As another year wraps up, the Fairfax County Times would like to give out a few “roses” and “thorns” to those who had a hand in shaping events across the county this year.
Rose: To thousands of Fairfax residents who volunteered their time, donated to area food banks or made someone's holiday season a whole lot brighter.
Thorn: To Gov. Bob McDonnell for suggesting that one way of preventing mass shootings at U.S. schools is to arm teachers and administrators.
Rose: To the public-private partnership of VDOT and Transurban Fluor for delivering the 495 Express Lanes in Northern Virginia on-time and on-budget. Early returns on the new lanes have been encouraging.
Thorn: To the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority Board (again) for poorly managing its relationships with local governments and the community in 2012.
Rose: To county and state employees — teachers, park managers, librarians and VDOT road crews among them — who continue to do their jobs well despite a steady stream of staff cuts and salary freezes.
Rose: To longtime girls basketball coach Pat Deegan, who retired last spring after a stellar 32-year career on the sidelines. Deegan, who won three state Catholic titles at O’Connell and two Virginia AAA championships at Madison, spent the past 11 seasons at Westfield.
Thorn: To the Fairfax County Police for failing to find the body of W.T. Woodson High School senior Bryan Glenn the first time they searched Mantua Park. When Glenn was finally located, police took nearly a week to officially rule out a homicide. The delay on both fronts left a community on pins and needles for far too long.
Rose: The Langley High School community for its overwhelming support of boys basketball coach Travis Hess and his family as his young daughter battled cancer.
Thorn: To Mother Nature, who delivered a powerful derecho storm last June, knocking power out for more than half the homes in Fairfax County. Some communities went nearly a week without electricity.
Thorn: To Verizon officials, who did not know that 911 emergency service was out in Fairfax County during the derecho storm until the county called to tell them.
Rose: To all those in the military for their service at home and abroad. Also, to the families of military folks throughout Northern Virginia who receive precious little word about their loved ones in times of war. May all the news be good.
Rose: To Supervisor Pat Herrity (R-Springfield), who spearheaded the effort to outlaw campaign signs on Fairfax County’s highway medians and secondary roads. October commutes have never been more peaceful.
Thorn: To the imbecile who decided it was a good idea to post the academic records of every Fairfax High School student on the internet earlier this month.
Rose: To the five Fairfax-based teams that won state championships in 2011. The list included Lake Braddock’s baseball team, Oakton’s girls basketball team, Langley’s girls tennis team, Chantilly’s boys cross country team and Lake Braddock’s girls cross country team. Special mention also goes to the Great Falls Little League team that won the Virginia State Tournament in July.
Thorn: To the growing number of distracted drivers who continue to chat and text on their phones while driving on Fairfax County roads. We’re hopeful that state lawmakers are able to put some teeth into Virginia’s texting-and-driving laws during the upcoming General Assembly session.