Local Commentary

A Penny for Your Thoughts: News of Greater Falls Church

Fairfax County derives its name from Thomas, the sixth Lord Fairfax, whose family controlled huge acreage in Virginia through a grant from the King of England. From Great Falls to Mount Vernon and beyond, Lord Fairfax rode through and across his domain, and established a mansion on the Potomac River that he called Belvoir, where he lived for about 20 years. Other Fairfax homes in the county were Toulston (now Towlston) Grange, Ash Grove, Vaucluse, and Mount Eagle. The unmarried Lord Fairfax died in 1781, and his lands eventually became part of the Commonwealth of Virginia. In 2017, on the 275th anniversary of the founding of Fairfax County, Nicholas, the 14th Baron Fairfax, and his wife, Annabel, participated in the anniversary celebration and charmed all who met them. His brother, Hugh, has written a most interesting book, “Fairfax of Virginia: the Forgotten Story of America’s Only Peerage, 1690 – 1960,” that tracks the progression of the Fairfax family, both here and in England, across the centuries.

On Tuesday, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors honored modern day Lords and Ladies Fairfax, county residents selected by each board member for their contributions to our community, at a special ceremony in the Board Auditorium. Selection of the Lords and Ladies dates back to 1984, and signals the start of activities for Celebrate Fairfax, the county’s “fair,” which will be held June 7 – 9 at the Fairfax County Government Center in Fairfax. For Mason District, I selected Annandale High School student Victor Nguyen as Lord Fairfax, and longtime Small Business Commissioner Elizabeth “Libby” Novak, as Lady Fairfax.

The son in a Vietnamese-American family, Victor Nguyen knows well the experiences and challenges of melding and understanding cultures, customs, and languages in his community. President of the Key Club at Annandale High School, an officer in the Math Honor Society and National Honor Society, Victor participated in the county’s year-long Youth Leadership Program, and volunteers with NAKASEC, which seeks to improve the immigrant experience through advocacy and education. He tutors elementary students through GIVE Tutoring, and recently won first place in a Future Business Leaders of America competition. Victor will attend Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond this fall.

Longtime Mason District resident Elizabeth “Libby” Novak owns a specialized hazardous waste company, and understands the challenges facing woman-owned businesses, especially in non-traditional fields. For more than 13 years, Libby has represented Mason District on the Fairfax County Small Business Commission, including a term as chairman, where her gentle Southern charm masks a steely conviction for doing the right thing. An advocate for establishing, developing, and enhancing small businesses in the county, Libby seeks out opportunities at both the county and state levels to ensure that small businesses have the encouragement, and the tools, to be successful in Fairfax County.

As a follow-up to my column in April about bike lanes, sidewalks, and rules of the road, here is a heads up to drivers who relentlessly blow through stop signs and red lights. Police recently conducted speed enforcement in a Falls Church neighborhood. Not many speeders were found, but officers apprehended a half dozen drivers who failed to stop at the same intersection repeatedly. Stop signs improve safety for us all. Please come to a full stop!