Falls Church News-Press 3-28-2024

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G.I. Bill’s Role In Birth of F.C. as City 75 Years Ago

As City of Falls Church officials struggle for the first time in more than a decade to make meaningful gains increasing its affordable hous ing stock in the face of a deepen ing regional and national housing shortage crisis, historians are coming forward to point out how the very existence of the Little City as an independent jurisdiction is owed in significant part to a huge affordable housing advance in the post-World War II era that coincided with its official establishment.

While the City was being for mally incorporated in 1947, an occa sion being marked with numerous 75th anniversary events this year culminating in August, it was not a coincidence that the biggest housing project in the City’s history was being undertaken at the same time.

It was the monstrous, by standards here then, Tyler Gardens housing project (now known as Winter Hill and Cherry Hill), with 472 rental units on 27 acres, by far the biggest undertaking in the history of Falls Church in its pre-independent city iterations as an agricultural waystation, summer getaway for DC’ers, pocket of post-Civil War Black dwellings and legally-designated “town.”

F.C. Area’s Ilia Malinin Is Now World Champ

Local Skating Phenom

It was in the works since 1942, intended to be what was called by the Franklin D. Roosevelt administration “war housing.” The “war housing” was needed to house the flood of persons moving into the region to take jobs as part of the war effort, and they were also for the planned return home of millions

Continued on Page 3

Ilia Malinin, a 2023 George Marshall High School Grad, leads Team USA at the 2024 World Figuring Skating competition. In what can only be described as the USA’s most dominate performance in more than 2 decades, Malinin the self-described “Quad God,” led the way as he won Gold.

Malinin’s skating performance was set to the theme song of ‘Succession’ a popular

HBO series. He was able to land six quadruple jumps and a quad axel. The 19-year old is still the only skater to land the quad in competition.

Malinin attends George Mason University in Fairfax Va. and is led by his coaches Tatiana Malinina and Roman Skorniakov, who also happen to be his parents. Skaters themselves who competed for their home country of Uzbekistan.

Malinin completed the competion with a score of 333.76 — besting second place Yuma Kagiyama by 24 points.

It’s been a long time, since the Americans have seen this kind of success at the World Championships.

In addition to Malinin, American ice dancers Madison Chock and Evan Bates took home gold as well, which was their second consecutive world title. The last time the Americans were able to take home two gold medals at the World Championships was in 1996 in Edmonton.

Malinin’s breakthrough comes on the international stage, where he captured the

hearts of audiences with his captivating performances. His elegant spins, gravity-defying jumps, and expressive choreography earned him acclaim from fans and fellow skaters alike. With each competition, Malinin continues to raise the bar, pushing the boundaries of what was thought possible in figure skating.

The pinnacle of Malinin’s career came this year at the World Figure Skating Championship, where he delivered a performance for the ages.

Continued on Page 4

The City of Falls Church’s Independent, Locally-Owned Newspaper of Record, Serving N. Virginia Falls Church, Virginia • www.fcnp.com • Free Founded 1991
Vol. XXXIV No. 7
A Game Changer
When Tyler Gardens Was
for City
March 28 - April 3, 2024
tudents show off their progress in Jonathan Mills’ band course, focused on performing techniques, music

How Tyler Gardens Launched F.C as an Independent City

Continued from Page 1

of young American soldiers and their families after World War II. There were thousands of colonies of low-income housing projects that were planned during the war that sprung up all across the U.S. in the context of the 1944 passage of the massive Servicemen’s Readjustment Act, better known as the GI Bill.

(This year, while being Falls Church’s 75th anniversary year as an independent city, also marks the 80th year of the passage of the G.I. Bill which, far more than the war effort itself, was responsible for the nation’s full recovery from the Great Depression of the 1930s.)

According to veteran Falls Church development attorney Paul Barkley, the site for the Tyler Gardens had been purchased from Mattie Gundry for whom Gundry Drive and the Matty Gundry Award are named. She had operated the Virginia Training School in Falls Church for nearly 50 years, serving mentally challenged children.

Barkley noted in a history he prepared for inclusion in new Winter Hill Architectural Guidelines that he

drafted in 2001 that “the construction of Tyler Gardens caused quite a stir because it was the largest project of its kind in the town and the anticipated 950 new residents would pose a severe burden on the town’s water system consisting of four municipal wells.” The rents were projected to be from $65 to $93 per month.

To make it all work, the town issued 30-year bonds to finance a connection to the Arlington County water system at Chain Bridge near where Arlington received its water from the Dalecarlia Filtration Plant in D.C. That formed the basis for the growth of the Falls Church Water System, which expanded in subsequent years to encompass a large section of Northern Virginia that included Tysons Corner. It was transferred in January 2014 to Fairfax County for $40 million, plus 38.4 prime acres upon which the new Meridian High School was built and the massive 10-acre West End Development is being built, bringing enormous economic gain to the City.

In 1973, Wills and Plank contracted to purchase Tyler Gardens for conversion to the Winter Hill condominiums. The City govern-

ment stepped in when Wills and Plank sent out eviction notices to residents to enact a 90-day eviction notice law and negotiated the acquisition of 81 units of the project for low and moderate income housing.

According to an article in the March 11, 1987 Washington Post, entitled, “Falls Church Buys Subsidized Apartments,” “Falls Church Mayor Carol W. DeLong said this was the first time the city’s nonprofit housing corporation, created in 1982, has tried to preserve housing by buying and maintaining units.

“Rents at 80 apartments are subsidized under a federal low-income housing program known as Section 8, and this continuing subsidy was a key to making the purchase practical, officials said. One unit is for a property manager and is unsubsidized.

“The housing corporation is getting a $3.55 million loan from the Virginia Housing and Development Authority to cover the purchase and repairs on the heating system and windows at the apartments, according to housing corporation Chairman David S. Clark.”

So Falls Church owes its exis-

tence to the efforts of the FDR administration to adopt aggressive policies to end the Great Depression at the war’s end by a bill which made possible new opportunities for many millions of young families.

The G.I. Bill gave World War II servicemen and service woman many options and benefits. Those who wished to continue their education in college or vocational school could do so tuition-free up to $500 while also receiving a cost of living stipend. As a result, almost 49 percent of college admissions in 1947 were veterans. The G.I. Bill opened the door of higher education to the working class in a way never done before.

The bill provided a $20 weekly unemployment benefit for up to one year for veterans looking for work. Job counseling was also available.

The government guaranteed loans for veterans who borrowed money to purchase a home, business or farm. Medical care for veterans was also provided in the G.I. Bill. Additional hospitals were established for veterans and the Veterans Administration took

over all veteran-related concerns. By 1956, almost 10 million veterans had received G.I. Bill benefits.

PAUL BARKLEY, LONG-TIME Falls Church development attorney prepared the 2001 Winter Hill Design Guidelines document to assist in the undertaking of upgrades at the project, which was built as Tyler Gardens in 1947 to trigger the launch of the modern City of Falls Church, which he is seen here holding during a visit to the Falls Church News-Press on Wednesday. (News-Press Photo)


19-Year-Old Ilia Malinin Now Takes Aim at 2026 Olympics

With the world watching, Malinin took to the ice with a quiet confidence, his movements flowing seamlessly from one element to the next. Every jump landed with precision, every spin executed with grace, leaving spectators breathless with wonder.

As the final notes of his music echoed through the arena, Malinin knew he had delivered something truly special. Malinin has achieved his lifelong dream, clinching the title of World Figure Skating Champion.

For Malinin, this victory is more than just a personal triumph—it’s a testament to the power of perseverance and passion. Through hard work and determination, he defied the odds and reached the pinnacle of his sport. As he stands atop the podium, adorned with gold, Malinin hopes to continuing pushing the sport forward as he’s interested in attempting a quintuple jump, a maneuver that involves five airborne rotations and has never been performed in competition.

Continued from Page 1
ILIA MALININ shined bright as he captured gold at this year’s World Championships, held in Montreal. (Photo: U.S. Figure Skating )

‘Matching Wits’ and Ethics with Detective Hercule Poirot

Do you love a mystery?

Especially a locked room mystery with a world-famous sleuth solving the crime among a group of flamboyant upper-crust suspects? The Little Theatre of Alexandria’s production of “Murder on the Orient Express” has all of these exciting elements, inviting the audience to “match wits” with a great detective (as they used to say on a vintage television mystery series), Even better, this current production of the Agatha Christie “whodunnit,” adapted for the stage by Ken Ludwig and produced by Luana Bossolo and Kadira Coley, asks the audience to contemplate different approaches to ethics.

The show centers on Belgian master detective Hercule Poirot. Poirot boards the famous Orient Express train in Istanbul and meets a curious cast of characters, including a Russian noblewoman who has fled the October Revolution, an outspoken American Midwesterner, and a prim and proper Englishwoman.

Soon a murder occurs on the train while it is stopped in a snowdrift, meaning that the murderer must be someone still on the train. Adding to the mystery, the train compartment where the event has occurred is locked from the inside, and, according to Poirot, “there are too many clues.”

When Poirot finds his solution, he and the audience are faced with a dilemma which, in his own words, forces him to question his own values. Poirot is an advocate of duty ethics, especially the variety proposed by Immanuel Kant’s Categorical Imperative, whereby there must be no deviation from law and justice, which are universal and allow for no exceptions. In this case, however, the murder may actually be in the cause of a greater justice, in which the dead person has been immune from justice through the courts and might have been prevented from committing horrendous future murders. Thus, the murder on the Orient Express may possibly be justified on grounds of either the utilitarian “greatest

good for the greatest number” ethical view or, indeed, divine judgement reasoning. Audience members will have to decide for themselves which of these views is most valid. While the show is not directly interactive, ethical questions are asked of the audience in a meaningful way.

A strong asset of the show is its wonderful cast. Poirot is portrayed to perfection by Michael Kharfen, who conveys a Poirot with a powerful desire for justice, speaking with a French as well as a slightly Germanic accent. Colonel Arbuthnot is played with conviction (and convincing Scottish accent!) by John Paul Odle. Eleanore Tapscott is a special delight as midwestern train passenger Helen Hubbard, singing a showtune from Cole Porter’s “Anything Goes” (to the annoyance of other passengers) and injecting welcome humor into the proceedings. Danielle Comer excels as the Englishwoman Mary Debenham, Brian Lyons-Burke has wonderful chemistry with Poirot as his friend and compatriot Monsieur Bouc, and Brianna Goode

makes for an excellent Countess Andrenyi. Set designer Matt Liptak’s staging is exquisite, with an outstanding employment of props. Particularly noteworthy is the use of the headlights of the locomotive, executed effectively by lighting designers Ken and Patti Crowley. Detailed recreations of train cabins and a dining car recall a past age of luxury for train travel. The wonderful period costumes likewise succeed in evoking the elegance of the

elite of the 1930s. Flashback sequences, not easy to achieve in the theatre, are also done very effectively as cast members late in the play stand up and recite key lines which helped Poirot piece together his solution to the mystery.

The show, with all parts skillfully woven together by director Stefan Sittig, runs through April 13 at the Little Theatre of Alexandria (600 Wolfe St., Alexandria, VA). For more information, visit thelittletheatre.com.

THE CAST OF “Murder on the Orient Express,” on stage at Little Theatre of Alexandria through April 13. (Photo: Matt Liptak )

Our Editor Talks To The Chamber

The following are excerpts from a transcript of comments by Nicholas F. Benton, founder, owner and editor of the Falls Church News-Press to the monthly luncheon of the Falls Church Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday, February 13, 2024:

Thank you. I have with me my managing editor of many years, Nick Gatz, and also Brian Reach. This is the Falls Church News Press, right here.

I started this paper in 1991, and it was always premised on a partnership with the Chamber of Commerce. Does anybody remember Hap Day? He was one of the founding executive directors of the Chamber of Commerce here, and he and I became good buddies. My paper was founded to be a vehicle for advertising for small businesses in Falls Church. My core idea was that being pro-business was the way to support the schools and vital community services.

Now we are just about the only print edition newspaper left in Northern Virginia. Almost everybody has gone out of business, in terms of print editions at least. But I am here to make the case that print newspapers need to make a comeback. Megan McArdle of The Washington Post wrote that “the Internet has dissected your daily newspaper into its constituent parts, letting readers find the news they want without ever having to buy a paper or visiting a homepage.” Another columnist wrote, “Facebook, Google and YouTube have mutated human communication so that connecting people has often become about pitting them against one another and turbocharging the discord to an unprecedented and damaging volume.”

I stand for the continued print publication of our newspaper and its distribution as widely as possible to everybody in the City of Falls Church as we have done for over 1,700 consecutive weekly editions since 1991. It’s important because newspapers are a critical element of community building, city building, and nation building.

What was the impetus for getting this republic going? It was Ben Franklin with his newspaper in Philadelphia. After the revolution came The Federalist Papers , distributed through newspapers around the country. Everybody read them, everybody talked about them, and from that the Constitution was ratified.

In the 20th century, the role of newspapers was critical, exemplified by newspaperman William Allen White from Kansas. He was a Republican, but a staunch Roosevelt supporter, because to be against Roosevelt was to be pro-Nazi in that era. Then there was T.M. Storke, who ran the Santa Barbara News Press in California where I got my start, a similar type of person.

They saw their newspapers not as providing information, but for building community, building a city, building a nation. That’s the kind of newspaper that has got to come back as an effective means of retaining our democracy.


1. Keep the news clean and fair.

2. Play no favorites, never mix business and editorial policy.

3. Do not let the news columns reflect editorial content.

4. Publish the news that is public property without fear or favor of friend or foe.

5. Accept no charity and ask no favors.

6. Give ‘value received’ for every dollar you take in.

7. Make the paper show a profit if you can, but above all keep it clean, fearless and fair.


In response to Ms. Julia Liebeskind’s recent Letter to the Editor (“The New Building at Broad & Washington,” March 14-20, 2014): I couldn’t agree with you more. However, that train left the station a long time ago. And now we have big buildings with empty storefronts. Broad Street from Washington to Route 66 will soon be a canyon.

I think it’s time for the City’s Chamber of Commerce to look for a new slogan because this is certainly not “The Little City” anymore.

Mike Noska Editor, I would like to present my opinion about the current situation with our public transporta -

tion system. I am not old enough to drive and I also don’t have rides all the time, so I end up taking one hour long commutes to get to places like Reston or even Washington D.C., which are only about 20 minutes away by drive, to go fishing. This is why I believe we should have a better public transportation system. The buses in Falls Church and around it are infrequent, unreliable, and inconvenient and make taking them stressful, especially for teenagers.

To solve this problem, we could implement bus stops in more areas that go to different places. For example, if I wanted to go to Lake Burke, I would have to end up taking a 45 minute walk at the end of the trip because there are no buses that go near it. We could also increase the frequency of the buses and have a timetable for the buses to stick to because most buses come every 20-45 minutes.

This would make it easier for people to get around, give teens more freedom, reduce commute times for everyone, and also stop parents from having to drive their kids around all the time.

E ditorial EDITORIAL FALLS CHURCH NEWS-PRESS | FCNP.COM PAGE 6 | MARCH 28 - APRIL 3, 2024 Since 1991, an award-winning LGBT-owned general Interest community newspaper. Vol. XXXIV, No. 7 March 28 - April 3, 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 To Contact the News-Press phone: 703-532-3267 fax: 703-342-0347 email: fcnp@fcnp.com display advertising sjohnson@fcnp.com 703-587-1282 classified & Legal ads classads@fcnp.com letters to the editor letters@fcnp.com News & Notes newsandnotes@fcnp.com Obituaries obits@fcnp.com subscriptions distribution & delivery delivery@fcnp.com 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.
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‘Marjorie Merriweather Post’s Paris’ Dazzles, Wall to Wall

If a trip to Paris this summer for the Olympics is not on your calendar, but visiting the “City of Light” is appealing, for a much lower cost you can stay at home and enjoy Paris at a new exhibition, “Marjorie Merriweather Post’s Paris,” presented by Hillwood Estate, Museum and Gardens.

It’s not a huge display, but a show worth every dollar of admission which features almost 60 original objects including gowns, jewelry, wedding dresses, accessories, antiques, and decorative arts bought and collected in France by the one-time richest woman in the U.S.

Marjorie Merriweather Post (1887-1973) was the only child of the former Ella Merriweather and C.W. Post, who owned General Foods and Postum Cereals. When her father died in 1914, he left his estate to his daughter valued then at $20 million and valued now at more than half a billion dollars.

During the 1920s Marjorie Post built Mar-a-Lago (now owned by Donald Trump), and in the 1950s, she built Hillwood (she bequeathed Mar-a-Lago to the U.S. government, but it was too expensive to maintain and secure; Hillwood is operated as a private entity).

On Hillwood’s grounds a small dacha houses the exhibition, where guests can see Post’s Marie Antoinette costume she wore for more than two decades and a traveling trunk (made by Louis Vuitton) which held dozens of pairs of her shoes.

Hillwood calls her a “dedicated Francophile” who first went to Paris with her parents when she was 13 to see the World’s Fair. Over almost 70 years and more than a dozen trips, Post traveled to the city by ship, on her yacht or her private turbo-propped plane, designed for 44 passengers.

She stayed at the best hotels and frequented the most luxurious retailers, many still in business today like Vuitton, Hermès, A La Vieille Russie (dating from 1851 and now in New York City), and the oldest florist in Paris, Lachaume, opening in 1845 whose customers included Marcel Proust and Karl Lagerfeld.

The jewelry displayed includes necklaces, brooches, earrings, and a delicate seed pearl handbag of doeskin leather, platinum and diamonds made by Cartier Paris which Post’s second husband, E. F. Hutton, gave to their only child, Dina Merrill (the actress), upon Dina’s first marriage of three. A large map of Paris shows Post’s favorite places, hotels and shops.

From a favorite Parisian antique dealer, Galerie d’Art-Ancien, Marjorie Post bought porcelain commissioned in the 1700s by Catherine the Great of Russia, also on display. The Russians called her a “Russophile,” after she developed her affinity for Russian pieces while married to her third husband, Joseph E. Davis, U.S. Ambassador to the Soviet Union, 1936 or 1937 — 1938. Her collection of Russian imperial art is, after Russia’s, the world’s largest.

For a break of a delicious brunch or lunch, Merriweather Cafe is a chic restaurant on the grounds where I spent $21 for a tasty slice of vegetable quiche with cherry tomato, goat cheese, shallot, and a healthy serving of spring greens. I fell in love with Marlborough’s Nautilus Sauvignon Blanc ($12/glass), the label the wait staff permitted me to photograph to take to the wine stop. My meal expenditure was worth every dollar (and more!). The cafe is open daily, 11:30 a.m. — 3:30 p.m.

The exhibition at Hillwood (4155 Linnean Ave. NW, Washington, DC) runs through June 16, open Tuesday through Sunday, 10:00 a.m. — 5:00 p.m.

“Suggested” donation for entry (weekday/weekend): adults $15/$18, seniors (65+) $12/$15, college students $10, and children (6-18) $5. Free for children under 6 and Hillwood members. Make online reservations to save $1 per ticket on weekends.

Good weather, bad weather, whatever weather is a good day to spend at Hillwood and see flowers blooming along hidden pathways, walk in colorful splendor and tour inside Post’s elegant mansion, all spread over 25 acres of quiet seclusion in northwest Washington.

Post loved Paris in the springtime; she loved Paris in the fall; she loved Paris in the summer when it sizzles, and I love Hillwood when it dazzles, every moment, wall to wall.

For more information, visit hillwoodmuseum.org.

THE HILLWOOD Estate, Museum and Gardens exhibit, “Marjorie Merriweather Post’s Paris,” runs through June 16 (Photo: Erik Kvalsvik)

New Book Cites My Role Shaping New Gay Identity

A new book by noted Harvard Divinity School professor Mark D. Jordan, entitled, “Queer Callings” (Fordham University Press, 2024), credits me with a seminal role in the development of modern LGBTQ identity language during the early, formative days of the gay movement in 1970 and 1971.

Noting that “sexual identity… gained traction in the movement in the early 1970s,” he cites the day, November 11, 1970, when “more than 400 students and faculty from local seminaries gathered at the Pacific School of Religion, atop its glorious hill in Berkeley, for a public panel on homosexuality and Christianity. The preacher at the day’s liturgy was Nicholas Benton, who took as his title, ‘Was Jesus Homosexual?’

Jordan continues, “Benton had spent much of that year writing pieces that were soon published as a pamphlet, ‘God and My Gay Soul.’” “Benton,” he says, “wants a theological notion of gay identity to match what he hears in the ‘movement’ — to reproduce the fused meanings already in circulation (psychological and sociological, personal and political). But Benton adds meanings of his own, wittingly or unwittingly. He first distinguishes “gay” as a personal discovery from “homosexuality” and “homosexual” as labels of oppression. For Benton, the homosexual is analogous to the male-identified woman in allowing “her or his self-identity and life to be governed by the straight man’s value system. The gay, by contrast, is involved in the process of discovering a ‘gay’ self-identity and lifestyle. Again, ‘gay’ is the person, identity and lifestyle.”

He continues, citing me, “Since a sexual identity is the very person, it requires rights of free self-expression. It then expands with the horizons of self-discovery. The ‘perspective’ of ‘the new self-affirming homosexual self-consciousness’ is ‘totally different.’ It requires a revaluation of all (heterosexual) claims and the creation of a new culture — together with a new the-

ology or spirituality. The soul has a new identity (as Benton’s title proclaims). Its liberation should lead to freeing ‘the World Gay Soul.’”

Indeed, those were heady days. How I got from there to here were summed up in these words I included in my book, “Extraordinary Hearts,” a compilation of 100 “Nick Benton’s Gay Science” essays published in a Washington, D.C. gay newspaper over a two-year period from 2010 to 2012:

“In the summer of 1971, (my friend Jim) Rankin and I developed the notion of the social paradigm shift that we felt gay liberation represented. I wrote in my essay, ‘We saw the movement aligned with radical feminism as an effort to end the war and oppression by transforming male-dominated society. To this end, we argued against those who saw gay liberation as only sexual freedom, or even as strictly a fight for legal rights. Many of my articles in the Berkeley Barb promoted the notion that, fully actualized, gay liberation had the potential to be socially transformative.’ But the ‘sexual freedom’ faction crushed us, and the rest is history until now.”

On my “exile” from the gay movement in 1973 until I launched the corporate structure for my newspaper, the Falls Church News-Press, in 1987, I will say only this:

“‘My decision to align my life with a strident, tightly-knit, prosocialist configuration, if nothing else, saved my life. I struggled with demons by studying classics and advocating in remote places for ways to relieve droughts and feed the world.

‘I remember the moment when someone came into my office in July 1981 waving a newspaper to announce the news of a ‘gay cancer.’ An electric bolt shot through me and I immediately feared the worst. It turned out far worse than I could have imagined.

‘In 1985. I landed in the hospital with nonspecific symptoms, and feared I had AIDS, a death sentence. It turned out not to be so. That, the development of a test for HIV antibodies (I tested negative) and, the moral wheels having come off my associations by their exploitation of homophobia for political gain, compelled my emphatic break, with prejudice.

‘I proceeded to do what any good gay boy would do. I put my talents for the public good by starting a newspaper.’”

And it has now been 33 years of that.

Falls Church

Skyline Drive and the Shenandoah River are part of the mystique of Virginia, and less than a two-hour drive from the metropolitan area. Both locations also are part of the 64,000 square mile Chesapeake Bay watershed, so what happens in them can affect the nation’s largest estuary.

Some of the extensive wildfires in Page, Shenandoah, and Louisa counties last week still are smoldering. Aerial video showed the flame edges, but onthe-ground views revealed that much of the fuel for the fires was brush. Hopefully, trees were protected by their bark and may survive. The root systems will absorb spring rains rather than the stormwater running off with the dreaded sediment that clogs fishing streams and, eventually, the Bay. I could smell the fires before I saw the smoke. I was headed for the town of Luray (pop. 5000) in Page County (pop. 23,709) for the quarterly meeting of the Local Government Advisory Committee to the Chesapeake Executive Council (LGAC). The smoke had a different smell and hue than the Oregon forest fires of my youth; eastern deciduous trees and Virginia pines burn differently than Douglas fir, hemlock and cedar. Soon, white smoke began to drift into the mountain swales, and towering plumes of smoke on the horizon indicated active fire. One or two fire trucks sped toward the fires, their sirens sounding plaintively in the wideopen spaces. Outside of Virginia’s metropolitan areas, most fire and rescue services are provided by trained local volunteers with limited apparatus and equipment, so the wildfires taxed both personnel and gear. After hours on the fire line, appeals went out for donations to replace things as simple as fresh batteries for walkie-talkies.

Some local departments exhausted their entire year’s budget for fuel and equipment in just a few days. One thing not exhausted was the emergency siren that wailed several times during the night, probably signaling discovery of another wildfire.

LGAC members include representatives from Virginia, Maryland, and the District of Columbia, as well as Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Delaware, so it

was a varied mix of urban, suburban, and rural expertise that came together in Luray’s historic Mimslyn Inn. Restoration of the Chesapeake Bay is the mandate of the federal Chesapeake Bay Program, but implementation requires action at the local level. That is why many Bay jurisdictions have enacted stormwater fees to provide additional funding to support infrastructure projects for drainage, and wastewater utility fees to upgrade sewer plants to the limits of technology. The effort is two-fold: correct the errors of the past that resulted in an impaired Bay, and create a new “blueprint” that will address the challenges of the next 50 years — an increasing population, shifting land use demands, a changing climate. It’s a tall order, but

so were the original requirements of the Chesapeake Agreement in the early 1980s, many of which have yielded positive improvements. As the Bay Program looks to planning for “Beyond 2025,” LGAC and the related Science and Technical Advisory Committee and the Stakeholders Advisory Committee, along with a proposed Agricultural Advisory Committee, will work with federal, state, and nonprofit partners to update current goals and establish new ones for future generations. As I drove home from the meeting, the smoke still hovered, but failed to diminish the fluffy pink and white blossoms of Virginia’s orchards, appearing earlier in response to warmer late winter temperatures. Although the Chesapeake Bay may be best known for its seafood, its watershed produces an enormous array of fresh food products. In a few months, fruit from those orchards will appear in our local markets, contributing to the local economy and demonstrating again why a healthy watershed is so important to us all.

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F.C. Schools Set Up Fund to Help Molina Family

The Falls Church City Public Schools and the Falls Church Educational Foundation are coordinating donations for the Molina Family following the news that Custodial Supervisor Eduardo Molina passed away suddenly on Monday, March 25.

In a statement by FCCPS Superintendent Dr. Peter Noonan, he noted that Molina “was not just a colleague, he was an integral part of our FCCPS community. His dedication, passion, and warmth touched the lives of everyone around him. If you knew him, you loved him.”

Molina was a 31-year employee of FCCPS. He started as a custodian and worked his way up to the leadership role of his department. His employees affectionately referred to him as “El Jefe.” He led a team of 35 custodians who supported all 5 schools. Wherever he went, Eduardo’s exuberant personality filled the space with positivity.

Noonan, writing to the school community, urged friends to consider donating by way of the Falls Church Education Foundation Family Assistance Fund. Details of a memorial service have yet to be announced.

Book Reading in Pennsylvania

Canceled Due to Threats

(Reprinted from the Washington Blade).

An April book reading in Lancaster, Pa., featuring author Kevin Naff, editor of the Washington Blade, and Nick Benton, owner and editor of the Falls Church News-Press, was canceled this week following bomb threats targeting the Lancaster Public Library on Saturday.

Police evacuated an area of downtown Lancaster on Saturday after multiple bomb threats were made targeting a drag queen story hour event at the Lancaster Public Library. After the threats were made, the event was canceled, according to a report from WGAL-TV.

“We are grateful for the outpouring of support from our community as we work to process today’s events together,” read a statement from Lancaster Pride. “While we support the freedom of speech, we stand firm and cannot and we will not let hate, fear, and intimidation stop our collective movement for love and support for all.”

Naff was scheduled to read from his book, “How We Won the War for LGBTQ Equality — And How Our Enemies Could Take It All Away,” at a Lancaster-area library event moderated by Benton on April 18. A library official declined to comment on the cancellation.

“I am disappointed by the cancellation but it was the right call given the recent threats targeting the LGBTQ community in Lancaster,” said Naff. “MAGA Republicans must dial back their rhetoric and their attacks on our community; they are dangerous and draconian and will cost lives.”

The event was planned as a fundraiser for the Quarryville Library after Fulton Township revoked its funding because the library carries LGBTQ-themed books.

“I think everyone is a little bit surprised. We are in a conservative area so everyone has their own beliefs but as the public library we are here to serve everyone,” interim director of the library Sarah Bower told WHTM News in November after the funding was canceled.

Johnny Weir, the Olympic figure skater and commentator, is from Quarryville and later donated $1,000 to the library. Weir was supporting the April 18 event and promoting it on social media.

“It is a sad reality that fear generated by threats of violence that have escalated in the Trump era is stifling the public’s access to a free and open sharing of views, an outcome that is in absolutely no one’s best interest,” said Benton.

NVAR Says N.Va. Home Sales

Up in Region 2.2%

In contrast to the national market, February home sales in Northern Virginia grew 2.2 percent from the previous year — the first time since November 2021 — while nationally home sales fell 3.3 percent, according to the Northern Virginia Association of Realtors.

Home sales for the regional and national markets both grew from January but much more dramatically in Northern Virginia — up 32 percent and 9.5 percent, respectively, according to the NVAR.

Nationally, housing inventory sat at a 2.9-month supply, down from 3.0 months in January but up from 2.6 months in February 2023. In Northern Virginia, supply remained much tighter at 0.90 but was slightly up from last February’s 0.80 month’s supply. This was also an increase over January 2024, which had 0.74 month’s supply of inventory.

Sen. Salim Announces Eid Celebration Dinner

Muslims all over the world observe the holy month of Ramadan, and by its end, they celebrate a special festival called “Eid,” and Falls Church’s new State Senator Saddam Salim is hosting the first of what he says will be his special celebration of peace and joy.

The event will be held at 6:00 p.m. on April 20 at Tandoori Fairfax (10312 Willard Way, Fairfax, VA).

Fairfax OKs Security Scanning at High Schools

The Fairfax County School Board last week voted to spend an additional $3.2 million on school security, including a pilot program for security scanning at select high schools. There’s been no word yet about which schools will receive the scanners.

“At this time, we are not prepared to provide details of the program to the public. This information will be released when, and as appropriate, to include the identification of schools. Safety and security physical and technical systems are needed to assist in operational safety planning,” a school spokesperson said.

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Community News & Notes

Virginia State Parks Invites

Visitors to April 8 Solar Eclipse

On April 8, the skies will offer a rare spectacle as a total solar eclipse crosses North America, the last solar eclipse visible from the contiguous United States until 2044. In celebration of this extraordinary event, Virginia State Parks invites visitors to witness this celestial wonder firsthand.

The solar eclipse, a natural phenomenon where the moon passes between the Earth and the sun, casting its shadow on Earth, promises a breathtaking experience for all who witness it.

With 42 state parks across Virginia, visitors will have ample opportunities to find the perfect spot to witness the eclipse.

What visitors will see during the solar eclipse depends on the weather and the park’s location. Many parks, especially those in Southwest Virginia, are expected to experience more than 85 percent sun obscurity, with Wilderness Road experiencing 90 percent.

Visitors are encouraged to plan ahead and arrive early. To ensure safe viewing, parks will have a limited number of solar viewing glasses available for purchase. They cost $1 plus tax and will be located in park

visitor centers and gift shops. For more information visit tinyurl.com/FCNP0324se.

Friday Morning Music Club

Announces Two Free Concerts

The Friday Morning Music club will perform two free chamber concerts in April at St. George’s Church (915 N. Oakland St., Arlington, VA) adjacent to the Virginia Square Metro. The April 5 concert will feature works by Chopin, Mozart and Kapralova; the April 12, works by Schubert and Albeniz. The one-hour concerts continue every first and second Friday of the month through May. All concerts start at noon.

Tax Relief Applications are

Due April 15

The F.C. treasurer’s office advised City residents that tax relief applications are due Monday, April 15 (covering the tax period for FY 2025, July 1, 2024 to June 30, 2025. Residents must submit an application each year even if currently receiving tax relief benefits. If a resident currently receives tax relief benefits, and has no changes to their income or asset level from last year, they only have to remit the recertification short form, with signature, which residents received via mail in February. First-

time applicant or those with changes to their finances must submit the full application with all required documentation. For more information, call the treasurer’s office at 703-248-5046 (TTY 711) or visit fallschurchva.gov/TaxRelief.

N.Va Muslims Host Interfaith Iftar Dinner for Peace

The Northern Virginia chapter of Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA invites citizens from all faiths and walks of life to “Voices for Peace: An Interfaith Dialogue and Iftar Dinner,” at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 30 at Mubarak Mosque (4555 Ahmadiyya Dr., Chantilly, VA). Dinner will be served.

A press release from Ahmadiyya said:

“As our community observes the holy month of Ramadan, during which Muslims fast daily from dawn to sunset, we maintain an unwavering commitment to forging a path of peace.

“This iftar dinner will feature a mosaic of voices from various faiths to advocate for harmony and solidarity between Israel and Palestine, and to champion a lasting peace based on justice and human dignity. At a time when the world’s political leaders are faltering, this grassroots initiative invites every American to partake in an evening of dialogue, understanding and the shared pursuit of peace.”

The event is free and open to the public, with registration requested at tinyurl.com/FCNP0324vp.

MHS Robotics Team Shows Prowess at CRESCENDO

Meridian High School’s first ever Robotics Team 1418 competed in the CRESCENDO challenge, held March 16-17 in Severn, MD.

The team prepared for nine weeks (20+ hours each week) to design and built a competitive robot that could perform all tasks of this year’s challenge. During the weekend, the team earned 20 district points through their hard work.

The team was also selected to compete with the 8th Seed Alliance, where they were defeated by the 1st Seed Alliance.

String Trio to Perform at Vienna Church April 14

The Vivaldi Project, a music ensemble founded and led by F.C.

resident Elizabeth Field, will perform a program, “Discovering the Classical String Trio,” at 4:00 p.m. Sunday, April 14 at the Church of the Holy Comforter (543 Beulah Road NE, Vienna, VA).

The concert is free and open to the public, with donations requested to support the church’s music program and concert series. A reception to meet the performers will follow the performance. For more information, see the church’s website at tinyurl.com/FCNP0324st.

‘The Yellow Pot’ People’s Choice at FCA ‘Images’ Exhibit

Jenny Nordstrom’s piece “The Yellow Pot” has received the Falls Church Arts’ People’s Choice Award. The prize, chosen by visitors

to FCA, is sponsored by Marybeth Fraser and the Magnificent Manors Team (2111 Wilson Blvd. Ste. #1050, Arlington, VA).

“Morocco is a magical country of chaos and color. One of the most stunning cities is the beautiful blue pearl of Chefchaouen, where every square inch is painted in shades of blue — punctuated by occasional pops of gold, red, and orange. To me, this image speaks to simplicity, individuality, and serenity.” Nordstrom said of her piece, a photograph which sold at FCA for $700, Images, a fine art photography exhibit, is on display in the FCA gallery (700-B W. Broad St.) through April 14. For details and gallery hours, visit fallschurcharts.org.

THE MERIDIAN ROBOTICS team competed in the CRESCENDO challenge, March 16-17 in Severn, MD. Pictured from left: Nina Miller, Nya Taheri, and Ian Beaupain. (Photo: Bob Dunn) F.C. NATIVE David Meridith, two-time-winner of Comparably’s “Best CEO” award (2020 and 2022), was in town from Boston to enjoy lunch with long-time friend, News-Press founder-owner-editor Nicholas F. Benton, and personally pick up his copy of Charlie Clarke’s new book, “Life and Times of the Falls Church News-Press.” (News-Press Photo)
News-Press School News & Notes MARCH 28 - APRIL 3, 2024 | PAGE 11 SCHOOLS
JESSIE THACKERY Preschool students enjoyed a refreshing (but brisk) bit of outside time on the payground. (Photo: Chrissy Henderson) THE MUSTANG Baseball Team picked up a win on Saturday against Hylton. (Photo: Cayce Ramey) STUDENTS represented Meridian at the 17th Annual West Point Leadership and Ethics Conference last week. (Photo: Josh Singer)
Check out more School News & Notes pictures and stories online at fcnp.com FALLS CHURCH NEWS-PRESS | FCNP.COM
CHOIR STUDENTS enjoy practice on the secondary campus, where 163 students are participating this year. (Photo: Chrissy Henderson)
PUBLIC NOTICE PUBLIC NOTICE The Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) of the City of Falls Church, Virginia will hold a public hearing on April 11, 2024 at 7:30 PM in the Council Chambers, located at 300 Park Avenue, for consideration of the following item: a. Robert Agarwal, owner and appellant, requests to present “new evidence” regarding appeal application A1647-24 previously denied by the BZA on March 14, 2024 to determine a re-hearing based on said “new evidence” at 1014 Fowler Street, RPC#52-110-006 of the Falls Church Real Property Records, zoned R-1A, Low Density Residential District. Public comment and questions may be submitted to zoning@fallschurchva.gov until 4:30 pm on April 11, 2024. Agenda and application materials will be available the week prior to the scheduled hearing at: http://www.fallschurchva. gov/BZA Information on the above application is also available for review upon request to staff at zoning@fallschurchva.gov. FOR SALE National Memorial Park, Falls Church, VA. 2 double depth plots in Block HH Current Price $13,000 each - selling for $6,000 each. Phone (910) 575-0258
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Falls Church Egg Hunt

Children ages 1-11 hunt for eggs, take pictures with Mr. and Mrs. Bunny, and more! Free to attend. Cherry Hill Park (312 Park Ave., Falls Church), 9:15 a.m. — 11:00 a.m.




Easter Sunday. Multiple places of worship host services, egg hunts, and other events. Check church websites for service and event details.


Karma Yoga Easter Egg Hunt

Karma Yoga celebrates their 5th birthday with an Easter Egg Hunt. Look out for teal-colored eggs throughout The Little City, with gifts to redeem at the studio such as chocolates, scarves and passes to classes. All eggs are hidden within walking distance of the studio. Karma Yoga (246-A W. Broad St., Falls Church), all day.

Evening Art Critique Group

Bring a piece of art for feedback from a community of artists. Free and open to all levels; meets the first Monday every month. Falls Church Arts (700-B W. Broad St., Falls Church), 7:00 p.m. — 9:00 p.m.

City Council Work Session

The City Manager presents the proposed Budget & Capital Improvements Program. Sessions are held the first and third Monday of the month, open to the public, and conducted to allow members to discuss upcoming legislation and policy issues; the public is not generally invited to speak. Watch live or ondemand 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. — 10:00 p.m.


Artists in Conversation: Small Island Big Song

Join the indigenous artists of Small Island Big Song for a powerful lecture-demonstration and musi-

cal performance, shining a light on the devastating effects of climate crisis on our world’s ocean. This complimentary event is offered in conjunction with their April 20 performance at the GMU Center for the Arts. During this lecturedemonstration, the group will first set the stage with some geographical and historical background about these great oceanic migrations, then engage in conversation and musical demonstrations by the artists to showcase some of the cultural similarities their communities share across these vast ocean expanses, ending with audience Q&A. Learn more at cfa.calendar.gmu.edu. Stacy C. Sherwood Community Center (3740 Blenheim Blvd., Fairfax, VA), 7:00 p.m.


Ask the Council Session

The public is welcome to attend this session to meet with Council members and ask questions in an informal setting. City Hall (300 Park Ave., Oak Room, Falls Church), 9:00 a.m. — 10:00 a.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.

Snapology and Acton Academy F.C.

A fun family event where parents and children enjoy several different activities with robotics, coding, engineering, creative aspects and more. Hosted by Snapology and Acton Academy. Suitable for ages 4-14. Free to attend. Acton Academy Falls Church (513 W. Broad St., Falls Church), 5:00 p.m. — 6:30

Budget Town Hall Meeting #1

City staff will present the proposed budget and answer questions from attendees in-person and online at tinyurl.com/FCNP0324th. Open to the public. Budget documents and meeting videos will be posted to fallschurchva.gov/budget.

City Hall (300 Park Ave., Council Chambers/Court Room, Falls Church), 7:00 p.m. — 8:30 p.m.

CALENDAR FALLS CHURCH NEWS-PRESS | FCNP.COM THIS WEEK AROUND F.C. MARCH 28 - APRIL 3, 2024 | PAGE 13 THURSDAY MARCH 28 Spring Break Schools are closed in the City of Falls Church, Arlington County, and Fairfax County, reopening Monday, April 1. FCCPS (School Buildings, Falls Church), all day. Tinner Hill Historic District Pop-Up The City's Planning Department hosts a pop-up opportunity to learn about the proposed Tinner Hill District and engage with the Planning team. Second pop-up planned for April 6, 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Mary Riley Styles Public Library (120 N. Virginia Ave., Falls Church), 1:00 p.m. — 4:00 p.m. Historic Architectural Review Board Meeting Historic Architectural Review Board meets. City Hall (300 Park Ave., Dogwood A-B, Falls Church), 7:00 p.m. — 9:00 p.m. FRIDAY MARCH 29 West Falls Comm. Dev. Authority Meeting West Falls Community Development Authority meets. City Hall (300 Park Ave., Laurel Room, Falls Church), 2:00 p.m. — 4:00 p.m. SATURDAY MARCH 30 Falls Church Farmers Market Shop the award-winning market every Saturday, yearround! City Hall Parking Lot (300 Park Ave., Falls Church), 9:00 a.m. — 12:00
p.m. SMALL ISLAND BIG Song hosts a demonstration and musical performance, Tuesday at GMU Center For the Arts. (Photo: Kimmi Cranes)

In Memoriam: Susanne Bachtel

Susanne Bachtel, a member of the Falls Church City Council from 1988 to 1992, died at the Goodwin House in Greater Falls Church last week at age 87. She was born in Toledo, Ohio on December 20, 1937. She suffered from dementia in her later years.

Bachtel was elected to the F.C.

City Council in May 1988 as part of a slate of candidates backed by the Falls Church Citizens Organization that opposed the majority on the Council at the time over hot button issues at the time like the location of the new girls’ home. Prior to that, she was an active participant in the Stop I-66 campaign. She was active in the Nature Conservancy, Mount Olivet United Methodist Church, and Clarendon United Methodist Church. Susie is preceded in death by her parents Hannah Mae and George Bachtel, sister Mary Louise (Shaidnagle) Cowan and brother Dick Bachtel. Survivors include her sister Jeanie Deutschman (Massillon, OH) and several nieces and nephews. She graduated from Massillon High School in June 1955 and

City of Falls Church CRIME REPORT

Week of March 18— 24, 2024

Reckless Driving/Eluding, W Broad St, Mar 18, 2:04 AM, officers observed a vehicle driving recklessly that subsequently fled when a traffic stop was initiated. Officers were able to identify the driver, and warrants were obtained for Reckless Driving and Eluding Police. A male, 28, of Fairfax County, was later arrested by the Metro Washington Airports Authority Police Department for Reckless Driving and Eluding Police.

No Valid Operator’s License, E Annandale Rd, Mar 18, 3:41 AM, a male, 33, of Fairfax County, was arrested for No Valid Operator’s License.

Larceny, W Broad St, Mar 19, 12:30 PM, the reporting party discovered money missing from the business safe.

Fraud, Haycock Rd, Mar 19, 3:30

PM, victim reported a rental car company they found online instructed the victim to put money onto a gift card and provide the card information.

Shoplifting, W Broad St, Mar 20, 10:53 AM, victim reported an unknown suspect stole merchandise without paying. The suspect is described as light skinned black male, approximately 6’ in height and weighing about 170 pounds, with black hair and carrying a backpack.

Destruction of Property, Wilson Blvd, Mar 20, 12:40 PM, an unknown suspect threw an unknown object through the front window of a business. The suspect then entered the business and continued to destroy the interior. The suspect is described as an Asian male, approximately 5’5” in height and weighing about 175 pounds, wearing a blue jacket, blue pants, and blue face mask.

Reckless Driving, E Broad St, Mar

Ohio State University in 1959. She worked in a variety of private industry jobs in Ohio until she moved to Virginia in 1965, where he worked as administrative associate for the director of Policy Studies in Science and Technology at The George Washington University, executive assistant to the director at the U.S. Congressional Office of Technology Assessment (OTA), and special assistant to the director at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), retiring in 2003 from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.

A memorial service will be held later this Spring at Goodwin House. In lieu of flowers, the public is urged to consider a donation to an environmental group.

C ritter C orner

21, 7:36 PM, a white female, 47, of Herndon, was arrested for Reckless Driving.

No Valid Operator’s License, Hillwood Ave, Mar 21, 11:09 PM, a white male, 25, of Fairfax County, was arrested for No Valid Operator’s License.

Larceny of Motor Vehicle Parts, Offutt Dr, between March 8 and 12:33 PM on March 22, an unknown suspect stole the front license plate, license plate cover and screws off of a vehicle.

Shoplifting, W Broad St, Mar 23, 6:27 PM, victim reported an unknown suspect stole merchandise without paying. The suspect is described as a black male with black dreadlocks, approximately 6’0” – 6’3” in height, wearing a multicolor jacket (baby blue hood, red and white torso, and dark blue sleeves), with blue jeans and black shoes.

help learners thrive.

Mustangs Bring Momentum Into Spring Break

Week Two for Meridian High School’s spring sports season brought more success than the previous one, and the momentum was needed as the school is now on break for the final week of March. Baseball, soccer, and lacrosse all earned some big victories, so here’s a quick recap.

The baseball team traveled to Potomac Senior on Friday and won 12-0, then closed out their pre-break stretch of the

season with a tournament doubleheader on Monday by beating Annandale 6-0 and Thomas Jefferson 5-4 to improve their season record to 4-2. Their softball counterparts meanwhile lost 2-1 at Oakton last Monday before taking one out of three tournament games a week later, falling 10-9 against Westfield this Monday and then losing 7-2 to South Lakes on Tuesday. On the bright side, they picked up their first of the year in the second half of their

Monday doubleheader by beating West Potomac 8-4, and they and the boys will now be off until April 8th when they both play at Brentsville.

Boys’ soccer played only one game this past week, improving their record to 2-3 after holding serve at home against Briar Woods on Thursday, while the girls beat Osbourn Park 2-1 on Wednesday and then lost 5-1 at Briar Woods on a quick turnaround the next night to fall to 2-2 on the year. The

boys will face John Lewis on April 8th when they return from break, while the girls will host Wakefield the day after that.

The lacrosse boys beat Wakefield on the road Wednesday to move to 2-0 in their quiet, but productive start to the year, and will be one of the first teams to return from the break when they host Sidwell Friends on Wednesday, April 3rd. The girls, meanwhile, have emerged as the headliners of the spring season thus far, as wins

against Riverside on Monday (16-13) and then at McLean on Wednesday (16-10) improve their experienced squad to a perfect 4-0. They’ll compete in tournament play when they return, facing both Langley and Oakton at Centerville High School on April 13th.

Both tennis teams were off this past week, but will return at the start of April with the girls playing at Wakefield on Tuesday and the boys at home aginst Yorktown on Wednesday.

Just because you’re not famous doesn’t mean your pet can’t be! Send in your Critter Corner submissions to crittercorner@fcnp.com. THIS FURRY FRIEND lends a hand at Acton Academy F.C. twice a week to (Courtesy Photo)
Visit us at fcnp.com

The LGBTQ+ Reach

Elon, Elon, Elon

On Monday a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit against 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH, counterhate.com) by social media company X (formerly Twitter), owned by billionaire Elon Musk.

The suit claimed that CCDH reports documenting the rise of hate on X, particularly in the time following Musk’s acquisition of the company in 2022 that took the company private. The most recent reports on the CCDH site include “Twitter Fails to Act on 99 percent of Twitter Blue Accounts Tweeting Hate,” “X Content Moderation Failure,” and “Toxic Twitter” — a series with two installments exploring how the platform generates revenue, first from restoring banned accounts, then from antiLGBTQ+ rhetoric — specifically the “groomer” narrative.

The Groomer Narrative

The “groomer” narrative is a baseless, and quite frankly paranoid, portrayal of LGBTQ+ people as sexual predators who “groom” — build trust and rapport to manipulate, and ultimately sexually assault — children. This narrative, like heart disease, has been passed on, generation-by-generation, by those who believe homosexuality is a sin, primarily in conservative religious communities.

As LGBTQ+ visibility, equality, and acceptance have advanced, so have best practices in how to ensure that LGBTQ+ youth have healthy, happy, safe experiences in school — a place where they typically experience a great deal of mistreatment. This has resulted in a number of policy changes in school systems around the country, from family and life education to bathroom access to bullying policies and beyond; these policies informed by modern, evidence-based research that no longer assume LGBTQ+ people to be inherently broken or wrong.

At every step along the way, — from Anita Bryant’s “Save our Children” campaign in 1977 (opposing a Dade County, FL ordinance forbidding discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation) to the “Don’t Say Gay or Trans” bill (notably from the same state) that the spokesperson for Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) called the “anti-grooming bill” — conservatives have stirred moral panic, with varying degrees of success, using the same trope about LGBTQ+ people.

Toxic Ad Revenue

The CCDH “Toxic Twitter” report, released in March 2023, focused on antiLGBTQ+ rhetoric, analyzing 1,714,504 identified tweets and retweets that pushed the “groomer” narrative about LGBTQ+ individuals. The data showed a 119 percent increase in tweets and retweets accusing the LGBTQ+ community of “grooming” in the five months

following Musk’s takeover of the platform, such tweets growing from 3,011 to 6,596 daily tweets.

The report also analyzed the five most prominent accounts driving the narrative — Libs of TikTok, Gays Against Groomers, James Lindsay, Chris Rufo, and Tim Pool — which it estimated to amass over 6.6 billion annual impressions and generate up to $6.4 million in annual ad revenue.

Ground Zero: Florida

In August 2022, CCDH and Human Rights Campaign (HRC) released a report, “Digital Hate: Social Media’s Role in Amplifying Dangerous Lies

About LGBTQ+ People,” which analyzed the extreme ramp up of antiLGBTQ+ rhetoric on social media following Desantis signing Florida’s discriminatory “Don’t Say Gay or Trans” bill in March 2022.

“The volume of ‘grooming’ related discourse increased drastically — almost overnight — by 406 percent” in the month following the bill’s signing, the report said, expressing alarm at the speed and ease with which these seeds of hate grow. “This dangerous rhetoric is being pushed by a small, extremist group of politicians and their allies who, together, are driving a coordinated and concerted campaign to attack LGBTQ+ kids in an effort to rile up extreme members of their base ahead of the midterm elections.”

The report found that “in a short space of time, ten people — including Gov. DeSantis’s press secretary, extremest members of Congress like Marjorie Taylor Greene and Lauren Boebert, and pro-Trump activists like “Libs of TikTok” founder Chaya Raicheck — drove 66 percent of impressions for the 500 most viewed hateful ‘grooming’ tweets” — 48 million out of 72 million.

Though the report specifically blames Twitter’s “failure to enforce its own policies banning anti-LGBTQ+ slurs” for the visibility the posts were able to garner, it notes that only one of 59 paid ads on Facebook and Instagram promoting the same narrative was removed.

Hateful Lies Endanger Children

I believe, as I assume most do, that harming or abusing a child is a crime of the highest degree, one that deserves the highest of punishment.

As such, the mere accusation of sexual misconduct with a child can often irreparably harm a reputation, regardless of its validity.

In order to truly protect children from such harm, it is imperative to treat false, cynical, careless accusations with similar alarm and anger — if not legal penalties.

Not only does the “groomer” trope and the hate it promotes harm LGBTQ+ people, in particular children, it trivializes child abuse, and provides easy cover for those actually committing such detestable acts.

Falls Church Business News & Notes

Business Award Winners Announced

The Falls Church Chamber of Commerce hosted the Annual Business Awards Gala last week at the State Theatre to announce the winners of the 2024 awards and celebrate the business community. Welsh Printing was named the Small Business of the Year; Dogwood Tavern, the Large Business of the Year; Homestretch was named Nonprofit of the Year; New Editions Consulting received the Company Culture of Excellence Award; and former Mayor David Tarter was named Pillar of the Community. Over 200 people attended in beach attire to bid on silent and live auction items and dine while being entertained by The Breakdown.

Toy Nest Anniversary

The Toy Nest is celebrating its fourth anniversary with an all-day birthday party on Saturday, March 30. Guests may enter a drawing for a free month of membership, and families that would like to stay and play are asked to register at www.thetoynest. com. There are special sales throughout the month. Toy Nest is one of only three full time toy libraries in the nation. It also features indoor play space and a party venue serving kids from infancy to age 8.

Fitness on the Block

Rumble Boxing wants to help Falls Church win the Mayors Fitness Challenge this year. The new business invites the community to participate in a complimentary outdoor Rumble class at Founders Row. The class will be this Saturday, March 30 at 11:00 a.m., promoting health, wellness, and community spirit. Participants can log the time spent in the class to go towards the competition to win the trophy back. Learn more at fallschurchva.gov/2140/Mayors-Fitness-Challenge.

Karma Yoga 5th Anniversary

Karma Yoga turns 5 on April 1. To celebrate, they will hold an Easter Egg Hunt on Monday with five wooden eggs hidden in local public spaces including parks, historical, spiritual, or community places within a 10-minute walk of the yoga studio. The eggs may be redeemed at the studio for special gifts including chocolates, scarves, and passes for classes.

The scavenger hunt clues are found at docs.google.com/document/d/1DckAbcc2p6av4vjGJCZ46Stt54X8uXB8ENmohjjysc.

Invitation to Ribbon Cuttings

The Falls Church Chamber is celebrating two new businesses next week, KiPs Family Gymnastics and Night Watch Pediatric & Adult Urgent Care. The public is invited to join City Council members and the chamber board members for the ribbon cutting ceremonies followed by a reception and tours. The KiPs celebration will be Monday, April 1 at 4:30 p.m. in the Shops at West Falls Church on Lee Highway. The event at Night Watch Pediatric & Adult Urgent Care will be on Tuesday, April 2 at 5:00 p.m. The clinic (7265 Arlington Blvd., Falls Church) has received attention having for staff trained in pediatrics and offering extended hours until midnight on weekdays.

Compass Coffee Update

Compass Coffee will open the first location in Fairfax County at the Shops at West Falls Church in a former BB&T Branch. The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors recently granted Compass Coffee a special exception for construction of two drivethrough lanes with a third for staging and delivery of coffee and other items. This will accommodate up to 14 vehicles. Founded in DC by two U. S. Marine Corps veterans who served together in Afghanistan, this will be the 17th location in the region.

 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.






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