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by RestonNow.com — March 13, 2017 at 5:00 pm 1 Comment

Edlin School students - chemistry competition

Three students from Reston’s Edlin School swept the top honors at a recent regional chemistry competition.

Rubaiya Emran took first place in the Fairfax/Arlington You Be The Chemist challenge for the second straight year. Her classmates Sydney Gu and Jennifer Cramer took second and third place, respectively. Tommy Qu also represented Edlin at the event, which was held March 4 at Marymount University in Arlington.

“Thanks to the hard work and dedication of our students and parent volunteers, our Edlin community has a lot to celebrate,” said Ryan Epp, the school’s science department director. “These events required months of preparation, organization and tireless effort from our students, parents and volunteers.”

The nationwide, interactive academic competition for students in grades 5-8 is sponsored by the Chemical Education Foundation. Its goal is to promote the real-world applications of scientific education and chemistry concepts.

All three girls will move on to compete at the state level April 29 in Richmond.

Pictured from left are Sydney Gu, Jennifer Cramer and Rubaiya Emran. Photo courtesy Edlin School.

by RestonNow.com Sponsor — March 13, 2017 at 4:00 pm 4 Comments

Legal Insider

This is a sponsored column by attorneys John Berry and Kimberly Berry of Berry & Berry, PLLC, an employment and labor law firm located in Plaza America that specializes in federal employee, security clearance, retirement, and private sector employee matters.

By John V. Berry, Esq.

On March 8, Congress moved forward with bill H.R. 1313, sponsored by Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.), to enable employers to obtain genetic information about an applicant or employee.

Presently, genetic testing of employees and prospective employees, on anything other than a voluntary basis, is illegal. Genetic testing of employees currently is protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the 2008 Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA). The bill, which was approved by the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, is part of the Preserving Employee Wellness Programs Act and would allow employers to impose penalties of up to 30 percent of the total cost of the employee’s health insurance on those who choose to keep such information private from their employer.

Congress enacted GINA to prohibit discrimination by health insurers and employers based on the genetic information that people carry in their DNA. GINA currently contains an exception, however, that allows employees to voluntarily provide their genetic information as part of a voluntary wellness program. If passed, the bill would change the nature of the voluntariness of providing genetic information and make it clear that employers who offer wellness programs, and also require genetic testing as part of these programs, can legally charge workers who refuse to take the genetic test a higher price for health insurance than workers who will.

If enacted by the full House and Senate, H.R. 1313 would effectively repeal the fundamental genetic and health privacy protections in GINA and the ADA. The new provisions would permit employers, under the guise of workplace wellness programs, to ask employees questions about genetic examinations taken by themselves or their families. Further, an employer could make inquiries about the medical history of employees and other family members. GINA’s requirement that employee genetic information collected as part of a wellness plan only be shared with medical professionals would no longer apply. This could open the door to discrimination by employers on the basis of genetic examinations or family histories.

If you need assistance with an employment law issue in Virginia, please contact our office at 703-668-0070 or at www.berrylegal.com to schedule a consultation. Please also like and visit us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/BerryBerryPllc.

by RestonNow.com — March 13, 2017 at 3:30 pm 3 Comments

Reston Community Center logo All activities at Reston Community Center tonight after 7 p.m. are being canceled as a winter storm is expected to hit the area.

In addition, the Community Relations and Program/Policy Joint Committee meeting scheduled for tonight has been moved to 5:30 p.m., an hour earlier than previously scheduled, in the attempt to beat the change in weather.

From RCC:

Due to the inclement weather forecast for this evening, both Reston Community Center facilities will close at 7:00 p.m. on Monday, March 13 for the safety of staff and patrons. Tonight’s Community Relations and Program/Policy Joint Committee Meeting has been moved to 5:30 p.m. (one hour earlier than originally scheduled). All RCC activities taking place after 7:00 p.m. are canceled; the Young Actors Theatre rehearsal will end at 7:00 p.m. Make-up classes will be scheduled if possible. No refunds will be issued for inclement weather cancellations.

For complete and up-to-date operational status, please call RCC at 703-476-4500. We regret any inconvenience that this disruption of RCC programs and services causes and hope you will stay safe during this weather event. We will return to normal operations as soon as we are able.

Community Center users are encouraged to visit the RCC website for more information about its inclement weather policy.

by Dave Emke — March 13, 2017 at 2:45 pm 20 Comments

Lake House

Community group Reston 20/20 is calling for an independent committee of RA members to be formed to delve deeper into the circumstances surround Reston Association’s controversial Tetra/Lake House deal.

The group made the recommendation Monday as part of a 10-page analysis of StoneTurn Group’s review of the transaction and subsequent cost overrun, which was completed in February.

According to Reston 20/20’s recommendation, the committee should be formed after the board’s elections have completed in April. At that time, four new members will join the nine-person board.

“In light of the fact that the current Board majority was immersed in all the events described here and in StoneTurn’s report, it has no credibility in conducting any further actions on Tetra,” said Terry Maynard, co-chair of Reston 20/20. “The new RA Board, installed next month with a majority not involved in Tetra, should tackle the issues we raise here and any others it finds in a deep dive effort by a committee of Restonians.”

The majority of which Maynard speaks will be made up of the four new members plus director Sherri Hebert (Lake Anne/Tall Oaks District) who was elected in 2016, following the conclusion of the transaction and renovations. Hebert has also recently called for more community involvement in the analysis of the report. (Two other continuing board members, Julie Bitzer and Ray Wedell, were elected in April 2015 — after the purchase proposal had been drawn up and scheduled for referendum, which passed with 53 percent of the vote in May 2015.)

In its analysis, Reston 20/20 says StoneTurn’s report provides “important new information on the timeline of actions leading to the excessive price paid for the property and its huge repair costs,” which it says is “a vital first step in understanding fully what transpired in this unfortunate venture for RA and its members.” The analysis goes on to ask numerous followup questions, many related to personal responsibility for decisions made during the process, including:

  • “Did RA agree on the price prior to Board approval in January 2015? If so, why? Who made that decision and why?”
  • “Who altered the appraisal instructions to assume Tetra was in good repair and the hypothetical restaurant use was large and extended into the lake?”
  • Why wasn’t conflict of interest specifically discussed in the StoneTurn report?”

Reston 20/20 says it wants the citizens’ committee to have “unlimited access to all RA records relating to Tetra; the authority to interview RA employees, contractors and others with possible knowledge about Tetra; and the authority to request records from contractors who worked [with] RA on the Tetra purchase and renovation.”

A group of Reston Association members, working under the name Mediaworld Ventures LLC, had been selected in September 2016 by the Board of Directors to complete a review of the purchase and cost overrun at a cost of $1. The parties could not agree on the terms of a contract, however, and negotiations were terminated in January. The board agreed later that month to have StoneTurn complete the review at a cost of $45,000.

StoneTurn’s review provided 15 recommendations to the RA board for how to avoid a similar situation from happening in the future. Reston 20/20 members say without rooting out more specifics of the transaction, changes to procedure may have minimal effect.

“We believe it is vital to understand the full details of what transpired, including identifying any violations of policy, procedure or the law and the persons involved in those activities. If we do not dig out these details, RA runs a serious risk of repeating many of the same errors in the future no matter what process changes are added.”

The RA Board of Directors has a special meeting scheduled for Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. (weather-permitting) to discuss the results of StoneTurn’s report and the recommendations for the board that were provided within.

by RestonNow.com — March 13, 2017 at 1:30 pm 26 Comments

John Mooney/Reston AssociationVoting in the 2017 Reston Association Board of Directors election will run through April 3. We will be posting profiles on each of the candidates. Featured here is John Mooney, who is facing Arlene Krieger (profile) in the race for the North Point District seat. The two squared off in a candidate forum last week.

Profiles of candidates in the races for the Hunters Woods/Dogwood District seat and an At-Large seat will run later this week.

The profiles are in a Q-and-A format. Each candidate had an opportunity to answer the same questions in their own words.

How long have you lived in Reston? What brought you here?

Susan and I bought our Hampton Pointe condo in March 2016, and it was love that brought us here.

First was our love for each other — two widowed people, she living on a forested farm in West Virginia and I living in suburban Fairfax County for the last 27 years, meeting miraculously on Match.com. She had grown up and worked in cities for her first 30 years and enjoyed city culture, but she loved the country. I had lived in cities all my life but also enjoyed nature’s beauty. Farms are hard as people age, so when we married Susan agreed to move to Fairfax.

Then it was love of Reston. As we looked for a new home, urban and typical suburban settings couldn’t satisfy her soul. We looked all over northern Virginia. She kept saying, “I think I need to live in Reston.” We love Reston’s trees and trails and bike paths, the proximity of the wooded residential neighborhoods to Reston Town Center, and its easy access to the DC region. We fell in love with Bob Simon’s vision for Reston, an open and diverse community that strives for harmony at so many levels. We love how dedicated Restonians have preserved so much of that vision.

What inspired you to run for the board?

Running for the board was the furthest thing from my mind when we bought our condo. It was the awareness that Simon’s vision was challenged today, and that my 27 years in local-government management could help RA face that challenge, that changed my mind.

The wake-up call was the proposed monster redevelopment of St. Johns Wood Apartments right in our neighborhood. In June 2016, we joined a small leadership team that had formed around the online petition opposing the project. We attended various hearings and gave testimony. I wrote some analyses of SJW’s incompatibility with the Reston Master Plan that were posted on the RA website and on Reston 20/20. Some members of the community then asked me to consider a run for the board.

The SJW involvement made me aware of other challenges facing Reston, ones I had dealt with throughout my career. Running for the Board made sense.

But there’s other inspiration for running, really the deepest. The last words in the magnificent film about Reston, “A Different Way of Living,” are spoken by Bob Simon himself: “Community is what it’s all about.” That has been one of my deepest, lifelong convictions and passions. Running is my (and our) investment in our Reston community.

What are three of the biggest concerns you have for Reston?

My three biggest concerns are internal governance, development and redevelopment pressures, and its relationship with Fairfax County and state/regional agencies.

Reston has internal governance challenges. RA must keep assessments as low as possible while maintaining service excellence. A capital improvements plan should frame the evaluation of all capital expenditures. RA needs early and thorough analysis of complicated proposals so that new Tetras don’t occur. It needs to inform and involve affected groups and neighborhoods early on big issues. Finally, it needs to demonstrate transparency and accountability in its deliberations and decisions.

Metro’s arrival heightened the development pressures on Reston from construction in Reston Town Center and the Dulles Corridor. Reston also faces internal re-development challenges, like St. Johns Wood and Tall Oaks. As Reston’s early construction ages, the redevelopment pressure will accelerate. RA, RTC and the Dulles Corridor must work as a harmonious “One Reston” or we’ll all fail.

Fairfax County is Reston’s local government. Had the county not approved Reston’s “residential planned community” zoning in 1962, Reston would not exist. But Fairfax County’s growth orientation can endanger the Reston vision.  We must increase collaboration with the county and state/regional agencies, but in a way that protects and advances Reston’s unique interests.

What do you hope to accomplish by being on the board?

The short version: I hope to help RA successfully address the challenges noted in the previous question.

Let me highlight a few specifics I want to focus on:

  • RA Governance: RA needs stronger analytic capacity (staff, contractual or committees) to analyze complex issues. It also needs a better community-involvement process to improve members’ confidence in RA.
  • Development/Redevelopment Pressures: RA needs to “protect the protections” of our Reston vision — the Reston Deed and the Reston Master Plan. Case law shows that failure to enforce consistently either an HOA deed or a master plan weakens their protective power in future legal battles. We need the RA, and especially the RA Design Review Board, to rigorously ensure that proposed large development projects follow the RA Deed, Design Standards and Master Plan.
  • Relation with the County and State/Regional Agencies: We need designated RA liaisons (RA Board members, RA committee members, or both) to engage regularly with the county and with agencies like the Virginia Department of Transportation, Metro and the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission.

How will your personal or professional experience help you in your role with RA?

The first asset I’d bring as an RA Board director would be my 27 years in local government management, 17 of those in Arlington County, and 7 of those as Arlington’s senior Assistant County Manager. (Details are at Mooney4Reston.com.) I helped maintain and further Arlington’s regional reputation of excellent services within a fiscally responsible budget. We made sure that community processes informed, involved, and listened to all affected groups. We did strategic regional networking.  We used wise capital-improvements planning and budgeting. Perhaps above all, we were doggedly faithful to Arlington’s comprehensive plan despite strong pressures for over-development.

I also bring my background in ethics generally and local government ethics specifically. I have a Ph.D. in philosophy with a specialization in ethics and have taught local-government ethics courses to employees of Arlington County, the District of Columbia and Montgomery County. I’m confident that I can help the RA Board and members in their concerns about RA’s internal ethics.

Finally, I bring decades of personal effort of working for the common good, of building up community at many levels — civic, religious and political. Helping communities grow and succeed has always been my greatest joy.

Read more about Mooney and the other candidates in the 2017 Reston Association election on RA’s website.

PREVIOUSLY PUBLISHED CANDIDATE PROFILES:

by RestonNow.com — March 13, 2017 at 11:30 am 43 Comments

Arlene Krieger/Reston AssociationVoting in the 2017 Reston Association Board of Directors election will run through April 3. We will be posting profiles on each of the candidates. Featured here is Arlene Krieger, who is facing John Mooney (profile) in the race for the North Point District seat. The two squared off in a candidate forum last week.

Profiles of candidates in the races for the Hunters Woods/Dogwood District seat and an At-Large seat will run later this week.

The profiles are in a Q-and-A format. Each candidate had an opportunity to answer the same questions in their own words.

How long have you lived in Reston? What brought you here?

Three generations of my family have lived in Reston. My family has enjoyed Reston’s green, open spaces, its incredible schools, its dog park, its lakes, its pools, its wide range of recreational facilities, its library, and its beautiful residential neighborhoods. I have been a wife, a mother and a grandparent here in Reston. Members of my family have been born right here at Reston Hospital.

Nobody is more INVESTED in preserving North Point’s lifestyle and quality of life than I am. As a long-term resident of North Point, how could I be anything else? Bob Simon’s beautiful vision of a planned community is what brought me here. But with what’s happening with all the redevelopment I see around me, I think that Bob must be spinning in his grave.

What inspired you to run for the board?

I was one of three women who began the fight against the St. John’s Woods Redevelopment Plan. I live nearby. This affected me directly. SJW would have more than doubled the amount to people living in this one neighborhood … destroyed a beautiful green canopy of trees … and created even more traffic congestion than we already have. We cannot allow developers to trample on our way of life without fighting back.

After the Reston Design Review Board approved SJW’s plan, I got it out of their hands and in front of the entire board of directors instead. There, it was shot down. Turned out it violated our Master Plan. It was then that I realized I needed to be on the RA Board. We need louder voices to protect our neighborhoods and homes. My outrage at projects like St. John’s Woods, the Golf Course, Tall Oaks, the Soccer Field and the disastrous Lake House purchase mirrored that of residents throughout North Point. I realized that my specialized skill set as a professional community organizer would give me an edge to better deal with the challenges confronting North Point, and give our residents a stronger voice in protecting our shared interests.

What are three of the biggest concerns you have for Reston?

Foremost, it’s how developers are targeting residential neighborhoods in North Point. I hear much talk about Reston’s need for “balanced development.” But it seems to me that the only balance that matters is the bank balance of developers. I am extremely concerned about special waivers, exceptions and zoning changes for specific developers that allow them to encroach on our neighborhoods like invasive plants.

Second, the lack of communication between RA and our community troubles me. Everything seems backwards. Today, the onus is on YOU to find out what’s happening. YOU need to check the RA website. YOU need to figure out how to sign up for crucial alerts. Transparency has become a buzz word. Everyone says it, but few know how to implement it. That’s why so many Restonians don’t learn about development projects until bulldozers show up. It’s almost as if RA doesn’t want you to know what’s going on. As a community organizer, my plan is to reverse this paradigm. Make RA responsible for transparency, not members.

Third, even though I know it’s not a tax, I’m not a fan of the way assessment fees are determined. I think some people are paying more than their fair share.

What do you hope to accomplish by being on the board?

All the candidates know the basics. Compromise … Dialogue … Negotiation. But what makes me different is one unwavering position: developers MUST abide by Reston’s Master Plan and Deed, and other binding legal instruments.

I am NOT a politician and I’m NOT part of the establishment. I haven’t worked for the government in any capacity whatsoever. I think that’s important. I am a community organizer and activist. Always have been, always will be. And what I hope to accomplish by being on the board is to bring my unique experience and special skill set to the table, to enable the community to have a stronger say in their own lives. I know how to keep people informed. And I know how to form collations to help ordinary people deal with the challenges we all face.

The advertising for the Reston Parkway commercial building soon to come reminds me of the biggest challenge we face in Reston. It labels itself, “One Address Above it All.” And I believe that’s what developers think about us: That they are ABOVE us all. I won’t accept that. No one should.

How will your personal or professional experience help you in your role with RA?

I have spent my entire career organizing people around vital issues. As a community organizer, I have created committees, boards, special events, community services and collaborations that bring people together to work for the common good. I have done this on behalf of major national nonprofit organizations.

As an activist, I know how to change the status quo. This experience is urgently needed on the RA board. The status quo is tearing Reston apart. There are so many different kinds of service and experience. That’s why I always say, “Vote for Results, Not Resumes.”

In addition, as a North Point wife, mother and grandparent, I have used our schools, our kiddie parks, our dog park and our open green spaces with joy. I have benefited from every facet of Bob Simon’s vision of a planned community, and I can’t bear to watch developers continue to chip away at his legacy. In my opinion nobody will fight harder for their community than a person whose neighborhood is being threatened. And that person is me.

Read more about Krieger and the other candidates in the 2017 Reston Association election on RA’s website.

PREVIOUSLY PUBLISHED CANDIDATE PROFILE:

by Dave Emke — March 13, 2017 at 10:15 am 7 Comments

Snow plows/VDOT

After a snowless winter, it looks like Reston will finally be hit.

Forecasters are predicting several inches of snow for the area, with an outside chance of a foot or more, beginning tonight and continuing into Tuesday.

The National Weather Service has placed an area including Reston under a winter storm warning that is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. Monday and last through 2 p.m. Tuesday. According to the alert, their official predictions include the following:

* PRECIPITATION TYPE…Snow…possibly mixed with sleet at times
Monday night.

* ACCUMULATIONS…Snow accumulation of 6 to 10 inches.

* TIMING…Snow will overspread the area Monday evening and
persist through Tuesday morning.

* IMPACTS…The heavy snow will create difficult travel
conditions and may produce scattered power outages.

* WINDS…Northeast 5 to 15 mph with gusts up to 30 mph.

* TEMPERATURES…In the lower 30s.

In preparation for the storm, the Virginia Department of Transportation began pre-treating roads Sunday. The department is encouraging drivers to adjust their schedules to be off roads before the evening rush hour Monday and overnight.

“This will help avoid being stuck on the roads when the storm begins, and to allow crews room to work more safely and efficiently,” VDOT said in a release.

In addition, VDOT asks that vehicles be parked in driveways, or that communities coordinate to all park on the same side of the road, to allow a larger path when plows begin to focus on neighborhood streets.

Such a significant snowfall would also have an impact on public transportation.

Metro will suspend its MetroAccess paratransit services at 4 p.m. today, and they will remain out of service through Tuesday. In addition, Metrobus service changes are possible and will be announced based on weather conditions and forecast.

Fairfax Connector is reminding users that service may be reduced, modified or suspended, on a route-by-route basis or systemwide. Riders are encouraged to monitor schedules online or call customer service (703-339-7200) for updates.

Photo via Virginia Department of Transportation on Twitter (@VaDOTNOVA)

by Dave Emke — March 13, 2017 at 9:00 am 4 Comments

Morning Notes

More Speak Out Against Paid Parking — The owner of Obi Sushi says sales are down about a third since Boston Properties initiated paid parking at Reston Town Center. Meanwhile, the president of the Reston Citizens Association says it’s just one more sore spot to a community battling an increasing cost of living. [Washington Post]

Retired Detective’s Story Gains AttentionAs we reported, retired Fairfax County Police Department detective Bruce Wiley took care of a 17-year-old intruder at his Beaver Circle home last week using no more than a flashlight and a baton. Since, he has shared further details about the incident with Washington television stations. “I was lucky that he didn’t have a gun,” he told one. [Fox 5 DC/WJLA]

Nominations Still Open for Reston Volunteer Awards — Candidates for Reston Association’s Volunteer Service Awards can still be nominated until Friday. The awards recognize individuals, families, groups and businesses that make a significant contribution to the community through volunteer service. [Reston Association]

SLHS Baseball Star Continues His Success — Jared Abelson, a 2015 South Lakes High School graduate, picked up two hits for Macalester College in a game over the weekend against Marian University in the Tucson Invitational. The sophomore is batting .478 through six games this season. [Macalester College Athletics]

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