New County Auditor Chosen
The county Board of Supervisors has named Christopher J. Pietsch as audit director, stirring a flap between Republicans and Democrats over whether the county has adequate controls over government waste.
The majority-Democrat board appointed Pietsch head of the internal audit office, replacing retiring director Ronald A. Coen. He is responsible for examining and evaluating controls over finances and the efficiency of programs.
Many county Republicans, including School Board member Mychele B. Brickner (At Large), a candidate for Board of Supervisors chairman, have advocated an independent auditor to look for waste.
In a pointed reference to Brickner, the Democratic candidate for board chairman, Supervisor Gerald E. Connolly (D-Providence), said at a recent board meeting, "We have this function already." Board Chairman Katherine K. Hanley (D) said, "There has been some confusion about us not having auditors. We do."
Pietsch, who will make $82,000 a year, was a senior audit officer with First Virginia Bank.
City Sets Lower Tax Rate
The Fairfax City Council has approved a spending plan that would keep the city's real estate tax rate the lowest in Northern Virginia, in part by raising the cigarette tax to 50 cents a pack and adopting a cellular telephone tax of 10 percent of the first $30 in monthly charges.
Council members set the tax rate at 92 cents for each $100 of assessed value, trimming four cents off the current rate. By contrast, Fairfax County's tax rate is $1.21 for each $100, although the Board of Supervisors plans to discuss a 5-cent cut when it marks up the budget Monday.
The city's $98 million budget takes effect July 1.
Funds Sought for I-95 Lanes
Rep. Thomas M. Davis III (R-Va.) has requested $56.7 million to construct a fourth lane in each direction on Interstate 95 between Fairfax County Parkway at Newington and Route 123 at the Occoquan River.
Davis asked that Congress include the money in federal transportation legislation to be considered this year.
The 6.2-mile stretch of I-95 carries 160,000 to 180,000 vehicles a day. By 2025, that number is projected to increase to 240,000 vehicles a day.
The Northern Virginia Transportation Alliance, a group of business and community leaders, has championed the project. The alliance says that in addition to helping relieve congestion, the widening would speed the evacuation of people and aid the movement of emergency personnel in a crisis.
The engineering and design of the additional lanes are almost complete, and construction could begin as soon as federal funds are available.
Student Picked for Board
Andrew Ramish, a junior at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, has been elected to represent the county's students on the School Board.
The countywide Student Advisory Council chose Ramish to serve a one-year term beginning July 1.
He will replace Matthew Wansley, a senior at Thomas Jefferson and president of its student government.
Though the student representative cannot vote on School Board issues, he or she often takes part in policy discussions and is asked to give input to board members.
"I view the student body of Fairfax County as the chief constituents of the School Board," Ramish said in a statement. "The student opinion on all issues should be heard and taken into account if the school system is to accomplish the objectives of increasing student performance and the quality of education in the county."
New Lights for Vienna Fields
Long-awaited ballfield lights are scheduled to be turned on and dedicated tonight at Caffi and Waters fields in Vienna.
Located at 120 Cherry St., the fields recently underwent a $262,000 lighting improvement project paid by the county, the Town of Vienna and groups that use them. The old lighting system was more than 30 years old and was difficult to maintain and keep safe. The new system goes so far as to turn off the lights automatically, eliminating the possibility that someone would forget to do so, county recreation officials said.
The diamond and rectangular athletic fields are used for softball, soccer, football and baseball.
Among those scheduled to attend the 7:15 p.m. dedication are the Fairfax County Department of Community and Recreation Services, the Fairfax County Park Authority, the Vienna mayor and Town Council, Vienna Youth Inc., Vienna Youth Soccer, Vienna Girls Softball League and the Greater Vienna Babe Ruth League.
For more information, call 703-324-5641.
Truck Traffic Curtailed
Through trucks will be banned on Bull Run Post Office Road and Stone Road in the western part of the county because of concerns about safety, officials said.
The Commonwealth Transportation Board took the action recently in response to a request initially made by Fairfax County in September 2000.
Del. Timothy D. Hugo (R-Fairfax), who helped push through the long-delayed request, said that residential growth in the area near the two roads has been significant in recent years and that local residents were concerned about potential safety hazards posed by large commercial vehicles.
"Closing these two roads is long overdue," Hugo said.
Following the board's action, the Virginia Department of Transportation posted signs prohibiting through truck traffic.
Falls Church to Recycle It All
Falls Church residents can recycle clothing, computers, bicycles and other unwanted items at the city's "recycling extravaganza" from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 26.
Clothing, handbags, hats, paired socks, paired shoes, drapes, curtains sheets, towels, computers, laptops, printers, copiers, fax machines, televisions VCRs, telephones, cell phones, pagers, stereos, other electronic items and working bicycles can be brought to the city's recycling center, 217 Gordon Rd.
This year the annual event also includes printer and fax machine cartridges. For each printer cartridge collected, the Recycle for Students program will give $1 to local PTAs.
For more information, call 703-248-5160.
Kids' Run to Benefit Special Needs
McLean Bible Church's young adult community, Frontline, will host a 5K "Run for the Kids" at 9 a.m. April 26 at Nottoway Park in Vienna.
Proceeds will benefit a four-week summer camp and adventure program for children with special needs. The camp is part of the church's Access Ministries, serving families with children who have special needs.
The pre-race registration fee, available until Sunday, is $20 for adults, $15 for children 12 and younger. On-site registration the day of the race will be $25. For more information, call Rick Johnson at 703-866-1031.
Neurological Group Sponsors Walk
The Greater Washington Dystonia Support Group, an organization affiliated with the Dystonia Medical Research Foundation, is holding its fifth annual Dystonia Walk, Run and Roll from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. April 27 at the North Point Pavilion in Reston.
Participants will gather pledges and walk, run or roll around the park. There also will be face painting, crafts, clowns and nature booths.
Dystonia is a neurological disorder resulting in severe and often painful muscle contractions and abnormal posture, often starting in the foot and leg and spreading to the back and arm. Other manifestations of the disorder can affect the eyelids, larynx and lower facial muscles.
For more information or to volunteer, call the Reston Association at 703-435-6530.
-- Compiled by Diane Mattingly, C. Woodrow Irvin
and Stephen C. Fehr