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Students at South Lakes High School to Join National Walkout for Gun Control

Pushed by the mass shooting at Florida high school this year, students at South Lakes High School will stage a walkout on Wednesday at 10 a.m., joining more than 2,200 schools nationwide as part of the #Enough National School Walkout to End Gun Violence.

For organizers, the need for the walkout – the second at the high school following the Florida shooting – came to life on Friday when three Reston schools were under a lockdown after students reported they saw another student with a gun. Police determined the report was false.

Students like Sophia Liao, Zachary Schonfeld and Dora Ahearn-Wood said they want legislators to go beyond tweeting thoughts and prayers by passing legislation to prevent gun violence.

“We should feel safe in our schools, and not have to worry if we are next. Just last Friday, we got lucky. The lockdown was quickly found to be a false alarm through the diligent work of school administration and police. But we should not have to live in a place where we have to see our friends texting and calling their families, terrified for their lives. This is not normal, and it needs to change,” Liao said.

The walkout will be the second for South Lakes High School students. Last month, more than 200 students stepped out of class in the middle of the day to remember victims of the Parkland shooting.

On Wednesday, students plan to stand outside for 17 minutes to honor each victim of the shooting. The walkout will also include remarks and chants from student organizers, according to a release by the South Lakes Young Democrats club.

Although the club is organizing the walkout, organizers said participants are from varying political backgrounds and the walkout is a school-wide initiative. Students also plan to initiate a “call to action” by encouraging participants to vote, call their elected representatives and become involved in political discourse.

We might not all be experts on gun policy, but we do know that the current status quo is not working,” organizers said.

File photo

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Reno of the Month: Why Committing to (and Keeping) Project Completion Dates Matter

Written by Mina Fies, Synergy Design & Construction

The #1 complaint I hear from homeowners is that their previous project took much longer than expected.

Working in the design and construction industry for years, I believe one of the biggest mistakes renovation companies make is not providing a clear timeline and plan to homeowners before construction begins.

Here’s a few questions to ask potential remodeling companies to ensure they’ve got the ability (and capacity) to get your project completed on-time:

  • What is a “typical” project size for your company?
  • How often do you take on projects like mine?
  • How many projects do you have going on at one time?
  • Do you provide a timeline for completion of my project?
  • How will you ensure my project will come in on time and on budget?

Our featured renovation this month is a clean-lined, modern Reston kitchen. Our clients had exacting standards and an eye for details and they chose us because we provided them a clear pathway to the finish line (which we call our Renovation Roadmap™).

We use it to help make all design selections and provide the exact costs and construction timeline and — the best bit — this eliminates unexpected costs, delays and frustration!

We love helping homeowners like you, even if you don’t pick us as your remodeling partner. Download your free Renovation Roadmap brochure and receive monthly tools and tips on everything design and renovation.

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Legal Insider: Benefits of Resolving Employment Disputes Without Litigation

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

By John V. Berry, Esq.

While it is not always possible to avoid litigation in employment cases, resolving an employment dispute without litigation, if possible, is strongly recommended and should be considered by both employees and employers.

We have represented both employees and employers and the benefits of resolution usually far outweigh the lengthy litigation process. Some benefits to consider include:

1. Avoid Extended Litigation: We have had employment cases in extended litigation that take between three to six years in the court process.

When going into an employment case, an employee and employer should consider whether it makes sense to litigate these types of cases over such a potentially long period of time.

Usually, employees do not want to have such a long period of uncertainty to their career, and an employer does not want to spend $50,000 to $100,000 (or more) litigating an employment case. Employers can also have similar uncertainties about staffing while a case is pending.

2. Limiting Costs: Extended litigation can cost a lot of money for both employees and employers.

Employees usually pay for these fees out of pocket and employers either pay these fees out of pocket or through increased premiums in their use of insurance defense policies.

Some of our most satisfied clients are those who have decided to resolve their disputes early in the process and save themselves money. They may reach a compromise that is not perfect, but sometimes it is far better than the result of the litigation.

3. No Stress from Discovery: Because we have taken a number of depositions over the years of managers, witnesses and employees, we can tell you that going through the discovery process can take a stressful toll on both employers and employees.

The former employee often undergoes a high level of stress in telling his or her story to an opposing attorney who is looking to disprove their account through questioning.

For employers, it is no better because managers also get stressed about telling the truth while being loyal to the company. Managers also tend to be far less productive at work when they’re under this type of stress.

For both sides, discovery also means going back through emails (sometime work, sometimes personal emails) and other documents and producing them to the other side.

4. Possibility of Better Outcomes: Settling claims early, as opposed to later in the process, can often lead to better outcomes.

Sometimes a less than perfect resolution offered early looks great in hindsight after the parties have spent additional thousands of dollars in the litigation process. Employees and employers typically risk little by trying to resolve a dispute early. If the attempt fails, then litigation usually remains an option.

The key to a realistic attempt at settlement is for both parties to leave their feelings out of the process and try to reach a compromise. Another key is that employees and employers should instruct their attorneys, if they want to try to settle early, that they want to try to reach a compromise.

Unless employees and employers take this step, attorneys often go through the process of presuming that litigation is certain and make little attempt to resolve things prior to litigation.

Some cases need to be litigated in court, but the vast majority should really be resolved through settlement when possible. It generally yields better results for both employers and employees.

Our law firm represents and advises employees and employers on employment-related matters in the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia.

If you need legal assistance, please contact our office at (703) 668-0070 or at www.berrylegal.com to schedule a consultation. Please also visit and like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/BerryBerryPllc.

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New Waiting Area at Wiehle-Reston East Opens

A new waiting area is available at the Wiehle-Reston East station.

Uber and Lyft drivers, as well as shuttle buses and vans, can use the lot, which was opened today, to drop off and pick up passengers, according to a release from Hunter Mill District Supervisor Cathy Hudgins.

Vehicles can enter the waiting area from Reston Station Boulevard off of Wiehle Avenue. Parking is allowed for 15 minutes only. Pedestrians can use the crosswalk at Reston Station Boulevard and Wiehle Avenue to access the waiting area.

Any unattended vehicles will be towed. Vehicles stopping and standing along Reston Station Boulevard will be ticketed.

For more information, contact Connect and Ride at 703-502-9797.

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Emergency Repairs to Disrupt Metro Service This Weekend

Expect service reductions at Silver Line stations and some Blue Line stations this weekend from March 16 through 18 due to major problems with concrete supporting Metro’s tracks.

A slab of concrete is cracked under the rails between Benning Road and Capitol Heights stations. Metro will remove rails and fasteners to remove the existing concrete and add a new structure, a process that is expected to take three consecutive days.

Silver Line trains will run every 24 minutes during single tracking, including during rush hour. Blue Line trains will be rerouted to New Carollton instead of Largo. Service will remain unaffected between Franconia-Springfield and New Carollton.

“Unfortunately, this is a repair job that cannot wait and cannot be confined to a weekend,” said Joe Leader, Metro’s Chief Operating Officer. “To the customers at the 10 stations who will be impacted on Friday, March 16, we apologize and hope that they will consider using stations on other lines or alternate travel options that day.”

File photo

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Monday Morning Notes

New funding for Metro — State lawmakers directed about $150 million to Metro this weekend. [NBC 4]

But what if we had no Metro — Everyone’s talking about the need to fix Metro. What would happen if we didn’t? [Washington Business Journal]

‘Cat on a Hot Tin Roof’ catches fire — The play by Reston Community Players gets a glowing review by one publication. [DC Metro Theater Arts]

A friendly reminder — If you checked your smoke alarm after changing your clocks over the weekend, don’t forget to complete one additional step to secure your home. [Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department]

Photo by Ruth Sievers

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