Local Commentary

A Penny For Your Thoughts: The News of Greater Falls Church

Every neighborhood probably has a community champion, someone who has been around for a long time, knows the history of the neighborhood, mentors newcomers, and volunteers to do whatever needs to be done. In the Glen Forest neighborhood of Bailey’s Crossroads, that community champion is Irene Shuman, who is a mainstay of her civic association, community pool, and St. Anthony’s Catholic Church.

Irene is celebrating her 90th birthday this month, with the emphasis on celebrate. Nearly 200 people gathered for a celebratory dinner party Saturday night at the Knights of Columbus Hall in Arlington. Irene had been planning the party for months, and every detail showed her fine hand for organization – and fun! From cabaret-style entertainment by two talented adult grandchildren to a family sing-along that included the entire audience, Irene’s birthday party was “over the top.” Red and white balloons were at every table, red-jacketed waiters served a full-course dinner, and Irene was decked out in a bright red gown. At her family’s insistence, she and her two look-alike sisters led a “train” dance that snaked through the entire ballroom twice, picking up people as the train passed by. When the cake was wheeled in, with 90 candles on top, all of Irene’s great-grandchildren trooped in behind, each wearing a firefighter’s hat!  

Not many people get to celebrate a 90th birthday, but even more remarkable is the vibrant, active life that is Irene’s hallmark. Whether teaching water aerobics at the Glen Forest pool or mentoring new parishioners to take over the organization of the rummage sale, getting involved in land use decisions for the neighborhood or events at the local school, Irene Shuman demonstrates that life can be lived to its fullest, even at 90. Every-one should have so many friends as they celebrate their 90th birthday! Happy Birthday, Irene!


After more than 20 years of delay, a pedestrian bridge will begin construction at Seven Corners on Monday. Groundbreaking ceremonies at 10 a.m. will include Fairfax County Board Chairman Gerry Connolly and me, Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) staff, and members of the Willston Task Force. The ceremony will take place in the parking lot located between Peyton Randolph Drive and the Willston Shopping Center off the westbound Route 50 service drive, across Route 50 from Home Depot. The $6 million bridge, funded by VDOT, will provide safe pedestrian access across Route 50 to the Seven Corners Shopping Center and to a planned transit center to be constructed by Fairfax County adjacent to the bridge. Construction of the bridge, which will include fencing along both sides of Route 50 to funnel pedestrians to the safe crossing, is expected to be completed in late 2008.


Fairfax County customers of Washington Gas Light (WGL) will receive a refund on future monthly bills as a result of a recent State Corporation Commission (SCC) order on that limits WGL’s requested rate increase. Earlier this year, at the request of the Board of Supervisors, the county’s Consumer Protection office filed testimony opposing the requested increase and recommending customer safeguards. The SCC order limits the rate increase to less than 1 percent over current rates, and is expected to save Fairfax County customers more than $21.3 million during the course of the four-year rate plan.