Archive 17

The following stories have appeared previously in the Crier:



Review by John Shreffler, Westbriar Crier

Vienna author Jenifer Joy Madden herself swims comfortably in the digital sea, but has some well-reasoned misgivings about overexposure for our youngest set. Especially if that exposure begins to displace the learning processes vital to understanding the world in the way our million years of genetic tuning has deemed best for survival. Young parents today think nothing of tossing sophisticated toys into the crib, not fully appreciating the fact that we are in uncharted territory. Aside from the fact of spending huge amounts of childhood time thumbing entertaining and (sometimes educational) items, does it really beat understanding how moss feels to one's bare feet, or how to bait a fishhook, or how to tell if a storm is coming? As one follows the train of Madden's thoughts, there may be a recollection of hearing one's own inner voice touching on these very same concerns but dismissing it because Mattel or Apple must know best. That inner voice may not be wrong.

Memorial Day ...

Who kept the faith and fought the fight; The glory theirs, the duty ours.



What is THAT?

It looks like landing lights on a plane heading your way, but it doesn't move. It is orangy in color, but too bright for Mars. A Navy weapons test or something? A space ship?

Nope. It is Mars after all. The unusual brightness will grow and peak at the end of May. Rising at sunset, it climbs low in the southern sky, shining all night. It is in opposition, meaning opposite the sun. We are making a close encounter of the normal kind. Nothing too exciting, but on the other hand, not something to be missed. Really pretty.

NEW 6/3/16
Fairfax Survey
This Weekend

Fairfax County Health Department will be doing research into home preparedness on June 4 and 5. The sampling will include Westbriar Zone H.

The results of the 15 minute survey will be used to enhance emergency planning. Please give them your cooperation. Details HERE, HERE, HERE.

NEW 5/29/16
It's Here!
It's Now!


Head for
the Caboose

Saturday May 28th kicks off 3 days of fun!

Rides ++ Music ++ Food ++ Entertainment
Free Admission

This was the biggest Viva Vienna! ever, with unbroken rows of kiosks and rides set up on Church Street from Lawyers to Mill, and side streets from Maple to Ayr Hill.

The weatherman had been predicting a somewhat sketchy weekend, but Saturday was perfect, and Sunday was also, at least until about 5 PM. A really great turnout. More Monday.

One of the most popular rides has you swooping up and down like a bird in flight. Awesome!

Crowds started filling the midway by mid morning. Cotton Candy and bratwurst aromas filled the air.

Say ... isn't that Council Member Linda Colbert and Mayor Laurie DiRocco working security?

UPDATE 4/29/16

From the Nest

They Now have Names!

It's official! After a world-wide poll conducted by the American Eagle Foundation, the offspring of Mr. President and The First Lady are Freedom and Liberty.

And how they have changed! Only 6 weeks ago, the twins resembled fluffy round cotton balls with eyes and beaks. Now they are are the size of chickens, and are almost completely covered with sleek, dark brown flight feathers. By mid-June, Freedom and Liberty will be as big as their parents, and ready to dive off the edge of the nest to test out their wings. Click the Pic and join them in the nest.


Vienna got some tidy-up
work done this morning
by an army of young volunteers.
Thanks, guys!

Mill Street from Caboose to Sheets
was handled by this amazing team.

Wildwood Park was scoured for
traces of human intervention

David Burgess and his father, Craig,
spiffed up the western side of the
Wolftrap Creek.



Another of the original homes of Niblick Drive, Westbriar's initial foray into the cornfields and meadows back in the late 50s, is now becoming the foundation for a new home.

More than 78% of property sales in Zone A result in immediate tear down and replacement, making this one of the hottest real estate markets in Vienna.


The Bet
is On!

The mayors of Vienna, City of Fairfax, and City of Falls Church believe so strongly in the solar energy option and free home energy check-ups being offered through May 15 that they've put dinner on the line. The mayor and Council of the winning community, to be determined by number of home energy sign-ups will host a dinner and sustainability conversation with the mayors and councilmembers of the other two communities, who will pick up the tab.

Vienna came out on top last year with 289 sign-ups for home energy check-ups (and nine homes installing solar energy systems). power strips, and pipe insulation. To sign up for a home energy check-up or solar site assessment, visit by May 15!


A Drama


Seems simple enough. The FBI has the Apple iPhone of the San Bernadino shooters, and would like to get the stored content so they can learn the terrorists' contacts and other information. Obviously, that would be the patriotic duty of Apple.

But it is not so easy. The data is highly encripted, and the software does not exist to retrieve the information. "Develop it," says the FBI. "We want that content, and we will pay you."

That would still seem patriotic for Apple to do. But wait. The FBI does not want Apple to just give them the content of this phone. They want Apple to give them the means to get the content of ALL iPhones.

"Oooops, now that is a problem," says Apple. People store their entire lives confidently on the iPhone, including medical, financial, highly personal stuff, and business secrets. iPhone has been considered, up until now, unhackable. When the hacking tools are out there, however, the hackers are never far behind.

All this happened just days ago. See the full position of Apple. It looks like it is headed to court, and there seems to be a lot riding on the outcome for all.


Tornadoes in

Extreme weather always makes for interesting viewing, unless maybe you are in the middle of it. Some of the best has been captured by professional storm chasers.

But this one tops anything done by the pros. From the audio, it sounds like a bunch of excited youngsters on an adventure, with far more bravado than common sense.

Fasten your seatbelts, Click the Pic, and take a ride on the wild side.


Renewed Shopping Center Rushes
Toward Finish


Vienna Shopping Center at Lawyers Road and Maple Avenue is bustling with activity as workers are putting on the finishing touches for a number of new openings in the next months.

Best known to Viennians as the location of the long time Magruder's grocery store, the new wing will be home to a Chopt Salad, a Mod Pizza, an INOVA health clinic, and other retail spaces yet to be determined.

First to open was Chopt Salad, based in New York, with five other locations in the DC area. It features soups and salads with emphasis on freshness and top quality ingredients.

Chopt opened on Tuesday, April 26 with a very pleasant surprise: A free lunch!. All of Vienna was invited, and made contributions to the benefactor. Which was Westbriar's nearest public school, Westbriar Elementary. "It's our way of saying 'hello' to the community," said manager Michael Caine. "And we want to make a statement about the importance of a healthy diet, especially for our kids."


VDOT Hearings on I-66
Project Scheduled

Virginia Department of Transportation has scheduled a number of public hearing on the I-66 road widening, both inside and outside the Beltway. The hearing will be held at a number of different venues nearby. For the latest schedules, contact us at


Stanley Cup: This Year? Nope. After overcoming a 3-0 deficit in the 3rd period, the Caps played into an overtime of an intensity rarely seen in this wham-bam sport. It wasn't enough, as Pittsburgh goes on to meet Tampa Bay.


What is the "Cloud?"

Unless you are an IT manager, or a geek, you have been mystified by this word as it comes up every once in a while in computer conversations.

Here's a great intro to the subject that does not involve a lot of digital knowledge.

Coming Up 5/9/16


May 21, 7:30 PM

For serious music aficionados, it is only necessary to say "Carmina Burana." For the rest of us it is only necessary to understand that you will never be disappointed by Vienna's perennial and premier source of serious entertainment. For the long story on this remarkable Carl Orff cantata, click here. For a shorter version, here.

Join the Vienna Choral Society on Saturday evening, May 21, at the Vienna Baptist Church. But secure your tickets early. Will probably sell out, don't be disappointed.


Happy Mother's Day!

Ding Dong! goes the doorbell ....

A little touch across the miles from Daughter.
Instant Happy. Just add water. Sweet

5/8/16 UPDATE

Stanley Cup: This Year? Looks dicey at the moment. The Penguins only have to win one more to advance, but we have to win them both. Arrrrgh!

Is this the year? Maybe ..... Unlikely things do happen. Watch the runner in red.

Notes from

The Board approved the Disease Carrying Insects Program. Nine cases of West Nile Virus and 190 cases of Lyme Disease were confirmed in 2015. Four pedestrian signal and curb ramps were approved for installation in Tysons: 3 along Route 7 at Gosnell, Spring Hill, and Tyco Roads, and one at 123 and Boone Blvd ( Bed Bath & Beyond).


An Open & Shut Case

Responding to a tip from alert reader Chuck D. on Fairway Drive, Crier reporter Leon did a speedy investigation of Westbriar's closest busy intersection. It's true. The long-awaited new McDonalds is open for business. It's a bit smaller in the eat-in section, but the kitchen has been upgraded for higher speed.

Meanwhile the convenient Sunoco across the way has orange cones and chainlink. What's up? Not to worry. Inspection and repair continues, they are just getting new gas pumps. Back to normal soon.


Did we goof!

The attendant interviewed last week did not know this, but alert reader John F. on Kramer Drive has more on the Sunoco story.
There is no more Sunoco.

It is now Shell. Nothing else has changed. This is great news. The station will be participating in the Giant Food Rewards Program, and it is much closer to us.

Vienna Survey

You may be among the Vienna residents soon selected to fill out a survey of your opinion and mood regarding various Town-related services, policies and your general take of things. Please take it seriously ..... the Town Council certainly will. It is confidential, and randomized to preserve scientific validity.


This is getting Weird

Remember the shiny new replacement stop sign that we reported on last Monday? The one that grew out of a heap of broken headlight glass and bumper parts? The one at Woodford and Wolftrap Road?

Well, it has been nailed again after only 6 days, this time from the east. It has been flattened 12 times in the last 3 years we have been counting.

The sign was back up again in 48 hours, for how long is anyone's guess.

Spring Portrait

A field of tulips sparkles between two of
Vienna's iconic landmarks

Dogwood's Turn

Don't you just love this time of year in Virginia?

Especially in our town rich in flowering trees?

It's like a sympony of colors, some playing together, some doing solos, each in turn, knowing its exact moment in the sun.

After the crocuses come the daffodils, then the tulips, lighting up the stage made dull by winter. Then the forsythia shouts like cymbals. Overhead, the plums streak the sky with violet, followed in a week by the cherries, then the apples.

Now it is the moment for the dogwood. Soon, the pear will answer, introducing the azelea's crazy calliope routine....


Pouring on

Concrete trucks were spotted on Follin Lane today, signaling the homestretch phase of the extensive makeover of the entrance to Vienna's Technology Center. About 300 feet of curb and gutter were created along the east side of the roadway by late Wednesday.

This project involved a complex and delicate choreographing of hand-offs of all utilities in order to keep services from being interruped in Westbriar Zones A and B. Existing gas, water, sewer and fiber optics needed to be relocated, in addition to the new roadway drainage system, which previously was deep ditches on both sides. When finished, a sidewalk will run along the west side.



New App Added to ISS Locator

The dark stripe on land is the fertile Indus Valley of Pakistan.

For our Science fans, an interesting new way of looking at the Earth has been added to the predictions of the Space Station sightings. You are presented the satellite with its solar panels in correct orientation, with the Earth slowly turning below. Your viewpoint is accurate in real time. In the photo, the ISS is approaching the coast of India. Click the Pic to see what the astronauts are seeing right now.

The video content is not broadcast from the ISS, but rather is constructed from Google Earth photos. If you don't know about Google Earth, it is about time you met. Warning: Highly addictive. Zoom in on your car in your driveway. Stroll down a street in Tokyo. Fly an F-16 in the Alps. Beats tweeting what you had for breakfast by a long shot.

FELIX FOUND! 2/29/16

He is only half his normal weight, weak, scared, but happy to be home after 2 weeks on the road. His owner, Elaine thanks all those who have been keeping an eye out..

Looking for a Pet?
Fairfax County Animal Shelter

Check out available animals on line,
then stop by to meet them in person.


Vienna Zoning
House Proposal

The Vienna Department of Planning and Zoning held a hearing last week on a developer's proposed zoning variance which would have allowed the construction of a cluster of luxury town houses on lots facing Maple Avenue between Follin Land and Mashie Drive. The lots are presently Zoned RS-16, meaning Single Family, with minimum lot size of 16,000 square feet. Across Follin Lane on the west corner, is presently a medium density townhouse cluster.
"It was an interesting proposal," said John Shreffler, President of Westbriar Civic Association, of which the lots are a part. "There does not seem to be much of a conflict with the Town's Comprehensive Plan, and there is nothing in our constitution that conflicts."

Derick Hess on Mashie Street is among many on Mashie Street close to the proposed project. "I am completely opposed to the proposal," he said. Others are not quite so sure. "I am in support of changing the zoning to allow for this," said Kevin Cole of Woodnor Drive. "Done right, I think it is a positive enhancement for Vienna."

The lots (bright yellow) are contiguous with existing medium density housing (brown) on Maple Avenue.

This part of Westbriar is undergoing rapid redevelopment, with a substantial percentage of home sales resulting in new houses of 4000 square feet and greater. A decade ago, residents were distressed by this 'changing character of the neighborhood.' Not so any more.

"I would like to know more about our members' thoughts on some diversification at our end of town," said Shreffler. "People age. Should they be forced to move away from their friends when they can no longer handle the work of maintaining a half acre?"

Update 2/21/16 The property owner withdrew his application for this zoning waiver.
How do you feel about land use changes when they are close to home? What do you feel that Westbriar Civic's role should be in these matters? Contact us, and let us know your thoughts.


Join us.
All are welcome.

Gentle Yoga at Emmaus Thursday Evenings 6:30-7:45 pm.
Individual Consultations 7:45-8:00 pm One free introductory session!

Connect with your spirit, improve your flexibility, your breath,
fitness, and health. Reduce your stress.

Accommodations and discounts for seniors.
Certified Kundalini yoga instructor with 15 years experience.
Please call 571-213-3192 or email for more information and to register.

Basic Postures

Emmaus UCC

900 Maple at Westbriar Drive


Fairfax County Tax Changes Previewed this Morning at the Fire Station


Our voice at Fairfax, Hunter Mill Supervisor Cathy Hudgins this morning hosted a summit at the Flame Room of the Vienna Fire Department to give about 100 interested Vienna and County residents a preview of the 2017 Budget Plan.

The new budget, coming on the heels of a recent reassessment calls for an increase of between 3 and 4 cents per $100 of assessed value increase in the Real Estate Tax rate. Public Hearings are being scheduled, after which a final figure will be announced.



"Adoption of a budget is a balancing of competing needs of the County. It is a holistic process, since many figures are interrelated."

Chairman Bulova

At one point in discussion, we each received a small transmitter, and were given questions to answer. Do you live in Vienna or Fairfax? How long have you lived there? And several more about tax moods. Press your answer button.

Afterward, the big screen gave our answers in graphic form. Most were from Vienna, most had lived here 20 years or more. The answers about taxes showed clear preferences for more educational funding.

It was fun. hmmmm. Would policy decisions be helped or hurt by instant feedback of group-think?

A detailed walk-through of the rationale behind the proposed increase was presented by Chief Financial Officer Joe Mondoro, and Hunter Mill School Supervisor Pat Hynes.

About twenty of the attendees asked a wide range of questions, most specifically about budget priorities, but others touching on more general topics. One speaker asked for more support in abolishing the Dillon Rule in Virginia, eliciting wide appreciation by both audience and government reps.

Another speaker wanted Fairfax to look closely at the use of crumb rubber in synthetic athletic fields because of possible linkage to cancers in athletes. Preliminary studies may show, but do not yet prove linkage.


That was quick. A shiny new sign grew from a heap of broken headlight glass and other car parts at Woodford and Wolf Trap.