News Briefs

Brief news items from the Greater Falls Church area for the week of September 21.

F.C. Resident Donates $500,000 for Affordable Housing

Bob Wildon, a Falls Church city resident and board member of the Falls Church Housing Corporation, and members of his family have donated $500,000 to the FCHC contingent on the FCHC’s ability to match the grant by the end of the year, according to FCHC Executive Director Carol Jackson. If successful, the gift and the match will expand the affordable housing “war chest” of the FCHC in a race against time to preserve existing affordable options in the City, she said. The gift was offered by Wildon in memory of his late wife. In a related development, the F.C. City Council opened a discussion with Dr. Steve Rogers, board chair of the FCHC, at its work session Monday toward a new cooperative agreement between the two entities, which was initiated in 1981. The FCHC board “is the most committed group I’ve ever worked with,” Rogers said, but he added the relationship between the Council and the FCHC, stemming from the FCHC’s inability to gain adequate Council support for a senior housing project last year, has  been “broken to the point of non-repair.” He said, “If we don’t succeed in the next year, we may ask to go away. We are running out of time and space.” Calling what happened with the senior project “ugly and a humongous waste of time,” Vice Mayor Lindy Hockenberry said she was “glad we’re starting fresh” with a new dialogue between the groups.


 F.C. School Board OK’s Tuition Bond Waiver for Family

At a special meeting Monday, the Falls Church School Board voted to grant a tuition bond waiver to a City family with six children in the Falls Church School System. Karla and Ralph Freeman of Madison Lane have four sons and two daughters in grades ranging from kindergarten to the 11th in F.C. City Schools, and they have had to relocate temporarily outside the City while they rebuild their home from scratch on their City property. According to published School Board guidelines, if they remain outside the City for more than one quarter of school, they are required to post a bond to cover a portion of what would be non-resident tuition fees for each child. In the Freeman’s case, they were told last week that would come to $60,000, and the bond would be forfeited if they did not move back into the City by next June. But the guidelines also stipulate that the School Board can vote a waiver of the bond under special circumstances. After the Freemans circulated a petition and generated attendance by over 20 neighbors in a show of support at Monday’s meeting, the board voted 4-1 to grant the waiver. According to Board Chair Craig Cheney, “It was a fair hearing and the board acted fairly.” He said a condition remained that the home construction be completed by next June so that the family (with eight children in all) will move back in by that time.


Cindy Mester Named F.C. Acting Assistant City Manager

Falls Church’s Acting City Manager Wyatt Shields announced to the F.C. City Council work session Monday night that he’d appointed Cindy L. Mester as his acting assistant city manager, a move that was met with approval by everyone on the Council.

Mester has served as the City’s General Manager of Community Services since April 2005. As she assumes her new duties beginning Monday, she will continue in her general manager role, as well, Shields said. Mester brings 27 years of community services and management services to her new role. She has Bachelor of Science and Master of Education degrees and served in community service roles in Loudoun County from 1991 to 2005 before coming to Falls Church.


F.C. School Board’s Wodiska Gives Birth to Girl

As the News-Press went to press Wednesday, news broke on the e-mail circuit that Falls Church School Board member Joan Wodiska have birth to a healthy baby girl born at 1:48 p.m. on Sept. 14. Mother and husband Russ Wodiska are also doing well. Named Ava Victoria Stanton Wodiska, the child arrived three and a half weeks early at 5 pounds, 13 ounces, 18 ½ inches in length. The middle name, Russ pointed out, was for Elizabeth Cady Stanton, a leading feminist, suffragist and abolitionist in her era and Joan’s heroine and inspiration.