Falls Church News Briefs

TJ Elementary Principal Resigns

Vincent Baxter, principal of the Thomas Jefferson Elementary School in Falls Church, has resigned from his position effective next month, and the Falls Church School Board has accepted his resignation at its meeting Tuesday, a statement from the City Schools reported today.

Superintendent Dr. Lois Berlin announced baxterthat TJ Assistant Principal Bob Palermo will be promoted to principal upon Baxter’s departure. Baxter served as principal for two years, replacing Trudy Taylor. He has been with the Falls Church Schools since 2006, beginning as an assistant principal at Henderson Middle School. Following on Taylor’s efforts to initiate exploration of the International Baccalaureate (IB) program in the City’s elementary schools, Baxter has been charged with implementing it at TJ. While the first phase of implementation is underway, the school continues to work for formal recognition as an IB school. The City Schools’ statement today quoted Baxter saying, “My decision to leave is personal and stems from a desire to work a little closer to home so that I can be more involved with my own children’s lives as well as the lives of the students I serve in school.” Baxter resides in Washington, D.C. With Palermo becoming principal at TJ next month, the school’s IB Primary Years Program (PYP) coordinator Mary Kay Howard will assume the role of assistant principal. Dr. Berlin made her decisions on the new principal and assistant principal public yesterday morning. “Mr. Palermo and Ms. Howard have been a part of the school culture for many years, and they are well-respected by the faculty, staff, students and parents. They are well-versed in the PYP and its attributes. All of this will help ensure a smooth transition,” she said in yesterday’s release. Dr. Berlin told the News-Press that Baxter has some “irons in the fire” for a new job that are “imminent.”


Former F.C. Mayor Gardner Feted at Pentagon

A formal retirement ceremony including remarks by U.S. Undersecretary of Defense
Clifford L. Stanley was held at the Pentagon Tuesday for Daniel E. Gardner, Falls Church City resident who served as the City’s mayor from 2000-2006. Gardner is the Director of the Readiness and Training Policy and Programs Directorate and a member of the Senior Executive Service in the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness.

Moran Fingers Haliburton in Gulf Oil Spill Debacle

Democratic U.S. Rep. Jim Moran, who represents the 8th District of Virginia that includes the City of Falls Church, and is chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on the Interior and the Environment, will hold a hearing today on the crisis in the Gulf Coast, including the response to the oil spill, environmental impacts, and related cost and funding issues. Moran, speaking at the annual Fairfax County Democratic Committee’s Jefferson-Jackson Dinner Sunday night, said the crisis is “the worst man-made environmental catastrophe in history,” and said he would not be surprised if the Halliburton Company is ultimately found to be the most culpable.


F.C. Council Adopts CIP With No Surprises

At its business meeting Monday, the Falls Church City Council completed the budget for the coming fiscal year beginning July 1 with the adoption of a capital improvement plan (CIP) by a unanimous 5-0 vote. As established earlier, the CIP includes no City taxpayer-funded expenditures for the coming year that are not funded by state and federal grants or in need of a city match to get those state and federal funds. The Council also adopted a non-binding plan for four years commencing FY2012 that includes $10 million for City Hall improvements, $30 million for a new school, $1.6 million for storm water management and $400,000 for discretionary spending by the Recreation and Parks department. Monday’s meeting was chaired for the first time by Councilman Dan Maller in the absence of both Mayor Robin Gardner and Vice Mayor Hal Lippman. In the audience tonight were Councilmen-elects Ira Kaylin and Ron Peppe.


Pizzeria Orso Slated to Open in June

Falls Church’s eagerly anticipated pizza restaurant, Pizzeria Orso, is scheduled to open next month in Pearson Square at 400 S. Maple Ave., the company stated in a press release this week. The team behind the critically-acclaimed 2941 Restaurant in Falls Church, husband and wife Edan and Thea MacQuaid, will run the 117-seat restaurant. Edan is a trained pizzaiolo who has cooked at popular D.C. restaurants 2Amys, Pizzeria Paradiso and Red Rocks. The new restaurant will specialize in traditional Neapolitan pizzas, a selection of antipasti, house-made salumi and traditional desserts. The pizza dough will be naturally leavened, never refrigerated, and baked in a wood-burning oven at 800 degrees Fahrenheit for 90 seconds.


Police Seize Huge Cache of Khat

Fairfax County Police seized over 130 pounds of khat, an illegal amphetamine, after an apparent drug transaction in a county section of greater Falls Church last Saturday. It’s believed the seizure of khat was the largest in the history of Fairfax County. A police officer on patrol observed what appeared to be a drug transaction in a Columbia Pike parking lot around 6:10 p.m. May 15. The officer stopped two men and conducted an investigation which revealed that one suspect was allegedly purchasing khat from the other. Both men were arrested and approximately 21 pounds of khat was seized. A subsequent search of one suspect’s house led to the seizure of an additional 111 pounds of khat. Khat is a flowering evergreen shrub native to East Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. Typically, it’s chewed like tobacco, though it can be smoked or sprinkled on food. It is an amphetamine and a Schedule I drug. Ahmed Omer Abdujelel, 45, of Falls Church was charged with distribution of a Schedule I drug and distribution near certain properties (recreation center) and Ali Abdi Hersi, 47, of Washington DC was charged with possession of a Schedule I drug.


Missing Person Reported in F.C.

gersoncardonavalasquezPolice are asking for the public’s assistance in locating Gerson Cardona Valasquez, 22, of the 3100 block of Chepstow Lane in Falls Church. He was last seen on Saturday, May 22 around midnight, near his home. Valasquez is about 5 feet 5 inches tall and weighs approximately 160 pounds. He has black hair and brown eyes. He was last seen wearing a white T-shirt, blue jeans, and black shoes.


F.C. Cat Found, Quarantined

The Falls Church Animal Control Officer reports that a cat which bit and scratched a citizen in the 100 block of N. Oak Street last Friday, May 21 has been found and has been quarantined. If the cat had not been found, the victim would have had to undergo rabies inoculations. The Animal Control Officers thanks everyone who called information into the Falls Church Police.


Extended Hours for Immunizations

Fairfax County Health Department clinics announced this week they will have extended hours on five dates in August and September to accommodate parents, including those residing in Falls Church City, who may be seeking immunizations for their children. All five district offices will be operating on the following dates and times: Tuesday, Aug. 24: 8 a.m. – 6 p.m., Tuesday, Aug. 31: 8 a.m. – 6 p.m., Friday, Sept. 3: 7:30 a.m. – 3 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 7: 8 a.m. – 6 p.m. The Springfield District Office (8136 Old Keene Mill Rd., Ste. A100, Springfield) only will be open Wednesday, Aug. 11 from 3:30 – 5:30 p.m. The other four district offices include the Falls Church (6245 Leesburg Pike, Ste. 500, Falls Church), Herndon-Reston (1850 Cameron Glen Dr., Ste. 100, Reston), Joseph Willard Health Center (3750 Old Lee Hwy., Fairfax) and Mount Vernon (8350 Richmond Hwy., Ste. 233, Alexandria). Parents are encouraged to make an appointment to minimize their wait time at the clinic. Immunizations are also available during regular clinic hours, which are posted online at