Leesburg Halloween art contest


For the next week, the store windows of downtown Leesburg will be filled with ghosts, witches, bats and an assortment of other scary creatures, courtesy of local teens engaged in a friendly competition.

Teams of art students from three Leesburg high schools — Heritage, Loudoun County and Tuscarora — are competing in a Halloween art contest sponsored by the Leesburg Downtown Business Association.


Washington Post, October 25, 2015

Fairfax slavery indexing project

In 1799, a 40-year-old man named Aleck was working as a carpenter at Lexington Plantation on Mason Neck. Kate, a 50-year old woman with impaired vision, was working in the plantation’s main house.

Aleck and Kate might have been forgotten if their names had not been recorded in a will book at the Fairfax County courthouse. Both were slaves owned by George Mason V, son of the statesman George Mason of Gunston Hall, and their names were recorded in an inventory of his property.

A project now underway in the Fairfax Circuit Court Historic Records Center is making personal information about Aleck, Kate and thousands of other enslaved people more accessible by creating an index of slaves mentioned in the county’s will and deed books.


Washington Post, October 21, 2015

Financial systems delayed again

For the third time this year, the ongoing $41.4 million upgrade of Loudoun County’s aging financial management systems — which handle core computer functions such as accounting, procurement, assessments, taxation and human resources for the county government — missed a scheduled completion date.

The Board of Supervisors allocated $25 million in its fiscal 2010 budget to replace the system, but the cost of the upgrade has exceeded that amount by more than 65 percent.

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Washington Post, October 18, 2015

Preventing concussions in H.S. sports

A two-year push to prevent concussions and other injuries in Fairfax County high school sports is showing encouraging results, according to data released by the school system.

Statistics collected by Fairfax County public schools indicated that the number of injuries sustained by football players declined by 16 percent over the past year, and the number of concussions by 28 percent. There were similar declines in the incidence of concussions and other injuries among lacrosse players.

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Washington Post, October 15, 2015

Chairman candidates debate

From left: Candidates Scott K. York (I), Thomas J. Bellanca (I), Charlie King (R) and Phyllis J. Randall (D)

Candidates for chairman of the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors squared off in a debate Tuesday, trading blows and staking out differing positions on such issues as all-day kindergarten, the rural economy and the need for a police department.

Four-term incumbent Chairman Scott K. York spent much of the evening on the defensive, responding to attacks from Democrat Phyllis J. Randall and Republican Charlie King, while independent challenger Thomas E. Bellanca mostly stayed out of the heated discussion. Sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Loudoun County, the debate was held at the Sterling campus of Northern Virginia Community College.


Washington Post, October 11, 2015

Manassas-area children’s choirs

Becky Verner conducts children in grades 5 through 8 in a new Manassas-area singing group for children.

About 70 Manassas-area children are joining their voices in song as members of a new choral group that began rehearsing last month.

The Greater Manassas Children’s Choir, an offshoot of the Manassas Chorale, is divided by age into two singing groups, each with a director. Becky Verner leads about 50 children in grades 5 through 8, and Susan Dommer is head of a smaller group of children in grades 2 through 4.

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Washington Post, October 11, 2015

A glimpse into an astronaut’s life


Forget packing for a jaunt to the beach. Kids visiting the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly are setting their sights on a much more ambitious destination: Mars.

At the Astronaut Academy, the latest offering in the TechQuest program at the Northern Virginia offshoot of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, children are using an alternate-reality game to get an idea of what it’s like to be an astronaut.


Washington Post, October 4, 2015