Blue Ridge Community Connection
I'd like to take time in my first newsletter of 2013 to thank all you for your support. I hope you enjoy our new format and I welcome your feedback. Please email me if you would like to see a particular subject covered.
Round Hill Community Voice Hub Meeting
I will be holding a community voice hub meeting along with Blue Ridge District School Board Representative Jill Turgeon on Monday, February 4th at 7 pm in the Round Hill Elementary Library.
Hillsboro Community Voice Hub Meeting
I will be holding a community voice hub meeting along with Blue Ridge District School Board Representative Jill Turgeon and Mayor Vance on Monday, February 11th at 7 pm at the Hillsboro Elementary School Cafeteria.
Sheriff Chapman Community Meeting
Sheriff Chapman will be holding a community meeting in reference to a series of burglaries in Western Loudoun. The meeting will be held on Thursday, January 31st at 7 pm at Banneker Elementary School located at 35231 Snake Hill Road in Middleburg, VA. Members of the community are invited to attend to learn more about the burglary cases from Loudoun County Sheriff’s Detectives as well as crime prevention measures residents can take to help protect their home.
Since the beginning of my term in 2012, I have been working to bring all areas of the county into the 21st century with respect to universal connectivity. It should be noted the entire Board is supportive of improving communication throughout Loudoun County. The steps I have taken thus far include the introduction and subsequent approval by the Board of Supervisors (BOS) of the following legislative items:
- Broadband Initiative - Resolution of Support for Expanded Broadband Access and Other Communications Infrastructure for the Citizens, Businesses, and Workforce of Loudoun County. Click here to view this item.
- Cellular Availability Study - Authorized funding for a study to determine exactly where there are gaps in service, from both a public safety perspective as well as from a broadband availability perspective. In addition, the study will assess where there are challenges in obtaining 3G and 4G services. Click here to view this item.
- Verizon Franchise Agreement Evaluation - Directed staff to send this item to the Communications Commission to evaluate the Verizon Cable Franchise Agreement for compliance with agreed upon service rollout. The agreement contains specific terms regarding broadband expansion in the “Extended Service Area” which Verizon is required to fulfill in 2013, yet Verizon has subsequently excluded many addresses from obtaining service as they claim these addresses do not meet density requirements. We will update you as to the progress of the investigation. Click here to view this item.
And to further these efforts, I asked our department of Mapping and GIS to create a Blue Ridge District Development Applications Map which reflects ongoing and approved residential development. This map has proved to be an invaluable tool for the purposes of future planning in many subject areas, including utilities such as Verizon; to educate them on the approved residential densities that meet their criteria in the various service areas.
I have been notified by County IT staff that some previously underserved areas are now being engineered for broadband services such the Chestnut Hills subdivision in Purcellville and certain areas in Round Hill. We are making progress! I will send you updates as I get them.
Route 9 – With the opening of Charles Town Casino and West Virginia’s expansion of Route 9 to the Virginia Border, Route 9 has become an even greater area of traffic congestion. The Town of Hillsboro has been hit particularly hard by this increase in traffic and crossing the road during rush hour has become nearly impossible. This project features roundabouts where Route 9 intersects with Hillsboro Road and Stony Point Road, as well as sidewalks, crosswalks, and other traffic calming elements. The design public hearing was held on September 18, 2012 and the Hillsboro Town Council has endorsed the plans. The public hearing design plans will be presented to the BOS for consideration at its February 20, 2013 meeting. As there are no construction funds identified for the project, VDOT is exploring funding opportunities to phase the project.
Route 287/7 - People who travel westbound on the Route 7 Bypass to Purcellville and points beyond can’t help but be aware of the traffic backups onto the right lane of the Bypass at the 287 exit ramp. I have been working with our Office of Transportation Services and VDOT to solve this very dangerous traffic situation. I am bringing an item forward at our next Board meeting (February 6th) along with Supervisor Higgins to ask my colleagues on the Board to approve funding for interim improvements as the standstill traffic on the Route 7 Bypass has become a critical safety issue.
You may have read in the local news about the issues concerning the Neersville Volunteer Fire-Rescue (NVFR) Company 16. This fire and rescue company was started in 1977 and these brave men and women have saved many lives over the years, sometimes at the risk of their own. Unfortunately, during their presentation at the Board’s last Finance Government Services and Operations (FGSO) Committee meeting, the Government Reform Commission (GRC) recommended that the NVFR’s charter be revoked. None of the members of either the GRC or the FGSO committee had formally met with the members of NVFR to hear what they have to say. The GRC has even stated they don’t consider the Neersville Volunteers to be key stakeholders in regard to fire and rescue services in Neersville!
I want to make it clear that there have been no performance or financial violations whatsoever with Company 16. In fact, the NVFR has been audited twice by the County and their books were found to be in good standing. It is unfortunate that this appears to be a personal dispute between the leadership of the County’s Fire and Rescue Commission and the NVFR.
I believe that an objective, professional approach which includes formal discussions with the NVFR, along with a negotiated agreement would be the more appropriate way to solve this issue. Supervisor Higgins, county staff, and I worked out such an agreement earlier this year with the NVFR, as Company 16 currently resides in the Catoctin District and the new station is in the Blue Ridge District south of Sagle Rd. When we brought an item forward to the BOS in September, as a first step in addressing the Neersville as well as other fire and rescue issues, they voted to send it to the FGSO committee. In the meantime, the Government Reform Commission looked at it and made their presentation to the FGSO without ever formally speaking to the Neersville members. Needless to say, Supervisor Higgins and I were shocked when the FGSO voted to recommend to the BOS to revoke the Company 16 charter. This item will go to the Board on February 6 for a vote. Supervisor Higgins and I have appealed to the rest of the Board not to support the FGSO’s recommendation to revoke Company 16’s Charter.
The Purcellville Volunteer Rescue Company has sent a letter to the BOS in support of their sister station, NVFR. Purcellville went through a similar transition around the time their new station was built, but Purcellville Volunteer Fire Company persevered and went from a total of 12 members to a thriving community of over 100 volunteer firefighters and auxiliary members and continues to save countless lives.
I believe in encouraging and supporting these volunteers. Purcellville has only five paid firefighters and no paid personnel on the rescue side. Volunteers that supplement paid county fire and rescue staff are a huge savings to county taxpayers! I recommend anyone in support of Neersville Company 16 send an email to BOS@loudoun.gov or show up to speak at the February 6th Board meeting. Click here to view information on public input to the Board.
School Safety - I was shaken upon hearing the news of the Sandy Hook Elementary school shootings. I believe the safety of our children is paramount and I immediately sent a message to Sheriff Chapman asking about the possibility of placing an officer in all elementary schools since we already have them at all of our middle and high schools. I posted his response on my Supervisor Facebook page.
Sheriff Chapman spoke before the Board this month and explained that he has been appointed to the Governor’s Task Force of School and Campus Safety, whose task it is to review school safety, including established policies and procedures, crisis and emergency management plans, threat assessment protocols, as well as share best practices and identify resource challenges. This task force will also provide legislative and budget proposals to the governor to address any critical gaps or needs associated with safety and security in our schools and on our campuses.
Sheriff Chapman suggested that changes should be made based upon the recommendations of the Governor’s Task Force of School and Campus Safety whose first meeting was on January 14th. We will keep you updated on the Task Force recommendations as well as any changes that are made in regard to school safety. Click here to provide input to the Task Force as well as view meeting agendas, minutes, and work materials.
Lincoln Elementary – I have received input from many citizens about the recent discussions the School Board has had in regard to closing Lincoln Elementary. Both Supervisor Higgins and I do not support closing of this community school. All schools need repair over time and LCPS spends the money to repair them. Older schools that have been renovated and improved over the years are Park View HS, Broad Run HS, Loudoun County HS, Emerick Elementary, Hamilton Elementary, and others.
Graduation - The last day of school for students of Loudoun County Public is June 6th. The last day for seniors will be May 31st if they meet the LCPS requirements. Click here for more information. Some graduations have yet again been scheduled for weekdays so families may want to check their school's graduation schedule. It is not easy for many families and friends of graduates to take a weekday off work. I hope the School Board will keep this in mind when they schedule future graduations.
School Planning - It appears to me that not only will several new schools be needed sooner than scheduled in the CIP, but there will be a need for more schools than what have been planned. Blue Ridge District School Board Representative Jill Turgeon and I have had continuing discussions in regard to this issue. I am very concerned about the eastern end of the Blue Ridge District as there are no schools west of Belmont Ridge Road in the general areas of Belmont Glen and Brambleton, where there continues to be rapid growth. I will also continue to push building schools in the communities where families live, particularly elementary schools.
Parks and Recreation
Round Hill Aquatic Center – This developer proffered, 4-lane pool with disability access is expected to break ground in the next couple of months. Unfortunately, the original proffers, which were created over 20 years ago, contractually obligate the developer to only build a four lane pool: additional funding would have to be found in order to expand to more lanes.
Once completed, the aquatic center will be folded into the Parks, Recreation and Community Services (PRCS) department and will become part of that system for use by all citizens of Loudoun. I have asked the Director of PRCS to provide funding estimates for expansion after the builder's proffer is complete and will then bring a funding request to the full Board for consideration.
Because the proffer language states that the pool must be built before the issuance of the 800th building permit, the builder is up against a delivery deadline. It is unfortunate that this issue was not sufficiently addressed in the many years before I took office. However, I will continue to advocate for expansion as I have received many emails from constituents in support of expansion and realize how difficult it is for the western Loudoun swim teams to travel in the early morning and late evening hours to pools in the east for swim practice.
Round Hill Trail to Franklin Park - This trail design is complete. The next step is to hold public hearings and then to obtain easements from landowners on whose property the trail will be constructed.
Purcellville Trail to Franklin Park – This much needed trail connection from the end of the W&OD Trail in Purcellville to Franklin Park has been planned for over 20 years but due to several different issues, has not been completed. Franklin Park is about one mile from the edge of the Town of Purcellville, which now has approximately 8,000 residents. Adults and children regularly walk or ride their bikes along Route 7 to get to the park. This is extremely dangerous as the speed limit on Business 7 is 45mph and there are no shoulders or sidewalks in that area. I am looking into what can be done to revive the trail plan.
Mayfair Parcel (applicant Brookfield Autumn Hill, LLC) The County Attorney states that the argument on the County's demurrer is February 28, 2013 at 10:00am. A demurrer is a plea for dismissal on the point that even if the facts alleged in the complaint were true, there is no legal basis for a lawsuit.
Loudoun’s Sister-City Relationships
The County now has sister-city relationships with Main-Taunus-Kreis, Germany; Taipei, Taiwan; and Goyang City, S. Korea. This month, Chairman York and I met with representatives from South Korea to discuss Goyang City Mayor Choi Sung’s visit to Loudoun at the end of March. A ceremonial signing of the sister-city agreement will take place in the board room on the first floor of the Government Center. Chairman York and Mayor Sung will each be signing the agreement on behalf of their jurisdictions. I would like to personally thank Nan Paek, who works in our budget office, for acting as our translator in the most recent meeting with the Korean delegates.
The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program (VITA) for elderly as well as limited-income residents is a free, tax preparation assistance service for Loudoun County residents. The Internal Revenue Service trains volunteers to provide assistance with preparing certain federal and state income tax forms. This program operates at various sites throughout the county during February, March, and early April.
For more information, click here or call 703-777-0257 (TTY 711) and ask to speak with the VITA Coordinator. For a list of free tax assistance sites in Loudoun County, click here.
Safe Sitter Classes - Inova Loudoun Hospital will offer Safe Sitter® classes for girls and boys age 11 to 13. The Safe Sitter® classes will be taught on the first Saturday of the month from 8 am – 4:30 pm at the Lansdowne Campus, 44045 Riverside Parkway, Leesburg.
Safe Sitter® is a medically accurate, competency-based, highly structured babysitting preparation course designed for 11-13 year olds. The curriculum, written by a pediatrician includes: babysitting as a business, success on the job, childcare essentials, safety for the sitter, injury management, preventing problem behavior, care of choking infant and care of the choking child. The class will provide expanded information on preventing injuries and behavior management.
The cost is $75 and includes the student handbook, snacks during the day and a tour of the Mobile Health Unit. To register your son or daughter or your child’s babysitter, call 571-308-5794. Advanced registration is required.
Beware of Telephone Scams
Medicare Card Scam - Recently, it was reported that seniors were being contacted by someone who said that they were sending them replacement Medicare cards. They confirmed the address and then asked to confirm direct deposit information for their social security check.
Utility Bill Payment Scam - Dominion Virginia Power is warning its customers about a scam involving phone calls from a person claiming to be a company employee, demanding immediate payment of utility bills. According to the power company, the caller claims electric service will be cut off unless the bill is paid within a matter of hours, usually by using a prepaid debit card such as a “Green Dot card.” The caller also may claim that a problem with an electric meter could result in a fire if not immediately replaced, offering reimbursement from Dominion at a later date if payment is made now.
While Dominion may phone customers whose bills are in arrears to remind them payment is due, they will never ask you for specific payment information only direct you as to how to make a payment. The scammers have been targeting Spanish-speaking customers, elderly customers, and businesses throughout Virginia, according to Dominion, but they say all customers should be aware of the scam and their risk.
The company encourages anyone who is improperly contacted about making a payment over the phone to call 1-866-DOM-HELP and local law enforcement officials. Dominion also will address any questions or concerns a customer has about a phone call from someone claiming to be a Dominion employee. In addition, customers should ask to see an official Dominion identification from anyone who comes to their residence and claims to be from the company.
Loudoun Grown Expo
The third annual Loudoun Grown Expo brings Loudoun’s wineries, Community Supported Agriculture (CSAs), producers, and local restaurants together to showcase Loudoun’s local foods under one roof for everyone to enjoy. It takes place on Saturday, February 16th from 2 to 6 PM at the historic Bush Tabernacle (skating rink) at Fireman's Field in Purcellville. For more information, go to www.loudoungrownexpo.com.
There are many events our county has to offer. For an extensive list of what's happening in Loudoun, go to Visit Loudoun, a wonderful resource for residents and visitors alike. I also recommend checking the towns' and villages' websites for the great events happening in Western Loudoun!