County Parkway

To Be Widened

A heavily congested stretch of Fairfax County Parkway -- between Rugby Road and Sunrise Valley Drive -- will be widened from four to six lanes, with the additional lanes restricted to cars with more than one occupant during rush hours.

The county Board of Supervisors on Monday approved an agreement between Fairfax and the state that will launch the $3.3 million design of the widening project. A completion date has not been set.

The five-mile segment between Rugby and Sunrise Valley is often backed up during rush hours and has limited bus service. County transportation officials said they hoped lanes restricted to vehicles with at least two people would encourage carpooling.

Crime Panel to Hold

Meetings Today

A task force created by Gov. Mark R. Warner (D) to examine and recommend ways to prevent crime in the state's minority communities will hold two sessions today in Arlington County to hear from residents and officials.

The first session, for criminal justice officials and other invited guests, will begin at 2 p.m. at the Arlington County schools' Career Center. The second session will begin at 6 p.m. and is open to representatives of the area's minority communities. Virginia Secretary of Public Safety John W. Marshall will preside at the public forum.

The task force previously has met in Richmond and Norfolk.

Warner appointed the 25-member multicultural task force last fall and charged it with recommending strategies to reduce crime in communities made up primarily of minorities. Several task force members are from Northern Virginia.

The career center is at 816 S. Walter Reed Dr.

Bridge to Open

At Mixing Bowl

State transportation officials are planning to open a mile-long, 100-foot-high bridge Wednesday that will carry traffic from the inner loop of the Capital Beltway to Interstate 95 south toward Richmond.

The bridge opening and traffic pattern changes are part of the Springfield interchange project. The Virginia Department of Transportation will hold a media briefing Monday to explain the changes.

County Seeks to Aid

Uninsured Residents

As part of a national effort to raise awareness about people living without health insurance, county officials have been conducting activities to get people enrolled in health care programs this week, including offering extended hours tonight.

To help eligible low-income individuals, families and children in Fairfax County obtain health care assistance, the county's Department of Family Services has been offering special opportunities this week for people to apply for FAMIS Plus (formerly Medicaid) and Virginia's Family Access to Medical Insurance Security, also known as FAMIS.

For more information, call 703-324-7405 or visit a family services office from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays in Reston, Fairfax, Falls Church or Alexandria. Today only, the hours will be 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Additional information is at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/service/dfs or www.covertheuninsuredweek.org.

Women's Commission

Director Named

Ina G. Fernandez was appointed executive director of the Fairfax County Commission for Women on Monday by the county Board of Supervisors. She will succeed Leia Francisco on Sept. 6.

Fernandez has been a county social work supervisor since July 1998 and has been a county employee since 1989.

Fluent in Spanish, she has served as a board member of Hispanics Against Child Abuse and Neglect since 2002. Fernandez received a master's degree in social work from Virginia Commonwealth University in Alexandria and a bachelor's degree from Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania. Her salary will be $81,272 a year.

Alcohol-Free Prom

Nights Encouraged

The Safe Community Coalition is sponsoring its annual "Project Hospitality" initiative, bringing area high school students together with hotels, motels, restaurants and law enforcement agencies to promote sober prom nights.

The federally funded program encourages parents of Northern Virginia high school students to plan and promote alcohol-free post-prom parties and serve as chaperones for the events. Parents are also encouraged to offer their children and friends a ride away from any risky situation with no questions asked.

The legal drinking age in Virginia is 21. If parents rent a hotel room for a post-prom party, hotels require that they be present at the party the whole time.

Area police, hotels and restaurants have been given the date and location of each prom and have pledged their help by promoting common sense and safety during these evenings.

The Safe Community Coalition is based in McLean and was established for students at Langley and McLean high schools.

For more information, call 703-241-0335.

Event to Promote

County Services

Fairfax County human services agencies will team up to provide information to residents from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at an event called "Fairfax County 4 U" at the human services building in Falls Church.

Residents will be able to find out about programs and services offered through the county. There will be exhibits, literature and games and activities for children. The event is targeted at residents of Annandale, Baileys Crossroads, Falls Church, Merrifield, Pimmit Hills and Seven Corners.

Staff members who speak Spanish, Somali, Urdu, Vietnamese and Korean will be on hand.

The building is at 6245 Leesburg Pike (Route 7), Falls Church. For more information, call 703-533-5701.

Falls Church Plans

Memorial Day Festival

The City of Falls Church will hold its Memorial Day parade and festival from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. May 31 on the grounds of City Hall.

The 23rd annual event kicks off with the Don Beyer 5K Fun Run at 9 a.m., followed at 11 a.m. by a veterans ceremony in front of the Falls Church Community Center. The parade begins at 2 p.m.

There will be craftspeople, food, live entertainment and carnival rides.

City Hall is at 300 Park Ave. and the community center is at 223 Little Falls St. For more information, call 703-248-5077 or visit www.ci.falls-church.va.us.

Meeting to Discuss

Westgrove Park

The county Park Authority will hold an information meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday about possible changes at Westgrove Park in the Alexandria section of the county.

The meeting at Belle View Elementary School will launch the process to consider revisions to the master plan for Westgrove, a 21.3-acre community park off Fort Hunt Road.

Attendees will look at background information on the site and consider how the park can best meet future community needs.

Belle View is at 6701 Fort Hunt Rd. For more information, call 703-324-8787.

Composters to Be Sold

At Discount Price

The county's recycling program will hold a backyard composter sale from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday in Fairfax and Springfield.

The Earth Machine composters will sell for $35 plus tax. The regular retail price is $80. The Earth Machine can be used to compost fruit and vegetable scraps, crushed eggshells, tea bags, coffee grounds and filters.

Officials recommend adding layers of mulched leaves, dried grass, garden plants, old potting soil and soft plant stems from the garden to the materials from the machine. With a little maintenance and care, they said, the materials are broken down naturally into compost, which can be used to enrich garden soil.

The sales will be in the Kmart parking lot, 4080 Jermantown Rd., and at the Springfield Mall parking lot along Loisdale Road. For more information, contact the Fairfax County Recycling Program at 703-803-3322 or visit www.fairfaxcounty.gov/dpwes/recycling/compostbin.htm.

Virginia Tech N.Va.

Graduation Planned

Lawrence J. Korb, a military and public policy specialist, will be the keynote speaker Saturday at the commencement ceremony of Virginia Tech's Northern Virginia Center. The 8 p.m. event is at the George Mason University Center for the Arts.

Korb, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, has formerly served as dean of the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Pittsburgh, director at the Brookings Institution's Center for Public Policy Education and assistant secretary of defense in the Reagan administration.

The Northern Virginia Center will graduate 275 students, 245 with master's degrees and 30 with doctoral degrees.

Residents' Aid Sought

Against W. Nile Virus

State health officials are again informing Northern Virginia residents about steps they can take to help prevent the West Nile virus, especially controlling the mosquito population by reducing standing water around their homes.

Fairfax County is recruiting volunteers to be part of its "Mosquito Magician" program, so called because residents help make mosquitoes disappear in their communities.

Residents can call 703-246-2300 to report dead birds or visit www.fairfaxcounty.gov/fightthebite to learn about other West Nile virus prevention information.

Battle of Ox Hill

To Be Remembered

The county Park Authority and the Ancient Order of Hibernians will commemorate the 1862 Battle of Ox Hill at 2 p.m. May 31, Memorial Day.

In the battle, on Sept. 1, 1862, Union Major Gens. Isaac Stevens and Phillip Kearny were killed. The May 31 ceremony will take place at the large headstones erected in their memory.

The 17th Virginia Volunteer Infantry CSA color guard and the Father William Corby Division of the Ancient Order of Hibernians color guard will present the colors. The ceremony also will include period musical renditions and songs. Refreshments will be served.

The battlefield is at the intersection of Monument Drive and West Ox Road. For more information, call 703-978-8265.

-- Compiled by DIANE MATTINGLY and STEPHEN C. FEHR