Story Ideas in Fairfax County

Fairfax County Office of Public Affairs
12000 Government Center Parkway, Suite 551
Fairfax, VA 22035-0065
703-324-3187, TTY 703-324-2935, FAX 703-324-2010

July 22, 2004


Story Ideas in Fairfax County

The Fairfax County Office of Public Affairs provides a summary of news briefs designed to inform the media about great story ideas in Fairfax County government. The information provided gives the background on several newsworthy stories as well as the contact information for key personnel to provide more information, interviews, etc. For additional questions on the Future Features service, contact the Office of Public Affairs at 703-324-3187, TTY 703-324-2935.

Summer Storms Raise Concern About Lightning Safety
Recently, National Lightning Safety Awareness Week was observed in the commonwealth of Virginia. With the large number of athletic fields, golf courses and swimming pools owned by the Fairfax County Park Authority and being utilized during this summer season, it is a good time to remind county residents about the danger lightning poses and the guidelines for keeping safe during thunderstorms. Last year alone lightning killed 44 people and injured 230 in the United States.

If you can hear the sound of thunder then you are within range of a lightning strike. Lightning can travel horizontally up to ten miles in any direction, which means that a thunderstorm need not be directly overhead, nor does it need to be raining to produce lightning in an area. So, when the sky begins to darken and thunder begins rumbling, it is a sign to suspend your outdoor activity and take shelter immediately in a sturdy building or an automobile. Once inside, stay away from electrical outlets and metal pipes, do not use the telephone, and close all windows and outside doors. If you are outdoors and cannot get to a building, find a low spot away from tall objects and make yourself the smallest possible target while minimizing contact with the ground. Don’t resume outdoor activity until at least 30 minutes after the last sound of thunder. For more information about lightning safety visit or call Judy Pedersen, FCPA, at 703-324-8662, TTY 711.

Providence Players Settle in at James Lee Community Center
The Providence Players, a local theater group, has just finished its summer performance, “The Man Who Came to Dinner,” in the new theater of the James Lee Community Center. The theater group has a unique partnership with the Fairfax County Department of Community and Recreation Services and the community center. In addition, several county employees were a part of this production.

The Providence Players began several years ago in Mantua, a community in Fairfax, with the purpose of engaging the community in an activity in which many residents could participate, either in a production or in the audience. Like many community theater groups, the Players performed in high school auditoriums and gymnasiums. With the re-opening of the James Lee Community Center, the Providence Players have secured a facility in which to perform. They will help build the community spirit in the area by conducting youth mentoring programs, offering backstage and acting experiences, and providing a number of free performance tickets to the center. “This is a way in which we, as an amateur theater group, can grow and, at the same time, help the community become stronger,” pointed out member Chip Gertzog. For more information visit or call Patricia McClenic, CRS, at 703-324-5641, TTY 703-222-7040.

Adopt an Animal
The Fairfax County Animal Shelter has plenty of adorable animals to adopt. Visit to see pictures of your future pet. To adopt pets, visit the Animal Shelter at 4500 West Ox Road, Fairfax, Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., or Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. To see some of the animals available for adoption, watch “Adopt-A-Pet” on Fairfax County Government Cable Channel 16, which is aired Sundays, Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 2:30 p.m., Tuesdays at 10:30 p.m., Thursdays at 8:30 p.m. and Saturdays at 6:30 p.m. For more details, call the Animal Shelter at 703-830-1100, TTY 703-691-3255.

Hats off to the Red Hats and Tie Guys
“The Red Hat Society is a phenomenon that is taking county seniors by storm,” says Dorothy Keenan, head of the Fairfax County Community and Recreation Services Division of Senior Services. The loosely-affiliated national organization brings together senior citizens for fun and friendship. To be a full-fledged member of the Fairfax County groups, one must be 55 or over and willing to view life’s second act with a healthy sense of humor – and, as evidence of that, wear a red hat or a red tie with purple accessories when you gather with your fellow members. Members must also attend one of the 14 senior centers operated by the Department of Community and Recreation Services. There are almost 16,000 chapters of the Red Hatters – nearly 600 of them in the Washington metropolitan area. In Fairfax County, each senior center has a chapter of its own.

Not to be outdone, the men who attend senior centers started the Tie Guys. They show up in the craziest, most ridiculous red ties they can find. The lively group gathered for the first time on April 6, all of them dressed “to the nines.” The Department of Community and Recreation Services and the Office of Equity Programs joined together to kick off this grand program. “The Red Hatters has been one of the most successful programs to link seniors of multiple cultures,” says Keenan. “You don’t need to speak the same language to laugh, act and enjoy life. After all, everyone smiles in the same language.” For more information call Patricia McClenic, CRS, 703-324-5641, TTY 703-222-7040.

In Addition…
• A groundbreaking ceremony to commemorate the expansion and renovation of the Jennings Judicial Center will be held at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 4. The Judicial Center is located at 4110 Chain Bridge Road. The ceremony will take place in the picnic area in front of the entrance. For more information call the Fairfax County Office of Public Affairs at 703-324-3187, TTY 703-324-2935.

• A kickoff ceremony to commemorate the implementation of the South County Bus Plan and the commencement of REX – Richmond Highway Express service in the Richmond Highway Corridor will be held at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 26. The ceremony will take place at the South County Center, 8350 Richmond Highway, Alexandria. For more information call Carol Smith, Fairfax County Department of Transportation, at 703-324-1204, TTY 703-222-1102.


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