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Lorton Valley Star Newspaper of Lorton Virginia
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Lorton Valley Star Newspaper
monthly and on the web

Covering the greater Lorton, VA area from Fairfax /Franconia Parkway to Prince William Parkway.

Contact Information:

Floyd Harrison,
Publisher, Editor-in-Chief
Lorton Valley Star Communications, LLC

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for press releases about Lorton or advertising inquiry

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Print deadline is 20th

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Lorton Valley Star
P.O. Box 1436
Lorton Valley, VA 22199

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© 2005 Floyd Harrison T/A
Lorton Valley Star Comm.
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Yogi Wins Again

Simple Changes Therapeutic Riding Center is proud to announce that Yogi has once again been named Horse of the Year by the Therapeutic Riding Association of Virginia (TRAV) at their annual, two-day horse show in Lexington, VA. Yogi achieved the unprecedented feat of winning Horse of the Year two years in a row.

The show draws riders from therapeutic riding centers throughout the state. “The judges overwhelmingly chose Yogi for his temperament and versatility,” said Lynda McGarry, President of TRAV. “He competed in equitation, dressage and trail classes and safely carried both independent riders and those needing assistance with ease and style.”

“Simple Changes is an outstanding program that progresses its riders. Each year at the show I see their riders competing in increasingly difficult classes,” said McGarry. “This year Simple Changes riders won both Champion and Reserve Champion in the walk, trot, canter division – quite an accomplishment!”

McGarry continued: “This program is one of the best run centers I have seen over the years. Every horse is in excellent shape – well conditioned as evidenced by the fact that they show both days in several classes with different riders and display no signs of irritability or stress. Simple Changes instructors and volunteers are professional, extremely knowledgeable, and Share have a genuine desire to help their riders be the best they can be.”

Simple Changes is a nonprofit organization that provides equine assisted activities to over 50 riders with physical, cognitive and emotional challenges. Simple Changes operates primarily on Bureau of Land Management public lands in Lorton, VA, and has a satellite location in Catlett, VA. Simple Changes is a PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center and a member center of TRAV.

Simple Changes thrives because of community participation. To learn how to get involved and to support our riders and horses please visit

TRAV is a nonprofit organization formed to foster equine assisted activities by offering educational and networking opportunities to operating centers and to raise public awareness of the benefits of these activities to individuals with disabilities. For more information on TRAV, go to

Story provided by Simple Changes Therapeutic Riding Center, Mason Neck, Lorton, VA

Warm Coat Outreach

Ever wonder what LCAC’s Warm Coat Outeach looks like? This picture is a great indication of the generosity of our community! Last year we received more than 1,500 coats. We were able to provide coats to LCAC families AND share coats with New Hope Housing, Rising Hope UMC, ALIVE and UCM (all local non-profits who did not have enough coats). We hope the community will be generous again this year, as we have many families in need. Want to learn how you can help? Go to our website for more information! Thanks to Warm Coat Outreach Coordinators, Lynn Swogger, Marilyn Mutchler and Kay Corey! Sunday, December 6 - Warm Coat Outreach drop off, 12:00-2:30 pm, Moose Family Center.

Lorton Crisis Pregnancy Center Needs Community Envolvement

Autumn Williams is the founder of a crisis pregnancy center to be headquartered in Lorton. The name of the service is the Two Percent Project.

There are others in Northern Virginia but she plans this to be a specialty in the 14-22 age range. It will be uniquely inclusive in providing more support and career guidance for the ladies so that they can better provide for their babies. She will also provide support for miscarriage and abortions. She wants the girls to be willing to come.

She just held a successful kick-off event in Lorton at the end of October. It was a huge benefit yard sale, with Moon bounce, DJ and more. They raised hundreds with 15 volunteers.

Future Services will include: Free pregnancy tests; STD Testing; Limited Ultrasounds; Parenting Education; Sexual Education; Counseling; Education Resources; Baby items (Earn while you learn program); Mentoring (Boys and Girls); Education resources (outsource to third parties…ex. Generation Hope) Services referrals and information; Education on Abortion Procedures; Post Abortion Counseling.

The Two Percent Project will be holding an interest meeting for anyone who would like to be apart of this project for the long haul November 30 at the Lorton Library. They are accepting donations to support development costs. Autumn was a teen mom but she managed a Bachelor of Science degree in Healthcare Administration.

There are several ways that you could be involved. Needed are: Board members, Crisis Counselors, Receptionists, Mommy and Daddy mentors / advocates, Licensed Medical Professional, Volunteers, Community Leader, Fundraising Committee Members / Event Planners

Turn in your receipts from Glory Days to during December and 10% will be donated. There will be a collection box for receipts at the door.

From the brochure, only 40 percent of teen mothers finish high school and fewer than 2% finish college. Of course, it’s just getting started and they are not seeing clients yet. Lorton Valley Star hopes that no one will have a pregnancy that they call a crisis but, it will happen and next year Autumn and the Two Percent Project will be a family waiting.

HackDC Results for Vets

by Raytevia Evans Public Information Officer, NOVA

One in three returning troops are being diagnosed with PTSD, but less than 40 percent will seek help, according to the PTSD Foundation of America. In an effort to help those suffering from PTSD, the recent HackDC 2015 brought together clinicians, veterans, computer science students and technology experts. During the three-day hackathon, one of NOVA’s own students, Brian Burack, worked with his teammates to develop myBivy, a mobile app that can be used on a smart watch to help monitor a veteran’s sleep patterns and track data about whether the veteran has night terrors or exhibits any other symptoms of PTSD while resting. With the data generated by myBivy, clinicians can use the information to treat veterans. The goal is to decrease the frequency of night terrors and other PTSD symptoms. As a result, Burack and team “The Cure” won Best Mobile App for Clinicians. The team continues to work together in hopes of improving the app and making it market-ready in an attempt to provide a service to our nation’s heroes and their families. Find the press release about HackDC 2015 and Burack and his team’s recent success on NOVA’s official website, and feel free to contact me for interview requests or more information.



Mason Neck Senior Makes Olympic Waves

Kevin Culhane recently competed in the Northern Virginia Senior Olympics held the last weeks of September in in three swimming events in the 65 to 70 age group and won them all with some being SO records. The results can be found on their web site (NVSO) under swimming - 50yd Freestyle, 50 yd Backstroke and 50 yd Breaststroke in the age group mentioned above. The competitors are listed by the area they live in. He says: “It is a great event that requires folks to be 50 yrs and older. Nice large gold medals also.” Kevin is a 30+ year resident of Hollowing Point, Lorton.

Lorton Classic Bar J Chili Parlor to Return

By Floyd Harrison, Publisher

Do you remember the Bar J Chili Parlor in Lorton? Later there was one in Engleside and one in Woodbridge. Well, Kathy Anderson, together with her son, is bringing it back. The Bar-J is a piece of Lorton History, a Tex-Mex classic started by John Anderson. Retirement is not good enough for Kathy. Like her dad, cooking is in her blood. She’s put a fund-me page up for some new equipment to get it going for the Holiday season while the space is being renovated for this purpose. It’s here: The community of long timers, have fond memories of the Bar J by Booth Feeds before the treatment plant was built. Moving that was some more unnecessary County opression. It was packed for lunch every weekday and weekend evenings. People came from miles. It will be good, with the economy tearing down our history, to get a classic piece of Lorton local color back. When they won the D.C.’s Best chili cook-off in the 1984, they were put on the larger area map. They are bringing back the original menu with some flavorful decor. Remember their Texas chili, Cincinnati chili, fajitas, Mexican ‘hot’ burrito, pork burrito, pollo loco and sopapillas? The location is to be 125 Mill Street: the River Walk building in Occoquan and it will take up the whole ground floor where the De Rubeen’s Deli used to be. The Bar J Tex-Mex chili parlor is so different from anything around Occoquan. They will bring new traffic to town. Next summer, they will add an outdoor dining patio. Lorton Valley Star reviewed Kathy’s Bar J at Engleside in October 2001 after the Lorton location had to move.

BLM Includes Gunston School in Public Lands Day

By Lion Joe Chudzik

Bureau of Land Management – Eastern States organized the 2015 National Public Lands Day event held last month at Gunston Elementary School. The focus for this year’s event is on volunteers and youth. Several projects were prepared for the volunteers; Constructing an outdoor classroom for environmental education; Maintaining and spreading stone dust material on the Eagle Trail; Assembling picnic tables; and renovating a raised-bed garden in the atrium of Gunston Elementary School. Boy Scout Troop 155 from Ft. Belvoir turned out 35 strong, scouts, leaders and advisors. The Gunston PTA and school students were well represented. Mason Neck Lions Clubs food service volunteers provided a lunch choice of Hamburgers or hot dogs with snack packets of chips, Oreos and cheese crackers. The Lions served 160 hungry volunteers. BLM State Director John Ruhs, Lower Potomac Field Station Manager Zachary Reichold, John Beck and other BLM officials gave brief remarks to kick-off the program. BLM has supported a partnership with Gunston Elementary School and provided grants to the school for environmental education projects.


Staff Spotlight - Linda Patterson

Growing up on a farm made Linda Patterson one of the original free range kids. “My dad was a thoroughbred horse trainer, so we always had horses, dogs and cats.” Linda is one of four girls-sandwiched between 2 older and one younger sister. When it was time to attend college, Linda chose the University of Maryland.

Linda attended Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, DC where she met her husband, James. They welcomed Hannah 2 years after they married and Josh followed 2.5 years later.

Linda saw a job listing back in 1999 for LCAC’s Food Program Manager. “I felt moved to apply and knew this was the place for me.” Linda started at LCAC in September 1999 and served until May 2006. … Linda returned to LCAC in 2011 as Executive Director.

Linda put into perspective how LCAC has grown in the years she has been here: “In 1999, clients made appointments for food and we scheduled them every 15 minutes. The first Back 2 School outreach served 50 clients and my first Thanksgiving we helped 65 families.” When you compared those numbers to today-240+ families weekly for food, 621 students for Back 2 School and 500+ families for Thanksgiving, you can see the way LCAC has scaled operations through the years.

Linda has this perspective on volunteers, which are integral to achieving LCAC’s mission. “Anybody who wants to help their community has a place to be involved at LCAC. From shelving food in the pantry to working in Lorton’s Attic to having a fundraising event to participating in Complete the Circle, everyone has a way to help. What I strive for is finding the right volunteers with the right specialty skills to serve our families. I would love to have more volunteers to meets needs we aren’t currently meeting.”

In Linda’s spare time, she loves to read and sit on the porch of her family’s cabin and listen to the silence. Next time you stop by the LCAC office, take a moment to meet Linda and hear about her vision for the organization.

Volunteer Spotlight - Charlene Howard

You don’t have to spend much time with Charlene before you are struck by her keen smile and infectious laugh. During her time at LCAC, Charlene has volunteered over 2,000 hours! That’s the equivalent of one year of full-time employment.

It all started several years ago when Charlene’s now-deceased husband Perry was a volunteer in the LCAC food pantry. “Perry told me I had to start volunteering at LCAC because I needed something else to do!” Since then, Charlene has volunteered in Lorton’s Attic, the LCAC Thrift Store.

When asked what everyone should know about LCAC, Charlene responded “I think people would be impressed to know about all of the programs and services LCAC provides for the community.”

In Charlene’s spare time, she enjoys spending time with her two teenage granddaughters. The next time you are in Lorton’s Attic on a Friday, make sure you meet Charlene.

If you are now inspired to get more involved at LCAC, please check out our current volunteer opportunities or contact Kathy Noone, LCAC’s Director of Volunteers, at or 703-339-5161, ext. 170.

Terrace Townhomes Outreach

Terrace Townhomes of Gunston is having a Community outreach event that is including the Fairfax Count Police, Sheriffs Dept and State Police. October 24, 12-4pm. The Mason Neck Lions will be there to help with the project and if needed cook the hotdogs for the event. It will be either in the TTG community center (poor weather) or in the field behind. They hope to have a helicopter land in that field or the field behind the library for the event. For more details, contact Patti Jo Bernizzani, manager TTG, at 703-339-7577.

Volunteering Close to Home

We are repeatedly getting appeals from Fairfax County to post volunteer needs all over the County. Doesn’t every community have it’s own needs and those who can help? The County is huge and why should Lorton be called out of place to serve a whole large County such as Fairfax, more than 30 miles across, when we have organizations here which need volunteers. Why drive 10 miles or more when the need is closer than 5 miles?

The reason might be that a potential volunteer might find a more interesting match outside of 10 miles or it might be that the larger drive just keeps paid positions for County volunteer directors. Whichever let’s try to keep our miles and our trade dollars within Lorton for the mutual benefit of our citizens, and our merchants. This is a founding goal of Lorton Valley Star beside erasing the stigma for the former D.C. Correctional Facility. To this end we invite service organizations and other charitable non-profit organizations in our coverage area to post their volunteer needs with us and we’ll share that through our channels. Are you listed on our Lorton.Net Charities Catalog? E-mail us the information to fill in our Charities Catalog table page including your ongoing needs. Member organizations tend to use their own members. Other .orgs however, need outside help to operate their activites. We already have updates for a couple of local organizations; see Lorton Community Action Center and Simple Changes Therapeutic Riding. You can find a demonstration video for Simple Changes on our Lorton Valley Star web site videos page.

Otherwise, there are a great many walks, marches, runs, rides and contests which are fund raisers which are not in our area and so they miss the attention of Lorton residents. An out-going indiviual could organize a local event complementing their own interest. Are you interested in history? Various organizations such Gunston Hall, Pohick Church and other historic site use volunteer docents. There are many ways to help inside of five or ten miles where you’ll save gas and keep dollars inside of the Lorton Community. Look for them before you sign on with the County.

Here is our Charities Catalog:

Lorton Volunteer Opportunities:

Lorton Communty Action Center Proiding: Food assistance, emergency financial assistance, ESL, tutoring, after school programs, thrift store, furniture pickup, tax program, computer classes

Current volunteer needs:

thrift store furniture pickup thrift store weekend volunteering pantry – USDA one Saturday a month various food donation pickup opportunities daytime administrative Upcoming needs:

Thanksgiving Outreach - November Circle of Giving – November Warm Coat Outreach - December Christmas Outreach - December

Anyone interested in volunteering should visit the website: or send an email to: Kathleen A. Noone Director of Volunteers Physical Address: 9518 Richmond Hwy (behind Lorton Library), Phone: 703 339-5161, ext. 170

Simple Changes Therapeutic Riding

Equine assisted activities for individuals with disabilities.

Facility address is: 10406 Gunston Road Lorton, VA 22079


Ongoing Volunteer Needs:

Horse Leaders, Side Walkers, Grooming, Cleaning, Pony Ride, Silent Auction, Fun Show, Trail Ride

Community Volunteer Projects Supported by Mason Neck Lions

The Mason Neck Lions Club could play an important role in organizing and supporting specific projects. The Mason Neck Lions Club would provide the usual project support for participating volunteers: Clean-up supplies (trash bags & gloves) bottled water & soft drinks; DCR Certificates of Appreciation. Dates, except those in parenthesis are flexible and can be scheduled as needed to avoid conflict with other Mason Neck Lions Club activities. The Mason Neck Lions Activities chairman suggests the following projects:

1. Litter Clean-up at the Lower Potomac Fields Park in Lorton. In partnership with Hagel Circle, Shepherds Hill and Williamsburg Square communities.

2. Litter Clean-up at the Lorton Regional Library, Fairfax County Park, and LCAC Office grounds. In partnership with Hagel Circle Community.

3. Litter Clean-up at the West Mason Neck Park on Old Colchester Road in partnership with the Harbor View community.

4. Stream Clean-up at Pohick Creek - Richmond Highway to Lorton Road. In partnership with the Williamsburg Square Community.

5. Tree Planting Projects supported by Fairfax ReLeaf – October/November (sites to be determined).

6. Stream Clean-up at Pohick Creek (Richmond Highway to Old Colchester Road) in partnership with the Noman M. Cole Jr. Pollution Control Plant.

7. Stream Clean-up at Giles Run Creek on Mason Neck in partnership with BLM Meadowood Recreation Area and Friends of Meadowood.

8. Adopt-a-Highway Clean-up at Old Colchester Road (November 14). In partnership with NMCPCP and MNCA.

9. 2015 National Public Lands Day at Gunston Elementary School – (September 26) – various projects on Meadowood Recreation Area sponsored by BLM and supported by Mason Neck Lions Club. 10. Gardening/Landscaping Project at Lorton Regional Library – October

10. We will need all of the volunteer help that we can get for these outside activities. Let me know if you have a question or need additional information from me, Lion Joe Chudzik (703) 339-1686.

The Jane Gooddall Institute Comes to Meadowood Stables

Courtesy: Kristin Mosher

On a bright Spring day this year staff members of the world-renowned Jane Goodall Institute utilized the setting of Meadowood Stables as the back drop to their corporate retreat day. Known initially for her ground breaking work with chimpanzees in Tanzania and her devotion to saving them, the Jane Goodall institute works tirelessly to promote the health and well being of all living things through advocacy, education, conservation and partnership. The JGI’s work now touches the far corners of the globe. The daylong event was designed so the staff could enjoy working on JGI business in an relaxing, natural and stress free environment while also learning some new skills and problem solving techniques from some of Meadowood’s finest horses.

“Horses are herd animals and express a very specific dynamic when it comes to interacting with each other. Respect, strength, grace, dominance, patience are characteristics you can see daily in equine behavior. Learning how to interact with the horses helped our team better understand how to create positive interactions in the fast paced, high pressure environment of JGI. . Humans can learn about working together from just watching them”, says Anna Gibson, Vice President of JGI and a horse owner herself.

Incorporating horses into the day was one of the allures of having the retreat at Meadowood Stables. Horses were literally the canvas during a part of the program. Staff members broke out into small groups and painted their vision of JGI’s ongoing work on the sides of three of white horses. The horses grazed happily while the groups using kid safe washable paint drew and then explained their vision to each other. Bureau of Land Management and Field Station Manager of Meadowood Zach Reichold judged the interpretations and presented fun awards to each group.

Later in the day the groups broke out again and this time worked directly with horses, learning a few elementary concepts of horse interaction that are seen daily within the herd. These concepts were then related to life within an office environment and working with coworkers. “I didn’t realize that horses were so animated and each had their own personality. It was a fun experience” said Nury Marquez, a Senior Director at JGI.

Meadowood Stables is located on Bureau of Land Management property in Lorton, and is run in part by Allison Mills, CAS Company Mangement LLC. For more information call 703-339-5813 or see the website at


Informal Writers Group at Coffee House of Occoquan

The Occoquan, Woodbridge and Lorton Writers’ group meets at the Coffee House of Occoquan on Saturday’s monthly. The group was founded to bring together anyone who has a serious interest in writing fiction or nonfiction: authors, poets, freelance journalists, bloggers, lyricists and other ‘storytellers’ – word-crafters in general in the OWL area for networking, sharing knowledge and experience, and mutual support. Please RSVP if you are interested in coming to the next meeting. Contact Lewis at Meetings are growing and have about eight in attendance.

Mason Neck Trail Project - Status Report

By Joe Chudzik

The final design for the 9,900 LF of 8’ asphalt trail (Section 2B) along Gunston Road between Pohick Bay Drive and the entrance to Pohick Bay Golf Course has been completed. Fairfax County DPW&E has forwarded the construction bid package to VDOT for review and comment. Bids are scheduled to be opened in January 2015. Construction award is expected in March 2015. Estimated completion date is May 2016. Initial funding of $35,000 for the Mason Neck Trail was obtained in 1995., Now, as this $2 Million and seemingly interminable project approaches its 20th anniversary. Congratulations, or something!

NVCC President Templin Jr. Retiring

Robert G. Templin Jr., president of Northern Virginia Community College since 2002, announced his intention to retire in February.

“My time at NOVA has been the highlight of my career,” Templin said. “NOVA is one of the very top colleges in the country for creating higher education opportunities and producing outstanding graduates.”

Under Templin’s leadership, the College achieved numerous milestones. Templin assumed the presidency during an economic downturn when state funding was shrinking. Rather than turn away students, Templin employed a counterintuitive strategy to increase revenues by serving more students. Today, enrollments are up by 18,000 and revenues have increased by $150 million annually. To accommodate the growth, Templin opened three new centers and began major capital projects totaling nearly 1 million square feet of classroom and laboratory space.

NOVA increased the number of graduates by 120 percent to over 6,000 graduates annually. T

he value of pursuing career training has been enhanced. NOVA graduates with technical associate degrees earn a median salary of $43,000 annually 18 months after graduation, the highest in Virginia.

NOVA spearheaded a regional initiative with 10 hospitals and five universities to double the number of registered nurses and increase by 50 percent the allied health professional and technical graduates in Northern Virginia within five years.

Prior to his appointment at NOVA, Templin was the president of Virginia’s Center for Innovative Technology, an organization that enhances Virginia’s economic competitiveness through technology-based economic development.

After retiring from NOVA, Templin will continue working to improve higher education, developing leadership programs to help prepare the next generation of community college presidents and to develop resources to improve student success across the higher education sector.

Much more could be written about Robert Templin’s contributions to education and the success of NVCC under his leadership if you wanted a book.


Mason Neck Gateway Dedicated

By Lion Joe Chudzik

The Bureau of Land Management dedicated the Mason Neck Gateway Information Kiosk in a ribbon cutting ceremony on November 1st. The wayside information kiosk is located on Meadowood Recreation Area property adjacent to Gunston Elementary School on Gunston Road. Information panels have been installed in the kiosk by all the park agencies and Gunston Hall providing visitor useful information on recreational and cultural activities available on Mason Neck. The exhibit includes a large map showing all the parks on Mason Neck; motor vehicle parking; pull-through for trailers and recreational vehicles; bicycle rack, lighting; a rain garden and trailhead access to the network of trails on Meadowood Recreation Area. BLM Eastern States Director, John F. Ruhs opened the ceremony welcoming guests and introduced the speakers. Remarks were presented by: Don Briggs, National Park Service Superintendent, Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail; Daffny Pitchford, Refuge Manager, Elizabeth Hartwell Mason Neck National Wildlife Refuge; Scott M. Stroh, III, Executive Director, Gunston Hall; David Stapleton, Assistant Manager, Mason Neck State Park; and Todd Benson, Pohick Bay Regional Park and Golf Course. The Mason Neck Gateway Information Kiosk project was a Transportation Enhancement Program Act (TEA-21) project submitted by the Friends of Meadowood in partnership with BLM. The project was approved and funded in 2007 but was redesigned by the Federal Highways Administration with added features. The project final cost was approximately $369,000. A rain garden was also installed at the site by the Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District. The Mason Neck Lions Club served hot coffee, apple cider and cocoa. The Friends of Mason Neck provided treats and BLM served light snacks. BLM’s Theresa Jefferson awarded prizes to elementary school students who had created drawings of the kiosk project that were displayed at the ribbon cutting.

Garbers Donate Lions Bench

Lions Rich LaVallee and Joe Chudzik installed a Lions park bench at Meadowood Recreation Area on Mason Neck. The bench was purchased by Lions Danny and Diana Garber and was placed along the South Branch Loop Trail near the Old Colchester Road Trailhead as requested by the Garber’s and BLM Field Station Manager Gina Robison.

Best regards, Lion Joe Chudzik


Volunteer Spotlight - Bill Evans

Bill Evans has been quietly working in the LCAC Food Pantry for the last year. Bill prepares bags for distribution, picks up donations at Costco and organizes the shelves to get the pantry ready to serve 1,000+ people each week. Bill is a native of Washington, DC and the youngest of 10 children. After high school, Bill served in the Army for 6 years. He graduated from the University of Maryland with a degree in Marketing. Bill spent his career in security--first in home security and then government security. His church, Sydenstricker United Methodist, is a long-time supporter of LCAC. Bill was intrigued with LCAC especially once he learned about how many military families are served by LCAC. “As a financial supporter and volunteer, I am very proud of how LCAC manages resources. I tell everyone looking for a place to get involved about LCAC.” One of Bill’s neighbors was so impressed after speaking to him that she is a regular LCAC volunteer now! Thank you, Bill, for your service to LCAC.

Blessing of the Animals at Pohick

Little girl holding bunny

By Joe Chudzik

The Feast of Saint Francis of Assisi and the Blessing of the Animals were celebrated at Pohick Episcopal Church on Sunday, October 5th. The Reverend Donald D. Binder, Pastor and Reverend Ruth E. Correll, Assistant Pastor officiated in this wonderful ceremony held in the meadows behind the church. More than forty participants came with their pet dogs, cats, and a bunny rabbit. All sang the beautiful hymn, “All Things Bright and Beautiful” and the popular “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands”, while Heather and Michael “Scot” Seaton provided musical accompaniment on lyre and flute. The animals were all rite-fully blessed with a sprinkling of holy water.

Bureau of Land Management Announces Upcoming Public Meetings for Draft Southeastern States Resource Management Plan (RMP) and Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Southeastern States Field Office announced today the schedule of four (4) public meetings for the Draft Southeastern States Resource Management Plan (RMP) and Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). The meetings have beeen held on the following dates and locations: Please visit at for more information.

As the first land use plan for most of this planning area, the RMP provides comprehensive and consolidated management guidance for future decisions, as well as the basis from which to tier environmental assessments for site-specific proposed actions. The planning area includes the states of Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia. The Draft RMP/EIS addresses BLM-administered lands and Federal mineral estate within the planning area, including 2,991 acres of BLM-administered public land, and 1,023,185 acres of Federal mineral estate.

The Draft RMP/EIS formal public comment period runs through January 31, 2015. The Draft RMP/EIS is available to review and download at A DVD can be provided upon request. To request a DVD, please send an email to or call (601) 977-5413 and provide a mailing address.


Good Old Bird Flies Away

The greater Lorton Community will miss the dedicated charitable life of long time member of the community, Marvin (Shep) Crow who passed away peacefully in his sleep Friday night. He was a member of the South Fairfax Chamber of Commerce and had served as the Lorton Parade Grand Marshall. Shep was 82 years old and a Korean war veteran. He is survived by his wife Louise.


Image of Tundra Swan

The Swans of Mason Neck

By Kimberly Thompson

Winter’s coming, and so are the swans! Don’t miss the opportunity to see and learn about these magnificent birds that are our winter neighbors. Each November, many Tundra Swans complete a migration of over 4,000 miles to spend the winter at Lorton’s own Mason Neck State Park and Elizabeth Hartwell National Wildlife Refuge. Here, protected and relatively undisturbed shallow stretches of Potomac River and marshes offer the swans mild weather and abundant food (including one of the last remaining large stands of wild rice). The Park’s wetlands, forest, open water, and open fields make it ideal for environmental study and wildlife observation. The Friends of Mason Neck State Park are sponsoring several events this winter to celebrate the swans’ return and to support related environmental education and conservation. Among other things, they are planning a Winter Celebration of the Swans for December 7, at 2:00 pm. The Celebration will be held at the Jammes House, a beautiful old home situated far back in the Mason Neck State Park forest, with sweeping views of the Potomac River. In addition, they will be sponsoring children’s swan events at the Park, as well as a special First Day Friends Hike (January 1, 2015) to see the swans. To learn more about these events, check out the Friends’ website ( or stop by the Friends of Mason Neck State Park Facebook page.

Informal Writers Group at Coffee House

Writers Group at Coffee House of Occoquan

The Occoquan, Woodbridge and Lorton Writers’ group meets at the Coffee House of Occoquan on Saturday’s monthly. The group was founded to bring together anyone who has a serious interest in writing fiction or nonfiction: authors, poets, freelance journalists, bloggers, lyricists and other ‘storytellers’ – word-crafters in general in the OWL area for networking, sharing knowledge and experience, and mutual support. Please RSVP if you are interested in coming to the next meeting. Contact Lewis at

Have a Rest on Lions

Lions members on dedicated bench

By Lion Floyd Harrison

The Mason Neck Lions Club is gaining notoriety in the area with it’s industry of manufacturing rugged park benches. A “Lions Walk” was recently dedicated which has seen a number of Mason Neck Lions Club benches placed at Birmingham Green Retirement Home. The creator of the benches is Lion Joe Chudzik who is also the Mason Neck club’s Environmental and Cultural Activites chairman. The legs are molded fiber reinforced cement and the seat and back are stained, and treated 2 x 4 lumber. They are tough and made to last in the weather. They usually have a Lions International logo sign on them but some have dedication plaques. It takes two or three men to deliver and final assemble them. Once they are placed, they’re not moving. Several benches have been placed in Lorton, typically at bus stops. Several of the benches at Birmingham Green in Centerville were purchased by Manassas Lions Clubs. Thanks to Lion Chester Smith of the Manassas Host Lions Club for championing this effort for the benefit of the community. Representatives from the Manassas Host Lions Club; Manassas Lioness Club; Manassas Kiwanis; Inter-Service Club Council of Greater Manassas; Prince William County politicians; staff of Birmingham Green and the media attended a dedication. About fifty people enjoyed the dedication; camaraderie and fine snacks prepared by Birmingham Green. Many guests of the facility also came out to express their thanks to all the Lions for their generous help to Birmingham Green. If your organization would like to purchase a bench, e-mail Lion Joe Chudzick C/O <>,.

Lions Memorial Plate on Bench to Shirley Bandy


Choose Your Cause 5K Run/Walk

Legion Members from Choose your cause run

By Dave Wallace

Five of Post 162’s Legion Family members participated in the Choose Your Cause 5K Run/Walk, which was held at Lake Accotink Park in Springfield, Virginia. This race was organized by Metro Run & Walk and provided an opportunity for non-profit organizations within the local community to raise money for their respective cause. The WTU Program was the cause chosen for Lorton Post 162. It was a beautiful crisp fall morning, Sunday, October 19, and great weather condition for the 100 plus runners that were in attendance, representing 24 separate organizations. The Post 162 Legion Family members who went the distance either running or walking the event included Post 162 Commander Patty Veld; Comrade Lew Montalvo; Auxiliary member Sara Rodney; SAL First Vice Commander Dave Wallace and Junior SAL member Jeremy Wallace. “It was awesome and I would do it again for the WTU Program,” said Commander Veld. The Choose Your Cause 5k Run/Walk main emphasis was on family fun, camaraderie, and celebrating the good works of the benefiting nonprofits. The WTU Program received $10 per runner/walker choosing them, plus a prorated share of the central pool created by runners/walkers wanting to spread their share across all beneficiaries. In addition, there was an opportunity for the registrant to add a donation, 100% of which would be passed through to the beneficiaries. The final tally of money raised for the WTU Program was not available at the time of this article. The Post will announce again in the Spring when they are holding another run so that the Lorton community can join them.


Lois was born in Alexandria, VA on July 15, 1928. She was the youngest child of Elmer C. and Hattie I. Metzger. She was raised in Colchester on the Occoquan River and had many beautiful memories of her childhood and her loving family. By all accounts she was a “Daddy’s girl”. She would fish with her “Poppa”, follow him to the fields and ride in the mule drawn wagon with him including when he took her to school. She did tell about the hobos who would hop off the freight trains traveling the RF&P and how her Mother would give them handouts. Her father grew vegetables, apples, grapes, etc. to feed his family and they kept chickens and other barnyard animals which helped them through those lean years. She attended the Occoquan Elementary School and later Mount Vernon High School. When she graduated she would catch the train on the siding just on the other side of the Route 1 Bridge over the Occoquan River to attend secretarial school in Alexandria. Upon completion of her training she became employed at Fort Belvoir as a secretary and met Otto Swoboda, Sr. who introduced her to his son, Otto. They were married on Veteran’s Day, November 11, 1949. The first baby, Lois Elizabeth, came in January of 1952 followed three years later by David in 1955. Now that the family was growing they built a house just up the street from her parents where they had been living. Five years went by and the family started to grow again with Mary in 1960 and Joe in 1962. Finally, Paul arrived in 1966 and the family was complete. Mom was an excellent wife, mother and homemaker. She could sew anything; most of our clothing when we were kids, wedding gowns, bridal party dresses, prom dresses you name it. Each Easter we stepped out in her creations. She also crocheted and was very talented in many other crafts. She upholstered and refinished furniture, painted and hung wallpaper. No task was too big for her to tackle. She was a marvelous cook and kept her large family fed with vegetables from the garden she and Dad worked so hard on. She canned and preserved; her kitchen was a busy place in late summer and early fall. She grew beautiful flower gardens and taught her children the names of plants and trees and to respect the planet. She was also an avid bird watcher and spent hours upon hours with bird book in hand watching the ones who came to the feeders on her deck. After retirement, she and Dad had a small organic apple orchard in Romney, WV. They also grew organic vegetables which they sold to restaurants and markets in DC. Mom was a beautiful and loving woman. We will all miss her so but, are so blessed to have had her in our lives to and are thankful that she is at peace and reunited with Dad, Joe and all of her loving family and friends.

Volunteer Spotlight - Stephenie Hart

Stephenie Hart is LCAC’s Food Program Manager and is nearing her 1st anniversary with us. A native of Kentucky, Stephenie is part of a very close family. When it was time to attend college, Stephenie stayed close to home and received her Bachelor’s degree in Anthropology and History from Transylvania University. After college, Stephenie was unsure of her next step, so she took a leap of faith and worked with AmeriCorps. This meant a move to Lafayette, Louisiana to work with Habitat for Humanity. While in Lafayette, she made lifelong friends and gained experience that would prove to be invaluable for her work at LCAC. As part of the training process, Stephenie was forced to live below the poverty level in order to gain an understanding of what the working poor face every day. After AmeriCorps, Stephenie headed to Seton Hall to earn her MA in International Relations and Diplomacy. She concentrated on International Security and Human Rights. Stephenie’s real passion is women’s and children’s rights and gender inequality. After she finished graduate school, the economic downturn was in full swing and she moved back home while she looked for her next adventure. She worked in the local library while looking for a position with a non-profit organization. One of her AmeriCorps friends (LCAC’s previous Director of Development-Andrea Cochrane Tracey) told her about the Food Program Manager opening and the rest is history. During Stephenie’s time at LCAC she has been surprised at how high the cost of living is in northern Virginia, “It’s no surprise that the demand for food continues to grow when you look at how expensive it is to live in southeastern Fairfax County.” The food pantry is just one part of the Food Program here at LCAC and Stephenie is grateful for the countless volunteers who her keep the pantry running. She is a rabid sports fan and loves cheering for the Cincinnati Bengals and the University of Kentucky.

Perdomo Selected Scholar

Luz Derky Cordero Perdomo has been selected by The National Society of Collegiate Scholars because of outstanding academic performance at Northern Virginia Community College. Ms. Perdomo is a 2013 graduate and Honor Society Student of South County High School in Lorton. She is now a sophomore and plans to transfer to George Mason to complete her bachelor’s degree. The daughter of Colonel Thomas Z. Napier, US Army Retired she immigrated from the Dominican Republic and is an avid member of Hybla Valley Seventh Day Adventist Church.

Volunteer Spotlight - Dave Greer

Dave Greer’s life has been defined by service-23 years in the Army, a civilian job supporting the Department of Defense and volunteer work at organizations like LCAC. Since retiring in 2010, Dave has worked over 440 hours for LCAC! You have probably seen Dave at one of our seasonal outreaches. He is fondly referred to as Director of Volunteers, Kathy Noone’s “holiday husband” since Dave is always a key part of the team at both the Thanksgiving and Christmas events. Throughout the years, Dave has seen countless parents who are deeply grateful for the backpacks and Christmas gifts LCAC provides for their children. Dave is also constantly amazed at how much LCAC can do for our community with such a small staff. “LCAC just keeps doing more and more without increasing the size of the staff. It’s very impressive!” Linda Patterson, LCAC’s Executive Director, had this to say about Dave: “Dave has been a part of a volunteer team that helps to coordinate and manage the logistics of Back 2 School and Holiday. He has worked countless hours to help hundreds of children, all with a willing attitude and great spirit! LCAC is blessed to have Dave as a part of our team to make a difference in the lives of the families we serve.” Dave has two grown children and two grandchildren. When he is not busy at LCAC, he enjoys geneology.

Bees Resist Clean-up

By Lion Joe Chudzik

Twelve bags of litter were collected and bagged. The bags of trash can be seen along the roadside awaiting removal by VDOT for proper disposal. One volunteer, Sergio Diaz-Briquets was unfortunately attacked and chased by a swarm of bees. He received numerous stings on various parts of his body. Sergio is tough and did not lose his sense of humor and seems to be recovering nicely! These Adopt-a-Highway clean-ups are organized quarterly by the Mason Neck Lions Club in partnership with the Lions Club, Mason Neck Citizens Association and the Noman M. Cole, Jr. Pollution Control Plant. Volunteers who participated: Sergio Diaz-Briquets; Rick Hutson; Gary Knipling; Tom Nally; Kris Tompkins; Paul Tompkins; Dan Fransell; Helen Fransell; Rich LaValle; and Joe Chudzik.

Litter Pick-up at Lower Potomac Fields

The Mason Neck Lions Club sponsored a litter pick-up at the Lower Potomac Fields on Richmond Highway in Lorton. Two volunteers donated a few hours of their time yesterday morning and collected six large bags of trash from the baseball fields, tennis courts and basketball court. While the Little League players and coaches were assembling on the field, several managers came to express their sincere thanks for the Lions efforts in keeping the playing fields and park clean. One mentioned the previous clean-up project by the Lions held last year. Volunteers: Dick Kennedy and Joe Chudzik. They found 19 reportedly good tennis balls.

Bingo Papers Out, New Station In

The Mason Neck Lions Club helped organize a clean-up at the Lorton Volunteer Fire Station #19. A truckload of old Bingo paper files were removed and taken to the Fairfax County Waste to Energy Facility for proper disposal. Mason Neck Lions Club volunteers who participated: Woody Woodard; Kris and Paul Tompkins; Tom Nally; and Joe Chudzik. Fire Chief Curtis and other firefighters also assisted in this clean-up. Fairfax County plans to demolish the Lorton Volunteer Fire Station building and construct a new firehouse facility at the same location on Armistead Road in Lorton.

Lorton Legion Family Donates to Assist Wounded Warrior

By David F. Wallace

Our Legion Post, as many others, have made lasting contributions to our community for over 80 years but this past month the Lorton Legion Family came together to provide assistance to a wounded veteran and his wife who lost most of their belongings on Aug 14th. Montgomery County Fire and Rescue responded to Captain Edward Klein and his wife Jessica’s home that evening in a large electrical house fire. Edward, who lost both legs and an arm when he stepped on an IED in Afghanistan two years ago, tried to climb out of the basement himself. Luckily for him, his wife was able to help pull him onto the front porch and by the time he got outside there were neighbors who assisted getting him to safety. Edward had spent 18 months in rehabilitation at Walter Reed Medical Center. Lorton Post 162 Legion Families are matching the Sons of the American Legion Squadron 162 contribution for this veteran in helping to collect enough money to rebuild their wounded soldier accessible smart home. If you would like to make a donation to directly support Edward Klein, please write his name in the memo line of your check/money order (they do not accept cash in the mail) and make them payable to: Building for America’s Bravest 2361 Hylan Blvd Staten Island, NY 10306 All contributions made at are considered donations to the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation, an IRS 501(C)(3) tax-exempt organization. Building for America’s Bravest is a proud program of the Stephen Siller Foundation.

Friends Introduced in Lorton Parade

The fledgling organization, Friends of Mason Neck State Park, introduced themselves in the Lorton Independence Parade. They are just a year old and pretty well along in their organization for a new group. They marched with the officers and the mascot Bismark the big beautiful Saint Bernard activist dog to call attention to their membership opportunity. Already, they have supported State park activities and provided volunteers for the Eagle Festival and for visiting veteran Warriors in Transittion as well as held a picnic and hosted the Raptor Conservancy Show and enjoyed an Eagle watching cruise. That’s the logo on the banner which looks like the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation logo is morphing into an Eagle. Whenever you see that in the Park, it means that the Friends of Mason Neck State Park are participating in an event. They meet monthly at the visitor center and at other times as needed. They are looking for volunteers for Park programs in support of conservation and recreation functions. The like to get outside and mix and make a difference to the community and the environment. Current discussion is to host a wildlife photography hike including a kick-off mini-lesson as well as a more formal course taught by the resident professional photographer. Look for announcements of public events in Mason Neck State Park in Lorton Valley Star. Also, check out the park web site at and the Friends web site at:

Coalition Receives Grant to Build Trails on Tanyard Hill Property

The 501(c)(3) Prince William Trails and Streams Coalition (PWTSC) announced today that it has received a grant in the amount of $4,500 from REI to construct approximately 3,000 feet of natural surface trail on the property at the corner of Tanyard Hill and Old Bridge Roads recently purchased by the Town of Occoquan. This 17.7 acre parcel of streams and woodlands is protected from development by a conservation easement that permits passive recreational uses such as hiking and nature trails. PWTSC Treasurer and former Occoquan Mayor, Earnie Porta, who submitted the grant application, indicated that it will be some time before trails are actually installed. “There are a number of technical issues regarding proffers from an earlier rezoning that I understand need to be addressed first,” said Porta, “but in the meantime Occoquan Mayor Liz Quist and the town attorney have recommended that PWTSC go ahead and develop a proposed trail plan and route for review by the Occoquan Town Council.” According to Porta, PWTSC submitted the grant application in mid-April after he confirmed that the Town Council had no objection to PWTSC doing so. The application disclosed that the sale of the property to Occoquan, which had been announced on April 2, had not yet closed, and that if it did not proceed to closing, indicated that funds would be returned or re-allocated to other projects. Occoquan closed on the Tanyard Hill purchase on July 7. PWTSC is an all-volunteer organization dedicated to establishing and promoting the use of a county-wide system of multi-use trails and blueways in Prince William County. “We have a diversity of members and interests,” said Porta, “including hikers, runners, cyclers, horseback riders, paddlers, and others – it is a true coalition of those interested in trails and blueways. But trail-building is at the core of what we do, and we have built miles of trails in PWC working with the County and other partners.” Porta said he would ultimately like to see the Tanyard Hill trail system connect to the nearby LRPRA trail system. Last spring, LRPRA and the County reached agreement on the construction of an approximately 10-mile trail from the County’s McCoart Administration Building to the Town of Occoquan. “That seems like a natural connection,” said Porta. The Prince William Trails and Streams Coalition (PWTSC) is an all volunteer 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to establishing and promoting recreational use of a county-wide system of trails and streams. Through charitable contributions and volunteer participation, PWTSC cooperates with both public and private organizations sharing similar goals. We work to educate Prince William County residents on the value to their quality of life of trail and waterway connections. In addition to trail-building, we sponsor a variety of cleanups, as well as annual running, cycling, and water events that highlight Prince William County’s trails and waterways.

What’s Historic about Occoquan?

Self Guided Walking Tour helps you discover

The fact that Occoquan is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is a Virginia Historic Landmark District confirms that it’s Historic….so the Business Guild of Occoquan is proud to announce the first comprehensive Occoquan “Self Guided Walking Tour”. The history of each building in the Historic District is chronicled and includes visitor quotes from as far back as 1801, memories of residents from the early 20th century, vintage pictures and newspaper articles related to major Occoquan events. Since the tour is self guided, you may take as much time as you like and, of course, visit the many shops housed in these historic buildings along the way. The Self Guided Walking Tour is available at the Visitors Center, the Mill House Museum, as well as many Occoquan shops.

Glitter Matters

We are proud to be of service to the young lady Ellie Schleyer and happy that our publication helped to provide a great response for her event and cause. The e-mail response even included a couple of suggestions of tests to do. We hope some solution will be found for her malady. David Schleyer says that the event went well. If you missed it, check out Dr. Vanderver plans to start the research program in June! She is going to hire a research assistant and host a conference for doctors all over the world to come to DC and try to brainstorm next steps in treating Ellie and other children with undiagnosed brain diseases. We are hopeful that through our prayers and the research, there will be a treatment and cure for Ellie. Lorton Valley Star will add Glitter Matters to our local Charity Catalog at Lorton.Net. There is also a benefit concert in Centerville next month for the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research called Healing the Frozen. It is organized by local R3-Experts, Inc under the direction of Robert Rand of Fairfax Station. Visit healing_the_frozen_concert



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Fire Guidelines

from Lori Craddock

First responder training definitely teaches to not be a hero or to add to the emergency. Always, first call qualified help and prepare to give the emergency workers good information so that they can get immediately to the job. Then, if you are qualified and want to volunteer, you may do so. Know that doing the wrong thing can make an emergency worse. You are not obligated to use a fire extinguisher just because it is there.

Every fire can be different and it is important to know which type of fire you are dealing with before attempting to put it out. For some fires water will help put them out, but with others it will only make the fire worse. It is best to use the fire extinguisher that correlates for each type of fire, but if you do not have that on hand, here are some tips on different types of fires and how to put them out:

Class A- Fires consist of ordinary combustibles such as wood, paper, trash or anything else that leaves an ash. Water can be used to extinguish.

Class B- Fires are fueled by flammable or combustible liquids, which include oil, gasoline, and other similar materials. Smothering effects which deplete the oxygen supply work best to extinguish Class B fires. Baking soda or salt works well to smother the fire.

Class C Fires- Energized Electrical Fires. Always de-energize the circuit by unplugging the cord, turning off the breaker etc. Once electricity is gone, it can be treated as a different class of fire based on what is burning. If you can’t de-energize, smother fire with a blanket or use a type C extinguisher.

Class D- Combustible metal fires. Once a metal ignites do not use water in an attempt to extinguish it. Only use a Dry Powder extinguishing agent which works by smothering and heat absorption. Examples to use are graphite in powder form or sodium chloride, aka salt, in granular form.

Class K- Fires that involve cooking oils, grease or animal fat can be extinguished using Purple K, the typical agent found in kitchen or galley extinguishers. Alternately, shut off stove or oven, smother pan with lid, baking soda or Type B extinguisher. Smother fire in oven by keeping door closed and/or throwing baking soda on food. Never move pan as can fan fire or splatter grease. Never turn on exhaust fan or use water. The fan will draw the flames into a concealed space. Let fat cool in oven or else contact with air may make fire flare up again.

Note on Gas Fires- Shut off gas supply. Smother with rug, blanket or Type B extinguisher or cool with water. Ventilate the area to let out the gases. Call the Fire Department to have the area pipes checked for further hazards. Then call the gas company. If there is a gas fire, it may be better to let the gas burn rather than extinguish the fire, which would let the gas fill the room or house creating the potential for an explosion. Therefore, the primary key is to shut off the gas supply and call the fire department. Regardless of the fire, make sure to call your local fire department for advice and assistance.


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