News Briefs

May 17 – 23, 2007

Herman Named F.C.’s Chief of Community Services

An employee of the City of Falls Church since 1970, Howard Herman was named General Manager of Community Services yesterday. He’d been serving as an interim in the post since January, and also did a stint as an interim in 2004-2005. The appointment was made by City Manager Wyatt Shields, who issued a statement saying, “Howard’s style of leadership, knowledge of the City, and ability to resolve problems and get things done is respected throughout the community and the region. He is one of the City’s most visible employees.” Herman, a graduate of F.C.’s George Mason High School, joined the City’s Department of Recreation and Parks in 1970 and became its chief in 1990. During that tenure he implemented key improvement projects, including the installation of synthetic turf at George Mason High, the addition of the City’s 12th park (the Hamlett/Rees tract), the renovation of Larry Graves Park and the renovation and expansion of the City’s Community Center in 2000. This year, he spearheaded the effort to secure City Council approval of $2 million for affordable housing investments in the upcoming fiscal year budget.


F.C. Council Gives Preliminary OK to Towing Restraints

The Falls Church City Council voted unanimously Monday to give “first reading” preliminary approval to a new ordinance that spells out restrictions on involuntary towing of vehicles, bringing the City into line with stiff new legislation passed by the Virginia Legislature in its recent session. The changes establish a maximum towing fee of $100, require payment of fees with methods other than cash, permitting the City to issue parking violations on private property (as an alternative for property owners to requesting towing), the licensing of towing operators and requiring notification to the F.C. Police Department prior to a tow. It also permits towing to locations within three miles of the city limits. The Council’s action included some, but not all the recommendations of its Towing Advisory Board. Final approval is slated for May 29.


Acute Suicide Crisis Documented at F.C. Council Meeting

Responding to a City of Falls Church proclamation declaring May as “Mental Health Month,” Carol Loftur-Thun, executive director of the CrisisLink hot line service that has operated for 37 years in Fairfax County and Falls Church, spelled out stunning statistics about the level of suicidal behavior and thinking among the region’s youth. Loftur-Thun, a Falls Church city resident, noted a 153% increase in calls, normally averaging 30,000 a year, in the past two years. Among those, calls related to suicide rose 61%, and just among youths the jump has been 173%. In 2004, she said, there were 132 suicide deaths in Northern Virginia, four times the number of homicides. She noted that, among youths, over 900,000 made a plan to die and 712,000 acted on that plan. “Two to three students in a typical high school classroom will attempt suicide this year,” she said, noting suicide is the third leading cause of death for youth and the second leading cause for college students. Among other things, she said, her organization specializes in suicide prevention education for parents.


Regional Board OKs $ for F.C. Traffic Signal Management

The Northern Virginia Transportation Planning Board yesterday, approved a $300,000 project using federal funds to provide a traffic signal management system for the City of Falls Church. F.C. Councilman David Snyder, who represents F.C. on the board, said, “This project approval is important for us to better manage existing traffic in the city, support our economic development, and better handle future challenges such as the upcoming construction around Tysons Corner.”