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Golf star issues emotional plea for father’s return

- Golf star Billy Hurley issued an emotional plea on Tuesday, asking anyone who's seen or heard from his Leesburg-resident father to help find him. Hurley, speaking in Gainesville just before the Quicken Loans National golf tournament, said his father, Willard Hurley Jr. was last seen at his Leesburg home more than a week ago. “My dad took some clothes, he took some cash, he got in his truck and no one's seen him since,” he said.

Ashburn tech mogul indicted for first-degree murder

Minh D. Nguyen

An Ashburn man and tech mogul was recently indicted for first-degree murder by a Loudoun County Grand Jury.

Minh D. Nguyen, 38, is accused in the Jan. 15 shooting death of Corey Mattison, a former North Carolina State University baseball player, inside Mattison's Ashburn Village townhome.

Mattison was married to Nguyen's ex-wife, Denise.

Nguyen, according to LinkedIn, co-founded Plaxo, an online address book and social networking service, with Sean Parker, the first president of Facebook and the co-founder of Napster. The company was bought by Comcast in 2008 for $150 to $170 million.

On the day of the shooting, Nguyen was upset that his ex-wife was going to pick up the couple's daughter from basketball practice without their other two children accompanying her, according to court testimony. He didn't like the children to be left alone with Mattison.

The couple divorced in 2011 and had a custody agreement that stipulated their three children could not be left with anyone that the two did not agree upon.
Loudoun County deputies testified Nguyen came the Mattisons' home about 9:30 p.m., kicked in the front door and gunned Corey Mattison down.

Bullet holes were found in the home's front door and ceiling near the foyer, according to Deputy Matthew Devaney, the crime scene investigator. Devaney also said deputies found five .380-caliber shell casings inside the home and one outside, about 6 feet from the front door.

Nguyen, deputies said, left the home in his ex-wife's vehicle after shooting Mattison. He used the vehicle to ram Mattison's car before returning to Mattison's almost lifeless body and beating him in the head.

Deputies arrested Nguyen on the scene, where he was found kneeling on the ground with his mother by his side, who had control of the weapon her son used to shoot Mattison.

Nguyen is scheduled to go before a jury Oct. 5. The trial is expected to last seven days.

In addition to a first-degree degree murder charge, Nguyen also faces a plethora of other charges, including destroying personal property, malicious wounding and possession of a firearm on school property.

Blowing off steam: Loudoun vape culture emerges around e-cig businesses

- The air in Ashburn’s Rustic Vapors sits heavy with flavors from customers sampling e-liquids and blowing vapor clouds toward the ceiling.

The shop and lounge opened July 11, the latest of a slew that have made Loudoun home in the past few years as part of a growing national trend called vaping by electronic cigarette connoisseurs.

Cyd Macomber owns and runs the shop. Vapes and e-liquids, the flavorful concoctions that offer the nicotine buzz (unless the blend is nicotine free), became a passion when her husband, who used to smoke a pack of cigarettes a day for 30 years, weaned himself of his habit through e-cigarettes.

Loudoun's vape shop and e-liquid production community is unique, she said, as one which is supportive despite the competitive market. There are at least eight shops in the county that collaborate on quality vape liquids and devices and trends in the industry.

The labs themselves, producers of the filters and juices that give vape flavor and substance, operate in Loudoun as well, and many of the county’s vape venues work to make relationships with local suppliers. Macomber gets her e-liquids from five Loudoun labs, a majority over the three out of county, more national suppliers.

Cyd Macomber owns Rustic Vapors in Ashburn. A vape fan herself since seeing her husband quit traditional smoking with e-cigarettes, Macomber prefers sweeter e-liquid flavors like Fuzzy Custard from Eureka. Times-Mirror/Anna Harris

A growing trend

In the corner at Rustic Vapor, sales associate and vape “builder” Alex Tran, 19, blows vapor clouds over the heads of his friends, hanging out at a table in the lounge, complete with television and seating.

All age 20 and under, the group shows off tricks like the dragon, blowing smoke through their nose and mouth simultaneously, or the “Push the O” move, blowing a smoke ring and nudging it away from their bodies with the palm of their hands.

Though often used as a tool to quit or limit cigarette smoking, vapes and e-cigarettes have found a cozy niche with the millennial generation.

“Basically trend-wise it's because everyone is essentially doing it and a lot of people like it and obviously it doesn't harm them,” said Edwin Nolasco, 20. “I've read certain things.”

“Yeah you're going to be healthier if you breath air,” Tran added, the group laughing. “Some people smoke and some people don't. It's both a hobby and a way to quit. Edwin and I and Blake [Crane], we'd been smoking hookah [before].”

The vape community is broad, made up of those who want a hand-to-mouth experience to relax and unwind after a long day, those seeking an alternative to cigarettes and also those who’ve turned it into a sport.

Around the country, cloud competitions pit vape users against each other, seeing who can blow the biggest vape cloud or perform the perfect French inhale (blowing the smoke through the mouth and inhaling it through the nose simultaneously, creating a fog over the upper lip).

To control or not to control?

Little regulation exists for e-cigarettes. Legally, consumers must be 18 or older (and 19 in some states) to smoke. But high school students often find ways to vape too, one of many factors sparking national debate. What legal restraints and checks should be placed on the industry?

Since April 2014, the Food and Drug Administration has worked to get regulations passed known as the “deeming rule,” allowing the group to control how tobacco-based products are made, packaged and sold.

Macomber said child safety caps placed on the liquid containers, carding patrons who look younger than 18 and creating product packaging and names that look less like candy are regulations the industry itself have put in place.

Unlike cigarettes, e-cigarettes aren't legally banned from restaurants. Macomber said her husband vapes in these venues but always asks beforehand. The restaurants in the area, like Ashburn Pub, have been fairly supportive, she said.

That doesn't mean every restaurant is on board. SmokeHouse Live in Leesburg has a sign above its bar: “No smoking or vaping.”

There's no standard for the labs that create vape liquid either, at least not any enforced by the government.

Kat Kross runs 6 Shot Vapor Co. in Sterling. Like Macomber, she started her company after e-cigarettes helped her quit traditional smoking.

She was hesitant to talk about her lab directly because of controversy over the lack of regulation and the disputed health risks of e-cigarettes.

The e-liquid industry is self-regulating, she said. While there are smaller pockets that create lower quality products from their homes, better and trusted e-liquid companies work within standards related to where the products that go into the vape liquid come from or how the production environment is cleaned.

“It's very hard to make good e-liquid,” Kross said. “Anyone can make it. Not everyone can make it well.”

Also disputed are the health “benefits” of e-cigarettes. The Food and Drug Administration put out a report stating there was no conclusive evidence that e-cigarettes are an effective means for quitting cigarettes or that vapes themselves have any less health risks.

But for people like Macomber and Kross, the benefits for smokers are clear.

“I'm not saying it's healthy, it's just better,” said Macomber. “I vape now … It's just a better alternative.”

For those who don't smoke, like Tran, it's not about health. It's about fun and being a part of a larger trend.

“Because it is such a community,” Kross said. “It's not you just run in and get what you need and leave. It's a whole element of people who want to sit down and talk about their devices and e-liquids and whatever. That's a huge part of the vape culture.”

Contact the writer at aharris@virginianewsgroup.com or on Twitter at @annatheharris.

Flare-up over Planned Parenthood hits Senate race in Loudoun

- Amid a growing chorus from Virginia Republicans about the tendentious Planned Parenthood videos, local Democratic state senate candidate Jill McCabe said she continues to welcome support from the nonprofit group.

McCabe, a pediatric doctor and vice president of medical staff at Inova Loudoun hospital, has highlighted support from Planned Parenthood and other women's health organizations in this her first run for public office.

The recently released, heavily-edited videos from anti-abortion activists show Planned Parenthood officials discussing the transfer of fetal organ tissue for research. Conservatives have been in an uproar since the first video's release, calling for all public funding of Planned Parenthood to be stripped and for Democrats to reject the group's support.

During a July 17 interview, after the first video was released, McCabe said she believes in the practices of Planned Parenthood, an organization she says provides much-needed health care offerings to women.

“I'm a doctor, and I take care of patients, including women,” McCabe said when asked whether she still welcomes Planned Parenthood's support. “Women need health care choices and Planned Parenthood provides that. That's kind of the end of it for me.”

McCabe is in one of the most closely-watched Virginia legislature races in the state against incumbent Sen. Dick Black (R) in the Senate's 13th District, based in Loudoun County. Black is a staunch, pro-life conservative.

On Tuesday, Republican Party of Virginia Chairman John Whitbeck, a Loudoun resident, issued a statement directed at McCabe: "Last week and earlier this week, Planned Parenthood was caught on video discussing the sale of body parts from children who died in abortion procedures," said Whitbeck. "After viewing these videos, I felt compelled to join calls for an investigation of Planned Parenthood to hold them accountable for these barbaric practices.”

Whitbeck went to say he hopes McCabe “does the right and ethical thing by renouncing Planned Parenthood's endorsement and joining our calls for an investigation."

The videos, taken secretly, do not appear to show anything illegal from Planned Parenthood’s operations. The first video was released last week, followed by a second one Tuesday. While selling fetal tissue is illegal, Planned Parenthood is by law allowed to be reimbursed for transfer costs.

The Planned Parenthood official addresses the issue in the video, saying, "nobody should be ‘selling’ tissue. That’s just not the goal here."

In addition to the call for McCabe and other candidates across the state to renounce support from Planned Parenthood, Whitbeck and conservative activists have pressed Gov. Terry McAuliffe and Attorney General Mark Herring to investigate the women’s health group.

“Governor McAuliffe was disturbed by the content of the video in question, but does not believe it should be fodder for political attacks on women’s access to health care,” McAuliffe spokesman Brian Coy said in a statement. “Every Virginia women’s health center is licensed and regulated by the Virginia Department of Health and subject to regular and thorough inspections to ensure that they are in full compliance with all federal and state laws and regulations. The governor is confident that any violation of those laws and regulations will be reported and appropriate action taken.”

Virginia’s unemployment rate holds steady at 4.9 percent in June

- RICHMOND, Va. (AP) -- Virginia's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate held steady at 4.9 percent in June.

The Virginia Employment Commission said Tuesday the state's jobless rate continues to best the national unemployment rate, which was 5.3 percent in June.

Virginia's seasonally adjusted non-farm employment in June stood at 3.8 million, an increase of 13,400 jobs. That marked the third consecutive monthly gain.

Northern Virginia recorded the largest job gains, while the Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News metropolitan area was second in job growth. Job losses were reported in the Richmond area, Lynchburg and the Blacksburg-Christiansburg-Radford metropolitan area.

Former soccer star returns to Loudoun County High School to teach

When she was a young girl Olivia Mackey knew she wanted two things in life, to be a soccer player and a teacher.

“Soccer was always a big part of my life,” Mackey said. “It’s something I’ve been passionate about from the start.”

It wasn’t just something she did as a hobby, it was her life. She put in countless hours training and traveling to showcases, determined to impress a college coach enough to offer her a spot on a roster.

After 14 years of playing for Loudoun Soccer, she was offered an athletic scholarship to play Division 1 soccer at Elon University. Her success as a captain and starting player on the field at Elon collecting all-conference and all-region accolades propelled her soccer career further.

“While playing in college I was asked if I wanted the chance to continue playing after college, the answer was a no brainer,” Mackey said. “I love this sport and I would play it forever if I could.”

Mackey joined the Seattle Sounders and made her professional debut in April 2014 at Starfire Sports Stadium in Washington.

As much as she loved it, Seattle wasn’t home. After that season, Mackey’s passion for teaching took the stage. This summer she was offered another job opportunity that she couldn’t pass up. It wasn’t across the country, but in her own backyard at her alma mater Loudoun County High School.

“I always saw myself coming back here, whether it be as a teacher or a coach,” Mackey said. “I didn’t think it would happen right away, so when it did it made me that much more excited for it.”

Mackey was hired as a new physical education teacher and will start teaching ninth grade health and P.E. this fall.

“In high school you can dive into the health portion and I think that’s just as important as the gym portion of physical education,” Mackey said.

Although her professional days on the soccer field are over, the influence of her experience with the sport won’t fade.

“Soccer has definitely shaped the kind of teacher that I am going to be or hopefully am already because of all the people that have gotten me where I am today,” Mackey said.

Whether it’s helping her students pursue a healthy and active lifestyle or giving advice to the ones that are college bound athletes, she wants to be a teacher at Loudoun County that inspires as much as hers did in the past.

“I look up to my coaches and some of the teachers that I’ve had and I want to be that for someone else,” Mackey said.

Mackey views teaching physical education as coaching and plans to take what she’s learned as an athlete and apply it to what and how her students will learn.

As a student at Loudoun County she came to school every day not to meet an attendance policy, but because she enjoyed it.

“Anyone that knows me knows that I love this high school with every bone in my body,” Mackey said. “Anything that was relating to me in high school was blue and yellow.”

Walking through the hallways on the other side of things and having former teachers as coworkers will be a transition, but Mackey said she is ready to re-embrace the Raider traditions.

“I’m really excited to be back home at Loudoun County.”

Cyclists create their own Culpeper mosaic of color

- Nearly 300 cyclists turned the pedals on their bikes of various colors, designs and shapes at the start of the 5th Culpeper Cycling Century just after 8:30 a.m. last Saturday morning.

Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III signs with Redskins

- Robert Griffin III is officially a member of the Washington Redskins. The dual-threat quarterback and reigning Heisman Trophy winner from Baylor University has agreed to terms on his initial contract with the team, just a week in advance of training camp starting at Redskins Park in Ashburn.
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