OPINION: How Could Someone Steal the Yield Signs?

August 11, 2010 by · 36 Comments 

Falls Church Times Staff

August 11, 2010

Almost 10 years ago to the day, my father decided to take a bike ride to Leesburg via the W&OD Trail. It was a trip he had taken countless times, so when he didn’t return home after a few hours, we weren’t terribly worried; we figured he had just decided to ride a little further than originally planned.

But when afternoon turned to dusk, and dusk turned to night, we got scared. We called every hospital in the region, we filed a police report, we drove repeatedly to the parking lot where he had left his car. Finally, at 10 p.m., we found out that there was a “John Doe” in Fairfax Hospital’s ICU, who had been medevacked that afternoon from Sterling. He had been hit by a minivan as he crossed one of the many roads the W&OD intersects, and he was in bad shape.

John Doe was my dad. He spent two weeks in a coma, nine months in the hospital, and four more months in rehab and physical therapy as a nearly severed leg and a damaged brain healed. He ultimately returned to work, returned to golf, returned to the gym. In my eyes, it’s a miracle he survived at all.

Ever since then, I’ve treated W&OD road crossings as if the railroad were still operating — without crossing gates or ringing bells. I slow and look both ways before continuing through a crossing. I stop whenever I see a walker, jogger or cyclist approaching. Yet even with such caution, I’ve been amazed by the number of times another driver has zoomed around me and nearly hit the very person I was letting cross in front of me.

So imagine my delight last week, when six “Yield to Pedestrian” signs were erected at each of Falls Church City’s six W&OD road crossings. I was happy to see a post on the City’s Facebook page, reminding motorists “to slow down when approaching a crosswalk and stop if a bicyclist or pedestrian is in the walkway, because they have the right of way.” It continued, “Bicyclists must also observe the Stop sign before entering the crosswalk, and everyone is reminded to look both ways before crossing the road!”

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PTA Home & Garden Tour Raises $16,000 for Schools

May 27, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Falls Church Times Staff

May 27, 2010

It was a gorgeous day on Sunday, May 16, providing the perfect setting for nearly 200 enthusiastic ticket holders to tour seven Falls Church City homes and two gardens during the 3rd biannual Falls Church Elementary PTA Home & Garden Tour.

Thanks to generous donations from major sponsors Home Depot, Don Beyer Volvo, GreenBuilt Homes, Moore Architects, and Pie Tanza; private family donations; ticket sales; and countless volunteer hours donated by PTA members and docents, the event grossed approximately $16,000.

The hefty proceeds will help purchase more SmartBoards (interactive white boards) for classrooms, help fund teacher grants, and support the outdoor classrooms at both Mt. Daniel and Thomas Jefferson elementary schools.

“The Home & Garden Tour has become one of the PTA’s biggest fundraisers, and we could not have done it without the generosity of the homeowners, our sponsors, and the dedication of the Home and Garden Tour Committee,” observed Elementary PTA President Terri Tornell. “We are grateful for the support of so many in our community. The event was a huge success, and we are especially grateful to the eight homeowners who offered up their houses and gardens for this year’s tour and to the City of Falls Church for opening Cherry Hill Farmhouse. It was a great event, and it’s very rewarding to see such hard work and dedication result in thousands of dollars for our schools.”

SUNDAY 5/16: Falls Church Home & Garden Tour to Benefit Elementary PTA

May 15, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

The Falls Church Elementary PTA has organized a benefit Home & Garden Tour for Sunday, May 16, from 12 to 4 p.m. Six homes and two gardens, all located within the City of Falls Church, will be open for ticket-holders. Read more

MONDAY 5/17: Bid on a $1,900 Bottle of Wine to Benefit Falls Church Education Foundation

May 15, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

On Monday, May 17 at 7 p.m., Quinn’s Auction Galleries, located at 431 N. Maple in Falls Church, will host a live “night out at the auction” to benefit the Falls Church Education Foundation.  Items that will be auctioned include sports memorabilia, antique furniture and home goods. Also included is a bottle of 2000 Chateau Lafite Rothschild Pauillac, which is valued at $1,900.  This wine has been awarded a rating of 100 points by Robert Parker and 96 points by Connoisseur’s Guide and Stephen Tanzer.  For more information about this item, please contact Donna Englander at (703) 538-3381.

Here’s other good stuff to know:

  • You can donate items to the auction – from your business or from your home.
  • You can bid on any item, or just enjoy the open bar and snacks on a Monday evening.

To donate items, contact Laura Nunley ([email protected]).

Proceeds from the auction benefit the programs and operations of the Falls Church Education Foundation.

The Foundation is registered as a 501(c)3 tax-exempt organization.  For information about the Falls Church Education Foundation, visit www.fcedf.org or contact Donna Englander at [email protected]. (Donna can also provide more information about that bottle of wine!)

Plan to Attend Home & Garden Tour Sunday, May 16

Falls Church Times Staff

Which of the below best describes you:

a) I frequently use an alias on Realtor sign-in sheets at Open Houses because I have no intention of buying a house; I just like to look.

b) I like to go trick or treating with my kids so that I can peek inside all the houses while they’re getting their candy.

c) I look up neighbors’ houses on Realtor.com the second they go on the market so that I can check out the interior photos.

d) Puh-leez. I’m not that tacky. I consider myself an aficionado of architecture, home décor, landscaping, and local history.

e) All of the above.

Whether you’re a hopeless voyeur (choice e) or just a lover of great design, mark your calendars for Sunday, May 16, noon to 4 p.m., because that will be the date of the 3rd biannual Falls Church Elementary PTA Home & Garden Tour! (Rain date is Sunday, May 23.)

The self-guided tour will take participants through six homes and two gardens in the City, with featured home styles including three varying Craftsmans, a Virginia Forest custom home, an Ellison Heights “green” Colonial and a contemporary farmhouse. The Cherry Hill Farmhouse will also be home from noon to 2 p.m.

Advance tickets cost $20 per person and can be purchased online at http://www.fallschurchpta.org/hgtour.html. Limited ticket sales will be held the day of the event at the Cherry Hill Farmhouse beginning at 10:30 a.m. for $25 each. (Every tour-goer must have a ticket, regardless of age.)

The tour is a major fundraiser for the Falls Church Elementary PTA, which this year will use proceeds to help purchase more SmartBoards (interactive white boards) for classrooms, help fund more teacher grants, and support the outdoor classrooms at both Mt. Daniel and Thomas Jefferson elementary schools.

“This has been an extremely tough year with the school budget,” said Falls Church Elementary PTA President Terri Tornell. “The PTA is acutely aware of the cuts and wants to be poised to help our teachers—and therefore our City’s children—through the upcoming school year.”

Premier sponsors for the volunteer-run event are Home Depot, Don Beyer Volvo, GreenBuilt Homes, Moore Architects and PieTanza.

Falls Church Education Foundation Raises $70K for Schools

April 28, 2010 by · 19 Comments 

Falls Church Times Staff

April 28, 2010

The Falls Church Education Foundation (FCEF) raised some major cash for City schools at its Sixth Annual Dinner & Auction last Friday night, with 240 people in attendance at the Westin Arlington Gateway, raising more than $70,000. That’s about $3000 more than last year’s totals, Executive Director Donna Englander said.

Divvying up the proceeds among the schools wasn’t difficult in this age of budget cuts, and all four schools benefited nicely; Mount Daniel and Thomas Jefferson will receive four new SmartBoards, interactive white boards that help make learning a multi-sensory experience; Mary Ellen Henderson will receive $7200 for Challenge Day, a two-day program aimed at overcoming fear and hatred of the differences among students; and $700 in proceeds from audience participation in a Heads or Tails Game will be used to reimburse the FCEF for their outlay to the George Mason robotics team when the team traveled to the national competition in Atlanta, Ga.

Emcee Dan Gardner kicked off the evening's events.

Funds will also be used for FCEF’s teacher grants, which are apportioned out by a grant committee that is made up of four representatives from each of Falls Church City’s schools, the assistant superintendent, and a PTA representative.

“We utilize a competitive review process to help determine which grant requests we can fulfill,” explained Englander, “while our decisions this year about supporting SmartBoards, Challenge Day and the robotics team came down to recognizing what aspects of our schools’ programs and services really needed more help with funding. That’s one of the strengths about the Foundation … being able to nimbly step in and help where it’s needed most.”

Attendees filled the ballroom of the Westin Arlington Gateway.

“Our decision to support the purchase of more SmartBoards, for example, was the result of some very convincing legwork by people who really care,” Englander said. “Thomas Jefferson’s Technology Coordinator Steve Knight put together a fantastic video about the benefits of the interactive boards, and Elementary PTA President Terri Tornell had a very aggressive fundraising plan in place. With that background, the auctioneer worked his magic, and we raised enough to purchase four boards.”

Another highlight of the evening was a performance by jazz singer and composer Ericka Ovette, who was joined by the extraordinarily talented George Mason jazz ensemble.

Major corporate sponsors of the event were Acacia Federal Savings Bank, Moore Cadillac, and Pal-Tech.

Mount Daniel Celebrates Earth Day with Family Discovery Series: Science in Nature

April 28, 2010 by · 1 Comment 

Falls Church Times Staff

April 28, 2010

Earth Day was a hit at our house. But that’s no surprise—my four-year old regularly holds up scraps of paper smaller than his little toe and asks, quite seriously, “Is this garbage or recycling?” And our seven-year old carefully marks every bird species we see at our feeder in a book about Virginia’s suburban birds. So we’re pretty excited about Mount Daniel Elementary’s “Family Discovery Series: Science in Nature” event, scheduled for Wednesday evening (April 28) from 6:30 to 8:00pm on the upper blacktop behind Mount Daniel (rain or shine).

There will be plenty of activities to help kids learn more about our world: From 6:35 to 7:30, families can circulate through several different activity centers, including Design & Fly, where participants can design their own butterfly species and learn everything they ever wanted to know about butterfly habitats; Magnify Your World, where kids can examine bugs, plants, feathers and rocks with a magnifying lens or microscope; Feathered Friends, which will feature a station for make-your-own pinecone bird feeders; and Nature Bingo, a new twist on an old favorite. Volunteers will also read favorite stories about nature throughout the hour.

At 7:30, guest speaker Mr. Alonso Abugattas, acting director at Long Branch Nature Center, will weave together the evening’s activities and discoveries with a presentation about our Natural Neighbors.

“I’m hoping to provide some ‘edutainment’ by bringing along some native critters for the kids to see and touch, and by telling stories about the animals to help kids understand them better,” said Abugattas. “I’ll bring some animals that the kids may see every day, as well as some that used to be common in our area but no longer are because we haven’t been very neighborly to them. In honor of Earth Day, my overall hope is that by giving people the opportunity to learn more about our natural neighbors, we’ll all do more to help protect them.”