Tysons, VA

Former Dranesville District Supervisor Ernest Joseph Berger has died at age 88 in Johns Island, South Carolina.

During his time in McLean, Berger did not shy away from controversy. The former Dranesville District Supervisor and Army veteran came into office in 1994 with an array of conservative positions that put Berger at odds with many of his colleagues.

Friends and family of Berger praised his fiscal conervatism.

“Mr. Berger was an example of a true leader,” said Ann Green Baise. “He had a great business background, and he put that background to work for the citizens of Dranesville in a first rate way. An example of his foresight for the community was his appointment of Stu Mendelsohn to the School Board. He was a fiscal conservative and applied common sense to questions that arose in the community.”

A Washington Post article from 1994 said Berger worked to make financial reforms to Fairfax and run the county like a business, pushing for measures like converting the school bus system to a private company and easing restrictions on developers. Berger described himself as a bulldog when it came to watching the budget.

Despite the emphasis on fiscal policy, Berger also harbored a share of socially conservative positions that put him in hot water. According to the Washington Post article, Berger aggressively pushed for a Christian activist to be appointed to the Library Board in an effort to ban a gay newspaper from Fairfax County libraries.

The Sun Gazette noted that Berger died just three days after Lilla Richards, whom Berger defeated in his 1994 election.

“Ernie Berger was known to all as a strong Republican and a great man,” Fairfax GOP Chairman Steve Knotts said on the Fairfax GOP website. “We are thankful for Ernie’s service to Fairfax County; and we extend our sincere condolences to his many friends and loved ones.”

Photo via Fairfax County Government/Facebook

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McLean Teacher Turns to Virtual Art Classes — “McLean art teacher and mom of two Pamela Saunders wasn’t too familiar with online technology before the coronavirus outbreak. But when schools closed for the academic year, the teacher children call ‘Miss Pam’ had the motivation to quickly her adjust small business Young at Art.” [Patch]

Meridian Group Buys Two Tysons Buildings — “The Meridian Group has acquired a pair of Class B Tysons office buildings for a combined $58.25 million, tacking nearly 430,000 square feet to its D.C.-area portfolio. Bethesda’s Meridian, developer of The Boro mixed-use project in Tysons, bought 1951 Kidwell Drive for $24 million and 1953 Gallows Road for $34.25 million, according to public records.” [Washington Business Journal]

West Falls Church Station Closed This Weekend — “In addition to the station closure, Orange Line trains will share a single track between West Falls Church and Vienna, with trains every 36 minutes, rather than every 30 minutes… A free shuttle bus will be available between West Falls Church and Dunn Loring stations for any essential rider affected by the closure.” [Metro]

FCPS Speeding Up Work — “Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) officials are forging ahead briskly with an extensive list of construction, maintenance and repair projects during the COVID-19 pandemic… FCPS officials also have accelerated… expansion of the parking lot at Shrevewood Elementary School in the Falls Church area.” [Inside NoVa]

Obituary for Falls Church Resident — “Thomas (Tom) Duggan, 71, of Falls Church, Virginia, passed away in his home surrounded by his family on April 8, 2020 after battling a very aggressive cancer.” [Falls Church News-Press]

Praise for Local Middle School Student — “Anna Wisniewski, a seventh-grade student at Cooper Middle School, has been named winner of the 2020 STEM Essay Contest, sponsored by the McLean area branch of the American Association of University Women (AAUW).” [Inside NoVa]

Outbreaks at Falls Church Senior Homes — “Three Falls Church area senior homes are now confirmed to be fighting outbreaks of the coronavirus, with Chesterbrook Residences telling the News-Press today that a total of 17 of its residents and staff have tested positive for Covid-19.” [Falls Church News-Press]

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Friends, family and colleagues will soon have the chance to commemorate Paul Bolon, who was in the race for the Board of Supervisors’ Providence District seat before he died.

Bolon, 69, died from a heart attack at the Inova Fairfax Hospital after meeting voters on Sunday (Aug. 11), the Washington Post reported. A retired economist and manager from the Federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Bolon was running as the Republican candidate against Democrat Dalia Palchik.

Palchik posted on Facebook:

I was extremely saddened to learn overnight about the passing of my opponent, Paul Bolon. Paul and I did not know each other well, but we were both looking forward to honestly debating important issues, at a time of such bickering and division. All of my thoughts are with his wife and children today, I’m so very sorry for your loss.

His colleagues took to Twitter to remember him as a “great man.”

“I was very saddened to learn of Paul’s untimely passing — he truly was a great man,” Srilekha Palle, the Republican candidate for the Sully District, tweeted.

Joe Galdo, the Republican candidate for the Board of Supervisors’ chair, tweeted, “We lost a good candidate and a great man.”

Tim Hannigan, the chairman of the Fairfax County Republican Committee, said Bolon was a “personable, unfailingly civil, generous and always kind” person.

“Paul Bolon was a great candidate. A professional economist, he brought a clear-eyed, analytical perspective to issues facing our county,” Hannigan said. “As our committee’s Providence District Chairman, he served with distinction as a very effective grassroots leader and a tireless advocate for Republican values and Republican candidates.”

The memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 24, at the Fellowship Baptist Church (11032 Oakton Road), followed by a reception at the Bolon residence.

Photo via Fairfax County Republican Committee

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Paul Bolon died over the weekend while campaigning for the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors’ Providence District seat.

Bolon, 69, had a fatal heart attack after meeting voters in the Providence District on Sunday (Aug. 11) and died at the Inova Fairfax Hospital, the Washington Post reported. He was running as the Republican candidate against Democrat Dalia Palchik.

“Paul Bolon was a great candidate. A professional economist, he brought a clear-eyed, analytical perspective to issues facing our county,” Tim Hannigan, the chairman of the Fairfax County Republican Committee, said in a statement. “As our committee’s Providence District Chairman, he served with distinction as a very effective grassroots leader and a tireless advocate for Republican values and Republican candidates.”

Hannigan added that Bolon was a “personable, unfailingly civil, generous and always kind” person.

Bolon was a retired manager from the Federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration and economist.

A memorial service will be held on Saturday, Aug. 24.

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(Updated at 4 p.m. 8/6/19) Colleagues are commemorating the woman who died from a hit and run in Falls Church as a loving mother, wife and passionate U.S. State Department employee.

Police said Betty Ana Bernstein-Zabza, a 60-year-old Falls Church resident, died as a result of injuries from the crash, which happened shortly before 3 p.m. Saturday near the intersection of Shreve Road and Hickory Street — less than a mile away from her home.

“Detectives from our Crash Reconstruction Unit have preliminarily determined that [Bernstein-Zabza] was walking with a juvenile northbound on a pedestrian pathway adjacent to Shreve Road,” police said. “They entered a crosswalk that connected the pathway to a sidewalk when they were hit by a stolen 2013 Nissan Titan pickup truck.”

A State Department spokesperson told Tysons Reporter that Bernstein-Zabza was a senior advisor in the Bureau of Counterterrorism.

“Ms. Bernstein joined the Department of State on Oct. 1, 1993 and served at overseas posts in Warsaw, Bern and Berlin, as well as several domestic posts,” the spokesperson said.

Jane Zimmerman told Tysons Reporter that she will remember her former work colleague as a loving mother and wife. “Her son was her everything. She cherished every moment with him and was so grateful for her husband as a wonderful father and loving family man,” Zimmerman said.

Zimmerman also said that Bernstein-Zabza especially loved working on global women’s issues and supporting and mentoring her colleagues at the State Department.

“Her experience from Pakistan to Poland and Germany made her take women’s issues and human rights close to her heart,” Zimmerman said, adding that she was a wise, compassionate and joyful person who “could always make us laugh, especially at ourselves.”

Known for her efforts to empower women, Bernstein-Zabza spoke at several events advocating for providing more tools for women to succeed.

Another former work colleague, Marci Hodge, told Tysons Reporter that Bernstein-Zabza “worked so hard for women and girls particular in this world and we all owe her a debt of gratitude for her leadership on these issues.”

Hodge said that Bernstein-Zabza hired her and helped get her started on her “dream job” at the State Department. “I would not be here without her.”

Shakyra McMillon, who was supervised by Zabza in the Office of Global Women’s Issues at the State Department, said that Zabza was “a great leader and you made sure the women and girls priorities were known.”

She said that Bernstein-Zabza was “an inspiring, goal-driven, intelligent, and thoughtful woman,” adding, “Not only were you a great colleague but a wonderful mother!”

Maryum Saifee, who worked with Bernstein-Zabza in the Office of Global Women’s Issues, said that her former colleague “was part of this special crew of rockstar colleagues that represented the very best in public service.”

“She helped bring me into that office by creating a special tour of duty that year — which was bureaucratically not easy, but she fought for me,” Saifee said. “And because of her, I was given a platform to fight for issues I care deeply about and grow professionally as a diplomat.”

Several people also shared memories of Bernstein-Zabza on social media, describing her as a beloved work colleague.

Police arrested the vehicle’s driver — 46-year-old South Riding resident David Alan Francis — and charged him with one count of felony hit and run. Detectives believe Francis may have been involved in additional criminal events yesterday in both Fairfax County and adjoining jurisdictions.

Since 2009, Francis has faced 30 charges including many traffic-related ones like driving under a revoked or suspended license, operating an insured vehicle, speeding and improper driving, according to court records.

Photo via Facebook

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Jazz Haaren, a 19-year-old from Vienna, died Wednesday (July 24) after falling from a popular photo spot in D.C.

Police said that Haaren “fell off the Alexandria Aqueduct in Georgetown about 11:45 p.m. and landed in a boat moored in the water below… The D.C. Medical Examiner Office said Haaren’s death has been ruled accidental,” according to the Washington Post.

While Tysons Reporter does not know the circumstances around how she fell, the location is a popular spot for photography and views of the Potomac River.

Haaren was a student at Old Dominion University in Norfolk and lead hostess at Sweetwater Tavern in Merrifield, according to her LinkedIn.

Known for her love of animals, she had a “dog blog” and posted many pictures of herself with bunnies, horses, dogs and cats on her Facebook and Instagram accounts.

For her birthday this year, Haaren asked in a Facebook post for people to donate to the Animal Rescue Corps, writing, “I’ve chosen this nonprofit because their mission means a lot to me, and I hope you’ll consider contributing as a way to celebrate with me.”

Funeral services will be held Saturday, Aug. 17, at the National Funeral Home (7482 Lee Hwy) in Falls Church. The memorial service is set to start at 11 a.m.

Photo via Jazz Haaren/Facebook

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Years ago, there was a stinkbug invasion at a farm in Vienna. They were a source of concern for everyone on the farm except Clarene Vickery, who turned catching and collecting the bugs into a game for her children.

Ray Vickery Jr. remembered his mother, who died last Wednesday (June 26) at the age of 101, as a woman who could turn challenges into fun opportunities.

“She was a real life force,” Ray said. “She was able to meet and overcome problems.”

Clarene founded the Parkwood School in Vienna in 1956 and — over her 64 years as director and owner — helped teach more than 10,000 students. Ray said his mother founded the school at a time when there was no public kindergarten in Virginia and education for young children wasn’t seen as a priority.

“She started Parkwood in our living room,” he said. “She was still running the school months before her passing.”

Ray said his mother loved working with children and was able to communicate with them on a personal level.

In addition to her time running Parkwood School, Clarene was a founder of the Virginia Association of Early Childhood Education and a founding member of Providence Baptist Church in Tysons. In recent years, Clarene received recognition from a variety of public officials and a formal resolution commending her life work from the Virginia General Assembly, where her son Ray was once a member.

“She taught us it’s really important to value people for themselves, not for status or money,” said Ray.

When she wasn’t teaching, Ray said his mother liked to drive. She would take long solo trips back to Mississippi, where she was born. When she was too old to drive safely, Ray said she would take the car to the church parking lot and drive around “just to keep her hand on the wheel.”

A service will be held at Vienna Baptist Church (541 Marshall Road SW) at noon today (Tuesday). Clarene will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery with her husband.

“She appreciated that there was still a small town atmosphere [in Vienna],” Ray said. “She wanted to maintain that person to person connection.”

Photo via Mark Keam/Facebook

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