happy to share with you all our updated data from the third quarter of 2023. Fairfax County remains the safest jurisdiction of its size in the country. Among the 70 large jurisdictions ranked by the Major Cities Chiefs Association (MCCA) Fairfax County has the lowest rate of violent crimes (homicides, rapes, robberies, and aggravated assaults) once again.

Meridian Hall of Fame Seeks New Candidates

The Meridian High School Mustang Athletic Hall of Fame Committee is cur-

rently considering candidates for Fall 2024 inductions. Anyone interested in nominating an athlete, team, coach, administrator, or program supporter, is urged to complete and submit a nomination form which can be found at mustangsports.org, click on “More,” and locate the form under “Hall of Fame Information.”

Athletes must have graduated by 2018 or earlier, teams must have concluded competition by no later than the 2017-18 school year, and coaches and administrators must have retired, finished service, or left the school system by that same year. Nominations should be completed and submitted by March 1, 2024.

Sen. Kaine Lists Gains For Virginia Under Biden

According to Virginia U.S. Senator Tim Kaine, Virginia has now received $8.4 billion from the bipartisan infrastructure law funding nearly 250 projects, which will promote economic growth and improve the lives of all Virginians.

The Inflation Reduction Act helped lower health care and energy costs, including implementing a $35 cap per month on insulin for Americans with Medicare — and many private insurers are following suit.

The Senate voted to pass his bipartisan legislation to formally end the Gulf and Iraq wars by repealing the 1991 and 2002 war authorizations.

The U.S. Senate passed a defense bill to bolster national security, which included his legislation to prevent any U.S. president from withdrawing from NATO without the consent of Congress.

Georgetown Baseball to Play in N. Virginia

Georgetown University’s baseball team will play most of its home games this year at Capital One Park in Tysons, the Hoyas announced Tuesday.

“We are really excited to play at Capital One Park this spring as it is an amazing firstclass venue that will provide our fans a great experience,” Hoyas Baseball Head Coach Edwin Thompson said. “We look forward to providing a great product on the field and we know with Capital One Park’s amazing amenities, our fans will enjoy the gameday experience. We look forward to opening day at our new home this spring!”

Capital One Park opened at 1820 Dolley Madison Blvd for its inaugural season in March 2023, hosting over 200 high school and college-level baseball games. The stadium features a synthetic turf field and can seat 650 people in fixed and bleacher seats.

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Top Vote Getter, Hardi is F.C.’s First New Mayor in a Decade

six women.”

She went on to recite the accomplishments of the last six years of which she has routinely played a major role as vicemayor, calling it “an incredible journey of getting caught up on capital infrastructure, working hard to expand and build new schools, parks, sidewalks, a library, a city hall, stormwater, sewer, bridges and other infrastructure that has raised the quality of life. There’s been a lot of building. We’ve persevered through a global pandemic, while diversifying our tax base and revitalizing the city, adding new housing that is welcoming new neighbors, who are then in turn supporting our flourishing business community.

“It is evident,” she noted, that “with our bustling cafes and vibrant, busy sidewalks, our little city is growing up.”

She said the challenge is to “leave the city better for the next generation,” and that the Council‘s challenge is “to do

our best to grant each other the assumption of positive intent” that is best achieved “if we stick to facts and civil debates.”

In remarks following her election as vice mayor, SchantzHiscott echoed the remarks of the new mayor in calling for “a time of civility.’

In a written statement to the News-Press, Council member Marybeth Connelly stated, “I am excited to get to work on behalf of the people. We’ve got so much positive momentum. The votes for Mayor and Vice Mayor are the first of many to come. Every Council has to overcome differences to work together on important topics. We are all there to serve and we will all be held accountable by citizens — and one another — for our actions and votes.”

Later in the meeting Monday, the assignments of Council members to work on Council committees as liaisons to various volunteer boards and commissions were approved. They included, as reported by the City Clerk, the following:

Appointments Committee:

Flynn, Hardi, Lian; Legislative Committee: Schantz-Hiscott, Snyder, Underhill; Government Operations: Flynn, Hardi, Schanytz-Hiscott; Budget & Finance: Underhill, Lian, Connelly; Liaisons to Architectural Advisory Board: Underhill; Arts & Humanities Council: Underhill; Historical Architectural Review Board: Flynn; Economic Development Authority: Hardi; Environmental Sustainability Council: SchantzHiscott; Aurora House: Flynn; Historical Commission: Connelly; Housing Commission: Hardi; Human Services: Lian; Library Board of Trustees: Connelly, Planning Commission: Underhill; Recreation and Parks: Flynn; Retirement Board: Underhill; Transportation: Snyder; Urban Forestry: Flynn; Public Utilities: Schantz-Hiscott. Chamber of Commerce liaison: Lian, N.V. Regional Commission member: Hardi, alternate Lian; N.V.. Transportation Authority member: Snyder, Alternate Connelly; NVTA PCAC: Underhill; N.V.

Transportation member: Snyder, alternate Underhill, Va. Career Works: Flynn, COG Board of Directors member: Lian; Capital Region Transportation Planning Board member: Snyder; Metro Air Quality member: Snyder; Regional Forward Coalition member: Connelly. Human Services Policy

Committee member: Hardi, Climate Energy & Environment Policy member: SchantzHiscott, Alternate Snyder, Chesapeake Bay member:

Flynn; Regional Food & Ag Policy member: Lian.

The Council also OK’d appointment to various boards and commissions, but the plan to vote Duncan onto the Planning Commission was delayed pending a review by the City Attorney Susan Gillette of the language in the City charter pertaining to the appointment of recent Council members. According to the City Manager’s office, the matter will be left to a vote of the Council at its next meeting.

Continued from Page 1
THE 2024 FALLS Church City Council (left to right: Justine Underhill, Marybeth Connelly, David Snyder, Mayor Letty Hardi, Vice Mayor Debbie Hiscott, Caroline Lian, and Erin Flynn. (News-Press Photo)

F.C. EDA Hears Long List of Projects Now Underway

On January 9, the F.C. Economic Development Authority had its first meeting of 2024, and meeting minutes show a great deal of news for the many development sites around The Little City.

In the West Falls Church area, the B3 parking garage has been completed. Seven buildings are currently under construction (including two kiosks and a garage). A medical office building and remaining garage will be completed early this year, with a celebration of occupancy scheduled for February 7. Condo building presales are expected to start soon. Plans for the Tierra Encantada preschool are currently under review, and this summer will see the opening of a new hotel. In late 2024 to early 2025, a condo building will open, as well as an apartment building with a ground floor grocer.

The construction of Founders Row II, at the corner of S. West St. and W. Broad St., is now 15 percent complete, with occupancy expected after the 2025 fiscal year.

Founders Row I has signed new

leases for Semicolon Cafe, a coffee and sandwich cafe located on Market Square, and an optometrist in a small storefront adjacent Ellie Bird. The much-anticipated movie theater, by Paragon Theaters, is under construction and estimated to be 5 percent complete. Inspections are underway at Rumble Boxing, and plans are being reviewed for clinic and medical spa 4Ever Young. The EDA is awaiting plans for the Seoul Prime restaurant expected this year.

The Broad & Washington development is now 40 percent complete, with plans for a Whole Foods, and a new location for Creative Cauldron, under review. The first residential apartment units will likely be delivered in May or June, and the overall building completion is expected in this fall.

At Birch and Broad, the InovaGoHealth Urgent Care is under inspection and 80 percent complete.

Along Broad St. the EDA is awaiting a building permit application and revised plans for Cafe Zevian, a new concept by the owners of Sfizi Cafe to take the space previously occupied by Famille at 700 W. Broad St. Building permits are ready to be issued for Troika

Gastronom at 502 W. Broad St. Fyzical and Smoothie King have opened at 603 W. Broad St., under temporary occupancy certifications while they wait for permanent certification. The occupancy application for stylish Patina’s 248 W. Broad St. location, previously Galleria Florist, is under review.

Remodel plans are being reviewed for the Dunkin’ Donuts at 101 E. Annandale Rd., as are plan revisions for Corral Restaurant Lounge & Cafe at 442 S. Washington St. The EDA is awaiting an occupancy application by Rice Guys for the 301 S. Washington St. location previously home to Kamayan Fiesta. A Building permit has been issued for a new food hall at the Eden Center.

The Meeting House, at 419 W. Broad St., has applied to separate its second floor into two suites, with Godfrey’s occupying one suite with a cocktail lounge, limited to 37 occupants. VicturaPark at Meeting House, a pop-up wine garden by the Hilton brothers previously at The REACH at the Kennedy Center, is expected to find a final home on the back side of The Meeting House building — though no changes to

the plans have been received.

Demolition for the old Stratford Motel is underway, with the back building removed. A revised site plan for “Stratford Garden,” from the owners of Dominion Wine and Beer, was passed by the Planning Commission on December 20. The plan for the 300 W. Broad St. location involves a 3,722 square foot addition to the front building, and indoor and outdoor dining.

Across the street from Stratford, founders of Pupatella Anastasiya and Enzo Algarme purchased the building at 106 Little Falls St., and plan to open a French creperie and cafe.

At 455 Tinner Hill, the former Target space has a prospective tenant, and discussions are “still on track.” The current building owners inherited the Target lease, which mandates that the termination of the lease cannot be initiated until February 2024, so hopefully more information on the location’s future will be available after the lease is terminated.

The owners of 455 Tinner Hill have partnered with GrillMarx Steakhouse and Raw Bar, and expected to open a fourth location for the Maryland-based chain in

The Little City by the end of 2024.

The deal is nearly complete, with plans for an indoor-outdoor space seating about 180.

An application submission has been received for the Maple & Annandale space (next to Harris Teeter and across from Bowlero).

This includes purchase of some Burke & Herbert’s land (they will remain) and some City land, totaling just over one acre, with plans to build a seven-story building with 196 residential units on top of 11,930 square feet of commercial space.

The EDA also highlighted Falls Church Restaurant Week, coming up January 19-28 with 40 restaurants participating, as well as The Little City Gift Card Program, which sold out its Bonus Cards ($104,349 in total) in just 23 days.

Over 3,600 Little City Gift Cards were purchased, with just over $325,000 in total value (including Bonus Cards). So far just over $110,000 have been redeemed, with 66 percent spent on food and drink, 19 percent on shopping, 8 percent on barber/beauty services, 4 percent on health and wellness, 2 percent on entertainment, and a fraction of a percent on fitness.

Falls Church News-Press
by Brian Reach


I have often wondered why the Fates allowed me to be drawn into what became a destructive cult in the early 1970s, wasting too many years of my life trapped in a situation I did not enjoy but felt compelled to remain in for too long.

How My Cult Experience Can Help Break Trump Now On The Promise of Fusion Energy

I was an honor graduate seminary student, joined with almost everyone else I knew in strongly opposing the war in Vietnam, had the courage in those days to come out of the closet and be what was a pioneering activist in the gay movement, stood for justice and equality and had my share of anti-authoritarian passions due to the tyrant-like behavior toward his family of my father.

But maybe the last few years with Trump around is beginning to give me insight into why I became a cultist at that point in my life. I became aligned, unbeknownst to me at the time, into something that was almost surely Moscow driven, a fifth column, you may say, in the U.S. in the form of an anti-establishment fringe movement replete with its veritably infallible leader, its alienation from mainstream society, its 24-7 demands for loyalty and long hours, compelled adherence to irrational, even outlandish, claims and ideas, and so forth. A classic cult,, when seen in that way. It took me far too long to break away from it, even though my heart had long since not been in it.

So when I look today and see that a third of America is trapped in a similar cult, the Cult of Trump, as evidenced by polls showing growing support for the Big Lie that the 2020 election was tainted and stolen from Trump or that Trump is now the almost-certain 2024 nominee for president of the GOP, I can only shake my head in disbelief because it all bears so much likeness to the environment and outlandish departures from real -

ity that I had been subjected to many decades ago.

I am looking at it from the point of view of assessing if there is something that I learned from my cult experience of the 1970s that could contribute to helping society today break free from the Trump mania.

As I continue to grapple with this issue, a few ideas beyond just the obvious are coming to mind.

I’d say major hooks for falling into a cult are a combined false sense of entitlement, on the one hand, and outright fear on the other.

These days, all of Trump’s correspondence with his base supporters refer to them as “patriots.” as somehow superior to everyone else by virtue of this quality of so-called patriotism. The boss, the wife, and society in general may think of me as a loser, but here’s a place where the opposite is true. It has much less to do with actual economic status than the psychological notion that the follower is a loser to the outside world, but a big winner inside this cult. As for imperfections, Trump’s or his followers’, the saying goes that “In the land of the blind, the one eyed man is king.”

The second factor is fear, both existential and real. People can be afraid to break away from a cult out of fear they’ll be letting down the human race and that the consequences of that are unthinkable. On top of that, is the real fear associated with peer pressure. With everyone around one cheering on obedience to the cult, anyone in that environment can feel incredible pressure to conform even if part of them wants to disassociate. This factor is very, very real for those caught in a cult.

What is the remedy? The remedy is not a kid glove approach to the person caught in a cult, but harder doses of reality. The biggest thing that I was struck by when I finally broke away from my cult was learning how totally invisible it really was to the world when I was led to believe it was at the center of everything.

Truth is the biggest antidote, lots of it. Everything Biden is doing is in the right direction, but the bullhorns of reality and truth must become much louder.

The 2023 film Oppenheimer conjures a dramatic story of how the top-secret Manhattan Project harnessed the power of nuclear fission for the controversial weapon that ended World War II. At the dawn of 2024, we are poised to harness the power of a different type of transformative energy — nuclear fusion.

Fusion energy is the energy of our sun and the stars. It is the source of all other energy — fossil fuels, wind, solar, and even geothermal power, all derive from the energy created by fusion. Think Genesis: the famous, “Let there be light” — that light? Fusion.

Fusion energy is the energy emitted when two hydrogen isotopes fuse together to form a helium atom. Its raw material is water. When a fusion reactor stops working, it simply halts — there are no explosions, fires, or meltdowns. Fusion renders electricity without carbon emissions or long-lasting nuclear waste.

Imagine a world powered by fusion energy — carbon emissions would plummet, energy could be ubiquitous and cheap, and there are promising geopolitical impacts. But achieving this will take enormous support, hearkening back to America’s commitment to the Manhattan project.

The science is easy, but the engineering is incredibly difficult. To fuse two hydrogen atoms, we need to heat them to 100 million degrees Centigrade. This is no problem for the Sun, but is much harder to replicate in a lab. Fusion engineers also face the challenge of designing structures that can withstand multiple reactions, given the reaction’s components and power.

The great news is that we are now accom -

plishing the science on a regular basis. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory achieved a worldfamous breakthrough in December 2022, when it generated more energy from a fusion reaction than went into it. Livermore has now repeated this result multiple times. Around 40 US companies are racing to be the first to put fusion energy onto our electrical grid, with almost as many different engineering designs.

I have championed fusion energy because I believe in its potential to fight climate change and poverty. Climate change is our century’s existential threat. 2023 was the hottest year in recorded history, and 2024 is very likely to be worse. We are making progress in integrating renewable energy sources, but not quickly enough. Fusion can provide us with a replacement for most fossil fuel use, especially in energy intensive industries. When fusion hits the grid, there will be a dramatic change in the demand for carbon-generating fuels. This could be another “silver bullet” in the fight against climate change.

We have released immense amounts of carbon dioxide into our atmosphere for hundreds of years—and fusion gives us a strategy for reversing this accumulation. Direct Air Capture (DAC) is now being pioneered in Iceland, British Columbia, and soon in the U.S. This technology removes carbon directly from the atmosphere. However, DAC is highly energy intensive and could use more carbon than it captures if it is not paired with a zero-emission energy source. When paired with fusion, all carbon extracted becomes a net gain to our climate.

The second reason for fusion’s importance is its potential role in alleviating poverty. Burning

Continued on Page 7

Will a Spirit of Concord Prevail?

Congratulations to all who were voted to the leadership positions in their respective City of Falls Church bodies as the new year got off to a robust start this week. Letty Hardi becomes the first new mayor in a decade with Debora Schanrtz-Hiscott as vice mayor of the 6-1-majority-women-led City Council, while Tate Gould was elected chair and Kathy Tysse vice-chair of the School Board. Other newly-electeds included Bob Young, repeating as chair, and Ross Litkenhouse, repeating as vice-chair of the Economic Development Authority.

All the electeds named above won without a single “no” vote, although in the case of the new Council leadership, two Council members failed to vote for the otherwise unanimously elevated choices. It suggests this may be a contentious year ahead for that body, even if it is coming from only two of the seven members. Apparently the decision to not vote for the two leaders was a holdover from what became an emotionally charged vote to modify the City’s transitional zones ordinance last year.

Councilmember David Snyder’s remarks were particularly troubling, as he accused his colleagues, including Hardi and Schantz-Hiscott, of divisiveness and “belittling citizens” in their handling of the issue, adding that they were “too close to developers at the expense of citizens” resulting in little transparency and a fraying of trust. Schantz-Hiscott objected to such insinuations that Council members acted unethically, saying the charges were “upsetting and untrue.” She noted that the t-zone issue took over two years to be resolved due to the patience and willingness to listen of the Council. In the end, it wasn’t that the majority on the Council didn’t hear what citizens on the other side of the issue were saying, they simply took those remarks into account and didn’t agree.

But while there is still ample time for a spirit of concord to prevail on the City Council, two other developments of wider significance promise to make a major difference in 2024. They include the upcoming legislative session in Richmond, where Democrats now have slim majorities in both houses and our new State Sen. Sadam Salim has just been seated for the first time.

Salim was feted with a rousing reception on the eve of his first Road to Richmond at Clare and Don’s last week. His delegate counterpart Marcus Simon had his own event a couple days earlier, and there he said the challenges facing the Democratic majorities will be to upend Gov. Youngkin’s proposed budget that includes a tax cut that would overwhelmingly favor the top one percent by an average of $9.6 thousand each compared to those in the lower 20 percent who would gain only $44.

But maybe the biggest news of all comes from our U.S. Rep. Don Beyer who writes an exclusive commentary in this edition of the News-Press on the awesome, globally game-changing potential of nuclear fusion energy. We are incredibly fortunate to have Congress’ foremost proponent of fusion representing this very district.








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Beyer Talks Limitless Potential of Nuclear Fusion Energy

fossil fuels boosted humanity’s productivity, net wealth, and lifespans immensely after millennia in the dark. Today, our poorest billions are those with few energy resources. Imagine what abundant energy provided at low cost could mean for people without consistent access to energy, especially where poverty is a main barrier to that access, both significant upfront investment in fusion energy. If we can achieve commercial fusion energy now, we would leave future generations with an immeasurable gift. We are at a turning point in fusion energy development — it’s up to us, and the time is now. FALLS CHURCH NEWS-PRESS | FCNP.COM JANUARY 11 - 17, 2024 | PAGE 7
U.S. REP. DON BEYER, shown here at the Fairfax Democrats’ annual Road to Richmond breakfast Sunday, is Congress’ leading advocate and lay expert on the awesome promise of fusion energy. (Photo: News-Press ) Continued from Page 5 Scan and use code SUNFLOWER at checkout to see latest savings! The only Indoor garden that grows 30 plants in just 2 sq ft. THE GARDYN HOME KIT 3.0 GARDYNDEAL.COM/80

Election Remarks by New F.C. Mayor Letty Hardi

Editor’s Note: The following is the transcript of remarks by Falls Church Mayor Letty Hardi upon her election Monday night.

It’s an incredible honor to be able to serve the city that has been home for me for over 20 years, my family’s for 45+ years, and more so to be mayor.

Thank you to Marybeth and all the other really kind words from the others. It’s a full circle moment as Marybeth and a few other women over eight years ago were the ones who first encouraged me to run at all, so I’m grateful to them for not just talk about making room for others but continuing to live it and be deliberate in lifting up other women.

This is a pinch me moment — that this first generation immigrant, first to go to college in her family where English was not her first language gets to do this job and try to open doors for others.

It’s not lost on any of us that the dais looks different tonight.

We have two people of color, three immigrants, some of us with business, private sector backgrounds, some of us with young kids, some even a grandchild now, and tenures spanning from eight days to nearly 30 years (congratulations Mr. Snyder on both fronts), and yes, the obvious — we have a new, groundbreaking historic Council with six women up here.

A warm welcome to Erin and Justine — fresh ideas and new skills are important as we all seek to represent our grow -

ing and changing community, continuously improve the city we all love, and live up to the legacy of Carol Delong who recently passed and was the first woman mayor of FC.

To borrow the word from Taylor Swift — this is a new era. And this new era represents a huge responsibility and privilege. We have the opportunity to do this differently.

By now, everyone knows that I am the most reluctant one up here, as I much prefer to stay behind the scenes and focus on getting things done. I’ve been challenging myself to reflect on where we’ve come as a city in the past decade, where we go from here, the strengths of this team and our professional staff, and how I can play a part, staying true to myself and our community values.

Over the past six years, we’ve been on an incredible journey of getting caught up on on capital infrastructure — working hard to expand and build new schools, parks, sidewalks, a library, a city hall, stormwater, sewer, bridges, and other infrastructure that has raised the quality of life. There’s been a lot of building. We’ve persevered through a global pandemic, while diversifying our tax base and revitalizing the city, adding new housing that is welcoming new neighbors, who are then in turn supporting our flourishing business community.

It’s evident with our bustling cafes and vibrant, busy sidewalks — our little city is growing up.

Because of that hard work,

we are fortunate to be on solid financial footing. Instead of raising taxes to pay for everything, we’ve actually lowered our taxes ahead of schedule and still have more than healthy reserves that we started deploying to meet the community’s needs. That hard work also affords us the opportunity to make investments in the future and keep balancing our responsibility to taxpayers.

And as our city grows up, we need to make those investments internally and externally.

One of many things I’ve learned from my years in the business world is that you don’t wait for a crisis to make your business more robust. As our city grows up, we can be more well managed — from improving both internal and customer facing processes so we keep offering excellent little city services, to developing/tracking/ measuring our progress against goals via metrics so we can celebrate successes, to growing and developing talent in our workforce with fulfilling jobs to better serve our community, and succession planning across the city so we’re planning not just for the here and now.

For the community — let’s reflect on our values as a community and decide how we will leave the city better for the next generation. Let’s live up to our welcoming, green, progressive values — if we strive for greater racial, socioeconomic, and generational diversity — we need to make room at the table. If we want to be more walkable/bikeable, sustainable city, it requires real investments towards that

future. And we should be realistic — there will need need to be some hard tradeoffs, not to mention time and patience to keep evolving from a car oriented 1940s suburb.

And above all, as we work towards a more equitable city for future generations, let’s remember it shouldn’t be based on luck or privilege or just because you’ve made it in.

On that note — I have been so fortunate to have learned and worked with various Councils in the past eight years, all with an amazing level of dedication, professional expertise, and passion. As I think about what helped us be successful as a team — it centered around one thing: positive intent.

And that starts with us.

I ask that the community and this body do our best to grant each other the assumption of positive intent. We are all up here because we truly love Falls Church and are dedicated to improving it. We need to remember that we bring a good complement of perspectives and skills. And when harnessed, we can be the most effective together.

How we act up here sets the tone for collaborative discussions with each other and among the community. People are watching us. We should model the behavior we want to see.

I remain anchored in the belief that we may not always agree — which is actually healthy — but if we stick to facts and civil debates to policy and share our thinking along the way, we can respect each oth -

er’s positions. And even if those positions may be different when it comes time for a vote, we can still unify around the outcome.

And here’s my commitment. I will keep doing the Letty things that you’ve come to expect:

You have my commitment to make local government transparent and accessible — whether that’s with my blog that I’ve kept up for over eight years, regular office hours, and keep putting in the work and time in building relationships in the community with residents, businesses, and our neighbors.

You have my commitment that I’ll keep learning from others and being thoughtful about every vote I cast — doing my homework, asking questions, and seeking out the voices we don’t traditionally hear from.

You’ll also see us sharing the responsibilities of mayor and doing some things differently. We each have a vote and a voice. And to that end — I’m committed to a more egalitarian City Council and moving forward as a team, in collaboration with our School Board, Planning Commission, and our other boards and commissions and the community.

Again, I’m grateful for the opportunity to serve Falls Church in this hallmark 75th year. Thank you for entrusting us with the responsibility. We have steadily delivered real results across the City and laid the groundwork for more progress ahead — and I remain optimistic about our future. I look forward to working with my colleagues in moving the city forward. Let’s get back to work.

Contact: Sue Johnson • sjohnson@fcnp.com • 703-587-1282 January 18th Issue Have a School or Camp You Want to Promote? Summer Early Childhood Aftercare programs Bilingual and TESOL Online A hot bowl of pho at Eden Center. Voted best shopping center in the DMV!

Senior Living Pages 9-12

Why Some Seniors Are Choosing Pot Over Pills

Seniors are one of the fastestgrowing populations of cannabis users in the United States. While some older adults have used pot for decades, studies suggest that others are turning to the drug for the first time to help them sleep better, dampen pain or treat anxiety — especially when prescription drugs, which often come with unwanted side effects, don’t work as intended.

In 2007, only about 0.4 percent of people age 65 and older in the United States had reported using cannabis in the past year, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. That number rose to almost 3 percent by

2016. As of 2022, it was at more than 8 percent.

Nancy Herring, 76, has been using cannabis recreationally for her entire adult life; she describes herself as “one of the hippies from the ’60s.” But it wasn’t until her husband was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and dementia two years ago that she began to wonder about pot’s medicinal use.

During the course of his illness, her husband, now 79, had developed insomnia. Soon, neither of them was sleeping.

Doctors prescribed pills to help him rest, but “nothing really worked,” she said. At one point, he reacted so negatively to a medicine, he ended up in the hospital.

Then they tried an indica strain from a dispensary near where they

live in Clearwater, Florida. Now, after one gummy and a hit on a pipe, her husband “can sleep at night, which is a huge thing,” she said.

Marijuana’s medicinal properties have not been well-studied, particularly among older users, making it difficult for doctors to counsel their patients on the benefits and risks. Cannabis companies have rushed to fill the void, offering tips to older adults about doses or formulations and even creating products meant to appeal to them. Meanwhile, as more seniors experiment with cannabis, they are evangelizing to one another about its benefits and sharing the problems they’ve encountered along the way.

“People are just desperate,”

said Dr. Aaron Greenstein, a geriatric psychiatrist in Denver. “They’re willing to try anything.”

When his own grandmother became convinced that she was reliving the Holocaust during the later stages of her dementia, taking a dissolvable strip with a small amount of THC — the psychoactive component in marijuana — put an end to her flashbacks and helped her feel at peace.

“I have had dozens of patients who tell me that it has cured their various ailments,” said Dr. Haley Solomon, a geriatric psychiatrist in San Diego who, along with Greenstein, has written about the promise and risks of seniors using cannabis. “I think that it’s really important to listen to them, to acknowledge that and then to

study it further.”

Older adults need to be aware of potential drug interactions, she added, and also consider how cannabis can affect cognition, coordination and balance.

‘Medicine isn’t working.’

Without a North Star guiding older adults on how to use cannabis, there is a grassroots effort among some seniors to teach one another.

Carminetta Verner, 88, has become the go-to source for cannabis information at her retirement community, the sprawling Leisure World complex in Montgomery County, Maryland, which houses

Continued on Page 12

11 - 17, 2024 |

A Looming Crisis: Millennials Caring For Aging Parents SENIORS

As the largest generation in the U.S. workforce, millennials have been dissected in numerous ways, from spending habits to work preferences. With baby boomers reaching their golden years, the challenge of caring for aging parents is becoming acutely pressing for millennials.

To understand the scale of the issue, it’s essential to grasp the demographics involved. As of the last reliable data, there were approximately 72 million baby boomers in the U.S., born between 1946 and 1964. Millennials, born between 1981 and 1996, comprise roughly 73 million Americans. By 2030, all boomers, and over 70 million Americans in total, will be ages 65 and older. This represents an at least 25 percent increase in the number of senior citizens — in just over five years.

The vast majority — 88 percent, according to a Capital Caring Health survey — of older adults plan to age in place, remaining in their homes, connected to their communities, and close to their family and friends. Independence and

autonomy is essential to promoting optimal health outcomes and enhanced quality of life — and having a sense of purpose and control contribute to improved well-being, promoting optimal health outcomes and longevity.

Caring for aging parents is not just an emotional challenge; it’s a financial strain as well. Costs associated with elderly care can be substantial, varying greatly depending on the level of assistance required.

As people age, they are more likely to develop chronic physical health conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, arthritis, heart disease, and osteoporosis — as well as cognitive decline and neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s and dementia. Managing these complex conditions often require regular doctor visits and diagnostic tests, medications, specialized treatments or surgeries, and supportive care. As aging advances, expensive medical equipment including walkers and stair lifts may be necessary — and not entirely covered by insurance. Older adults are also more susceptible to dangerous falls and medical emergencies requiring immediate (and costly) interventions, including

hospitalization, surgery, and intensive care.

Despite initial costs involved, taking proactive measures is a wise investment — and the best way to mitigate future financial stress. Most medical conditions, when identified early and addressed promptly, can be managed effectively through medication and lifestyle modifications, reducing the costly risk of complications and more extensive future treatments. Preventive screenings and vaccinations, making behavioral changes to manage or prevent the onset of chronic conditions, and maintaining physical and mental well-being all contribute to a better quality of life and reduced risk of health problems, allowing seniors to enjoy more fulfilling and active golden years.

Most insurance plans typically cover preventive services and screenings at little or no cost — leveraging these benefits is a great way to reduce future costs. Even Medicare does not cover all services, though, so Medigap or supplemental insurance policies may be necessary to fill coverage gaps.

Home modifications are often the first step toward accommodat-

ing aging in place. Installing ramps, grab bars, stair lifts, and even walk-in bathtubs can reduce the risk of falls, and allow seniors to enjoy more autonomy. As aging advances, hiring a caregiver can delay the need for seniors to move into a facility, and provide a welcome respite for family members.

For seniors who require more extensive care — but do not require constant medical care — assisted living facilities can provide additional benefit. Though the transition from independent living can take some adjustment, these facilities are designed to enhance the quality of life for seniors. 24-hour staff support and security, maintenance-free living, and nutritious meals ensure that seniors are safe and supported, and in-house socialization reduces feelings of isolation and loneliness. The structured environment provides daily routines to promote engagement and fulfillment for residents, enhancing mental and emotional well-being and providing a sense of belonging and community. As aging advances, assistance with ADLs (activities of daily living) such as bathing, dressing, grooming, and medication management pro-

vides seniors with a sense of dignity. Nursing homes provide a higher level of care and support, designed for seniors who have more complex medical needs, chronic illnesses, mobility limitations, or cognitive impairments that require ongoing medical supervision, skilled nursing care, and more advanced assistance with ADLs.

As the senior population continues to grow, demand for elderly care services will increase exponentially. It’s crucial for millennials to plan ahead and consider their options carefully. Saving and investing early to prepare for potential costs is recommended, as is considering long-term care insurance or other financial products. Becoming familiar with available local resources and services, and attending seminars on aging and caregiving, can further prepare one for the future.

Perhaps most importantly for millennials facing this challenge, communicating with aging parents may reduce friction — and perhaps even improve health outcomes — by ensuring that they make choices along the way, guiding their own care based on their preferences.

JANUARY 11 - 17, 2024 | PAGE 11

Pot Companies Are Capitalizing On Seniors Newfound Interest

and older think the use of marijuana should be legal.

about 8,000 older adults.

In 2018, she founded a club devoted to educating residents about medical cannabis. The club’s membership, which has now grown to about 100 people, might be higher if it weren’t for the stigma still associated with the drug, Verner said.

“There are a lot of people up here that are suffering and in pain, and medicine isn’t working for them,” she said.

Damien Cornwell, owner of a dispensary in Binghamton, New York, that opened in February, said his business has attracted customers who are “seeking relief they can’t find at the doctor’s office.” They have ailments such as rheumatoid arthritis, anxiety and insomnia, he said.

As more states legalize cannabis — it is now permitted for recreational use in more than 20 states and Washington, D.C., and for medical use in 38 states and D.C. — the number of seniors who turn to marijuana will only continue to grow, experts said. An October Gallup Poll found that about two-thirds of adults age 55

Cannabis brands are courting seniors.

Steve Hickerson, who lives in Laguna Woods, California, wants to sleep better.

He used cannabis sublingual drops but said they didn’t help, so he’s trying gummies, “which seem to work much better.” In the past, he felt using mind-altering drugs was morally wrong — “I’m a Christian,” he explained — but now, he said, “I’m 79. Things are different.” He is willing to explore products that have a medical use.

Companies are capitalizing on the newfound interest. Earlier this year, Hickerson was bused to an event organized by Glass House, one of the biggest cannabis brands in the country, along with about 50 other people from his retirement community who were offered cannabis products at a substantial discount.

The company Trulieve, which has the largest retail footprint for cannabis products in the United States and a 750,000-square-foot cannabis cultivation facility in north Florida,

is also connecting with older people through educational sessions at senior living communities.

Kim Rivers, co-founder and CEO of Trulieve, said its “wisdom” customers — those 55 and older — are growing year over year. In Florida, she added, these adults represent 20 percent of their customer base.

Bristol Extracts, which manufactures cannabis in New York, has created a brand called Senior Moments — a collection of tinctures, gummies and mints that debuted in March.


UP A LITTLE!” proclaims the company’s website. “Growing older doesn’t have to be mundane.”

The brand’s edibles also have ingredients like ginkgo biloba that are advertised as supporting “memory and mood.” Soon the line will include body balms and gummies that function as both a sleep aid and an aphrodisiac, said Eric Blazak, the company’s founder and CEO.

What should older people know about cannabis?

Because cannabis is not federally legal, doctors don’t have enough

research to guide them on what conditions it is helpful for, who might be at higher risk for potential harms, how to dose it properly or which strains to recommend, said Dr. Benjamin Han, an addiction medicine specialist at the University of California, San Diego, and one of the few geriatricians in the United States who studies older adults and substance use.

“What makes it even more complicated is, cannabis is a very complex plant,” he added, and there are more than 100 cannabinoids — the biologically active components in the cannabis plant — as well as products with different ratios of THC to cannabidiol, or CBD.

— Start low and slow. If a patient wants to try cannabis products containing THC, Han recommends starting at a low dose (generally 1 milligram to 2.5 milligrams) and then “give it one week” before making the decision to increase it.

Taking too many edibles can cause dizziness, confusion, changes in heart rate and blood pressure, panic attacks, anxiety, nausea, vomiting, and can even land some people in the emergency room.

— Discuss the risks and benefits

with your doctor. “It’s important to talk with a clinician or health provider, especially if you’re using it for medical reasons to treat chronic disease or chronic symptoms,” Han said.

Cannabis can interact with certain medications, like warfarin, a drug used to treat blood clots. And seniors who take sedative-hypnotics like Ambien or benzodiazepines like Xanax — or who drink alcohol — should consider avoiding cannabis, Solomon said, because when paired with those drugs, it can cause dizziness and confusion and make seniors more susceptible to falls and injuries.

And smoking cannabis can trigger respiratory symptoms in those with chronic lung disease, Han added.

— Educate yourself. Verner recommended going to licensed dispensaries that sell products that have been tested by a third party. Familiarize yourself with state regulations, too, she said.

“You just need to educate yourself, not be afraid of things — learn for yourself,” Verner said. “You need to know what may work for you — and you go from there.”

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Community News & Notes

Mary Riley Styles Public Library Announces 125th Anniversary Open House

Mary Riley Styles Public Library (MRSPL, 120 N. Virginia Ave., Falls Church) announced that they will hold an Open House on Saturday, January 13, from 11:00 a.m. — 2:00 p.m., to kick off a year long celebration of its 125-year anniversary.

“We’re honored to share this anniversary with our library patrons,” said MRSPL Acting Director Marshall Webster. “The library has a long, rich history and continues to be the heart of the City of Falls Church. We’re looking forward to seeing community members at our open house and we’ll continue a year of celebration at the library with special programming.”

Registration is requested for the 1:00 p.m. Kick-Off Ceremony, which includes a reading of the 125th Anniversary Proclamation, an unveiling of a new portrait of the library’s namesake, Mary Riley Styles, and remarks from the Acting Library Director, members of the Library Board, and a representative from the MRSPL Foundation.

Registration is not needed for the 11:00 a.m. Birthday Party Story Time for children 2 to 11 years old, which is in honor of Mary Riley Styles, who was born in January 1869. The Open House includes light refreshments like candies that were popular in 1899. Attendees will have the opportunity to learn more about the library’s history, view books

from the library’s original collection, and visit the Falls Church History Room.

Parking is free in the Kaiser Permanente Garage (201 N. Washington St., Falls Church), which is a short, two-block walk to the library. Limited street parking is also available.

English and Citizenship Classes: Registration Deadline January 11

Today (Thursday, January 11), is the last chance for in-person registration for English and citizenship classes at St. Mark Catholic Church’s school (9972 Vale Rd., Vienna, VA). New students must come to St. Mark’s on January 11 between the hours of 7:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. to take a 60-minute placement test. The classes take place on Tuesdays and Thursdays, January 16 through May 2. English classes are 8:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., and registration is $25, plus $15 or $20 for the book, depending on level. Conversation, Writing and Citizenship classes are 7:00 p.m. to 7:45 p.m., and registration is $10 plus the cost of the book.

Little City Concerts Announces Second Concert January 20

On Saturday, January 20, Little City Concerts will present soprano Celine Mogielnicki and pianist Tatiana Loisha performing “SPEAK,” a program for voice and piano inspired by voices con-

nected to the LGBTQ+ community. The program will include the premiere of Stephen Gorbos’s “Whitman Fragments,” along with works by Marlene Dietrich/ Friedrich Hollander, Aaron Copland, Julius Eastman, and Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. 50 percent of all ticket sales will be donated to SMYAL, a nonprofit that supports and empowers LGBTQ+ youth in the D.C. region. The performance will be at 7:30 p.m. at The Falls Church Episcopal (166 E. Broad St., Falls Church). General admission is $20, or free for students and youth. For more or to buy tickets, visit littlecityconcerts.org.

Goodwin Living Launches Employee Student Loan Repayment Program

Goodwin Living, a local, faithbased, not-for-profit senior living and healthcare services organization, has launched a new Student Loan Repayment Program, offering clinical team members up to $5,250 in loan repayment annually with no lifetime cap. The program aims to increase retention in the field of senior living, address the challenges of income and inflation as professionals pay back their loans, and promote senior care as a viable long-term career path.

As the population continues to age and the healthcare industry addresses staffing shortages across service lines, Goodwin Living recognized they needed to support not only their current team members, but the clinical talent pipeline for years to come. In addition, the program looks to address the senior healthcare staffing shortage. The baby boomer generation is rapidly aging and has significant needs in the healthcare space that the industry is not equipped to staff. Currently, there is about one nurse for every 18 older adults in the DMV area.

“My first thought process when finding out that Goodwin Living was helping with student loan repayment was excitement and gratitude,” said Olivia Muro, a Goodwin Living physical therapist. “It validated my decision to work here at Goodwin Living.” Olivia is one of the clinical team members at Goodwin Living who will apply for the student loan repayment program.

Chesapeake Bay Commission Welcomes Virginia Leadership

Delegate David Bulova, who represents part of Fairfax County and the City of Fairfax in the Virginia House of Delegates (District 11) and is Chair of the House General Laws Committee, has been elected to chair the tri-state Chesapeake Bay Commission for 2024.

As Chairman, Bulova will oversee the policy making efforts of the 21-member Commission, whose members are Senators and House members from Maryland, Virginia, and Pennsylvania, along with heads of the natural resources agencies, and a prominent citizen member, from each member state.

Bulova takes over leadership from Pennsylvania Senator Scott Martin, who represents District 13 consisting of Lancaster and Berks Counties and is Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

As he took over the gavel, Bulova announced his intent to have the Commission sharpen its focus on strengthening the Bay Partnership and paving the path forward for beyond 2025. He stressed the need for Commissioners to serve as champions for the Chesapeake Bay in their respective chambers.

“The Commission plays a unique role by fostering relationships among our three states. Our relationships are crucial as we come together to shape the future of Bay restoration. None of us can do this alone. I am honored to work with my fellow Commissioners who are all dedicated to ensuring future generations can enjoy the national treasure that is the Chesapeake Bay,” stated Bulova.

Added Senator Martin, “The past year has included a great deal of work to protect the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries, and I am proud of all we have achieved by working together in a bipartisan manner for the goal of clean water in our communities. I look forward to the Commission maintaining that spirit of cooperation with Delegate Bulova as Chair in 2024.”

NVLAA Announces Seven Free Workshops for Artists and Arts Organizations

The alliance known as the Northern Virginia Local Arts

Agencies (NVLAA) announced seven free workshops for artists and arts organizations throughout the region. The 2024 professional development offerings will cover topics such as gallery and agent representation, cultural intelligence, arts marketing insights, creating content in a digital world, and more.

Created to make professional development learning more accessible and equitable in Northern Virginia, NVLAA is comprised of staff from Alexandria Office of the Arts, Arlington Cultural Affairs, and ArtsFairfax. The goals of the collective are to share resources and offer local artists and arts organizations a series of free workshops and opportunities for networking.

The NVLAA 2024 Workshops are “Inside Representation: Paths to Working with Dealers and Agents” on January 18, “Cultural Intelligence for Arts Organizations & Artists” on February 8, “Nailing the Application: A Guide to Artist Open Calls” on February 22, “Promotional Partnerships: Creative Ways to Attract New Audiences” on March 7, “Marketing Tools of the Trade” on March 21, “Creating Content in a Digital World” on April 4, and “Community Engagement” on May 2.

All workshops are available for free and require advance registration. To register or learn more, visit eventbrite.com/cc/northern-virginialocal-arts-2024-workshops-2824779.

JANUARY 11 - 17, 2024 | PAGE 13
DELEGATE MARCUS Simon (D-Falls Church), hosted a “Road to Richmond” event at NVAR in Fairfax last week. (News-Press photo) STATE SENATOR Saddam Salim (D-Falls Church) held his own “Road to Richmond” event at Clare and Don’s last Saturday (News-Press Photo)



Chamber Networking Breakfast

Stop by for an informal gathering to meet fellow Chamber members. No agenda and no cost other than the cost of your breakfast. The Original Pancake House (7395 Lee Hwy., Falls Church), 8:00 a.m. — 9:00 a.m.

High School Curriculum Info Night

An evening session for all parents and guardians of rising grades 9-12 students. Meridian High School combines a traditional High School Curriculum Info Night with an International Baccalaureate Diploma Program / Career Related Program Night. Department teacher leaders will review curriculum and participate in a Q&A session, school counselors will review types of Virginia diplomas and transcripts and participate in a Q&A session, and the I.B. diploma program coordinator and I.B. career-related program coordinator will review both programs. Meridian High School (121 Mustang Alley, Auditorium, Falls Church), 7:00 p.m.

Board of Equalization Case Hearing

The F.C. Board of Equalization hears case appeals 015-23AB and 031-23AB. City Hall (300 Park Ave., Laurel Room, Falls Church), 4:00 p.m. — 6:00 p.m.


Oak Street

Principal Coffee

Oak Street Elementary School principal Karim Daugherty hosts a "Principal Coffee" for parents to learn more about the school's special services team. Oak Street Elementary School (601 S. Oak St., Falls Church), 9:30 a.m. — 10:30 a.m.

Ukulele Baby Lap Time

For ages 0-24 months with a caregiver, older siblings are welcome. Join Ms. Ingrid Christina for a short lapsit with a story, songs on the ukulele, and rhymes. Stay and play with toys designed just for babies and mingle with other families. Mary Riley Styles Public Library (120 N. Virginia Ave., Lower Level Conf. Rm., Falls Church), 10:30 a.m. — 11:00 a.m.

44th International Saxophone Symposium

The 44th International Saxophone Symposium, hosted by the U.S. Navy Band, features over 150 performances, masterclasses and lectures designed for musicians of all ages. The event is open to the public and no tickets are required. GMU Center for the Arts (4373 Mason Pond Dr., Fairfax, VA), 12:00 p.m.

Hail! Hail! Rock 'n' Roll Tribute to Chuck Berry

"Hail! Hail! Rock 'n' Roll," a tribute to Chuck Berry. Part of Cauldron's "Passport to the World of Music Festival," weekends through February

3. Tickets at creativecauldron.org. Creative Cauldron (410 S. Maple Ave., Falls Church), 7:30 p.m.


MRSPL 125th Anniversary Kick-Off

Help kick off a year of celebration for the 125th Anniversary of the Mary Riley Styles Public Library with an open house, a special Birthday Party Story Time at 11:00 a.m. (for children ages 2-11), and a brief ceremony at 1:00 p.m. including the reading of a proclamation, unveiling of a portrait, and remarks from Library leadership. No RSVP is required for the open house or story time, but free registration for the ceremony is requested at mrspl. org. Mary Riley Styles Public

Library (120 N. Virginia Ave., Upper Floor Conf. Rm., Falls Church), 11:00 a.m. — 2:00 p.m.


Winter Open House

While celebrating the holidays together, did you notice that Mom or Dad needs extra help? Let Chesterbrook Residences help you answer the question, "Does my loved one need assisted living?" With an open house and community tour, light refreshments, and special giveaways. Don't wait for a power outage or a fall on the ice before you explore your options! Free to attend. Chesterbrook Residences (2030 Westmoreland St., Falls Church), 1:00 p.m. — 3:00 p.m.

Memorial Service for Carol DeLong

Memorial service for former F.C. Mayor Carol DeLong. Falls Church Presbyterian (225 E. Broad St., Falls Church), 3:00 p.m.

The Black Experience & The American Dream

Michael Steele made history as the first Black chairperson of the Republican National Committee. Steele brings his perspective to engage in a dialogue about the Black experience in the context of the American Dream, unflinchingly taking on hardhitting topics. $30 tickets available at mcleancenter.org. The Alden Theatre (1234 Ingleside Ave., McLean, VA), 4:00 p.m.

And That's Why We Drink

The "And That's Why We Drink" podcast performs a live show for their "On The Rocks Tour." Tickets at thelincolndc.com. Lincoln Theatre (1215 U St. NW, Washington, DC), 7:00 p.m.

Opening Reception: "Music to My Eyes"

49 pieces from 29 artists go on display as "Music to My

PAGE 14 | JANUARY 11 - 17, 2024
ALISON CROCKETT highlights Nat King Cole's well- and lesserknown songs at Creative Cauldron on Sunday (Courtesy Photo)


Eyes," a new FCA exhibit with artwork inspired by music. The Juror's Choice Award will be announced during the evening, and artists will be on hand to answer questions about their inspiration and process. Reception is free and open to the public. Falls Church Arts (700-B W. Broad St., Falls Church), 7:00 p.m. — 9:00 p.m.

A Tribute to the Everly Brothers

Newmyer Flyer presents "A Tribute to the Everly Brothers." Part of Cauldron's "Passport to the World of Music Festival," weekends through February 3. Tickets at creativecauldron.org. Creative Cauldron (410 S. Maple Ave., Falls Church), 7:30 p.m.

U.S. Navy Band Commodores

The U.S. Navy Band Commodores perform a free concert with special guest Lucas Pino. The event is open to the public and no tickets are required. GMU Center for the Arts (4373 Mason Pond Dr., Fairfax, VA), 8:00 p.m.



Music of the Civil Rights Movement

For all ages. As a singer/songwriter/ guitarist/storyteller and activist Calvin Earl highlights our collective human story with music intending to bring us to a better understanding of who we are, in the context of our American story. Join in an uplifting class on the music of the Civil Rights Movement and beyond. Change is inevitable. Music helps us though that change and helps us together imagine our lives beyond who we are and what we know, into who we will become. The Alden Theatre (1234 Ingleside Ave., McLean, VA), 4:00 p.m.

No Agenda

LGBTQ+ Happy Hour

LGBTQ+ Falls Church and NOVA Pride co-host a fun, no-agenda networking event. Come socialize with your

neighbors in an LGBTQ+ welcoming space! Clare and Don's Beach Shack (130 N. Washington St., Falls Church), 6:00 p.m.

Shenandoah Run

Shenandoah Run performs. Part of Cauldron's "Passport to the World of Music Festival," weekends through February 3. Tickets at creativecauldron.org. Creative Cauldron (410 S. Maple Ave., Falls Church), 7:30 p.m.

The Other Side of Nat King Cole

Alison Crockett highlights some of Nat King Cole's well- and lesser-known songs, featuring some of the area's finest jazz musicians. Part of Cauldron's "Passport to the World of Music Festival," weekends through February 3. Tickets at creativecauldron.org. Creative Cauldron (410 S. Maple Ave., Falls Church), 7:30 p.m.


Holiday Closures

Falls Church City Government and Mary Riley Styles Public Library are closed. Community Center is open. Throughout Falls Church (City Buildings, Falls Church), all day.

Daytime Art Critique Group

Join creative artists in a monthly discussion and critique group. Bring a piece of art you'd like feedback on, and FCA's community of artists will share their thoughts. Open to all and free to attend, even if you don't have a piece to share this time. For questions, email info@ fallschurcharts.org. Falls Church Arts (700-B W. Broad St., Falls Church), 12:00 p.m. — 2:00 p.m.

Let Freedom Ring Celebration

Celebrate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with a free, ticketed musical trib -

ute featuring Jordin Sparks, Nolan Williams Jr., and Cecile McLorin Salvant. Ticket giveaway begins at 4:00 p.m. in the Hall of Nations and will be limited to two tickets per person. For more information, visit kennedy-center. org. Kennedy Center Millennium Stage (2700 F St. NW, Washington, DC), 6:00 p.m.


Chamber Networking Luncheon

Monthly networking opportunity over lunch. Meet other Greater Falls Church Chamber of Commerce members, community members, business owners, and civic leaders to enjoy an informative presentation and a delicious meal. $30 tickets ($35 for nonmembers, $5 walk-in fee) include your meal, available at fallschurchchamber.org. Italian Café (7161 Langston Blvd., Falls Church), 11:30 a.m. — 1:15 p.m.

Board of Equalization Case Hearing

The F.C. Board of Equalization hears case appeals 022-23AB, 023-23AB, and 024-23AB. City Hall (300 Park Ave., Laurel Room, Falls Church), 4:00 p.m. — 6:00 p.m.

City Council Work Session

City Council Work Sessions are held the first and third Monday each month, with the exception of August and December when only one meeting is held. These meetings are open to the public and conducted to allow council members to discuss upcoming legislation and policy issues; the public is not generally invited to speak. Watch the meeting live or on-demand at fallschurchva.gov/CouncilMeetings or on FCCTV (Cox 11, RCN 2, Verizon 35). City Hall (300 Park Ave., Dogwood A-B, Falls Church), 7:30 p.m. — 11:00 p.m.

That's What Friends Are For

The incomparable Nova Y. Payton sings the repertoire of acclaimed tunesmith Burt Bacharach, whose six-decade career produced the hit musical "Promises, Promises" as well as chart-topping pop songs. Signature Theatre (3200 Campbell Ave., Arlington, VA), 7:30 p.m.


Board of Equalization Case Hearing

The F.C. Board of Equalization

hears case appeal 029-23AB. City Hall (300 Park Ave., Laurel Room, Falls Church), 4:00 p.m. — 6:00 p.m.

FCCAC Elections & Annual Meeting

The Falls Church Cable Access Corporation (FCCAC) holds their Annual Meeting and board of directors elections. Meridian High School (121 Mustang Alley, Daniel M. Arons Memorial Studio, Falls Church), 6:30 p.m.

Public Utilities Commission Meeting

Public Utilities Commission meets. City Hall (300 Park Ave., Laurel Room, Falls Church), 7:00 p.m. — 9:00 p.m.

Planning Commission Meeting

Planning Commission meets. City Hall (300 Park Ave., Council Chambers/ Court Room, Falls Church), 7:30 p.m. — 10:00 p.m.

Urban Forestry Commission Meeting

Urban Forestry Commission meets. City Hall (300 Park Ave., Dogwood A-B, Falls Church), 7:30 p.m. — 9:00 p.m.

JENNIFER MURPHY'S work, "Einstein and His Violin," part of the "Music to My Eyes" exhibit, on display in the Gallery at Falls Church Arts through February 25. (Courtesy Photo)

The LGBTQ+ Reach

response). They say “They’re too young to know.”

Falls Church Business News & Notes

Too Young to Know

When I was a pre-teen, I first encountered rumors of what puberty would bring, physically and mentally, and for the first time really heard and learned “gay, lesbian, and bisexual” as actual terms. I quickly realized I was gay, finally able to identify the part of myself that was so fundamentally different from the other boys.

When I was 13 or 14 years old, I remember a minivan ride with my mother, where I floated the story of “another” student that had recently come out as bisexual. I remember her quickly saying something along the lines of “they’re too young to know their sexuality.” I vividly remember determining from that conversation that we weren’t ready to discuss my newfound identity.

I kept my sexuality a secret for a couple years, then in the eighth grade decided I needed to confide in a friend. Like many in my generation, I told my friend that I was bisexual — thinking being bi would be more acceptable than being gay, but still at least included that I was attracted to men — which may sound silly, but made perfect sense at the time (the social climate of kids towards homosexuality at that time was pretty universally hostile, whether through teasing or aggression). That person, as teenagers do when provided with a juicy bit of gossip, told several other friends — and it became the “worst-kept secret” at school — though by then I’d finally settled at Woodson H.S. in Fairfax, where homosexuality was still taboo, but far less hostile than all the other schools I’d attended.

I didn’t tell my parents. I was pretty certain they were at least somewhat aware, and figured they’d ultimately still love me, but I didn’t want to go through whatever coming out to them entailed, having heard stories about parents disowning their gay children, trying to convert them, or antagonizing them. Ultimately, when I came back from college for the holidays, my parents finally asked me — and quickly said “we know, and we don’t care.” It turned out that they had gone to their first PFLAG (Parents, Friends, and Family of Lesbians and Gays) meeting around the time of that minivan ride years ago. PFLAG told them, essentially, to let me decide when to come out. I still think that ripping the band-aid off would have saved a lot of heartache, but PFLAG was likely used to dealing with a much less accepting set of parents than my own.

They Don’t Just Know. They Just Are.

I’ve seen a lot of folks who are generally LGBTQ+ accepting, or like to think they are, reacting to Trans youth in a similar way to that first conversation I had with my mother (who was, to be fair, caught off-guard, driving on Rolling Rd. to McDonald’s, without time to analyze her

“They’re too young to know” is a bargaining tool used to delay the conversation. “They’re too young to know” indicates hope that a kid may still turn out “normal.”

The paths of each LGBTQ+ person toward self-identification are unique, and it is unwise to assume too many parallels — family, community, friends, neighbors, media, religion, just about every conversation they have about sex or gender, their own personalities, and even their physiologies all contribute in part to the time and manner in which a queer person comes out — but as society has become more accepting, more data has been gathered, so there are some things we do know.

In October 2019 PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences), a peer-reviewed scientific journal, published the largest study of Trans children (at the time) — 317 Trans children (ages 3-12), 189 cisgender siblings, and 316 unrelated cisgender children were included in the study. The trans kids had all “socially” transitioned — living as the gender they identify with. The study can be found at bit.ly/Transstudy (case-sensitive).

This study found that, by their third birthdays, nearly all cisgender children label their gender according to their assigned sex. Strong preference for samegender playmates, gender-typed clothing, and other stereotypical preferences and behaviors are also seen by age three. By five years old, most believe their gender will remain the same in adulthood. For the Trans children, strong alignment with their gender identify (not their birth sex) was observed across all the same measures.

The findings suggest that “early sex assignment and parental rearing based on that sex assignment do not always define how a child identifies or expresses gender later” — that preventing a child from socially transitioning doesn’t change whether they are Trans, nor does allowing them to use pronouns, wear clothes, participate in sports, or use bathrooms according to their gender identity.

What does differ, as shown by the Trevor Project and other groups, are the mental health outcomes based on whether the Trans child is allowed to socially transition. Suicide attempts increased 75 percent for Trans youth whose pronouns were not respected at home, 40 percent for Trans youth who had no gender-neutral bathrooms at school, and 82 percent for Trans youth who were unable to wear genderaffirming clothing (including chest binders and shapewear).

When a child tells you who they are, believe them and respect them as-is. They will end up however they are regardless of your reaction, but they (and you) will be much better off when their identities are validated. Trans youth deserve to live as-is in a safe and loving environment, whether at home, at school, or out in public.

Mobile Apps: How to plan, Execute & Launch

The Virginia Small Business Development Center is holding a free online bootcamp on mobile aps, Tuesday, January 16, 12:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. It will cover how to determine if your small business will benefit from a mobile app, and the next steps to take to deploy and market to the app stores. The session covers market research, app scoping, finding a developer, building a prototype, launching and promoting the app. The session will be led by Cameron Nelson, who has helped Fortune 500 companies improve their digital marketing and eCommerce and founded several tech firms. The link will be shared upon registration at clients.virginiasbdc.org/workshop.aspx?ekey=900440004.

New Compass Coffee Update

The Shops at West Falls Church may have a new coffee shop, Compass Coffee, by spring. Originally set to open in the summer of 2023, construction has now begun on the former BB&T bank building. This will be the company’s second drive-thru and the first in Fairfax County. There are currently 16 cafes selling breakfast sandwiches and pastries.

New Restaurants at Eden Center

Several new businesses recently opened at Eden Center, and another will open later in the year. Mia & More features 12 flavors of sugarcane juice and offers smoothies and snacks. Crabby Noodles restaurant opened last month, specializing in pho and seafood. Truong Tien opened a few months ago and features traditional Hue royal cuisine. In the third quarter, the Pop Up District expects to open as a food hall with a number of vendors on a three year lease and two revolving spaces that will be open for three to ten days. These are expected to attract young entrepreneurs who aren’t yet able to sign long-term leases. The Pop Up District will extend its hours to midnight during the week and 2:00 a.m. on weekends to attract a younger crowd.

NVTA Annual Organizational Meeting

The Northern Virginia Transportation Authority (NVTA) invites the public to provide feedback on the focus areas of traffic congestion it would like addressed. The deadline to register to speak in-person or virtually is 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday, January 10 and all registrants will be given 3 minutes to comment. Register at docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSdZKjJzYrJUdd rSwDlMG8KGjuoLT1MMYSbdiarWJ4U4_iy14g/viewform. The Authority’s regularly scheduled monthly business meeting will immediately follow the Organizational Meeting and both will be live streamed to NVTA’s YouTube Channel.

Nominations Open for Employers

Commuter Connections has opened its annual Employer Recognition Awards in the Washington, DC metropolitan region for those who offer outstanding commuter benefits and/or telework programs to mitigate traffic congestion and reduce auto emissions. Commuter Connections encourages and assists area businesses and their employees with the adoption of alternative commuting methods such as transit, teleworking, carpooling/vanpooling, and bicycling/walking. The winners are selected on the basis of measurable benefits and policies that improve the lives of their employees. Nominations are due by January 31 and may be submitted at commuterconnections.org/employer-recognition-awards/.

 Business News & Notes is compiled by Elise Neil Bengtson, Executive Director of the Greater Falls Church Chamber of Commerce. She may be emailed at elise@fallschurchchamber.org.

by Brian Reach Falls Church News-Press
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Falls Church School News & Notes

I.B. DIPLOMAS were given to 44 students from the class of 2023 in a ceremony and panel discussion at Meridian High School on January 5. (Photo: Marybeth Connelly) THOMAS JEFFERSON High School for Science Technology student Sophia Lin, who lives in Falls Church won the Gertrude S. Brown Memorial Concerto Competition on January 7. (Photo: Fei Zhang) FIRST GRADERS at Mount Daniels Elementary School got back into the swing of things during morning meeting time, set aside to help transition students back to a learning environment. (Photo: Emily Conrad) STUDENTS CREATED games to dive deeper into their World Religion Unit at MEHMS in December. (Photo: Jaime Osborn) 7TH GRADERS held elections for a Creative Election Project, meant to spark civic engagement in December. (Photo: Jeff Buck) MARY ELLEN Henderson Middle School held a Hair Salon and Pie Face to raise food insecurity awareness. (Photo: Chrissy Henderson)
Check out the full stories on the FCNP website! www.fcnp.com
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