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by RestonNow.com — February 16, 2017 at 4:00 pm 0

Students from around the area are preparing to have their artwork on display at the Greater Reston Arts Center, where two March exhibits will be celebrations of Youth Art Month.

The first, GRACE Art: Celebrating Creativity, will be on display March 3-11 and will showcase the work of local elementary school students. The second, Emerging Visions: Interactions, will be on display March 17-April 1 and will feature the work of high schoolers.

Celebrating Creativity will highlight projects from GRACE Art program. Nearly 40 area schools participate in this program, in which trained classroom volunteers deliver an interactive art history lesson with materials and visuals supplied by GRACE, followed by a related in-class art project. Schools whose students will have art displayed in the exhibit include Academy of Christian Education, Aldrin Elementary, Armstrong Elementary, Crossfield Elementary, Flint Hill Elementary, John Kerr Elementary and Willow Springs Elementary.

After viewing GRACE’s exhibition last fall, Shih Chieh Huang: Synthetic Transformations, students from three area high schools — Herndon, Oakton and South Lakes — were asked to explore different interpretations and aspects of interactions. They worked directly with the education director at GRACE, and the final selections from their work will be shown in the Emerging Visions exhibition.

Several free art activities will also be offered for families throughout the month, and gallery visitors will be able to participate in hands-on art activities related to the art shown in the exhibition.

Key dates throughout the month are as follows:

  • GRACE Art: Celebrating Creativity opening reception and Family Day: Saturday, March 4, noon-4 p.m.
  • Emerging Visions: Interactions opening reception: Saturday, March 18, 6-8 p.m.
  • Studying Art Post Secondary School workshop, Saturday, March 25, 5-6:30pm

To register for the workshop, contact Stephanie Booth at [email protected] or 703-471-0952, ext. 118

The Greater Reston Arts Center (12001 Market St.) is open Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

by Dave Emke — February 16, 2017 at 2:45 pm 22 Comments

Beavers have long been a part of the Glade Stream Valley, but Reston Association is working to make sure they don’t cause destruction for nearby residents in the form of damaged trees and flooding.

“It would be hard to find a better example in Reston of a healthy, diverse, native ecosystem than the two beaver wetlands (Glade Valley and Bright Pond),” reads information provided by Claudia Thompson-Deahl, senior environmental resource manager. “Reston’s beaver wetlands are one of the few places in Reston where nature is able to thrive despite all the surrounding suburban pressures.”

Beavers, however, bring a “dramatic change” to the surrounding environment, so Reston Association has developed a beaver management policy.

According to Thompson-Deahl, additional fencing is being installed to keep Glade beavers out of residents’ yards and off wooded slopes, and many individual trees have been protected with wire mesh to safeguard the pathway.

In the long term, Reston Association staff, with input from residents and wildlife experts, has developed and implemented guidelines for beaver management in the area. The primary goal is to find methods to preserve and protect substantial portions of the stream valley from beaver activity. To do so, staff plan to divide the valley into two sections.

  • Section 1, designated as a “Beaver Management Area,” will consist of stream valley that runs from Twin Branches Road to the bridge behind Leatherwood Drive that leads to the Hunting Horn Lane Tot Lot.
  • Section 2, running from Hunting Horn Tot Lot to Soapstone Drive, will be managed as a wooded stream valley.

Section 1 contains residential property, utility easements and recreational facilities. With that in mind, according to Thompson-Deahl, fencing and pipes will be used to protect those areas. Three-foot wire-mesh fencing will protect and areas threatened by beaver activity, in the attempt to ensure continuous tree cover between Twin Branches Road and Soapstone Drive. In addition, over 100 Bald Cypress trees have been planted, with wire-mesh caging around each one.

In Section 2, beaver activity will be discouraged with fencing and stream gates. According to provided information, beavers in that area “will be removed” by a licensed trapper if the discouragement fails.

According to Thompson-Deahl, beavers provide positive attributes to the ecosystem including a reduction in stream erosion, reservoirs of water during period of drought and freeze, and the creation of wetlands that support a large amount of plant and other animal life.

“Both Reston’s residents and the Reston Association value encouraging a healthy, diverse community of plants and animals to thrive in Reston’s natural areas,” she writes. “Therefore, it makes sense to reach a compromise and create a beaver management plan that allows the beavers to stay in some areas while keeping them out of others.”

RA’s website offers more information about the beaver population in Reston and how it is managed. For help with issues related to beavers or other wildlife, call 703-435-6547.

by Dave Emke — February 16, 2017 at 1:15 pm 5 Comments

Cindy Blanco Hernandez

(Updated 2:30 p.m. following law enforcement press conference)

Five of the 10 people charged with abduction and gang participation in relation to the killing of a Gaithersburg teen now face murder charges.

Jose Ivan Castillo Rivas, 18, of Springfield; Wilmer A. Sanchez, 21, of no fixed address; and three 17-year-olds from Alexandria, Annandale and Springfield have been charged with murder as the investigation into the death of 15-year-old Damaris Alexandra Reyes Rivas continues.

Cindy Blanco Hernandez, 18, of Wintherthur Lane in Reston, is among the five suspects who have not yet been charged with any additional crimes.

According to the Fairfax County Police Department, it is believed Reyes Rivas was held against her will before she was taken to Lake Accotink Park, assaulted and killed. Police believe this happened on or around Jan. 8.

At a news conference Tuesday, Fairfax County Police Chief Edwin Roessler said it was a “savage, brutal killing.”

“It was horrific,” Roessler said. “It was horrible.”

Reyes Rivas had been reported missing in Montgomery County in early December. The girl’s body was found in the 7100 block of Wimsatt Road in Springfield on Saturday, and her death was ruled a homicide Monday after an autopsy.

Police believe the killing to be gang-related. The teen’s mother told NBC4 her daughter had been threatened by the gang MS-13.

At Tuesday’s news conference, law enforcement did not confirm the gang to be MS-13, but did go into detail about gang presence in the area.

“These illegal gangs are recruiting juveniles… [and] preying on those who are vulnerable, who are looking for security,” said Jay Lannom, Northern Virginia Regional Gang Task Force director. “We are are seeing a lot of increase in recruiting in high schools and middle schools, which is alarming to us.”

Anyone with further information about the case is asked to contact the Fairfax County police at 703-691-2131, use Crime Solvers or text “TIP187” plus a message to CRIMES(274637).

by Dave Emke — February 16, 2017 at 11:30 am 31 Comments

Day Without Immigrants sign at SweetgreenA number of restaurants and other businesses across D.C. and the nation are closed or operating on restrictions today as part of the “Day Without Immigrants.” The protest is part of an effort to show the impact immigrants have on daily lives of Americans, and was spawned out of President Donald Trump’s new immigration policies.

At least two Reston restaurants are showing their support. Sweetgreen (11935 Democracy Drive) is closed for the day, as are all of the company’s 18 locations in the Metro area.

“Our diversity is what makes this family great, and we respect our team members’ right to exercise their voice in our democracy,” reads signs posted on the restaurant’s doors Thursday. “We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause, and hope you understand our commitment to our people.”

Meanwhile, PassionFish (11960 Democracy Drive) says its menu options may be limited Thursday as part of the protest.

A representative for PassionFish owner Passion Food Hospitality said the Reston restaurant is “not particularly affected” and “most staff” would be working Thursday.

“[Management is] supportive of their staff on whichever decision they choose,” said spokesperson Meg Malloy.

by Del. Ken Plum — February 16, 2017 at 10:15 am 10 Comments

Del. Ken Plum/File photo

Although the “short sessions” of the General Assembly held on the odd-numbered years are about two weeks less in length than the regular session in the even-numbered years because they do not consider a biennium budget, the fact is that the budget is adjusted at every session of the General Assembly.

Revenue projections that are made over a couple of years’ time frame almost always need to be adjusted. Revenues come over or under projections, necessitating corresponding changes to the budget. Recession-level declines like that in 2008 required severe budget reductions. The economic recovery has been slower than in the past, resulting in some tweaking being needed every year. The Commonwealth operates on a balanced budget with funds going into a rainy day fund when economic growth is strong, and the fund being used to smooth out declines from loss of revenue.

The House and Senate approved different versions of a revised budget for the next fiscal year without prolonged debate, which has been a part of these deliberations for many years. The governor presented a revised budget that brought the next year into balance and funded some high-priority items, upon which there was bipartisan agreement. Differences do remain that will be ironed out by a conference committee over the remaining weeks of the session.

Highlights of the budget include important new funding for mental health services. Although the needs in mental health have been recognized for a long time, it took advocates many years and the suicide of a senator’s son to finally get agreement on funding critically needed services. An important aspect of the new services will be to get mentally ill persons out of jails, where they have found themselves in recent years when they acted out and there was no other place for them to go.

State employees will finally be getting a raise after many years of waiting. The situation has become increasingly desperate with a high turnover rate. Teachers who are employed by local school boards will not be getting a direct appropriation for a raise from the state, but hopefully the modest increase to localities can be used in part to fund teacher pay raises that are likewise long overdue.

Although the action in the short session on the budget will get us through the next fiscal year, there are long-term structural issues that remain — particularly in funding education. While the division between state and local funding had historically been 60 to 40 percent, the actual division in recent years has been closer to 40 percent state and 60 percent local. The result has been that increasing costs have fallen on local property taxpayers.

Virginians like to brag about their low per capita state taxes at $2,275, 36th-lowest among the states. Sometimes overlooked is the fact that per capita local taxes in Virginia are $1,928, or 15th-highest among the states. We are going to balance the budget for the short run this session, but we need to do a lot more work about more fairly balancing the budget for the long term.

by Dave Emke — February 16, 2017 at 9:00 am 5 Comments

Morning Notes

Trump Wine Flying Out the Door — As grocery chain Wegmans faces scrutiny for selling Trump Winery products, wine stores around D.C. are reporting booming sales. In Reston, The Wine Cabinet (1416 North Point Village Center) says they’ve sold more than 10 cases since Election Day — and they could have sold more, co-owner Mike Mackie said, if they hadn’t run out. [The Hill]

CrossFit Gym to Open in HerndonCrossFit 286 (293 Sunset Park Drive) has a grand opening slated for Saturday, Feb. 25. [Herndon Patch]

Area Couple on the Road Performing Show — Sam and Susan Simon are presenting “The Actual Dance,” the true story of their journey through Susan’s breast cancer diagnosis, this weekend in Wellsboro, Pennsylvania. Susan Simon is the former marketing director at Tall Oaks of Reston. [Elmira Star-Gazette]

ArtSpace Herndon Kicks Off Concert Series — Guitarist-songwriter Parthenon Huxley played with indie rocker and violinist Ben Hoyt as Herndon’s arts district began its 2017 concert series last weekend. In addition to original music, the performers played love songs from ELO and the Beatles. [Reston Connection]

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