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Photos: Flavors of Fall Brings Food and Fun to Reston Town Center

Flavors of Fall, Northern Virginia’s largest outdoor food festival, returned to Reston Town Center this weekend.

Dozens of restaurants offered up their favorite fall items for samples during the event, which is hosted by the Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce.

The festival also included live entertainment and events for the family.

Photos by Don Renner

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Reno of the Month: Why You Won’t Get Your New Kitchen by Thanksgiving

by Mina Fies, Synergy Design & Construction

You finally decide you’re going to tackle that kitchen remodel and you want it done in time for Thanksgiving. The contractor you meet with looks thoughtful and says, “Your project is going to take 3 weeks and cost $20,000″… and then you wake up.

We’ve all seen the TV shows. Much as I love them, reality shows do a disservice to homeowners in terms of setting unrealistic expectations about what it takes to create your perfect space — both in terms of time and cost.

I had the chance to see the Property Brothers speak at an industry conference awhile back and found them not only engaging and insightful… but completely honest! One of the first things they said was “Our shows are not reality”. They went on to explain they don’t charge for their time, most of the materials are donated and a lot of the shows are shot in locations where the cost of living is vastly different from ours.

So where else does reality lie?

  • Design comes first, then construction. Thoughtful design takes time and needs to be finalized before anyone starts pulling out your cabinets.
  • We’re frequently asked, “Can’t you give me a ballpark cost?” We can certainly give you a range, but think of it as car. Want the heated seats, sunroof and rear view camera? That adds to the final cost. Until any remodeler knows if you want the high end appliances, the radiant heating or the custom cabinets, there is no way to give you an accurate cost until you’re further along in the design process.
  • You’ve finalized the design you want, now it’s time to order materials. Quality cabinetry alone can have a 6-8 week lead time. This is where many remodeling projects start to fall off the rails. Your kitchen or bathroom has been torn out, and you are suddenly told the tile you want won’t be delivered for another 4 weeks.
  • No-one should be swinging hammers in your home before they’ve finalized the design or ordered the materials. We have a saying at Synergy, “materials wait for construction, not the other way around.” The contractor you pick should be able to tell you exactly when the construction phase of your project will start and exactly when it will finish.

If any contractor comes through your front door now promising to complete your remodel by Thanksgiving, that’s great and depending on the size and scale of the project, perhaps it will. But do your homework and make sure it’s not just a tactic to get you to sign on the dotted line. The last thing you want is to be taking down your Christmas decorations and they still haven’t finished the job.

This month’s remodel features a single family home remodel in Reston. Our clients wanted to completely open up the space to create a better flow and a more cohesive space. They put their trust in us to deliver the final project on-time and on-budget and that’s exactly what we did!

Find out more about our approach to remodeling. Not ready to remodel and just want to keep in touch? Sign up to receive information directly in your inbox!

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Reston Association Board Dives Deep into 2019 Budget

Reston Association’s Board of Directors took a deep dive into drafting next year’s budget, which could include a roughly $11 increase in member assessments.

The proposed increase, which is currently under consideration, is driven by nearly $229,000 in new expenses, such as a $60,000 reserve study required by state law every five years and nearly $56,000 in health care cost increases for staff.

At a meeting in late September, the board took particular interest in $20,000 allocated for targeted marketing in an effort to reach individuals outside of RA’s membership and boost rentals of facilities. Mike Leone, RA’s director communications and community engagement, said would allow staff to expand their reach and market RA’s rental facilities, including the Lake House.

In previous years, staff used free marketing tools to reach members and non-members. Board members said they wanted to see more information on how targeted marketing was linked to revenue increases and return on investment.

“This board will need to see more granularized targets,” said RA board president Andy Sigle.

RA’s Acting CEO Larry Butler said he directed department heads to examine how to cut costs across different entities within RA.

“They’re very, very small compromises,” Butler said.

New proposed items in this year’s budget include the following:

  • Reserve study: $60,000 of a study required by law every five years
  • Healthcare cost increase: $55,500 for a projected 6.5 percent increase in current healthcare funds
  • POAA software: $43,000 to eliminate proprietary software
  • Dechlorination systems for pools: $20,000 to fulfill a new Fairfax County requirement to address stormwater concerns
  • Billings and collections software: $30,000 to replace an antiquated proprietary system; will utilize a $75,000 in carry-forward funds from this year

Photo via YouTube/Reston Association

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Legal Insider: An Insight Into Reasonable Accommodations for Employees in Virginia

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.

Many Virginia employees have come to us to discuss the reasonable accommodation process when they develop a medical condition or disability that requires a change in their duties or other workplace adjustments. We advise and represent private, federal, state and county sector employees throughout Virginia in reasonable accommodation cases.

What is a Reasonable Accommodation?

A reasonable accommodation is an employee’s request to modify their employment conditions, assignments, hours, etc. to allow them to continue working in a position despite having a disability. Notably, the reasonable accommodation process applies to both employees and job applicants in all states, including the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Primarily, under federal law, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which applies to most employees, encompasses and outlines reasonable accommodations. More specifically, federal employees are also covered under the Rehabilitation Act, which incorporates similar protections as the ADA.

According to these laws, employers are required to engage in the reasonable accommodation process with qualified employees unless it would create an undue hardship for them.

In Virginia, many employees are also covered under the Virginians with Disabilities Act, which applies to most employers. Under both the federal and state laws, the goal of the reasonable accommodation process is to enable employees with disabilities the opportunity to enjoy an equal opportunity in employment. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) provides guidelines for reasonable accommodation requests.

Requesting a Reasonable Accommodation

The most typical type of reasonable accommodation involves an employee that has developed a medical condition or disability that requires some modifications or adjustments to their working arrangements.

Usually, an employee will ask for a reasonable accommodation by approaching their supervisor or human resources department, depending on the employer, and asking for one. Accordingly, a request for reasonable accommodation can be either formal or informal. For instance, depending on the employer, some have created specific forms covering reasonable accommodation requests; whereas, other employers simply involve informal verbal discussions between the employee and their immediate supervisor.

Regardless, once requested, there is usually a discussion about the reasonable accommodation requested. The discussion between an employer and employee is often called the “interactive process,” which simply means that the employer must engage the employee in attempting to resolve the reasonable accommodation request.

This process does not mean that an employer has to grant every accommodation sought (or even the specific one requested by the employee); rather, the employer is only required to make a good faith effort to accommodate a disabled employee.

There are far too many examples of reasonable accommodations to list here as they significantly vary based on an employee’s specific disability and their particular needs. However, the Job Accommodation Network provides examples of reasonable accommodations regarding specific medical conditions.

Conclusion

When an employee in the Commonwealth of Virginia needs to request a reasonable accommodation due to a medical condition, it is important to obtain legal advice and/or legal representation. Our law firm is ready to advise and represent Commonwealth of Virginia employees in the reasonable accommodation process.

Should you need assistance in this process, please contact us by telephone at 703-668-0070 or through our contact page. Please also visit and like us on our Facebook and Twitter pages.

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Fairfax Real Estate Developer Accused of Multimillion-Dollar Real Estate Fraud in Herndon

The CEO of Kiddar Capital, a Falls Church asset management firm, is accused of lying about the size and value of his company and defrauding investors about a $33 million office building in Herndon, according to charges filed in federal court. 

Todd Elliott Hitt, 53, was charged with securities fraud and surrendered to the FBI on Friday.

According to court documents, which were unsealed on Friday, Hitt raised nearly $11 million by falsely claiming to buy the building near a planned Herndon Metro stop. He spent around $9 million to purchase the 4.8-acre office building and relied on bank loans for the remaining balance on the purchase.

Prosecutors say Hitt was involved in an alleged $16 million scheme to defraud investors.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission also found Kiddar claimed to be a global firm with $1.4 billion under management in London, Houston, and Florida, but in reality, the local company only had one office in Falls Church and managed far less than $1 billion.

They also noted that Hitt failed to disclose to investors his “extravagant spending,” which included leasing private jets and buying sports tickets and jewelry.

The complete release can be found online.

Photo via Kiddar Capital

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Monday Morning Notes

Hairspray is on the way — Reston Community Center will present “Hairspray,” the winner of eight Tony Awards, including best musical, on Oct 19 and through Nov. 10. Tickets range between $24 and $28. [The Connection]

‘Muscle Up Mondays’ today at 6:30 p.m. Get your work week started with a work out during a free group fitness class in the pavilion of Reston Town Center, presented by Crunch Fitness. [Reston Town Center via Facebook]

Fog advisory in effect until 10 a.m. — Slow down on the road and leave distances between vehicles today. A fog advisory is in effect for the area. [Fairfax County Fire & Rescue Department]

Flickr pool photo by vantagehill

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