'One Town. One School'

Wake up, Purcellville. I went out of town for a few days, and when I returned, I learned our town was going to be split down the middle by the Loudoun School Board.

My 4-year-old son, who attends both day care and preschool at the Loudoun Valley Community Center, will not be able to attend Emerick Elementary because we live on the wrong side of Main Street, if the School Board approves the plan presented by the Loudoun County school staff.

Not only was the school ill-conceived in the first place -- being on a site without sewer and water, no adequate road for ingress/egress and in a location that will always be somewhat isolated -- now this albatross is going to split our town down the middle.

Any planner in his right mind knows that schools are the focal points of most communities. Many of us moved to Purcellville because it was a small town, having that small-town atmosphere and concern for one another.

Many of us moved here knowing that our children would go to Emerick, Blue Ridge and Valley. That kind of continuity brings a community together.

What happened? Have our elected officials forgotten that they just approved a Comprehensive Plan that says:

"The county endorses the concept to maintain existing rural community based schools as an essential component of the community," and "Schools in town JLMAs [Joint Land Management Areas] will be located to provide convenient and safe access for students. All schools will be linked by sidewalls or trails to surrounding residential neighborhoods."

Citizens of Purcellville, attend the hearing at Harmony Middle School on Dec. 2. Let's make our voices heard. One Town. One School.

Dennis D. Beese


Preserve Our Rare Gifts

You can't take it with you, so how much is enough?

Without any claim to moral high ground, I reckon fate will call as Marley to Scrooge in the scenario of our vociferous property rights advocates. Loudoun's remaining native splendor hangs in the balance of an ecological scale few understand but following generations will witness.

Only two generations ago, this land was so vital! My friend's childhood tale of running away from Falls Church to Hamilton with only a small, family-run gas station in between amazes me.

His grandmother, Mary Virginia Smith, raised her children on Black Oak, a dairy farm outside Purcellville. The farm allowed her family to eat during the Depression, when many in cities went hungry. She'd grown up near Hillsboro, close to the land.

After Cliff Fairweather taught a stream assessment class at Rust Sanctuary, I asked him, "What is the one most effective thing our government could do to help?" He put it most succinctly: If our supervisors allowed storm water runoff buffers, setback modifications enough to buffer runoff at each site, the vital benthic layer of our streambeds would not be ruined.

In plainer English, our pavement and rooftops allow what amounts to a raging river, ruining delicate life that forms a vital link in our water's health. Without the natural buffers of vegetative banks and flood plains, water that would otherwise recharge our aquifers and allow a wide variation of life around waterways pushes pollutants and simply too much force into a delicate web only nature knows how to weave.

I have also wondered why we lay bare the land around schools, especially. It is obvious to my spirit that being in the woods teaches more than being in a bare lot, yet we continue to act as if our interior landscape edifies. As many seem to worship money and ego, our culture breeds violence. Can we take a deep breath without the trees?

I propose a call to arms. To the arms of the people you love, for tree planting. We call ourselves a well-educated bunch here. Consider spending some time outside today, for a walk in the woods.

As a nurse, I can tell you this is a very good thing. As you see the trees lit like gold torches by the November sun, consider the question, what good mechanic throws away tools just because he knows not what they're for?

Please support our supervisors and land-use planners in their efforts to preserve. Somehow, the fear of losing has given greed a loud voice. It does matter at what rate we bulldoze, burn and build in the name of growth. Please, consider simplicity for those who come after us. Allow space for the web nature weaves around us, and spend some time outside.

Virginia Abraham