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Victoria Ross

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Virginia Voters Get More Choices in 2013

Northern Virginia has most two-party races on ballot.

While the Virginia governor’s race is the one getting the most attention, both nationally and in the state, Virginia’s House of Delegates race is shaping up to be the most competitive in a decade.

Petersen to Governor: Explain, Deny, Return or Resign

Petersen first Virginia legislator to suggest McDonnell resign over alleged wrongdoing in accepting gifts from prominent donor.

The tipping point for state Sen. J. Chap Petersen (D-34) was the $6,500 Rolex watch.

Fourth of July Trivia

Information provided by Smithsonian Children’s Magazine press releases. For more trivia, go to newsdesk.si.edu. Joke courtesy of Elle Ross, 7, of Vienna.

Let the Sparks Fly in Reston and Herndon

It’s not too late to enjoy local 4th of July festivals, parades and fireworks.

So. It’s July 4, 2013. Independence Day. A federal holiday celebrating our freedom from Great Britain. The National Day of the United States. And you have nothing planned.

When a Bill Becomes a Law

On July 1, sales taxes go up for Fairfax County residents.

“We needed to at least make it clear that you risk a reckless driving offense if you text and drive.” —Del. David Bulova (D-37)

Let the Sparks Fly in the County

It’s not too late to enjoy local 4th of July festivals, parades and fireworks.

So. It’s July 4, 2013. Independence Day. A federal holiday celebrating our freedom from Great Britain. The National Day of the United States. And you have nothing planned.

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Housing’s Roaring Rebound?

Pent-up demand creates seller’s market for Northern Virginia real estate.

In February, Patricia Stack, a broker with Weichert Realtors, held an open house for a single-family home for sale in Vienna just listed for $739,000. Within three hours, more than 70 people toured the home.

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Celebrating Partnerships

Fairfax County, FCPS honor 12 public-private partners during awards ceremony.

He envisioned a service project, contacted Fairfax County Public Library staff to gauge interest, and put the wheels in motion to create a program where older students offer tutoring to younger students in communities where there is a significant need.

Fairfax County Attracts Innovative Technology Firms

More than 1,400 jobs added to local economy in first quarter.

Continuing consumer demand for innovative technology such as web filtering, data security and cloud computing has helped Fairfax County post gains to the local economy, countering the sequester effect stalling business growth in other sectors. According to the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority (FCEDA), 27 businesses added more than 1,400 jobs in Fairfax County during the first quarter of 2013.

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Celebrating ‘Everyday’ Heroes

Molina Healthcare honors local residents for making a difference in the community.

In the 1980s, Vienna resident John Horejsi and a “ragtag” group of social justice pioneers learned that Virginia was charging sales tax on food stamps. They discovered the sales tax boosted the state’s coffers by $9.5 million every year, money that they believed belonged to poor families for food or other necessary items.

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Quick Takes

Q&A with Pastor King Rhodes.

Pastor King Rhodes is founder and senior pastor of His Church International Christian Center (HCICC) in Springfield, and has been involved in Christian ministry and community outreach for more than 20 years. As a longtime advocate for foster youth, Rhodes and his ministry help support the mission of Fairfax Families4Kids, a foster-mentoring program for teens in Fairfax County. On Saturday, May 18, Rhodes’ church will sponsor the organization’s 5-K Walk during Foster Care Appreciation Month.

Absentee Voting Starts Now for Democratic Primaries

Primaries held for lieutenant governor and attorney general.

The State Board of Elections reported Monday, May 6, that absentee voting began for the June 11, 2013 primary and all localities met the required 45-day deadline for mailing absentee ballots to voters.

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Helping Those Who ‘Can’t Catch a Break’

Community support for Northern Virginia Family Services grows during tough economic times.

“Most of us here lead privileged lives. You can and should make a difference in Northern Virginia.” —Earle Williams

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Women Mean Business

In the two months since the much-hyped and dreaded sequester took effect, the daily economic forecast has been almost as painful as the slow grinding of bureaucratic wheels. But here’s some good economic news, especially for aspiring female entrepreneurs: the numbers are in your favor.

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Governor McDonnell Endorses Springfield Site for FBI Headquarters

In letter to FBI director, McDonnell says Fairfax County site will advance “national security mission.”

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell has publicly endorsed the Springfield warehouse site for the new FBI building headquarters. In an April 30 letter to FBI Director Robert Mueller and Dan Tangherlini, the acting administrator of the U.S. General Services Administration, McDonnell said the federally owned warehouse is the best choice for a number of reasons.

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Fairfax County Budget Reflects ‘Increasing Needs, Decreasing Revenues’

"We as a board spend a lot of time talking about helping people in need, I can only say that when it came time to tax them, they were sadly forgotten." —Supervisor Pat Herrity (R-Springfield)

Karen Garza Hired as Superintendent of Fairfax County Public Schools

FCPS Board lauds Garza’s “openness” and “willingness to engage” community.

The Fairfax County School Board unanimously approved educator Karen Garza of Texas to be the next superintendent of the 181,000 student district at its April 18 school board meeting.

‘We Have Not Forgotten’

Residents rally in Vienna to support stricter gun control measures.

Less than six miles from the National Rifle Association (NRA) headquarters in Fairfax, more than 100 people gathered on the Vienna Town Green Saturday, April 13, to urge Congress to support stricter gun control measures.

Children ‘Dress Up With Grown-ups’

Medical Care for Children Partnerships funds medical, dental care for children of uninsured working families in Fairfax County.

“To me, children are the most beautiful creatures of God and there is nothing comparable to being able to give them a healthy and happy smile.” —Dr. Tehreem Butt, recipient of the Dr. Jorge Arnoldson Award

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Fairfax County’s Homeless Population Declines 12 Percent

Emphasis on rapid re-housing, prevention keys to success.

Despite economic obstacles and fallout from across-the-board sequester cuts, Fairfax County’s number of homeless individuals declined 12 percent decline in the past year, and 26 percent since 2007.

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Better Training, More Technology

The bipartisan commission released findings, recommendations regarding long lines on Election Day.

"The commission has identified a variety of improvements and efficiencies to ensure access and convenience for voters in future elections.” —Sharon Bulova

A Voice for the Voiceless

Q&A with SALT Coordinator John Horejsi.

“When there are bills affecting the wealthy the committee rooms are filled to capacity, but when issues affecting the needy, the hearing rooms are empty.” —SALT Coordinator John Horejsi

Local Perspective

Small-business owner tackles the sequester.

Raul Danny Vargas has beaten the odds all his life.

Bulova Appoints Mary Cortina, Faisal Khan to Park Authority Board

Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Sharon Bulova (D-at-large) recently appointed two new representatives to the Fairfax County Park Authority Board.

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EPA Will Not Appeal Court Decision on Accotink Watershed

EPA regulations could have cost county $300 million.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) effectively ended a two-year legal battle with Fairfax County when the agency announced last week it will not appeal a federal court decision favoring Fairfax County’s handling of the Accotink Creek watershed.

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Bicyclists Pedal Onward, Despite Legislative Losses

FABB promotes extended hours on W&OD Trail.

As the weather gets warmer and the days get longer, Northern Virginia bicyclists are back on the roads and trails, despite the Virginia General Assembly’s antipathy for bike safety bills this session.

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Putting a Face on Homelessness

462 homeless interviewed during Registry Week, an intense effort to document Fairfax County’s chronic homeless.

"We have to step up to this question. … Are we going to walk away from this tonight and say, 'That's just the way people live?’ Well, it's not the way people should live." —Supervisor Cathy Hudgins (D-Hunter Mill)

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The Snowquester Hits the Area

Snowstorm’s impact downgraded, but slushy roads still a problem.

The National Weather Service Wednesday downgraded its Snowquester forecast from 8-10 inches to about 4-6 inches in the region. At 3:18 p.m. Wednesday, March 6, the NWS predicted total snow accumulation of 3 to 5 inches in Fairfax County before the storm fizzles out later that night, and north winds with gusts up to 45 mph in some areas, making driving hazardous.

New Approach to Helping Chronic Homeless

County joins "100,000 Homes" effort as chronic homelessness on rise.

The number of chronically homeless individuals in Fairfax County is on the rise. Currently, nearly 300 individuals are considered chronically homeless, many living in cars or sleeping in tents. In an effort to find permanent homes for these individuals, the Fairfax-Falls Church Community Partnership to Prevent and End Homelessness is joining the 100,000 Homes Campaign, a national movement to find permanent homes for 100,000 chronically homeless throughout the nation.

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A Positive Reflection

Joan Brady gives foster children needed exposure.

On Monday, Sept. 10, 2001, Joan Brady of Great Falls had just started a three-month sabbatical from her job with an Internet company. Newly-married, Brady, who was 36 years old at the time, was exhausted from 80-hour work weeks in a rigid corporate environment. She wanted time that fall to contemplate what to do next with her life. The next day provided answers and a sense of urgency. It was Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2001. The terrorist attacks, and the moving stories of heroism and tragedy on 9/11, indelibly left their mark. Brady, like many Americans, was inspired to do something new, to take more chances, to change direction.

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'Stuff the Bus’ Campaign Helps Feed the Hungry

Donations continue to increase as campaign enters third year.

Local grocery stores were packed this weekend with shoppers stocking up on Super Bowl snacks for the annual football fan party. At the Wal-Mart in Fairfax, shoppers were greeted with colorful displays of chips, dips and other party favorites. They were also greeted by volunteers from Our Daily Bread (ODB), who were handing out flyers and encouraging shoppers to donate gift cards or specific items to restock ODB’s pantry shelves. A Fairfax nonprofit for nearly 30 years, ODB provides food and other critical services to the working poor, the elderly and the disabled. More than half of ODB’s clients are local children.

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Call for Nominations—2013 Helios Apollo Awards

Recognizing forward-thinking employers for outstanding employee development programs.

Helios HR, a human resources firm in Reston, announced a call for nominations for the 2013 Helios Apollo Awards. The deadline for nominations is Friday, Feb. 15. Winners and finalists will be honored at the Helios Apollo Awards Ceremony at the McLean Hilton on May 29. This breakfast ceremony will recognize organizations for their outstanding commitment to employee development and engagement, specifically highlighting innovative, collaborative and agile programs.

A Chorus of Praise

Fairfax County mentors celebrated during National Mentor Month.

Can we get an “amen?” The joyful noise coming from the David R. Pinn Center in Fairfax on Saturday wasn’t a gospel revival, but it was just as inspiring and enlightening.

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Four Northern Virginia Senators Targeted

Redistricting effort puts Fairfax County seats in the spotlight.

Four Northern Virginia state Senators are targets of a Republican-led effort to draw new districts — Sen. George Barker (D-39), Sen. Dave Marsden (D-37), Sen. Toddy Puller (D-36) and Sen. Chap Petersen (D-34). Democrats say the redistricting effort is a cynical attempt to take advantage of the absence of Sen. Henry Marsh (D-16), a prominent civil rights veteran, who was in Washington, D.C. for the inauguration on Monday. But state Sen. John Watkins (R-10) of Powhatan defended the effort as a way to create a sixth majority black Senate district in Southside. It passed the Senate on a 20-to-19 vote.

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Fairfax Families4Kids

Fostering bonds with children.

Nationwide, more than 463,000 children live in foster care. In many states, including Virginia, the number of foster youth has tripled in the last 25 years. As of Sept. 30, 2011, nearly 5,000 youth were in foster care in Virginia, according to the Administration for Children and Families (ACF), a division of the U.S. Health and Human Services Department. Physical abuse is the most common reason children enter foster, but it’s not the only reason. Often there’s emotional abuse, sexual abuse and the parent or caretaker’s inability to provide a safe environment due to substance abuse.

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A Family Made Whole

After a tragic loss, Reston couple creates a family through adoption.

The Granvilles look like a made-for-TV family. On a bright October afternoon, Chris, a computer engineer, is teasing his teenage son, Kenny, about what kind of pet to adopt, while Tiffany sits on a sofa, cradling Elijah, Kenny’s baby brother, who has just woken up from an afternoon nap. “Fish? No way,” Kenny, 15, says. “They just go ‘round and ‘round in a bowl.” Kenny is lobbying hard for a dog or—at the very least—a guinea pig or hamster.

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Saturday Night Fever at Milano’s

Friends, family throw surprise party to celebrate Milano’s restaurant and owner Jimmy Goranitis’ birthday.

On a typical Saturday night, Milano’s restaurant, a Springfield institution, is packed with regulars and newcomers. But last Saturday was different. There was standing room only in the restaurant as more than 100 family, friends, customers and employees eagerly waited for owner Jimmy Goranitis to walk through the doors so they could shout “surprise!” They were celebrating his 55th birthday as well as the 33rd anniversary of the family-owned restaurant.

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Parents Plead for Delay in Training Center Closing

Timeframe for closure puts disabled adults at risk, advocates say.

When it was Kenneth Gans’ turn to speak to the panel of Virginia state legislators, the 78-year-old father of a severely-disabled son kept his remarks brief.

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Express Buses from Burke to Tysons

Fairfax County to launch Express Connector bus service.

Get ready to ride the 495 Express Lanes. For free. Really.

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Coming in From The Cold

A night at Burke United Methodist Church’s hypothermia prevention shelter.

Musa L. gently draped a blanket over his wife, and promised her the new year would be better for both of them. She was sleeping on a foam pallet at the Burke United Methodist Church. Musa and his wife were among nearly 40 homeless adults seeking shelter from the frigid temperatures at the church on Friday, Dec. 21.

Readers of the Pack

What Fairfax County residents read in 2012.

According to Mary Mulrenen, spokesperson for the Fairfax County Public Library, Fairfax County readers selected many of the same fiction and non-fiction favorites that caught the attention of book-lovers nationwide. Dr. Seuss, science-fiction and, once again, lawyers (John Grisham’s 25th legal thriller) topped the charts.

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How the Powerless Access Power

Immigrants make significant gains in influencing political system.

On Election Night Nov. 6, Keisy Chavez’s nerves were frayed. The Fairfax single mom had been campaigning hard for Democrats since the official launch of Latinos for Obama last April.

Immigrant Experience Guides Success

Delegate Mark L. Keam

Del. Mark Keam (D-35) is the first Korean American and the first Asian-born immigrant to serve in the Virginia General Assembly.

Immigrants Gain Influence in Virginia

Immigrants make significant gains in influencing political system.

On Election Night Nov. 6, Keisy Chavez’s nerves were frayed. The Fairfax single mom had been campaigning hard for Democrats since the official launch of Latinos for Obama last April.

Enhanced Security Around Schools

FCPS releases message about Connecticut tragedy.

On Sunday, Dec. 16, Superintendent Jack Dale sent an email message to all FCPS families and employees. He said the Fairfax County Police Department will be increasing patrols and visibility this week around all FCPS schools, including elementary schools, in response to Friday's tragedy in Connecticut.

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Going Casual for a Cause

Nearly 10,000 people and 130-plus organizations participate in Jeans Day 2012 to help end homelessness.

Nearly 10,000 residents representing 130 businesses, Fairfax County agencies, schools and organizations pulled on their favorite jeans Friday, Dec. 14 for the second annual Jeans Day—a powerful community initiative that aims to “Put the ZIP on Homelessness” through building awareness and fundraising.

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Sikhs Bring Foundation of ‘Service to Others’

Fairfax Station temple active in community outreach.

On a recent Thursday evening, Ajaib Singh, 78, one of the founding members of the Sikh Foundation of Virginia, politely escorts a visitor to the area where one removes shoes and dons a headscarf.

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Dynamic and Diverse

New immigrants bring religious diversity to Fairfax County.

At the intersection of Hooes Road and Silverbrook Drive, on the dividing line between Lorton and Fairfax Station, is the largest Hindu structure in three states.

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Bienvenido! Huān yíng! Welcome!

Chantilly Bible Church thrives on diversity by providing outreach to immigrants.

Pastor Isaac Huang vividly remembers the day he landed in the United States from Taiwan. It was Jan. 7, 1982, and Huang, 25, was looking forward to studying computer science at Old Dominion University.

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Fairfax Becomes Immigrants’ Gateway

Focus on immigration.

Yesuf Beshir spent nearly three years gathering the mountain of paperwork he needed to leave Ethiopia and emigrate to America.