Thursday, December 26, 2013

Port of Virginia: A Big Asset Off NOVA's Radar

One of the things I've come to appreciate since being elected is the impact major pieces of public infrastructure has on Virginia's economy.  Dulles Airport tends to grab much of the attention in Northern Virginia.  Access to an international airport creates all kinds of possibilities in attracting business. 

Another asset that most Northern Virginians are not familiar with is the Port of Virginia.  The Port of Virginia was dates back to the 1700's, but was officially created by the 1982 consolidation of the Norfolk, Newport News, Portsmouth Terminals along with the creation of the Virginia Inland Port (Intermodal Transit Facility off I-81 where containers are initially shipped by rail). 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Weekly Column: Route 1 Version 2.0: Yellow Line to Belvoir and A Healthier Environment

The following is my column that will appear in the Mt. Vernon Gazette, The Mt. Vernon Voice and Patch in the week of December 18, 2013.
Route 1 Version 2.0: Yellow Line to Belvoir and A Healthier Environment 
This is my fourth article about the  U.S. 1 Multimodal Transit Analysis Study and why I believe a Yellow Line Metro subway extension to Fort Belvoir is the best choice. My first article was an overview. Number two explained how a Yellow Line extension would improve our schools. The third examined reducing traffic congestion. This article is explores how extending the Yellow Line would be a boost to our environment.

Moving  people by rail uses less energy than moving them by gas-powered vehicles. Thousands fewer pounds of steel are required and rail travel minimizes wind resistance and energy consumption. Also, putting thousands of people on a train is more efficient than putting fewer people in smaller light rail trains or buses. It reduces our community’s carbon footprint.  That’s the easy part.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Local History: Why Is It Called Waynewood?

General "Mad Anthony" Wayne
Every once in a while I stumble across a piece of local history that answers a question for me. 

The following was in the Mt. Vernon At Home Newsletter a few months ago regarding the community of Waynewood which is about 56 years-old:
Waynewood - A Family Community With a Historic Past
by Anna Peterson

Even long-time residents of Waynewood occasionally wonder about the origin of its name.  It turns out that Waynewood was named after General "Mad Anthony" Wayne (1745-1796), a Pennsylvanian who was a close friend of George Washington.   

U.S. Postage Stamp Commemorating
Battle of Fallen Timbers and General Wayne
At Valley Forge, he raided the British line to obtain supplies for the Continental Army.  He fought the British in New York, New Jersey, and Virginia.  He was a member of the convention that ratified the U.S. Constitution. 
After being commissioned General-in-Chief of the American Army in 1782, Major General Wayne was sent to subjugate Native Americans, and his army destroyed many of their villages.  Later, Washington appointed him commissioner to negotiate treaties with them, and it was on one of these assignments that he fell ill and died in what is now Erie, Pennsylvania.
Consisting of 753 homes on about 300 acres, Waynewood was developed by the late Clarence W. Gosnell and was formally opened in 1957.  It is situated on land that was one known as River Farm, a parcel which originally consisted of 1,806 acres purchased by George Washington in 1769.
There is ton's more information on the exploits of General "Mad Anthony" Wayne on his Wikipedia page.  Apparently, his nickname had nothing to do with him being crazy

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Weekly Column: Leveling the Digital Playing Field in Virginia's Schools

The following is my column that will appear in the Mt. Vernon Gazette, The Mt. Vernon Voice and Patch in the week of December 2, 2013:

As more and more content goes digital, it has begun to affect our schools.  Textbook publishers have begun to design instructional systems - also called "electronic textbooks" to deliver instruction to children.   
These systems range from relatively static electronic books like you can find on a Kindle all the way to fully interactive learning systems with embedded video, links to external content, and interactive homework modules with extra questions for student struggling with specific concepts.
It is also virtually impossible to find a well-paying job in today's world that does not require computer literacy.  Performing car repairs or running a cash register requires digital literacy. 

In late 2012, I attended a Mt. Vernon District Education Town Hall Meeting.  The crowd was largely upper middle class and not diverse.  Many parents were unhappy about the functionality of new online textbooks deployed in the 2012-2013 schools year by Fairfax County Public Schools.  I was familar with these systems because my third grader is even now doing her math homework using an "electronic textbook."