Thursday, June 30, 2011

Civil War Commission Publishes New Resources

This year marks the 150th anniversary of the Civil War in Virginia and the state's Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission is coordinating the celebration over the next five years.

They recently posted up a new tool so that you can track your ancestors - I've posted the link below. It's very cool.

For example, my Great Great Grandfather (my grandfather's grandfather) fought in Kemper's Brigade from Madison County otherwise known at the 7th Virginia Infantry. I had known he had survived Pickett's Charge and was captured eight days before Appomattox at Five Forks, but I had no idea they had seen action at Bull Run (#1) or Fredericksburg.

Unfortunately, you cannot search by name. I'm still trying to figure out one of my other grandfather's regiment so I can track him down.

They're encouraging anyone with information regarding the regiments to digitize their documents to consolidate source materials for the Civil War 150 Legacy Project.

Also, note that the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Bull Run is on Thursday, July 21, 2011. The Commission is sponsoring a commemoration at the Manassas National Battlefield from 9:30-10:30 a.m. If you're not stuck in traffic court like me, head on out!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

VA Releases $5M in New Efficiency Rebates!

Starting June 20, 2011, Virginia is releasing $5 million of rebates to make your home more energy efficient.

In March of last year, I posted about the prior program and what is covered here:

The Dixie Pig, Claim New State Efficiency Rebates (Mar. 22, 2011)

It includes rebates of up to $250 on home energy audits (about half the cost), or 20% of the cost of
applicance purchases, new windows, and weatherstripping up to $595 per house.

I also blogged about the wisdom of a home energy audit below and posted the results of my audit as well:

For more information, click on the link below and for the specific requirements.

Virginia Energy Efficiency Rebate Program

Claim your rebate before they are all gone!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Take Advantage of New DMV Rules

In August, I turn forty years-old. Given the new DMV policy that started about 10 years ago, that also means I just got my driver's license renewal forms. Right on the front was a notice about our new fee structure.

Starting July 1, 2011, any DMV transaction that can be done online will cost an extra $5 if conducted at a DMV branch. If a transaction can only be performed at a DMV, then there will be no surcharges.

The hope is that this will shrink lines, manpower needs, and ultimately save taxpayer dollars. I will be renewing my driver's license by mail or online to save my five bucks.

Take note!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

2011 Wrap Up & New Laws Effective July 1, 2011

The Division of Legislative Services has published their annual summary of laws effective July 1. I have posted it below.

You can also read my legislative summaries previously published on this blog on the following links:

New VA Laws Effective July 1

Friday, June 10, 2011

West Potomac's Old Band Director Roy Holder Steps Down

The State of NOVA blog today has a post up about the retirement of its band director of twenty-three years, Roy Holder.

Back in 1982, I graduated from Waynewood Elementary and moved up to Stephen Foster Intermediate. My cousin was a year ahead of me and had joined band. I had played piano for five years and thought that sounded interesting so I signed up for beginning band. I wanted to play trumpet, but the band director made me play french horn.

I decided to keep it up in high school and in the fall of 1984, got the notice that all band kids had to show up two weeks early for infamous "Band Camp" (we have to get ready for football games, etc. which start up pretty quick).

That was the first year of West Potomac High School's existence. I had no siblings who had gone to Fort Hunt or Groveton and I had paid some attention to the fight going on over the merge of Fort Hunt and Groveton High Schools. I was unhappy about it, but I certainly didn't feel some of the strong feelings that many people had. It was a really ugly fight.

Before 1983, Fort Hunt High School had one of the top band programs in the country and when they decided to merge the schools, the band directors from both high schools moved on. This guy from Tennessee, Roy Holder, saw an opportunity of a lifetime and got the job.

Mr. Holder had the unenviable task of bringing two groups of leery students together and create new traditions while sustaining a high quality program. Things such as whether to march to Fort Hunt or Groveton's old drum cadence had tremendous symbolic significance to the students and parents. We had no uniforms. No fight song.

We had our first band competition that fall. We wore blue cotton rugby shirts, white Dickie's (got mine from Ross at Beacon Hill), black shiny shoes, and white styrofoam hats. I can still remember Holder beating us down in the parking lot and telling us stories about some of the tiny schools he'd led in Tennessee shocking the establishment and beating them all. We cleaned up at our first state competition winning top honors.

I went on to become first chair in my section my junior year and first chair in the Gunston Region for two years. Mr. Holder pushing me the whole way. It's also not like I was someone who always behaved - I got my share of tongue lashings from Mr. Holder and still remember many of them today. He had a way of pulling the best out of you and out of the entire group.

In my junior year, he announced that he was leaving us for Lake Braddock. To a kid who had seen two of his four schools shut down (Hollin Hall Elementary & Stephen Foster Intermediate), this was very disappointing. He had been such a uniting, stabilizing, and forceful presence in our school you worry, but there was no question Lake Braddock - twice the size of West Potomac - was a more prestigious program and a step up for him.

It's hard to explain, but today I believe that I learned more about leadership watching Roy Holder get 100 kids to do their homework, march around in straight lines, and play music together as a group than just about anything else I've done in life. The guy is one of those teachers that you never ever forget.

Last spring, I was a guest conductor at the West Potomac's Band's March Madness concert. I mentioned to one of their directors, that I had been at West Potomac while Roy Holder was there. He somberly said - "you were very lucky." His reputation is clearly larger than life among his colleagues.

A band director in a good program has over a hundred of kids as students every year. Given the description of his farewell concert tonight (alumni returning, sold out tickets, overflow rooms with live streams), Mr. Holder has clearly reoriented the trajectory of thousands of kids over the last three decades. Our world is a better place because of him and his retirement will leave a huge hole.

I wish him well in his retirement. He's certainly earned it.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Start Planning for a Yellow and Blue Line Extension

This is a press release and letter sent by Senator Toddy Puller, myself and Delegate Luke Torian to the WMATA Board regarding the extension of the Yellow and Blue Lines.

Delegate Scott Surovell Calls for Yellow & Blue Line Extensions to be Considered

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Adjusting Mt. Vernon's Precincts

This Wednesday, Supervisor Hyland is hosting a public meeting to discuss proposed changes to Mt. Vernon District Precincts due to recent boundary line changes.

Precinct Line Adjustment Information Meeting
Wednesday, June 8, 7 PM
Mt. Vernon Government Center
2511 Parkers Lane
Alexandria, VA 22306

You can see the proposed changes at the links below:

In terms of the 44th District, the following changes are proposed:
  • Abolish Hollin Hall Precinct and combine with Sherwood Precinct and Waynewood Precinct.
  • Move small portion of Belle Haven Precinct into Belleview Precinct.
  • Move part Stratford Precinct voters east of Whittington Boulevard into Fort Hunt Precinct
  • Readjust lines in Belvoir Precinct. Move Fort Belvoir voters off Pole Road into Woodlawn Precinct and either leave the balance of the precinct alone or split into Belvoir North and Belvoir South.
  • Create a new precinct of 800 voters in the northeast corner of Woodley Precinct called "Riverside" Precinct.

I do not think all of these changes are necessary, but I am still thinking about it. Please email me any feedback you have.

Boundary changes in my Lee District precincts are still being discussed. There is no concrete proposal yet.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Greenway on the Highway - Energy Audits, Green Food & New Healthcare!

Today, I went strawberry picking with my kids out in Loudoun County and when I got home, ran over to the "Greenway on the Highway" event put together by the Southeast Fairfax Development Corporation at the Woodlawn Mansion. It was an interesting event.

The event was intended to highlight new "green" enterprises, groups and charities in the Route 1 Corridor. It was a fascinating event.

First, the Woodlawn Mansion is a totally under-appreciated facility in our area. The estate was originally gifted by George Washington to his step-daughter Nelly Custis. It was designed by the architect of the U.S. Capitol. It's last resident was U.S. Senator Oscar Underwood of Lousiana who donated it to preservation group on his death who then made it the very first property of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. A group that has gone on to do great things such as restore James Madison's Estate in Madison County, VA.

I was excited to see that two different Home Energy Audit Companies had booths at the event. Continuum Energy Solutions who did the home energy audit on my house featured on this blog (The Dixie Pig, Mt. Vernon's Delegate Gets a Home Energy Audit), and Home Performance Solutions of Burke, VA. This is an exciting growing industry and this year, I was able to pass legislation requiring them to be licensed by the Commonwealth so there could be minimum standards, required training, and some level of consumer protection. Get an audit done if you have not already!

Next, I ran into Earl Reed who just opened up Doctor's Express on U.S. 1 and talked to him for a while about his business. Their grand opening was featured in several local news stories. They have board-certified physicians, x-ray machines, their own laboratory, and they provide services at one-third of the cost of emergency rooms. It's the kind of place most people should be going for non-acute 24-hour care instead of the emergency room.

I also ran into the leadership of the Mt. Vernon-Lee Chamber of Commerce and one of the Fairfax County Planning Commissioners, Tim Sargent, and had a chat about my efforts to get the ball rolling on Route 1.

Finally, I checked out the new Arcadia Farms project in the rear of the property. Arcardia at Woodlawn is partnering with the Woodlawn Plantation to develop sustainable agriculture in the D.C. Metro region and to bring fresh fruits & vegetables to those most in need. The main Arcadia group site is here. They have a garden on the south side of the mansion house where they are demonstrating their techniques. I've included some pictures below.
Good things happening on Route 1.