Longtime Fairfax County Park Authority board member Frank Vajda recently announced his retirement after representing Mason District on the FCPA board for 16 years. Frank achieved many accomplishments through the years, including advocating the development of the Friends of Hidden Oaks Nature Center in 2003, when the center’s future was threatened by proposed budget cuts. Frank was extraordinarily helpful to me in getting the Mason District Park amphitheatre rebuilt following a devastating fire in 2004, and has been my co-host for the summer concert series there for more than a decade. During Frank’s service, parcels for additional parkland were obtained, including Hogge Park in Bailey’s Crossroads, and Monch Farm near Edsall Road.
Succeeding Frank as Mason District Park Authority representative is Ron Kendall, who recently retired from the Environmental Protection Agency, and previously served in the Peace Corps in Haiti. Ron was a member of the Green Team, which advocated for the passage of the Park Bond on last fall’s ballot. In Mason District, the Park Bond garnered almost 68 percent of the vote; the countywide result was similar, and demonstrates that Fairfax County residents treasure their parks.
I am pleased to announce the nomination of Barbara Peters, a longtime Annandale resident, to represent Mason District on the Fairfax County History Commission. Barbara recently retired as the branch manager of the Thomas Jefferson Library in Falls Church, and brings a wealth of background to her new volunteer position, including librarian positions in Paraguay and Venezuela.
Congratulations to PFC Kathleen “Kat” O’Leary, who was selected as the Mason District Police Station Officer of the Year at last Tuesday’s Citizen Advisory Council (CAC) meeting. PFC O’Leary has served as the crime prevention officer at the station for the past 18 months, and has worked with various community groups to resolve neighborhood issues. Kat’s work on behalf of Mason District residents and businesses has been exemplary.
Congratulations also to Maiss Mohamed and Deema Alharti, juniors at J.E.B. Stuart High School, and Vanessa Mae Avendano, a senior at Falls Church High School, for winning Student Peace Awards for 2016-2017. Student Peace Awards are offered in all 29 public high schools, as well as some private schools. Each school is invited to select a recipient, based on the student’s contributions for promoting peace and helping to remove the causes of violence, such as poverty, discrimination, and injustice. At a well-attended ceremony on Sunday, 24 individual students and three groups received awards for work ranging from reactivating the Model United Nations Club at Stuart to learn about settling international conflicts through peace and diplomacy, to developing training sessions for faculty to learn more about LGBT students and the issues facing them. These fine young students already are becoming leaders of tomorrow!
As announced in last week’s column, I will be hosting a Mason District Town Hall about gang prevention, intervention, interdiction and suppression, on Wednesday, March 29, at 7 p.m. at the Mason District Governmental Center, 6507 Columbia Pike in Annandale. A question and answer session will follow the presentations from the police and county agencies. Please plan to attend.
Penny Gross is the Mason District Supervisor, in the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. She may be emailed at [email protected]