Supervisors to Weigh
Cigarette Tax Increase
The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors has set Aug. 2 for a public hearing on whether to raise the county cigarette tax from a nickel a pack to 20 cents a pack beginning Sept. 1, and to 30 cents a pack next July 1. The increases would be in addition to cigarette tax hikes approved by the General Assembly this year. The state tax is set to go from 2.5 cents a pack to 20 cents a pack this year and to 30 cents a pack next year.
If the supervisors approve the county increase, Fairfax will follow Arlington's lead.
On Saturday, the Arlington County Board approved the same increases. Fairfax and Arlington are the only two counties that state law allows to levy their own cigarette tax.
The 20-cent-a-pack fee would bring in an estimated $5.8 million a year on top of the $1.9 million the county now collects. A 30-cent-a-pack tax would generate an estimated $11.5 million a year, officials said.
The hearing is at 5 p.m. in the board chambers, 12000 Government Center Pkwy.
'Pocket Bike' Safety
Could Spur Proposal
County officials will consider urging the General Assembly to enact legislation on requirements for mopeds and motorized scooters, also known as "pocket bikes."
Board Chairman Gerald E. Connolly (D) asked the county supervisors at Monday's meeting to discuss the need for new laws with the board's legislative committee when it meets later this year. If the committee agrees, a proposal would be presented to the county's state delegation.
Connolly noted that existing law prohibits children younger than 16 from operating pocket bikes on public roads but that many parents are unaware of this law. Some county children operate these bikes at speeds over 20 mph, he said.
The police department is developing a brochure explaining the law so that stores selling mopeds and scooters, as well as parents and police officers, will be aware of restrictions on their use, Connolly said.
"Unfortunately the police must deal with a myriad of often confusing and overlapping codes when addressing these issues," Connolly said. "We need legislation that is up to date, clear, consistent and easily understood by buyers, dealers and the police."
Land Purchases Link
Parks, County Trail
The county Park Authority recently bought three parcels of vacant Accotink Stream Valley land totaling 31.74 acres from the Milton Co.
Two parcels are in the Mason District, north of Little River Turnpike and immediately west of the Capital Beltway, park officials said. Those account for 26.85 acres.
The two parcels link other park properties and provide a link in the 34-mile Cross-County Trail that will eventually connect the northern and southern ends of the county for non-motorized travel in all nine county supervisors' districts.
The third, 4.89 acre-parcel is in the Springfield District between Hooes Road and the Franconia-Springfield Parkway. It consists of two split pieces that were part of the Hunter Village subdivision. West of that is a 35-acre parcel of county-owned surplus land.
The purchase price for the three properties was $138,205, funded through the 2002 park bond.
The Park Authority currently owns approximately 22,964 acres throughout Fairfax.
Falls Church Approves
Tougher DWI Laws
The Falls Church City Council has approved a measure allowing new, tougher state laws on driving while intoxicated to go into effect.
The council had to approve the amendments before they could take effect July 1.
While the laws are most stringent on repeat offenders and extremely drunk drivers, they also increase the likelihood that first-time drunk drivers will go to jail because of new limits on blood alcohol content.
For more information, city officials said, contact the Falls Church Police Department at 703-241-5052.
Moran Sets Forum
On Seniors' Concerns
U.S. Rep. James P. Moran Jr. (D-Va.) has scheduled his annual forum on senior issues from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Monday at Edison High School.
Moran will present an overview of the new Medicare law. There will also be a presentation on the Library of Congress Veterans History Project, a workshop on the prescription drug discount card and exhibits by local senior service organizations.
The school is at 5801 Franconia Rd. in the Alexandria section of the county. For more information, call 703-971-4700.
Spend a Day on Mars,
Here at Space Annex
The National Air and Space Museum will celebrate Mars Day tomorrow with a variety of activities at the new Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly.
Visitors will have a chance to maneuver a rover through a "Mars Yard" terrain and get 3-D views of the planet's surface.
Mars Day is held annually to mark the July 1976 landing of Viking.
The annex is open from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Admission is free, but there is a $12 fee for parking at the center. Shuttle bus service runs between the museum on the Mall in Washington and Udvar-Hazy, with a round-trip ticket costing $7.
For more information, call 202-633-1000.
W&OD Trail to Mark
The Washington & Old Dominion Railroad Regional Park trail will celebrate its 30th anniversary from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. July 24 at trail mile marker 39 in Paeonian Springs, Loudoun County.
There will be live country music by the Brandy Stills Band, beverages, a trail history video and slide presentations, safety programs, prizes, an inflatable slide and an obstacle course. In addition, bicycle, skate and outdoor equipment stores will display and explain new gear and technologies.
Those attending the free celebration are encouraged to walk or bicycle from other areas of the W&OD trail to the celebration site, which has no parking area for cars.
The 100-foot wide, 45-mile trail is one of 19 regional parks owned and operated by the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority. For more information, call 703-729-0596 or visit www.wodfriends.org or www.nvrpa.org.
The Gooney Bird
The Reston Community Center is inviting budding naturalists ages 3 to 5 and their parents to learn about the annual gooney bird migration at a July 22 program.
The event will be from 10 to 11:30 a.m. at the Temporary Road Pavilion at Temporary Road and North Shore Drive.
Puppeteer and gooney bird expert Judy Brown will teach youngsters about the birds' habits and habitat. She also will show kids how to make gooney bird marionettes to take home.
The cost is $24 for those who live or work in Reston, $36 for others.
Registration is required. For more information, call 703-476-8617 or visit www.restoncommunitycenter.org.
-- Compiled by DIANE MATTINGLY and STEPHEN C. FEHR