July 27 - August 2, 2023
Va. Tech Piece of West Falls Plan OK’dby Nicholas F. Benton Falls Church News-Press
A week after approving the requested modifications in plans for the mixed use development of WMATA’s land at its West Falls Church Metro station, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors this Tuesday granted unanimous approval of plans for the spectacular development of the Virginia Tech 7.53-acre site sandwiched between the WMATA site and the 10 acres adjacent the new Meridian High School now under full bore construction in the City of Falls Church.
The latest approval sews together three sites into what will emerge as over 40 acres of highly innovative, cutting edge architectural, technological and culturally-centered development, promising to be the most spectacular in the region, eventually eclipsing Merrifield’s new Mosaic district.
Fairfax Supervisors Chair Jeff McKay said “there are a lot of moving pieces to this complicated but high quality project that will be a great addition to the region.”
Supervisor John Foust, in whose district all but the City of Falls Church’s portion of the three-part project sits, said that one of the two buildings on the Virginia Tech parcel will be “one of the most attractive in Virginia” with its 100,000 square foot solar array propped above the largely glass-enclosed
Continued on Page 3
Key Approvals Won for 7 Corners Ring Roadby Charlie Clark
Planners of the long-envisioned Seven Corners ring road have officially ruled out disruptive new routes through Falls Church City, according to the latest study of remedies for a major headache for area travelers.
But the ambitious project for the broader area is advancing. The urgency?
Crash data from the Virginia Roads website plots locations for more than 100 traffic accidents near the Seven Corners central intersection from 20182023.
Pedestrians jaywalking across Wilson Blvd. to enter
the Eden Center on crowded Saturdays have raised concern among staff at the AAA office across the street.
And commenters on TripAdvisor express a fear of driving through the 1950s-vintage namesake interchange that integrates nonstop traffic entering from both directions on Route 7 and Route 50, Hillwood Ave., Wilson Blvd. and Sleepy Hollow Rd.
Help is finally, if slowly, on the way.
The Fairfax Transportation Department last month released its “Seven Corners Phasing Study” laying out plans for the new ring road that will traverse parts of Falls Church, Arlington
and Fairfax. The goal is to siphon off a portion of non-local traffic. from the overloaded central intersection.
Reflecting public comment from hearings held last November 10-11, the document details a four-phase construction plan to create the ring road designed to improve the roadway and ease bicycle and pedestrian access, as envisioned in the Fairfax County Comprehensive Plan.
“We do recognize the danger, and it’s a very complicated interchange to get through, both from pedestrian and vehicle point of view,” Mike Garcia, chief of the Fairfax County Transportation
Planning Section, told the News-Press . “So the plan is to uncomplicate the interchange so it’s easier for people to walk through and bike through as well as navigate by vehicle. We want people to get directly to Route 7 and Route 50 and Wilson Boulevard by choosing a path that is more understandable. But we do not want to disperse them through the area.”
The new report, based on the work by project manager Nanditha Paradkar, consultants and traffic forecasts to 2030 and 2045, also reflects planning by a task force that
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Falls Church NEWS BRIEFS
F.C. First in Virginia in Income Investment, Study Shows
The City of Falls Church is far outperforming all other jurisdictions in Virginia in terms of income investment, a new study from SmartAsset shows. SmartAsset has released its annual study on the places receiving the most incoming investment. The study measures growth in Gross Domestic Product (GDP), new business launches and new building permits to determine the places receiving the most investment locally.
According to the study, Falls Church City ranked first among the places in Virginia with the most incoming investment.
The study identifies the places across the U.S. which are receiving the most incoming investment. The study measures investment in counties across three metrics: business establishment growth, gross domestic product (GDP) growth and new building permits.
Smart Asset looked at the change in the number of businesses established in each location over a 3-year period. This shows whether or not people are starting new business ventures in the county. The second factor it looked at was GDP growth. They used real growth (inflation adjusted) in the local economy.
Nine GOP Challengers Line Up To Oppose Sen. Kaine in ‘24
Ahead of next year’s election, Virginia Senator Tim Kaine, who is seeking a third six-year term, has already drawn nine declared GOP opponents who will vie in a primary next spring, according to reports.
The challengers include multiple MAGA candidates who support statewide and national abortion bans, oppose expanding voting rights and removing health care protections for 1.3 million Virginians with pre-existing medical conditions.
Announced last week were Navy veteran Hung Cao, who gave Rep. Jennifer Wexton a run for her money last year, attorney Jonathan Emord and Scott Parkinson, a former aide to Ron DeSantis.
New Tax Credit Push Coming To Help Newspapers
According to Brier Dudley of the Seattle Times Free Press, one of the more promising policy ideas to stop the decimation of local newsrooms is back in play. Federal tax credits to preserve newsroom jobs, and incentivize publishers to create more of them, were nearly approved as part of federal spending packages in 2021 and 2022.
Now a scaled-back version is pro -
posed by U.S. Reps. Claudia Tenney, a New York Republican, and Suzan DelBene, a Washington state Democrat.
The “Community News and Small Business Support Act,,” H.R. 4756, on Friday will bid for passage in the coming year. “We have 218 million Americans who access news from their local papers every month but since 2004, while our population has grown, the number of newsroom employees has dropped by 57 percent,” DelBene said.
Fairfax Co.: Huge Office Market But With 16.7 Percent Vacancy Rate
Fairfax County is currently the second largest suburban office market in the nation, with an inventory of 120 million square feet, but the current office vacancy rate sits at 16.7 percent, topping the county’s previous 10-year high, according to Stephen Tarditi, director of market intelligence at the Fairfax County Economic Development. Tarditi presented the data to the Fairfax Board of Supervisors’ economic advisory committee last week.
He said that despite the county’s vacancy rate, the demand for office leasing is increasing. “Last year, we had 6.6 millionsquare-feet of office space leased, so we’re 37 percent below our pre-pandemic average,” he said. “And comparing that to 2021, we were about 4.5 million square feet.”
Fairfax Named No. 1 ‘Digital County’ in U.S.
Fairfax County has been named this year’s No. 1 jurisdiction in the Digital Counties Survey’s One Million or More Population category.
The Digital Counties Survey Awards provides an annual measure of technology performance and innovation conducted through an in-depth review of the programs and initiatives created and implemented by counties across the nation. The awards recognize the best practices in the areas of open government, transparency, strategic planning, public engagement, shared services, cybersecurity, and operations.
Fairfax County has made continuous improvements, rising through the ranks of the Digital Counties Survey Awards through the years. Over the past three years they shot up from fifth, to second, to finally first place, according to Fairfax Board Chair Jeff McKay. “Our County continues to emphasize data management that is supported by both a Data Analytics Advisory Group and a Data Governance Council,” he reported this week.
Continued from Page 1
building that will house Virginia Tech’s Coalition for Smart Construction with a robotics lab and HITT Construction’s international headquarters.
It will be situated right on the new Mustang Way access road that many students at Falls Church’s new Meridian High School will walk along, being able to look inside the structure while on their way.
The approval Tuesday culminated five years of planning and effort to put the overall plan together. The chief spokesman for the project, called “Converge West Falls,” that has come before the Supervisors has been Falls Church resident and local F.C. Chamber of Commerce activist Andrew Painter of the Arlington law firm of Walsh Colluci Lubeley and Walsh.
Painter described the principal building on the site as characterized by its “defining architecture” on six floors below the solar array up at 118 feet
providing 1.1 to 1.4 megabytes of electricity. Supervisor Penny Gross commented that she found it “almost otherworldly,” and Foust called it “the most attractive in the entire region” that will be “iconic, a statement in itself about the importance of sustainability.”
“This represents a bold vision, a cutting edge of construction innovation and sustainability,” Foust said. “This is fabulous.”
The second building on the site will rise to 145 feet and provide 440 residential units with 18,000 square feet of retail on the first floor.
A last minute proffer from HITT offered $500,000 for improvement of the intersection at Haycock and Mustang Way. Running between the two buildings on the site will be the West Falls Station Boulevard, the unifying element of the three properties that will run seamlessly through their center from Route 7 to the West Falls Church Metro station. Along it will be two pocket parks and
a unifying “innovation civic plaza” with a moveable “cloud pavilion.”
Painter said, “This is much more than a redevelopment, it is a partnership of many critical elements coming together to
make the entire area work.”
“This is absolutely a first class project,” Foust added. There were nine citizens who spoke about it Tuesday and another 13 who spoke at the earlier Planning Commission meet-
ing where it was also approved unanimously. Some nearby residents objected to what they claimed were violations of the county master plan, but Foust and others said they disagreed with that assessment.
F.C. City Director: Seven Corners a ‘Gateway’ in Connection to NoVa Region
Continued from Page
received input from civic groups, property owners, and businesses. It envisions a four-lane ring road with bridges, sidewalks and a bus transit center on a service road around two thirds of the interchange—leaving intact entrances to the City of Falls Church.
Phase One would address the western entrance from Route 50; Phase two would redo the southern entrances to both major state routes; phase three would recast the central intersection as more of a square; and phase four would adjust Wilson Boulevard in front of the Eden Center to reroute traffic toward Roosevelt Blvd. and the East Falls Church Metro. The ring road is expected to spawn redevelopment and include landscaping.
The project was first broached in 2012 with organizing on broader “quality of life” issues at Seven Corners by Mason District Supervisor Penny Gross. Early proposals to loop Falls Church City in the new ring were later removed after resistance from residents on Hillwood Ave.
“Seven Corners is a gateway
to the City, connecting us to the Northern Virginia Region,” Susan Finarelli, the city’s director of communications and Public Information Officer, told the News-Press. “The City looks forward to continued discussions with Fairfax County.”
Arlington County was also part of the intergovernmental review team, noted Katie O’Brien, director of communications and public engagement at its Environmental Services Department.
“We advocated for improved bike/pedestrian connectivity on Wilson Blvd. and for transit access on Roosevelt Blvd. – the two facilities that connect into Arlington.”
Also abandoned is any plan to route the ring road behind the Eden Center, which is itself being re-envisioned. “The first and fourth phases should relieve the central interchange of traffic, and bring more traffic to Eden via Route 7 and Wilson Blvd.–which is a good thing,” said Alan Frank, senior vice president and general counsel of Capital Commercial Properties, which owns Eden Center.
Next steps include “a look at various funding options available to apply for,” said Garcia, along with some refinement of the first phase
engineering this fall. The Northern Virginia Transportation Authority in 2022 allocated $4.2 million, but groundbreaking may still be years in the future.
Last November’s feedback on the project was “a little mixed,” Garcia said. “Some wanted small changes and are a little concerned about the reconfiguration. Some wanted environmental assessments, but that’s later in the process. There were not too
Thank You Falls Church!
many comments, which means most are okay with what we produced.”
One commenter predicted the ring road detour “will likely be underused by drivers. Why? Because of human nature. People always like to use the shortest distance between two points whether walking or traveling, for several reasons, one of which is instinct.”
Kirit Mookerjee, an Arlington resident and civic activist who
works in Falls Church, told the News-Press that “pedestrian safety in Fairfax and Falls Church is not high.” He points to the Willston Shopping Centre area at Patrick Henry Drive and Arlington Boulevard, where “people cross where they shouldn’t. And with the current effort by Falls Church City at community engagement with the Eden Center, I’m concerned that they solve this problem.”
RIP Precursor to Our News-Press
RIP the journalistic forebear to the mighty Falls Church News-Press
The legendary Santa Barbara, Calif, daily of the same name has shuttered after 168 years with a Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing last week ending its run as California’s oldest and longest-running newspaper.
The Santa Barbara News-Press, founded in 1855, was the place where our founder and owner Nicholas F. Benton first got paid for his journalistic endeavors, notwithstanding the 15 cents a few of his kindly neighbors dished out when he went from door to door as a seven-year-old in little Avila Beach, Calif. to peddle a few of his own hectographed Benton Star newspapers.
“News-Press” is the name our hero chose in founding his newspaper in Falls Church in 1991 among alternative choices, such as “Independent,” as he wanted it to be clear to readers that it was a real newspaper with real news, and not anything else. (He was in recovery from a bad period in his life when everything, no matter what it was called, was a political thing).
Benton wasn’t stealing the News-Press name because there are other papers with that same name across our land. But his appreciation for his first newspaper job was more clearly reflected in his decision to adopt the sevenpart Platform that has been reprinted on the editorial page of each and every one of his newspaper’s editions since its founding in 1991.
That noble, classic and aspirational Platform, beginning with “Keep the news clean and fair,” was originally authored by Thomas More Storke (1876-1971), the Santa Barbara native who spent $2,000 buy the first of a series of local papers in 1900 and eventually merge them into the Santa Barbara News-Press. His Platform was published in his newspaper every day from the day Storke penned it in the mid-1920s until he sold it to the Philadelphia Bulletin in the mid-1960s, including through the 1960s when Benton worked there as a stringer in high school and college then as a full-time reporter for a year before he left to attend a graduate theological seminary.
When Storke, whom our Benton, then a cub reporter, encountered on a couple of occasions when the much revered, moderately rotund old man in his signature white hat and dark business suit walked through the editorial offices, finally sold the paper, the new owners immediately ceased publication of the Platform, retaining only the phrase, “Without Fear or Favor,” as a sort of motto.
Stroke was a Democrat who served briefly as an appointed U.S. Senator in the late 1930s and as a FDR delegate to the 1940 Democratic National Convention and he won a Pulitzer Prize in 1962 for his editorials attacking the rabidly right-wing John Birch Society.
Sadly, in recent years the paper fell into the hands of a rabidly pro-Trump owner, which resulted in little sympathy in the community for its steady decline and now demise.
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.
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Schools Must Prepare Students for Efforts
Thank you very much for publishing this paper. In a time when many do not have alternatives to fake news readily available, Falls Church and Fairfax residents are lucky to have the Falls Church News Press. After working as a teacher in public secondary schools in the Washington, DC area, I discovered an unhelpful regional trend we need to reverse. The trend is not allowing students to receive F’s or grades below passing. This trend is not new or surprising. The first D I ever earned came in college, and caused me shock and upset. Although I had prepared as usual, my performance had not been rewarded with the usual B- or better. That horrified me, but thankfully, not my mother. The year before last, in 2022, a student in Pittsylvania County committed suicide after his parents criticized him for receiving a failing grade. In spite of such a tragedy, not allowing students to fail tests is a mistake. Businesses avoid failure and often refuse to admit to it because it is their job to produce products they hope will earn them profits. It is the job of a school to do something different: to educate people for myriad different futures in which they will, inevitably, experience failure as adults. A good school system must prepare its students to expect to have to try hard and to try again, and to avoid being unduly shocked if at first they do not succeed. Where failure is forbidden, success is meaningless. Where failure is possible, it can help
reveal deficiencies which we could not fix were they hidden. If everyone passes, could a test be too easy? If everyone fails, could something be wrong? Administrators need to ask these questions. The number of enticements to teachers fudge the numbers in the world of digital assessments is great, and teachers are human. Most of us might be tempted to take the occasional short cut. Success looks great, and feels great when meaningful. Yet failure itself is not meaningless. It can teach us the long, slow, hard work of being patient with the effort taken to do something difficult. That is a lesson we do not want our students to miss.Ann Bayliss Falls Church
I’m on my bandwagon again! Why does Fairfax County want to discontinue leaf pickup? Is it because they can’t find companies on a contract basis to do the work? If they can’t find people to pick up the leaves, can the homeowners find someone without being gouged? If service is discontinued is Fairfax County going to refund the $178.77 that they charge me every year for leaf pickup? Additionally, if Fairfax County wants to save money for leaf pickup, they don’t need a third pickup date as the leaves are gone in January. Citizens — rise up and oust the rascals!!!!!William J Dunn
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Being Unable to Wait to Leave One’s Hometown
who came from them. I had a hometown of 300, and also one of 50,000 and it was the same for both.
Washington Post contributing columnist Brian Broome’s contribution this week, “Jason Aldean? Spare Me the Small-Town Nostalgia,” touches an especially sensitive nerve, for me and for society generally, as the Aldean hit song, “Try That in a Small Town” is now hitting the top of the country western charts.
The song is not without controversy already, as it seems to many to embrace barely coded racist symbols, and Broome describes as a Black youth growing up in rural Ohio that “the racism of my small town was naked and powerful; seething hatreds were baked into its soil” facets which got only worse when all the steel jobs disappeared.
But then he wrote how when he got older, and realized he was gay, that “my small town became for me a coffin lined with razor blades.” He explained, “It wasn’t just my sexuality that made it uncomfortable. I was different. I thought differently. I began to question the things I had been taught, and I found no one in my hometown who offered good answers. I was just told to be quiet: by my teachers, by my friends, by my church and even by my parents. And then the smothering feeling set in, the wondering whether there was more to life than what I was being shown. And I knew I had to escape. I wanted to meet different kinds of people, I wanted different experiences, I wanted to learn new things, and none of that was going to happen in a small town in northern Ohio. I couldn’t wait to leave.” He asserted, “We need to start shedding this idea that purity and goodness reside only in the places with one stoplight.”
Yes, it is remarkable how things associated with one’s small hometown, or plural for those whose families moved around, seem to almost calcify, to become hardened and inflexible, especially in terms of attitudes and expectations of those
Take the case of Janis Joplin, who grew up in Port Arthur, Texas, a small rural town where she was looked upon as a freak. She had escaped to the music scene in Austin where she went on to become world famous. She was being interviewed upon her return to Port Arthur for a high school reunion when by then everyone was totally in awe of her. She was looking forward to the reunion, but she was unable to hide her discomfort even so.
Going “back home” works only if you can pull it off. But the psychic damage can be overwhelming. You shoehorn yourself back into the coffin-like constraints of your days before you were able to fly away. At least I did, though I grew up in a time when such constraints were more pervasive and confining than today. I view the massive reaction formation that constitutes the MAGA Republican social agenda today as an imperative to return to those awful 1950s conformist days and their awful, suffocating feelings.
Nostalgia is a nasty thing. It tends to gloss over feelings and moods that we lived with at the time and replace them with warm oceanic feelings of bliss.
My main home town was a very popular resort destination and when I tell my friends I came from there they always ask why I ever left. I think Mr. Broome may have an idea. The main crime against one’s self returning to such places has to do with the sensed compulsion to conform with what became in the meantime an alien time and place.
Those who insist “you can’t go home again,” ala the title of Thomas Wolfe’s novel, have a point.
My life has unfolded like the final three minutes that concluded the six-year TV series, “Six Feet Under.” To the music of Sia’s “Breathe Me,” it started with the main character lighting out in her VW onto an L.A. freeway headed to New York and an indeterminate future. It flashes through her eventful life to wind up on her deathbed, nowhere near her “hometown,” but surrounded by images of great memories.
Our Man in ArlingtonBy Charlie Clark
Houses of worship in our historically religious county continue to struggle.
The congregation of the Arlington United Methodist Church, with roots in the 19th century, has folded, and last year sold its 70-year-old red brick structure at 716 S. Glebe Rd. to Sunrise Senior Living, which has filed for demolition.
One temporary occupant of that complex was Redeemer Church of Arlington, which this June took over the main sanctuary of the Westover Baptist Church. Their landlord remains the Baptist church, which began in 1940 with a congregation of 76 across from today’s Swanson Middle School. Over the decades its services sometimes attracted 1,000 as a force in the community. Today’s congregation, I can report — is down to 100.
An interview with Pastor Michael Youngblood explored reasons the congregation is now meeting in its smaller (original space) in the Perry Mitchell Chapel. “Covid had an impact on church attendance nationwide,” says the Philadelphian, now in his ninth year at Westover. “We are meeting our ministry objectives and moving forward. This move makes the building more available to the community.”
Working on budgets and planning during a consultation with a national church consultant with his board of trustees to refurbish the sanctuary and chapel, Youngblood explored offers with several local churches. “Fortunately, finances are not a struggle,” he says.
Its expansive campus with ample
parking houses the Arlington branch of the (D.C.based) Levine Music School, a successful preschool, an occupational therapy program, a summer camp, a vacation Bible school, two scout troops (Boy and Girl), and classical concerts (the Arlington Chorale). When a nearby congregation experienced a death recently, Westover hosted the funeral that drew 800 attendees, Rev. Youngblood notes. Westover is also set up for parishioners to participate remotely through the streaming of services and Bible Study.
Of all Westover’s assets, the preschool is among the most steady — now in its 52nd year. (My own two grandkids attended.) During Covid, “a lot of schools were struggling with enrollment, and people were choosing different child care options,” says Amy Kaetzel, an employee since 2012 and director since 2020. With many locked inside, “some young children had never left their home, and it was a scary time for everyone.”
Coming out of this isolation, the preschool “slowly began to re-introduce more community — Halloween parades, Christmas performances, parents coming in as classroom readers, after-school enrichment and weekend picnics at use of the campus park. A bequest from a loyal former teacher allowed scholarships and upgrades (including a popular play-space ball pit) to 11 classrooms that can host more than 100 students “but feel like a one-room schoolhouse. The church is gra-
cious in allowing us to use multiple spaces,” Kaetzel says.
Collaborating as a team with resource specialists, “the teachers know every kid.” The key, Kaetzel adds, is that “children learn best through play, though secretly there’s a lot of learning going on. Arlington Public Schools spends so much on facilities, but that’s not really the most valuable thing in education. The quality of teachers, the right numbers and parents are the recipe. Safety is No. 1, but there’s also safety with heart and spirit.”
Jesus Christ, reminds Pastor Youngblood, “said our mission is to go out into the world.” For Westover Baptist, that “now means serving from the chapel and recognizing the past members and friends who sacrificed to build this church. Then and now, isn’t there still a need for Christ in the community?”
A towering, multibranched water oak tree in the Williamsburg neighborhood has been saved from the chainsaw.
As recommended by the Arlington Tree Action Group, realtor Liz Kirby this month inked an unusual sales contract with a builder planning to expand the brick rambler at 5920 N. 35th St. An addendum specifies that any new construction will be done in consultation with a certified Virginia arborist. “He appreciates trees, knowing that greenery is good for us all,” she told me.
That’s important news during our times of highly visible climate change.
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Dogtopia of Falls Church
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Animal Welfare League of Arlington
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Homeless Animals Rescue Team
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Humane Society of Fairfax County 4057 Chain Bridge Rd, Fairfax, VA 22030 (703) 385-7387 hsfc.org
Lost Dog & Cat Rescue Foundation 6801 Wilson Blvd, Falls Church, VA 22044 (703) 295-3647 lostdogrescue.org
Lucky Dog Animal Rescue
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Continued on Page 12
Alexander & Yonis Mobile Pet Salon LLC Mobile (703) 585-0570
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Gentle Touch Dog Grooming, LLC
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Cat Sitting by Susan LLC
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Fairfax Animal Hospital
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Falls Church Animal Hospital
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Feline Veterinary Clinic
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Home Veterinary Care of Northern Virginia (703) 451-9504
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Veterinary Emergency Group
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Continued on Page 18
Doggy Diplomats of the Foreign Service Make Big Impactby Catherine Kane Falls Church News-Press
For former Falls Church resident Loren Braunohler, having a dog in the family is an important piece of certainty in their transient life. Braunohler’s husband, Walter, is a Foreign Service Officer in the State Department, which involves moving overseas from post-to-post every two to three years with their four children and cream colored golden retriever, Kosmo.
“Even though we’re in the Foreign Service and it’s a certain type of lifestyle, I did not want to sacrifice certain things, like the kids having a pet,” Loren said. She left the Foreign Service in 2011 to become a stay-at-home-mom, but has lived in Thailand, Poland and Ukraine for Walter’s positions.
Currently, the Braunohlers are posted in Newport, R.I., where Walter is teaching at the Naval War College. The family adopted Kosmo in 2016 as a puppy while posted in Krakow, Poland.
Walter was the Counselor for Public Diplomacy at the US Embassy in Ukraine before the family was evacuated. Loren said the
rapid succession of moves for the family was traumatic for the kids.
“There were four years where we moved every year,” Loren said. “Kosmo is this constant that the kids can count on and he provides them therapy in that way.”
Kosmo is a trained therapy dog with the People Animals Love (PALs) organization based in the DMV. He has visited schools, hospitals, senior homes and sick and disabled individuals in DC, Virginia, Maryland, Kyiv and Rhode Island.
While the Braunohlers were posted in Kyiv with their four kids, the Russian invasion began to seem imminent. Kosmo was the therapy dog at the Kyiv International School, where many diplomats’ children were in attendance.
“Kosmo was going into the school right up until we evacuated,” Loren said. “Being able to pet him provided a lot of therapy for the students at that very stressful time.”
Three weeks before the invasion, the State Department issued evacuation orders for all families at the US Embassy. They were given less than one week to pack up, say goodbye to their friends, colleagues and teachers and figure out how to get
Kosmo back to the US. Eventually, the State Department sent a chartered flight for families with pets back to the United States.
Even standard Foreign Service moves with pets are challenging. Elisabeth Escobar, a Falls Church resident and wife to Deputy Assistant Secretary Gabe Escobar, said the State Department largely leaves pet logistics up to owners.
The Escobars, who spent over twenty years in the State Department “childless, pet-less and plant-less” adopted their two dogs while posted in La Paz, Bolivia, in 2016.
“We weren’t planning on getting a dog, but my friend who is a dog rescuer in La Paz texted me a picture of Cookie while I was [vacationing] in New York City and without even asking Gabe I said, ‘yes’,” Elisabeth said.
In La Paz, the Escobars’ embassy accommodations were a house, not an apartment, for the first time, a major factor in their decision to take in Cookie, a small, white retriever mix. Then again, a year later, Elisabeth got sent a picture from the same dog rescuer of a small white dog with curly hair.
As soon as they welcomed Daisy into their home, she felt herself falling in love.
Since leaving La Paz, Cookie and Daisy have lived in Falls Church twice, where they encountered squirrels for the first time, and accompanied their parents to a two-year post in Belgrade, Serbia.
“Daisy is needy, anxious, devoted and faithful. Cookie is a street dog, she could go rogue at any moment, but she’s very cuddly,”
The Braunohlers will live in Jamestown, R.I., a small island across from Newport, for the next two years. Kosmo got certified as a therapy dog in Rhode Island to continue working in schools.
“The kids had to say goodbye to everyone very quickly and then the war started. To have Kosmo to lean on, to lay down on, to cry on — it was wonderful to have for our family,” Loren said.
Safe for the Summer: Ways for Your Pet to Beat the Heat and Moreby Kylee Toland Falls Church News-Press
Although summer is seen by most people as a way to enjoy the warmer weather through various activities and events, the season’s weather can unfortunately not be as enjoyable for people’s furry friends.
To ensure proper care during the summer months, people can take precautions so their beloved pet can enjoy the season along with their owners. Extreme heat, loud fireworks and smoke inhalation are factors to keep in mind when considering an animal’s safety.
As this summer brings in high temperatures, the intense heat can be detrimental to an outdoor pet.
Patricia Britt, the co-owner of Arlington’s Capital Petsitters, said she recommends keeping dogs and cats indoors “as much as possible.” Indoor activities, such as a game of fetch or food puzzles, can provide the same amount of fun a pet can get from being outdoors.
“Of course dogs need to go out for short walks to take care of their business, but try to time longer
walks for early mornings when the temps are cooler,” Britt said. “If you’re feeling the heat when you’re outdoors, you can be sure your pets are too!”
Posh Pets founder and co-owner Kimberly Richmond followed Britt’s sentiment about hot, summer days and its negative effects on animals. She said her dog walking company tries to stick to grass or shaded areas when taking the dogs out, while also providing water bottles and portable water bowls so the dogs can remain hydrated.
“Dog’s paw pads can be extremely sensitive to the hot pavement,” Richmond said. “A good rule of thumb is to place the back of your hand on the pavement and if it’s too hot for you to hold it there for seven seconds, it’s too hot for a dog’s paws.”
Richmond also said mosquitos are a risk for pets during the summer months due to their bites sometimes causing heartworm in dogs. She suggests that owners give their dog a monthly heartworm preventive and to avoid going out with their pets during dusk, as that is when mosquitos are out in “full force.”
Although the Fourth of July has passed, fireworks are still launched, resultantly scaring or stressing pets. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) website, turning on soft music, being wrapped in a snuggly-fitting t-shirt or asking a veterinarian for anti-anxiety medication are a few ways a pet may feel more at ease when loud fireworks are going off.
One recent concern this summer has been the occurrence of smokey air due to wildfires. While the warnings state people should not risk going outside when these conditions occur, the warning should also be applied to pets.
If there happens to be more smokey air this summer, keeping a pet indoors and monitoring their bathroom breaks are ways to prevent smoke inhalation in animals. If a pet displays any symptoms of smoke inhalation, such as coughing/gagging, difficulty breathing and fatigue/ weakness, seek medical attention from a veterinarian.
2023 FCNP Pet Accolades
Happiest (Canine): Chief Silliest Face (Canine): Lilly
Prettiest Eyes (Canine): Buddy
Most Photogenic (Canine): Bath
Most Huggable: Louie
Best Pose (Canine): Scuppers
Best Pose (Feline): Mazey
Best Outfit: Lola
Best Smile: Poppy
Silliest Face (Feline): Smokey
Most Comfortable: Hadleigh
Coolest Style: Honey
Best Napper: Chad
Readiest to Play: Wallace
Cutest Haircut: Berkeley
Chicken Noodle, Chicken Nugget, & Mama Chicken
Dyamic Duo (Canine): Frank & Jackson
Dynamic Duo (Other): Apollo & Hermes
Best Bed Sharers: Macchiato & Onyx
Chonkiest (Feline): Pixie & Bella
Most Energetic: Simon Chonkiest (Canine): Boomer Downs
Best Swimmer: Lincoln
Best Seating Choice: Percy
Guiltiest Face: Rudy
Most Photogenic (Feline): Leo
Fur Babies of The Little City
Coolest Name (Canine): Indiana Jones Best Stare: Amy Best Sense of Humor: Homer Softest Coat (Canine): Zizi Best Ears (Canine): Ziggy
Where to Keep Your Furry Friend for a Night in F.C.by Phebe Fahmy Falls Church News-Press
There is no denying the pandemic brought a rise in pet owners. As people moved to remotework, leisure switched from travel and nights out to staycations and at-home hobbies. For many, the extra time resulted in becoming a pet owner.
Now, as people switch to part-time remote work or have fully transitioned back to inperson jobs, it is imperative to determine the best course of action for their pets.
“Dog care is undergoing a lot of transformation, as we speak,” says Jim Hannesschlager, owner of Dogtopia locations in Fairfax and Falls Church. “What’s really happened in the last 10 years, I’d say—and really accelerated in the last five—has been kind of the mainstreaming of the doggy daycare facility.”
Different doggy daycares offer different benefits, and overnight offerings range from pet boarding to pet resorts. With a plethora of options for dog-owners, it is important to understand the advantages of each overnight/ daycare option.
The most common service a pet-owner may find is boarding, which is an overnight stay for one or multiple nights. Often, places offering overnight boarding likewise offer a daycare option and the option for your pet to experience a spa treatment. Two Falls Church locations which offer these three services are Dogtopia and Dude’s.
“Everyone really in this industry is offering the same set of services, and those are dog daycare, dog boarding, and some version of spa services,” says Jim.
With a baseline of what to expect at dog daycares, finding the right fit for your pet comes down to preference and further offerings or specializations.
“What we specialize in is the daily care of dogs and the intimate knowledge and light training and exercise and socialization that hap-
pens in our playrooms,” says Jim. “Dogtopia is all about a dog first mentality and not so much a business first mentality.”
Jim went on to state that Dogtopia conducted and sponsored a third-party study on the benefits of daycare for dogs. The study found those that attended daycares had, on average, a higher step-count (6,000 vs 30,000), and those that regularly attended daycares lived approximately two years longer than dogs who did not attend daycare. Ultimately, the benefits of exercise and social interaction are not exclusive to humans.
“This is something we talk about a lot with pet parents who are trying to determine whether they should do it or how often they should come,” says Jim. “It ends up being a lot like a human going to the gym two to three days a week. You might just prolong their life.”
At Dude’s, owner Andrew McBride aims to emphasize an open atmosphere. Dude’s is cage-free, meaning the dogs are not put into crates or kills. Rather, the dogs openly sleep as a group at night. Furthermore, staff is constantly monitoring the dogs, as staff members spend the night.
“The difference for me is your dog comes to an open environment,” says McBride. “Every hour they get to go outside into our outdoor area and run around.”
For McBride, Dude’s services cater to a wide clientele. His doggy daycare may house pandemic dogs, dogs with separation anxiety and ultimately dogs with owners who desire for them to have fun and interaction.
“There’s a couple of different ways that the clients come to us,” says McBride. “Some people are home, but they really want their dog to get some socialization.”
Ultimately, an open space with socialization and the opportunity for exercise is what every dog needs. Just as we humans desire interaction, fresh air and the ability to roam, so do our furry friends.
F alls C hur C h
Apex Pet Partners
(703) 532-2096 apexpetpartners.com
Critter Crew Care
(202) 409-2759 crittercrewcare.com
2503-D N Harrison St Suite #1020, Arlington, VA 22207 (703) 828-7381 dogonfitness.com
Fetch! Pet Care (703) 584-4919 fetchpetcare.com
Healthy and Happy Dog Walking
7616 Virginia Ln, Falls Church, VA 22043 (703) 200-8570 healthyandhappydogwalking.com
Paw Prints Pet Services
2908 Westcott St, Falls Church, VA 22042 (703) 244-7390 pawprintsva.com
Pet Sitting 4 Comfort (PS4C)
736 S Carlin Springs Rd, Arlington, VA 22204 (571) 839-0088 petsitting4comfort.com
Posh Pets (703) 310-9180 poshpetality.com
Tail Wagging Dog Services
(484) 400-4567 tailwaggingva.com
TailsnTreatsPetCare (703) 665-8619 tailsntreatspetcare.wixsite.com/ website
Untangled Leashes (571) 268-1835 untangledleashes.com
2830 Fallfax Dr, Falls Church, VA 22042 (571) 620-2782 aquaticpaws.com
Angela Jayne Photography
13604 Langtree Ln, Woodbridge, VA 22193 (571) 279-2874 angelajaynephotography.com/ portfolio/pets
Barbies Doggie Bakery LLC
1073 W Broad St Unit 203, Falls Church, VA 22046 (301) 485-9337 barbiesdoggiebakery.com
Bright Eyes Photos by Julie Gould
6842 Woodland Dr, Falls Church, VA 22046 (703) 624-2846
Fairfax Pets on Wheels
12011 Government Center Pkwy #708, Fairfax, VA 22035 (703) 324-5424 fpow.org
Best of Falls Church Finalists
Center for Cognitive Therappy
Camp Congressional Camp Camp Rodef Shalom FC City Camps
Point of View
Northern Va Ophthalmologist
Foxcraft Design Group
Zimmerman Homes TriVista USA
Greenbuilt Homes Cottage Street Homes
Matt Lee Dubro Architects TriVista USA
THIS WEEK AROUND THE LITTLE CITY
THURSDAY JULY 27 Black RestauRant Week 2023
Through Sunday, Black Restaurant Week presents its fourth annual campaign in the DMV. Discover Black-owned restaurants, food trucks, sweets, and more across the region. All over the DMV (visit blackrestaurantweeks.com. for participating locations).
eccDc Mega netWoRking
Want to build relationships that help you grow, and help your community? Equality Chamber of Commerce DC's Mega Networking event is the largest LGBTQ+ professional networking and job fair in the region. Attend for free and meet potential mentors, employers, and collaborators. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library (901 G St. NW, Washington, DC), 4:00 p.m. — 7:00 p.m.
suMMeR skate night at tysons Plaza
Get your skate on and bring back retro vibes during this free community skate event, part of the Tysons Summer on the Plaza series. All ages and skill levels are welcome. Please bring your own skates as they will not be provided. Tysons Corner Center (1961 Chain Bridge Rd., Floor 2 Outdoor Plaza, Tysons, VA), 6:00 p.m. — 8:00 p.m.
histoRical coMMission Meeting
Historical Commission meets. City Hall (300 Park Ave., Dogwood A-B, Falls Church), 7:00 p.m. — 9:00 p.m.
conceRts in the PaRk:
Lil Maceo performs as part of the free Summer Concerts in the Park series, hosted by the Falls Church Village Preservation and Improvement Society (VPIS), Thursdays through August 3. Cherry Hill Farmhouse (312 Park Ave., Falls Church), 7:00 p.m. — 9:00 p.m.
useD Book & DVD sale
Get great bargains on books, compact discs, and DVDs for all ages. Proceeds support library programs and services. Mary Riley Styles Public Library (120 N. Virginia Ave., 2nd Floor Conf. Rm., Falls Church), 10:00 a.m. — 4:00 p.m.
Mustang & FccPs
The Mustang herd (George Mason and Meridian H.S. retirees, veteran educators, and friends of FCCPS) will be corralled. Harvey's Restaurant (513 W. Broad St., Falls Church), 11:45 a.m.
Stephen Carter-Hicks performs as part of CC's summer cabaret concerts, weekends through August! Encore benefit performance at 2:00 p.m. Saturday. Creative Cauldron (410 S. Maple Ave., Falls Church), 7:30 p.m.
the PRincess BRiDe
Free film screening outdoors on the REACH Video Wall. Films start at sundown. The REACH at the Kennedy Center (2700 F St. NW, Washington, DC), 8:15 p.m.
F.c. 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.
Learn more about becoming a member of the Junior League of Northern Virginia (JLNV)! Discuss new member requirements, what being a League member looks like, and next steps. More at jlnv.org. Caboose Commons (2918 Eskridge Rd., Fairfax, VA), 10:00 a.m. — 11:00 a.m.
elena la Fulana
Elena La Fulana performs as part of a Founder's Row free concert series, select Saturdays through September. Founder's Row (109 Founders Ave., Falls Church), 5:00 p.m. — 7:00 p.m.
centRal cultuRal BoliVian
Central Cultural Bolivian performs as part of Mosaic Live, a free outdoor, all-ages summer concert series. Saturdays through August 19. Mosaic District (2905 District Ave., Fairfax, VA), 6:00 p.m.
SUNDAY JULY 30
the Dc Big Flea Find unique jewelry, art, midcentury modern, vintage clothing, furniture, and more at affordable prices. Tickets at thebigfleamarket.com. Dulles Expo Center (4368 Chantilly
Ctr., Chantilly, VA), 11:00 a.m. — 5:00 p.m.
Friday through Sunday, check out exciting programming for children throughout the park, from pop-up bookstores, hands-on science and nature art and craft projects, a stuff-your-own bear station, superhero workouts, live music, a dance party, and trackless train rides! More at downtowndc.org/events. Franklin Park (1315 I (Eye) St. NW, Washington, DC), 12:00 p.m. — 8:00 p.m.
Born and raised in West Virginia, Philip Bowen’s uplifting sound is heavily inspired by his Appalachian roots. Part of the Summer Sunday Concerts in the Park series. Parking and park entrance at Dolly Madison Library, 1244 Oak Ridge Dr. Bring a picnic and chairs or a blanket. Restrooms at McLean Community Center. McLean Central Park (1468 Dolley Madison Blvd., McLean, VA), 3:00 p.m.
Join for a celebration of the often overlooked lentil at a F.C. community potluck. Meet fun neighbors and discover the nutritional and environmental benefits of incorporating lentils into your diet. Tantalize your taste buds with diverse lentil creations prepared by our community, from creamy curries to stir-fries to zesty salads and lentil brownies. RSVP to email@example.com for location. 4:00 p.m.
the asiantque MaRket
Join for a day filled with joy, laughter, and cultural exchange. The market offers an exciting array of international food, captivating entertainment, and fascinating displays representing various cultures. It's a perfect opportunity to explore different cuisines and vibrant performances. Also raises awareness and supports the fight against human trafficking. Asiantque Market (6911 Columbia Pike, Annandale, VA), 5:00 p.m. — 9:00 p.m.
sing Books With eMily Emily sings and promotes quality time, musical engagement
and positive social interaction. For grades K-5, but fun for everyone! Courthouse Library (2100 Clarendon Blvd., Arlington, VA), 5:30 p.m. — 6:30 p.m.
TUESDAY AUGUST 1
stReet liFe: ReiMagineD
Our streets and neighborhoods have a vibe all their own, depending on the time of day, occupants, and activities that occur. Street life may reflect the hustle and bustle to some or a quiet, contemplative atmosphere of one person peering out a window or sitting in isolation. People, animals, plants, cars, and buildings can serve as muses on the street. Artists were invited to interpret the theme broadly in this all-media exhibit, on display in the FCA Gallery through August 13. Falls Church Arts (700-B W. Broad St., Falls Church), 11:00 a.m. — 6:00 p.m.
ice cReaM social
National Night Out ice cream social. Call the church office at 703-534-6461 for more information. Voluntary donations of nonperishable food items support the ACCA Food Pantry. Sleepy Hollow United Methodist Church (3435 Sleepy Hollow Rd., Falls Church), 6:00 p.m. — 8:00 p.m.
Get ready to dance to the nightlife rhythms of disco, which come alive to the syncopated beat of favorite disco hits! Playing through August 13. Tickets at sigtheatre.org. Signature Theatre (3200 Campbell Ave., Arlington, VA), 7:00 p.m.
WEDNESDAY AUGUST 2
ask the council session
The public is encouraged 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.
Community News & Notes
Money for Local Group
The High Point Pool HiPPos
Swim Team recently held a Swim-for-a-Cause event that raised more than $6,600 for Our Minds Matter, an organization that runs mental wellness clubs in schools (including Meridian, McLean, Longfellow, Marshall, and Yorktown). They had nearly 100 swim team members, coaches, and parents swim 66 laps/ one mile (a few even swam two miles) and surpassed the donation goal of $2,500 before the first swimmer even jumped in the pool.
Local Nonprofits Program Seeks Donations for Students
Fairfax-based nonprofit Britepaths is seeking community support to assist 2,500 students who attend schools in the Fairfax County area and may otherwise go without supplies.
Financial donations to Britepaths’ Back to School Program through August 31 will allow the organization to purchase new school supply kits and backpacks that school staff will distribute to 2,500 students with identified need at partner schools that are mostly in Fairfax County Public Schools’ (FCPS) Fairfax High School and Justice High
School pyramids. Through a partnership with Herndon-based Campus Survival Kits, Britepaths can maximize cash donations to purchase all the necessary supplies and high quality backpacks at a steep discount. A donation of $25 will provide supplies and a backpack for one student. Organizations may also choose to sponsor or cosponsor all students at a specific partner school.
Community members may donate funds or register to sponsor a school via Britepaths’ secure on-line donation page at: britepathsbts23.givesmart.com. Checks should be made out to Britepaths and mailed to 3959 Pender Drive, Suite 200, Fairfax. Write “BTS23” in the memo line. For more information, phone 703.273.8829 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Islamic Relief USA Distribute Free Halal Meat
In a massive effort to provide essential food to an underserved or at-needs population during a time marked by rising food costs and excessive demand, Islamic Relief USA (IRUSA), a nonprofit humanitarian and advocacy organization, and Dar Al-Hijrah Islamic Center provided food in the form of fresh meat, as part of an Islamic tradi -
tion known as Qurbani.
Qurbani is a special program that enables donors around the world to buy freshly-prepared cuts of meat for vulnerable populations around the world. The meat was recently prepared according to guidelines to ensure that it’s halal. Muslims recently marked one of their major holidays, Eid al-Adha, during which meat is commonly served.
F.C. Non-Profit Wins Fellowship for Social Change Leaders
Mohammed Al Samawi, Founder and Director of Abrahamic House — the firstever national, multi-faith incubator based in Falls Church, VA, that seeks to build sustainable interfaith understanding and action by fostering an environ ment of learning, respect, and social change — has been selected to join the second class of an innovative new fellowship that supports America’s up-andcoming social change leaders.
Relocating to Northern Virginia after fleeing Yemen, Al Samawi established the Abrahamic House to invest in faith leaders working to challenge religious assumptions, prejudices, and inequities. Since then, he has committed himself
to the facilitating exchange of core values that define religious traditions in order to combat extremism and stereotypes.
Mohammed is part of the Fund for New Leadership (FNL)’s second fellowship cohort, a multi-year program that provides early-stage organizations with $75,000 in unrestricted funds per year for three years (for a total of $225,000) as well as development trainings to help expand their work on crucial issues such as racial equity, economic opportunity, workers’ rights, and environmental sustainability.
2023 D.C. Congenital Heart Walk Event in September
Congenital heart defects are the most commonly occurring (and deadliest) birth defect, ranging from small holes in the heart to major structural defects that affect heart and organ function. They affect 1 in every 110 children born, or a child born every 15 minutes in the U.S. The Children’s Heart Foundation is the leading orga -
nization solely dedicated to congenital heart defect (CHD) research funding, having funded 130 research projects for nearly $15 million since 1996. Their mission is to advance the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of congenital heart defects by funding the promising research, and they are requesting your help in spreading awareness about this cause.
The Annual Walk has become a cherished tradition in the community, bringing together individuals, families, and local businesses to support CHD research. As volunteers, they have witnessed the profound positive impact this event has had on the community year after year. By generating awareness and rallying support, in their 2022 walk series across the United States, they raised over 2 million dollars to support CHD research, and look forward to raising more this year.
The walk will take place on September 24 from 8:30 a.m. — 12:30 p.m. at Wolf Trap National Park at 1551 Trap Road, Vienna.
A Penny for
News of Greater Falls ChurchBy Supervisor Penny Gross
There is an abundance of musical talent in Northern Virginia, and summertime provides an opportunity to enjoy live performances absolutely free! In Fairfax County, you can enjoy live, and professional, music performances almost every evening from mid-June to late August at a variety of park venues. Log in to www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/performances for a complete schedule of concert programs. My favorite, of course, is Spotlight by Starlight, the thrice-weekly concert series at Mason District Park (6621 Columbia Pike in Annandale) that has been held since 1985. Nestled in the woods above the playing fields, the Newton Edwards Amphitheater is the best venue in the county. The broad stage can accommodate bands and orchestras of nearly 60 people, or a solo singer. A cantilevered roof covers about two-thirds of the stage, but the performers can enjoy the fading summer sky along with the audience. That roof has come in handy a few times when rain interfered after a concert began. Performers moved to the back or side of the stage, concert-goers moved under the roof, and the show went on, almost an intimate coffee house scene.
Newton Edwards was a member of the Fairfax County Park Authority, who was instrumental in obtaining the former pony
farm that now is Mason District Park, in 1977. The master plan for the park included a performing space, but the amphitheater was not constructed until 1984. The structure was dedicated on September 29, 1984, during the then-annual Mason District Park Festival. Mr. Edwards was quite ill, but was able to attend the dedication of the amphitheater named for him. Sadly, he passed away a few months later and was never able to enjoy a concert on that stage.
The original amphitheater was struck by lightning in October 2004, and burned to the ground. The sun was just rising when I visited the site, which still had pockets of smoldering timbers, and firefighters on site. It’s been nearly 20 years, but I still remember tearing up over the empty space and muddy ground. Several trees and audience seating benches were destroyed, but the Park Authority still had the original architectural plans, and a new amphitheater was constructed in record time, expanding the roof forward by a couple of feet, and creating better backstage facilities. The fire also provided an opportunity to build a permanent sound booth and a ramped handicapped seating area. The 2005 concert season started only a week late, but with great fanfare as the “new” amphitheater that rose from the ashes was re-dedicated to Mr. Edwards. I treasure the
shadow box presented to me by the Park Authority – a photo of the burned-out stage, a piece of charred lumber, a gold ribbon from the ribbon-cutting, and a miniature blueprint.
The Newton Edwards Amphitheater is the best venue in the county; performers always comment about the acoustics and the setting. Although the pandemic caused cancellation of the 2020 season, concerts and audiences have rebounded. We’ve already hosted Tom Paxton, the Army Blues, and the Johnny Artis Band, but still on the schedule are the Navy Band Commodores (July 28), the Washington Balalaika Orchestra (August 6), and John McCutcheon (August 18), and a host of others. Concerts are held on Sunday, Wednesday, and Friday evenings at 7:30. Performances last about an hour (a little more with encores). Free parking is available on site, you can bring your pets on a leash, bring a picnic dinner, and cushion for the wooden bench seating. Many people bring lawn chairs, too. Bring the family, bring a date, bring a visitor, and support the arts. It’s the best deal in the county, and one of the best things we do as a community.
Penny Gross is the Mason District Supervisor, in the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. She may be emailed at email@example.com.
Larceny, N Washington St, July 20, between noon and 1 PM, unknown suspect(s) took a black Kona bicycle and lock.
Larceny from Vehicle, W Broad St, July 20, 4:11 PM, unknown suspect(s) took items of value from an unsecured vehicle.
Drunk in Public, Wilson Blvd, July 17, 10:56 PM, a male, of Falls Church, VA, was arrested for Drunk in Public.
Fraud, N Washington St, July 18, 1:52 PM, an incident of Fraud was reported.
Trespass, Wilson Blvd, July 19, 4:06 AM, a male was issued a summons for Trespass.
Larceny of Vehicle Parts, Roosevelt Blvd, between 11:30 PM, July 19 and 7:30 AM, July 20, unknown suspect(s) removed the taillights from a Chevy Silverado.
Trespass/Tampering with Auto, W Broad St, July 20, 11:54 AM, unknown suspect entered a parking garage, rummaged through unlocked vehicles and took items of value. Suspect described as a male, approximately 6 feet tall, with dreads and driving a black Infinity.
Fraud, James St, July 20, 9:44 PM, an incident of Fraud was reported.
Shoplifting, S Washington St, July 22, 3:36 AM, unknown suspect took items of value without paying. Suspect described as a male, approximately 6’, around 120 pounds, wearing a black and white jersey, black pants, and black shoes.
Larceny, W Broad St, July 22, 3:10 PM, unknown suspect(s) took an unsecured black Raleigh Revenue bicycle.
Driving Under the Influence, S Washington St, July 23, 3:20 AM, a male was arrested for Driving Under the Influence.
CHURCH NEWS-PRESS | FCNP
BEST OF FC 2023
NOTICE TO THE PUBLIC OF A PETITION BY VIRGINIA ELECTRIC AND POWER COMPANY FOR A FINANCING ORDER AUTHORIZING THE ISSUANCE OF DEFERRED FUEL COST BONDS PURSUANT TO CODE § 56-249.6:1
CASE NO. PUR-2023-00112
On July 3, 2023, Virginia Electric and Power Company (“Dominion” or “Company”) filed a petition (“Petition”) with the State Corporation Commission (“Commission”), pursuant to Code § 56-249.6:1, for a financing order to finance certain deferred fuel cost balances through deferred fuel cost bonds. Specifically, the Company seeks:
i.To finance the deferred fuel costs and associated up-front financing costs through securitization;
ii. For approval of the proposed securitization financing structure;
iii. For approval to sponsor the issuance of deferred fuel cost bonds secured by the pledge of deferred fuel cost property, in one or more series or tranches in an aggregate principal amount not to exceed the securitizable balance as of the date the first series deferred fuel cost bonds are issued;
iv. For approval of the financing costs, including up-front financing costs incurred in connection with the issuance of deferred fuel cost bonds and on going financing costs;
v. For approval to create deferred fuel cost property, including the right to (i) impose, bill, charge, collect and receive non-bypassable deferred fuel cost charges sufficient to recover the principal of, and interest on, the deferred fuel cost bonds and on going financing costs, and (ii) obtain periodic formulaic adjustments to the deferred fuel cost property; and
vi. For approval of the tariff to implement the deferred fuel cost charges.
During its 2023 Session, the Virginia General Assembly enacted Chapters 775 (HB 1770) and 757 (SB 1265) of the 2023 Virginia Acts of Assembly (“Legislation”). The Legislation became effective on July 1, 2023. As stated in the Petition, the Legislation, inter alia, creates a new financing vehicle, utility cost recovery charge securitization, that may be used by an electric utility to recover certain deferred fuel costs, as codified at Code § 56-249.6:1. Under the Legislation, an electric utility may seek authorization to issue deferred fuel cost bonds with lower financing costs that are secured by deferred fuel cost property and include a dedicated fuel cost charge that is separate and distinct from the utility’s base rates or fuel factor on customer bills.
Historically, Dominion has recovered its prudently incurred fuel expenses on a dollar-for-dollar basis from its customers through an annual fuel factor adjustment process prescribed by law (“fuel factor”). Dominion’s total fuel factor consists of a current period factor (“Current Period Factor”) and a prior period factor (“Prior Period Factor”). Generally, the Prior Period Factor includes any fuel deferral balance, which reflects the under-recovery or over-recovery of actual fuel expenses after applying revenues collected through the fuel factor. The Company asserts that the fuel deferral balance continues to be substantial, due in part to significant marketplace commodity price increases during the prior fuel period. Specifically, Dominion’s projected June 30, 2023 fuel deferral balance is approximately $1.275 billion. This balance represents the sum of the projected June 30, 2023 under-recovery of expenses during the July 1, 2022 to June 30, 2023 fuel period, and two-thirds of the remaining June 30, 2022 fuel deferral balance under a three-year mitigation plan adopted by the Commission in Case No. PUR-2022-00064.
As discussed further in the May 12, 2023 Order Establishing 2023-2024 Fuel Factor Proceeding in Case No. PUR-2023-00067, were the Company to seek recovery of both the Current Period Factor and the Prior Period Factor through the fuel factor, a typical residential customer using 1,000 kilowatt-hours (“kWh”) per month would see a net increase of $7.92 per month for the period of July 1, 2023 to June 30, 2024, which is comprised of a $14.72 recovery of prior period charges and a $6.79 reduction in current period charges. Instead, in Case No. PUR-2023-00067, Dominion supports implementation of only the Current Period Factor through the fuel factor, which represents a decrease of $6.79 per month beginning July 1, 2023 for a residential customer using 1,000 kWh per month.
Rather than seeking to implement the Prior Period Factor through the fuel factor, Dominion requests authorization in the present proceeding, pursuant to the Legislation, to issue deferred fuel cost bonds in the amount of approximately $1.2702 billion, which consists of approximately $1.2578 billion of deferred fuel costs plus approximately $12.410 million of up-front financing costs to issue the deferred fuel cost bonds. Dominion states that this amount is an estimate of the June 30, 2023 fuel deferral balance, reduced by the share attributable to the customers who are able to, and elected to, opt out of, or are exempt from, the fuel securitization bond financing. The Company further states that in early August, it will make a supplemental filing in this docket to update the final fuel deferral balance, and that once the final balance is known, it will be able to calculate the final amount that will be subject to securitization.
Dominion seeks to utilize a special purpose entity to issue securitized bonds to finance the fuel deferral balance as of June 30, 2023. The Company asserts that the proceeds from these bonds would be used to satisfy the unrecovered fuel balance and reduce the near-term impact to customers.
According to Dominion, the amortization of these bonds would be structured to provide an annual revenue requirement (including payments of interest, principal, and ongoing financing costs) over the term of the securitization period. Customers subject to the fuel securitization would be billed a separate non-bypassable fuel securitization charge on a per kWh basis (“Deferred Fuel Cost Charge”) beginning soon after the issuance of the bonds, which, if approved by the Commission, is expected to occur in early 2024. The Deferred Fuel Cost Charge would be subject to periodic true-ups to ensure that the revenue requirements associated with the bonds are received on a timely basis.
In its Petition, Dominion analyzed two transaction structures for the bonds – one with a scheduled final maturity date of approximately seven years, and one with a scheduled final maturity date of approximately ten years. The Company states that an approximately seven year amortization of the deferred fuel cost bonds would result in an estimated initial monthly charge to a typical residential customer using 1,000 kWh per month of $3.05, and the approximately ten year amortization bond structure would result in an estimated initial monthly charge of $2.29. As the Company notes, these bill impacts are estimates, as the actual interest rates, terms, tranches, and other characteristics of the bonds will be determined at the time of pricing of the bonds and will depend on prevailing market conditions.
Interested persons are encouraged to review Dominion’s Petition and supporting documents in full for details about these and other proposals.
The Commission entered an Order for Notice and Hearing in this proceeding that, among other things, scheduled public hearings on the Company’s Petition. The Commission determined that, to the extent practicable, for all purposes including discovery, prefiling testimony, and hearing dates, the procedural schedules in this docket (PUR-2023-00112) and Case No. PUR-2023-00067 (Dominion’s fuel factor proceeding) shall be combined – without the cases or case numbers being consolidated.
On September 5, 2023, at 10 a.m., the Hearing Examiner assigned to this case will hold a telephonic hearing, with no witness present in the Commission’s courtroom, for the purpose of receiving the testimony of public witnesses. On or before August 29, 2023, any person desiring to offer testimony as a public witness shall provide to the Commission (a) your name, and (b) the telephone number that you wish the Commission to call during the hearing to receive your testimony. This information may be provided to the Commission in three ways:
(i) by filling out a form on the Commission’s website at scc.virginia.gov/pages/Webcasting; (ii) by completing and emailing the PDF version of this form to SCCInfo@scc.virginia.gov; or (iii) by calling (804) 371-9141. This public witness hearing will be webcast at scc.virginia.gov/pages/Webcasting
Beginning at 10 a.m. on September 5, 2023, the Hearing Examiner will telephone sequentially each person who has signed up to testify as provided above.
On September 6, 2023, at 10 a.m., in the Commission’s second floor courtroom located in the Tyler Building, 1300 East Main Street, Richmond, Virginia 23219, the Hearing Examiner will convene a hearing to receive testimony and evidence related to the Petition from the Company, any respondents, and the Commission’s Staff.
To promote administrative efficiency and timely service of filings upon participants, the Commission has directed the electronic filing of testimony and pleadings, unless they contain confidential information, and required electronic service on parties to this proceeding.
An electronic copy of the public version of the Company’s Petition may be obtained by submitting a written request to counsel for the Company: Elaine S. Ryan, Esquire, McGuireWoods LLP, Gateway Plaza, 800 East Canal Street, Richmond, Virginia 23219, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Interested persons also may download unofficial copies of the public version of the Petition and other documents filed in this case from the Commission’s website: scc.virginia.gov/pages/Case-Information
On or before August 29, 2023, any interested person may submit comments on the Petition by following the instructions found on the Commission’s website: scc.virginia.gov/casecomments/Submit-Public-Comments. Those unable, as a practical matter, to submit comments electronically may file such comments by U.S. mail to the Clerk of the State Corporation Commission, c/o Document Control Center, P.O. Box 2118, Richmond, Virginia 23218-2118. All such comments shall refer to Case Nos. PUR-2023-00067 and PUR-2023-00112.
On or before August 1, 2023, any person or entity wishing to participate as a respondent in this proceeding may do so by filing a notice of participation at scc.virginia.gov/clk/efiling
Those unable, as a practical matter, to file a notice of participation electronically may file such notice at the address listed above. Such notice of participation shall include the email addresses of such parties or their counsel, if available. The respondent simultaneously shall serve a copy of the notice of participation on counsel to the Company. Pursuant to 5 VAC 5-20-80 B, Participation as a respondent, of the Commission’s Rules of Practice and Procedure (“Rules of Practice”), any notice of participation shall set forth: (i) a precise statement of the interest of the respondent; (ii) a statement of the specific action sought to the extent then known; and (iii) the factual and legal basis for the action. Any organization, corporation, or government body participating as a respondent must be represented by counsel as required by 5 VAC 5-20-30, Counsel, of the Rules of Practice. All filings shall refer to Case Nos. PUR-2023-00067 and PUR-2023-00112. For additional information about participation as a respondent, any person or entity should obtain a copy of the Commission’s Order for Notice and Hearing.
On or before August 9, 2023, each respondent may file with the Clerk of the Commission, at scc.virginia.gov/clk/efiling, any testimony and exhibits by which the respondent expects to establish its case. Any respondent unable, as a practical matter, to file testimony and exhibits electronically may file such by U.S. mail to the Clerk of the Commission at the address listed above. Each witness’s testimony shall include a summary not to exceed one page. All testimony and exhibits shall be served on the Staff, the Company, and all other respondents simultaneous with its filing. In all filings, respondents shall comply with the Rules of Practice, as modified herein, including, but not limited to: 5 VAC 5-20-140, Filing and service, and 5 VAC 5-20-240, Prepared testimony and exhibits. All filings shall refer to Case Nos. PUR-2023-00067 and PUR-2023-00112.
Any documents filed in paper form with the Office of the Clerk of the Commission in this docket may use both sides of the paper. In all other respects, except as modified by the Commission’s Order for Notice and Hearing, all filings shall comply fully with the requirements of 5 VAC 5-20-150, Copies and format, of the Rules of Practice.
The public version of the Company’s Petition, the Commission’s Rules of Practice, the Commission’s Order for Notice and Hearing, and other documents filed in the case may be viewed at: scc.virginia.gov/pages/Case-Information VIRGINIA ELECTRIC AND POWER COMPANY
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Florida Man #1, Sashaying Away?
Not yet, but the presidential campaign of Governor Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) has been firing staffers, and is looking to organizational support (a.k.a. super PACs) for funding as a new strategy. I can’t imagine what might be hurting his campaign.
Perhaps the staffer posting videos of DeSantis with a Sonnenrad (an alternative to the swastika used by neo-Nazis) is turning off potential voters? Maybe it’s the war with Mickey Mouse? Perhaps it’s banning the acknowledgement of LGBTQ+ existence as inherently sexually charged (or “prurient”)? Maybe it’s all the people with canceled Drag Brunch plans?
Could telling voters that he’s in a war against “wokeness” and passing an “anti-woke” bill... then having his general counsel define “woke” as “the belief there are systemic injustices in American society and the need to address them,” which they further explained DeSantis does not believe exist. Maybe it’s suspending a state attorney for signing a pledge not to prosecute “abortion crimes?”
In a Republican primary these are unlikely to be major turnoffs for voters, though I for one hope they motivate turnout from reasonable voters — who exist outside the echo chamber of selfrighteous, vintage discrimination that seems to have walled-in a solid majority of the GOP voter base — in general elections.
The Real Reason: Florida Man #2
The only believable reason that explains DeSantis’s early flop is that Donald Trump’s supporters still have a strangle-hold on the Republican party.
The former President’s base — a mob of toxic social media incels and, likely still, more than a few bots and professional Russian trolls — seems willing to retaliate without boundaries (for instance, storming the U.S. Capitol and smearing their feces on the walls while demanding the Vice President’s head and ultimately leaving seven dead in their wake).
The GOP lawmakers in the House (and beyond) seem to have made a decision to vociferously repeat even the most ridiculous false-equivalencies and hateful disinformation — to keep the mob
pointed away from them, no matter the cost.
House Republicans Hold Country Hostage Over LGBTQ+ Rights
On July 14 the House GOP passed a version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) which was amended to go full-nuclear on LGBTQ+ rights, along with other hotbutton issues not related to the military.
One NDAA amendment denies any trans-related healthcare for military personnel (including hormone-replacement therapy and gender-affirming surgery, regardless of age). Another bans the purchase of any book containing “pornographic materials” or that “espouses radical gender ideology.” Another eliminates all offices and positions related to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) initiatives.
Amendments weren’t only focused on LGBTQ+. One would deny time off or coverage for abortion services. Others would ban affirmative action programs or teaching that the U.S. has racist roots.
Perhaps most bizarre is an amendment that would prevent the military from following the President’s executive orders to help fight climate change.
For the two weeks that have followed, anti-LGBTQ+ amendments have been attached to appropriations bills reauthorizing funding of entire departments.
Last Tuesday an amendment struck just three of 2,680 community project funding requests from a Transportation, Housing and Urban Development spending package. All three requests were to fund LGBTQ community centers: one in Massachusetts and two in Pennsylvania (one of which provides housing support to LGBTQ+ seniors).
The amendment also would also ban flying the Pride flag.
Most alarming is an amendment that bans employers from taking “discriminatory action” against anyone who speaks or acts on beliefs that only heterosexual marriage should be allowed.
Exactly what situations are being protected by that? Exactly what part of one’s work day requires “acting” on their belief that gay marriage shouldn’t be allowed?
What message is this sending employees about how they can
treat LGBTQ+ people at work?
Last Thursday the five-year reauthorization bill funding the Federal Aviation Administration was passed, after several Republicans crossed party lines to reject amendments to eliminate DE&I hiring or training funding, remove the word “diversity” from a mandate to “develop recommendations to increase the size, quality, and diversity of [the cybersecurity] workforce,” and to force DOT Secretary Pete Buttigieg to disclose all departmental travel over three years, an attempt to paint his travel to as “superfluous,” despite being seen flying coach on passenger airlines frequently.
Earlier this week, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) offered a number of amendments to the five-year FDA funding bill.
These amendments include prohibiting medication “disrupting puberty or sexual development in minors” (forcing a trans youth through the wrong puberty), “sexaltering” procedures for minors, and cutting off funding for hospitals, public, and private organizations researching, developing, or providing trans healthcare to minors — which, for the record, will always require parental consent.
Taylor Greene’s amendments also banned providing any assistance to Ukraine, funding any Covid-19 vaccine, developing climate change or green energy initiatives, or researching meat alternatives.
Lauren Boebert (R-Co.) also offered amendments, including one to prohibit funding a VA program titled “Managing Gender Diversity in the [VA].” Another would defund the USDA’s Equity Commission.
One of Boebert’s amendments would prevent funding being used for “woke courses, books and study guides,” and one that also banned researching meat alternatives.
The House GOP also passed a “Parents Bill of Rights Act” that requires schools to “out” LGBTQ+ students. Boebert added amentments requiring that parents be notified if trans students are participating in sports, or using bathrooms that match their gender identity.
The current appropriations for these federal departments will run out September 30. If funding bills are not passed, it will result in a goverment shutdown.
In Memoriam: Gloria Diehl Farbstein
Gloria Diehl Farbstein, 97, of Falls Church, VA, passed away peacefully on May 11, 2023, at The Village at Rockville in Rockville, MD.
Gloria was born in Lehighton, PA, in 1925. She was the second of the eight children of the late Harry L. and Ida (Bollinger) Diehl and the last surviving member of her immediate family. Gloria was the first person in her family to graduate from high school; she attended a one-room schoolhouse. Gloria’s older brothers Charles and George nicknamed her “Nursie” because she was fervently protective of her younger brother Alvin. Living up to her name, Gloria earned a B.S. in Nursing from the University of Pennsylvania and dedicated her career to children, serving as a Public Health Nurse at various schools throughout Fairfax County.
In 1955, Gloria married Charles M. Farbstein, a Philadelphia attorney. Together they had three children: Marcus, Clifton, and Leda. In 1969, the couple separated.
After 25 years in public health service, Gloria retired at the age of 70, devoting herself full-time to gardening, baking, and travel. She prided herself on planting Black-eyed Susans and assorted wild flowers to entice goldfinches, butterflies, and bees to her yard. Gloria’s granddaughter still uses her original recipe and mixer to bake her famous Angel Food cake. Her most memorable trip was to Australia and New Zealand in 1997 to visit a cousin.
In 1999, Gloria moved to the City of Falls Church to be closer to family. Family was very important to Gloria; she attended the Diehl family reunion each August in Lehighton, PA. Gloria could often be spotted walking the mile to the post office to send letters to her friends or just strolling the neighborhood to pick up trash.
In 2000, she met and married Herbert C. Grow, a retired facilities engineer who was originally from Hampshire County, WV. Gloria, having been
In Memoriam: Leo Ferrari
raised Lutheran, was an active member of her church: St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Falls Church, VA. Gloria and Herb met at their church and were both active volunteers. After Herb’s death in 2009, Gloria continued to reside in Falls Church until moving to assisted living in 2019.
She is survived by her son Marcus A. Farbstein and his wife Rosemarie Hunziker of Falls Church, VA, her son Clifton W. Farbstein and his wife Marsha A. Bradshaw of Arlington, VA, her daughter Leda D. Farbstein and her husband Kenneth A. Conley of Alexandria, VA, and three grandchildren, Jason O. Farbstein and his wife Alexandra of Okinawa, Japan, Julia A. Farbstein of Falls Church, VA, and Holly Bradshaw of Arlington, VA.
On Saturday, August 5, 2023, at 9 AM, a funeral service will be held at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, 7426 Idylwood Road, Falls Church, VA 22046.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the St. Labre Indian School (https://www.stlabre.org), an organization Gloria was extremely passionate about. Or, you can celebrate Gloria by having her favorite dish: a large bowl of vanilla ice cream.
Leo Ferrari, of Falls Church, VA, passed away peacefully at his home at the age of 93 on Wednesday, July 19, 2023. Born and raised in Washington, DC of Italian immigrants, Leo served two years in the U.S. Army and seven years in the National Guard. Leo married his wife, the former Mary Aldridge, in 1960 and in 1962 they moved to Falls Church, VA, where they resided for over 60 years, and raised four children there together. He subsequently earned an Associates degree and worked at the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, DC as an Electrical Engineer for 41 Years, 30 of those years as a federal employee and an additional 11 years as a contractor. In his retirement he enjoyed helping his son in his business, spending lots of time with his family and grandchildren, including eating (Italians love to eat!), sporting events and school events, car shows, time at his beach house, and helping with family home projects.
Leo is preceded in death by his parents Gabriel and Anna Ferrari, his brother Edward Ferrari, his sister Norma Merelman, his brother James Ferrari, and his son Michael J. Ferrari. Left to fondly remember him is his loving wife Mary Ferrari, his devoted surviving three children and their spouses: daughter Linda Vasquez (son-in-law Michael Vasquez), son Steven Ferrari (daugh-
ter-in-law Christina Ferrari), son Paul Ferrari (daughter-in-law Kim Ferrari), and ten grandchildren who he adored — Jessica Myers, Samantha Vasquez, Anthony Vasquez, Matthew Ferrari, Danielle Ferrari, Andrew Ferrari, Nicholas Ferrari, Caroline Vasquez, Anna Ferrari, and Ben Ferrari. He is also survived by one great-granddaughter, Julia Myers.
Donations in his honor can be made to the Dulin United Methodist Church in Falls Church.
Business News & Notes
taim mediterranean kitchen Opens Today
Untamed Brands restaurant group opens taim mediterranean kitchen in the Tyson’s Station Center at 7502 Leesburg Pike. The Falls Church Chamber hosts the ribbon cutting ceremony with elected officials at the Grand Opening, 11:00 a.m. today. Taim first opened in New York City’s West Village in 2005 featuring pitas, bowls and salads made from scratch with Middle Eastern and Mediterranean spices. There are numerous locations in New York and New Jersey, and recently expanded locations in Dupont Circle and College Park, Maryland. This is the first location to open in Virginia, with others planned for Fairfax County.
The City of Falls Church offers residential and business Curbside Composting through Compost Crew, with 60 percent of the fee subsidized by the City. Participants may include meats, seafood, dairy, eggshells, compostable plastics, greasy parts of pizza boxes, and more. The city provides airtight bins and liners for a monthly or annual fee. Discounted rates are available for businesses within the City of Falls Church. Visit the city website for more information. https://compostcrew.com/fallschurch/?ct=t(FocusOnFCJuly20)
Do You Work in the Best Place
Virginia Business Magazine is accepting nominations for the 2024 Best Place to Work in Virginia. The Best Companies Group (BCG) is an independent research firm focused on company practices, programs and benefits, and surveys of employees. This is an opportunity for businesses to cultivate company pride, benefit from publicity and marketing, and enhance recruiting efforts. Winners will be featured in Virginia Business Magazine and honored at the awards ceremony. The deadline for nominations is August 18. It is open to public and private companies, nonprofit and government entities, and must have been in business for more than one year. Eligibility and the application are available at bestcompaniesgroup.com/best-places-to-work-in-virginia/wp-content/ uploads/sites/72/2023/05/2024-VA-Handout.pdf.
Business Plan Workshop
The Virginia Small Business Development Center (SBDC) is hosting a Blueprint Business Plan Workshop on Tuesday, August 2. Angela Kelley will discuss the development of a business plans and financial forecasting plan and participants will follow the process using Microsoft Word or Google Doc, adding their own individual information. At the conclusion of the workshop, participants will have completed a rough draft of a portion of their business plan and have a clear direction for areas needing additional research and supporting documentation. The session runs for four hours, 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. and the fee is $30.00. To register, visit clients.virginiasbdc. org/workshop.aspx?ekey=140430038.
GDIT Study on Emerging Technology
General Dynamics Information Technology digital consulting practice has published the Seeds of Change study revealing that 65 percent of federal agencies are adopting artificial intelligence, 5G, machine learning, quantum computing, virtual and augmented reality, and other emerging technologies to accelerate digital transformation efforts. The poll of over 425 defense, intelligence, and civilian agency officials demonstrates that organizations are moderately to extremely ready to adopt emerging technologies, citing enhanced productivity and increased security as top motivating factors.
Business News & Notes is compiled by Elise Neil Bengtson, Executive Director of the Greater Falls Church Chamber of Commerce. She may be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.
LTA’s ‘Freaky Friday’ Brings A Lot of Laughsby Patricia Leslie
It’s not a freak show at Little Theatre of Alexandria but a production that is lots of fun with a serious message, too.
“Freaky Friday” is a comedrama musical certain to make families with (and without) teens and children of all ages laugh and have a good time as they recognize scenes and conflicts that may just happen from time to time at their own households, but “Freaky” has solutions!
It could be any day of the week, but it’s just another school day for Ellie but not for her mother, alas! She’s getting married tomorrow. The wedding magazine writer is coming to cover her wedding and what’s this? A parent conference, a scavenger hunt, and where’s Fletcher?
Another argument breaks out between mother and daughter and Mom’s loud voice and singing take charge, just like most moms’. Daughter Ellie (Sofia Cruz) and mother, Katherine (Kristina Friedgen), bicker over an hourglass which shatters and magically transforms each into the other’s body!
Take that and see how you like living in my life for a while...you! You! You! And they freak out. Of course.
In this exchange, Ellie and Katherine find out what life is like on the other side. Try walking in her shoes for a while, why doncha?
Relationships are what it’s all about and “trading places,” awakening sensitivities and sensibilities to more respect and love for someone who’s not me. Just what every family needs!
It may take the audience a few moments to catch on, but the skilful portrayals by the two women quickly convey the message about what has just happened.
Mom goes to school as daughter faces the reality she’s got to be amorous with her mom’s husband-to-be (Paul Caffrey is Mike). But to hug him like a bride should? Oh, please, spare me! No, kissy kissy, I beg of you!
The show has many appealing characters, none more so than the adorable James Campione as Fletcher, Ellie’s little brother who goes missing at the most inopportune
time! But Ellie’s wannabe boyfriend, Adam (Joshua Mutterperl in multiple roles) stumbles upon Fletcher at a bus stop at just the right time where Adam croons a song about sandwiches, no less, comparing them to women. (“Some are hot and some are cold.” You have to be there.)
Naja Bates is “Savannah,” Ellie’s antagonist and school competitor whose performance easily convinces the audience she is a very mean girl, indeed!
Then there is Torry (Lourdes Turnblom), Katherine’s assistant, hilarious in her histrionics, trying desperately to present her boss’s upcoming wedding to the magazine in the best possible way, flashing her skirt as she prances off stage.
A familiar actor, Peter Fannon, appears in multiple roles, most notably as the slow moving stereotypical grandpa. You know the show is going to be a hoot when Fannon is on stage. Director Joanna Henry keeps the large ensemble moving at a good pace, their frequent slow motion dances (by choreographer Stefan Sittig), the most effective slo-mo design I’ve seen.
The well crafted set by Myke Taister allows the crew to easily transition scenes from a kitchen, to a school, and bus stop, the latter which JK Lighting segregates on a corner. For the metamorphosis scene, the lighting company created and mixed colored lights and shadows for a magical hourglass showdown which filled the stage like the insides of a kaleidoscope.
Adding immense enjoyment is the tenmember band backstage playing under the baton of Christopher A. Tomasino leading the daffy music like songs to biology (“Oh, Biology”). Would you like a frog with that?
Little Theatre of Alexandria, 600 Wolfe St., Alexandria, VA 22314, Wednesday through Saturday, 8 p.m.; Sunday, 3 p.m. through Aug. 12, 2023. Tickets start at $32 (fees included). Order online (thelittletheatre.com) or call the box office (703-683-0496). Email: boxoffice@ thelittletheatre.com. The Little Theatre has printed programs and is now mask optional.