VIRGINIA BRIEFING

Friday, January 12, 2007

LEE-JACKSON DAY

Most Local Courts Will Be Closed

To honor Lee-Jackson Day, local courts will be closed today, with the exception of U.S. District Court in Alexandria and Fairfax County Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court. Local government offices are open except in Fauquier and Loudoun counties. Libraries are open except in Loudoun. State offices are closed. Federal offices are open.

RED-LIGHT CAMERAS

Measure to Revive Use Advances

A bill to restore the use of cameras to catch red-light runners in several Northern Virginia localities and Virginia Beach was sent to the Senate floor today.

The Senate Transportation Committee endorsed legislation to revive a traffic enforcement program that ended when local pilot projects expired in July 2005.

Similar legislation was killed last year in the House of Delegates.

But the bill's sponsor, Sen. Jeannemarie Devolites Davis (R-Fairfax), said she is optimistic about the bill's chances this year because companion legislation in the House has been referred to a different committee.

Supporters of the technology behind the bill say it encourages compliance with the law and saves lives by reducing broadside collisions.

Critics deride the use of cameras as an invasion of privacy.

-- Associated Press

HERNDON LABOR CENTER

Proposals on Management Sought

The Herndon Town Council has voted to solicit proposals from employment firms interested in operating the town's center for day laborers.

The council, which has promised to crack down on illegal immigration, is looking for a firm that will require workers to present documentation proving that they are in the country legally. Project Hope & Harmony, which operates the Herndon Official Workers Center with Reston Interfaith, does not require extensive documentation.

Opponents of the plan warned that it could drive immigrant laborers back to the town's streets to look for work. The center opened in 2005 in response to complaints about workers congregating in a 7-Eleven parking lot near downtown.

"I fear that moving to a new operator who will check eligibility will come with some unexpected consequences," said council member J. Harlon Reece, the only member to vote against the proposal.

Vice Mayor Dennis D. Husch said the council does not oppose immigrants, only those who are in the country illegally. The issue is "those who choose to exploit our goodwill and our nature of giving."

Town officials hope to award the contract in March.

-- Bill Turque

FALLS CHURCH

Official Promoted to City Manager

Wyatt Shields is the new city manager of Falls Church, replacing the late Daniel E. McKeever. Shields has been acting city manager since McKeever died in July.

After the City Council approved Shields on Monday, Mayor Robin S. Gardner said: "We went through a very thorough hiring process to make sure we brought someone on board who not only meshed with council, but had the respect of the community and the vision to move our city forward. We did not need to look far to find this talent."

Shields was named assistant city manager in 2003. Falls Church has about 10,500 residents and a council-manager form of government.

FAIRFAX COUNTY

Boater's Body Found in Maryland

The body of a man who was tossed out of his boat into the Potomac River near Mason Neck on Dec. 18 has been discovered in Charles County, Fairfax County police said Wednesday.

The man was identified as Martin Spradlin, 36, of the 3500 block of Woodburn Road in Annandale. Police said he was piloting a Mirage boat about 4:30 p.m. near Hallowing Point when he lost control and the boat overturned. A boat stopped to help, but he could not be found. Local and federal marine authorities had searched for him nearly every day since, Fairfax officer Richard Henry said.

Someone walking along the shore near Chapman's Point in Charles, across the Potomac from Prince William County, found Spradlin's body on the shoreline about 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, police said. An autopsy will be done by the Maryland medical examiner, and the death will be investigated by Fairfax police, Henry said, although no foul play is suspected.

-- Tom Jackman

METRO FUNDING

Request for $1.5 Billion Renewed

Rep. Thomas M. Davis III (R-Va.) reintroduced a bill yesterday that would provide $1.5 billion in federal money to improve Metro.

The money would be available only if the District, Maryland and Virginia match the amount, which would be disbursed over 10 years and go to capital improvements and maintenance.

The bill passed the House of Representatives last year by a wide margin, but Congress recessed before the Senate considered it.

Davis and his co-sponsors say the federal government relies on Metro to transport federal employees, who make up more than half of rush-hour riders, and should contribute to the system.

-- Sandhya Somashekhar

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