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News Briefs

November 23 – 29

F.C. Names Captain Reitze as Acting Police Chief

A veteran of over 30 years on the City of Falls Church police force, Captain Harry Reitze was named acting chief of police Monday by Acting City Manager Wyatt Shields. The appointment will be effective on Dec. 1 when current Chief Robert Murray will retire. Reitze joined the City in July 1975 as a patrol officer. He rose through the ranks of the department to be named captain in 1988. Most recently, he functioned as the assistant coordinator for emergency management and has commanded the department’s services division and operations division, including its communications unit, records unit and criminal investigations unit. He has received more than 2,200 hours of law enforcement training, including graduating from the FBI’s national academy and the Virginia Police Chiefs Foundation professional executive leadership school. He is president of the alumni association of that school and assists the foundation with its training programs. “The City is fortunate to have a law enforcement professional with the caliber of Harry Reitze to step up and lead the department at this time,” Shields said in a statement.

F.C. Planners Unanimously Reject Height Limit Proposal

By a unanimous 6-0 vote, the Falls Church Planning Commission voted against passage of a proposed ordinance that would introduce greater limits on the height of new residential structures on so-called “substandard lots” in the City. The measure, preliminarily approved last month, will come to the F.C. City Council for a final vote on Dec. 11. Responding to a Nov. 10 memo prepared by Susan Earman of the City’s Board of Zoning Appeals, the Planners chose to oppose the proposed ordinance in order to reject a “piecemeal” approach to zoning in favor of a more comprehensive zoning reform that is now being mulled by the City staff, according to Planner Bob Burnett. Two weeks earlier, the board also recommended against passage of another residential zoning measure, one that would further restrict the percentage of a lot that could be covered by impervious structures from 35 to 30 percent. That no vote was the result of a 3-3 deadlock and that measure will also come to the Council on Dec. 11.

Home-Cooked Food Banned from Homeless Shelter

Ending a practice that for 10 years involved citizens in Falls Church preparing and donating meals to the City’s Emergency Homeless Shelter, the Fairfax County Health Department this week banned home-cooked food from being provided at the shelter. All food there must come from “certified kitchens,” the department ruled. The decision comes 10 days before the scheduled opening of the shelter on Gordons Road and has thrown the volunteer leadership of the shelter’s operations into a scramble. “We have every intention of complying with the order,” Stacy Hennessey, head of fundraising for the shelter, told the News-Press Tuesday. “But we’re going to need some extra financial help to provide meals, and we’ll need it before the shelter opens.” The 12 beds at the shelter have routinely been filled to capacity every night of the shelter’s operations in recent years. The shelter is open from Dec. 1 through March. Citizen contributions can be made to the Falls Church Winter Emergency Homeless Shelter, c/o Stacy Hennessey, 610 Poplar Dr., Falls Church, VA 22046.

Organizing for F.C.’s New Years Eve Fete Underway

“Watch Night” is alive and well, slated for New Year’s Eve in downtown Falls Church again this year. Now under the direction of local business person Barbara Cram, the event is currently being organized to be as spectacular as ever, perpetuating a tradition that began on Dec. 31, 1998. It is a free, open to the public New Year’s Eve party in the 100 block of W. Broad St. that features local entertainers, artists and businesses in a family-friendly environment. Music and dancing will be offered at a variety of venues and new this year will be a “Kids Alley” between the Hunan Café and Pilin restaurant. There, Creative Cauldron will offer a mélange of creative family projects from visual arts to drama while accomplished local art teachers Eileen Levy and Bill Abel will be on hand. Performing at the Broad Street Tavern will be the popular local band, “Rites of Ash,” featuring musician graduates of George Mason High School. More events are still being planned. For information or to volunteer, call (703) 536-4730 and leave a message.