Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Absentee In Person Voting

A friend emailed me to let me know that he would be unavailable to volunteer on Election Day because of work. He isn't even sure he's going to be able to vote because of job commitments. No one should be asked to forgo their right to vote in order to put food on the table. (This is why Election Day should be a non-negotiable national holiday, but that's a different diary entirely.)

Luckily, Loudoun County recognizes that people have lives and commitments, and provides an opportunity for people who may not be able to vote on Election Day to vote early, through Absentee In Person voting at the Board of Elections.
An in-person absentee voter visits an absentee office location to vote. In Loudoun County there are two locations: the Voter Registration office in Leesburg and the Cascades Senior Center in Sterling. Arriving voters complete the Absentee Ballot Application and provide appropriate identification. The Absentee Ballot Application is processed there and voting takes place on a voting machine just as is done on Election Day.

Absentee in-person voting begins approximately 45 days prior to a general election (30 days for primaries) and ends at 5:00 p.m. on the Saturday before Election Day. - Loudoun County
The process involves going to the Board of Elections and filling out an application for an absentee ballot. They will process the application right there, and then provide you with your ballot and let you vote, immediately.

Here are the dates and locations where Absentee In Person voting is available.
Absentee Voting Hours

Extended hours for absentee voting in Leesburg will be offered at 801 Sycolin Road, Suite 102, Leesburg, 20175

November 2, 2010 General Election
o October 18-22, 8:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
o October 25-29, 8:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
o Two Saturdays: October 23 and 30, 8:30 a.m.- 5:00 p.m

Satellite absentee voting will be offered at the Cascades Senior Center, 21060 Whitfield Place, Sterling, 20165.

o October 18-22, 4:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.
o October 25-29, 4:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.
o Two Saturdays: October 23 and 30, 9:00 a.m.- 5:00 p.m.

Here is a map showing the Board of Elections office, just north of Leesburg Airport on Sycolin Road.

View Larger Map

(Crossposted from Loudoun Progress.)

Monday, September 27, 2010

Power Leesburg With Sludge

Out in Nevada, they're starting to generate fuel for power plants from wastewater sludge, "inexpensively."
The new patent-pending, low-cost, energy-efficient technology is an experimental carbon-neutral system. The solid fuel it produces will be analyzed for its suitability to be used for fuel through gasification, and the refrigerator-size demonstration unit will help researchers determine the optimum conditions for a commercial-sized operation.

"The beauty of this process is that it's designed to be all on-site, saving trucking costs and disposal fees for the sludge," Victor Vasquez, a University faculty member in chemical engineering and collaborator, said. "It uses waste heat from the process to drive the electrical generation. It also keeps the sludge out of the landfill." - ScienceDaily
As you might know, a new power station has been approved for south of Town, one that is planned to be green. That power plant has already planned to use wastewater as part of its design.
The hybrid plant will be designed to use natural gas, steam and Virginia's largest solar array to generate 981 megawatts of electricity. The natural gas transmission lines already in place on the property would serve as the fuel source for the plant and the company is seeking to purchase 5 million gallons per day of treated wastewater from the Town of Leesburg. Green Energy Partners has indicated it could get effluent from Loudoun Water if the agreement with the Town of Leesburg could not be finalized. - Leesburg Today
It seems like a logical step to implement wastewater sludge as a power input once the technology for that sludge is ready for prime time.

Of course, getting that technology ready is a few years off. And the technology is in Nevada, not Virginia. Perhaps some kind of partnership with UVA or Virginia Tech (or other excellent Virginia schools) could expedite the availability of the technology, locally. As an added bonus, such a partnership might make Leesburg an attractive location for a new branch college. The Town has been an inviting location for a school of higher education for some time, and personally I think siting a college here makes a lot of sense. A research technology partnership around existing resources, like the power plant, would be a nice foundation for an engineering school.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Battlefield Parkway North Progressing

Lest people think I'm nothing but a traffic naysayer, there is some GREAT news for those of us who live on the Northern side of Leesburg. Battlefield Parkway between Ft. Evans Road and Edwards Ferry Road will soon be completed.
Project Description: The project includes construction of approximately 1,650 feet of 4-lane arterial roadway with a sidewalk and multi-use trail immediately south of Edwards Ferry Road.
...
This will complete Edwards Ferry Road as a four-lane divided roadway between the Bypass and the Town limits. By completing this final segment of Battlefield Parkway between North King Street and East Market Street, access to the northern portions of the Town will be improved and congestion on the Route 15 Bypass will be reduced.
...
As of September 24, 2010 - For the final phase of work on this project, the contractor was given a Notice to Proceed effective September 13, 2010. Currently they are mobilizing, with survey work expected to begin within the next two weeks. - The Town of Leesburg
I am continually impressed by the effectiveness with which the Town makes use of limited resources to address unlimited transportation and traffic needs.

Leesburg Bypass Woes

Ft. Evans IntersectionEarlier this week, Leesburg Councilmember Dave Butler introduced a resolution to provide pedestrian crosswalks on the Leesburg Bypass. This is in response to the significant danger posed by people crossing the Bypass unsafely, today.
To protect residents that need to cross the Bypass, and to further the goal of increasing bicycle & pedestrian use within the Town, on Monday, Town Councilman Dave Butler will propose installing crosswalks at all four Bypass intersections including Battlefield Parkway, Edwards Ferry Road, Fort Evan's Road, and Sycolin Road.

"Obviously, Leesburg Town staff will need to investigate cost and feasibility, but this is a critical need for Leesburg and we need to move this forward. Too many of our residents cross the Bypass to earn a living to survive," said Councilman Butler. "We owe it to them to come up with a better solution than just a bus." - Dave Butler
The best solution for the Bypass is a series of interchanges from Fort Evans Rd. north to Battlefield Parkway, and a flyover at Sycolin Road. These are, in fact, the Town's plans for the road, but there is no funding for these critical, necessary plans.

The fact that we need to consider pedestrian crosswalks on the Leesburg Bypass is due to the total ineffectiveness of our legislative Republican representation in Richmond and Washington DC. Yes, the mess that is the Leesburg Bypass at rush hour is the fault of Joe May and Frank Wolf. For lack of legislative gumption from our representatives, the Town is forced to consider striping a major throughway in the name of safety.

Both Joe May and Frank Wolf have served as chairmen of their respective chambers' Transportation Committees at various points over the past decade. Joe May is Chair of the Transportation committee in the Assembly, today! And yet, in spite of these positions of power within a legislative majorities, they ignored the emerging need for a solution on the Leesburg Bypass as the problem was building.

During this past decade, the commonwealth faced its biggest battles over transportation funding and planning, but Joe May and Frank Wolf were conspicuously absent from those important debates. In fact, in 2008 - after the 2007 compromise that yielded the NVTA was declared unconstitutional - Joe May said, "We need money raised in Northern Virginia to be spent in Northern Virginia. It is becoming rapidly apparent that we're at the point where if we don't address transportation in Northern Virginia it will start to affect the rest of Virginia."

That was two years ago and yet Delegate May has done nothing to address that imbalance since then.

Similarly, Frank Wolf's signature legislative accomplishment of the past five years is the Journey Through Hallowed Ground. A significant portion of this "Journey" is US 15 from Charlottesville to Gettysburg. That means the Leesburg Bypass, here in Mr. Wolf's district. If ever there were a vehicle for addressing the need for interchanges on the Leesburg Bypass, this was it. And yet, though he had been Chair of the Transportation Committee, and though there was bipartisan support for the bill establishing the Journey, Frank Wolf did nothing for Leesburg when given this golden opportunity.

For the record, by the time the Journey Through Hallowed Ground legislation was finally passed, the need for interchanges on the Bypass was clear. The fact that the longest-serving member of the Virginia delegation to Congress could not secure at least some part of $35 million to make his precious Journey Through Hallowed Ground actually safe for pedestrians in his own District is laughable.

Both Joe May and Frank Wolf have served for decades in their respective chambers. Both of them have seen to their personal, parochial issues during that extensive period. But both of them have failed, miserably, to address the real, pressing traffic problems of their Districts. Both of them deserve to be sent home. We need to change our representation in Congress and Richmond before anything will be done to solve the problems of the Bypass.

[Update] I was remiss in not mentioning that Sen. Herring has put together a Rt 7 Task Force to look at interchanges on that critical artery.
On Sept. 21, state Sen. Mark Herring (D-eastern Loudoun) told the Times-Mirror he will soon announce the formation of a new community task force with the goal of developing prioritized solutions to alleviate congestion on the Route 7 corridor between the Fairfax and Loudoun line in the east to the town of Leesburg in the west. - The Loudoun Times
Adam from Sen. Herring's office has confirmed that the Leesburg Bypass was part of the area that the Task Force is going to be examining closely. Once again, Joe May is silent, absent and ineffective. Thankfully Sen. Herring is looking out for us and building a consensus among stakeholders in the County.

Monday, September 13, 2010

An Interlude: The Dad Life

From a friend here in the neighborhood. This is pretty much how Loudoun County rolls.