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Louise Archer Elementary School students research their school’s namesake (via Louise Archer Fourth Grade/Twitter)

Students have one week left to submit their ideas for new markers honoring Fairfax County’s Black and African American history.

The county is set to close the submission period for its 2022 Historical Marker Project on April 30. The project is part of a larger initiative to highlight the experiences of Black and African American residents that launched in February, coinciding with Black History Month.

While it remains to be seen how many proposals the county gets — and how many are ultimately chosen to become official markers — Louise Archer Elementary School students want to make sure their school’s namesake is in the mix.

Fourth-grade students have been researching Archer, who was the Vienna school’s first principal, in preparation for submitting her name, according to the grade’s Twitter account.

Born in Fayetteville, North Carolina, in 1893, Archer started her educational career with Fairfax County Public Schools as a teacher at Oak Grove School, a one-room schoolhouse for African American kids in Herndon, according to Louise Archer Elementary’s history of her.

Appointed as the teacher and principal of a school for Black students in Vienna in 1924, Archer joined with the Vienna Colored School League, the school’s equivalent of a parent-teacher association, to get a three-room schoolhouse constructed on Nutley Street in 1939 that would become Louise Archer Elementary.

The historical marker contest is open to all kids in Fairfax County. Submissions must deal with local Black and African American history.

The county recommends focusing on a person who is no longer alive or events that took place at least 50 years ago, though the guidelines say exceptions can be made with the Fairfax County History Commission’s approval.

Ideas can be submitted:

  • Through the county’s website
  • By email to NCSblackhistorycommittee@fairfaxcounty.gov
  • By mail to the Neighborhood and Community Services Black History Committee (12011 Government Center Pkwy 10th floor, Fairfax, VA 22030).

The winners will be chosen by a voting committee, and all participants will receive a certificate and recognition in a news release.

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Morning Notes

Sunrise at Reston National Golf Course (photo by Terry Baranski)

Masks Now Optional on Metro — “Effective immediately, Metro will make masks optional on Metrorail, Metrobus and MetroAccess for its customers. Masks also will be optional for Metro employees. This change comes as a result of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) suspending enforcement, while the Biden Administration reviews a federal judge’s ruling.” [WMATA]

McLean Community Center Faces Anti-Equity Backlash — Protests of a “Drag Storybook Hour” at Dolley Madison Library last summer by some McLean residents have grown into broader opposition to MCC promoting diversity and inclusion in its programming. The tension has manifested in this year’s governing board race, where nine candidates, including a former Trump administration official, are vying for three open seats. [The Washington Post]

Capital Beltway Overnight Closures Planned in Tysons — “The I-495 (Capital Beltway) general purpose lanes and 495 Express Lanes will have nightly lane closures Friday, April 22 and Saturday, April 23 to allow crews to set the new pedestrian bridge truss in place as part of the Tysons/Old Meadow Road Bike/Ped Improvements project.” [VDOT]

Recess for Middle Schools Approved — “Middle school students in Fairfax County, Virginia, will get a short daily recess period beginning next year. The school board voted Thursday night to update its student and staff health and wellness policy to allow for a 15-minute recess period every day.” [WTOP]

Alcorn Plans to Seek Reelection — “Barely halfway through his term as Hunter Mill District Supervisor, Walter Alcorn has announced plans to seek re-election in November 2023 to a second 4-year term…His main reason is that he wants to see initiatives that he has worked on actually implemented.” [The Connection]

Research Reveals County Libraries Were Segregated — “Yes, FCPL was segregated. Yes, separate services were provided for White residents and for Black residents. The surface answer we had provided for years gave way to the truth, that our path to desegregation was mirrored across the region for our residents.” [The UncommonWealth]

Sediment Removal Project Underway in Reston — “Fairfax County Stormwater Management will be performing a sediment removal project at dry pond 0330DP located at 11950 Walnut Branch Rd. The project will start the week of April 18 and is expected to last a few weeks.” [Reston Association/Twitter]

Volunteers Needed to Pack Ukraine Donations — All the coats and other winter clothes collected for Northern Virginia’s donation drive for Ukrainian refugees will be delivered to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Oakton. Volunteers are needed on Friday and Saturday (April 22-23) to help pack the items for shipping to Poland. [Dalia Palchik/Twitter]

New Playground Opens at Lorton’s Laurel Hill Park — “The playground is appropriate for children ages 2 to 12 years old. Features include a large spinning Americans with Disabilities Act accessible play structure, small tot play composite and a large unique play structure for children 5 to 12 years old.” [Fairfax County Park Authority]

It’s Tuesday — Partly cloudy throughout the day. High of 47 and low of 37. Sunrise at 6:27 am and sunset at 7:51 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Morning Notes

Waiting at McLean Metro station (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Defamation Trial Over Domestic Violence Op-Ed Starts Next Monday — “Johnny Depp, 58, and Amber Heard, 35, who were briefly married from 2015 to 2017, are set to begin their long-anticipated defamation trial with jury selection that day. The trial is expected to last through the end of May, and the case has drawn national and international attention.” [Inside NoVA]

D.C. Area TV News Anchor Dies — “For decades, Bruce Johnson’s voice could be heard emanating from TV sets around the Washington region, delivering the day’s news with both gravitas and humor. Johnson, who spent 44 years at local CBS affiliate WUSA9, died of heart failure Sunday morning, according to the station.” [DCist]

Vienna Softball League Raises Funds to Repair Field — “Caffi Fields, three fields that are home to the Vienna Girls Softball League, undergo annual maintenance with thousands of dollars costs shared between the league and Town of Vienna. But the league says more extensive repairs are needed to make the fields more usable, prompting the launch of a community fundraiser.” [Patch]

Letter Highlights Herndon’s Ties to U.S. President — “President John Tyler (1790-1862) was born in Charles City County, Virginia, located along the James River, west of Williamsburg. His family had long roots in Virginia, dating back to Colonial Williamsburg…Their descendants, however, reached all the way to today’s Herndon.” [Herndon Historical Society/Patch]

Springfield Girls Hockey Team Competes in Nationals — The St. James girls hockey team was the only Virginia group competing in its division at a youth national championship tournament this past weekend. They played on Thursday (March 31), Friday (April 1) and Saturday (April 2) in West Goshen, Pennsylvania, near Philadelphia. [USA Hockey]

County Joins “City Nature Challenge” — “The challenge begins at 12:01 a.m. local time on April 29 and runs through 11:59 p.m. on May 2. Residents can take part by going outdoors in their neighborhood, backyard or a park, then look to see what’s there and take photos of wild plants, animals and fungi. Upload the photos through a free app provided by iNaturalist.” [Sun Gazette/Inside NoVA]

Goat Gets Stuck in Fence at Frying Pan Farm — “There’s always that one kid. Some farm visitors noticed that one of our goats had decided to move to the next pasture and got stuck in the fence. Eric to the rescue! He’s worked at the farm long enough to know this game and easily helped free the goat from the fence.” [Fairfax County Park Authority]

It’s Tuesday — Rain throughout the day. High of 59 and low of 47. Sunrise at 6:48 am and sunset at 7:37 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Mount Vernon, the former estate of President George Washington (via Google Maps)

Mount Vernon, the primary home of George Washington before and after his presidency, has begun a new permanent collection nearly as notable as the first president.

Opened on Saturday (March 26), the newly acquired items represent the “largest reunion of original Mount Vernon objects since the dispersal of George and Martha Washington’s estates in 1802,” according to an announcement for the exhibit, “Mount Vernon: The Story of an American Icon.”

“Many objects — Martha Washington’s diamond-studded pocket watch, her ruffled cotton robe, a French porcelain ice cream cooler — are new to Mount Vernon’s collection, treasured by Martha’s descendants for generations before the [Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association] acquired them in 2020,” said the association, which has preserved the historic site since 1860.

The artifacts also include the earliest-known portrait of Washington, which is on loan from Washington and Lee University. Created by painter Charles Willson Peale, it shows Washington in his 40s in 1772 before he would later lead the 13 colonies’ Continental Army against Great Britain in the Revolutionary War.

The news release notes that the collection acknowledges the stories of people who were enslaved on the plantation, along with the Washingtons:

These paintings and decorative arts are paired with never-before-exhibited artifacts from Mount Vernon’s architectural and archaeological collections. These objects reveal the layers of Mount Vernon’s complex history, which includes Native settlements, other Washington family members, enslaved and hired laborers, and the determined women of the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association who raised $200,000 to purchase the property in 1860 and still operate the site today.

The historic site also features the entombed remains of the country’s original president and first lady. Admission to the grounds is $28 for those age 12 and up, with reduced prices and free entry for younger kids.

Photo via Google Maps

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Mixed-media artist Ronald Lord used debris from the now-demolished Meadow View Swimming Club in Rose Hill to make art (courtesy of Ronald Lord)

An artist from Fairfax County pays tribute to his childhood memories growing up in Rose Hill by using its remains to create art.

As a child, Ronald Lord would join his friends and family at the swimming pool at the Meadow View Swimming Club.

Starting at 6 years old until his teenage years, Lord would get up at 7 a.m. so he and his brothers could go to swim team practice. He also has fond memories of playing in the woods and rundown homes that surrounded the club throughout the 1960s.

Now, those memories no longer have a physical anchor. The swimming club was closed in the 1980s, converted into a private school and day care center, and finally demolished in 2017 to make way for more houses, according to the Rose Hill Civic Association.

But while others would see the wreckage as nothing more than refuse, Lord saw an opportunity to create art that would preserve those childhood memories.

As Lord got older, he turned to the artistic world, living near Washington D.C. where he could go to the National Portrait Gallery. Folk art and other self-taught pieces inspired him to find his medium of expression.

Lord also worked in trades such as home improvement that taught him the process of building and gave him access to materials.

“I’ve played around with all sorts of materials,” Lord told FFXnow. “Wax, bead weaving, clay, wood carving, paper, stained glass and of course wood and metal salvage that I find a very satisfying medium and is what I’m concentrating on mainly now. I took to creating as a youngster with wax and beads and have been on a creative journey ever since.”

Now a resident of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, Lord creates pieces made from various pieces of salvage. He created two “Regina Bay” pieces, for instance, using wood, metal boring bits, glass, handmade nails, and other detritus found in and around a gold mine in Northwestern Ontario, Canada near cabins owned by his wife’s family.

Lord’s “Meadow View” piece is made from similar components and brings back the memory of those childhood days.

“For those who knew Meadow View, I hope it brings back all the memories associated with the fun we had growing up with all the activities there,” he said, recalling Fourth of July and Memorial Day festivities with pool contests involving greased watermelons and “hundreds of coins thrown in for all of us to collect once the whistle sounded.”

There were also the “swim team meets and the daily 7:00 a.m. practice sessions, eyes burning from chlorinated water, the snack bar and chit books but most of all the innocence and joy of growing up then,” he says.

Lord is currently working on an outdoor installation at a hacienda in Alamos, Mexico, his theme will incorporate local salvage such as bones, metal, paint and stone.

“It is going to focus on the immeasurable number of back [breaking] hours and manpower it took to create this heavenly place out of the tough Sonoran desert,” Lord said of his project.

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Morning Notes

Spring flowers bloom in Reston (photo by Ray Copson)

FCPD Commander Demoted Over Shooting Response — “A Fairfax County police commander has been demoted as part of an ongoing administrative investigation of suicides by a department recruit and his wife that occurred hours apart in their Mount Vernon-area home in late February, authorities said…The officer was the on-scene commander during the incident.” [The Washington Post]

Fire Put Out Near Vienna’s Flint Hill Elementary — “Crews responded this morning to the 2400 block of Flint Hill Road for a small fire in a chicken coop. #FCFRD firefighters were im-peck-able in quickly egg-stinguishing the fire. Everyone felt very cluck-y that there were no reported fowl-talities or injuries.” [FCFRD/Twitter]

Last Living Pupil Revisits Historic Oakton School — The Vale Schoolhouse in Oakton got a visit from a familiar face last week. Now 103 years old, Stan Proffitt stopped by the two-room building, which dates back to 1884, with his three great-grandchildren from Florida during their spring break tour of Virginia history. [The Washington Post]

Conflict over Reston Invasive Species Program Continues — The Hunters Green Cluster Association board unanimously rejected a proposal to address invasive plants in the area, stating that the Reston National Study Group “has greatly exaggerated the problem.” The developer-led study group expressed surprise at the move, saying the pilot program was proposed by a member of the neighborhood’s board. [Patch]

McLean Design Workshop Tomorrow — “Weigh in on the design of McLean’s public spaces through this upcoming virtual community workshop! Share feedback on open space features including lighting, street furnishings, parks and more to help define the character of McLean!” [McLean Community Center/Twitter]

Reston Prom Dress Giveaway Returns From Pandemic Hiatus — “High school students from around the area will be able to choose prom dresses, jewelry and accessories for free as part of RCC’s Diva Central. The event will be open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., this Saturday at RCC Lake Anne, which is located at 1609-A Washington Plaza in Reston.” [Patch]

Hunter Mill Supervisor Recognizes Vienna Student Athletes — “The Board of Supervisors traditionally invites state champions to be recognized at a special meeting. During COVID, these were paused. Today, @WalterAlcornFFX joined us at school to recognize basketball, field hockey, baseball & swim/dive from the past two years…[He] also recognized the Pride of Vienna for their multiple state championships. Back 2 Back!” [James Madison High School/Twitter]

County Celebrates Land Surveyors — “The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors have designated the week of March 20-26, 2022 as Surveyors Week. This week recognizes the historic contributions of surveying and appreciation for the new technologies that are modernizing the profession.” [Department of Public Works/Twitter]

It’s Tuesday — Mostly cloudy throughout the day. High of 62 and low of 46. Sunrise at 7:10 a.m. and sunset at 7:24 p.m. [Weather.gov]

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A local community foundation plans to operate and maintain the historic Great Falls Grange (via FCPA)

The Great Falls Grange — an assembly hall built in the 1929 as a result of the Grange Movement — is paving the way for a new future.

Through a public-private partnership agreement with the Fairfax County Park Authority, the Great Falls Grange Foundation will operate and maintain the historic property, which will serve as a community meeting place, a hub for classes and activities and a venue for public and private events.

The Grange is currently the last standing unchanged grange hall in Virginia. It is listed on the Fairfax County Inventory of Historic Sites and the National Register of Historic Places.

The park authority and the foundation are expected to ratify an agreement on Saturday (March 12) at 1 p.m.

Jorge Adeler, a prominent local businessman and community fixture, pitched the idea nearly a decade ago, according to FCPA.

Adeler asked Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust to help him make the Grange a community gathering pace.

“Since then, Jorge and many other local leaders have worked patiently to address and resolve several obstacles that were encountered. It is a tribute to their passion for their community that, with the wonderful support of the Park Authority, they have now achieved their goal. I am very pleased for them and I am certain that the Grange Foundation will be an excellent steward of these awesome historic properties,” Foust wrote in a statement.

Adeler, co-president of the foundation, said he was grateful that Great Falls will have a gathering place for the community.

“This effort has truly been for the ‘Love of Great Falls,'” he said.

The Grange Hall, which has two levels, has space for up to 200 guests. Built in 1889, the historic schoolhouse has capacity for 49 people. The outdoor pavilion can seat up to 40 guests.

The county hopes to use the public-private partnership as a model for future collaborations. The hall will eventually become a self-supporting community center for Great Falls.

Plans call for improvements to the building and new landscaping. The parking lot will also be refreshed with new gravel and more lighting.

The first Grange was founded in 1869 in New York. After membership declined and dairy farms shifted to suburban development, the Grange and its grounds were sold to FCPA in 1981.

Photo via FCPA

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Morning Notes

Deer by Vienna’s Wildwood Park trail in winter (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Statewide Tornado Drill Today — As part of its annual Severe Weather Awareness Week, Virginia will hold a statewide tornado drill at 9:45 a.m. today (Tuesday). The signal will be broadcast on NOAA Weather Radio and the Emergency Alert System, but there won’t be an actual tornado warning, which would mean that a twister is imminent or already underway. [Herndon Police/Twitter]

“Coastal” Tex-Mex Restaurant Planned for Tysons — “Long Shot Hospitality, which operates seafood-centric Salt Line and New Orleans hotspot Dauphine’s, is gearing up for a new project. Chef Kyle Bailey and partners will open an 11,000-square-foot Tex-Mex restaurant at the new Capital One Center in Tysons, Virginia, next year.” [Washingtonian]

Reston Company Carries Russian Propaganda — Reston Translator carries the FM radio signal in the D.C. area for the Capitol Heights station WZHF, one of just five U.S. stations that broadcasts Kremlin-approved “Radio Sputnik” programming. Despite Cold War-era tensions in the air, the owner of the South Reston-based company says he’s “a fervent believer in the First Amendment.” [The Washington Post]

Burke Brewery Toasts “Bunny Man” Legend — “The Fairfax folklore of the Bunny Man has brought scary stories to generations in Northern Virginia. Now, you can hear this wild tale over a pint of Bunnyman beer from a brewery celebrating this creepy story. Bunnyman Brewing, on Guinea Road in Fairfax, is just a few miles from a bridge at the center of an urban legend about a hatchet-wielding man in a bunny costume.” [NBC4]

Driver Evades Drinking-and-Driving Charge in Vienna — Vienna Police attempted to issue a summons to a driver who committed a traffic violation in the 2100 block of Chain Bridge Road at 1:53 a.m. on Feb. 25. The driver failed sobriety tests, but police learned that he had full diplomatic immunity. [Sun Gazette/Inside NoVA]

County Park Welcomes Baby Sheep — “It’s a sure sign of spring: baby animals at Frying Pan Farm Park! Fluffette delivered triplet rams (boys) on February 28. Lane delivered twins (one boy/one girl) on March 1. The sheep are all in Kidwell Barn and will go outside near the barn on nice days.” [Fairfax County Park Authority/Twitter]

Social Worker at Springfield School Awarded — “Claudia McDowell, a school social worker at Lynbrook Elementary School, has been named the 2022 National School Worker of the Year by the School Social Work Association of America (SSWAA) for her commitment to the profession and for positively impacting the lives of the students, families, and staff of the communities she serves.” [FCPS]

It’s Tuesday — Today is mostly sunny, with a high near 53. Northwest wind 7 to 11 mph, with gusts as high as 20 mph. The low will be around 37. The sun rose at 6:29 a.m. and will set at 6:09 p.m. [Weather.gov]

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White Gardens House in West Falls Church (via Fairfax County)

A proposal to restore the house at Margaret White Gardens in West Falls Church is being reviewed and will face a virtual public hearing on March 29.

Under the resident curator program, the Fairfax County Parks Authority is seeking someone to live rent-free in the home, which is near Sleepy Hollow Elementary School, and rehabilitate and maintain it out of pocket under a lease.

Applicants Margaret and Bryan Stout told the authority in their proposal that they would like to preserve the property at 6711 Princess Anne Lane in the John C. and Margaret K. White Gardens Horticultural Park through the resident curator program. Their daughter and her husband will live in the house.

The application identifies Margaret Stout as an engineer who has worked for the Navy since 1980 and Bryan Stout as a member of the Northern Virginia Astronomy Club.

They would add a prefabricated residence on the site that will also house a multimedia resource center and visitor restrooms.

The restoration work would include rebuilding the greenhouse to allow propagation of garden cuttings and gardening technique demonstrations. They also hope to use the barn as an unguided exhibit location, as well as for storage.

“The proposed treatments and improvements will make White Gardens a welcoming resource for surrounding neighborhoods and address community complaints,” the application reads.

After restoring the White Gardens House and Barn according to the treatment plan, returning the house’s functionality and historical integrity, the family has proposed holding regular events, such as a wool preparation and spinning demonstration or a fall festival and pumpkin carving.

The house was built in 1939, a year after the park’s namesakes purchased the 13 acres that make up the property today.

It wasn’t until the late 1940s and early 1950s that the Whites began to cultivate the property as a garden.

“One of the first additions was the large Willow Oak, between the circular driveway and the house, planted in either 1942 or 1943,” the Park Authority website says. “Most of the work was done by Mr. & Mrs. White after 1960, including digging up the pond with a tractor and scope.”

Margaret White sold the property to the FCPA for $600,000 in 1999 under the promise that after she died, the land would be preserved as a park, according to The Washington Post. She continued to live there until her death.

While the surrounding area over time has been developed, White wanted to retain the rural acreage. The house was designed by Joe Harry Lapish, a local architect who studied at George Washington University, then the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, according to the Parks Authority.

The virtual public hearing will be held at 7 p.m. and can be accessed through a link or a dial-in number and passcode that will be listed on the website. The evaluation team can ask questions, provide feedback, and receive public comment on the proposal at this meeting.

Comments can be submitted to the project manager at parkmail@fairfaxcounty.gov by April 13.

In addition to the public hearing, the evaluation team for the proposal will meet at 10 a.m. tomorrow (Wednesday), April 6, and April 20, but there won’t be opportunities for the public to comment at those times.

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The Sully District Governmental Center (via Google Maps)

A committee appointed to guide Fairfax County’s redistricting process last year will recommend that two of the county’s magisterial districts get new names.

In a draft report released on Feb. 22, the Redistricting Advisory Committee (RAC) says that the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors should consider renaming Lee and Sully districts as part of its ongoing effort to move away from place and landmark names with historical ties to the Confederacy or slavery.

The recommendation comes from a six-person workgroup that the committee formed to focus on those specific districts.

“The subcommittee agrees that commemoration of Confederate names and associated properties does not reflect the values of our community today,” the report says, stating that its goal is “not to erase history,” but to update the names to support the county’s One Fairfax equity policy.

The Board of Supervisors appointed 20 people to the RAC in June to develop new electoral district maps for the county. While that task was completed in December, the group proposed sticking together to reevaluate district and precinct names, with a particular focus on Lee and Sully.

The committee was reappointed on Dec. 7 and began the renaming evaluation process on Jan. 18.

According to the draft report, the historical record “is somewhat inconclusive” on whether Lee District was named directly after Confederate general Robert E. Lee or a different member of that family, but the RAC subcommittee felt that the association could create confusion if the name is left in place.

The Fairfax County School Board voted to rename Springfield’s Lee High School, which was explicitly named after Robert E. Lee, after the civil rights activist and late Rep. John Lewis in July 2020.

The inspiration for Sully District’s moniker is less ambiguous, stemming from the county’s Sully Historic Site that was once a plantation owned by Richard Bland Lee, Northern Virginia’s first Congressional representative.

“Lee named the land he inherited Sully in 1789 and for twenty years under his charge the Sully Plantation was the location of commercial activity and profit from the kidnapping, human trafficking, and abuse of over one hundred lives — men, women and children,” the RAC report said.

The RAC also considered the Mason, Mount Vernon and Springfield districts as potential renaming candidates, but ultimately voted against recommending changes. Read More

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