Reston’s North County Governmental Center is one of the most popular spots for early voting in Fairfax County.
While turnout through the county — and country — is high, the Reston location has seen one of the highest turnouts of the county’s 13 satellite voting locations.
Overall, voters are coming out in droves in the county. So far, 301,000 ballots have been cast in total — almost more than 2.5 times more than the total number of absentee votes cast in 2016, according to county officials.
More than 7,300 ballots have been cast at the North County Governmental Center followed by about 6,100 ballots at the Herndon Fortnightly Library and 1,400 at Great Falls Library, which is only open on Saturdays and opened for voting on Oct. 17.
(10/28) Early voting just underway at 1 pm at North County Governmental Center in Reston. 100+ voters in line – If you’re getting in line now, expect 1.5 to 2 hour wait. #HunterMill #VoteEarly pic.twitter.com/WBVUJnVNKU
— Supervisor Walter Alcorn (@WalterAlcornFFX) October 28, 2020
County officials caution that wait times are still long.
“It takes 25 minutes or much longer depending on the place, day and time when voting,” said county spokesperson Brian Worthy.
The county has added two extra hours for early voting tomorrow (Thursday) and Friday. The change applies to 13 early voting sites, which typically open at 11 a.m. The hours at the Fairfax County Government Center remain unchanged.
Other than long waiting times, voting operations have been going relatively smoothly. The county swiftly moved to expand the number of satellite locations following arduous waiting times earlier this month.
While most voters have been masked, some residents have complained about party representatives failing to do so.
Worthy noted that while all individuals are encouraged to wear face coverings, the actions of party representatives cannot be controlled outside the 40-foot limit where campaigning is allowed.
The deadline for early voting this year is 5 p.m. on Oct. 31. Absentee ballots can be delivered by hand until 7 p.m. on Nov. 3 or by mail until noon on Nov. 6.
At this point, Worthy said it’s unclear how this year’s voting procedures will be adapted in future elections.
“After the 2020 election is finished, the Fairfax County Office of Elections will look at any lessons learned–but it’s too early to look back in the past since the office is focused on Election Day which is now just [six] days away.”
If you’re standing in line at North County Governmental Center for early voting – the Reston @fairfaxlibrary has magazines, books and kids activity packets to make your wait enjoyable! #HunterMill #RestonLibrary pic.twitter.com/AYwflNulkG
— Supervisor Walter Alcorn (@WalterAlcornFFX) October 28, 2020
Fairfax County teenagers are vaping less than their peers nationwide, a county survey of middle and high school students found.
15.1% of the 48,915 students who responded to the 2019-2020 Fairfax County Youth Survey reported vaping within the past 30 days, compared to 22.5% of teenagers in the U.S. overall. The survey results were released on Oct. 20.
Nicotine remains the drug most frequently used for vaping, which involves the inhalation of an aerosol through a battery-powered device, but its usage declined from 16.7% in 2018 to under 12% in 2019.
About half as many students reported using flavoring in this year’s survey (5.5%) as they did in the previous year’s (10.3%), but the use of marijuana rose from 8% in 2018 to 9% in 2019.
The number of Fairfax County teens who say they have vaped within their lifetime dropped from 28% in 2018 to 25% in 2019, according to the survey, which is given annually to Fairfax County Public Schools students in sixth, eighth, 10th, and 12th grades.
Fairfax County did not add questions about vaping to its annual youth survey until 2018, making it hard to determine whether the decline in reported vaping is a real trend, but county officials are encouraged by the results.
“The rates for vaping among Fairfax County youth went down considerably from 2018 despite the upward national trend,” Fairfax County Office of Strategy Management for Health and Human Services public information officer Shweta Adyanthaya said. “This is a promising sign that our youth are heeding the concerns regarding vaping in general.”
County officials say they remain concerned about the health effects of vaping, especially during a pandemic caused by a coronavirus that attacks people’s lungs.
Research on how COVID-19 affects people who have used e-cigarettes is limited, but the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention linked a contaminant found in e-cigarettes to an outbreak of e-cigarette or vaping product use-associated lung injuries (EVALI) that had killed or hospitalized 2,807 people in the U.S. as of Feb. 18.
Though it is a potential benefit, the CDC says the effectiveness of e-cigarettes as an aid for helping adults quit smoking is unknown. The agency warns against vaping for youth, young adults, pregnant adults, and adults who do not currently use tobacco products.
“We know that the brains of adolescents continue to develop until about the age [of] 25 and that nicotine can have harmful effects,” Fairfax County Health Director Dr. Gloria Addo-Ayensu said. “Now, with evidence that vaping may be linked with worse outcomes of COVID-19 infection, it’s more important than ever that we offer solutions to help young people.”
FCPS Student Safety and Wellness Office coordinator Stefan Mascoll says 697 students came to the office for tobacco-related substance abuse during the 2019-20 school year, a number that might have been higher if the COVID-19 pandemic did not close schools in March.
“Young people who use e-cigarettes may be vaping even more to cope with stress and social isolation, or they may be experiencing difficult nicotine withdrawal symptoms because of limited access to e-cigarettes,” the Fairfax County Health Department says.
To combat vaping, Fairfax County and FCPS have partnered with the nonprofit Truth Initiative to promote This Is Quitting, a free program that sends supportive text messages to teens and young adults seeking to quit e-cigarettes.
Started in January 2019, This Is Quitting has more than 206,000 enrollees nationwide. People in Fairfax County can join by texting VapeFreeFFX to 88709.
James Madison High School student Sid Thakker, who won an award from the National Institute on Drug Abuse in 2019 for a science fair project about nicotine addiction, has been assisting with the implementation of This Is Quitting in Fairfax County.
“As a senior in high school, I know students aren’t given much information on treatments if they are addicted, but the program is the perfect mix of creative treatments and advice,” Thakker said. “I am excited to see the impact it will make in FCPS.”
Image via Fairfax County
Your child is invited to an online Halloween Math Escape Room on Friday, October 30 at 4 p.m.
The Russian School of Mathematics has created this online event where kids will solve mystery brainteasers, spooky riddles and eerie puzzles to find out the way to escape from our chilling adventure.
Join us dressed in your favorite costume and invite your friends to get into the holiday spirit together.
Register now for the October 30 event!
Meet Theo, a male Hound mix puppy available for adoption locally.
His friends at Fancy Cats Rescue Team have much to say about him, but here is what Theo has to say for himself:
Hi, I am Theo! 11 week old puppy. My brothers and I were found without our mama, and ended up at the shelter.
I am only 6 pounds, but I think I am a big dog, and have a lot of confidence and personality. I love to cuddle and be carried, but I love romping through the yard and have a lot of energy!
I am looking for a forever home.
Are you and Theo a match?
Fairfax County is considering adopting an ordinance banning the use of plastic bags for yard waste and instead encouraging residents to transition toward greener alternatives.
Presented to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors during its environmental committee meeting on Tuesday (Oct. 27), the proposed ordinance states:
Yard waste shall be set out in paper yard waste bags, reusable containers, other storage devices as approved by the Director, or bundled with string as instructed by the collection provider and shall not weigh more than fifty pounds. Yard waste shall not be placed in plastic bags.
The Board of Supervisors voted on Feb. 25 to begin phasing out the use of plastic bags by both customers of private companies contracted to collect yard waste and residents in the county’s solid waste collection areas.
County staff with the Solid Waste Management Program worked with community and private haulers to encourage customers to use compostable paper bags or reusable containers instead for this year’s yard waste season, which began in March and ends in December.
A survey of more than 5,500 homes in Fairfax County found that plastic bags were still utilized in 51% of yard waste set outs in the evaluated Census tracts. 31% of set outs were done with reusable containers, 11% with plastic bags, 6% as an uncontained yard pile, and 1% with compostable paper bags.
“It’s been a transition yard waste season, essentially, to help homeowners, and people that are generating yard waste that have properties get used to not being able to use plastic,” Fairfax County director of engineering and environmental compliance Eric Forbes said. “We didn’t have a ban. This yard waste season is really a transition year.”
Seven other jurisdictions in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area already discourage or prohibit the use of plastic bags for yard waste collection. Loudoun County, for example, has required paper bags or reusable containers since 2002.
Fairfax County’s current ordinance regulating yard waste collection only dictates that it be “set out in bags, reusable containers, or in piles as instructed by the company which will be collecting them.”
Fairfax County staff anticipate formally requesting a public hearing on the proposal to amend and readopt the ordinance in January 2021, with an actual hearing expected to take place in February. If everything goes according to schedule, the new ordinance will be implemented in March in time for the next yard waste season.
“In March of 2021, as long as the ordinance change is adopted, implementation of the new ordinance will begin, basically banning plastic bags from the yard waste recycling stream,” Forbes said.
Forbes says homeowners should prepare their yard waste first by grasscycling, then composting if they have enough space, and finally compiling the waste in a reusable container or paper bag for curbside collection.
“Grasscycling is actually cutting the grass back into the lawn or mulching your leaves back in the lawn,” Forbes said. “And then backyard composting would be the next best alternative for those residents that have the space.”
If neither grasscycling or composting is an option, yard waste can be placed in reusable containers or paper yard waste bags for curbside collection, which are available at the big box stores like Home Depot, Lowe’s or Walmart, he said.
Additional information on yard waste management can be found on Fairfax County’s Public Works and Environmental Services website.
Photo via Fairfax County government
Extra Early Voting Hours Added — The county has added two extra hours on early voting tomorrow (Thursday) and Friday. All sites will now open at 11 a.m., except for the Fairfax County Government Center, where voting still begins at 8 a.m. [Fairfax County Government]
Local Officer Honored for Being ‘True American Hero’ — Weblos, Den 1, Pack 913 from St. Joe’s honored Officer Murn for being a “true American hero.” [Herndon Police Department]
Reston Collects 303 Pounds of Old Meds — The Reston District Station and Reston Hospital Center collected 303 pounds of old medicines during the 19th annual National Drug Take Back Day this past weekend. [Fairfax County Police Department]
Photo by Elizabeth Copson
The Herndon Police Department is investigating a robbery that happened around 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday at M&T Bank on the 1100 block of Herndon Parkway.
HPD did not confirm the business where the robbery occurred.
But police believe someone passed a note to tellers demanding money and left the business with an “undisclosed amount of cash.”
The suspect fled on foot toward the 1100 block of Herndon Parkway.
“There was no weapon displayed or implied,” an HPD spokesperson told Reston Now.
Anyone with information can call HPD at 703-435-6846.
Photo via HPD
Volkswagen Group of America has signed a lease to become the anchor tenant of Boston Properties’ new 1.1 million square foot development in the next phase of Reston Town Center.
The new extension of RTC includes a two-tower office development called Reston Next, retail space, a hotel and residential buildings.
The subsidiary of Volkswagen AG, a major automobile manufacturer, retains its headquarters in Fairfax County as a result of the move. The company first selected the county for its North American headquarters in 2007.
“A company focused on the future of mobility needs a future-proof workspace to match those ambitions,” said Scott Keogh, President and CEO of Volkswagen Group of America. “This space is designed from the start to be efficient, collaborative and bring our team under one roof so we can keep and attract top talent.”
Victor Hoskins, president and CEO of the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority, lauded the news in a statement.
“This speaks volumes about our value as a headquarters location and the ability to find and keep high-caliber talent, and joins announcements by Microsoft, Google and Facebook as important indicators of the strength of this business community, especially in a difficult period economically,” Hoskins said.
Boston Properties executive Vice President for the DC region Peter Johnston said his company is “thrilled” at the lease. So far, the next phase of RTC is 85 percent pre-leased, according to a quarterly earning calls.
“Companies looking to recruit and retain the best and brightest talent continue to be drawn to Reston and Reston Town Center as the ideal location to grow their organizations,” he said.
Once completed, the full extension of RTC — which will be built out in two phases — will add more than 4.4 million square feet of development to Reston Town Center, including six acres of public open space.
A plan to redevelop the Residence Inn on 315 Elden Street took a step closer to final approval this week.
At a meeting Monday night, the Town of Herndon’s Planning Commission unanimously approved a plan to repurpose the property into a 168-unit residential development. Roughly 55 percent of the units would be dedicated as workforce housing.
The plan, which was pitched by the new owner of the hotel, will move forward to the Herndon Town Council for a vote. Specifically, it calls for an amendment to the town’s 2030 Comprehensive Plan. The property’s zoning classification would change from business corridor to adaptive-area residential.
Commission members lauded the plan for repurposing an aging and underused area to meet a critical need for affordable housing in the area.
“I see it as a favorable way to repurpose this aging cluster of properties,” said Marcia Bouchard at the meeting. She added that the location for residential units is ideal due to the “exceptional” walkability of the area.
More details about the plan are expected as it moves through the rezoning and zoning map amendment process.
So far, 84 studio and 42 one-bedroom and 42 two-bedroom units are planned, with a total of 168 units spread across 21 buildings.
Staff noted that the development will likely result in a limited number of new students. Low-rise multifamily units typically produce roughly 0.3 students per dwelling unit.
Image via Google Maps