Falls Church News Briefs: May 7 – 13, 2009

F.C. Schools Benefactor Bob Wilden Dies

Bob Wilden, 73, described as a man with a giant heart who searched around the City of Falls Church to find the best ways to donate his financial resources and persuade others to do likewise, died in his sleep early today (May 6).

Wilden was diagnosed in the late stages of pancreatic cancer and had just entered hospice care when he died sooner than his doctors expected. Wilden decided to devote his resources and energies to founding the Wilden After-School Program for the Falls Church City School System, aimed at providing tutoring and other assistance for economically-underprivileged youth. The program, named for his late wife Imogene, was run under the auspices of the non-profit Falls Church Education Foundation (FCEF). Wilden was present at the annual dinner of the FCEF last month when over $15,000 was raised in a live auction to buy computers for his after-school program. As recently as last week, Wilden, accompanied by FCEF Executive Director Donna Englander, visited students in the Wilden After School program to congratulate them on their progress. They, in turn, presented him with “thank you” cards that Englander said touched him deeply. In 2006, Wilden made a $500,000 contribution that was matched to provide $1 million to the Falls Church Housing Corporation for the advancement of affordable housing. He is survived by a brother. More information will be provided as it becomes available.


Pedestrian Bridge Over Rt. 50 Opens to Public May 20

The long-awaited pedestrian bridge over Route 50 between Patrick Henry Drive and Seven Corners will be opened to the public with a ribbon-cutting ceremony led by Mason District Supervisor Penny Gross at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, May 20, Gross announced to the News-Press yesterday. Gross was on hand the night the main sections of the bridge were lifted into place from 11 p.m.-4:30 a.m. on April 18-19 when Rt. 50 was closed to traffic. She said that “perfect weather” helped the project go smoothly, and there were no complaints from motorists. More concrete for the decks and fencing around and over the bridge are all that remain to be done before the $4 million project is completed. It was funded by federal “Safety and Open Container” funds and matched by the state. A long time in the making, Gross said, citing a 1987 campaign flier by then-Mason District supervisor candidate Tom Davis promising he’d get the funding for the bridge.


Parent of 7 N. Va. Weekly Newspapers Files for Bankruptcy

Minnesota-based American Community Newspapers, Inc. (ACN), owners of community newspapers in Texas, Ohio, Minnesota and Northern Virginia, filed a petition for relief under Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code last week. Its newspapers in Northern Virginia include the Arlington Sun-Gazette, the Great Falls/McLean/Oakton/Vienna Sun-Gazette, Leesburg Today, Loudoun Magazine, Loudoun Business, Middleburg Life and Parent Life. In an open letter to readers published in its edition last week, Leesburg Today’s publisher wrote that the weekly paper and its web site will continue, claiming there will be “no change in day-to-day operations.” ACN acquired its Northern Virginia newspapers in 2005. Its offer to also acquire the Falls Church News-Press at that time was rejected. In another development, the Washington Post Company’s newspaper division reported a net loss of $53.8 million in the first quarter of 2009, compared to a profit of $1.2 million a year earlier, the Washington Post reported last Saturday. Launches a Site Re-Design

The web site of the Falls Church News-Press,, unveiled a redesign this week. There will be new interactive features added in coming weeks, and readers are encouraged to submit comments and ideas concerning the site to