Buoyed by Kindness

The Mason and Pendola families would like to extend our deepest appreciation for the support we have received throughout the Ashburn community since the tragic accident that took our sons and brothers, Nick Pendola and Tony Cibelli-Mason. While we are still coming to terms with the recent loss, we find ourselves being buoyed each day in some unique way.

Our thanks goes to the concerned citizens who reported hearing a crash; the Ashburn Volunteer Fire and Rescue Department, which responded to the accident; and to the Loudoun County sheriff's department for professional and compassionate service.

The staff and volunteers at Crossroads United Methodist Church have extended overwhelming support to each of us as well as to the community.

Their outreach, compassion and plain hard work allowed us to share with the community a portrait of two young men who left us far too early. The Christian Fellowship Church hardly blinked when asked at the last minute to host the memorial service, attended by almost 1,600 people.

We would especially like to thank everyone at Stone Bridge High School.

The administration, staff, students and Drama Parents Club have helped us greatly. Most notably we would like to thank Glenn Hochkeppel for the love and creative enlightenment he shared with our boys. We consider ourselves fortunate to know how important this loss was to more than just our immediate families.

Through generous donations of the community, the Stone Bridge drama students will receive several post-secondary education grants this year, with resources left to purchase some much-needed equipment. Your thoughts, prayers, cards and kind words are encouraging and are helping us each day.

Bob, Sue and Katie Mason

John, Terri and AJ Pendola


School Budget Has Merit

My name is Chris Seebeck, and I am an eighth-grade student at River Bend Middle School in Sterling. I am also a Boy Scout in Troop 966. I am writing to you as a requirement for the Citizenship in the Community merit badge, as part of my quest to achieve the rank of Life Scout.

I am writing to express my concern about the 2004-05 school budget. I am in favor of the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors fully funding the school budget that is recommended by the Loudoun School Board. I support this because I have benefited from the excellent teachers, low student ratios and the many extracurricular activities that are offered at my school.

As an example, I have become a much stronger math student since the board's decision to offer block scheduling for all middle school students. This has afforded me 90-minute class periods, two and three class periods a week. This has made a big difference for me. I have had the same math teacher for two years, and due to the smaller class size, she has given me a lot of individual attention. As a result, my understanding of math has improved considerably.

I have really enjoyed the extracurricular activities at River Bend Middle School. They offer me a break in the regular school day. For instance, the principal, Mr. Lacey, is the faculty sponsor for the model-building club. This has given me an opportunity to know him and other students who share my interest in model building. Other programs such as tech-education have given me opportunities to combine technology and craftsmanship. Mr. Tsildes, my teacher, offers a lot of individual attention.

It is my understanding that the technology education classes cease if the budget is not fully funded. Without classes like these, there would be no opportunities for creativity and self-expression. We need to keep as many of the programs as possible and retain the teachers that we already have. All of my teachers are good at their subjects and care about my progress as a student.

Please consider how to best retain the good teachers that are already employed by the county. They are truly the "architects of students."

Chris Seebeck


Apathy Is a Greater Threat

David Weintraub, in a May 6 letter, "Questioning School's Role" [Loudoun Extra], expresses great disappointment in the local civic and political activities conducted by students of Patrick Henry College. He expresses a fear that these college students desire to "determine public policy for everyone -- according to biblical law" and that their efforts will lead to an "even greater encroachment on our community." I find it ironic indeed that the liberal culture now fears the political activism of college students.

Back when I was in college, I remember reading a newspaper clipping my father sent me about a group of University of Michigan students who not only decided that political activism was a good idea but were able to secure the election of a working majority of the Ann Arbor City Council comprised of their own. To the Left, this event was one of the great flowering achievements of American representative democracy.

Despite the fact that my World War II veteran father expressed his strong belief that this Ann Arbor election was the harbinger of some bad times for our nation, I thought that this election was evidence of some good political health in Michigan. While I did not agree with the political stands made by these successful students, this election seemed to provide proof that the lessons of Horatio Alger also work in politics.

Weintraub should not fear the tasteful and honest activism demonstrated by Patrick Henry students in Loudoun political affairs. Apathy is a far greater threat to what he holds dear than is activism.

J. Randall Minchew


The author is chairman of the Loudoun County Republican Party

In Bucks We Trust

In response to "Loudoun Supervisor Alleges Staff Bias" [Metro, April 25]:

I've got a list right here

(Just call me "Paul Revere"),

It shows who's living far and near

I've also got a little test

To show who's living east or west

East is best (you know the rest)

The list and test are not so nice,

But supervision has its price

Just get on board, that's my advice

Revere is really not my name.

When someone asks, "Have you no shame?"

I must admit I'm pretty lame

And yet my cause is good and just:

To pave the county is a must.

So, westward, ho! In bucks we trust!

David Stewart


Staff Should Be Heard

After having served for more than 34 years in public service as a professional finance officer for Loudoun County (now retired) and as a citizen and taxpayer (active), I am truly appalled at the recent conduct of our county's so-called elected leadership. The majority of the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors seem out of control and out of touch with reality.

To treat the county's professional staff in the manner recently witnessed is a disgrace to what was once the county's fine reputation of professionalism in the face of unprecedented growth and service demands.

It is certainly the board's prerogative to amend policies, but quite another to ignore the advice of the county staff just because one thinks they "live on the wrong side of the street." Politicians can't always have the answer they want to hear, but they must listen to the professional advice without bias, weigh that advice against their constituents' desires and then formulate a recommendation for policy consideration. You do not threaten to fire staff just because they don't speak your specific party line.

How can I, as a voting citizen and taxpayer, trust a board, either collectively or individually, that will smear staff reputations when the professionals won't say what the board majority wants to hear?

M.E. "Mickey" Poole,

Retired Director

of Financial Services


We're in This Together

According to Andy Pitas ["East vs. West," Letters to the Editor, Loudoun Extra, May 2], "many of the people in the western part of the county live in a world of their own." We also apparently "couldn't care less" about traffic in the eastern county.

Pitas needs to define for me this "world of my own" that I live in. Does he believe that all of us who reside west of Route 15 live carefree lives of leisure, ignorant of the "real world"? Yes, there are a number of wealthy landed gentry types, but the large majority of us get up and go to work each day, and many of us suffer through ever-increasing traffic on our way to our Fairfax or farther job locations (my commute is 30 miles each way).

I care very much about the traffic volume, as my commuting time increases over the years. It is ill-conceived ideas such as opening the entire "transition zone" to water and sewer, which is surely a preliminary move by the six Republican supervisors toward high-density residential development, which will make the traffic unbearable.

Regarding the planning personnel: Are we to develop a quota system whereby county agencies must staff based on residency, so as to preclude bias? Do you have to disclose political preference? Do you get fired if you move from east to west?

Despite this east-west divide attitude that appears to be pervasive, enhanced by certain members of the Board of Supervisors, we are all in this together. Everyone's taxes go up and roads choke across the board. Stated for the millionth time (it still doesn't seem to get through), it is runaway residential development that is causing our taxes to skyrocket (have you seen your recent bill?) and clogs the roads. What is good for all the citizens of the county is responsible growth and housing density based on developers' fair-share funding of adequate facilities and available commuting routes.

Richard Palmer

Round Hill

It's All About Money

This letter is in response to Jan A. Zachariasse's letter to the editor ["A Healthy Choice," Loudoun Extra, May 13]. Most of the residents of Loudoun couldn't agree with him more.

The reason for the "preventive measures" is simple: money. After doing some research, it seems that the people with the vested interest in making sure we only have one hospital are the business owners here in Loudoun. If you look at the Loudoun Hospital Center board members, you will find that some are, and have been for many years, owners of some of the businesses such as carwash establishments, gas stations and other enterprises, some located right here in eastern Loudoun County.

Because Loudoun Hospital is a money-making business like any other, they want their money. Think of the profit for these individuals if there is only one hospital (theirs). And of course, these business owners have contributed money to the campaigns of members of the Loudoun Board of Supervisors, who want to keep their paying constituents happy. Once again, it's all about money.

This is the fastest-growing county in the nation (said with glee by the supervisors), and the fact that we only have one hospital in the eastern portion of the county is embarrassing. It's really a shame that a few greedy business owners would keep thousands of residents from having a choice, and a few members of the Board of Supervisors would cave in knowing what's best for the people. Maybe we don't deserve to be the fastest-growing county.

Tracie Fleshman