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Falls Church City News Briefs

Last Week’s Storm Worst Since Isabel in F.C.

Last week’s violent storm that lashed through Northern Virginia, and resulted in a National Weather Service report of a tornado touching down in the City of Falls Church, was rated the worst to hit the area since the remnants of Hurricane Isabel came through in September 2003, F.C. City Manager Wyatt Shields reported to the City Council Monday. He said the last of the widespread power outages in the City were not restored until the Saturday following Wednesday’s storm. Four houses were struck by trees, and six trees collapsed into power lines, causing many of the outages. Power was lost at the Mt. Daniel Elementary School through Friday. No injuries were reported, but lack of communication led to problems, including for the many Metro Orange Line passengers who migrated westward on foot along the W&OD Trail when the rail system lost power at the East Falls Church station, creating a hazard because of continued reports of funnel cloud sightings in the area. Shields reminded the Council that the City operates a low-frequency radio station which is used in emergencies, at 1680 AM on the dial. It can be accessed by battery-powered radios when electrical power sources are lost.
 

Fuel Costs Nearly Double for City of F.C.

Reflective of the national rise of fuel costs, the City of Falls Church is spending $270,000 this year for its unleaded fuel used in City vehicles, compared to $145,000 in 2006, according to the City’s Chief Financial Officer John Tuohy. The City Council approved paying the bill Monday night. The fuel is purchased under a cooperative procurement with the regional Council of Governments. The Council also approved the purchase of $150,000 in biodiesel fuel, which is a “clean burning alternative made from soy, canola and recycled restaurant oils.” However, City Councilman Dan Maller proposed that in the future the City avoid fuels that contain ethanol, since it is determined that producing fuel from that source is contributing to global food shortages and famine. City Manager Wyatt Shields told the Council that the City has adopted policies, such as allowing no idling of City vehicles, to cut down on fuel costs.

F.C.’s Spring St. One-Way May Be Reconsidered

Falls Church City officials are mulling a policy to change N. Spring Street back from a one-way to two-way street, at least during part of the day, to help alleviate traffic pressures during the start and close of school days at the St. James School, the News-Press has learned. The decision to turn one block of N. Spring, between W. Broad and Park Avenue, into a one-way street was made at an administrative level at City Hall without Council approval. Concerns expressed by parents of students at St. James regarding the impact of nearby development on student safety are leading to a reconsideration of the role of N. Spring, officials have said. This is being reviewed in response to prospects of a hotel being built “by right” near the other side of the school, and of virtually-certain eventual development in that area. The Falls Church City Council is slated to consider, yet again, the hotel project at a work session this Monday, and is currently set to vote on a final approval of zoning and other requests for the project on June 30.

Moran in F.C.: Use Iraq $ for Global “Marshall Plan”

Speaking as the keynote speaker at the City of Falls Church Democratic Committee’s annual Jefferson Jackson Potluck Dinner Sunday, Rep. Jim Moran said the nation is “at a turning point in its history, with Americans turning to the Democratic Party to lead.” He said that “war, prejudice and poverty all got worse” under Republican leadership, with a shift since 2000 from a $5.6 trillion surplus to a $5.5 trillion federal deficit. Meanwhile, China is buying American debt at a level that is becoming a threat to U.S. national security, as it now “holds a Sword of Damocles over our heads,” Moran said. Forty-five percent of the nation’s wealth is in the hands of the top-earning 1%, and a tenth of the top 1% earn more than all the bottom 50%. Moran called for deploying the billions spent monthly in Iraq on a “global Marshall Plan,” noting that “irrigation is the best weapon against terror.” Moran’s brother, State Del. Brian Moran, who is planning to run for Governor of Virginia in 2009, was also present, as was Jim Moran’s opponent in Tuesday’s Democratic primary, Matthew Famiglietti. (See photo, elsewhere this edition).