Fairfax Animal Control Encourages You to Scare Away Overly Curious Wildlife

(Updated 12:30 p.m.) Don’t pet or feed wild animals. In fact, local animal control encourages you to haze them if they get too close to the house or if you feel threatened.

As winter sets in, homes around Fairfax County could look particularly appealing to animals looking for a refuge for the cold weather or a bite to eat. Sergeant Alena Swartz, Animal Control Officer for Fairfax County, urges local citizens to resist the urge to let the wildlife in.

“If you have anything that might be seen as a good nesting area, like under sheds or low-rise porches, a lot of animals can use that as a den,” said Swartz. “You don’t want them denning in your yard, you want them in the woods.”

If an animal is simply moving across the property, Swartz says it’s fine to let them pass, but sometimes animals can come too close to the proximity of the house and conflict can occur when the animals become too comfortable around humans.

Swartz said to make sure to check under those areas first before they are closed in or any animals trapped inside could starve. Swartz recommended placing loose dirt below holes being closed up to be able to check later and see if an animal has attempted to scratch or dig out from the inside. If there are signs of activity, call pest control.

Overall, Swartz said the seasonal change doesn’t the types of animals seen around the area, though squirrel infestations are more common in the spring and summer. But Swartz said Fairfax residents are still likely to see foxes, raccoons, or the odd coyote or two throughout the winter months.

If residents spot a fox or coyote in their yard, Swartz said residents should do everything they can to scare the animal away, both for the safety of residents and for the animal.

“Get a can… shake things around,” Swartz said. “Try to scare them away. Foxes will sometimes just become acclimated to that, so you really have to make sure you scare them away.”

If the animal persists, Swartz says residents should throw rocks near the animals, though not directly at them.

Swartz said animals becoming too acclimated to humans can lead to wild animals changing their behavior in ways that may hinder their survival.

“Don’t want them thinking okay be to be around people,” said Swartz. “Don’t leave pet food outside, what [your pets] don’t eat take up and bring in, or [wild animals] see that as a food source. They’ll think ‘why try to find my own food when I can come here?’ We need them to maintain a fear of us or they stop doing what they normally do.”

Swartz said that the amount of wildlife around Fairfax hasn’t shown a substantial change, but as the communities grow and expand they are taking away resources from that wildlife and sightings become more common as humans encroach on their habitat.

For most animal sightings, Swartz said local residents should contact the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF) at 1-855-571-9003. The DGIF deals largely with animals that are considered nuisances, like a groundhog repeatedly pilfering a local garden. But for animals that appear sick or injured, Swartz says to contact animal protection police at 703-691-2131.

Photo courtesy Brandy Schantz

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Reston Real Estate: Just Listed

justlistednew

This is a sponsored post by Eve Thompson of Reston Real Estate.

As we roll into the holiday week there are almost no “new” listings. Most folks will wait until the holidays are past before listing their homes for sale. I thought we’d take a quick look at some of the older listings on the market.

When a seller engages an agent to sell their property what they are hiring is (hopefully) expertise in finding the sweet spot of price vs. property condition. Condition of a property is one of the largest drivers of property value, I would say second only to location.

It’s the agent’s job to analyze sales and condition and to provide a comparison of those sold properties against the seller’s property. It’s the seller’s job to pick the price, hopefully based on the data provided.

It can be hard for sellers and buyers to accept that the market is its own thing — we can’t force it to do our bidding. The buyer who comes in with a super low offer thinking they can force a sellers hand will be just as disappointed as the seller who overprices their property with the “I’m not in a hurry, I’ll wait to get my price” strategy. Rarely is either successful.

Here are a few great properties that have been hanging around a while along with their current list price:

For the past year I’ve been saying that the market is very price sensitive. What I mean is that properties that are within 10-20k of their best price are hanging on the market — buyers are not aggressively pursuing these “slightly” overpriced properties, they’re letting them sit.

This of course is bad for sellers because the longer they sit the more it costs them (both in carrying costs and in lost opportunities, etc.) what they might have done with the cash had they gotten the house sold.

A seller’s best strategy is always to be the best priced and best presented home in their particular market — stand out by being a market of one, rather than one of many.

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South Lakes High School Clothing Closet Opens Today

The South Lakes High School Clothing Closet is asking for new and gently used clothing to help stock up today (Dec. 20) during its grand opening.

The store aims to have clothing available for its students “free of charge and of judgment,” according to the South Lakes High School Parent Teacher Student Association.

School leadership and the Distributive Education Clubs of America created the store to build off of the success of the food pantry at the school, according to the SLHS PTSA. Reston Now previously reported that since April 2017, the pantry has filled more than 2,500 orders and weekly order averages are also increasing.

Locals can drop off new or gently used clothing from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. today and tomorrow (Dec. 21).

The following clothing items are needed:

  • jackets
  • shirts
  • pants
  • “interview attire”
  • school spirit clothing
  • warm weather clothing

Drop-offs will be accepted in the main office at South Lakes High School (11400 South Lakes Drive).

File photo

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Flood Watch Issued for Fairfax

The National Weather Service (NWS) issued a Flood Watch today (Dec. 20) starting from 7 p.m. Thursday to Friday afternoon for Fairfax and much of the D.C. region.

NWS anticipates widespread rain tonight and showers tomorrow.

NWS expects 1 to 2 inches of rain, but up to 4 inches of rain could fall in local areas.

NWS encourages locals to monitor later forecasts and to stay alert for possible Flood Warnings. Residents should prepare to take action if they live in areas prone to flooding.

More from the National Weather Service:

FLOOD WATCH REMAINS IN EFFECT FROM 7 PM EST THIS EVENING
THROUGH FRIDAY AFTERNOON…

The Flood Watch continues for

* Portions of Maryland, The District of Columbia, Virginia, and
West Virginia, including the following areas, in Maryland,
Anne Arundel, Calvert, Carroll, Central and Southeast Howard,
Central and Southeast Montgomery, Charles, Frederick MD,
Northern Baltimore, Northwest Harford, Northwest Howard,
Northwest Montgomery, Prince Georges, Southeast Harford,
Southern Baltimore, St. Marys, and Washington. The District of
Columbia. In Virginia, Albemarle, Arlington/Falls
Church/Alexandria, Augusta, Central Virginia Blue Ridge,
Clarke, Culpeper, Eastern Loudoun, Fairfax, Frederick VA,
Greene, King George, Madison, Nelson, Northern Fauquier,
Northern Virginia Blue Ridge, Orange, Page, Prince
William/Manassas/Manassas Park, Rappahannock, Rockingham,
Shenandoah, Southern Fauquier, Spotsylvania, Stafford, Warren,
and Western Loudoun. In West Virginia, Berkeley, Hampshire,
Hardy, Jefferson, and Morgan.

* From 7 PM EST this evening through Friday afternoon

* Widespread rain is expected tonight and showers are expected
Friday. Rainfall amounts around 1 to 2 inches are most likely,
but locally higher amounts around 3 to 4 inches are possible.
Soils remain saturated due to recent rainfall, so excess
runoff from the rain will cause the potential for flooding of
small streams, creeks, and urban areas.

Photo via Bahmad Farzad/Flickr

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Reston Developer Joins Race for Board of Supervisors Chair

Timothy Chapman, the managing member of Reston-based Chapman Development LLC, entered the race to become the next chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors.

On Dec. 6, Chairman Sharon Bulova revealed her plans to retire after her term ends Dec. 31, 2019. That same day, Lee District Supervisor Jeff McKay, a Democrat, announced his intention to succeed her, the Fairfax County Times reported.

Now, Chapman has joined the race to become the county’s next chair with a Facebook post on Tuesday (Dec. 18) indicating that he plans to run as a Democrat.

Chapman wrote in the post that he wants to offer an “alternative path” to bring changes to one of the country’s wealthiest counties.

“[The county] has settled for effectively ignoring a crisis in affordable housing, sending its children to school in trailers, for not paying our teachers and firefighters and police officers what they deserve, and for the horrific traffic that imprisons us in our cars and steals away precious moments with our children and families,” he wrote.

The post also says the following:

As far as my political views, through the years I have voted for and donated to Democrats, Independents and Republicans. Now, I am so disgusted by today’s out of the mainstream Trum-publicans that I realize the only successful path forward is the compassion of a strongly progressive Democratic platform. It’s essential that we fight for the little guy against often rigged politics which seem to benefit the wealthy and well connected, while leaving those hard working families who are the backbone of Fairfax County to struggle to make the everyday choices that many of us take for granted.

My own life experiences have taught me to have an overwhelming, unwavering compassion for the less fortunate. I know what it feels like to be judged rather than understood, to experience the pain, fear and anxiety of being homeless. But I have also enjoyed, and continue to enjoy, an inherent privilege which afforded me the opportunity for a second chance and another second chance. Without question, I have worked hard for every step forward I have accomplished, and I own every step backwards I have caused myself, but to ignore or deny this privilege would be like denying climate change. I am living proof that with grit and determination, one, if provided the opportunity, can overcome obstacles and succeed beyond their wildest dreams. I now live in Vienna with my wife and our 5 children. I’ve built a successful affordable housing development company. I chaired the Virginia Housing Development Authority at the request of Governor McAuliffe.

Records from the Virginia Public Access Project show that Chapman has indeed donated to politicians from both sides of the aisle. He gave $50,000 last year to Democrat Tom Perriello and $15,000 in 2013 to Republican Kenneth Cuccinelli for both men’s unsuccessful gubernatorial campaigns.

Other donations include $15,000 to Ralph Northam’s gubernatorial campaign and then $25,000 to Northam’s 2018 inaugural committee.

Back in 2005, he gave $4,000 to Republican Sean Connaughton’s unsuccessful bid to become the state’s lieutenant governor.

His Chapman Development bio says he has “an extensive background in multi-family development and tax-credit communities” and that he served in the 3rd U.S. Infantry’s Presidential Honor Guard.

Previously, Chapman chaired the Virginia Housing and Development Authority, according to a Bloomberg profile.

The upcoming election for the county’s Board of Supervisors will take place on Nov. 5, 2019.

Photos via Fairfax County/Facebook and Tim Chapman/LinkedIn

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Del. Ken Plum: Thank You, Gov. Ralph Northam

This is an opinion column by Del. Ken Plum (D), who represents Reston in Virginia’s House of Delegates. It does not reflect the opinion of Reston Now.

By the time you’re reading this Gov. Ralph Northam will have made his annual speech to the House Appropriations and the Senate Finance Committees to advise them of any changes he proposes to the biennial budget of the Commonwealth.

While the complete list of adjustments that he will propose to a budget that was passed nearly a year ago had not been made public when this column was written, we do know from public announcements some of the proposed changes that he is going to make, specifically in funding education. That is why I think he deserves a hearty holiday “Thank You!”

The Governor has proposed an additional $39 million in new money for investments “to ensure safe learning environments for Virginia’s K-12 students.” Of that amount, $36 million will be used as the first installment of a three-year, phased plan to reduce school counselor caseloads to 1:250 from its current 1:425. The additional $3.3 million will go to the Virginia Center for School Campus Safety to train school staff in maintaining safety in schools.

As the Governor explained, “Taking steps to provide additional support to students, raise awareness about suicide, and ensure students, school professionals, public safety personnel and community members are equipped with appropriate training and intervention skills are critical to a holistic school safety strategy.”

To recruit and retain the best teaching talent to the Commonwealth, Governor Northam has announced that he will seek an additional $268.7 million in new money for K-12 education that will among other improvements fund the state share of a 5 percent raise for teachers effective July 1, 2019. That is an increase over the current budget that would have funded a 2 percent raise.

The additional money for public schools includes $70 million for programs for at-risk students targeted to schools with the highest concentration of students eligible for free lunch to provide dropout prevention, after-school programs, and specialized instruction. An additional $80 million will be a one-time deposit to the Literary Fund which is a method by which the state helps poorer school divisions fund school construction.

As explained in a press release from the Governor’s Office, “Altogether, the budget proposals reflect the Governor’s commitment to ensuring that every Virginia student, no matter who they are or where they live, has the same access to a quality education.”

Even with these needed additional funds, the state share of education will continue to trail its pre-2008 economic recession level. With the slow recovery over many years that kept state revenues low, local governments have had to increase their funding to schools at the expense of other local needs. The proposals that the governor is making will help move the state back to a more equal partnership with localities in funding schools and hopefully to a 60 to 40 sharing of costs of state and local funding that had been envisioned for schools.

Gov. Northam deserves a big thank you for giving priority to funding programs for our children and their education. That is about investing in our future!

File photo

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Restaurants and Stores Shuffle, Reopen in Herndon Centre

Shoppers at Herndon Centre might have noticed a few recent changes to its food offerings.

Several locations in the shopping center have welcomed new grocery stores and restaurants this year — some of which relocated there — along with closures.

Mayuri Indian Restaurant moved to Herndon Centre in July to 390 Elden Street after it closed its Hunters Woods Village Center location in 2016. The restaurant closed its original spot of 10 years after the lease ended, according to the restaurant’s website.

Mayuri’s Herndon Centre spot used to belong to Baker’s Inn Indian Bistro & Cafe, which opened in 2016, according to its Facebook page. While its closing date is unknown, the restaurant was still open in late June, according to Yelp reviews.

Tipicos Gloria relocated about 150 feet from its spot at 482 Elden Street to 470 Elden Street about five months ago, an employee told Reston Now. The Central American eatery’s vacated spot is slated to open early next year as Ramen and Rice, Reston Now previously reported.

As for grocery options, ethnic grocer Lotte Plaza Market opened Dec. 7 at 490 Elden Street.

Sprouts Farmers Market grocery store is expected to take over part of the former Kmart space at 494 Elden Street. Demolition is still underway for that site.

Florida-based real estate investment firm Sterling Organization is dividing the former Kmart spot, Reston Now previously reported. Renderings of the project submitted to the Town of Herndon show the site will be the future home of LA FitnessMOD Pizza and IHOP.

Curry Leaf Fresh Market closed at 378 Elden Street earlier this year. A sign on the door, as of Dec. 17, indicates that the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority “is considering establishing a retail store at this location.”

380 Elden Street, which used to be a Sprint store, has signs indicating the space is available for retailers.

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Thursday Morning Notes

Girl Power! book club meets tonight — Younger readers between the ages of 10 to 13 can head to Scrawl Books in Reston Town Center to discuss the graphic novel “Be Prepared.” The book club starts at 7 p.m. tonight and will include trivia and games. [Scrawl Books]

The Rotary Club of Reston joins Reston Chamber of Commerce — The club held a luncheon earlier this week with an update from Mark Ingrao, the president and chief executive officer of the Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce. The club recently joined as a not-for-profit member. [Rotary Club of Reston Facebook]

Making sure everyone counts — On Tuesday, 40 people gathered in Richmond to figure out some ways to encourage Virginians to answer their U.S. Census Bureau questionnaires in 2020. The responses help determine the distribution of federal funding, which, historically, has been lower than the actual population. [The Virginian-Pilot]

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