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I am writing as the Founding Chairman of the Burke/West Springfield Senior Center Without Walls (BWSSCWoW), a public-private partnership created in 2009 to support neighborhood seniors because our Springfield District remains the only district in Fairfax County without a permanent senior center.

On June 10, 2014, Sen. Mark Warner responded promptly when I had to write to him about my concerns regarding ill treatment of a senior by the Fairfax County History Commission that did not follow proper procedures. I appealed to Sen. Mark Warner because the Board of Supervisors did not provide assistance even after repeated letters and requests for an Ombudsman. This occurred in the case of a 9th generation Burke resident, 70-plus-year-old Mrs. Mary Goins Roots, who submitted a historical marker proposal to recognize the contributions of her Coffer-Pearson ancestors in our Burke hometown.

The Commission should have held public hearings on the submission of Mrs. Roots instead of dismissing her concerns without following proper procedures and erroneously claiming that the Coffers were “people who either did not live at the location or whose work was elsewhere.” It also arbitrarily provided a substitute proposal that claimed the date for building the Coffer House as 1876 -- a date that was contradicted in a testimony by a Coffer family member to the Southern Claims Commission in 1896-97. I posted in the website my follow-up letter of March 27, 2014 and added on page two the official Fairfax County Government report with 1790 as the year for building the Downey House (once the Coffer Home), another evidence of error by the History Commission.

Following proper procedures to ensure fair treatment of seniors and historical accuracy is the key issue in the case of Mrs. Mary Goins Roots. And I thank Sen. Warner for his concern for seniors and for his constituent support to ensure that our democracy practices proper procedures to ensure fair hearing for all residents, including seniors. His action demonstrates that Senator Mark Warner remains dedicated to serving the people, including ailing seniors with little political influence who are working resolutely to document the contributions of their ancestors to our community.

Preserving accurate historical heritage is very important for our hometown of Burke, which has been undergoing dramatic transformation with modernization and demographic changes. And I remain very honored to support Sen. Warner as a champion for all Virginia residents, including seniors, who deserve proper democratic procedures and fair treatment from our government.

Corazon Sandoval Foley, Burke