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Falls Church City News Briefs

Gardner Poised for Re-Election as F.C. Mayor Tuesday

Robin Gardner is poised to be re-elected by her City Council colleagues to a second term as Mayor of the City of Falls Church during a specially-convened Council meeting on Tuesday, July 1, at 8 p.m. She will become only the second person to serve more than a single term as mayor of the city since 1988, following the three-term tenure of Dan Gardner (2000-2006). With the departure of Vice Mayor Lindy Hockenberry, who failed to win a third term on the Council in last month’s election, Council member Hal Lippman is expected to be elected the new vice mayor by the Council Tuesday. The meeting will also include the swearing in of new Council members. Nader Baroukh and Lawrence Webb will be sworn in to begin four-year terms, having won seats on the Council in the City’s biennial municipal election last month, replacing David Chavern, who chose not to run for re-election, and Hockenberry, who narrowly lost in a bid for a third term. Serving at her final Council meeting this Monday, Hockenberry was hailed for her nearly four decades of dedicated service to Falls Church, including more than 30 years as an educator in the Falls Church School System and eight years on the City Council, including two as vice mayor. Hockenberry said she plans further service to the City. Tuesday’s special Council meeting will be preceded by a reception at 6:45 p.m.

Dominion Power to Install ‘Voltage Arresters’ in F.C.

Following a June 12 meeting with Falls Church residents, upset over a spate of recent power surges that fried their electronic home appliances, a spokesman for Dominion Power reported that new, highly-effective “voltage arresters” will be installed along their lines in the Virginia Forest and Greenway Downs neighborhoods in Falls Church. Assistant City Manager Cindy Mester attended the June 12 meeting, and City Manager Wyatt Shields, speaking at this Monday’s Council meeting, vowed that City Hall “is committed to serve as an advocate for citizens” in future disputes with the electric utility. The surges were caused by storm winds bending trees onto power lines, causing high voltage lines to touch low voltage lines. “We will install several new arresters in Falls Church over the next six to eight weeks,” Dominion Power’s Le-Ha Anderson told the News-Press. “They will make a big difference, although there is no absolute fix.” She said the arresters are normally used only at power substations.

No Waiver of Fees for Storm Brush Pickup in F.C.

Unlike in the aftermath of Hurricane Isabel in 2003, when a federal emergency was declared, there has been no waiver of fees for unbundled tree limb and brush pickup in the City of Falls Church, City Manager Wyatt Shields told the City Council Monday. This is despite recent violent storms, including a report of a tornado, that have been described as the worst since Isabel. Shields said that the $65 fee for pickup of up to two cubic yards of unbundled debris only pays for the “tipping fee” charged by a landfill in Fairfax County. Bundled debris, with no limbs more than six inches in diameter nor more than five feet in length, is routinely picked up at no charge in the City. Shields stressed how efficient it is for City crews to retrieve the debris when it is bundled.

Low-Watt Radio Station On Call for F.C. Power Outages

The City of Falls Church has an innovative and novel tool to assist its residents in the event of power outages, City Manager Wyatt Shields reiterated this week. It is a low-wattage AM radio station, at 1680 AM on the dial, that can be accessed with up-to-date information by any ordinary battery-powered radio. The radio station was enabled by a Federal Communication Commission policy initiated in 2002 allowing issuance of new licenses for very low-watt stations, which it now offers for free to public jurisdictions. The Falls Church station is just powerful enough to cover the City’s 2.2-square mile area, Shields said. It is constantly on the air carrying weather reports, but in the event there is cause, the City’s Acting Public Information Officer, Hyun June Lee, can add special information and updates. The idea for the station came in the wake of Hurricane Isabel in 2003, when some neighborhoods in the City remained without power for more than a week, and had no access to information about efforts to restore power, or other concerns.