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FROM THE PUBLISHER A COOL VIEW
y first visit to Ashburn was in 1969. OK, maybe we never quite made it to Ashburn proper, but every few years when I was growing up, my family drove from our home in Richmond to Dulles International Airport to fly to England to visit my grandparents and other relatives. At the time, Dulles was basically in the middle of nowhere. But the coolest part of the trip for this 5-year-old was riding in the mobile lounges from the terminal to the airplane. Even today, whenever I fly out of Dulles, I still think it’s pretty neat to ride the mobile lounge to the terminal. Virtually every big airport has some kind of underground train to connect terminals, but where else can you actually ride out on the tarmac and see jets from literally all over the world up close? In fact, my son and I usually go to the Dulles Day Plane Pull event each fall, and one of the highlights is riding a mobile lounge out on the taxiways. In an expanded version of our “Time Travel” feature in this issue, editor Chris Wadsworth takes a look at Dulles’ use of the mobile lounges over the airport’s 58-year history. The lounges (or Plane-Mates, as some versions are trademarked) hearken to a time when air travel was considered luxurious, but even today it’s fun to see a wideeyed kid or even a weary international traveler riding them for the first time. Speaking of international travelers, also in this issue you’ll read about the experiences of Stone Bridge High School graduate Mackenzie Lenahan, who spent the spring semester in Taiwan, in the same region of the world where
the coronavirus began, but a place that handled the pandemic quite differently than we did. Plus, in our cover story, you’ll meet Steve Murphy, who lives in the Broadlands when he’s not jetting around the world chasing drug lords and speaking about his career. The work of Murphy and his partner as DEA agents hunting Pablo Escobar in Colombia was the focus of the first two seasons of the Netflix hit series “Narcos.” And although, unfortunately, eating out and visiting foreign countries is a bit challenging in these times, next time you make it to a fancy hotel or restaurant check out the tableware. There’s a good chance it comes from Ashburn’s own Fortessa, the brainchild of Brambleton resident Scott Hamberger and the subject of this issue’s “Business Boom.” Finally, we’d be remiss without a shoutout to all the high school and college graduates this spring, a few of whom are pictured on Pages 18 and 19. Congratulations on all your accomplishments, and don’t forget: What you thought was cool as a kid … is probably still pretty cool!
BRUCE POTTER, PUBLISHER PUBLISHER@ASHBURNMAGAZINE.COM
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contents 08 amazing kids ‘I LOVE MY JOB’ Local student imparts lessons while she works BY CHRIS WADSWORTH
12 more amazing kids Highlighting local kids doing great things
28 feature story
business boom TABLEWARE TITAN Local company serves restaurants around the world BY JILL DEVINE
20 our neighbors cover story ‘NARCOS’ LEGEND How Ashburn’s Steve Murphy went from being a small-town cop to hunting Pablo Escobar BY CHRIS WADSWORTH
DODGING THE PANDEMIC Ashburn student avoided worst impacts while studying in Taiwan BY MACKENZIE LENAHAN
36 real estate round-up The latest facts and figures about home sales in Ashburn
time travel feature story
local adventures CREEPING ALONG Southwest Virginia trail is one of the state’s top attractions BY EMILY SMITH
wine & dine
GROOVY RIDE Dulles International preserves a unique part of its past
HOMETOWN WINERY Fleetwood Farm has found lots of local fans
BY CHRIS WADSWORTH
BY CHRIS WADSWORTH
the burn The latest restaurant, retail and other cool news
ON THE COVER Photo by Andrew Sample of Andrew Sample Photography
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8 • ASHBURN MAGAZINE • JULY/AUGUST 2020
‘I Love My Job’ Local student imparts lessons while she works BY C H R IS WADSWO RT H
ids are nice,” Hannah Gamble said. “They love ice cream sandwiches.” Hannah should know. She’s kind of an expert on little kids and ice cream. That’s because when Cedar Lane Elementary in Ashburn is open, Hannah runs the ice cream station in the school cafeteria. She keeps track of all the ice cream sold each day — usually 250-300 frozen treats. She makes tally marks on piece of paper and watches for inventory that’s getting low. Then she opens a new box and restocks whatever ice cream flavor is needed. She also interacts with the students — smiling, talking to them and helping them with their ice cream choices. “I love my job,” Hannah will say to just about anyone who asks. “She does not want to miss work,” said Debbie Schwind, an occupational therapist who has known Hannah since kindergarten and works with her on mastering her job skills at Cedar Lane. Schwind says Hannah, 21, has successfully met a variety of challenges that often face young people with Down syndrome as they transition into a work environment. They often can be overwhelmed by too much too fast — too many new tasks, too much responsibility, even too many people around — like a classroom of boisterous children. So when Hannah started working at Cedar Lane in 2016, she and
Hannah smiles happily as she walks down a hallway at Cedar Lane Elementary School.
ASHBURN MAGAZINE • JULY/AUGUST 2020 • 9
AMAZING KIDS Schwind — with the help of many teachers and staff — slowly helped Hannah build a tolerance for working in a busy school. She started out helping in summer classes, which are smaller. Then she worked in special education classrooms and then she moved to general education classrooms. She performed tasks such as sorting papers, setting up snacks, assisting with art activities, and helping pupils get their jackets on and off for recess. She also began working in the school cafeteria and eventually was put in charge of the ice cream station — a perfect match for the smiling, friendly young lady who says Reese’s Peanut Butter ice cream is her favorite. “She is such a gem to work with,” said John Feist, the cafeteria manager. “She puts a smile on our faces every day.” Working at Cedar Lane is a chance to come full circle for Hannah. She was a student there many years ago before going on to graduate from Stone Bridge High School in 2018. (She still attends some classes there, as allowed by Loudoun County Public Schools policy.) “I am so proud that Hannah wanted
to come back to Cedar Lane and work with us,” said Bob Marple, the school’s principal. “It is a blessing that our school family has added an alumni member to the team.” The real magic of what’s happening at the school is something that many may overlook. Just as Hannah continues to learn new skills and grow herself, she’s also become an educator in her own way — by showing the children she meets that there are all different types of people in the world. “They see her abilities instead of her disabilities,” Schwind said. “It seeds empathy and compassion and understanding and perspective and patience.” The simple act of arranging a snack,
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(Left) Hannah Gamble oversees the ice cream sales in the cafeteria at Cedar Lane Elementary School; (right) Hannah helps with moving snacks and supplies around the school. helping someone with their coat or counting out frozen treats is just another example of the special lessons being taught at Cedar Lane — along with the fact that Hannah can serve up one delicious chocolate ice cream bar. “I like to work with kids. I like working in the cafeteria,” she said. “I like to serve.” A
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OK, we know all kids are amazing, but if you know of a kid who’s so amazing that he or she should be featured on this page, please email information to email@example.com.
ASHBURN SPELLER FEATURED IN NETFLIX DOCUMENTARY Last year, Ashburn Magazine profiled Loudoun Spelling Bee champ Ashrita Gandhari as she pursued her dreams on the way to the Scripps National Spelling Bee. She made it through the prelims but didn’t make it to the finals. But the excitement for Ashrita didn’t end when the bell rang. She is one of four champion spellers featured in a new Netflix documentary called “Spelling the Dream” that was released June 3. The film explores how Indian-American students have come to dominate the event and follows the youngsters as they prepare. Ashrita, a rising eighth-grader at Stone Hill Middle School in Ashburn, also recently appeared on ABC’s “Good Morning, America” to discuss the documentary.
LOCAL TEENS HELP SENIOR CITIZENS IN NEED Akshath Mahjan, a rising senior at Rock Ridge High School in Ashburn and Maneesh Vallurupalli, a rising senior at John Champe High School in Aldie, are the founders of the Project Support Initiative. Set up during the height of the coronavirus pandemic, Akshath (right in photos) and Maneesh (left) wanted to help local elderly residents and immune-compromised individuals buy their groceries and other essential items without risking going to a store. The young men took the people’s shopping lists, purchased the items and delivered them — all safely and without contact. They were reimbursed for the groceries by the individuals. Now, about 150 orders have been fulfilled locally involving 40 area volunteers. Even more impressive, Project Support Initiative has now connected with other young people and spread to 18 other states.
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Local company serves restaurants around the world
BY JI L L DE V IN E
hether you’re in New York City, Los Angeles, London or here in Loudoun County, the next time you’re dining out at a nice restaurant, look at the place setting. Pick up the stemmed water glass. Feel the weight of the fork and knife. Notice the pattern on the edge of the bread plate. Chances are pretty good that everything in front of you was designed right here in Ashburn by a local company that is one of the world leaders in providing dishes, flatware and glassware to restaurants around the world. We’re talking about the dynamic duo of Fortessa Tableware Solutions and Sterling Restaurant Supply — headquartered in a three-story building in One Loudoun. The facility includes two elegant, beautiful — and very different — showrooms. The location is important for Thomas Harvey, who likes to judge the weight, feel and quality of merchandise before buying. As the corporate chef for the local Tuskie’s Restaurant Group — which includes Tuscarora Mill, Magnolia’s at the Mill, Fire Works Pizza and South Street Under — he 14 • ASHBURN MAGAZINE • JULY/AUGUST 2020
BUSINESS BOOM has a lot on his proverbial plate. “You can tell just by holding a fork if it is going to bend easily,” Harvey said. “You might not get that from looking at a photo online.” Brambleton resident Scott Hamberger is president and CEO of Integrus, the parent company of Fortessa and Sterling Restaurant Supply. He formed the company with his brother, Eric, after graduating from Georgetown University in 1993. With a credit card advance, the brothers narrowed their interest in international trade to tableware opportunities. The duo worked day and night selling, packing and distributing orders, and before long they jumped from being the U.S. representatives for other manufacturers to designing, producing and commercializing their own brand — Fortessa — in 2001. “It was never a question of whether we would start a business — just what kind,” Hamberger said. In a typical week, the 40,000-square-foot facility receives a steady stream of visitors, ranging from CEOs of international hotel chains and airlines to executive chefs for
global cruise lines to buyers for national restaurant chains. But it’s not just for titans of industry — local chefs and restaurant owners as well as home cooks and foodies are welcome to visit the One Loudoun headquarters too. That’s because Integrus offers two completely different experiences for customers, depending on their needs. FORTESSA PRIVATE SHOWROOM The first is the Fortessa showroom, where — by appointment only — major commercial hospitality, food service and retail executives from all over the world meet with company representatives
to select Fortessa tableware, flatware, drinkware and barware for large-volume purchases. Fortessa tableware is shipped to more than 160 countries worldwide and can be found in more than 1,350 hotel locations and more than 2,200 upscale restaurants. “Contemporary luxury is more about the level of detail,” Hamberger said. “We serve the luxury market by being flexible to the luxury market's demands.” The Fortessa showroom includes a catering prep space for events and fundraisers that is also used to demonstrate to customers
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BUSINESS BOOM how Fortessa product selections will appear to patrons in actual use. Fortessa products are also available to commercial and consumer customers directly through the Fortessa website and other online sellers, as well as through more than 6,600 third-party retail stores. “We definitely are becoming more focused on helping consumers entertain at home like they see professionals doing,” Hamberger said. “We want to help consumers achieve their lifestyle goals, enjoy their homes, and elevate their everyday experiences.” For the choosiest of customers, Fortessa offers the design services of its Cloud Terre Studio, where chefs and restaurant owners can be involved in the design process and order custom-made tableware that is handcrafted onsite in the company’s pottery studio. STERLING RESTAURANT SUPPLY The second experience at the One Loudoun headquarters is the Sterling
Restaurant Supply store, a cash-and-carry venue where anyone who cooks can make smaller-scale purchases of Fortessa products while shopping for “back of house” items from other high-end vendors. This means items used in the kitchen, such as stainless
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steel mixing bowls and bakeware, serving sets, cutting boards, or cake keepers. Even more unique, as the only Fortessa outlet store in the world, SRS also sells steeply discounted products that may have been samples, or discontinued items, or
even — believe it or not — used items that restaurants have traded in. This exchange program is unique to SRS, because Fortessa buys back large quantities of luxury tableware from hotels or convention centers that are buying new
manager Blair Ellis. “Practically every chef in the area has at least stepped foot in the store.” Ellis said SRS products are used at Ashby Ponds, the National Conference Center, BLAIR ELLIS and restaurants all over Loudoun — naming AhSo, Market Table Bistro, Sense of Thai St. and Copperwood Tavern as examples. “I deal with SRS constantly,” said Tuskie’s Harvey, who turned to Sterling Restaurant Supply when he had just one day to fully stock the dining room and kitchen for the newest Fire Works location in Sterling. “I love visiting SRS. I’m like a kid in a candy shop.” A Fortessa patterns. Public shoppers can, in turn, buy those exchanged products for $2 Jill Devine is a freelance writer who lives in or less per piece. The deals get even better Loudoun County. When not writing, she during periodic sales. enjoys her job as a kindergarten teaching “We are open daily to the public; no assistant for Loudoun County Public Schools. membership required,” said SRS store
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congratulations 2020 GRADS!
n this season of great turmoil, the Class of 2020 rose to the challenges of the times, met them head on and came out stronger for their efforts. It has been humbling to watch, and Ashburn Magazine and the entire community is proud and honored to wish our local students a hearty congratulations on their high school graduation and the best of luck as they head off to new academic studies and new adventures we can only imagine. Here are just a few of Ashburn’s best and brightest, submitted by their parents.
Genna Brown B R I A R WO O D S H I G H S C H O O L
COLLEGE PLANS: Worcester Polytechnic Institute electrical and computer engineering major HONORS: Crew captain, WPI Presidential scholarship
We are so proud of the kind, thoughtful person you are!
Alex Carpio ROCK RIDGE HIGH SCHOOL
COLLEGE PLANS: Will be attending Virginia Tech in the fall -- aerospace engineering HONORS: Member of the National Society of High School Scholars
So proud of Alex! He is such a hard-working young man and we wish him the best!
Jack Christian DeArmitt B R OA D R U N H I G H S C H O O L
COLLEGE PLANS: Jack will be attending NOVA/GMU dual enrollment plan for education/history with a minor in animation. HONORS: Jack was on the BRHS Debate Team and Concert Band and in the Anime Club.
We are so incredibly proud of you Jack! Not just for your accomplishments, but for the kind-hearted man you’ve become.
Alexandra V. Hayes ROCK RIDGE HIGH SCHOOL
COLLEGE PLANS: Pursue a physical therapy degree from Duquesne University. HONORS: RISE Award, National Honor Society, American Sign Language Honor Society, Science National Honor Society, Pre-Health Professional Honor Society, varsity field hockey, FCA, and The Blaze school newspaper.
You are braver than you know, stronger than you seem, smarter than you think, and loved more than you know! 18 • ASHBURN MAGAZINE • JULY/AUGUST 2020
Samantha Lynn Kabrick B R I A R WO O D S H I G H S C H O O L
COLLEGE PLANS: Attending James Madison University HONORS: Member of National Honor Society, member of Tri-M Society, member of indoor drum line, member of marching band.
Sammi, we are very proud of you and all you have accomplished. We love you very much. Mom, Dad, Kenny, Jenny
Jansi J. Patel FLINT HILL SCHOOL
COLLEGE PLANS: Jansi will be joining Boston University in the College of Arts & Sciences and Kilachand Honors College this fall. HONORS: Cum Laude Society, Outstanding Community Service.
Congratulations, Jansi! STELLAR JOB! We are so proud of you and look forward to all that your bright future holds!
Hannah Jade Polissky S TO N E B R I D G E H I G H S C H O O L
COLLEGE PLANS: Attending George Mason University in the fall.
Congratulations! We are so proud of you and can’t wait to see what your future brings. We love you!
Robert C. Racey III B R OA D R U N H I G H S C H O O L
COLLEGE PLANS: Playing baseball for the College of Southern Maryland while studying sports management and transferring to Radford University in two years. HONORS: Varsity baseball and varsity hockey for Broad Run. Member of FCA. Travel hockey for Ashburn Xtreme and International Training Center throughout high school along with travel baseball.
We love you so much and couldn’t be more proud of you! Congratulations Class of 2020! Let your journey begin!
Justin Christopher Rebok B R OA D R U N H I G H S C H O O L
COLLEGE PLANS: Justin will attend Towson University as a finance major and Division 1 baseball recruit to pitch for the Towson Tigers. HONORS: During all four years at Broad Run, Justin was an honor roll student, DECA member and varsity baseball player. He also received an OOS Tiger college scholarship award for academics.
We are so incredibly proud of you! Your dedication and focus to achieving your goals was inspiring! We Love You! *Announcements on these pages were submitted and paid for by parents. A portion of the proceeds is being donated to the PTSAs at each high school represented. ASHBURN MAGAZINE • JULY/AUGUST 2020 • 19
H OW AS H B U R N ’ S STEVE MURPHY WENT FROM BEING A S M A L L -T O W N C O P TO H U N T I N G PA B L O E S C O B A R
‘NARCOS’ Legend BY CHRIS WADSWORTH
t’s not every person who has a career with three distinct acts — but Ashburn resident Steve Murphy isn’t just anyone. A veteran law enforcement officer, Murphy, 63, has been a small-town cop in West Virginia, a storied overseas agent with the Drug Enforcement Administration and, now, an author and in-demand public speaker who travels the world talking about his role in the hunt for kingpin Pablo Escobar. Perhaps most noteworthy — Murphy and his DEA partner, Javier Peña, were the focus of the first seasons of the hit Netflix series “Narcos.” Ashburn Magazine spoke with Murphy from his Broadlands home about his fascinating career. Here are excerpts from our conversation.
CHILDHOOD Murphy was raised in Murfreesboro, Tenn., the son of a Baptist minister and a bank bookkeeper. An early run-in with a kindly police officer helped set Murphy’s future path. “When I was a young kid in Tennessee — I’m guessing about 10 years old — my buddies and I were camping out in the summer … and you stay up late, and after everyone goes to bed, we get on our bikes and ride through the neighborhood. We thought we were little tough guys, and there was a little store with a laundromat that stayed open all night and we wanted to go get a soda and some peanut butter crackers … and none of us had any money, so we decided to break into one of the guys’ houses. We were 10 years old, so I’m sure we really botched things up because the next thing you know this spotlight comes on and two police officers approach us. And just scared the crap out of us. We thought the world was over. And the cops are standing there, and
they say, ‘Boys, we can take you to prison for the rest of your lives or we can take you home to your parents.’ And we looked at each other and said, ‘Take us to jail.’ We knew what our parents would do. The cops laughed … and took us home to our parents. And I never had that problem again. And that … stuck with me and ever since I was little kid, I never wanted to do anything else but be a cop.”
S M A L L -T O W N C O P Murphy’s family eventually moved to West Virginia — where his parents had grown up. Murphy attended Bluefield State College and, while his dad thought he was studying business, in the summer of 1975 he actually enrolled (from top to bottom) A Colombian National Police helicopter during a drug lab operation; Steve Murphy in Miami with cash seized during a drug raid; the bestselling book by Steve Murphy and Javier Peña; “Narcos” stars Boyd Holbrook (left) and Pedro Pascal (right) stand on either side of their real life counterparts, Steve Murphy and Javier Peña.
in the criminal justice program.
Thanks to rules at the time, Murphy started working as a police officer at just 19 years old. A fan of the police-themed books of Joseph Wambaugh and the landmark book “Serpico,” Murphy always dreamed of working somewhere bigger than Bluefield. A small-town pot bust proved to be another turning point in his life. “We had a friend who was running a gas station, and he said, ‘Hey, there’s a kid running around here selling a pound of marijuana.’ Back in the 1970s, a pound of weed in southern West Virginia was a lot of dope. So we had the gas station guy order it up and sure enough, this 17-yearold shows up with a pound of weed and we step out of the back room and arrest him and do the dope test — and I just loved that narcotics part of it. We ended up cutting the kid a break. Just a
(from left to right) Steve Murphy sits in the doorway of a Colombian National Police helicopter; Javier Peña and Steve Murphy, seen in 1992, during their time hunting drug kingpin Pablo Escobar; Peña and Murphy today.
few weeks ago … I got an instant message from a guy … and it was the kid we picked up with a pound of weed. He said, ‘You scared me to death back then, but you made a major change in my life. Now I’m a successful
22 • ASHBURN MAGAZINE • JULY/AUGUST 2020
businessman and I tell people all the time that you’re the guy that arrested me — the guy from “Narcos,” but no one believes me.’ I answered him back and all these years later, we've kind of gotten to be friends.”
DRUG ENFORCEMENT AGENT Murphy moved on from being a local cop to being a police officer with what today is the Norfolk Southern Railway.
in 400 kilos, so I went from 2 ounces to 880 pounds of coke. It was one of the most exciting things I had ever done in my life. Talk about addiction — I was addicted to the job at that point.”
THE HUNT FOR ESCOBAR
His interest in narcotics investigations grew during this time, and, in 1987, he went to work for the DEA. His first assignment: Miami, ground zero for the international drug smuggling scene in the 1980s.
“When I got to Miami, I had been a cop for almost 12 years. The most powdered cocaine I had ever seen in my life was 2 ounces. The first deal I got to work on undercover in Miami, we took a 53-foot Hattaras
Sportfish — one of those fancy fishing boats with hidden audio and hidden video — to the Turks and Caicos Islands, which I had never heard of. To make a long story short, when they finally flew the dope in, they brought
In 1991, Murphy and his wife, Connie, decided to take a leap and accept a transfer to Colombia — the home of Pablo Escobar, boss of the Colombian drug trade. As luck would have it, Escobar turned himself into authorities mere days after Murphy arrived in the country. Murphy and his pals joked that Escobar gave up because he heard Murphy had arrived. Of course, Escobar didn’t stay in prison long. He escaped in 1992 and the hunt was on again — with Murphy and Peña giving chase.
ASHBURN MAGAZINE • JULY/AUGUST 2020 • 23
“[Escobar] had put $300,000 price tags on each of us. We intercepted phone calls — back then they were radio telephones — and we have recorded phone calls where he referred to the ‘two gringos.’ In one phone call, he even mentioned the names Peña and Murphy. That was a little disconcerting — that he actually knew what your name was. “The biggest threat was the indiscriminate car bombs that Pablo was just setting off everywhere. There was one night — we had been on operations all day — and we got back to the base and grabbed some dinner. The city of Medellin is built in a bowl. We were on one side of the bowl and you could look across the valley to the other side and that’s ‘Barrio Pablo Escobar’ out there, but at nighttime with all the lights, it was beautiful. I’m out there with a couple of guys, just drinking a
beer and talking, and we heard 17 bombs go off that night. That’s how many bombings there were just that one night.” Murphy and Peña spent 18 months, side by side with the Colombian National Police, chasing Escobar. Days were spent flying on Huey gunships or racing through mountain roads, following up on leads, interrogating Escobar associates and tracking his moves. On December 2, 1993, Escobar was holed up in a downtown Bogota hotel. Many of his lieutenants had been killed or arrested in the ongoing wars with both the Colombian police and an anti-Escobar vigilante organization. On that date, Escobar got sloppy while talking on a radio phone with his 17-year-old son. “Pablo knew we were listening to him. He knew he couldn’t stay on the phone too long because
the Colombians were using … triangulation … to find where his signal was emanating from. But Pablo stayed on the phone too long that day. His kid even said, ‘You need to hang up, dad.’ They had a 10-man force, surrounded the place, used [explosives] to blow the front door off the row house. It was a three-story row house — they go inside. As they head up to the second floor, Pablo is moving up to the third floor — he starts shooting at them. They have a gun battle in the house. The one thing that surprised everybody — Pablo only had one bodyguard that day. This is a guy who used to have as many as 500 ‘sicarios’ or assassins working for him and, on December 2, he had one. “Pablo’s bodyguard had already jumped out a window onto the roof of the row house behind them. He’s making his way across the roof, and a
couple of cops on the backside of the house engage him in a gun battle, and he’s shot and killed and falls off the roof. Pablo gets up to that third-floor window, climbs out, jumps down to the roof. He realizes he’s about to be in a crossfire situation, tries to make it across the roof. The cops … yell for him to lay his weapon down. He starts shooting at them and the cops get him in a crossfire and kill him. It’s not like it was on ‘Narcos.’ I was back at the police base. If you watch ‘Narcos,’ it shows I was on the roof when that shooting happened, I wasn’t. That’s Hollywood.”
“NARCOS” After Escobar was killed, Steve and Connie Murphy returned to the states with their two daughters they adopted while in Colombia.
24 • ASHBURN MAGAZINE • JULY/AUGUST 2020
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Clockwise from top left: Steve Murphy with his wife, Connie, at a “Narcos” premiere; Steve and Connie with their daughters, Mandy and Monica, whom they adopted in Colombia; Javier Peña and Steve Murphy on the stage at Hamer Hall during a speaking engagement in Melbourne, Australia.
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He continued his DEA career for another two decades. In 2013, Hollywood came sniffing around, and soon, Murphy and Peña were consultants on “Narcos,” the Netflix series about DEA agents that included their hunt for Pablo Escobar in the first two seasons. “There was nothing further from the life I had lived. I was a 38-year cop — there’s nothing further from that then going to Hollywood. But as a Christian, I believe the good Lord opens a door for us and I’m willing to step through a door and see what happens. Javier and I thought ‘Narcos’ would be the biggest flop in the world because we didn’t think anyone would ever want to hear that story. Turns out — ‘Narcos’ was the No. 2 show on
Netflix of all-time at one point.” Today, Murphy and Peña are sought-after public speakers who travel the world talking about their careers and helping capture Escobar. The duo published a book in November called “Manhunters: How We Took Down Pablo Escobar.” And Steve and Connie continue to live on the same street in the Broadlands where they have lived not once, but twice, during their time in the greater Washington area. They like the Ashburn area so much that plans to retire to Florida were ditched. “In law enforcement culture, you want to stay away from Washington,” Murphy said with a laugh. “But we love living here. I think we’re going to stay after all.” A
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Ashburn Magazine announces our first
SPOOKY SHORT STORY CONTEST
With fall on the horizon, let’s see how creative our local middle school and high We're in your neighborhood oﬀering full service landscape maintenance packages and are. landscapSubmit e enhancement your services anbest d would land ove the opportunity to work with you! school students spookiest short story, and the winning entry will be published in the September/ October issue of Ashburn Magazine. Stories may be submitted by any Grade 6 to Grade 12 student who lives in the Ashburn zip codes (20147 and 20148) or who attends a middle or high school in the Ashburn Zip codes (20147 and 20148). Maximum length is 1,500 words. Extra credit if the story has some tie to Ashburn (venue, character, etc.). No gore or overt violence, please; we are looking for family-friendly stories -- spooky and eerie and thought-provoking, sure. But not gross. Stories will be judged by the editorial staff of Ashburn Magazine and the winning entry may be edited for style, grammar and length. Second- and third-place finishers will be published on the Ashburn Magazine website. TEEN
BY STA RS • GOL
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ASHBURN MAGAZINE • JULY/AUGUST 2020 • 27 Briar talks life Woods grad outside football
PANDEMIC ASHBURN STUDENT AVOIDED WORST IMPACTS WHILE STUDYING IN TAIWAN
BY MACKENZIE LENAHAN Mackenzie Lenahan is a graduate of Stone Bridge High School and attends Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, where she is studying economics. She was eagerly looking forward to spending the spring semester studying abroad in Taiwan — until the coronavirus pandemic came to global attention in the Wuhan region of nearby China. Lenahan and her parents had a difficult decision to make — cancel the study abroad or forge ahead? She went — and experienced a very different spring than the rest of us. Here’s her story. 28 • ASHBURN MAGAZINE • JULY/AUGUST 2020
BEEP… “Hao.” BEEP… “Hao.” BEEP… “Hao.” Every morning at my dorm, I heard the same sounds — students having their temperature taken with a forehead thermometer, followed by the Chinese word “hao” — which means “good.” After a fiveminute walk to class, my professor would take all the temperatures of all the students again, including mine. “BEEP… Hao.” For five months this year, I studied at Providence University in Taichung City, Taiwan. Ironically, when I left Ashburn for this study-abroad opportunity, coronavirus was raging in mainland China. Taiwan is an island country off the coast of China — nearby, but also a world away in some regards. When I decided where to study abroad, I didn’t throw a dart at a map, but I may as well have. I didn’t know anyone from
Photos from Mackenzie Lenahan’s time studying in Taiwan include the usual student sightseeing trips, but also signs stressing coronavirus safety measures as well as the wearing of masks and having temperatures taken before entering buildings. Taiwan. I had never taken a Mandarin or Asian studies course. And I had no real sense of the country — although I had previously traveled to four other Asian nations. I saw the program description online and thought, “That might be cool.” I had no idea this choice would help me end up avoiding a pandemic. I first heard of coronavirus in January. My friends from Virginia Commonwealth University were already back in Richmond, but I was still home in Ashburn for winter break. That’s because Taiwan’s universities start about a month later, after Chinese New Year. I started receiving emails from VCU. The university was canceling study-abroad programs in China and was becoming concerned about Taiwan. Then Taiwan delayed the spring semester for all colleges for two weeks. At that time, there were 18 coronavirus cases in Taiwan, and the government wanted to get that number under
control before students started gathering again. The state department still indicated it was OK to travel to Taiwan, but I started to read those early measures to mean that things weren’t so safe. My parents began to question whether traveling to Asia then was such a good idea. What would happen if things got worse there? What if the semester got postponed again? What if travel back to America became a problem, considering the U.S. government had already banned flights from mainland China? But I didn’t want to miss this opportunity, and it was too late to go back to VCU for the spring anyway. So I went. In Taiwan I had a fairly typical college experience. This country of 24 million people on an island about the size of Maryland had only 445 coronavirus cases and seven deaths as of mid-June. Taichung, a city of 2.8 million
people, had only 40 cases. While my friends in America had to self-isolate and continue their studies online, I attended in-person classes, ate at restaurants and took overnight trips. Life felt normal. There were a few restrictions — I had to wear a mask pretty much everywhere I went and have my temperature taken before entering any campus building — either with a forehead thermometer or a thermal-imaging camera. A temperature above 37.5 Celsius (equal to 99.5 Fahrenheit) would indicate symptoms of the virus. Some public places like museums or train stations required visitors to fill out cards with their name, address, and other information, in order JULY/AUGUST 2020 • 29
to know who was in the area in case someone there turned out to be infected. Stores had markers on the floor to show how far apart customers should stand in line. Bus and train stations blocked off every other seat, so people would not sit too close together while waiting in the station. In my school’s
cafeteria, tables were separated, and students were encouraged to eat silently by themselves There were still night markets in Taiwan, with vendors lined up selling food on crowded streets. Some bars and clubs closed for 14 days early in the pandemic, but then they reopened, hosting “mask
parties.” I was able to travel to five other cities in Taiwan, stay in hostels, take public transportation, and freely go wherever I wanted. I lived in my school’s dorms, with full access to the library, cafeteria and student organizations. The first time I wore a mask in public, in the Taipei airport, I felt incredibly self-conscious. Even though everyone around me was also wearing a mask, it felt so strange and unnatural. I kept taking my mask off to talk to people, not realizing they could hear through the thin fabric. Now seeing people wearing masks is so normal that when I see someone without a mask, I almost do a double-take. A crowd of people wearing masks is just as unsurprising as a crowd of people wearing t-shirts.
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(left) A thermal camera checks Mackenzie Lenahan’s temperature as she enters a building in Taiwan; (right) street scenes from Taiwan. Taiwan has a cooperative culture for crises like this. I never heard anyone complain about safety procedures whatsoever, and I never saw anyone try to break them. If you took your mask off on the bus for half a second to scratch your nose, everyone around would give you death glares. Hearing about negative reactions to safety measures in the U.S. shocked me, because I’d become used to such rules being taken in stride in Taiwan. Many Americans don’t know much about Taiwan, but I wish they did. Even in a big city, the people are kind and laid-back. Anyone on the street would be willing to stop and help you if you needed it, and they won’t get mad if you can’t speak Mandarin. You can buy a delicious meal anywhere for 80 New Taiwan dollars, about $2.70 in U.S. dollars. Some local favorites are stinky tofu, pan-fried buns, Chinese omelets, and bubble tea. If that doesn’t sound good, you can always go to a 7-Eleven —Taiwan’s one-stop shop for everything. You can buy hot meals, pay fines, and send and receive mail — and every receipt comes with a free lottery ticket. Taiwan also has some of the most beautiful nature areas I’ve ever seen, so I did a lot of hiking, swimming and touring national parks. While enjoying all that, I did experience a few disruptions throughout the semester. A month into the program — about the time that some European countries experienced serious coronavirus outbreaks — VCU recalled all students studying abroad, regardless of location. I worried that suddenly my semester would be cut short and I would have traveled all this way for nothing. If I went back, I wouldn’t get any school credit and would be stuck self-isolating with my parents (ugh) in Ashburn Farm. My parents contacted VCU, emphasizing that Taiwan had a lower infection rate than the United States and that it was the safest place for me. They worked out a deal — I signed an “Assumption of Risk” form, and VCU let me stay. Even after this, I received a few more emails from VCU, urging me to return home. But I stayed. I’m proud of myself for forging ahead and not giving up. This taught me to be confident in my decision-making and to follow what I want to do even if it’s scary. I took a leap of faith going to Taiwan, and I feel a big sense of achievement that it paid off. It’s summer now and I’m home in Ashburn and soon I will go to VCU for the fall semester. The university plans to open its campus back to students in mid-August, with numerous social distancing measures and other precautions in place. I’ll be ready because I already had that experience this spring on the other side of the world. BEEP… “Good.” A
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time travel feature
GROOVY RIDE DULLES INTERNATIONAL PRESERVES A UNIQUE PART OF ITS PAST BY C HRIS WADSWORTH
yrki Ihanainen’s first trip to the United States was in 1985. He flew from his native Finland to Dulles International Airport. When the giant 747 landed, Ihanainen JYRKI thought it was puzzling that IHANAINEN the plane didn’t pull up to a gate. And it was even more puzzling when a strange, bus-like vehicle parked next to the plane, the passengers got on board, and it drove them to the main terminal. “We had transferred at London Heathrow — which at the time was the most advanced airport in the world,” Ihanainen said. “So when we got to Dulles and I saw the people mover, I was like, ‘What the heck, did we just arrive in the Stone Age?’ I thought it was pretty funny.” That day, Ihanainen took his first ride on Dulles’ famous mobile lounges — an experience the Broadlands resident has repeated hundreds of times since as he travels around the world for work and pleasure. The odd, ungainly vehicles were part of Eero Saarinen’s original vision of Dulles when the Finnish-American architect designed it in the early 1960s. Commercial air travel was growing, and the tiny airports of
old — where propeller planes pulled right up to a single, small terminal building — were fading away. Airports were getting bigger, and Saarinen created the mobile lounges as a way to help passengers avoid long walks from the entrance and ticket counters to planes. “It was the start of the jet age,” said Micah Lillard, public information officer for the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority. “Commercial air traffic was growing. You had more and more planes trying to take up a very small amount of space outside the terminal. As more started coming, you had to find parking spots in remote places. The people movers were an efficient way to get people out to these remote spots.” The mobile lounges were originally envisioned as just that — elegant waiting rooms on wheels. Passengers would arrive at Dulles’ stunning soaring main terminal, check in at the ticket counters and then walk right into one of his moving lounges. The experience was supposed to be like a hip salon — with stylish furnishings and even cocktails to sip as the people mover — another nickname for the lounges — transported you directly to your plane. There, they would raise and lower to meet the doorway of the plane.
Mobile lounges are seen in historic photos from Dulles International Airport. At one time, the lounges — with gangways attached — were used primarily to board and deplane passengers directly to and from their aircraft. Although that still happens, it is less common today and the lounges are primarily used to shuttle passengers between the main terminal and various concourses. Unfortunately, the reality never quite matched the dream. Air travel and airports grew faster than anyone anticipated. The arrival of large jumbo jets meant far more passengers than the people movers could handle, and the sheer number of airlines and airplanes meant that giant, winding airports with multiple arms or piers extending out became the norm. Still, Dulles and a handful of other airports around the world used the people movers for years, even if the elegance and the cocktails never quite materialized. They have been phased out nearly everywhere today — replaced by trains, moving sidewalks and even buses. Indeed, Dulles launched an underground
train service to its terminals in 2010. But Aviation enthusiasts aside, many Concourse D isn’t connected to the train, passengers might find standing in the and a small fleet of people movers — about crowded people movers and waiting for three dozen — continues to them to start a bit of a drag — whisk passengers back and a far cry from the charming, “WE FIND forth from the main terminal relaxed experience Saarinen during a typical day. envisioned. But for his fellow THAT A LOT “We find that a lot of countryman Jyrki Ihanainen, OF AVIATION it’s a fun and efficient aviation enthusiasts enjoy them,” Lillard said. “They to the Dulles ENTHUSIASTS throwback get to see a perspective for International of the past. spotting planes that most “They’re a little oldENJOY THEM” people don’t get to see.” fashioned, sure, but they In fact, during its annual operate them very well, even Dulles Day Plane Pull event, the airport during peak times. They run every five offers visitors a tour of the runways on one of minutes and it’s easy in, easy out,” he said. the people movers. “I don’t mind them at all.” A
There are actually two different types of people movers — the “mobile lounges” and the “Plane-Mates.” The mobile lounges are used primarily between terminals for domestic passengers, while the Plane-Mates — which also shuttle between terminals — can also be used to off-load passengers directly from planes. You can tell the difference between the two by the “smokestack” like appendages on top of the Plane-Mates. 34 • ASHBURN MAGAZINE • JULY/AUGUST 2020
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ASHBURN MAGAZINE • JULY/AUGUST 2020 • 35
real estate roundup
he effects of the COVID-19 pandemic were clearly felt on the housing market in Ashburn in April and May as total home sales declined significantly in both months. But the number of new listings and total inventory also fell, making it a sellers’ market, which generally drove up prices over 2019. In addition, on average, houses were selling after less than a week on the market. The story was similar countywide, as sales were down 30% in May and active listings were down 41% from the prior year. All data below is provided by the Dulles Area Association of Realtors.
MEDIAN SALES PRICE $600,000
$300,000 $200,000 $200,000 $100,000
CLOSED SALES 160
MEDIAN DAYS ON MARKET 35
36 • ASHBURN MAGAZINE • JULY/AUGUST 2020
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ASHBURN MAGAZINE • JULY/AUGUST 2020 • 37
Hometown Winery Fleetwood Farm has found lots of local fans BY C HRIS WADSWORTH
T DONNA SPECKHARD
here’s an old country music song about meeting in the middle beneath “that old Georgia pine.” Here in Ashburn, you might replace that Georgia pine tree with the Fleetwood Farm Winery. “I was so excited when Fleetwood opened,” said Broadlands resident Donna Speckhard. “I had a friend, a neighbor who moved to Willowsford, so Fleetwood is halfway between us. It’s like a fourminute drive from my house and a three-minute drive from her house.” Like so many other Ashburn residents, Speckhard and her friend discovered that Fleetwood is the closest thing Ashburn has to its own winery, and it has become uber popular. On Evergreen Mills Road just west of Brambleton, Fleetwood planted its first grapes in 2016 and opened
38 • ASHBURN MAGAZINE • JULY/AUGUST 2020
WINE&DINE to the public in 2018. The picturesque property features rolling hills, tall trees, stone paths, a quaint original farmhouse, a large event space and tasting room known as the Grand Terrace and — most importantly — row upon row of grapevines in the Fleetwood vineyard. “It’s breathtaking,” said Zach Noll, Fleetwood’s operation manager. “You don’t feel like you’re right on the edge of Ashburn. You feel like you’re way out in western Loudoun.” Noll has been with Fleetwood from the start and oversees all aspects of
the winery’s operations. The winery is owned by Skip Edgemond and Jamie McClellan, who live in Reston. In these first few years, Fleetwood has featured wines from a variety of sources. It leases established vineyard land in Fairfax County and Fauquier County, and grapes harvested there were used to create some of Fleetwood’s first wines. Meanwhile, the grape vines planted at its main Evergreen Road location are still maturing — a process that takes several years. “Our first wine that will be coming from our two acres of Norton grapes here will
be a port style wine,” Noll said. “That will probably be released late next year. We want it to be able to sit and soak up all the barrel love. That’s going to be our baby.” As Fleetwood begins to consistently harvest its Loudoun County grapes,
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he says more and more wines from the property will come out year after year. “That will be nice — to go to the winery and see the grape vines and know you’re tasting wines from right there,” said Brambleton resident Chloe Christoforou, who lives five minutes away. “You get to experience the atmosphere, the environment and the wine itself. It’s kind of magical.” Many adults in Ashburn also appreciate the upscale vibe that has been created at Fleetwood. Unlike some wineries, Fleetwood is reserved for ages 21 and
over. Pets aren’t allowed either. It’s a place for romantic date nights, weddings and special events or just impromptu gatherings of friends. “For my posse of women, it’s super convenient,” Speckhard said. “You can make last-minute plans … you call up a friend and go. There’s not a lot of planning. There are more logistics involved and more of a time commitment to go out to Leesburg and beyond.” The winery is putting finishing touches on a lovely new building referred to as the Loft. It will be separate from the main buildings and public area and become the
d e t o V
new primary wedding and special event venue. The building will serve a double purpose — the lower level will be the new processing center, where Fleetwood’s wines will be produced and bottled. Even with the slowdown due to coronavirus restrictions, it’s an exciting time at Fleetwood as it brings new buildings online and unveils new vintages. And Ashburn residents — who make up an estimated 75 percent of Fleetwood’s guests — will continue to reap the benefits of having their “own” winery right next door. “Ryan Road literally funnels you right to us,” Noll said. A
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Southwest Virginia trail is one of the state’s top attractions
BY E M ILY COO K
atrick McKinney and Kevin Bednarz are long-time pals who take an autumn hiking trip each year with their families. But a few years ago, they added a new element — a bike trip. So Patrick, Kevin and their gang headed to southwestern Virginia and the iconic Virginia Creeper Trail, a 34-mile-long bike ride that — unbelievably — is largely downhill. “You’re coasting the whole time,” said McKinney, a Leesburg resident who grew up in Ashburn and graduated
42 • ASHBURN MAGAZINE • JULY/AUGUST 2020
from Broad Run High School. “It’s tubing for bikes. You know a lazy river? It’s a lazy river for biking. You just ride down and coast and there’s a light breeze. It’s perfect.” Those who have been fortunate enough to experience the Virginia Creeper Trail have had an adventure that USA Today called one of the top attractions in the state. The route runs through two counties from White Top station at the VirginiaNorth Carolina border through quaint Damascus and ends at the town of Abingdon. Just a few hours drive from Northern Virginia, this scenic trail is pretty tough to beat. “There are lookouts. You stop for breaks. It’s gorgeous,” McKinney said.
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The trail follows a right-of-way created during the westward expansion of railroads during the late 1800s. A group of speculators established the Abingdon Coal and Iron Railroad in the hopes that they could take advantage of the large amount of iron ore in the region. Those plans never materialized, however, and subsequent attempts to use the rail lines for everything from timber transport to passenger trains also proved unsuccessful. After changing hands multiple times, and over many decades, the trestles and bridges were in a state of severe disrepair. Thankfully, in 1987, the Virginia Creeper Trail was established through an act of Congress and is now considered a National Recreation Trail maintained by the National Park Service, the towns of Abingdon and Damascus, and a group of volunteers known as the “Creeper Keepers.” Lisa Quigley, executive director of the Virginia Creeper Trail Conservancy, said there has always been a bit of confusion about the origin of the name Virginia Creeper. “The old rail line that ran from North Carolina into Virginia went through some extraordinary steep inclines and the train had to creep along,” Quigley said “But there is an abundance of the actual Virginia creeper vine that covers the mountains and the sides of the railbeds, so it was the perfect name. The train creeped right through Virginia creeper.” Whether you ride the entire length of the trail from Whitetop Station to Abingdon or stop about halfway along at Damascus, you will pass through deep, lush forests, cross roaring rivers and ambling creeks, see open fields and farmland, and traverse up to 47 wooden trestle bridges. Depending upon the age range of the riders in your group, there are various starting and stopping points along the trail, so the length and level of difficulty can be customized to meet your group’s abilities. “We did a 17-mile section – it was great, especially for the kids who were with us,“ said Bednarz, owner of the Ashburn Pub. “A great ride.“ Bringing your own bikes is certainly an option. However, a wide range of adventure companies rent bikes and provide drop-off and pick-up service at various
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LOCAL ADVENTURES points along the trail, making trip planning effortless and allowing you to focus on the experience. Regardless of the length of your journey, you will see many restored railroad depots and charming, historic small towns. You can also enjoy local restaurants, breweries and ice cream parlors as you pass through. The towns of Abingdon and Damascus, in particular, have a great deal to offer, so many riders choose to begin or end their journeys there as they ride the trail and explore the region. “I want to do [the Virginia Creeper] again really badly,” said McKinney, who is already starting to mull over plans. “Hopefully in the next year or so. It’s worth coming back to.” A Emily Cook is a freelance writer with a background in communications and public relations. She lives in Loudoun County with her husband and three children.
For more information on the Virginia Creeper Trail and to plan your trip, start with the Virginia Creeper Trail Conservancy website at vacreepertrail.org.
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the burn A ROUND-UP OF THE LATEST RESTAURANT, RETAIL AND OTHER COOL NEWS FROM ASHBURN AND BEYOND. CHECK OUT THE BURN AT THEBURN.COM AND FOLLOW IT ON FACEBOOK, TWITTER AND INSTAGRAM.
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end, many restaurants have been creating outdoor spaces. BRG at the Ashburn Village Shopping center brought in construction crews to remove the grass and landscaping in front of the store and replace it with a fenced-in patio.
BISTRO OPENS An upscale Chinese and Asian fusion restaurant has opened at the Belmont Chase shopping center, off Claiborne Parkway just south of Route 7. The new restaurant has an extensive menu filled with many classic
Chinese dishes, including the famous Peking Duck. The restaurant was scheduled to open earlier this year but was delayed by the coronavirus closures. A
46 • ASHBURN MAGAZINE • JULY/AUGUST 2020
C O U N T Y PA R
After a several month delay due to the coronavirus pandemic, the new LA
6 LEE TAI TAI ASIAN By the time you read this, a new outdoor patio should be open for diners at the Blue Ridge Grill restaurant in Ashburn Village. More customers than ever are interested in open air dining due to health concerns over the coronavirus. To that
CENTER OPENS IN THE BROADLANDS
LO U D O
Noah Epps, an 11-yearold rising seventh-grader at Stone Hill Middle in Ashburn, performed a solo dance on the popular NBC program “America’s
IN ASHBURN VILLAGE BUILDS NEW PATIO
W A X
4 LA FITNESS
5 BLUE RIDGE GRILL
A new fast-casual restaurant is planned for the Ashburn Crossroads restaurant center. That’s at the intersection of Ashburn Village Boulevard and Farmwell Road and includes the IHOP and Fuddruckers restaurants. Tava Fry will specialize in street food from India, specifically from the region around the city of Mumbai. Pani puri is a typical street food dish.
Fitness opened in the Broadlands Village Center shopping center. The gym features a large, open floor plan with both free weights and exercise equipment. There are also several studios for various types of group fitness classes, as well as a lap swimming pool and a children’s daycare space. LA Fitness has gone into the space that used to be the Safeway grocery store.
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2 STONE HILL MIDDLE
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G L OU C
A new 12-story building planned near the future Metro stop in Ashburn could rise more than 200 feet into the air. It will be called One Gramercy and will include office space, several levels of parking and retail on the ground floor. It will go up across from the AMC Loudoun Station 11 movie theater. The current tallest buildings in Loudoun are in Lansdowne, around 146 feet tall.
BUILDING COMING TO LOUDOUN STATION
Got Talent,” in an audition televised in mid-June. In the dance, Epps portrayed a puppet come to life. He received four “yes” votes from the celebrity judges to move on to the next rounds of the competition. Epps has been a student for three years at Studio Bleu Dance Center in Ashburn.
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