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

Kids learn about Shakespeare on Saturdays

Loudoun Country Day School students rehearse a scene from Shakespeare’s “Much Ado about Nothing” in the school library.

In between the usual Saturday activities — soccer, ballet, taekwondo — a group of 9- and 10-year-olds from Loudoun Country Day School are learning to “crack the code” of William Shakespeare.

About a dozen fourth- and fifth-graders attend voluntary Saturday morning classes at the Leesburg-area private school to learn how to understand and perform Shakespeare’s works. The school’s headmaster, Randy Hollister, leads the classes.

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The Washington Post, April 16, 2017

Loudoun Supervisors adopt budget

The Loudoun County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday approved a $2.5 billion budget for the county government and school system for fiscal 2018.

The spending plan provides funding to open several new facilities, give pay increases of 3 percent or more to county and school employees, and add hundreds of government and school staff positions. By lowering the real property tax rate 2 cents, to $1.125, the supervisors also reduced tax bills for most Loudoun homeowners.

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The Washington Post, April 9, 2017

Purcellville Library observes 60th anniversary of desegregation

In the early 1950s, Reggie Simms mended damaged books so they could remain in circulation at the Purcellville Library. But he was not allowed to check them out for personal use.

For two decades after it opened in 1937, the library was open only to white patrons. Simms and other African Americans were excluded until the library was desegregated on April 9, 1957.

On Saturday, the library will mark the 60th anniversary of that milestone with “Cross the Line,” a day-long program focusing on the desegregation of public facilities in Loudoun County. Simms will join other African Americans from that era in sharing memories of the cultural shifts in Loudoun as segregation died a slow death in the 1950s and ’60s.

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The Washington Post, April 2, 2017

Ceremony honors pilot who died in 1945 crash

Richard Ochoa, the last surviving brother of Capt. Fred Ochoa, is presented with an American flag honoring his brother.

On July 27, 1945, Marine Capt. Fred Ochoa, 26, set out from Patuxent River Naval Air Station on what was a test flight for a new twin-engine aircraft. He never returned. The weather was treacherous, and the plane crashed in the Blue Ridge Mountains, near Bluemont. Among the items found with Ochoa’s body were a parachute and a rosary.

The prayer beads were a key link in a chain of events that culminated in a memorial ceremony and celebration of Ochoa’s life March 18, when 20 members of the Ochoa family gathered with a group of neighbors who live near the crash site. The reunion helped provide answers to questions that members of both groups had for decades.

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The Washington Post, March 26, 2017

Mixed-arts celebration in Sterling

“Springtime in Winter” opening in Reston

Local painters, poets and musicians will celebrate the transition from winter to spring in a presentation of original works Saturday on the Sterling campus of Northern Virginia Community College.

The event is the culmination of a months-long collaborative process, in which eight pairs of poets and artists created poems and paintings around the theme “Springtime in Winter.”

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The Washington Post, March 19, 2017