The gorgeous weather of the Labor Day weekend made it difficult to say goodbye to summer, although we won’t soon forget the days and weeks of dangerous heat that afflicted our region. Returning to regular routines – school, work, team sports, PTA, and civic meetings – also means traffic headaches.
The HOT Lanes project and Rail to Dulles through Tyson’s Corner require major changes to traffic patterns, and lane shifts are common along the Beltway and other major thoroughfares. Fortunately, notification of the changes is available in many media: on-line at www.vamegaprojects.com; on radio and television, and signage. Please be careful as you drive through construction zones. The Virginia Department of Transportation advises that the “Orange Cones, No Phones” safety program initiated last year still is in force. Please, no cell phones, texting, or any other activity that can take your attention away from driving safely. Navigating a 2000 pound (or more) vehicle takes skill and attention, regardless of the driver’s age. In the past two weeks, two young motorcyclists have been killed on Mason District roadways. In both incidents, drivers were turning left across the path of the motorcycles. The crashes are under investigation, but serve to remind us of the need to slow down, yield the right-of-way, and get everyone home safely.
The Greater Mason District Community has become a Certified Wildlife Habitat. A representative from the National Wildlife Federation will make the formal designation at the Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday at 9 a.m. The designation is the culmination of a five-year stewardship project, organized by the Friends of Hidden Oaks Nature Center (FOHONC). Three hundred homes, seven schools, and five park/church/business areas are the minimum requirement for certification, numbers that were surpassed in the final accounting. Certification includes five steps: three food sources, such as native plants, pollen, or nuts; a water source; two pieces of cover, such as a wooded area, thickets or evergreens; two places to raise young; and two sustainable gardening practices, such as mulching, composting, or eliminating fertilizers. My own back yard is one of the certified locations. It wasn’t difficult; we had everything but the water source, and solved that problem by installing a portable bird bath. Check out the habitat demonstration areas at Hidden Oaks Nature Center, 7701 Royce Street (off Hummer Road) in Annandale, and see just how easy it can be! A cake-cutting celebration for participating homeowners is scheduled at the FOHONC booth at the 31st Annual Mason District Park Festival on Saturday, Sept. 25.
A couple of weeks ago, I alerted readers to the annual Fill the Boot Drive by the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department during the Labor Day weekend. The drive is complete, the donations have been counted, and the good news is that Fairfax County Fire Department personnel collected more than $561,000, more than any fire service organization in the nation, and surpassing the Houston (Texas) Fire Department, last year’s top collector. All the money collected helps support Muscular Dystrophy Association services and research programs in this region. Congratulations to the department, the International Association of Fire Fighters Local 2068, and personnel from the Department of Public Safety Communications (911 call takers) for their outstanding work, and to the people of Fairfax County for their generosity again this year.
Penny Gross is the Mason District Supervisor in the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. She may be e-mailed at [email protected]