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County cooling assistance programs in effect

Fairfax County offers two programs for families that may need some financial assistance staying cool in the summer heat.

The Cooling Assistance program, a federally funded program, helps eligible low-income households with at least one person considered especially vulnerable to heat: a child under age six, a disabled individual, or an adult age 60 or older. Cooling assistance can be used to help with electric bills, repair of a central air conditioning system, the purchase of a whole-house fan or purchase and installation of a window unit air conditioner.

Applications for the cooling assistance program are accepted through Aug. 15. For more information, go to http://www.dss.virginia.gov/benefit/ea/index.cgi or call 703-787-3100.

The Fan Care program also aims to help older Fairfax area residents stay safe in the summer heat. This electric fan distribution program, sponsored by Dominion Virginia Power in partnership with the Virginia Department for the Aging, annually provides about 200 free fans and/or window air conditioners to eligible senior adults in the Fairfax area.

To qualify, a person must be at least 60 years old, need a fan to prevent heat-related health problems and meet income eligibility requirements.

The Fan Care program began June 1 and runs through the end of September. To request an application, call 703-324-7694, TTY 703-449-1186.

Metro holds contest to select first Silver Line passengers



If you’re dying to be on the first train out of the Wiehle-Reston East Station July 26, Metro is offering you a chance to win a seat on the train.

Ten winners, randomly selected from the contest entries, will receive a seat on the train and an all-day Metro pass. To enter, visit silverlinemetro.com/newsletter and sign up for the Silver Bulletin, the free e-newsletter for the Silver Line.

The transit agency says it will announce additional details about the opening ceremonies next week.

Community, park officials to dedicate new playground



A long-awaited playground is now in place at Collingwood Park in the Alexandria area. The new playground replaces an older one that served the community for over 20 years. A ribbon cutting ceremony is scheduled for July 12 at 10 a.m.

The Park Authority authorized funding for the playground replacement in 2008. Park staff worked with Katherine Ward, a resident of one of the adjacent communities, to design the park. The new equipment meets current playground safety standards and includes swing sets for young children (ages 2 to 5) and older kids (ages 5 to 12), a spring animal and a leaf spinner. The main play structure includes climbers, slides, tunnels, and activity panels. Other elements of the project include a new drainage system under the playground, three new benches, and the planting of two shade trees.

“The community worked very closely with the Park Authority staff to make this new playground a reality,” Ward said. “It encompasses all the things the community desired, including the newly planted shade trees and recycled materials for the benches.”