Top Stories This Week

Before we head off into the weekend, let’s take a look back at the biggest stories on Reston Now this week.

  1. Exclusive: Reston Man Fires Gunshots Against Imaginary Kidnappers
  2. Annual Herndon Festival Kicks Off Tomorrow with New Location
  3. Reston Farmers Market Named Best Farmers Market in Northern Virginia
  4. Report: New Meaning Behind Rape Note Found on Herndon Homicide Victim
  5. Reston Association Grapples with Lifeguard Shortage for Pools

If you have ideas on stories we should cover, email us at [email protected] or submit an anonymous tip.

Feel free to discuss these topics, your weekend plans or anything else that’s happening locally in the comments below.

Photo via Town of Herndon

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Reston Pride Festival and More This Weekend in Reston

After a successful turnout at its inaugural event in a local church last year, the second annual Reston Pride Festival returns tomorrow (June 1) with a new location at Lake Anne Plaza.

The event, which aims to celebrate and support Reston’s LGBTQ community, is co-chaired by the Unitarian Universalist Church, St. Anne’s Episcopal Church, and United Christian Parish.

Building on last year’s event, the festival will feature entertainment, music, food, education and celebration, according to event organizers.

“The Lake Anne Plaza venue offers not only more space but greater visibility and access — and brings the festival into the heart of Reston, which is fitting as Reston since its founding in the 1960s has been committed to the principles of equality and inclusion.”

The schedule for the event is below:

  • 2 p.m.: Welcome note by Reston Pride co-chairs
  • 2:05 p.m.: Remarks by Hunter Mill District Supervisor Cathy Hudgins, Del. Ken Plum, and Sen. Janet Howell
  • 2:30 p.m.: Performance by choir from sponsoring churches
  • 2:40 p.m.: Vocal performance by Reston Community Players
  • 3:15 p.m.: Remarks by faith leader speakers
  • 3:35 p.m.: Drag show performance by Delta B. Knyght
  • 4:05 p.m.: Vocal performance by Rev. Michelle Nickens
  • 4:25 p.m.: Remarks by official speaker Danica Roem
  • 4:40 p.m.: Vocal performance by Jeff Young
  • 5:05 p.m.: Indian Bollywood dance performance
  • 5:20 p.m.: United Christian Parish Total Praise ensemble
  • 5:40 p.m.: Voices of Howard University
  • 6:10: Vocal performance by Laura Tsaggaris
  • 6:55 p.m.: Closing remarks

Tomorrow (June 1)

  • Gardens of Note Tour (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.)  — Take a self-guided tour of Reston’s gardens and pop-up musical entertainment. Registration is open online. A garden party at Hidden Lane Residential Landscapes will follow the tour.
  • Wildlife Counts and Classes (6:45 a.m. to 12 p.m.) — Adult volunteers will explore Reston’s natural areas in this class, which meets at the Walker Nature Center.
  • Summerbration Fun Brunch (11 a.m. to 1 p.m.) — A stilt walker, juggler and face painter performs onstage at Reston Station Plaza atop Wiehle-Reston East Metro. The event is free and open to all. Parking is free in the Metro Parking garage.
  • Summer Reading Kickoff (11 a.m.) — Young readers are invited to join authors Erica Perl and Laura Gehl to read some of their favorite titles at Scrawl Books.
  • ArtSplash for Adults (2-4 p.m.) — Adults are invited to create their own masterpieces in this workshop led by artists from Abrakadoodle Northern Virginia.
  • Lake House Open House (1-3 p.m.) — Enjoy light refreshments and mingle with neighbors during community-drop in time.

Sunday (June 2)

  • Nova Tour de Cure (6 a.m. to 4 p.m.) — The event, which is the American Diabetes Association’s signature fundraiser, raises funds for research, advocacy, programs, and education. It will take place at Reston Town Center.
  • Sunday Art in the Park (7-8 p.m.) — Hear the voice of the cello in favorites with assistant profess or cello Julian Schwarz and pianist Marika Bournaki at Reston Town Square Park. The event is free and open to all.

Photo by Debra Haffner

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Artist to Discuss Project to Transform Colts Neck Road Underpass into Public Art

Ben Volta, the artist and educator selected by Public Art Reston to transform the Colts Neck Road Underpass into public art, will discuss the project on Monday (June 3) at CenterStage (2310 Colts Neck Road).

Filmmaker Rebekah Wingert and Hunters Woods Elementary School art teacher Norma Morris will join Volta in the discussion, which begins at 7:30 p.m.

The underpass is identified in the Public Art Master Plan for Reston as a location for new artwork. Volta’s work will address the spirit of the Hunters Woods neighborhood, respond to the cultural diversity, and ensures the underpass is a civic facility in the fabric of the surrounding community.

Public Art Reston wrote the following about Volta:

A 2015 recipient of a Pew Fellowship in the Arts, Volta is known for his public artwork, (including intricate murals and sculptures), working within the fields of education, restorative justice and urban planning. He has a participatory approach to making art and has worked with numerous organizations and schools.

Volta is working directly with Reston community members on this project, which will beautify the underpass and promote its use. He has already done workshops with students at Dogwood Elementary School. In addition, he will give workshops at

Hunters Woods Fellowship House, Southgate Community Center and Hunters Woods Elementary School. He also will hold a community workshop, open to the public, in late June.

According to Volta, his practice “stands on the belief that art can be a catalyst for change, within individuals as well as the institutional structures that surround them.”

Volta–who as a young artist was a member of the groundbreaking art collective “Tim Rollins and K.O.S.” (Kids of Survival), in the south Bronx section of New York City–earned his certificate in sculpture from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in 2002 and his BFA from the University of Pennsylvania in 2005.

After finishing his academic studies, Volta began working with teachers and students in Philadelphia public schools to create participatory art “rooted in an exploratory and educational process.” Over the past decade, and through hundreds of projects, he has developed his collaborative process in partnership with public schools, art organizations and communities. The

National Academy of Sciences also has recognized his work, which integrates art with math, science and reading.

Ann Delaney, Public Art Reston’s executive director, said Volta unanimously selected by the artist selection committee and Public Art Reston’s Public Art Committee.

“The project is an opportunity for infrastructure beautification, engagement, education, and inspiration,” Delaney wrote in a statement. “It will promote the active use of an underpass that helps link residential areas, Hunters Woods Village Center, two schools, two senior facilities and two community centers.”

The event is free and open o all.

The project is supported by Atlantic Realty Companies, ARTSFAIRFAX, Reston Community Center, JBG Smith, the Virginia Commission for the Arts, National Endowment for the Arts, Pat and Steve Macintyre, Lake Thoreau Entertainment Association and other individuals.

Photo by Ryan Collerd, Courtesy of the Pew Center for Arts & Heritage

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Reminder: Send Reston Now Your Op-Eds and Letters to the Editor

Have thoughts about Reston Now’s coverage of Reston, Herndon and Great Falls? Want to share your opinions about local issues?

Reston Now welcomes letters to the editors and op-eds of specific interest to the Reston, Herndon and Great Falls community.

The key difference is that an op-ed can be an opinion piece about a local issue, while a letter to the editor responds directly to a Reston Now story.

Please email it to [email protected] You are also welcome to contact us with your idea for feedback before submitting it.

While there is no word limit, we suggest under 1,000 words. Contributions may be edited for length, content and style/grammar.

Reston Now does not publish op-eds relating to a specific candidate running for political office — either from the candidate’s team or opponents.

Thank you to everyone who has submitted op-eds and letters to the editor already.

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Free Summer Concert Series Kick Off in Reston

Reston’s outdoor venues will come to life this summer as Reston Community Center puts on six entertainment series over the next several weeks.

“Everyone likes to get outside in the fresh air during the summer months,” said RCC Executive Director Leila Gordon. “RCC is taking our ‘show on the road’ with these series and bringing people together right where they are. We want families and friends to enjoy the spirit of Reston all summer long.”

In addition to traditional staples like Thursday dance nights at Lake Anne Plaza and performances at Town Square Park in Reston Town Center on Saturday mornings, RCC has added two new entertainment series to its line up.

In “Lunchtime with the Arts at Mason,” student performers from George Mason University’s College of Visual and Performing Arts offer free lunchtime concerts on select Thursdays until October 24 at Reston Town Center’s Town Square Park from 12:30-1:30 p.m. Performances range from show tunes to euphonium ensembles. The series kicked off  on May 9.

Reston Station will be home to the “Summerbration Fun Brunch” series, which brings entertainment and activities to Reston Station Plaza starting tomorrow (June 1). Attendees will get the chance to enjoy music and engaging activities on Saturdays and Sunday through August 25. The program takes place from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Parking is free on weekends in the Metro garage.

Summerbration” concerts, which take place on Fridays from 7-9 p.m. at Reston Station, will continue this year. The concert schedule includes familiar groups like Scott Kurt & Memphis 59 and the band Oasis Island Sounds. Several concerts will also include professional dance instruction. Three hours of validated parking is available in the ParkX garage. The series ends on August 23. RCC presents this series in cooperation with MSE Productions, Inc. and Reston Station, the event’s host.

A Family Fun Entertainment Series in Reston Town Center’s Town Square Park also continues on Saturdays from 10-10:45 a.m. This series is geared toward kids and begins on June 15. The series is presented by RCC in cooperation with MSE Productions, Inc. and is hosted by Reston Town Center Association. Garage parking is free on Saturdays.

On Sundays, Sunday Art in the Park with the Shenandoah Conservatory continues at Town Square Park. The first performance is set for Sunday (June 2) from 7-8 p.m. This series is presented by RCC and Reston Town Center Association in cooperation with Shenandoah University.

All series are free and open to the public.

Photo courtesy Reston Community Center

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Pool Closures Continue as Reston Association Looks to Hire More Lifeguards

Several of Reston Association’s 15 pools will be closed for the second weekend in a row due to a shortage of lifeguards. The association is working actively to hire more lifeguards and closed some pools this weekend due to safety precautions.

After closures over Memorial Day weekend, all aquatics facilities except Lake Thoreau pool, were open as scheduled during the weekdays. Lake Thoreau’s pool opened Thursday evening after shattered glass was found inside the pool over the weekend. RA believes the pool was vandalized.

The following pools will be closed tomorrow (June 1):

  • Autumnwood
  • Golf Course Island
  • Lake Audubon
  • Newbridge
  • Shadowood

The following pools will be closed on Sunday (June 2):

  • Dogwood
  • Golf Course Island
  • Shadowood
  • Tall Oaks

In a statement, RA’s CEO Hank Lynch apologized for the closures.

“Like many community and recreational associations in our area, RA is trying to meet the challenge of hiring staff for various summertime positions,” he wrote.

RA will host one or two job fairs to hire staff for its pools, typically high school and college students. The organization adjusts its seasonal pool schedule to coincide with the availability of students who are off from school. Interested applicants can apply online.

Photo by Leslie Sogandares

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Friday Morning Notes

Reston Hospital Center Helps Patient Recover from Coma — The center helped Amin, Hassam, 70, recover from a traumatic injury that left him in a coma. He was transported to the critical care unit of the center after a car crash. [WUSA 9]

Reston Concerts on the Town Kick Off Tomorrow — Reston Town Center’s pavilion will come to life once again with lively entertainment tomorrow from 7:30-10 p.m. The series runs through August 24. [Reston Town Center]

Reston Cybersecurity Firm Acquired and Merged with Two Other Companies — “TruShield Security Solutions Inc., a Reston cybersecurity firm, has been sold and merged with two other companies to form a new company, Avertium, based out of Phoenix. San Mateo, California-based private equity firm Sunstone Partners recently closed on the acquisitions of TruShield, Phoenix-based Terra Verde Security LLC and Knoxville, Tennessee-based Sword & Shield Enterprise Security to create Avertium, which will focus on midsized to large customers.” [The Washington Business Journal]

Flickr pool photo by vantagehill

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Comstock Revises Campaigning Policies at Reston Station Plaza

(Updated at 5:45 a.m. on May 31 to state candidates did not receiving ad pricing information from Comstock).

Comstock Companies, the developer of Reston Station, will allow political campaigning and electioneering at Reston Station Plaza following a recent debate over the legality of the company’s longstanding policy to bar soliciting on its properties.

In a letter to Reston Now’s editor regarding the May 24 article, Chris Clemente, the company’s CEO, clarified Comstock’s position on the issue. His company’s vice president of communications, Maggie Parker, is running for Hunter Mill District Supervisor, and her campaign signs are plastered on the property.

“Given the local nature of the Hunter Mill District race, which is the first contested race since Reston Station existed, and the significant number of Hunter Mill District residents using the commuter facilities at Reston Station, it was decided that it would be appropriate to allow such activities for this political contest,” Clemente wrote.

A spokesperson for Fairfax County has stated that campaigning at the property is allowed by state election law, noting that Comstock leases Reston Station Plaza from Fairfax County under a 99-year ground lease.

Comstock leases the Wiehle garage plaza from Fairfax County pursuant to a 99 year ground lease.  State election law doesn’t prohibit campaign activities including voter registration on private property,” according to the county.

Clemente said the company has barred all types of soliciting “out of respect for the thousands of daily visitors’ time.” He also noted that the county has not raised any issues with Comstock’s policy.

A county spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request from Reston Now about why this was the case.

Parker pushed Clemente to give other candidates running for the seat the opportunity to erect signs at Reston Station, Clemente said. Requests to have signs were submitted by Walter Alcorn‘s campaign on May 25 and Laurie Dodd on May 28. Parker also requested permission to use Comstock’s property for an all-candidate meet and greet event, which Clemente said Comstock fully supports.

Clemente, a former Reston resident and parent of current Reston residents, is backing Parker for the seat. In a 19-point letter to Reston Now, Clemente expressed his support for Parker, who he called a “champion of affordable housing” and a “strong proponent of limiting significant development in the Hunter Mill District.”

In a statement, Clemente wrote the following:

This is why I support Maggie Parker in this important race, because she has the skills needed to create solutions to complex issues that can sometimes be divisive, build consensus, and put the interests of the Hunter Mill District residents first, rather than hurling misleading accusations for political purposes. It’s refreshing to see a political candidate take the high road!

Parker said that she organized the forum because she wants to have all five candidates campaign in a safe and open environment and meet some candidates’ interest in coming to the plaza.

“A free-flowing meet and greet is one way to accomplish both,” Parker said. “I am confident that my message and experience will win out.”

Her campaign manager pitched the meet and greet idea to other candidates running for the seat on May 28. A date has not been set.

Alcorn, whose volunteers were recently barred from distributing campaign materials at the plaza, says the gesture comes too late: 

Comstock responded to our community pressure with a token gesture that is too little, too late as Comstock’s candidate has enjoyed weeks of unlimited and exclusive advertising. Democracy does not happen in 3 hour windows. Comstock is attempting to buy a seat on the Board of Supervisors for developers. Voters should also be alarmed that Comstock is using a public private partnership with the County to limit freedom of speech for all candidates but their own.

Both Dodd and Alcorn stated that they have not yet heard back from Comstock regarding requests for the pricing of advertising on the plaza.

The Hunter Mill District primary is set for June 11.

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Severe Thunderstorm Warning in Effect This Afternoon

The National Weather Service has issued a severe thunderstorm warning that is in effect until 4 p.m. today (Thursday).

Winds of up to 60 miles per hour and hail damage trees, may cause large branches to fall, and result in widespread power outages.

NWS encourages residents to move into an inside room on the lowest floor possible.

The warning covers most of Northern Virginia.

Photo via NWS/Twitter

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True Food Kitchen in Reston Town Center Targets 2020 Opening

M & S Grill’s former spot in Reston Town Center will likely remain vacant for more than two years.

True Food Kitchen, a restaurant that aims to offer “healthy, chef driven, seasonal food,” will not open until June of next year. The chain will fill the vacant spot at 11901 Democracy Drive, which has been empty since M & S closed last year on New Year’s Day.

A spokesperson for the company told Reston Now now that opening day could be delayed if there are any construction hiccups over the next several months.

The restaurant offers food based on Dr. Andrew Weil’s anti-inflammatory diet. The chain has locations across the country, including one in Arlington and Fairfax.

Image via Google Maps

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Herndon School Earns Governor’s Award for Educational Excellence

Carson Middle School is among four schools in the state to earn the 2019 Governor’s Award for Educational Excellence — the highest recognition awarded for schools that excel in academics in the state.

The recognition, which is part of the Virginia Index of Performance awards, recognizes schools that go beyond state and federal accountability standards and achieve excellence goals set by the governor and the Board of Education.

The school met all state and federal achievement benchmarks and checked off on goals for elementary reading. Two schools in McLean — Chesterbrook Elementary School and Cooper Middle School — also got a nod from the governor, along with Longfellow Middle School in Falls Church.

In the county, 28 schools were named recipients of the Board of Education Excellence Awards and 22 schools earned the Board of Education’s Distinguished Achievement Awards.

Photo via FCPS

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Del. Ken Plum: Mental Health Awareness Month

Del. Ken Plum/File photoThis 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.

Before we tear off the remaining couple of pages on the May calendar, I want to address the important recognition of May as Mental Health Awareness Month. While Virginia is credited with having the first mental health hospital, or asylum as they were called in the 18th century, the Commonwealth has had difficulty in recent times coming to grips with the enormity of the need and the provision of funds to respond to those needs. In fact Virginia is ranked 40th in the nation in mental health care according to the results of a national study of the issue. It took a state senator’s mentally ill son attacking his father with a knife to shock the state to greater action. That father now chairs the Joint Subcommittee on Mental Health Services in the 21st Century, or the Deeds Commission, that includes Sen. Janet Howell as a member and has made critically important recommendations on which the state has made significant progress.

Special thanks go to The Commonwealth Institute for documenting recent progress and remaining opportunities in behavioral health in a recent edition of The Half Sheet. The Institute, which is a nonprofit organization focusing mostly on human service needs, used the term “behavioral health” to be more comprehensive than “mental health” to include mental health services and supports such as substance abuse treatment. The Institute recognized accomplishments this past year to include a 21 percent increase in Medicaid reimbursement to encourage more licensed mental health professionals to accept Medicaid thus increasing access to services for people with low income. Additional funding for emergency opioid kits will expand the access to and availability of Naloxone, which is used to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. The General Assembly also passed and the Governor signed my bill to expand the health care providers authorized to dispense Naloxone to make it more readily available.

Increased funding was provided to increase staffing at state mental health facilities that are struggling to keep up with demand. Funding was also approved to replace the aging mental health facility Central State Hospital. In addition, monies have been made available for transportation of persons needing mental health hospitalization from having to be transported by law enforcement.

The Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services indicates that there is a need for 5,000 permanent housing units for those who need supportive housing in the state. This year’s funding along with an increase last year will provide 1,300 units of supportive housing. Obviously, there is a severe need to do more in this area with a price tag of about $47 million.

Challenges remain to be addressed in providing greater access to programs and services for those who live in rural areas and to those who have experienced the trauma of having been exposed to the immigration and refugee system. A task force is looking at ways to increase the number of mental health professionals in the state.

Our awareness of mental health needs cannot end with the month of May. More needs to be done!

File photo

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Afghan Fusion Restaurant Opens Near Innovation Center Metro Station

Kabobi by the Helmand, a restaurant featuring Afghan cuisine, held its soft opening yesterday (May 29) in Herndon.

Owner Khaleeq Ahmad told Reston Now that the restaurant finally opened after delays with the permitting process. Ahmad said his restaurant offers “Afghan fusion” cuisine. It is located at 2321 Dulles Station Boulevard, Suite A — a short walk from the Innovation Center Metro station.  

The restaurant in Herndon offers a mix of traditional Afghan cuisine as appetizers, salads, bowls and wraps. Items range from “kabuli pallow,” a traditional Afghan dish with rice baked with chunk of lamb, raising and glazed carrots — to eggplants and mushroom wrapped in fresh bread.

The chain of Kabobi restaurants started in San Francisco in 1982 and expanded to Boston, Baltimore and Chicago. It is modeled after a sister restaurant in Baltimore, Maryland called Kabobi from the Helmand.

Photo by Khaleeq Ahmad

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Thursday Morning Notes

Herndon Festival Kicks Off Today — The first day of the four-day festival begins today from 6-10 p.m. at Northwest Federal Credit Union (200 Spring Street). China Grove will perform at the Herndon Family Medicine Stage and transit Vocal Band will perform at the Parkway Stage from 7:30-9 p.m.  [Herndon Festival]

Police Seek Help to Connect Annandale Man to County Burglaries — Local police believe Stephen Anderson, 55, of Annandale, could be responsible for other burglaries throughout the county. He faces burglary charges and is being held at the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center without bond. [Fairfax County Police Department]

Creative Response Led by Co-owner of Bad Saint Set for Today — Genieve Villamora, co-owner of the buzzy Filipino restaurant in the District, will respond to the work of Stephanie William. The presentation will be followed by open conversation. The event starts at 7 p.m. [Greater Reston Arts Center]

A Recap of Reston Live — “The first Reston Live was held at Lake Anne Plaza on Sunday afternoon. This inaugural music festival featured a Children’s Area, a talent competition, a raffle, vendor booths, and special guest performances by Reston band, Catchin’ Toads, and Reston’s own singer/songwriter, Lindsey Hershfeld.” [The Connection]

Flickr pool photo by vantagehill

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Pride of Herndon Heads to Normandy for D-Day Anniversary

Herndon High School’s marching band heads to Normandy, France on Tuesday (June 4) to take part in a parade marking the 75th anniversary of D-Day. The parade, which organizers say celebrates the “liberation of Europe,” is set for June 13

The Town of Herndon gets its name from U.S. Navy Commander William Lewis Herndon, who died in 1857. Two U.S. Navy ships were named the USS Herndon after the commander as well.

The first ship with that name was given to Great Britain before the U.S. took part in World War II and the second ship, nicknamed the Lucky Herndon, led major assaults on D-Day.

Planning for the trip has been underway for months. The band has raised around $600,000 for the trip through a combination of community events, sponsorships and donations.

As they perform, band members wearing original USS Herndon dress blues will carry a
marching banner that pays tribute the Lucky Herndon. In addition, students will carry photographs of each of the 301 men who served on board on D-Day.

File photo

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