Send announcements to The Loudoun Connection, 7913 Westpark Drive, McLean, VA 22102, e-mail to or fax to 703-917-0991. Deadline is Friday, two weeks before the event. Photos/artwork encouraged. For more information, call Jennifer Lesinski at 703-917-6454.

Two employees of the Loudoun County Department of Family Services have been elected to leadership positions with the Virginia Association of Housing Counselors (VAHC).

Stuart Shatz, Loudoun County Housing Choice Voucher Division manager, has been selected as the new president of the board of directors of the statewide group. Shelita Adams, Loudoun County Affordable Housing Program manager, has been chosen as a member-at-large of the board.

VAHC is the professional organization for housing counselors in Virginia. The group is dedicated to assuring that low- and moderate-income families and individuals have the opportunity to live in safe, decent and affordable housing. The group assists homeowners, home buyers and renters with housing related problems.

Jessica West, Ashburn LibraryÕs head of references, was named 2006 Outstanding Library Staff member by the Virginia Library Directors. West received the award for her expertise in technology, outstanding supervisory skills and her knowledge of reference and databases.

The Northern Virginia Long-Term Care Volunteer Ombudsman Program was selected as a winner in the National Association of CountiesÕ 2006 Acts of Caring Award, which recognizes top county volunteer programs in the country. The ombudsman program was established in 1985 to advocate for persons receiving long-term care services with a mission to ensure the highest quality of life and care.

The award was presented at a breakfast ceremony Thursday, May 4, at the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington, D.C. The Loudoun County Area Agency on Aging (AAA) had six volunteer ombudsmen during 2005. The volunteers are Bernie LaDue, Katherine Layton, Kathleen McCuistion, Emily Sprouse, Novella Whitehead, and James Wille.

Volunteers in the ombudsman program are assigned to a specific local nursing or assisted living facility, and make weekly visits, meeting one-on-one with residents.

The CountrySide Women's Club announces the new officers for the 2006-2007 year.

President, Teresa Bettac; first vice president, Diane Demakis; second vice president, Maryann Richard; treasurer, Sally Velt; and secretary, Joan Louise McCaffrey.

Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Sean Morgan and nine other statewide recipients were recognized for their efforts combating fraud at the Virginia Chapter of Special Investigation Units and the Insurance Fraud Program of the Virginia State PoliceÕs 2006 Fraud Seminar in Richmond in May. This is the second year that these awards have been given by the Virginia State Police. The award was created to recognize those individuals who set the standard for fighting insurance fraud in Virginia.

Morgan, a six-year veteran of the Office of the District Attorney in Oklahoma County, Okla., spent four years with the American Prosecutors Research Institute (APRI) before joining Loudoun County in February 2005.

Loudoun County has hired Edward A. Ryan III to serve as the new coordinator of Loudoun's Gang Response Intervention Team (GRIT).

Ryan, 30, began his new duties May 31. He will coordinate GRIT's response to gang activity in the county through a three-pronged approach involving suppression, intervention and prevention. About a dozen county, town and state agencies are involved in GRIT, which also serves as the point of contact for community-based educational programming, gang-awareness presentations and seminars.

The Annual Fire and Rescue Services Awards Banquet, sponsored by the Loudoun County Fire and Rescue System, and Loudoun County Volunteer Retention and Recruitment Committee of the Fire and Rescue Commission, was held Thursday, May 18. The following awards were presented to outstanding fire and rescue members.

The Clark J. Deener Memorial Award, Kit Fraley, rescue chief at Arcola Volunteer Fire and Rescue Station. Instructor Awards: Nicolas Croce and Dave Beatty with EMS Instructors of the Year award and Irvin Chilcoat and Jim Kiser with Fire Instructors of the Year awards. John C. Carr Jr. Memorial Award, J.B. Anderson. The Fire and EMS Hall of Fame Award, honored posthumously, was Robert "Hap" Arnold. Length of Service Awards: for 30 years of service, Paul Cangemi, James Cunnigham, Charles Fletcher, Richard Gardner, James Graham, Neil Hall, Richard Huntley, Robert Isaacs and MC Ramaley; for 35 years of service, James Anderson, Dick Costello, Alan Dutton, Jeffrey Edwards, Jon Harding, James Kiser, Kenneth Lawson, Harry Pangle Jr., Harold Sensabaugh and Fenton Simpson; for 40 years of service, Clifton Walker; for 45 years of service, Robert Piggott, Melvin Partlow and John Caviness.

More than 70 volunteers from the Loudoun County Chapter of the American Red Cross took part in the Red Cross National Convention, at the Washington, D.C., Convention Center, May 11-14. The volunteers included five students from the class of Magi Shepley and Cornelius Snead at Park View High School in Sterling, who served as greeters at Dulles Airport. Many other Loudoun volunteers worked posts ranging from exhibit hall announcer to speaker liaison. Staff members of the Loudoun Red Cross, led by CEO Carol Barbe, attended the convention to help plan for future disaster needs. The convention drew more than 3,000 Red Crossers in the wake of last year's Hurricane Katrina, which prompted the agency's largest response to a single, natural disaster in its 125-year history.

May 21 marked the 125th anniversary of the American Red Cross serving the American public through times of war and peace with disaster assistance, blood collection, safety training, and countless other community assistance services.

Del. David Poisson (D-32) has been appointed to represent the House of Delegates on two statewide commissions.

Poisson will be one of five House members Ñ and the only House Democrat Ñ to serve on the 13-member Manufacturing Development Commission. He will also serve as one of four House members on the Substance Abuse Services Council.

Poisson, a member of the House committees on Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources and Militia, Police and Public Safety, was elected to the House in November 2005.

Twenty leaders from the Class of 2006 have graduated from the Leadership Loudoun program during festivities held at River Creek Club in Leesburg, May 19.

Participants explored current challenges facing Loudoun County and learned how to become agents of change. Members of the Class of 2006 examined the issues of infrastructure, government services, diversity and access to human services.

Graduates were Bob Brewer, Z-Tech Corporation; Deirdre Cahill, Inova Loudoun Hospital; John Callahan, Town of Leesburg; Maggie Colucci, Rehau Inc.; Monika Dixit, Dulles Area Association of Realtors; Christine Freda, Town of Leesburg; Kathy Fetzer, Loudoun Literacy Council; Will Flagler, Loudoun County Fire, Rescue and Emergency Management; Paula Harper, George Washington University Virginia Campus; Pat Jewell, Carter Braxton Real Estate; Todd Kapner, America Online; Eileen Kennedy, Middleburg Bank; Lisa Kilgour, Middleburg Bank; Karen McQuaid, Loudoun County Fire, Rescue and Emergency Management; Gary Sherwood, America Online; Bob Steere, Reston Limousine; Dave Torraca, Loudoun County Office of Mapping and Geographic Information; Alicia Waning, La Voz of Loudoun; Sharon Wells, Loudoun Soccer; and Joan Ziemba, George Washington University Virginia Campus.

<lst>The Loudoun County Department of Services held a Foster Family Appreciation Luncheon, at the Outback Steakhouse in Sterling, May 6, to honor the agency's foster families. Bashar Kassir, manager/proprietor of the restaurant sponsored the event by opening his restaurant early for the group and donating all of the food.

An engraved photo album, framed certificate and bouquet of red roses were presented to Loudoun County's Foster Parents of the Year, Gloria and Randy Baer.

Certificates of appreciation were awarded to the following foster families, Rosaria and Kent Butterfield, Maria Robohn, Desiree and Frederick Washington, Natalia and Al Morro, Janet and Ron Arp, Louise and Phill Gross, Lorraine and Tim Sawyer, Marna and Larry Zok and Cindy and Chuck Gavelek.

Community service awards were presented to Judge Pamela Brooks; Elizabeth Weaver and Deborah Shiffelette and their organization, PAC of LOVE; Karen Velez, Holiday Coalition and Summer Camp Committee and Kassir. A final community service award was presented to director Robert Chirles for his leadership, advocacy and protection of the foster-care program here at Loudoun County Department of Family Services.

Nick Kraynack, son of Amy and James Kraynack of Ashburn, was named an All-American Scholar At-large Award Winner at the United States Achievement Academy. Nick will appear in the All-American Scholar Official Yearbook, which is published nationally. He is a student at Belmont Ridge Middle School.

The academy recognizes fewer than 10 percent of American high-school students. Winners are based on the Standards of Selection, which include grade point average, student achievements and a well-balanced schedule of academics and extracurricular actives.

Najib Salehi, Loudoun County's energy manager, has been elected to the board of directors of the Virginia Energy Purchasing Governmental Association (VEPGA) for a three-year term.

VEPGA was formed in 2002, after being authorized by the Commonwealth of Virginia with the passage of the Electric Utility Restructuring Act in 1999. The group's functions include procurement of electric power on behalf of its 171 member jurisdictions and negotiation for electric transmission and distribution services with Dominion Virginia Power.

As Loudoun County's energy manager, Salehi works to minimize annual energy cost increases for county-occupied facilities and to restrain the county's energy costs despite a volatile energy market and fast-paced growth environment. Salehi has been with the county since November 2004.

Salehi has more than 20 years of utility/energy management experience. He is a certified energy manager and is certified in energy procurement.

Iris Angelica Leguizamo of Loudoun, center director, NOVA Child Development Center, was appointed by Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D), to the Start Strong Pre-K Council, which will focus on developing an affordable, effective and efficient blueprint for expanding access to high-quality, prekindergarten education to every child in Virginia.

The Start Strong Pre-K Council will develop strategies to build on the existing network of public, private and faith-based providers across the commonwealth. The council will meet at least quarterly to oversee the development of early childhood education programs. Members of the Council will serve without compensation.

In conjunction with National Dance Week, Loudoun Ballet Company held it's annual Choreography Competition, "Celebration of Dance," April 29-30. The winners were: in the Non-Professional Division, Novice, first place, Allison Perhach, "Dancing Through Life;" second place, Tullia Johnston, "Dance Away;" third place, Taylor Gladstone and Emma Stockton, "When Lilacs Bloom." Junior, first place, Gabrielle David, "Grilz;" second place, Bryce Eyerman and Meredith Hickman, "Ballet Class;" third place, Lauren Combs and Erica Talbot, "Listen To Your Heart." Senior, first place, Laurel Snyder, "Volition;" second place, Katherine Boltz, "Lorrili;" third place, Chase Madigan, "Keep On." Best Costume, Johnston, "Dance Away." Best Concept, Eyermen and Hickman, "Ballet Class." Best Performance, Perhach, "Dancing Through Life." Best Overall Choreography, Snyder, "Volition."

In the Professional Division, first place, Kristen Miller, "Toukon;" second place, Andrew deFiesta, "Untitled;" third place, Marilyn York, "Keys To Imagination."

As the 2006 grand prize winner, Esperanza Alzona will be invited to perform the Showcase for the 2007 "Celebration of Dance" Choreography Competition.