Commentary, Local Commentary

A Penny for Your Thoughts

The 2022 Mason District Holiday Town Gathering will be held on Monday, December 5, from 7 until 8:30 p.m., at the Mason District Governmental Center, 6507 Columbia Pike, in Annandale.  The event is open to the public, is family-friendly, and will feature live musical entertainment by the Four Winds Clarinet Quartet, refreshments, door prizes, and my annual “State of the Mason District” report.  The first Holiday Town Gathering was held in 1996, when my staff and I decided that the holidays needed a “fun” kickoff, one that didn’t require dressing up, and one that celebrated our diverse community.  During the ensuing 27 years, the Holiday Town Gathering has featured local talent – high school madrigals, a teen violinist, Mariachi Los Amigos, a gospel choir, banjos, jazz (several times), a women’s barbershop quartet, and many others.  The COVID-19 pandemic prevented gathering in December 2020, so my annual report was broadcast on the county’s cable Channel 16.  The entertainment, refreshments, and door prizes returned last year.  I look forward to seeing you on Monday evening.

Do you have a firearm in your attic or basement that you no longer need or want?  Perhaps you inherited it from a family member, or obtained it during military service.  Maybe you have children in the household and decided to ensure their safety by disposing of it.  The preferred way to dispose of an unwanted firearm and/or ammunition is to call the county’s non-emergency number – 703-691-2131 – and ask for an officer to respond to your location to retrieve, make safe, and take custody of the weapon/ammo for purposes of destruction.  Or you can arrange to deliver the firearm/ammo by taking the items to a local Fairfax County police station.  You should call in advance to advise the police that you are delivering it, and remain in your vehicle in the parking lot until an officer responds.  More information is available at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/police/servicesah/disposalunwantedfirearmsammunition.  

The leaves come down every year, but they don’t fall like clockwork.  Sometimes leaf fall is early, sometimes late, which makes it problematic for those Mason District households served by county vacuum leaf collection.  The familiar yellow signs in those neighborhoods are posted with estimated dates of leaf collection (three rounds of pick up are scheduled between November and January), but those dates often are an educated guess.  Weather, rate of leaf drop, mechanical issues, and other factors may affect pickup for days or even weeks.  Leaf piles that contain rocks, limbs, or other waste can damage the vacuum machinery, taking the truck(s) out of service and delaying pick up of the rest of the route.  The Fairfax County Department of Public Works and Environmental Services is examining how public and private trash and recycling services are provided in the county, and will present recommendations to the Board of Supervisors in the near future.  In the meantime, patience is encouraged.  

In a related matter, a constituent who uses a private trash hauler, asked if he could place leaves in plastic bags for pick up.  The answer is “no,” leaves for pick up should be placed in paper bags or in marked recycling containers (a large garbage can labelled “yard waste” will suffice).  Local processors banned the use of plastic bags a few years ago because the bags get caught in the mechanisms that turn leaves into mulch, causing delays and damage.  Plastic bags also can disintegrate into nearly permanent shards of microplastics, which can be found in our food, water, waste stream, and air.  A proven alternative to leaf disposal is running a lawn mower over the leaves a few times, which creates a mulch that will disintegrate and feed the lawn over the winter.  Free nutrients for the lawn, and good for the environment, too.