Changes Bring Identity to South County

Changes Bring Identity to South County

New secondary school, progress on Lorton Prison Site highlight 2005.

Over the past 12 months, a radical change has occurred in the Lorton area, from the opening of the South County Secondary School to the passage of a historic nomination that could have an impact on how the southern portion of Fairfax County looks in the future.

<sh>South County Secondary School

<bt>When the South County Secondary School opened in September, students and parents alike gained a community center four years in the making.

The result of a much-lauded public private partnership, the school drew students from Hayfield Secondary and West Springfield High School from across the southern portion of the county, giving them a brand new identity, the South County Stallions.

The community surrounding the school of over 2,000 students in grades 7 through 11 has embraced its new core through a series of pep rallies, including the Stallion Stampede in August; a clothing and donation drive following Hurricane Katrina right after the school opened, and a dedication ceremony in December that featured elected officials from Fairfax County and state offices to celebrate the school.

Some concerns have arisen, however, that the school will become overcrowded at the start of the 2006-07 school year, when 500 new students are added and enrollment at the school will be over capacity. That information brought with it a public outcry and demands for an earlier construction for the South County Middle School, currently on the Fairfax County School Board's Capital Improvement Plan to open in 2014.

<sh>Historic Nomination

<bt>One of the more controversial items of the past year was the passing of a historic nomination on the former Lorton prison site. The honorific distinction encompasses more than 500 acres surrounding the prison, including the Workhouse and Reformatory buildings that are part of an arts complex to be built by the Lorton Arts Foundation, in addition to dormitory buildings, the penitentiary and reformatory structures and the prison's dairy farm.

Advocates for the distinction argued that securing the historic nomination would encourage developers to think creatively when submitting plans when the Request For Proposal goes out in early 2006. They also believed that the historic district would allow developers to apply for grants and other funding that would encourage new construction.

Those who opposed the nomination feared developers wouldn't want to be restricted to working with the existing structures and would not respond to the RFPs because of specifications on maintaining or reusing some of the former prison buildings. Community advocates expressed concern over retaining some of the prison attributes, namely the penitentiary and reformatory buildings, both as reminders of a "failed prison" and as unsightly structures in what had been promised to be developed as a "world class asset" to Fairfax County.

The Virginia Department of Historic Resources passed the nomination on Dec. 12 during its last meeting of the year in Richmond.

<sh>Arts Foundation, School Partnership

<bt>Even before the Lorton Arts Foundation signed the lease on the Workhouse and Reformatory property it intends to develop into a cultural center, a partnership was forged between the Arts Foundation and the South County Secondary School.

In the hopes of creating a cultural center in the southern part of the county, the Lorton Arts Foundation will provide teachers and classes for South County Students, who will, in turn, have volunteer opportunities and space to exhibit art and performances. During a ceremony at which the partnership papers were signed, South County students from the drama and music departments performed while student artwork was on display, giving a small example of what the future may hold.

Two teachers have already been funded at the school through the Arts Foundation to assist students in the theater department: one teaching stage lighting and performance instruction, the other serving as choreographer for the school's spring production of "Oliver!"

<sh>Golf Course Opens

<bt>Golf enthusiasts in Fairfax County now have a new course on which to try their skills, as the Laurel Hill Golf Club was officially opened in October.

The 3,000 acre site was originally part of the former prison site, something golfers are reminded of while playing as several portions of the prison campus can be seen from the greens, which also overlook the South County Secondary School.

During the opening ceremonies, Bob Brennan of the Fairfax County Park Foundation sank the course's first hole-in-one while playing in a tournament on the first official day of play.

Construction is ongoing for the club house, which is scheduled to open this spring.

Designed by area native and well-known course planner Bill Love, the Laurel Hill Golf Club is the first county-owned course that has a full-time golf pro, Gene Orrico, on staff to provide classes and tips for those seeking to improve their game.

<sh>Crosspointe Fire Station Under Construction

<bt>To better serve the growing population in the Fairfax Station and Lorton area, Fairfax County officials broke ground for the new Crosspointe Fire Station in early November. The station, which will be completed by 2007, will be the 41st in the county and will be built as part of the Leadership in Energy and Environment Design (LEED) Program using environmentally-friendly materials and technology.

It is expected that a staff of 51 trained fire fighters will work at the new station, which will house an engine, advanced life-support unit and ladder truck inside the 14,600 square foot building, which is being constructed at the intersection of Hampton and Ox roads.

<sh>Del. Dave Albo Re-elected

<bt>In one of the most expensive races of the year, Del. Dave Albo (R-42) defeated political newcomer Greg Werkheiser (D) to represent the southern part of the county in the House of Delegates.

During the campaign, the two men raised more than $875,000, making this race one of the most expensive races for the House of Delegates in Virginia history.

While Democrats retained the governor's mansion, Republican Albo managed to defeat Werkheiser after a campaign that included each candidate targeting the other's past, from Albo's acceptance of campaign funding from the alcohol industry to Werkheiser's 10 speeding tickets in 10 years.

Albo, who has served in the House of Delegates for 11 years, was seen as an integral part in the construction of the South County Secondary School, a component of the Albo-Rust Plan that secured funding for the school's construction.

Delegate Tim Hugo (R-40) was also re-elected to represent the Fairfax Station and Clifton area in the House of Delegates, running unopposed for the majority of his campaign.

<sh>Murder Rocks Clifton Hunt

<bt>On May 15, around 6:23 p.m., Fairfax County Police received a report of a shooting at the home of Percy Logan on Clifton Hunt Drive, outside the Town of Clifton.

As things turned out, the victim was Derrick Nathaniel Meade, 25, of that home. Charged with his murder was David Marsden Logan, 35, of the same address. Police called it both a "domestic-related dispute" and a homicide.

According to a May 16 affidavit for a search warrant to look for the murder weapon in Logan's car.

Police apprehended Logan that same night in Centreville and, when the search warrant was executed May 16, police seized a .9-mm semi-automatic handgun from his vehicle. He's since been indicted for murder by the grand jury and is slated for a Jan. 23 jury trial in circuit court.