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Cascades and CountrySide Blog: What’s on your back-burner list?
The new year is here, and with it comes a new chance to do all those things you’ve always been meaning to do. Eastern Loudoun offers an array of opportunities to get things cooking the minute you move them to a front burner.

If you—and your family members—have been meaning to get more exercise, annual passes to the Claude Moore Recreation Center are on sale at a 15 percent discount through Jan. 15. The passes provide access at no additional cost to a fitness center, competitive pool, leisure pool, gymnasium, indoor track and open time on the rock wall. During the sale, the annual pass for a family is discounted to $850 from $1,000; for a single adult to $467 from $550 and for a senior (age 55 and up) to $340 from $400. Special pricing  is available for students,  senior couples and for two adults. Information is  online at  http://tinyurl.com/Fitness2017.

For teens looking for something to do on weekends, the Loudoun County Public Library at Cascades offers a weekly after-hours teen center on Friday  nights from 7 to 10 p.m. On Jan. 7, the teen center presents DJ Joe Schwarz and a chance to dance the night away. On  Jan. 13, the after-hours teen center turns into an escape-room adventure: teens can work with a team to make their escape. Gaming, computers and art supplies also are available each week. No admission fee is required; teens must have a permission slip on file signed by a parent or guardian. Information is online at  http://www.library.loudoun.gov.   

For those at least 55 years of age who have been meaning to explore new interests and meet new people, the Loudoun County Senior Center at Cascades holds an open house on Jan. 13  from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. The event will showcase the center’s diverse activities and programs, with instructors and volunteers on hand to offer demonstrations and answer questions. There is no admission fee for the open house. Keep in mind that the Senior Center will be closed on Jan. 16 in observance of Martin Luther King Day.

Holiday honors

The winners of the 2016 CountrySide Holiday House Decorating Contest are: 5 Bedford Drive (in the Belmont neighborhood), 11 Dorrell Court (Foxfield), 10 Millard Court and 1 Griswold Court (Morven), 277 Chelmsford Court and 61 Rutherford Circle (Oakridge), 18 Glengyle Lane (Oatlands), 2 Mucklehany Lane (Rokeby), 16 Benton Court (Welbourne) and 114 Westwick Court #5 (The Villas). 
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Cascades and CountrySide Blog: The Sterling Fire Co. needs you
The Sterling Volunteer Fire Co. is wrapping up its 2016 membership drive with a volunteer information session on Dec. 18 at fire station 18 in Cascades.

Volunteers are needed for firefighter work, as well as for work running the fire company. The company needs support in roles including administrative staffing for the station; fundraising; public education and outreach; membership, recruitment and retention; birthday party event/meal support; fire ground canteen support; information technology support; company photographer/videographer; and company chaplain. No experience is necessary and all training is available at no cost to the volunteers.

The Sterling fire stations are busy places. So far this year, they have responded to 3,504 calls – 2,213 fire class and 1,291 EMS calls.

This month, the fire company elected a new slate of officers for 2017. They are David Short, chief; Andy Gode, president; Dave Payne, vice president; Kelly O'Grady, secretary; Nadine DuVal, treasurer; and Board of Directors at-large members Ron Claar, Larry Cutrell, Andrew Fotinos and Bob Weber.

The volunteer information session takes place at 1 p.m. Dec. 18 at 46700 Middlefield Drive in Cascades.

And keep an eye out for Santa’s fire truck making its official run through Sterling after dark on Dec. 17, especially if you’ll be near Allegheny Circle in Lowes Island, Cutwater Place in Cascades, Mirror Ridge Place on Mirror Ridge, Settlers Point Place in Cascades and Richland Acres, the neighborhood behind Cedar Lake Plaza.

Nights of lights

CountrySide hosts its annual holiday house-decorating contest this weekend. Round one takes place at 7 p.m. Dec. 19. Round two is scheduled for 7 p.m. Dec. 20. These will be some of the top nights for light displays in the CountrySide neighborhoods. CountrySide residents can contact the CountrySide Proprietary in advance to let them know if they – or their neighbors – have a special display this year.

New year celebration

The Loudoun County Senior Center at Cascades gets a head start on ringing in 2017 with a New Year’s party and dance from 2 to 4 p.m. Dec. 29. The event includes a photo booth, as well as music and a DJ, snacks and beverages. Transportation will be available after the party. Advance tickets are $5 for members and $7 for nonmembers. All tickets purchased Dec. 29 are $7. For information, call 571-258-3280.
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Sterling Blog: ‘Tis the Season
I am pleased to announce that after guilting myself into a fury of activity last week, there are officially holiday decorations at the Friendly Neighborhood Columnist abode. Also, none of them are on fire. I will keep you updated if that status changes.

This is the time of year when calendars fill, tempers shorten and bank accounts empty. Some of my favorite holiday traditions though are the ones that cost almost nothing and generally required me to have on pajamas. My family would go to midnight service and after we’d come home, there would be eggnog. Then my parents would send us off to bed while insisting they were just going to stay up and read a bit – I was a gullible child. Though advertisements might tell us differently, no present or toy ever holds my heart as those late night eggnogs. Spend your effort accordingly.

This weekend, our own St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church, 201 East Frederick Drive, will be hosting their live nativity celebration, complete with animals, hot chocolate and friends.

Come join your neighbors in celebrating the season out in the chilly winter air. I was in Florida this past week and seeing lit icicles while it’s 80 degrees at night is just wrong. So enjoy the chill – because its absence is noted. The event starts at 6 p.m. and goes on until 8 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 17. There is absolutely no charge for the event. However, you’re encouraged to bring along a donation of non-perishable food to support the church’s Backpack Buddies program. This amazing program provides weekend meals for kids at our local school who are in need. St. Matthew’s alone feeds more than 200 kids each week – and that doesn’t include the other organizations that pitch in as well. Learn more at http://www.stmtts.org or by calling the church at 703-430-2121.

The following day, Sunday, Dec. 18, our friends the Elks, in the landmark barn at 401 W. Holly Ave., are hosting a Santa event like no other. Bring your furry friends to the Elks Lodge at 1 p.m. on Sunday and they’ll get to tell the jolly old elf what they’d like in their stocking. At 3 p.m., the party continues for those in your family with thumbs and who can walk on just two legs. Santa will hang around for the kids for a party of their very own, complete with crafts and refreshments. This is fun for the entire family – and I do mean “entire.” You can learn more about the Elks and how active they are in our community by visiting elks2406.com.

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Sterling Blog: You light up my life
Sterling Blog: Santa, steaks and peaches
CountrySide and Cascades Blog: Laughing for a good cause
Sterling Blog: Off to college
Sterling Blog: Making things better
Cascades and CountrySide Blog: The most generous time of the year
Sterling Blog: Crafting for a cause
Sterling Blog: We’re all a bit Jo
Cascades and CountrySide Blog: Malone Foundation Class of 2016 announced
Cascades and CountrySide Blog: A spooky wind blows through eastern Loudoun
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