With the Name “Hammer,” He Was Born To Be a Deputy

One could say Bill was born to be a Sheriff’s deputy. With a name like Shellhammer, how could he not have been predestined to live a life laying down the law?

Purcellville resident William “Bill” P. Shellhammer died in his home December 16, aged 80. He was a retired Loudoun County Sheriff’s deputy, a former Vienna Police Department deputy and a U.S. Marine Corps veteran who served during the Korean War.

Shellhammer on duty.
Shellhammer on duty.

These days, if a Sheriff’s Deputy knows you by name it indicates that you are a delinquent or a malefactor who is up to no good. In Shellhammer’s heyday, however, it was a mark of his sharpness of mind.

Shellhammer knew every kid by name in 1960s Vienna. If you misbehaved or were up to no good, you had better prepare yourself for a stern talking to. Bill took on the proxy role as a parent in uniform; he meant business if he called you by your surname instead of your first name. ‘What would your mother think?’ He would ask, sending quivers down spines.

You couldn’t bank on his forgetfulness, either. He was known to throw the book at recurring offenders. One Purcellville resident remembers Shellhammer dismissing his pleas for a warning for the offense of squealing wheels as a teen in Vienna. No such luck — Shellhammer remembered he had warned the teen six months prior. This time he would receive a ticket.

He was tough but fair. Loudoun residents would joke that if he had found his own mother to be out of line he would write her out a ticket. This may be true, but often what is tough on the outside is soft on the inside. He treated everyone equally and had a good heart. He would often stay past his shift on special occasions so young kids could have their picture taken with him and his squad car.

“Getting out of the car and meeting shop owners and citizens in the community was a large and important part of what Shellhammer did,” said former Loudoun County Sheriff Steve Simpson.

Simpson consequently grew up in Vienna, and one of his first encounters with Shellhammer further cemented Simpson’s goal to become a police officer when aged 10 or 11 he attended a firearms safety program at which Shellhammer was an instructor and member of the Vienna Police Pistol Team, who were national champions.

“The final day of the program he and several members of the team demonstrated some of their shooting abilities. He put an ax in the middle hung from a T frame with pigeons on either side.  His hand gun shot the ax blade which would split the bullet in half and would break the clay pigeon on each side. I even still have one of the bullets from that day,” said Sheriff Simpson.

During his time as an officer, just about every western Loudoun resident was handed a ticket from him. Even the Vienna residents who couldn’t escape the “Hammer’s” tickets as teens would find that years later they would be pounded again — this time most likely while he was patrolling along Route 9.

Shellhammer was born August 31, 1934 in Apollo, Penn., to the late William Park Shellhammer Sr. and Genevieve Burkette. Bill joined the U.S. Marine Corps after graduating high school, serving five years during and in the Korean War. He then went on to work for the U.S. Secret Service as security detail for former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and the Mellon family after joining the Vienna Police Department in Vienna, Va. He retired from the Loudoun County Sheriff Department.

Bill is preceded in death by his daughter, Deborah Clark. He is survived by his son, Kurt Shellhammer (Debbie) of Stafford; grandchildren, Jeffrey, Gregory, Lindsey, Kevin and Nathan; and great-grandson, Bruce. The memorial service was held December 20 at Loudoun Funeral Chapel. Memorial donations may be made to the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office, 803 Sycolin Road SE Leesburg, VA 20175 or to Loudoun County Deputy Sheriff’s Association, http://www.lcdsa.net/index.php.

A Conversation With Writer Colm Tóibín on the ‘Close Imagining’ of Fiction


Great insights from Colm Toibin on the writing process. Gives me a lot to think about, thank you, Colm.

Originally posted on Longreads Blog:

Jessica Gross | Longreads | February 2015 | 17 minutes (4,283 words)

The Irish writer Colm Tóibín has written eight novels, two books of short stories, and multiple works of nonfiction. His latest novel, Nora Webster, follows a widow in 1970s Ireland as she moves through her mourning toward a new life. That book was almost 15 years in the making, and Tóibín’s previous novel, Brooklyn, which centers on an Irish immigrant to the United States, grew out of Nora Webster’s early pages. Both novels—like all of Tóibín’s work—subtly portray their characters’ complex inner lives, the details accruing slowly to finally reveal an indelible portrait. I spoke with Tóibín, who splits his time between Dublin and New York, by phone about the protagonists he’s compelled to write about and how he goes about creating their worlds.

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Ask and You Shall Receive: School Board Approves Williams’ First Budget

The Loudoun County School Board has given Superintendent Eric Williams more than he asked for.

At its January 29 meeting the board approved an amended Proposed Fiscal Year Operating 2016 Budget that now totals $982 million — $1.2 million more than Williams had requested.

Williams presented his first budget proposal as Superintendent to the Loudoun County School Board in early January asking for $68 million. An average 2.5 percent pay raise for teachers and staff topped off his list of requests.

The Board matched Williams’ requests in kind. It voted that LCPS employees who are already at the top of all pay scales will see their paychecks bumped up thanks to a one-time increase representing 1 percent of their annual salary. This can be achieved with no fiscal impact to the budget.

The board hopes to reduce the LCPS employee health insurance program by five percent – from 15 to 10 percent – for a cost savings of $2.6 million while also reducing the health insurance premium increase from 10 to 9 percent, which saves $450,000.

Altogether, the board approved 10 motions that altered the budget in ways sure to have parents and school staff alike celebrating. High school class sizes will be reduced by one student each, which will require the system to open up an additional 41 full-time teaching positions to the tune of $3.69 million. The board also hopes to reduce class size contingency positions from 40 to 35 full-time-equivalent positions for a savings of $450,000.

Kindergarten classes, which have had to make numerous concessions during the past few budget cycles, are primed to make a resurgence. Williams’s budget sought to allot for the addition of an estimated 1,875 full-time Kindergartners as well as a more than 2,500 additional students across all grades. While aiming to fund all-day kindergarten classes at those schools with space available, the 15-to-one student teacher ratio means 14 full-time employees have been removed from the budget. This will save the school system just short of $1 million.

The budget includes a handful of restorations, including fully scheduled summer schools and the reinstatement of 14 eliminated middle school library assistants. These two restorations total around $1.8 million.

Smaller line items include building a playground at Meadowland Elementary for $50,000 and hiring a transition specialist who will be able to assist special education students. This position will be advertised for $119,000. Lastly, the board hopes to shuffle several staff members from Heritage and Potomac Falls high schools to Park View High School, which will have no effect to the budget.

When presenting his budget in early January, Williams lauded LCPS’s successes, including its high SOL pass rates and its ability to make concessions to close the budget gap. Those concessions, chief among them freezing Library assistant positions, passing on athletics participation fees to students and not offering teachers and staff pay raises beyond cost of living increases, are forcing LCPS to bend to where it might break. This argument will most likely be heard time and again as the budget is presented to the Loudoun Board of Supervisors this month.

In order to fund these requests and more, the board must accept the equalized tax rate, which is estimated at $1.13 per $100 in assessed value. This would leave an estimated $30 million gap and assumes the Loudoun’s Board of Supervisors will give them $59.7 million from the general fund.

It’s a tall order, but one that Williams isn’t asking for in blind faith. Still, the comprehensive list of requests comes after last year’s especially contentious budget season when the Loudoun Board of Supervisors’ budget left the school system with a $38 million shortfall.

Loudoun: The Rich Keeping Gettin’ Richer

Talk with the Times circa 2010.
Talk with the Times circa 2010.

Chatter is heating up around Loudoun that the county will once again be named the richest county in the nation.

Like a fountain of wealth that just keeps on giving, Forbes has awarded the county the designation for several years, which reminded me of the video I filmed in 2010 called “Talk with the Times,” where I discussed the reasons behind the award. Have a looksee on the Loudoun Times website.

Muriel Rukeyser: Effort At Speech Between Two People

From Theory of Flight (1935)

Effort at Speech Between Two People

Poem via American Studies at the University of Virginia.

Speak to me.		
Take my hand.       
What are you now?
I will tell you all. I will conceal nothing.
When I was three, a little child read a story about a rabbit who died, 
in the story, and I crawled under a chair: a pink rabbit: 
it was my birthday, and a candle burnt a sore spot on my finger, 
and I was told to be happy.

Oh grow to know me. I am not happy. I will be open: now I am 
thinking of white sails against a sky like music,
like glad horns blowing, and birds tilting, and an arm about me.
There was one I loved, who wanted to live, sailing.

Speak to me. 
Take my hand.
What are you now?
When I was nine, I was fruitfully sentimental,
fluid   :   and my widowed aunt played Chopin,
and I bent my head on the painted woodwork, and wept.
I want now to be close to you. I would link 
the minutes of my days close, somehow, to your days.

I am not happy. I will be open.
I have liked lamps in evening corners, and quiet poems.
There has been fear in my life. Sometimes I speculate
On what a tragedy his life was, really.

Take my hand.    
First my mind in your hand.       
What are you now?
When I was fourteen, I had a dreams of suicide,
and I stood at a steep window, at sunset, hoping toward
death : if the light had not melted clouds and pains to beauty,
if light had not transformed that day, I would have leapt.
I am unhappy. I am lonely. Speak to me.

I will be open. I think he never loved me:
he loved the bright beaches, the little lips of foam
that ride small waves, he loved the veer of gulls:
he said with a gay mouth: I love you. Grow to know me.

What are you now? If we could touch one another,
if these our separate entities could come to grips,
clenched like a Chinese puzzle ... yesterday
I stood in a crowded street that was live with people,
and no one spoke a word, and the morning shone.
Everyone silent, moving... Take my hand.    
Speak to me.

Published: It’s what happens when your press release rocks

The Detroit Business Journal wrote an article on my work’s upcoming military event off the back of a press release we sent out via PR Newswire. The end goal of any press release is to have it turn into a story, but that very rarely happens. Well, today is that day.

I’ll keep it short and sweet, but read this article I wrote if you want more information on how to write a press release.

Here’s the press release in its entirety:

Press Release

And, in summary:

Advancements and Opportunities within the Lightweight Tactical Vehicles Programs

New York, NY (February 2, 2015) – IDGA is pleased to announce its debut event, the
Lightweight Tactical Vehicles Summit this March 16-18 in Detroit. The Summit will feature more than 20 highly qualified speakers, which include five military program managers who boast a combined 300 years of military experience.

This new program will bring together some of the military’s key decision makers in an intimate forum to give insight into future vehicle acquisition projects. Since fewer vehicles contract opportunities are available due to drawn down conflicts abroad and sequestration, the military must be more proactive in identifying best value solution providers. This event will serve as an ideal platform for the military decision makers to achieve that initiative.

The summit will bring together 20+ high profile speakers including; COL Kmiecik, Director of Mounted Requirements, COL Mike Milner, Program Manager, Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle, COL Jason Craft, Program Manager, Mine Resistant Ambush Proof Vehicles and COL James Schirmer, Program Manager, Armored Fighting Vehicles.

Never before has IDGA had the pleasure of announcing such a powerful faculty with speakers representing programs ranging from the AMPV to the ULCV.

2015 sessions will cover:
• Future of the Ultra Lightweight Combat Vehicle
• Ultra-Light Tactical Mobility and the Expeditionary Force
• Mine Resistant Ambush Proof Vehicles
• Alternate Vehicle Programs – The Future Fighting Vehicle
• Introducing the AMPV
• DAPRA Presents: The GXV-T
• Army’s Combat Vehicle Modernization Strategy

And many more!

Join the vehicles community as they come together to learn best practices, programs and processes for 2015 and beyond. This will be a rare opportunity to speak with such a broad range of program managers, while meeting your future clients within this hard-to-reach military vehicles community. To access the full agenda or to register for the conference, visit http://www.lighttacticalvehiclesummit.com

About IDGA

The Institute for Defense & Government Advancement (IDGA): (www.idga.org) a division of IQPC, is a non‐partisan information‐based organization dedicated to the promotion of innovative ideas in public service and defense through live conferences and events. We bring together speaker panels and events comprised of military and government professionals.

Hyphenate descriptive words

You need to hyphenate descriptive words. What does that mean? Let me explain:

I wish I had noise-canceling headphones to drown out all the sales guys at work.

A hyphen is used here (but is not absolutely necessary) because “noise” and “canceling” are acting as a compound modifier, modifying “headphones.” These examples are detailed fully on Grammar Girl.

Hyphens are a “look-it-up” punctuation mark. Though hyphens have several uses, we’re going to focus on how to use hyphens with compound adjectives. Compound adjectives are two or more words that together make an adjective. When they come directly before a noun, they’re known as compound modifiers and usually have a hyphen, like “noise-canceling headphones.” Here are a few more examples:

They had a long-term relationship.

The fire-proof vest proved to be a great life saver.

If the adjectives come after the noun, then they don’t need a hyphen. For example

Their relationship was long term.

Santa’s new vest is fire proof.

These terms need hyphenation in your brochures, web copy and emails because they are always used to describe something:




End-to-End supply chain







These terms are one word and not hyphenated:








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