Board approves controversial contract for inmate medical care

The Loudoun County Board of Supervisors on Thursday approved a two-year, $4.7 million contract with Correct Care Solutions to provide medical and psychiatric services to inmates at the Loudoun County Adult Detention Center.

The Nashville-based company has been providing those services at the jail for more than a decade. However, several supervisors expressed frustration with the selection process, saying they had little choice but to stay with the current provider, even though two competing firms submitted proposals with lower price tags.

Supervisors also questioned whether the process of reviewing the proposals had been tainted because Correct Care Solutions has made campaign contributions to Sheriff Michael L. Chapman (R), who is responsible for overseeing the contract.

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The Washington Post, June 25, 2017

New business promotes artists with autism

An array of Zenaviv’s products featuring artwork created by people with autism

Brightly colored paintings decorate the home of Harish and Sandhya Bikmal, an Ashburn couple with two teenage sons.

Their older son, Saket, 17, is a rising senior at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Alexandria. Himal, 15, who will attend Briar Woods High School in the fall, was diagnosed with profound autism when he was 2.

As Himal’s parents came to terms with his diagnosis, they worried about his future.

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The Washington Post, June 18, 2017

Historical marker for Ashburn School

Less than nine months after vandals defaced the Ashburn Colored School by spray-painting it with racist graffiti, a Virginia historical marker has been installed near the front entrance of the gleaming white building.

The marker came about through the efforts of a group of seventh-grade students at Farmwell Station Middle School who selected it as a project for their social studies class in the fall. They cleared hurdles at local and state levels to obtain grant funding for the marker and win approval from the Virginia Department of Historic Resources, which installed the marker Monday.

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The Washington Post, June 11, 2017

Uncertain future for Round Hill jam sessions

On the last Friday of every month, musicians converge on the Old Furniture Factory in Round Hill, toting stringed instruments of all sizes, from mandolins to upright basses. Before long, they are standing in small clusters, picking and singing, filling the room with strains of bluegrass and old-time country music.

For 14 years, the informal sessions have attracted singers, instrumentalists and fans from the Washington area and beyond. But the future of the jams is uncertain. The Old Furniture Factory is for sale, and bluegrass enthusiasts fear the music will end when the building changes hands.

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The Washington Post, June 4, 2017

Randall: Exciting times in Loudoun

In her annual State of the County presentation, Board of Supervisors Chair Phyllis J. Randall (D-At Large) described Loudoun as strong, thriving and “standing on the cusp of an exciting future.”

A standing-room-only crowd that included business leaders and public officials from across the region packed the Board of Supervisors’ meeting room Wednesday, as Randall recapped the county’s successes of the past year. She also pointed out some of the challenges associated with Loudoun’s high cost of living, including the lack of workforce housing and an inadequate pay scale for public safety workers.

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The Washington Post, May 28, 2017

Leesburg Vintner withstands competition

Owner Mike Carroll in his shop, Leesburg Vintner

Although Leesburg Vintner was closed Monday, owner Mike Carroll was working in his shop while a ribbon-cutting for Delirium Cafe was taking place across the street.

“I think it’s going to be a game-changer,” Carroll said as he peered through the blinds at the growing crowd outside the cafe, a franchisee of a popular Belgian beer company. “It’s created a buzz unlike anything I’ve seen since I’ve been here.”

Carroll has been selling bottled wines at the northwest corner of King and Loudoun streets in Leesburg for almost three decades. During that time, he has withstood increasing competition from big box stores and local wineries.

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The Washington Post, May 21, 2017

Supervisors debate including transition area in plan’s vision statement

A narrow swath of land between eastern and western Loudoun County dominated the discussion as the Board of Supervisors wrestled recently with the wording of the vision statement for a new comprehensive plan that will guide development in the county for decades to come.

On May 2, six months into the 18-month process of creating the plan, supervisors began discussing a draft vision statement and goals that had been developed by a committee of stakeholders after a period of public input.

Most of the discussion focused on the “transition policy area,” which was zoned to serve as a buffer between rapidly developing eastern Loudoun and the rural west. Supervisors disagreed over whether the vision statement should include the word “transition” as one of the primary types of land areas in the county, along with “rural, suburban and urban.”

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The Washington Post, May 14, 2017

Hill School Arboretum gets recognition

The Hill School, as seen from the arboretum

Thousands of trees adorn the property of The Hill School in Middleburg, providing a peaceful, natural landscape for the school campus and an outdoor learning laboratory for the students.

Some of the trees at The Hill School Arboretum look as though they could have been there for a century. But less than three decades ago, the school was surrounded by hayfields and cornfields. A gift of land and the vision of a dedicated volunteer led to the establishment of the arboretum, school officials said.

The arboretum was recently selected by the Smithsonian Institution and the Garden Club of America for inclusion in the Archives of American Gardens. The school announced in February that the arboretum was one of 51 properties across the country that were added to the archives last year.

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The Washington Post, May 7, 2017

School Board accepts budget reduction

When the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors adopted a budget for fiscal 2018 on April 4, it handed the school board the task of trimming its expenditures by $5.5 million.

On Monday, the school board completed the budget reconciliation process by approving a list of reductions recommended by Schools Superintendent Eric Williams. That list avoided cuts to the school board’s key initiatives, such as expanding full-day kindergarten, boosting employee salaries and buying new school buses.

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The Washington Post, April 30, 2017

Leesburg gardens on display

In 1817, Gen. George Rust bought a 485-acre tract along the Potomac River north of Leesburg and began building a Federal-style home there. The rock outcrops that studded the land inspired the property’s name: Rockland.

Two centuries and five generations later, Rust’s descendants still own and occupy Rockland. But maintaining old homes is costly, and the current occupants are searching for new ways to generate revenue from the property so they can continue to keep it in the family.

Rockland is one of six picturesque Leesburg-area properties that will be open to visitors Sunday and Monday during Virginia’s Historic Garden Week. The Garden Club of Virginia uses proceeds from the event, now in its 84th year, to restore and preserve historic public gardens across the commonwealth.

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The Washington Post, April 23, 2017