Fairfax City Delays

Downtown Traffic Change

Fairfax City officials have decided to postpone a traffic pattern change in the downtown area until next summer.

This fall, city officials had planned to change Main and North streets from a pair of one-way streets into a pair of two-way streets.

Postponing that shift will avoid conflict with redevelopment construction, officials said.

"The city still is very committed to the two-way traffic system conversion," Mayor Robert F. Lederer said in a news release. "However, this short delay will give some needed breathing space for other downtown redevelopment projects to get underway without having to logistically compete with the traffic system change."

The city is remaking a section of its downtown, with restaurants, retail shops, residential condominiums and office space. Also planned are a new Fairfax City Regional Library building, a public plaza and open space, as well as underground utility lines and other pedestrian and aesthetic enhancements.

For information, call 703-385-7850 or visit www.fairfaxva.gov.

Dozens of Cars Vandalized

In Falls Church Area

About 30 vehicles were vandalized in the Falls Church area Monday, police said.

At about 1 a.m., residents told police they saw two men puncturing car tires on Monticello Drive and Robert Lane. Officers responded to the scene but were unable to locate the men.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Solvers at 866-411-TIPS (8477) or the county police at 703-691-2131.

Fundraising Success

Inspires Free Show at GMU

George Mason University officials are inviting the Fairfax community to a show Sept. 24 celebrating the end of the school's first major fundraising campaign. The goal of $110 million was exceeded; the final amount is to be announced at the event.

The show, called "Exceeding Expectations," will be at 8:15 p.m. at the Center for the Arts Concert Hall on the Fairfax campus.

The event will be hosted by GMU president Alan G. Merten along with former CNN special correspondent and George Mason professor Frank Sesno. The show will feature a variety of student talent and videos. Dessert and dancing will follow from 9 to 11 p.m.

Tickets are complimentary, but seating is limited and reservations are required. To reserve tickets, visit www.campaigncelebration.gmu.edu or call the Center for the Arts at 703-993-8888.

Parade Fetes McLean

Girls' Softball Champions

A parade honoring the McLean 11- and 12-year-old girls' softball team, which recently won the Little League Softball World Series, will be held at 9 a.m. Saturday.

The parade will begin at Dolley Madison Boulevard and Chain Bridge Road and proceed south on Chain Bridge Road to Elm Street.

Supervisor Joan M. DuBois (R-Dranesville), state Del. Vincent F. Callahan Jr. (R-Fairfax) and state Sen. Janet D. Howell (D-Fairfax) are scheduled to join local schools and community groups in the event.

Safeway Inc. has donated special corsages for the girls to wear during the parade. The Greater McLean Chamber of Commerce will fly balloons, and local merchants will place congratulatory signs in storefronts lining the parade route.

The team is also to appear at professional sporting events, before the Board of Supervisors and the General Assembly, and at the White House.

Free Fares to Mark

Bus System's Birthday

Fairfax City's CUE bus system will offer free rides Sept. 25 to celebrate its 25th anniversary, city officials said.

CUE began in 1980 as a joint venture between the city and George Mason University to transport students from GMU's main campus at Route 123 and Braddock Road to its north campus, which is now Paul VI High School on Fairfax Boulevard.

A year later, a capital grant helped fund the system, which kept its routes until 1986, when the Vienna Metro station opened. Many routes now feed the subway station.

CUE riders take a million trips a year on the system.

Forum Hosts Candidates

In 35th, 37th Districts

The Providence District Council will hold a candidate forum for the 35th and 37th Virginia House of Delegates district races from 7 to 9 p.m. Tuesday at Fairhill Elementary School in Fairfax.

The 35th District candidates are incumbent Del. Stephen C. Shannon (D-Fairfax) and James E. Hyland (R). The 37th District candidates are David L. Bulova (D), John Mason (R), Scott McPherson (Libertarian) and Haugh (I). The League of Women Voters will moderate the forum.

The school is at 3001 Chichester Lane. For information, call 703-698-0932.

Dulles Plane Pull,

Festival Set for Oct. 1

The annual plane pull and Dulles Day Family Festival will be held Oct. 1 at Dulles International Airport.

The annual airplane pulling competition raises money for Special Olympics Virginia. Other activities include live music, a car show, a kids' bus pull, games and food.

The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority's police department sponsors the event, in teams of 20 people pull a 150,000-pound plane supplied by FedEx in a timed competition. Teams donate $1,000 each to Special Olympics Virginia.

Hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission and parking are free. For information, call 703-359-4301 or visit www.planepull.com.

Hemlock Overlook Center

Marks 20-Year Partnership

George Mason University and the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority recently marked a 20-year partnership as joint operators of Hemlock Overlook Center for Outdoor Education in Clifton.

The center provides opportunities for people of all ages to participate in experimental outdoor activities and programs through team development courses and environmental education.

Hemlock offers cabins that can accommodate 96 guests and up to 10 resident staff members, a main lodge and dining hall, central shower facility, hiking and equestrian trails, and two permanent orienteering courses, in addition to the low and high ropes challenge course that features more than 70 elements.

Approximately 450,000 people have benefited from programs at Hemlock, officials said.

The center, at 13220 Yates Ford Rd., is open six days a week throughout the year. For more information, call 703-359-4603 or visit www.nvrpa.org/hemlock.html.

Donate Used Computers,

Bicycles at Edison High

The county's solid waste management program and the school system will hold a computer and bicycle recycling event from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at Edison High School in the Alexandria section.

Computers and related office equipment will be collected by ServiceSource, a local nonprofit agency that employs people with disabilities. Most computer equipment will be accepted at no cost; there will be a $10 fee for each computer monitor.

Used bicycles will be collected by Bikes for the World, a local nonprofit group that repairs the bikes and ships them to developing countries. Bikes must be in repairable condition. A $10 donation will be collected for each bicycle to help defray the cost of shipping them overseas.

Sponsors include ServiceSource, Bikes for the World, Northrop Grumman Corp., Computer Donation Management Inc., Potomac Disposal Services and Washington Mutual Inc.

The school is at 5801 Franconia Rd. For information, call 703-324-5230 or visit www.fairfaxcounty.gov/dpwes/recycling/edison.htm.

Herndon Festival

Celebrates Nature

NatureFest 2005 will be held from 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday at Runnymede Park in Herndon.

This year's event, including 15 nature stations throughout the 58-acre park, feature topics such as butterflies, bluebirds, bats, streams and watersheds, fossils and snakes, as well as a guided walk through the park's meadow.

There will also be a performance of Good Life Theater's "Tanka Tales," a trio of Native American stories told with puppets and presentations about raptors.

The park is on Herndon Parkway between Elden and Queens Row streets. Free shuttle buses will run from noon until 5:30 p.m. from the parking lot at the Atrium Building, 381 Elden St.

For more information, call 703-435-6800, Ext. 2113, or send an e-mail to friendsoffrp@yahoo.com.

A Day for the Dogs

At Lake Accotink Park

Lake Accotink Park in Springfield will host a day of activities for dogs and their owners to promote responsible pet ownership from noon to 5 p.m. Sunday.

The day will include exhibits, demonstrations, boneyard hunts, canine games, contests and afternoon tour boat rides for dogs and their owners. There will also be a rabies clinic and free health assessments.

Admission is free; there is a fee for the boat rides. The event will be held rain or shine. Dogs are welcome but must be on a leash. For more information, call 703-569-0285.

Mount Vernon Area Lunch

Explores Citizen Input

The next in a series of community lunches in southern Fairfax County will be held at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday at the Mount Vernon Community Mental Health Center in the Alexandria section.

Alfonso Lopez and others from Alcalde & Fay, a government and public affairs consulting firm, will provide information about communicating and working with elected officials on local issues.

The meeting will explore the process for community input on human services issues and needs. There will be a question-and-answer period following the presentation.

The program is sponsored by the Mount Vernon Community Mental Health Center Advisory Board and Region 1 of the county Department of Systems Management for Human Services.

Admission is free. The health center is at 8119 Holland Rd. For information, call 703-339-5161 or send an e-mail to Linda.patterson@fairfaxcounty.gov.

Moran Invites Constituents

To Coffee, Hispanic Event

U.S. Rep. James P. Moran Jr. (D-Virginia) is hosting two local events this weekend.

* On Saturday, Moran will sponsor a coffee and open discussion of federal issues in Reston. The event, from noon to 2 p.m., is targeted to Moran's Reston constituents. It will be at the Lake Anne Coffee House, 1612 Washington Plaza.

* On Sunday, Moran will hold a Hispanic Heritage Day, an attempt to bring together Northern Virginia's Hispanic community. The event, from 2:30 to 6:30 p.m., will include presentations on buying a home, obtaining citizenship, and local education and health care opportunities. There will be music and food. The event is at the Cora Kelly Recreation Center, 25 W. Reed Ave. in the city of Alexandria.

Some Drop DARE,

But Not Falls Church

The city of Falls Church is one of only three jurisdictions in Northern Virginia that still offer the DARE program, following a recent decision by the Prince William County Police Department to replace the national initiative to dissuade students from using drugs and alcohol with its own curriculum.

Prince William police said they found that DARE, which stands for Drug and Alcohol Resistance Education, had an inflexible curriculum and no longer worked with Prince William's changing demographics, said County Executive Craig S. Gerhart.

Loudoun County and Manassas Park are the other jurisdictions offering the program.

Gerhart said that what worked in 1987, when the county adopted the DARE program, did not fit with the proliferation of gangs and Internet crimes in recent years.

Other communities across the region and country also have shelved DARE, which was deemed ineffective in a 2003 report by what is now the Government Accountability Office. The congressional agency found that substance abuse did not differ between students who were exposed to DARE in the fifth or sixth grades and those who were not.

Senior Trooper Gene Ayers of the Virginia State Police, the state DARE coordinator, said the GAO report was unfair because it was based on surveys from 1994.

Mount Vernon Ceremony

Honors Work of Slaves

Mount Vernon and Black Women United for Action are commemorating the slaves who lived and worked at George Washington's estate at 11 a.m. Sept. 24 with a wreath-laying ceremony and music.

The musical groups include the Howard University Choir and the Intermezzo Choir of Philadelphia. The annual event features dramatic readings and uplifting music to recognize the slaves for their contributions in the nation's early years.

According to a news release, the ceremony will mark a common thread that descendants from Africa share by focusing on the island connection. The Caribbean Islands played a large role in the slave trade because Africans were taken to America through the islands.