By Jon Henkel
Purcellville’s St. Patrick’s Day celebrations opened with bagpipes at Franklin Park Arts Center on Saturday, Mar. 11 while renowned Irish Tenor Mark Forrest serenaded the Arts Center fans with songs of Ireland and America. They included Danny Boy, the Fields of Athenry, The Impossible Dream, and Irish Blessing. Mark finished with the first song taught by his father - his version of Frank Sinatra’s My Way - “God’s Way”. Pianist John Paul Kaplin and the Seasons, a Celtic and American folk band, accompanied Mark.
Mark and his wife, Muriel live at Wheatland Farm in Purcellville. They were high school sweethearts from Dublin, Ireland. They came to the US in 1990 to attend The Catholic University in DC. Mark attended university on a full music scholarship. After college, his exceptional talent took him world-wide where he has sung inspirational hymns for international dignitaries including Pope John Paul II, Mother Theresa, and for celebrities including Charlton Heston and Maureen O’Hara. Mark says that meeting Mother Theresa was most inspirational. The Forrests had eight sons of whom one, passed away shortly after birth and three have special needs.
It was the devastating death of baby Francesco that inspired them to establish The Faith and Family Foundation in 1999. Through that Foundation they support and encourage individuals and families with special needs. While Mark has performed for some of the leading dignitaries of our time, his hope is that his listeners will hear the deeper message.
Mark’s devotion could be felt throughout the crowded Arts Center. All proceeds from his performances and CD sales go toward funding the Foundation.
To find out more about the foundation and programs visit www.Wheatlandfarm.org.
The performance was accompanied by internationally recognized pianist, John Paul Kaplin. He contributed richly to the evening’s atmosphere.
Five Lee siblings – Peter, Mary-Grace, Mary-Clare, Mary-Teresa and Mary-Kate comprise the Seasons ensemble. The Lees pay homage to the rich tradition of Celtic and American folk music while treating it as a living, breathing entity. Their contribution was both fresh and familiar (Seasonsmusic.com).
If you missed their performance, you can see them again at St. Francis de Sales Catholic Church - April 10 at 7:30pm.
Historian John Frye will discuss the fascinating story of the C&O Canal and the history of transportation along the Potomac River. This is the third lecture in the Lovettsville Historical Society’s 2016 Lecture Series and is titled, George Washington DID NOT Build the C&O Canal: The Story of Potomac River Navigation, and the Rise and Demise of the C&O Canal will be presented on Sunday, Apr. 10 at 2pm at St. James United Church of Christ in Lovettsville.
Mr. Frye, a native of Lovettsville, is the legendary chief historian and curator of the Western Maryland Room of the Washington County Free Library in Hagerstown. Mr. Frye founded the Western Maryland Room, a repository for the history and genealogy of central and western Maryland and nearby states, almost 50 years ago.
The Loudoun Symphony Orchestra is holding its 25th anniversary gala, Cherry Blossom Gala, from 7-10 pm on Saturday, April 9 at the the Middleburg Community Center, 300 W. Washington Street, Middleburg. The event is a collaboration with fine Loudoun County restaurants and features a chef's tasting dinner hosted by the executive chefs from Clyde's at Willow Creek Farm, The Fresh Market, The French Hound, Magnolia's, Palio's and the Salamander Resort and Spa.
Tickets are $75 and Table Sponsorships for ten guests are available for $1,250. Tickets include all food, glass of wine, and performances from the Loudoun Symphony family of musicians. Live and silent auctions will take place and include vacation homes, wine and entertainment baskets, and artwork from area artists. All proceeds benefit the Loudoun Symphony Orchestra and Loudoun Symphony Youth Orchestra and other educational outreach programs. Visit www.loudounsymphony.org for further details and to purchase tickets.
Now in its 25th season, the mission of the Loudoun Symphony is to enrich the community through music. To carry out this mission, a full season of six orchestral concerts is presented, including a holiday concert. The educational outreach program includes the Loudoun Symphony Youth Orchestra, which provides performance opportunities for talented students 12-18 years of age; Loudoun String Workshop which provides performance opportunities for all ages; Instrument Petting Zoo, which exposes the young to the wonders of musical instruments; and mini-concerts performed in elementary schools throughout Loudoun County. Visit www.loudounsymphony.org for more information.
Congresswoman Barbara Comstock today announced that the annual 10th Congressional District Military Academy Day will be held Saturday, Apr. 2, from 10am to 1pm at the Loudoun County Public School Administration building located at 21000 Education Court, Ashburn. The event is free and open to all students, parents and guidance staff who are interested in learning more about the nation's service academies.
Representatives from all of the service academies Army, Navy, Air Force, Merchant Marine and Coast Guard will be in attendance. Representatives from the Marine Corps ROTC program, the Virginia Army National Guard, Virginia Military Institute, the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets and The Citadel have also been invited. Additionally, the American Legion and Randolph-Macon Academy will be represented. Beginning at 10:30am until noon, a formal presentation will commence. Each of the academies will make a presentation and students will be able to meet with admissions staff and ask questions.
For questions, contact Mary Ann Cannon in Congresswoman Comstock's office at 703-404-6903 or by email atMaryann.Cannon@mail.house.gov.
By Judy Stearns.
The Purcellville Town Council meeting on Tuesday, Mar. 8, started out on a high note with a short performance by the Flutonic HarmonicsÂ® Flute Studio Flute Choir. The Town then announced it received a GFOA Budget Award (Government Finance Officers Association) for the Town's Fiscal Year 2016 budget plan. The Town has received this prestigious award every year since Fiscal Year 2010. The Distinguished Budget Presentation Award is the highest form of recognition in the area of governmental budgeting, and its attainment represents a significant accomplishment by a government and its management. Elizabeth Krens, Treasurer/Director of Finance, received a certificate recognizing her as the department head primarily responsible for having achieved the award. Other staff recognized for their hard work and commitment were Steve Coakley, Paula Hicks and Debbie Capitan.
Two public hearings were held, one on the rezoning, Comprehensive Plan Amendment and Zoning Ordinance Text Amendment for a .35 acre parcel on S. 21st Street (Mary's House of Hope) from IP to R-2 and one on the proposed 2016 Real Property Tax Increase to $.24 per $100 of assessed value. The 2015 rate was $.22. The equalized rate would be $.222 and if adopted would levy the same real property tax revenue as the Town levied in 2015. Only one resident spoke on the tax rate. Resident Kelli Grim said there was no breakdown of residential and commercial and no mention of the Fireman Field's Tax District which adds a 17% tax.
During Mayor and Council comments, Council member McCollum brought up Mayor Fraser's third Stage Side Chat scheduled that night at the Carver Center. "As you may recall," he said, "at our Jan. 12 Council meeting I mentioned that in the mayor's State of the Town message he cited the Town Hall Forum held nearly a year ago on Mar. 16, as a positive effort to establish effective communications with citizens. Yet, inexplicably, he did not propose more forums for 2015 or 2016."
McCollum pointed out that, while I recognize there were glitches in the format of last year's forum, I believe these could be addressed and additional forums held. I believe there is a benefit for the community hearing from various Council members at the same meeting. Citizens would get a better idea of the thinking of Council members on particular issues.
McCollum took exception to the Mayor holding Chats where only he interacted with attendees and which he listed in his Town message his two Stage Side Chats as â€˜Key Measures for 2015â€ as well as the Town Hall Forum. McCollum said that the Mayor's answers in the Chats in many instances only told his part of the picture, not other equally valid views, and in some instances were incomplete. To be clear, the mayor's Stage Side Chats are not achievements of the Council or the Town because the Council had no role in these chats.
"To avoid any problem with the rule of 3 (three or more council members gathered in same place to discuss town business requires public notice), McCollum continued, I ask the mayor tonight to invite another Council member to join him at the front of the meeting to address questions raised so as to develop the perception and understanding in the community that while the Council members may have different views on various subject matters, the Council is nevertheless a cohesive team."
Mayor Fraser said during his comments, â€œI welcome Doug onstage. I have encouraged each council member to have his/her own Stage Side Chat. McCollum sat with the Mayor at Carver to answer questions and address concerns from a mix of in-town and out-of-town residents. Vice Mayor Patrick McConville and Council member Karen Jimmerson also attended.
The Council went into Closed Session to consult with legal counsel regarding Mary Ellen Stover's appeal of the BZA's Vineyard Square decision to the circuit court and to consult with legal counsel regarding the HVAC system at Town Hall.
The next Council meeting is Tuesday, Mar. 22 at 7 pm at Town Hall.
St. Peter's Episcopal Church held its first Wild Game Supper on Saturday, Mar. 12 at Shadow Creek off of Silcott Springs Road in Purcellville. Earlier in the day, there was a trade show on the grounds featuring Legacy Sports in Warrenton, the Friends of the National Rifle Association, and other hunting and fishing businesses.
The day events included ranges for skeet, archery and air rifles, and demonstrations of primitive fire-making techniques, deer butchering, bird dogging, and gold-medal-winning archery. Mr. Bruce Coil and his Bible study buddies smoked and grilled up hot, delicious finger-food throughout the day, including duck, goose, quail, dove, pheasant, and wild salmon.
About 250 parishioners, friends, and hunters in the community turned out with some of their finest fusions of wild game entrees to share. The dinner menu included such delicacies as wild boar, pheasant, turkey, rabbit, squirrel, wild salmon, plus venison made into lasagna, stews, roasts, pies, enchilada pie and sloppy joes. There was also a great variety of side dishes and desserts.
Dan LePre, a member of St. Peters, attended the dinner and said that as a hunter he really enjoys wild game food. His favorite dish was the venison lasagna and thought the squirrel pie was delicious too. "This evening was a great ice breaker to meet new people. There's a lot of common ground here, those who like to hunt and those who like to cook."
Legacy Outdoor Sports Club representatives Daniel Scott, Reginald Simmons, and Andrew Jennings were the game supper judges. The wild boar taco cups placed first. In second place was the yard bird chili and in third place was the duck pheasant gumbo. The judges were impressed with the 29 different dishes prepared for the supper. They had a hard time picking just three of their favorites.
After dinner, Father Tom warmed up the crowd with a story on the life of Izaak Walton, the author of the book, The Compleat Angler, published in 1653, which is still in print today. Tom talked about how the value Walton placed on friendship is important to us right now in Loudoun County.
"The significance of this man for us today is that Izaak Walton valued friendship. He invested time in high quality friendships with other men and he knew them so well that he would write their biographies," said Father Tom. There's nothing like hunting, fishing and the shooting sports to create the environment where those types of friendships can thrive. You can even go so far to say that fishing equals friendship, he said.
"But there's the problem in Loudoun County we are often too busy for fishing OR friends," he added.
The idea behind Saturday night's Wild Game Supper event was Turning Strangers into Friends, as Father Tom pointed toward a banner at the front of the room. "We are gathering the community so we can connect around some common interest hunting, fishing and really good food and maybe even broaden our circle of friends," he said. "This is a place to connect and to welcome new people into our circle of friends."
USMC Maj. Richard Burkett, Jr., Trainwreck, gave the keynote address, which addressed his experience of perseverance and the power of prayer. In 2012, just two weeks into his fourth deployment as a member of the Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 261 (Reinforced), 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, Maj. Burkett was flying an MV-22B in support of Operation African Lion. He and three other Marines assigned to the 24th MEU crashed in Morocco. Only two Marines survived the crash. Maj. Burkett continues to be a patient of Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, MD. Earlier in the day, Maj. Burkett, who is also a para-Olympic gold medal winner in archery, demonstrated his skill by landing ten arrows in the bulls-eye at 50 meters. Â
Retired Lt. Col. Oliver North closed the formal presentations with some stories and anecdotes from his career as a battlefield correspondent for Fox News and some heart-warming stories about the US military. He closed by sharing how faith in Jesus has guided his life.
There was no charge for the event, which was open to the community. Many stayed for hours eating and catching up with old friends, and many had the opportunity to make new friends. Keep an eye out! Fr. Tom and the organizers intend to do it again next year.
A Show of Hands, performed by the National Theatre of the Deaf acting company, will bring the beauty and power of American Sign Language to the Loudoun County Public Library on Tuesday, Mar. 22.
2pm performance will take place at Rust Library while a 7pm performance is slated for Cascades Library.
The production features an innovative set design that explores the nature of American Sign Language communication in a fun environment, sprinkled with poems, fables, and improvisation. Concealed behind a slotted curtain, actors poke their hands out to create scenery, tell stories, make jokes, and teach American Sign Language. Audience members are welcome to meet the actors and director after each performance.
Touring the nation and the world for over 45 years, the National Theatre of the Deaf is the longest existing touring company in the United States. The acting company is comprised of deaf and hearing actors. Each performance unfolds simultaneously in two languages; one for the eye, American Sign Language, and one for the ear, the Spoken Word.
NTD has performed in all 50 states, on all seven continents, on the Disney Channel, on Sesame Street, at the White House, for royalty the world over, and on Broadway. In 1967 when NTD began, Sign Language was seen as a stigma, and the talents of deaf people were largely untapped.
For more information, visitÂ library.loudoun.gov.
By Liz Tenney Jarvis.
On Monday, March 7, the Purcellville Police Department hosted their first "Coffee with a Cop." Purcellville police officers and members of the community gathered at Market Street Coffee to discuss community issues and concerns regarding law enforcement. Having a cup of coffee together set the tone of the meeting: casual and informal. Attendees were able to ask questions and find out more about the work being done in neighborhoods all over town. In addition to area residents, Purcellville Police Chief Cynthia McAlister and Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring, local town officials present were Town Council member and Mayoral candidate Joan Lehr, Council candidate Sandy Nave, and Town Council Member Karen Jimmerson.
According to the Town: “The majority of interactions that law enforcement has with the public happen during emergencies or emotional situations. Those situations are not always the most effective times for relationship building with the community, and some community members may feel that officers are unapproachable on the street. Coffee with a Cop breaks down barriers and allows for a relaxed, one-on-one interaction.”
Chief McAlister explained that, "Good relationships are the foundation to good partnerships. It is my hope that the community always feels comfortable to ask us questions, bring their concerns to us, or simply get to know our officers.” Chief McAlister and the Purcellville Police Department’s plan for Coffee With A Cop is to have it serve as one platform for residents to “meet with me and the officers to share their concerns, ideas, and comments pertaining to their law enforcement services. It also serves as an avenue for us to have an opportunity to build relationships and get to know each other.”
Monday’s “Coffee with a Cop” session was part of Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring’s Third annual public safety tour. The tour kicked off in Purcellville with AG Herring joining Chief McAlister as an “observer.” He also planned to discuss his training/community policing initiatives, work he’s doing to combat the heroin/prescription drug crisis, anti-human-trafficking efforts, and other initiatives in the Office of the Attorney General.
“Over the last year we’ve really focused on the ways that we can support good work being done at the local level to promote mutual trust and respect between Virginia law enforcement agencies and the communities they serve,” said Attorney General Herring. “Virginia law enforcement understands that they have to be a product and a reflection of their communities in order to be successful, and that no one wins when trust and lines of communication break down. That makes our communities less safe, it endangers our officers, and it makes it harder to solve crimes and hold criminals accountable. Community policing is a critical method of two-way communication that ensures law enforcement and citizens are working together to promote safe, successful communities. This tour is going to be an opportunity to shine a light on some good work being done around the state, to learn what else we can do to support our communities and law enforcement agencies, and to let folks around the state know about the work we are doing for them in the Attorney General’s office.”
The first Coffee With a Cop went very well, according to Chief McAlister. “Although we would like to have a Coffee With A Cop every Monday, as it was a great way to start the week, our plan is to host one every other month at various locations in town. My hope is that the more we have Coffee With A Cop, the more people will hear about them and find time to join us!”
Coffee with a Cop is a national initiative supported by the United States Department of Justice, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services. The program aims to advance the practice of community policing through improving relationships between police officers and community members one cup of coffee at a time!
Starting this Friday, Mar. 4, the VSA Arts of Loudoun County will be performing "Spectrum’s Journey," a heartwarming story about a colorful and vain butterfly who is the victim of a jealous prank but as a result, meets a variety of animals who show him that inner beauty stands out more than outer beauty.
The second original VSA show this season, the musical is written by one of its veterans, VSA participant Mary Kate Ryan-Griffith. VSA of Loudoun calls the Franklin Park Arts Center its home and it is truly special as people of all abilities grace its shows. The most endearing aspect of VSA is that people with all abilities get to shine onstage. "I feel comfortable because it includes everyone," says Sophia Schoppert, who portrays Amarillo the butterfly in "Spectrum’s Journey." Griffith hopes that through the show the audience will see what VSA is all about – that there is inner beauty and outer beauty, but your inner self is the most beautiful part. Performances will be held at the Franklin Park Arts Center in Purcellville on the weekends of Mar. 4 and 11. Tickets are available via the VSA website at vsaloudoun.org.
The 6th annual Loudoun Grown Expo took place at the Historic Bush Tabernacle in Purcellville last Saturday, Feb. 27. Approximately 1,500 visitors came from near and far to enjoy the produce offered by community-supported agriculture (CSAs), information from growers and producers, tastings from Loudoun's wineries and breweries, local food vendors, and arts and crafts from local artisans.
The Town of Purcellville had organized this event until this year, but when it was cut from the budget, the non-profit Bush Tabernacle stepped up to the plate and continued the tradition. Philip Message, president of the Bush Tabernacle, said that "this is one of the Purcellville's Signature Events that people have come to expect, and we're thrilled to keep it going."
Purcellville Town Councilwoman Joan Lehr attended the event and said she is thrilled that Message was able to take over the event and do so well this year. "I am looking forward to watching the event grow," she said.
With assistance from his wife France, co-organizer Daniel Abramson, the Purcellville Citizen's Support Team, and the 40 vendors that show-cased the best of Loudoun, Message helped make this year's Expo as successful as ever. Several changes were made to the event this year, including a $2 admission charge for those who live outside the Town, extended hours, and a balanced variety of vendors.
According to Message, "The vendors loved the extended hours because there wasn't the "mad rush" seen in prior years, and it gave them more time to interact one-on-one with the attendees."For Message, this was a learning curve, he said, â€œbut we think it went really well."
Kellie Bowles, Agricultural Development Officer for the Loudoun County Department of Economic Development, said she was pleased with the visitor turnout in this transition year for the Expo. "One farm winery vendor reported a 23% increase in sales over the 2015 Expo. We always meet new customers for Loudoun Grown products and talk to landowners interested in expanding their agricultural operations,” said Bowles.
Another vendor, Helen Polishuk of Potomac Vegetable Farm, shared Message's sentiments. She was pleased that she had the opportunity to talk with the attendees about the CSAs and share her interest for farming.
The primary sponsors of the event were the Town of Purcellville, Loudoun County Dept. of Economic Development, Tari Orthodontics, and Movement Mortgage.
Message said, "At the end of the event, we surveyed all the vendors asking what changes they'd like to see for next year, and the overwhelming response was "none just keep on doing what you're doing; thank you, and we'll be back next year!"