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VIRGINIA BRIEFING

Thursday, June 5, 2008

ALEXANDRIA

Unitarian Church Wins Justice Award

The Mount Vernon Unitarian Church in Alexandria has been awarded the Unitarian Universalist Association's Bennett Award for Congregational Action on Human Justice and Social Action.

The church is being recognized for its efforts on such issues as combating homelessness, advocating for affordable housing, holding blood drives, supporting women's reproductive rights and creating an environment-friendly sanctuary program.

The congregation will receive a $500 donation at the association's annual assembly in Fort Lauderdale from June 25 to 29.

-- Tim Wilson

LOUDON COUNTY

SUV Driver Is Rescued From Pond

A Purcellville woman was rescued from her sport-utility vehicle early yesterday afternoon after she drove into a pond, officials with the Loudoun County Sheriff's Office said.

Nichola M. Bazaco, 61, was heading north on Evergreen Mills Road near Black Branch Parkway when her 2007 Acura MDX crashed through a row of trees and into a pond, authorities said. She was rescued from the submerged vehicle by several passersby who gained entry through the rear hatch.

Bazaco was treated at Inova Fair Oaks Hospital for injuries that were not life-threatening, authorities said.

The cause of the crash is under investigation; speed and alcohol do not appear to be factors, sheriff's officials said.

-- Bill Brubaker

Fairfax county

Charges Dropped in Yuletide Attack

Fairfax County prosecutors dismissed charges yesterday against one of three teenagers accused of attacking a 14-year-old McLean boy on Christmas Eve and punching out his front teeth.

The victim told police that as he walked along Westmoreland Street in the McLean area with two friends, two other teenagers climbed out of a sport-utility vehicle and began punching him in the face, knocking out teeth that had just been repaired with seven years of orthodontal work. Another youth allegedly recorded the beating with his cellphone video camera, police said.

But despite two search warrants, Fairfax police were unable to find a video on the phone of the Falls Church area 16-year-old. Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Gregory O. Holt told Fairfax juvenile court Judge David Schell that "based on the facts, we do not believe we can show he was part of the attack" and asked Schell to dismiss the malicious-wounding charge, which Schell did.

The two other teenagers charged in the beating, James Clarke and Anthony Nelli, both 16, were certified by the juvenile court in April to stand trial as adults and were indicted last month on aggravated malicious-wounding charges.

-- Tom Jackman

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