Cigar Story: Disgusting!

How can you attempt to sing the praises of these idiots who are smoking cigars ["Resort Tries for an Air of Distinction," Oct. 14] and actually try to make it seem glamorous and classy? You ran four huge pictures of people smoking, and that one of the woman kissing her husband--have you ever kissed anyone who is smoking a cigar? Yuck!

With all we as a society do to try and tell our kids (and everyone) not to smoke, you are surely not doing your part. I see on Page 20 [Loudoun Extra, Oct. 14] that the National Institutes of Health is looking for some smokers for a study. Maybe you can just send them the names in this article.

It is ironic that Lansdowne has a health club and its own cigar. Do they allow smoking in the workout room?

That guy who spends $1,000 a month on cigars actually sounds like he is proud of himself. Really disgusting!

BARBARA ELWELL

Ashburn

School Bond Is Wasteful

Nearly every voter in Loudoun County has good reason to reject the school bond referendum on the ballot Nov. 2. The focal point for their rejection is the $24 million for the intermediate school in the west of the county.

The rationale for the school put forth by the School Board and school administrators is that Blue Ridge Middle School currently has more students than it was designed for. Loudoun Valley High School will reach capacity in one or two years. Therefore, the rationale goes, we should build an intermediate school (grades 8 and 9) to relieve crowding at those two schools.

By examining the schools' Capital Improvements Program for fiscal years 2000-2004, one finds that this rationale is being applied selectively and does not yield the benefit claimed. The CIP shows that Potomac Falls High School has the same problem with crowding as does Loudoun Valley. However, the remedy for Potomac Falls is the assurance that another high school will be built sometime after 2005. Perhaps the School Board and administration have determined that Potomac Falls students can put up with crowding for a handful of years, yet the students of Loudoun Valley must have relief as soon as possible.

That can't be. Something else must lie behind this matter.

Suppose the intermediate school is built. When it becomes operational in the year 2002-03, overcrowding will be reduced. However, by the next school year Loudoun Valley High School, Blue Ridge Middle School and the intermediate school will all be around 90 percent capacity. That's okay, the argument goes, since the year following that, the intermediate school will become a middle school and, activists believe, a new high school will be built in the west. In other words, the county would build a $24 million intermediate school to use for two years, then would spend more money to convert it to a middle school and build a new high school.

This sounds less like a solution to crowding than a lousy quick fix. Why is the county doing this? Earlier this year, I spoke with many concerned parents from the western part of the county: The justification for the intermediate school that the majority of them put forth was to avoid having any students from the west attend schools in the east, particularly Leesburg.

Why might that happen? Once again, turn to the CIP: From now until the 03-04 school year, the schools in Leesburg and farther east will have the capacity to handle the crowding in the west. Moving the boundary between the Loudoun Valley and Loudoun County clusters would match the student population with the school capacities, similar to what has been done in the east for the last several years as new schools have been built. Transporting students from Waterford and Middleburg to Leesburg is no more onerous, with regard to distance and roads, than transporting students from the northeast and northwest corners of the county to Purcellville.

If crowding were the sole issue, then this solution would be chosen. Obviously, it is not the sole issue. If county voters approve the school bond referendum, they are effectively approving the idea that the social preference of a relatively few parents is sufficient cause for the county to waste $24 million.

Parents in the east should view the intermediate school as preferential treatment of the population in the west. If intermediate schools are a wonderful way to avoid students attending schools too far from home, why haven't they been built in the east?

Parents in the west who do not believe civilization ends as one approaches Leesburg should view the intermediate school as a troubling omen. When new elementary schools must be built in the west, as they surely will be, what will be the basis for their size and location? The educational needs of the students? Fiscal responsibility? Or the social preferences of an activist group?

Taxpayers without children in county schools should view the intermediate school as a misuse of their money. Another middle school in the west will be needed in four or five years, but there is no true need for the intermediate school now.

One may ask, why not build now? The county population is growing, but with changes in attitude toward growth, perhaps we will see a change in the pattern of growth several years out and can better prepare for the resultant effect on the schools by waiting.

Further, the county is facing environmental problems with regard to water and sewage. By waiting a few years, we should have a better idea of where and how to handle the needs of a new school in the west.

Of course, the intermediate school is not the only construction addressed by the school bond. It is, though, nearly a quarter of the bond. How many taxpayers don't mind having a quarter of their tax dollars wasted?

PETER N. DEZENDORF

Leesburg

Time to Draw a Line

For the first time since John Mosby rode through the area, Woodburn Road is forming up as a skirmish line. The skirmish now is between developers and their representatives who want the Virginia Department of Transportation to straighten, widen and pave the road, and many of the local citizens who want to preserve the history and beauty of both the road and their neighborhood.

If Woodburn Road is not paved, then the developments which various speculators, developers and their attorneys have planned will not be able to proceed with the housing densities they've projected. Not paving Woodburn would also deprive other adjacent large developments of using Woodburn as a viable connector highway to reach Route 15.

Somewhere in the process of controlling urban sprawl in Loudoun County, our Board of Supervisors had to draw "a line" if we are going to save the history and beauty of this county for future generations. Woodburn Road represents a natural and symbolic line of demarcation to be drawn between the high-density development to the east and the pristine rural area to the west. It is time for the citizens of Loudoun County to demand a moratorium on further uncontrolled development in western Loudoun County.

GEORGE WEBBER

Save Woodburn Road Coalition

Leesburg

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