Falls Church News-Press 2-22-2024

Page 1

February 22 - 28, 2024

Falls Church, Virginia • w w w . fc n p . c o m • Free

Founded 1991 • Vol. XXXIV No. 2

The City of Falls Church’s Independent, Locally-Owned Newspaper of Record, Serving N. Virginia

F.C. Population STILL DANCING Expected to Rise by 23% Next Decade Demographic Challenges Mulled By City Council by Nicholas F. Benton

Falls Church News-Press

Benton Seeks to Continue News-Press Legacy

Delivering a stirring call to arms for the preservation of print media, Nicholas F. Benton, founder, owner, and Editor-in-Chief of the Falls Church News-Press, addressed the Greater Falls Church Chamber of Commerce’s monthly Networking Lunch, held at the Italian Cafe. Benton was asked to reflect on the evolving landscape of journalism — and underscore the indispensable role of community newspapers, in particular the News-Press.

Since its inception in 1991, the News-Press has been a steadfast advocate for local businesses and a vital conduit for disseminating information within the Falls Church community. Benton noted the NewsPress “was founded on the basis of being pro-business, and to provide a vehicle for advertising for small businesses in Falls Church,” continuing that there has always been a symbiotic relationship between the paper and the Chamber of Commerce. In an era marked by the precipitous decline of print journalism, Benton said, it is critical to recog-

nize the enduring value of tangible newspapers in an increasingly digital world. With a vinyl record of the

Amadeus Quartett as a symbolic

Continued on Page 4

Falls Church News-Press Suite 310 105 N. Virginia Ave Falls Church, VA 22046

Falls Church News-Press


by Brian Reach

Local Postal Customer

Continued on Page 3

MUSTANGS CRUISE INTO REGION FINALS: Will Davis scorches with 32 points in Semifinal. See story on Page 13. (Photo: Chrissy Henderson)


According to a study by the Steven S. Fuller Institute at George Mason University, there will be an anticipated increase in housing units in the City of Falls Church of 42 percent in the next decade, resulting in a 23 percent increase in the City’s population above its current 14,600 level. Also up significantly will be the number of jobs and the average income of City residents. This was the latest proposed update on the demographics chapter of the City’s comprehensive plan that will undergo a review by City boards and commissions in the next months prior to expected adoption in June. The population increase is expected to be mostly in the apartments currently under construction in the new Founders Row 2, Broad and Washington and West End projects, with more in the pipeline. A predominance of the City’s population is now living in such units, over the City’s previous domination by single family home dwellers. The upside of all this is that while Fairfax County is contemplating a four cents (per $100 of assessed valuation) or higher tax rate increase, the City of Falls Church will experience nothing like that, although it is not known for sure yet what City Manager Wyatt Shields will recommend to the Council next month when he introduces his


PAGE 2 | FEBRUARY 22 - 28, 2024


Norman Conquests in Falls Church with “Table Manners”

Founded by Jaclyn Robertson and Ward Kay in 2021, NOVA Nightsky Theater of Falls Church has a unique mission: to perform theater in unconventional spaces. In addition to performing black box-style theater in its Falls Church studio on West Broad Street, NOVA Nightsky Theater also performs shows in parking lots, in amphitheaters, on museum steps, and inside museums and churches across Northern Virginia. For their recent production, “Table Manners,” a small, intimate, studio setting was ideal; as founder Robertson notes, the show “would have been ‘lost’ on a larger stage.” Written by Alan Ayckbourn, “Table Manners” is one play out of a trilogy entitled “The Norman Conquests.” Here “Norman conquests” refers not to the Battle of Hastings and the Norman Invasion on England in 1066, but rather to a man named Norman whose “conquests” are

various women in his life. The play, which might be termed an updated version of a Noel Coward comedy of manners, was here directed by Ward Kay. The story is of three women, Ruth, Annie, and Sarah. Norman is married to Ruth and, during the play, he seeks to spend a weekend holiday alone with her sister Annie, even though Annie wants to date a friendly but obtuse veterinarian named Tom. There is also Reg, Ruth’s brother, who is married to Sarah; Norman also wishes to make advances to her as well. As the play progresses, the viewer comes to see repeated themes and tactics used by Norman in his attempted “conquests.” In the Falls Church production, the methodical acting and broadly humorous style of the cast enthusiastically conveyed a storyline which is by no means simple. In one of the most humorous scenes, after a comical who-sits-where debacle at the dinner table, Tom, a very tall and imposing man, ends up seated in an extraordinarily low, and bubble-gum pink,

wicker chair; he is now as short as a child seated at the table. The diminutive Norman uses this new situation to ridicule Tom for his now-diminished stature, showing Norman’s art of manipulation is not only reserved for women. One aspect which made the show effective was its attention to detail. From little details like an advertisement to win a breakfast cereal prize on an oversize cereal box, to the 1970s-era dining room in an English country house, these details helped to create an intimate atmosphere which heightened the effect of the dysfunctional family’s actions around the central table. The work of lighting designer Adam Ressa also helped provide an intimate home-like feel in the theatre. Norman’s extravagant personality was played to perfection by Hanlon Smith-Dorsey, while Elyse R. Smith portrayed Annie’s insecurities to excellent effect. Similarly, April Everett was brilliant in her portrayal of Sarah, who alternated between suffering and being insufferable. Jesper Sullivan Den Bergh gave

his dullard character a lot of life and some very amusing physical moments. Norman’s frustrated wife Ruth was well-played by Lauren Morrell. Chris D’Angelo (as Reg) succeeded at the challenging task of playing a character who is witty compared to the stodgy Tom, but who is also very restrained in comparison to the lively and unconstrained Norman. Most of all, the entire six-member cast was able to



render British-style humor in a manner understandable to an American audience. While “Table Manners” has now run its course, NOVA Nightsky Theater has recently announced this is just the first of a series of plays that they will be performing about dysfunctional families. The next will be “The Glass Menagerie” by Tennessee Williams. For more information, please visit: novanightskytheater.com






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THE SIX-MEMBER CAST of “Table Manners” seated at the dinner table. (Photo: courtesy Nova Nightsky Theatre)


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FEBRUARY 22 - 28, 2024 | PAGE 3

F.C. City Projected 23 Percent Growth in Next Decade

Continued from Page 1

recommended budget for the coming fiscal year. Observers note however, that along with the 13 cent tax cut City residents enjoyed two years ago, another round of robust rate cuts will be on tap for the next year or two here resulting from the current pattern of economic growth. The City’s median household income grew by 35 percent in the recent period, double that of neighboring Fairfax County at 17 percent. Thirty six percent of homes in Falls Church are occupied by households with children, up by 31 percent since 2012. With employment gains in three of the City’s four largest industries (education/health, trade/transit and leisure hospitality), but professional and business services have been declining since the big hit taken in 2013. In the context of this, the City is committed, by its vision statement, to building an inclusive and sustainable community, with commitments for more affordable housing and public facilities and services. Presenting all this data to the City Council at its Monday work session were chief planner Paul Stoddard and senior

planner Emily Bazemore, who presented remotely. Of the 6,500 homes in the City, 1,000 were added in the last 10 years with many more in the pipeline. Over half the homes are now in multifamily buildings even as the percentage of families with children has increased. About 25-36 percent of homeowners are “cost burdened,” (with seven percent severe). That means having to spend more than 30 percent of total income on housing alone. And 35 percent of renters are “cost-burdened” (with 15 percent severe). Members of the City of Falls Church’s Citizens Advisory Commission on Transportation and Environmental Services Council have been invited to attend next Monday’s meeting of the Falls Church City Council to sit in and advise in response to a presentation by the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission (NVTC) on progress with its Envision Route 7 bus rapid transit project. The project, years in the making, will eventually provide rapid bus transit with special designated lanes from Columbia Pike and up Route 7 through Falls Church, with a detour to the East Falls Church Metro station, The detour involves heading to the Metro station on Roosevelt Boulevard and returning to Route 7 (Broad Street)

down N. Washington St. (Rt. 29). At its work session this week the Council began a long-awaited exploration of the public art in the Council chambers of City Hall. The portraits have for years been of all white males and there has been a growing sentiment that that should change, especially since the Council, itself, is now composed of six women and one male. Council member Caroline Lian took the lead at the work session to stress the need to make sure that diversity,

equity and inclusion are the hallmarks of the City’s housing policy, including for new units that may be developed in the transitional zones and for accessory dwelling units for which the Council is expected in the coming months to offer great incentives.

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News-Press Talks to Chamber on the Future of Newspapers

Continued from Page 1

prop, Benton drew parallels between the resurgence of vinyl records and the potential renaissance of print newspapers, challenging the prevailing narrative of a digital-only future. “This is one of the things I stand forthright for: the continued publication of our newspaper in print, and its distribution as widely as possible to everybody in the City of Falls Church, as we have done since 1991.” Benton remarked, “Over 1,700 weekly editions have come out since then — and I think that is important because newspapers are a critical element of community building, city building, and nation building.” Benton invoked historical precedents, from Ben Franklin’s seminal newspaper in Philadelphia to the pivotal role of newspapers in distributing The Federalist Papers, which he credited as a major contributor towards the ratification of the U.S. Constitution, underscoring the intrinsic link between a free press and democracy. Benton’s talk comes against the backdrop of mounting challengesfacing local newspapers across the country. According to the New York Times, over 2,500 newspapers — about one in four — have shut down since 2005. By the end of 2025, this is expected to increase to one in three. According to Pew Research, the print circulation of local newspapers declined by half, and advertising revenue plummeted over 80 percent, in the five years prior to

the pandemic — trends that continue today. News-Press managing editor Nick Gatz noted that the NewsPress confronts myriad hurdles, from inflation to escalating costs of production and distribution, but remains committed to continuing to provide community journalism and a voice to the people. “We view this as a partnership,” Gatz said, emphasizing that the News-Press prides itself on being part of the fabric of Falls Church. “Without the businesses, without the residents… this doesn’t work.” He continued that, unlike social media and other “big-tech” advertising options, the News-Press can ensure messages are actually seen, at an affordable rate, by local eyes — with a human element typically lost when advertising on digital platforms. Gatz explained that, in a bid to adapt to changing times, the paper is exploring avenues to expand its digital footprint while preserving its print edition’s primacy. From pursuing delivery to mailboxes via USPS to enhancing website functionality to offering premium membership options, the NewsPress is seeking a new balance between tradition and innovation. Benton emphasized the audience’s role as community stakeholders invested in the future of The Little City’s local paper — one of the last in its kind in Northern Virginia. In an era characterized by uncertainty and flux, the News-Press has stood as a beacon of resilience, a testament to the enduring power of community journalism in safeguarding

the fabric of democracy — and Benton’s unshakable commitment to Falls Church. During a question and answer session, attendees engaged Benton and the rest of the News-Press staff with several questions about the role of the newspaper — and how the community can support its continued weekly delivery. “How do you convey to young people that a newspaper builds community, when they are on social media?” asked one concerned community member. Benton responded with a thoughtful reflection on the importance of providing context for young people amidst the barrage of information on social media platforms. He emphasized the role of the News-Press in featuring school news and notes, ensuring that young readers feel represented and engaged in their local community. “There are an awful lot of News-Press [issues] up at the high school… that kids pick up and read,” Benton remarked. “What you want to do [with a newspaper]… is to give young people a context for observing the information that’s coming to them.” I echoed Benton’s sentiments, sharing with the audience that a class of fifth graders at Oak Street Elementary recently selected me as their interviewee for a project on LGBTQ+ equality. The students said they read the NewsPress every week. “A ten year old is getting to page 24 of a newspaper every week… I think [young people] are reading [our paper]. “I think the trend right now, the

comeback we’re seeing, is coming from younger people first,” I continued, suggesting that older generations may have become cynical after seeing declines over the years. “What is a community? You’re not going to get that [answer] from MSNBC. You’re not going to get [an answer for] ‘who is [in] my community?” I added, saying that the local calendar, community, school, and business sections “curate” an understanding of the community. “It’s kind of like a chamber of commerce; it’s local, and kind of defines what the boundaries of the community are and pulls it all together.” As the discussion continued, Benton reiterated the importance of community support in sustaining the News-Press’s operations amidst economic challenges and shifting consumer preferences. He emphasized the need for a positive, community-driven approach to revitalizing local newspapers, urging attendees to advocate for the paper’s continued relevance and impact. “The key is that everybody in the community gets the paper — in paper [format].” Benton emphasized. “When that newspaper is in your mailbox or on your front porch, you’re much more likely to bring it in, put it on your coffee table… and absorb everything that’s in there. That’s why I think print is so important — and why it will continue to be.” This reporter added that the News-Press will soon offer subscriptions, offering the com-

munity an opportunity to make modest monthly contributions to ensure that “if, for instance, there’s an economic downturn and advertisers go away, the community can ensure a minimum level [of support] so we can keep going.” Dave Crance, the Chair of the Chamber, shared his personal appreciation for the News-Press, noting that despite living outside the paper’s distribution area, he pays for weekly delivery to his home in greater Falls Church. He also regularly advertises in the paper, and recalled that when he first advertised with the paper many years ago, he tested the ad’s efficacy by challenging readers to bring the paper into his business for a discount. “I was completely blown away by how many people showed up with that ad in-hand.” Crance recalled, adding that no matter what he advertises, from little league events to VFW events, “anything I’ve done with the [News-Press], I’ve heard back 10-15 times from people” that have seen it. “Over the years… I have advertised and stayed with the [News-Press],” Crance continued, “and the main reason I do is that everybody really is reading it.” “We’re here to support you,” Benton concluded, “and we hope that we’ll get sufficient support in return that we can stay in business. That’s our goal. In 34 years it’s never been easy… but luckily you’ve got three monks up here who are willing to work for nothing (almost).”


Choose the Life Of the Sentient Nicholas F. Benton FALLS CHURCH NEWS-PRESS

Not achieving nearly the attention it deserves, a report in the the October 2023 Popular Mechanics entitled “Scientists Believe They’ve Unlocked Consciousness, and It Connects to the Entire Universe,” is unique for the way it addresses the origins of consciousness and links them to the laws of the universe as a whole. If indeed what we experience as “consciousness” is a fundamental reality of the universe as a whole, then the implications can be absolutely stunning, in my humble view. No, it does not mean that there is a massive super-consciousness overlooking all creation. What it may mean, however, is that the universe is permeated with impulse tendencies toward self-reflective consciousness and that this is remarkable for its potential implications. It could mean that such consciousness is potentially shared, in one form or another to a greater or lesser degree, by almost all living things. What we experience as our consciousness permeates the very fabric of our universe, the reality in which we live. The Popular Mechanics article notes that “whether we create consciousness in our brain as a function of our neurons firing or if its exists independently of us, there is no universally accepted scientific explanation for where consciousness comes from or where it lives.” But advances in research suggest “we may soon be able to identify a true architecture of consciousness.” The article by Robert Lea notes that “the new work builds on a theory that Nobel Prize-winning physicist Roger Penrose, PhD, and anesthesiologist Stuart Hameroff, MD, first posited in the 1990s, known as Orchestrated Objective Reduction theory or Orch OR. Broadly, it claims that consciousness is a quantum process facilitated by microtubules in the brain’s nerve cells.” Their theory suggests that consciousness is “a quantum wave that passes through these microtubules, with unique properties like

superimposition (the ability to be in many places at the same time), and entanglement (the potential for two particles that are very far away to be connected). (This is already way beyond my ability to decipher). While the theory has been questioned by experts, it is enjoying a revival with the latest data that is coming in from the interstellar investigations of the James Webb telescope and their often puzzling implications for trying to sort out the kind of universe, and what kind of laws, as flexible or immutable as they may be, in which we live. It is unclear whether all these developments are driving us toward a clearer perception of a universe governed by essentially knowable, by current standards, laws and processes, or the opposite. While it is known, for example, that the building blocks of sentient life as we currently know it are everywhere in the universe, it is not known what the chain of events are that actually produce life and consciousness. Maybe it is not a process at all, but a universal precondition. We do get set aside into a contemplation of where such basic notions of morality and right-versuswrong behavior come from. They are defined by advanced concepts of enhancing life versus diminishing it, and by a certain generosity of spirit that embraces diversity and virtually infinite options for nurturing life, all being spawned of a singular impulse. If the moth that flutters above me is born of the same substance and laws, or range of them, that inform my conscious thought, then how does that cause me to behave as a result of knowing that? For me, it calls forth from me a special appreciation for life, for the wondrous universe of which we are a part, not as specs of insignificance, but as fully enfranchised players who do what we do not knowing what or why, necessarily, our actions make a difference, and to strive within our limitations to enhance life, to embrace and enlarge it. I think something that goes by the name of evil also exists, and it is the flip side of life. It tears down the connections between us, for whatever reason. It is not to be sanctioned or condoned, but overcome with the vastly superior spirit of life and enablement that we are here to celebrate and bring into even fuller form and sublime realization.


FEBRUARY 22 - 28, 2024 | PAGE 5

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Since 1991, an award-winning LGBT-owned general Interest community newspaper. Vol. XXXIV, No. 2 February 22 - 28, 2024 • City of Falls Church ‘Business of the Year’ 1991 & 2001 • • Certified by the Commonwealth of Virginia to Publish Official Legal Notices • • Member, Virginia Press Association •

Nicholas F. Benton Owner & Editor-In-Chief nfbenton@fcnp.com

Nick Gatz Managing Editor ngatz@fcnp.com

Sue Johnson Advertising Sales sjohnson@fcnp.com

Brian Reach News Reporter Breach@fcnp.com

IN MEMORY Charlie Clark Columnist

Ted White Copy Editor Julio Idrobo Circulation Manager delivery@fcnp.com

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phone: 703-532-3267 fax: 703-342-0347 email: fcnp@fcnp.com display advertising sjohnson@fcnp.com 703-587-1282

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www.fcnp.com The Falls Church News-Press is published weekly on Thursdays and is distributed free of charge throughout the City of Falls Church and the Greater Falls Church area. Offices are at 105 N. Virginia Ave.., #310, Falls Church, VA 22046. Reproduction of this publication in whole or part is prohibited except with the written permission of the publisher. ©2024 Benton Communications Inc. The News-Press is printed on recycled paper.

E ditorial


News-Press as City Builder

Team News-Press is grateful to the Falls Church Chamber of Commerce and its new chair Dave Crance for the opportunity to present its case for the importance of newspapers for the future of democracy at the Chamber’s luncheon at the Italian Cafe this week. Owner-editor Nicholas Benton, managing editor Nick Gatz and reporter Brian Reach, who taped the event that will go onto YouTube soon, made the case before a lively and enthusiastic audience. Ironically, despite the integral role of the News-Press with the local Chamber in its founding and earliest days, it marked only the second time in 34 years that the paper’s leaders were invited to speak at the monthly luncheon. As Editor Benton pointed out in his introductory remarks, the News-Press has been since its inception in 1991 not just a chronicler of events, but a decisive shaper of Falls Church’s moral commitment to economic development not just for its own sake, but for ensuring the resources have been there to fund a first-rate, world renowned K-12 school system, unique now for its International Baccalaureate curriculum that runs from preschool through the 12th grade. The result has been in recent years the construction of a new, state of the art high school at the same time residents enjoyed a 13-cent reduction in their real estate tax rate. It was Benton’s and the News-Press’ pivotal role in the early 1990s after the paper began its weekly production and Benton became president of the Chamber for two years that he collaborated with Mike Diener and Carol Jackson on the Chamber board to win a first ever endorsement by the Chamber of the full funding of the City schools in a critical City budget fight. That had been an unheard of notion in the City up to that point, as the business community saw itself advocating solely for lower taxes. Public appreciation for the move was expressed by the then School Superintendent Dr. Stuart Roberson and a new spirit of cooperation was introduced. It was just one case that Team News-Press presented on the importance of newspapers for democracy and what Benton termed as “City building.” He cites the role of newspapers in the founding of the U.S., as exemplified by Ben Franklin’s early newspapers and the fact that the Federalist Papers were published in local newspapers to win popular support for the ratification of the U.S. Constitution. He cited the role of seminal newspaper publisher William Allen White of Kansas who, though he was a Republican, backed FDR’s recovery and war efforts because the alternative was the kind of isolationism that would have handed the world over to Hitler. Newspapers are vital to our democracy because they bring the full spectrum of a community to the shared interest of an informed citizenry in ways that the fractured presentation of data represented by the Internet simply can’t do. This is what the News-Press is committed to continue doing going forward in its 34th year.

Platform 1. Keep the news clean and fair. 2. Play no favorites, never mix business and editorial policy.


Letters to Editor Twenty Being Plenty Editor, I would like to piggy-back onto the letter this week asking how hard it is to enforce basic traffic regulations here in the City of Falls Church. I appreciate the reasoning behind the lowering of the speed limit to 20 mph on most of our streets,(i.e., there is a better chance of survival when being hit by that speed, etc.) but if it isn’t enforced then it does no good. Even the 25 mph on Broad St., and Hillwood, etc. would be fairly safe if it were adequately enforced. As we continue growing and attract more people to our shopping venues, like Whole Foods, I am sincerely hoping that there will be more police presence on our streets. Our city is has very little crime and I don’t understand why our traffic issues aren’t taken more seriously when there are so many pedestrians, including tiny children from daycares that cross our busy streets in groups hanging onto ropes together. I hold my breath everytime I see it. Lastly, there needs to be another light between the one at Cherry St. and Broad, and the 24 Hour Fitness. People take off at well over 25 mph between those two lights. J. de Vignier

teaching our school about the state of Virginia. In May, I will create a display for our State Fair that I hope will make you proud. Although I have gathered facts about your state from books and websites, I think that I can receive the best information from the people who live there. This is why I am writing to you. I am hoping that you would be willing to send me some items to help me learn more about the best things in your state. You might consider sending items such as postcards, pictures, souvenirs, this newspaper article, or any other unique items that would be useful or show your state’s pride. Here are a few questions: Why do you live in your state? What first brought your family there? How do you make money? What is your job? What does your state look like? What do people do for fun? What animals live there? What traditional food/recipes does your state have? What type of music is native to your state? Do you have a state athletic team? What geographic features are unique to your state? I will need to gather all of my information by the second week of May. You can mail items to the address below. I really appreciate your help! Sincerely,

Dear People of the Great State of Virginia,


Hello! I am a third-grade student in Northern Virginia. Our class is learning about the United States, and I will be

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Rep. Beyer Appointed to Bipartisan AI Task Force

each come with a different party experience.

U.S. Rep. Don Beyer, who represents the City of Falls Church in the U.S. House of Representatives, was appointed by Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries and Speaker Mike Johnson this week to serve on the newly formed bipartisan Task Force on Artificial Intelligence. The task force, appointed in cooperation by the two House leaders, is composed of 12 members of each party drawn from committees of jurisdiction as well as members with particular expertise in AI. It has a mission to lead the House’s exploration of AI’s transformational opportunities and potential challenges, and “to produce a comprehensive report that will include guiding principles, forward-looking recommendations and bipartisan policy proposals.” “While much of the work of Congress has been engulfed in chaos and dysfunction, AI has remained a bright spot of good faith cooperation between the parties, and I am determined to help keep it that way,” Beyer said..”The impacts of AI on our society, positive and negative, are profound and require forward-looking solutions. It is my hope that Speaker Johnson and Leader Jeffries’ AI Task Force will continue in this spirit to develop real, practicable ideas that will help our country reap the benefits of AI and put guardrails in place to safeguard against risks. We need to get this right, and we have no time to lose.”

Ecosystems Working With Homestretch in F.C.

Va. ‘Festival of the Book’ Set for Charlottesville The Virginia Festival of the Book, a program of Virginia Humanities, has been bringing together writers and readers to promote and celebrate books, reading, literacy, and literary culture every March since 1995, making 2024 the 30th annual festival. This week, the festival – which will take place from March 20 to 24 in Charlottesville – announced the details of their 30th anniversary celebration. “We’re pulling out all the stops when it comes to celebrating our 30th anniversary,” said festival director Kalela Williams. “We’re starting with a 90s themed rooftop party featuring Rob Harvilla, author of “60 Songs that Explain the ‘90s,” and concluding with a toast at Decipher Brewing. But the big 30th celebration everyone is talking about is Wordy Thirty.” Wordy Thirty is a gala celebration taking place at The Bradbury and Vault Virginia on Charlottesville’s downtown mall on Saturday March 23rd. The gala includes food, drinks, dancing, and a celebration of three incredible decades of festival memories. Three different tickets

Ecosystems, the leading software-asa-service platform for collaborative customer value management, is working with the Falls Church non-profit Homestretch, it was announced this week. Through AI-driven analytics and integrations like Gainsight, Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics, and HubSpot, individual value conversations are transformed into centralized cloud assets for improved decisions throughout the organization, the company touts. It “believes it finds its value in helping others make their value clear. It does this with Homestretch by serving others and creating a beneficial impact on their community. Ecosystems volunteers quarterly with Homestretch,” an Ecosystems statement says.. “It partnered with us to analyze and quantify the value of the Home stretch model to alleviate homelessness in our Impact Study.”

Housing Bills Move Forward in Richmond The Virginia General Assembly is moving forward with many legislative priority housing bills that made it to the other chamber after crossover last week. Three of those bills, HB817 (protections against retaliation), HB993 (prohibits fees for maintenance) and HB1251 (tenant assertion without rent in escrow) were slated to be heard this week in the Senate General Laws and Technology Committee.

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Deadlines For F.C. City Business Licenses is March 1 The 2024 Falls Church City Business License Renewal Forms should have been delivered to all City businesses by now. The 2024 Business License Renewal Form (the counter version without your business’s data) is always available on the City’s website at: http://www.fallschurchva.gov/442/Business-License-Tax-Forms or it can be sent to you by e-mail, if you want to renew your business license and have not received it yet or misplaced it. The deadline to renew all business licenses is by March 1, 2024, or postmarked by that date, to avoid a 10 percent late payment penalty. All paid 2023 business license holders are in good standing until March 1, 2024, due to the annual two month grace period for January and February.

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Community News & Notes F.C. Village Improvement Society Partners with AAUW for Attic Treasures, Book Sales

F.C. PLANNING Commissioner Phil Duncan celebrated his father’s 100th birthday in Knoxville, TN. (Photo: Phil Duncan)

The Falls Church Village Improvement Society (VPIS), partnered with the American Association of University Women (AAUW) and supported by the generosity of the Beyer Auto Group, are starting this weekend to collect marketable books and clothing in good condition for the annual Books and Attic Treasures Sale (ATS). The collection drop offs are each Saturday 10:30 a.m. — 1:00 p.m. at the Old Beyer Showroom at Gordon Rd. and W. Broad St. (enter by the “Pig Sculpture”). Encyclopedias cannot be accepted. Donations will support local community projects and scholarships for young women. The ATS and AAUW book sales will take place May 3 and 4. All other household donations can be coordinated at VPIS.org.

F.C. Actress Alongside Ethan Hawke, Meryl Streep for Audiobook Award Nomination

F.C. ACTOR Marni Penning was nominated for two categories for Audiobook narration. (Photo: DJ Corey Photography)

INOVA OPENED their second GoHealth Urgent Care location in Falls Church last week. (Photo: Inova GoHealth)

The Audio Publishers Association released their list of nominees for their annual Audie Awards, and this year, a name familiar to D.C. area theatre audiences is at the top of the list. Marni Penning, who has graced local stages from The Shakespeare Theatre to MetroStage, was nominated as one of the five best fiction narrators out of all the audiobooks released in 2023 for “Johanna Porter is Not Sorry,” by D.C. native Sara Read. Her competition for the title include audiobook favorites Eunice Wong and Billie FulfordBrown, and notable Hollywood royalty Ethan Hawke and Meryl Streep. “I’m floored,” Penning said from her home in Falls Church. “This is my first nomination, and to be included in the top five narrators of fiction in the country? Completely unexpected. I’m so honored.” Penning is actually nominated in two categories — the other is for Audio Drama as part of

Graphic Audio’s full-cast recording of “Red Rising,” by Pierce Brown. Penning has recorded nearly 500 titles with the Rockville, MD-based company, which includes immersive sound effects and cinematic music in their recordings, and whose tagline is, “A Movie in Your Mind.” Penning voices General Lillith Sorrengail in Rebecca Yarros’ popular “Fourth Wing” full-cast recordings. Penning was born in Springfield, IL, but moved to the D.C. area when she was six years old. She grew up in Arlington, performing school plays at Claremont, Kenmore, and Washington-Lee (now Washington-Liberty); and the Children’s Theatre of Arlington (now Encore Stage and Studio) from ages nine to fourteen; then went to college for theatre at James Madison University. She toured the US and UK with what is now the American Shakespeare Center, and co-founded Cincinnati Shakespeare Company in 1994. The Audie Awards Ceremony will be held Monday, March 4, 2024 at the Avalon in Hollywood, CA. Penning is bringing the author of the book she was nominated for narrating, Sara Read (who now lives in Charlottesville, VA), as her date.

Inova-GoHealth Opens Secont Urgent Care Center in Falls Church Inova-GoHealth Urgent Care opened its second Falls Church center on February 15, connecting residents of Falls Church, Arlington and Fairfax County with access to urgent care closer to home. The new center is conveniently located in the Birch & Broad Plaza (1208-D W. Broad St., Falls Church) near Giant and next to Falls Church Dentistry. The first Falls Church location opened late last year in the Seven Corners Shopping Center (6371 Seven Corners Ctr., Falls Church). Both centers feature an award-winning center design with bold colors, warm wood accents and an open floor plan that fosters a comfortable experience.

Inova-GoHealth treats common health concerns for adults and children six months and older, including Covid-19, flu, fever, asthma, allergies, minor cuts, burns, pink eye, urinary tract infections, fractures, sprains, strains and more. The centers are open 365 days a year, including holidays. The new Birch & Broad center is open Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. — 8:00 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from 9:00 a.m. — 5:00 p.m. Patients can walk into any Inova-GoHealth center or use their online “save-a-spot” tool, which allows patients to save time by securing their spot in line, checking in and completing registration before arriving. For details about all Inova-GoHealth locations, visit gohealthuc.com/ inova.

Friday Morning Music Club Announces Free Chamber Concerts at Virginia Square The Friday Morning Music Club will perform two free chamber concerts in March, both at St. George’s Episcopal Church (915 N. Oakland St., Arlington, VA), adjacent to the Virginia Square Metro. The first concert, scheduled for March 1, will feature works by Bartok, Ravel and Bach. The second, scheduled for March 8, will feature works by Hasty, Mangani, Mozart and Debussy. The one-hour concerts will continue every first and second Friday of the month through May. All concerts start at 12:00 p.m.

F.C. Planning Commissioner Phil Duncan Celebrates His Father’s 100th Birthday Last Sunday, the father of Falls Church Planning Commissioner and former City Council Member Phil Duncan celebrated his 100th birthday at an event in Knoxville, TN. The event was attended by 125 celebrants, who know the newly-minted Centenarian variously as dad, grandpa, Uncle Joe, and The Judge. Phil Duncan thanked all who attended, and said his dad “really enjoyed the party.”




FEBRUARY 22 - 28, 2024 | PAGE 9

School News & Notes

FIVE MERIDIAN seniors are finalists in the 2024 National Merit Scholarship Program (from left: Tucker Albaugh, Lucas Hollinger, Joseph Ziayee, William Kroboth, Matthew Janicki. (Photo: Cecily Shea)

LAST WEEK Mt. Daniel students exchanged anomymous compliment hearts for Kindness Week. (Photo: Amanda Morey)

FIFTEEN FCCPS students performed as members of the District X Honors Choruses last Saturday, and three were accepted into the All Virginia Honor Choir. (Photo: FCCPS)

FOR KINDNESS Week, Oak Street Elementary School fourth graders made bookmarks and Valentines for 80 residents of The Kensington and Sunrise Senior Living. (Photo: Kari Forsee)

THE FCCPS School Board was recognized for School Board Appreciation Month last week. (Photo: John Wesley Brett)

THE MUSTANG Swim & Dive Team made a big splash at the Class 3 Regional and State Championships last weekend. (Photo: FCCPS)

Check out more School News & Notes pictures and stories online at fcnp.com


PAGE 10 | FEBRUARY 22 - 28, 2024



FEBRUARY 24 Falls Church Farmers Market Shop the award winning market every Saturday, year-round! City Hall Parking Lot (300 Park Ave., Falls Church), 8:00 a.m. — 12:00 p.m.

First Screening: 20 Days in Mariupol

BUCKETS 'N Boards, a hilarious, high-energy interactice percussion show, entertains with something for everyone in the family, this Friday at Alden Theatre. (Photo: McLean Community Center)


FEBRUARY 22 Early Voting Early voting for the March 5 Presidential primary; voters may vote in only one primary. Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. through Wednesday, February 28, and Saturday voting on February 24 and March 2 from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. More at fallschurchva.gov/vote. City Hall (300 Park Ave., Dogwood A-B, Falls Church), 8:00 a.m. — 5:00 p.m.

Historical Commission Meeting Historical Commission & Architectural Review Board meets. City Hall (300 Park Ave., Dogwood A-B, Falls Church), 7:00 p.m. — 9:00 p.m.


FEBRUARY 23 Reach to Forest Through March 3, explore

the symbiotic relationship between forests and the human world with two weeks of free programs, films, art installations, conversations, and more. Free to attend. Details at kennedy-center.org. The REACH at the Kennedy Center (2700 F St. NW, Washington, DC), 10:00 a.m. — 11:59 p.m.

Buckets 'N Boards A hilarious, high-energy and interactive percussion show with something for everyone in the family: amazing tap dancing, clean comedy, body percussion, beatboxing, and more! Tickets at mcleancenter.org. The Alden Theatre (1234 Ingleside Ave., McLean, VA), 7:00 p.m.

Las Hermanas Palacios Dive into the vibrant chaos of 1985 Miami as Cristina García's gripping play, "The Palacios Sisters," catapults Chekhov's "Three Sisters" forward to Miami in the 1980s. Recently arrived from Havana, the ambitious young ballerina Irinita joins forces with her culturally refined siblings — Olga and María — and

their talented classical pianist brother, Andrés. Together, they navigate Miami's treacherous landscape filled with drug wars, rampant violence, and an escalating AIDS epidemic. Clinging to memories of their beloved homeland while grappling with the dizzying new reality that surrounds them, the sisters emerge as artistic beacons of hope in this poignant tale about longing, resilience, and the unbreakable bonds of family. Tickets at galatheatre.org. Gala Theatre (3333 14th St. NW, Washington, DC), 8:00 p.m.

Love J.A.M. 14: The Revue Love J.A.M. 14 features your favorite love songs (and break up ones too), "J.A.M.med" into one showstopping celebration of love. Created by choreographer Jeremy A. McShan, Love J.A.M. is a crowd-thrilling musical spectacular featuring love somgs from some of music's greatest legends, featuring BIPOC performers from across the DMV. February 23-25. Tickets and information at lovejam14.eventbrite.com. Ballet Nova (3443 Carlin Springs Rd., Falls Church), 8:00 p.m.

The first of two back-to-back showings; second screening at 2:30 p.m. On the date of the second anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, watch "20 Days in Mariupol," an Academy Award nominated documentary from Frontline that "offers a grueling but vital look at the devastating impact of war" (Rotten Tomatoes). Free registration at mrspl.org. Mary Riley Styles Public Library (120 N. Virginia Ave., Upper Floor Conf. Rm., Falls Church), 1:00 p.m.

Tray Wellington Band Banjo virtuoso Tray Wellington leads the high-energy acoustic "newgrass" sensation the Tray Wellington Band, a quartet that pushes the boundaries of bluegrass music, incorporating bossa nova, jazz, and blues elements to create an exciting new sound that also honors traditional Bluegrass roots. Encore performance at 8:00 p.m. Tickets at hylton.calendar.gmu.edu. Hylton Performing Arts Center (10960 George Mason Cir., Manassas, VA), 5:00 p.m.

Little City Big Heart Winter Gala The Little City Big Heart Winter Gala, benefiting the Falls Church Homeless Shelter, with live music by Organ-ized, a silent auction and raffle, heavy appetizers and dessert, and emcee Matthew Cappucci. Tickets and sponsorships available at fcshelter.org. Email gala@ fcshelter.org for more information. The State Theatre (220 N. Washington St., Falls Church), 6:30 p.m. — 10:30 p.m.

Justice H.S. Casino Night

For attendees age 21 and older, join the second annual Wolves At The Lodge fundraising event, held by the Justice High School PTSA. Enjoy craft cocktails, dinner and desserts from local restaurants, dancing with song requests, raffles and prizes, and an online-only silent auction. Tickets at jhsptsa.org/wolvesatthelodge. Moose Loyal Order Arlington (5710 Scoville St., Falls Church), 7:00 p.m. — 11:00 p.m.


FEBRUARY 25 Navigating Parkinson's: A Focus on Nutrition Explore the crucial connection between nutrition and Parkinson’s disease. This educational event aims to provide valuable insights, expert advice, and practical tips for individuals and families affected by Parkinson’s. Free to attend; RSVP requested at thekensingtonfallschurch. com. The Kensington Falls Church (700 W. Broad St., Falls Church), 1:30 p.m. — 2:45 p.m.

A Mighty Long Way A key protagonist in one of the most gripping watershed moments of the Civil Rights Movement, Carlotta LaNier delivers a powerful keynote that reflects on history while inspiring hope for the future. In her lectures LaNier revisits the journey of the “Little Rock Nine” who led the nation on a turbulent path that challenged prevailing attitudes, broke down barriers, and forever changed the landscape of America. A book sale and signing will follow this event. Free registration at mcleancenter.org. The Alden Theatre (1234 Ingleside Ave., McLean, VA), 2:00 p.m.

Accordion Society 21st Birthday Concert The Washington Metropolitan Accordion Society celebrates its 21st birthday with a concert by "Papa Joe" De Clemente. $8 donation admission for nonmem-



FEBRUARY 22 - 28, 2024 | PAGE 11

EVENTS, LIVE MUSIC, & ARTS bers, children under 12 free. A reception will follow. More information at washingtonaccordions. org. Sleepy Hollow United Methodist Church (3435 Sleepy Hollow Rd., Falls Church), 2:00 p.m.

Cauldron Presents: Working Based on Studs Terkel's best-selling book of interviews with American workers, "Working" paints a vivid portrait of the workers that the world so often takes for granted: the schoolteacher, the phone operator, the waitress, the millworker, the mason and the housewife, just to name a few. Nominated for six Tony Awards, this classic has been updated for a modern age, featuring new songs by Tony Award-winning Lin-Manuel Miranda, as well as favorites by Stephen Schwartz, Craig Carnelia, James Taylor, Micki Grant, and more. On stage through March 3. Tickets at creativecauldron.org. Creative Cauldron (410 S. Maple Ave., Falls Church), 7:00 p.m.


FEBRUARY 26 City Council Meeting The City Council meets the

second and fourth Monday of the month, with the exception of August and December when only one meeting is held. The public is welcome to address the City Council on any topic during the public comment period. Sign up to speak at fallschurchva.gov/ publiccomment. All members of the public may view the meeting live or on-demand after the meeting at fallschurchva.gov/CouncilMeetings and on FCCTV. City Hall (300 Park Ave., Council Chambers/ Court Room, Falls Church), 7:30 p.m. — 11:00 p.m.


FEBRUARY 27 Economic Dev. Committee Meeting Economic Development Committee meets. City Hall (300 Park Ave., Oak Room, Falls Church), 1:00 p.m. — 2:30 p.m.

Private Jones

A gripping, inspiring and unexpectedly funny world premiere musical adventure about a deaf Welsh sniper in World War I. After losing his hearing, Gomer Jones is left behind when the rest of the young men enlist. However, when fresh recruits are needed, he fakes his way into a battalion alongside a group of colorful, misfit trainees. Once the “bastards,” as they call themselves, reach the front, Jones becomes a celebrated sniper, but getting everything he thought he wanted might mean losing himself in the process. With rousing songs and an innovative soundscape, and featuring a cast of hearing, Deaf and hard-ofhearing actors. On stage through March 10. Tickets at sigtheatre.org. Signature Theatre (3200 Campbell Ave., Arlington, VA), 7:30 p.m.


School Board Work Session

Govt. Operations Committee Meeting

Falls Church City Public Schools Central Office (150 S. Washington St., Suite 400 Conference Rm., Falls Church), 7:00 p.m. — 10:30 p.m.

Government Operations Committee meets. City Hall (300 Park Ave., Oak Room, Falls Church), 9:00 a.m. — 10:00 a.m.

ERIN WEAVER (King), Johnny Link (Gomer Jones), and the cast of the musical Private Jones, on stage at Signature Theatre through March 10. (Photo: Christopher Mueller)

LOVE SONGS from some of music's greatest legends, are featured in Love J.A.M. 14, February 23-25 at Fredgren Studio. (Courtesy Photo)

Getting from Violence to Peace In this community event, attendees will discuss what can be learned from the war in Gaza and explore possible scenarios for postwar reconciliation with speaker Richard E. Rubenstein, professor emeritus

at GMU and former director of the Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter School for Peace and Conflict Resolution. Rubenstein is the author of ten books on understanding and resolving social conflicts. Free registration at mrspl.org. Mary Riley Styles Public Library (120 N. Virginia Ave., Upper Floor Conf. Rm., Falls Church), 7:00 p.m.

PAGE 12 | FEBRUARY 22 - 28, 2024





Claytor Lake Virginia Real Estate Auction: 68+/- Acres with improvements in Pulaski County, VA. Boy Scouts of America Aquatic Center. 14,000+/- SF Event Center with Commercial Kitchen, +/-1,757’ Lake Frontage, 16 single room cabins, 4,300+/- SF three story bathhouse with counselor housing. Auction March 27 at 2:00 PM held on-site at 4100 Adventure Base Road, Radford, VA 24141. Online bidding available. 5% Buyer’s Premium. For details visit woltz.com or call Woltz & Associates, Inc. Real Estate Brokers & Auctioneers 800-551-3588. (VA #321)

The following were read and referred to City advisory boards at the August 7, 2023 City Council meeting. A public hearing and possible action on the matter is scheduled for Monday, February 26, 2024 at 7:30 p.m., or as soon thereafter as the matter may be heard. (TR23-23) RESOLUTION TO AMEND THE COMPREHENSIVE PLAN, OFFICIAL FUTURE LAND USE MAP OF THE CITY OF FALLS CHURCH, BY RECLASSIFYING APPROXIMATELY 0.623 ACRES OF LAND, LOCATED AT 360 SOUTH WASHINGTON STREET (LOT 27, REAL PROPERTY CODE 52-306-027) FROM “BUSINESS’ TO “MIXEDUSE”, FOR A MIXED-USE REDEVELOPMENT PROJECT, KNOWN AS QUINN/ HOMESTRETCH SENIOR LIVING, ON APPLICATION BY QUINN ENTERPRISES, LLC (TR23-24) RESOLUTION TO GRANT A SPECIAL EXCEPTION FOR RESIDENTIAL USES WITHIN A MIXED-USE DEVELOPMENT PROJECT AND TO INCREASE THE BUILDING HEIGHT WITH A BONUS OF UP TO FOURTY(40) FEET TO A MAXIMUM HEIGHT OF ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTEEN (115) FEET FOR A MIXED-USE REDEVELOPMENT PROJECT, KNOWN AS QUINN/ HOMESTRETCH SENIOR LIVING, ON APPROXIMATELY 1.866 ACRES OF LAND LOCATED AT 350 AND 360 S. WASHINGTON STREET AND 303 S. MAPLE AVENUE (REAL PROPERTY CODE NUMBERS, #52-306-026, #52-306-027, AND #52-306-028) ON APPLICATION BY QUINN ENTERPRISES, LLC City Council will consider an application by Quinn Enterprises LLC (latest submission January 4, 2024), a mixed-use redevelopment project, which includes senior age-restricted housing, medical office, and ground floor retail uses at the addresses listed above. All public hearings will be held in the Council Chambers, 300 Park Avenue, Falls Church, Virginia. Remote participation information at www.fallschurchva.gov/publiccomment. Comments may also be sent to cityclerk@fallschurchva.gov. For copies of legislation, contact the City Clerk’s office at (703-248-5014) or cityclerk@fallschurchva.gov or visit www. fallschurchva.gov/councilmeetings. The City of Falls Church is committed to the letter and spirit of the Americans with Disabilities Act. To request a reasonable accommodation for any type of disability, call 703-248-5014 (TTY 711). CELESTE HEATH, CITY CLERK

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We are pledged to the letter and spirit of Virginia’s policy for achieving equal housing opportunity throughout the Commonwealth. We encourage and support advertising and marketing programs in which there are no barriers to obtaining housing because of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, elderliness, familial status or handicap. All real estate advertised herein is subject to Virginia’s fair housing law which makes it illegal to advertise “any preference, limitation, or discrimination because of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, elderliness, familial status or handicap or intention to make any such preference, limitation, or discrimination.” This newspaper will not knowingly accept advertising for real estate that violates the fair housing law. Our readers are hereby informed that all dwellings advertised in this newspaper are available on an equal opportunity basis. For more information or to file a housing complaint call the Virginia Fair Housing Office at (804) 367-8530. Toll free call (888) 551-3247. For the hearing impaired call (804) 367-9753.

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FEBRUARY 22 - 28, 2024 | PAGE 13

Meridian Basketball Sends Both Teams to Regional Finals

by Ryan McCafferty

For the second time in five days, Meridian High School hosted a basketball doubleheader on Tuesday night as both its boys and girls played in the Regional Semifinals. The girls hosted Culpeper County at 6 p.m. while the boys played Kettle Run shortly afterwards, and both games served as opportunities for the Mustangs to not only advance to the Finals, but to clinch a spot in the ensuing State Tournament. The girls, who entered the contest as winners of 16 of their past 17 games, fell behind early on but didn’t stay down for long. After giving up the game’s first basket, they got on the board courtesy of Ellie Friesen and then went ahead 8-2 following six straight points from Nora Stufft. Culpeper drew back within 11-7 after a quarter and then 11-9 following the first points of the next period, but Charlotte Lieu got another Meridian

run going and the Mustangs slowly expanded their lead from there. The home team led 24-16 at halftime, and then after Culpepper got back within four, a 9-0 run gave Meridian some breathing room as the girls took their first double-digit lead on a Maureen Tremblay three-point play. It was 40-24 with a quarter to go, and Chris Carrico’s squad held on for the 51-33 win to advance in the postseason. Friesen’s 20 points led all scorers, while each of the other starters had at least six in a balanced team effort. Marin Baroody missed the game with an injury, but Carrico is hopeful that she could return when the girls play on Friday against Brentsville, the same team that eliminated Meridian from last season’s playoffs. The boys, whose 21-2 record doesn’t even do justice to the job done by Jim Smith and his staff this season while battling injuries to key contributors all year long, are now fully healthy and firing on all cylinders – as their opponents from

Kettle Run would be quick to find out. John Lyman scored the game’s first points with a pair of free throws and then Will Davis hit a three, as the Mustangs were up 6-0 before Kettle Run finally scored. Davis caught on absolute fire as he scored 29 – count ‘em, 29 – points in the first half, 21 of which were from behind the arc as Meridian led 17-6 after the first frame and then 40-16 after the second. The second half turned into more of a team effort, and if there was still any doubt about who’d be winning this one, the third quarter erased it as the Mustangs went ahead 62-27 with eight minutes left to play. Kettle Run narrowed the deficit in garbage time, but only to 25 as the home team held serve with a 66-41 victory. Davis’ scoring output is the highest for any Meridian player all season long, and while unselfish basketball has been a staple of the Mustangs’ identity, sometimes

Meridian Girls Basketball team wins 51-33. (Photo: Carol Sly )

it’s just your night. David had 32 points while making 8 threes. “Once I hit those first couple shots, I was just unconscious,” Davis said postgame. Davis was inserted into the starting lineup a few weeks ago while Isaac Rosenberger was out hurt, but even with Rosenberger now back on the court, it doesn’t seem like he’ll be

going back to the bench anytime soon. Meridian will now welcome Fredericksburg’s James Monroe to town on Friday in a game that Smith believes will be a tough challenge for his Mustangs. But win or lose, both the boys and the girls will be State Tournamentbound.

After 14 years, Neapolitan Restaurant Pizzeria Orso Closes

by Billy Asel

At 8:30 p.m. on February 18, 2024, Pizzeria Orso let the wood-fueled fire of their brick oven fizzle out as the final pizza come out. Community members who had watched their children grow up at Pizzeria Orso in frequent trips throughout the years turned out in record numbers to wish a warmhearted farewell to the parlor. Pizzeria Orso served pies for 14 years before pandemic woes proved to be too much. After workers had been told on February 4 that the store would close its doors just two weeks later, word spread rapidly throughout The Little City, and many patrons came for one last pie. Pizzeria Orso opened on June 9, 2010 in the heart of a growing Falls Church City. Created from the same team behind the popular 2941 restaurant, It promised tasty pizzas along with a regular assortment of pastas. Using the Neapolitan method of cooking pizzas, which consists of a specially imported one-piece brick oven consistently reaching 800900˚F, Orso delivered uniquely crafted and singularly delicious pizzas. Patrons were welcome to watch the cooking process in

the outward-facing kitchen. The kitchen put on full display the pizza-making process, in which Orso boasted an unwavering promise to fresh ingredients and hand kneaded dough. The ambiance of the restaurant was bolstered by the intimate yellow palette and homey dim lighting. Additionally, the open dining room and lofty ceilings allowed families with even the smallest of children to enjoy the food without bothering others. In its last weekend, Pizzeria Orso was abuzz. To conserve pizza dough for all the customers who wanted a slice, the team skipped on making their famous Pizza Fritta (Fried Pizza Dough). Although their ingredients list was more limited than usual, patrons arrived with nothing but gratitude for the restaurant they cherished. In a gesture of good riddance, Orso offered discounts on wine to clear their inventory. As a testament to the impact Orso had had on the community, more than 300 people sat down on the last day in the 117-seat restaurant during the evening shift alone. Around 500 individual pizza doughs were kneaded, topped, cooked, cut, and delivered to happy customers that night. There was not a second to waste for mourning during the rush, as employees

kept busy distributing the final meals from the beloved restaurant. After the night was over, there was a chance for heartfelt goodbyes and hugs for the colleagues whose paths might not cross again. Although numerous pizza joints still reside in Falls Church, few of them capture the sit-down charm and authentic Italian feel of Orso’s pizzas. Pizzeria Orso was one of the few restaurants in the nation to be certified by Vera Pizza Napoletana, whose mission is to “promote and protect, in Italy and worldwide, the ‘true Neapolitan pizza’”. Outside of Falls Church, pizza joints like Pupatella share the coveted VPN certification. While their pizzas were delectable, Pizzeria Orso was a community more than anything. Although the owner and executive chef generally took a backseat to the day-to-day operations, the restaurant’s Manager, Denise Wood, and Head Chef, Saul Ramos were the friendly faces customers were greeted by each day. Additionally, years of local high school students, especially those from Meridian High School, filled out the cast of employees. As a fellow employee, I had the privilege of experiencing the close-knit nature of this community first-

hand. Among the kitchen staff, there’s a family - both literally and figuratively. Many of the employees were related to one another as siblings or as spouses, and working with them was nothing but a joy. As I walked out of the restaurant on the final day, I realized I had earned more than a few years pizza and paychecks. I had learned how a team of

colleagues committed to great service could bring together a community. “To say Orso is just a simple old restaurant that has come and gone is not the case at all. It’s about growth within a family so big, so warm you’d like to stay for a lifetime. Being a part of something so pure and special is something that’s way beyond irreplaceable,” said Denise Wood

BILLY ASEL with two long time servers of the restaurant, Janeth and Jacqueline (Photos by: Billy Asel)

PAGE 14 | FEBRUARY 22 - 28, 2024


In Memoriam: John N. Rodock We thank you for the In Memoriam item that ran in the February 8-14, 2024 FCNP about the passing of our father, John N. Rodock on January 29, 2024. We would like to tell you more about the man he was and his contributions to our Falls Church City community. The news of our dad’s death came as a shock for most people. Diagnosed with a particularly aggressive and enigmatic form of Multiple Myeloma just ten months prior to his passing, his immunocompromised state required scrupulous social distancing in the brief time he underwent treatment. Our father was born, was raised and died in Falls Church City. John attended St. James Catholic School and Bishop O’Connell High School, where he drove the football team bus to away games as a student and served as their public address announcer as an adult. John received his B.B.A. in 1978 from the University of Notre Dame, which he attended on scholarship. While there he managed the football and hockey teams, and has been a contributor to the Rockne Athletics Fund ever since. He earned his J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law in 1982. However, the law school accomplishments he was most proud of were serving as the Law School Softball Commissioner and coaching the Krimes Against Nature. Sportsmanship was important to our dad, and was a part of many roles he played across his life. As a teenager John worked at River Bowl, an alley in Bethesda managed by his father, and was a talented duckpin and ten-pin bowler. As a young adult he played softball and golf for fun and regularly attended Washington Capitals hockey games. He began as the PA announcer for George Mason University men’s basketball games in 1989. His booming

commentary energized and entertained both us and the crowds at EagleBank Arena and NCAA regional tournaments for 31 years. Prior to his retirement he was awarded the Patriot Club Service Award in recognition of his volunteer contributions to the George Mason Athletics program. When we were children our father coached 16 seasons of youth baseball and basketball, giving dozens of Falls Church children lessons in grit and good sportsmanship. We remember him as a father who was always eager to take us with him to watch his favorite college football and basketball games. We have especially fond memories of attending hundreds of Washington Nationals baseball games together, to which he was a devoted season ticket holder. As an outstanding tax, trusts and estates attorney, John was an active member of the American, District of Columbia, and Virginia State Bar Associations and was universally respected by his colleagues. As with the rest of his life, our dad took a service-oriented approach to his work by providing legal services and general counsel to numerous civic and community organizations throughout his career. John served on the boards of many nonprofit organizations, including the Mary Riley Styles Public Library, the Falls Church Chamber of Commerce, Falls Church Tri-centennial Committee, the Northern Virginia Senior Alliance, and the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame. A member of the Capital Pro Bono Honor Roll, our dad dedicated his time and expertise to pro bono work for countless people, from our college roommates and ex-boyfriends to the Epiphany of Our Lord Byzantine Catholic church, where he had been a parishioner since its

founding. In 2022 he was named Baker Donelson’s Washington, D.C. Pro Bono Attorney of the Year for providing estate planning services to D.C. residents who qualified for free legal assistance through Legal Counsel for the Elderly. Our dad was fiercely devoted to his clients. Despite an unrelenting succession of medical crises in his final months, he continued working for clients to the very end. Friends, relatives and colleagues alike relied on our dad for his discretion, wisdom, compassionate counsel, and keen sense of humor in times of need. He was the dad who always knew the right answer – from legal issues and financial advice, to math problems and Sunday crossword clues. He was the man everyone could, and did, depend on. In addition to the three of us, our dad is survived by his sisters Mary Kulas (Framingham MA) and Teresa Seay (Falls Church VA), his brother Stephen Rodock (Falls Church VA), and our mom, Sheryl Stratton (Falls Church VA). We are profoundly grateful to the doctors and providers who treated our dad at the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center and Johns Hopkins Medicine. In a game where no bets were safe, they gave us a real shot. A memorial service is planned for April 13, 10:30 AM at Lyon Park Community Center in Arlington VA. Contributions to the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation would be appreciated in lieu of flowers. John S. Rodock, Columbus OH Sarah Rodock Greer, Charlottesville VA Sabrina Rodock, Stafford VA


C ritter C orner

BLUEBELL IS A SHIH TZU PUPPY that Loves people, energetic, loving, cuddly, super nice, gives lots of kisses. Just because you’re not famous doesn’t mean your pet can’t be! Send in your Critter Corner submissions to crittercorner@fcnp.com.

C i t y o f Fa l l s C h u r c h C R IM E RE PORT Week of February 12 - 18, 2024 No Valid Operator’s License, Great Falls St, Feb 12, 3:51 PM, male, 25, of Arlington, was arrested for No Valid Operator’s License. Assault, Chanel Ter, Feb 13, 1:50 AM, victim reported being assaulted by a known party. Counterfeiting – Uttering, W Broad St, Feb 13, 4:01 PM, a business reported an unknown suspect used counterfeit money to pay for goods. The unknown suspect is described as a male, with a beard wearing a beige coat, gray hoodie, blue jeans and white shoes. Fraud – Credit Card, W Broad St, Feb 15, 4:28 PM, victim reported losing their wallet and fraudulent charges being made on their credit cards. No Valid Operator’s License, N Washington St, Feb 15, 8:25 PM, a male, 38, of Annandale, was arrested for No Valid Operator’s License. No Valid Operator’s License, Wilson Blvd, Feb 16, 7:55 PM, an male, 25, of

Temple Hills, MD, was arrested for No Valid Operator’s License. Public Intoxication/Trespassing, Wilson Blvd, Feb 17, 1:15 PM, a white male, 47, of no fixed address, was arrested for Public Intoxication and Trespassing. Residential Burglary, N Rochester St, Feb 17, 9:50 AM, a male, 53, of Arlington, was arrested for residential burglary. Shoplifting, Wilson Blvd, Feb 17, 10:24 AM, an unknown suspect stole merchandise without paying. The unknown suspect is described as a Middle Eastern male, with a beard and short black hair, wearing a white jacket and black hat. Shoplifting, Wilson Blvd, Feb 18, 10:24 AM, an unknown suspect stole merchandise without paying. The unknown suspect is described as a black male with a beard, 6 feet tall, wearing a white winter jacket and a black t-shirt.

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The LGBTQ+ Reach

by Brian Reach

Falls Church News-Press

Greece Becomes First Orthodox Country to O.K. Same-Sex Marriage Last Thursday, Greece legalized samesex civil marriage, becoming the first Orthodox Christian country to do so. Nonbinary Oklahoma Teen Dead After School Assault On February 7, three girls attacked nonbinary 16 year old classmate Nex Benedict in the girls’ bathroom at Owasso High School in Oklahoma. Benedict, who used they/them pronouns, had experienced months of bullying for being Nonbinary, according to an ABC News report. Nex’s grandmother Sue Benedict, who had adopted the teen, told British newspaper The Independent that the girls had knocked them down and proceeded to hit their head on the bathroom floor during the assault. The fight was broken up by other students in the bathroom, as well as a supervising staff member. According to the Washington Post, all students involved were sent to the assistant principal and nurse’s offices, but no ambulance or police were called. Nex was suspended from school for two weeks. Benedict picked Nex up from school that day and took them to a hospital, where an MRI was given, then reported the assault to police. Nex collapsed at home the next morning, and was rushed to the hospital, where they were pronounced dead. In a GoFundMe post, Benedict said the bullying followed a multitude of antiLGBTQ+ legislation primarily targeting Trans people in Oklahoma, and expressed remorse. “We are sorry for not using their name correctly and as parents we were still learning the correct forms. Please do not judge us as Nex was judged, please do not bully us for our ignorance on the subject. Nex gave us that respect and we are sorry in our grief that we overlooked them.” Oklahoma Leads Nation in AntiLGBTQ Bills Introduced in 2024 The ACLU is tracking 437 anti-LGBTQ+ bills across 40 states in the U.S. Of those, 54 bills were filed in Oklahoma, the most of any state in the nation. Oklahoma introduced 35 anti-LGBTQ+ bills in 2023. In August 2023, Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt (R) issued an executive order directing government agencies, schools, and state institutions to narrowly define gender and familial roles in a way that excludes Trans, Nonbinary, and Intersex people, cynically called the “Women’s Bill of Rights,” after bills to these effects failed to pass the state legislature. Stitt also signed several anti-LGBTQ+ pieces of legislation in 2023, including a ban on Nonbinary gender markers on state birth certificates, the criminalization of providing gender-affirming medical care to minors, a ban of Trans girls and women from participating in female sports teams, and banning Trans people from using

bathrooms that match their gender identity. “What we are fighting against is homegrown bigotry in the place of policy,” said Oklahoma Rep. Mauree Turner (D), who represents Oklahoma City in the State House, in a statement last year. “I know it makes a lot of folks uncomfortable that Trans people exist, but I would ask you to truly think about the last time a Trans person existing really impeded on how you showed up in the world.” Turner is the nation’s first Nonbinary person ever elected to public office. Justice Alito Calls Jury Exclusion of Homophobic People Discrimination Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito has once again issued an opinion calling the exclusion of jurors with anti-LGBTQ+ religious beliefs a form of discrimination. After the Supreme Court refused to take up an appeal for a case in which a Missouri Lesbian, Jean Finney, was awarded $275,000 for discrimination after a coworker of hers with the Missouri Department of Corrections, who was also the ex-husband of a romantic partner of Finney’s, harassed, disparaged, and lodged multiple complaints against her. Alito has on several occasions expressed concerns about anticipated “danger” from the Court’s 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges decision, which legalized same-sex marriage — in particular that “Americans who do not hide their adherence to traditional religious beliefs about homosexual conduct will be ‘labeled as bigots and treated as such.’” First Federal Trial For Gender Identity Based Hate Crime Begins On Tuesday, the trial began for Daqua Lameek Ritter, charged with the murder of Dime Doe, a Black Trans woman, who prosecutors say he killed in rural South Carolina in August 2019. According to prosecutor Ben Garner, assistant U.S. attorney for the district of South Carolina, Ritter had a secret sexual relationship with Doe. When his girlfriend, on whom he was cheating with Doe, found out — and called him a homophobic slur, Garner says Ritter became enraged, sending threatening messages before luring Doe to a rural area near an uncle’s house and shooting her three times in the head. Ritter then, they say, fled to New York. Garner says Ritter killed Doe “to silence her.” Weaponized Words And Stigma Cause Acts of Violence It’s heartbreaking that, in 2024, kids are still being bullied to death. It’s horrifying that, for some, the stigma of LGBTQ+ attraction is so intense that somebody would choose to murder a romantic interest to avoid exposure. It’s frustrating and infuriating that many in power, even those in the highest ranks of our judicial system, are still attempting to justify discriminatory views as some sort of traditional value. The only traditions we need to retain are those based in love, kindness, and respect for our neighbors. Period. Rest in Peace, Nex.

Fa l l s C h u r c h

FEBRUARY 22 - 28, 2024 | PAGE 15

Business News & Notes Local Business Celebrations The Falls Church Chamber invites the community to celebrate several local businesses next week. The City Council will join business owners Heather and Matthew Groves as they cut the ribbon for their business, 4Ever Young, in Founders Row on Tuesday, February 27 at 5:00 p.m. A reception will follow. On Thursday, February 29, there will be a 5:30 p.m. ribbon cutting ceremony for LP Dental in celebration of their first anniversary with a reception until 8:00 p.m. And VIGEO Physical Therapy will celebrate its Fourth Anniversary on Friday, March 1, 5:00 — 7:00 p.m.

Call for CFO Nominations Virginia Business Magazine has opened nominations for the Virginia CFO Awards. This is an opportunity to recognize outstanding chief financial officers in four categories: Small Company CFO, Large Company CFO, Small Nonprofit/Foundation CFO, and Large Nonprofit/Foundation CFO. The winners and all nominees will be recognized in the August issue of Virginia Business. The deadline for submissions is Friday, May 3 at 11:45 p.m. at surveymonkey.com/r/CFO24.

Sponsorships Open for Business Awards Gala – Escape to Paradise The Falls Church Chamber will recognize top businesses in the Annual Business Awards Gala on Thursday, March 21 at the State Theatre. Murphy Falls Church Arlington returns as the Presenting Sponsor and the remaining sponsorship opportunities are open. This years’ theme beckons one to visit the Keys in tropical attire. More information is available on the chamber website (fallschurchchamber.org) and questions can be directed to the chamber office. For those wishing to nominate businesses for awards and individuals for the Pillar of the Community, the deadline is tomorrow, Friday, February 23.

Combined ER/Urgent Care Proposed for Graham Center VHC Health has filed plans to demolish and replace Graham Center with a medical office building that combines an emergency room, urgent care, and primary care offices. This would operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week and alleviate some of the pressure on emergency services at Virginia Hospital Center. It would also provide services within the community at a lower cost than the hospital emergency room.

Virginia Intern Day The Virginia Chamber of Commerce is spotlighting “Top Virginia Employers for Interns” on Thursday, July 25. Local chamber members of any size and across all industries with internship programs are encouraged to submit a nomination by March 1. This is an opportunity to highlight companies and their interns. For more information, please contact the Falls Church Chamber or visit virginiatop.org/vainternday.

 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.

PAGE 16| FEBRUARY 22 - 28, 2024


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