Banquet facility in horse country draws fire

A plan for a banquet and events facility in the middle of horse country sparked an outcry from residents of western Loudoun County who attended a public hearing in Leesburg this month to voice their objections.

Nearly 30 people spoke against the proposed business at Catesby Farm, about five miles west of Middleburg, arguing that the noise and traffic it would generate would disturb neighboring farms and overwhelm the narrow roads in the area. Some said that the traffic would also disrupt nearby Willisville, a small village settled by freed slaves after the Civil War.

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Washington Post, Oct. 23, 2016

Exit Plan: Leesburg’s Escape Room

The intrigue plays out several days a week in a studio apartment in downtown Leesburg, accessible only through a small parking lot and up a steep flight of stairs. It is a “safe house” for a spy — a Russian agent now cooperating with the U.S. government.

Across the hall, several wayward students are hatching a plot to escape detention from a classroom with furnishings straight from the 1980s.

The safe house and the classroom — in a suite of rooms above MacDowell Brew Kitchen — are not real. Nor are the scenes that unfold there. They are the “escape rooms” run by Exit Plan, a locally owned business that creates puzzle-filled adventure games for groups of people to solve.

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Washington Post, August 28, 2016

Vision for Ashburn Station

One of the most valuable pieces of real estate in Loudoun County is a triangle of undeveloped land along the south side of the Dulles Greenway, bounded roughly by the Greenway, Old Ryan Road and the Loudoun County Parkway. The nondescript parcel — formerly not-very-good farmland — is desirable solely because of its location next to the future site of Ashburn Station, the western terminus of Metro’s Silver Line.

Last month, representatives of the property’s owner — the Claude Moore Charitable Foundation — gave regional business leaders a glimpse of their vision for a possible trail- and transit-based urban community on the site.

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Washington Post, May 1, 2016

Residents want more nightlife options

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They want more: more bars and restaurants, and more ways to get to them safely. More music and entertainment destinations. More housing options in urban, walkable environments.

Loudoun County residents who attended a public input session in Ashburn on Monday confirmed the preliminary recommendations of an ad hoc committee created by the Loudoun Economic Development Advisory Commission. That committee has been looking at ways of stimulating the nighttime economy to make Loudoun more attractive to businesses and the young workers they employ.

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Washington Post, March 20, 2016

Loudoun aiming for more nightlife

Loudoun County has recently been ranked among the wealthiest, happiest and best places to live in the country. But there is one list it is unlikely to make: places with the best nightlife. And that makes local business leaders unhappy.

The perception that there is little to do in Loudoun when the workday ends is making it hard for businesses to attract and keep qualified young workers, said Tony Howard, chief executive of the Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce.

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Washington Post, January 31, 2016

New directions for family farm

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Donald Virts shows tomatoes in his greenhouse

The Virts family has been engaged in traditional farming (think heavy equipment, rigid growing seasons and cornfields stretching for acres) since it settled in Loudoun County in the late 18th century. Twelve generations later, things are beginning to change.

Donald Virts, who farms 1,000 acres in northern and western Loudoun, decided that he had to adapt his methods to evolving economic and environmental conditions. His new business model, which he is introducing at CEA Farms north of Purcellville, embraces concepts such as hydroponics (growing crops in water), controlled environment farming, renewable energy sources and marketing directly to consumers.

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Washington Post, January 17, 2016

Volunteers make repairs to Clifton woman’s home

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Dixie Dawson ascends her new wheelchair ramp, assisted by Beth Walters of Sun Design. 

Christmas arrived almost two weeks early for Dixie Dawson.

A group of about 50 volunteers — most of whom are employees of Sun Design, a Burke-based home-remodeling company — spent Saturday repairing Dawson’s home and constructing a new deck and wheelchair ramp for her.

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Washington Post, December 17, 2015

Leesburg Halloween art contest

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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.

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Washington Post, October 25, 2015

Priorities for Dulles area

Dulles area residents want more roads to ease traffic and connect neighborhoods; biking and walking trails; access to government services; and options for shopping, entertainment and recreation — all while trees, streams and open space are protected.

Those were residents’ central messages in input gathered through Loudoun County’s Dulles Community Outreach Project. The final report, which the county’s planning staff presented to the Board of Supervisors Wednesday, included a list of 28 “consensus recommendations,” many of which involved transportation improvements and community amenities.

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Washington Post, September 20, 2015

City Tavern reopens

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Pete (left) and Nick Veltsistas

City Tavern, which closed June 29 after more than two decades in Old Town Manassas, has reopened in a location less than a mile away, outside the city’s historic downtown.

The restaurant reopened July 22 in a renovated building at 9550 Center St. that formerly housed KC’s Restaurant. A co-owner of City Tavern’s former building, adjacent to the Olde Towne Inn, said he expects another restaurant to open there after major repairs are completed.

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Washington Post, August 30, 2015