News Briefs

December 14 – 20, 2006

F.C. Homeless Shelter Stalled from Reinstating Home Cooked Food

The Falls Church Emergency Winter Homeless Shelter, which provides a dozen beds and other services to homeless persons in the area from Dec. 1 through March every year, has delayed heeding word from Fairfax County Board chair Gerry Connolly that an ill-conceived order to stop allowing home-prepared food to all such shelters in the region be rescinded. Connolly issued a strong statement the very day after the “stop food” order was announced last Nov. 29, saying, “Nobody and no bureaucratic regulation will interfere with Fairfax County’s ability to feed and help the homeless this winter.” But it apparently fell on deaf ears in Falls Church, where City Hall bureaucrats in the Housing and Human Services Division refused to permit the City’s many citizen volunteers from resuming their years’-long practice of preparing meals in their homes to bring to the homeless shelter. The word is that they want to review the matter to make sure the shelter here is in compliance with the same conditions at the larger Fairfax County shelters that Connolly referred to. Meanwhile, the cost of providing food from licensed sources to the F.C. Shelter continues to be markedly higher, and no official announcement of a final ruling by the F.C. Human Services Division has been made.    


350 Gather to Stop Homeless Shelter Relocation to Merrifield

Motivated to prevent the relocation of a Fairfax County daytime drop-in shelter that would expand to 10,000 square feet, moving from the Fairfax Circle to the Merrifield/Dunn Loring area of the county, over 350 residents, property owners, business owners and employees of the Merrifield area established the Merrifield Citizens Association last week. According to the group’s report, the City of Fairfax has offered to purchase property for $2.6 million for the relocation, a price that is 75% above fair market value and has area residents and business owners concerned. The current shelter, known as the Lamb Center, serves 60 to 90 persons a day, offering food, showers, religious studies and job counseling. It has a strong focus on drug and alcohol rehabilitation services. Merrifield Citizens Association members allege the center would bring with it a higher crime rate. Among other things, it notes, it will turn intoxicated clients away and back into the community around it, while the location is proximate to a number of stores that sell alcohol.


Larranaga to Keynote F.C. Education Foundation Banquet

Jim Larranaga, the head coach of the men’s basketball team at George Mason University that shocked the world by making it to the NCAA Final Four playoffs last season, will be the keynote speaker at the Falls Church Education Foundation’s annual dinner next April, it was announced Monday. The foundation has raised over $1.5 million in supplementary funds to assist the Falls Church City School System since its founding in 2004. It’s annual dinner will be Friday, April 27, 2007 at the Westin Arlington Gateway hotel. Cocktails, dinner, a silent auction and performances by Falls Church school system students will highlight the event, prior to Larranaga’s keynote. The coach is the first to take a mid-major men’s basketball program to the NCAA Final Four in 27 years. His appearance is being sponsored by Moore Cadillac.


F.C. Council Plans to Vote Itself a Pay Raise

A public hearing and vote at its first business meeting of the New Year, on Jan. 8, will determine whether the Falls Church City Council goes through with a proposed pay hike. The Council has not increased its compensation since 1992 and currently earns over 50% less than the lowest-paid comparable positions among all the jurisdictions in the region. The hike would not go into effect until July 1, 2008, following the Council election of that May. Council members this Monday argued the hike is needed to offer an incentive to prospective Council candidates, insofar as there were only the bare minimum of candidates who ran last spring, leading to the City’s first uncontested election since the mid-1980s. Also, the amount of time plus increased out-of-pocket costs for childcare, fuel, Internet access, fax machines, cell phones and other things were also given as reasons. The proposed hike would be from $3,600 annually for the mayor and $2,400 annually for Council members to $9,800 for the mayor and $9,200 for other Council members. The hike would bring the City in line with pay provided similar officials in Manassas Park, a similarly-sized regional jurisdiction. In a statement from the City Clerk, it was noted the increase “is not intended to change the fundamental spirit of volunteerism that is a hallmark of Falls Church, but to recognize that for any potential member there may be economic forces that permeate our lives and may affect our ability to perform the responsibilities of the position.”


FEMA to Give City of F.C. a Break on Flood Insurance

Falls Church City Manager Wyatt Shields reported Monday that a review of the City’s storm water management and flood preparedness programs drew a preliminary
”thumbs up” from officials of the Federal Emergency Management Agency last month, and they’ve preliminarily announced that the premium all City residents with homes in the designated flood plain will be cut by 10% as a result. Features include public education and awareness and acquisition of open space within the flood plain to mitigate potential impacts. Shields said the City gained a new rating of “8,” and will look for ways to improve that rating, and bring new savings to City residents, even more.