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Falls Church News Briefs




F.C. Council to Make Planner Appointments Monday

The Falls Church City Council has called a special meeting for this Monday night, Dec. 22, for the purposes of making appointments to the Planning Commission for four terms that expire Dec. 31.

The meeting will be held at 7:30 p.m. at the Council chambers in City Hall. Last week, a second Planning Commission incumbent, Christine Sanders, withdrew her name from re-appointment consideration, joining Suzanne Fauber in deciding not to seek another term. That leaves two incumbents who have applied for re-appointment, Ruth Rodgers and current commission chair Maureen Budetti. However, nine others have filed seeking appointment, many in response to the current Planning Commission’s Dec. 1 rejection of the site plan for 174 new affordable housing units in the City Center area. A clear majority on the Council reaffirmed its support for the project with 5-2 and 6-1-1 votes last week and many are angry that the current Planning Commission effectively vetoed them by denying the site plan on grounds of a 19-slot parking shortfall. As a result, it is expected that no Planning Commission incumbents will be reappointed Monday. Other applicants are Charles Langalis, Michael Kearney, Phil Duncan, Russell Wodiska, Greg Rasnake, Thomas Devlin, Stuart Rubin, Robert Meeks and Nigel Yates. All candidates will have been interviewed by Monday by the Council’s appointments committee, which will make recommendations.

Dar Al-Hijrah Islamic Center Accepting Homeless

Beginning Dec. 2, the Dar Al-Hijrah Islamic Center accepted the request of the Volunteers of America and the Fairfax County government to join participating area faith communities in providing temporary overnight shelter for the homeless in the Falls Church area. The center, one of the largest and most diverse Islamic centers in the nation, is located just off of Rt. 7 between Seven Corners and Culmore. The overnight shelter will be open every night during the winter months and members of the center’s congregation will be providing breakfast for its homeless guests each morning, according to Imam Johari Abdul-Malik, who serves as director of outreach for the center. “Islam teaches us that it is our duty to care for our neighbors,” he said.

Gordon to Return as F.C. Chief Public Info Officer

The popular Barbara Gordon is coming back to Falls Church, having been hired to fill the position of chief public information officer at City Hall. It is the third time Gordon has held the post, dating back to the late 1980s. She also served a stint as executive director of the Falls Church Chamber of Commerce prior to holding jobs as the chief information officer for the City of Alexandria and her current post as P.I.O. for the Northern Virginia Regional Commission. Gordon will start her new job on Dec. 29, filing the vacancy created by the departure of Nicole Gobbo last summer. The post has been held down on an interim basis by Hyun June Lee in the meantime. Lee will remain on the City’s Public Information Office staff.

Whittier Park Fire Still Under Investigation

The cause of the fire that consumed a home in the Whittier Park development in Falls Church remains under investigation by the Arlington Fire Marshall’s office, but sources tell the News-Press there are indications it was caused accidentally by lighted candles in the home. According to City Hall officials, eight pets in the home have not been found since the fire. The home was deemed a “total loss,” and assessments of the damage to two homes on either side remain underway. The fire broke out in the late morning of Sunday, Dec. 7. Falls Church City Manager Wyatt Shields was on the scene as firefighters battled the blaze.

F.C.’s Gary Reals Leaving Channel 9

Long-time City of Falls Church resident Gary Reals has accepted a contract buyout from the management at WUSA, Channel 9, in Washington, D.C., and will end a 28-year career Dec. 23 as a popular and well-known on-camera, on-site news reporter. Reals, perhaps Falls Church’s premier media celebrity, took the buyout in the face of a modified news gathering strategy at the station, where reporters are required to become “multimedia journalists” that single-handedly report, shoot and edit the news, according to an article in the Dec. 12 Washington Post. Reals has frequently used his talents to serve the Falls Church community, including as the announcer for the annual Memorial Day Parade for over a decade.

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