Grilled Cheese Bar to Open in Great Falls Next Month

A new restaurant that pairs grilled cheese and wine is expected to open soon in Great Falls.

Bites Wine and Grilled Cheese Bar plans to open a 2,064-square-foot restaurant at the recently redeveloped Great Falls Center in mid-November, a restaurant representative told Reston Now.

The Leesburg-based restaurant, which opened in late 2017, pairs grilled cheese and wine.

Photo by Jay Westcott

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Great Falls Then and Now: Lockmoor Farm

A former landfill used by the CIA and the Russian embassy near Great Falls is looking to push past its complicated history and become protected agricultural land.

The current owners of Lockmoor farm (802 Utterback Store Road) went before the Fairfax County Planning Commission on Thursday (Oct. 2) to request that the county label the farm as an agricultural district — ultimately giving the owners a tax break as long as they do not develop the land. They plan to add goats, sheep, bees and possibly a vineyard to the property.

The landfill was in use from 1970 until 1989 and served as a place to dump old tree stumps, earning it the nickname “Stump Dump,” as well as a dumping ground for waste from the CIA and certain foreign embassies, according to a Fairfax County report.

Both the CIA and the Russian embassy used to dump garbage there.

“The Russians arrived every few months, paying the dump fee in cash or bottles of vodka,” according to the Washington Post. “A landfill employee would then call the FBI, whose agents would soon arrive to paw through the discards, usually restaurant receipts and parking tickets but once a stripped-down, brand-new Russian car.”

The almost 69 acres of land was also once a zoo with giraffes, zebras, kangaroos, gazelles, buffalos and other non-carnivorous creatures, according to Fairfax planners. The previous owner also wanted to bring lions and bears to the property, but Fairfax County wouldn’t allow it, Peter Murphy, the chairman of the Planning Commission, said. 

Evidence of the zoo can still be seen from underground enclosures at the base of the hill on the property.

Despite previous uses, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality determined that the land is fit for agricultural use because the soil and water meet safety and health requirements. VDEQ stopped monitoring the area in 2016 and now requests that the current owners maintain the landfill cap, which sits on the top of the hill. 

Partners John Nguyen and Hanna Chakarji bought the land two years ago in pursuit of their lifelong dream of farm ownership, Chakarji told the Planning Commission. 

“When the opportunity presented itself to purchase this property, we jumped, we grabbed it and have no intention of developing it,” Chakarji said. “We want to keep it in its present state, which is beautiful.”

The land is now divided into five parcels. Onlookers can spot the growing Tysons skyline in the background of the property, as the farm sits on one of the highest points in Fairfax County.

Currently, the men own several cows and ducks, 20 chickens and 49 goats. They sell the goats to local restaurants in D.C. and produce more than 1,000 pounds of tomatoes, which they donate to local churches, according to county documents.

Chakarji said their top priority is to integrate the sheep and bees, saying they understand that a vineyard and winery would take time.

“The winery is an afterthought, I’m sure it will take a lot of zoning,” he said, adding that his top priority is to preserve the farmland for his family. 

After an extensive discussion about goats, the Planning Commission recommended approval of the agricultural district proposal, which now heads to the Board of Supervisors next week.

“This was probably the most interesting agriculture and foresting districting we’ve had in a long time,” Murphy said.  

Images via Fairfax County

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Save the Date: Southgate Community Day Set for October 19

Southgate Community Center will host community day on Oct. 19.

The event at the center, which is located at 12125 Pinecrest Road, includes music, raffles, moon bounces, cakewalks, a talent show, and food vendors, takes from place from 11 to 4 p.m.

The day is presented by Fairfax County Neighborhood and Community Services, which promotes the wellbeing of individuals, families and the community by providing a mix of recreation, educational and development programs.

More information about the event is available online. The event is free and open to all.

File photo

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Legal Insider: New Virginia Law Requires Employer to Provide Personnel Documents

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

By John V. Berry, Esq.

An amendment approved by the Governor of Virginia in Virginia Code.

Requirements of the New Virginia Employment Law

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam approved an amendment and re-enactment of Virginia Code § 8.01-413.1. The new amendment requires Virginia employers to produce certain employment documents when they receive a written request from a current/former employee or employee’s attorney.

If the employer doesn’t comply, the Virginia statute awards potential damages to the employee if the employer fails to do so within the allotted timeframe. Since the amendment became effective on July 1, 2019, a number of Virginia employers are seeing an increase in requests for the applicable documents.

The Virginia amendment requires a Virginia employer to furnish employment records reflecting (1) dates of employment, (2) wages or salary, (2) job description and job title, and (4) any injuries sustained during the course of employment within 30 days of the receipt of a written request. An employer is not required to be a party to a suit for the statute to apply. That statute provides that:

Every employer shall, upon receipt of a written request from a current or former employee or employee’s attorney, furnish a copy of all records or papers retained by the employer in any format, reflecting (i) the employee’s dates of employment with the employer; (ii) the employee’s wages or salary during the employment; (iii) the employee’s job description and job title during the employment; and (iv) any injuries sustained by the employee during the course of the employment with the employer. Such records or papers shall be provided within 30 days of receipt of such a written request.

Before the new Virginia statute, employers were not required to produce such documents without a subpoena. If the Virginia employer cannot process the employee’s request within 30 days, the employer must notify them in writing. The Virginia employer will then have an additional 30 days to produce the records.

Pursuant to the Virginia statute, the employer can charge a reasonable fee for the copying of paper records and/or the retrieval of electronic records. Failure to comply with a written request can result in a subpoena and the award of damages against the employer, including the employee’s expenses for obtaining the copies, court costs and attorneys’ fees.

The bottom line is that the new statute in Virginia will help employees obtain copies of their employment records. If the employer does not comply, they will likely be responsible for significant fees.

Conclusion

If you need assistance with Virginia employment law issues, 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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School Board to Allow Access to Cannabis-derived Medicine in Schools

Following recent changes to state law, the Fairfax County School Board is drafting a policy to store and administer cannabis-derived medication to students at school.

The board is set to discuss the draft policy at a meeting tonight (Monday). Earlier this year, the Virginia General Assembly passed three bills that would expand access to the medications. Under the changes, students who have proper documentation can use cannabinol (CBD) oil and tetrahydrocannabinol acid (THC-A) oil at school.

The oils are derived from the cannabis plant and have been used by healthcare providers to treat conditions like chronic pain, anxiety, migraines, attention disorders, seizure, and other ailments.

The bill also protected school nurses from being prosecuted for possessing and distributing the oils — in accordance with school board policy.

Under the policy, students who have documented permission from a parent or guardian and a licensed practitioner of medicine or osteopath can receive the toils at school. Parents and guardians would also be required to provide the oils to students.

The board will discuss the draft policy at a work session tonight at 6 p.m.

Photo via Unsplash

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Janet Howell, Daughter-in-Law to Celebrate Book Launch in Reston

State Sen. Janet Howell (D-32nd) and her daughter-in-law are set to celebrate the release of their new book about women leaders this weekend in Reston.

Howell and Theresa Howell, the authors of “Leading the Way: Women in Power!,” will be at Scrawl Books (11911 Freedom Drive) from 2-3:30 p.m. on Sunday (Oct. 13) where they will discuss the 50 women profiled in the book and host a discussion with the audience.

The book examines the ways outstanding women throughout history have contributed to American society, according to Scrawl Books.

“This engaging and wide-ranging collection of biographies highlights the actions, struggles, and accomplishments of more than 50 of the most influential leaders in American political history — leaders who have stood up, blazed trails and led the way,” according to Scrawl Books.

Howell is a record-breaking woman herself — she is the longest-serving female legislator in Virginia, according to Scrawl’s website. She has been a senator since 1992 and a civil rights advocate since her college years.

Howell, who lives in Colorado, is an author and previously published “Maybe Something Beautiful.”

This free event is open to all ages. People can pre-order a hardcover copy for $24.

Image via Scrawl Books

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Monday Morning Notes

Vehicle Tax Payments Due Today — The deadline to pay annual bills for vehicles in Fairfax County is today (Monday). Residents can pay their bill online, by phone, by mail and with your smartphone. [Fairfax County Government]

Fairfax Connector Sees Uptick in Ridership — ‘Fairfax Connector bus ridership was up during the second quarter of 2019 compared to a year before, according to new data, spurring hope it has turned a corner from declining ridership totals. The bus system, operated by a private firm under contract to the Fairfax County government, recorded a ridership of about 2.2 million in the three-month period ending June 30, according to figures reported to the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission.”  [Inside NOVA]

Unveiling of Colts Neck Underpass Project Set for Next Week — Philadelphia-based artist Ben Volta will unveil the Colts Neck Road underpass art project on Wednesday, Oct. 16. The artwork features drawings from hundreds of local residents. [Hunters Woods at Trails Edge]

Photo by Jay Westcott

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Overnight Collision Prompts Single Tracking on Silver Line

Commuters on the Silver, Orange and Blue Lines should expect significant delays throughout today (Monday) after two trains collided between the Foggy Bottom and Farragut West stations.

Since 5:30 a.m. today, the three lines have been running trains every 15 minutes.  Silver Line trains are only Running between Wiehe-Reston East and Ballston. The Orange and Blue Lines are single-tracking between Farragut West and McPherson Square.

The rear-end collision happened around 1 a.m. today. Two train operators were treated for non-life-threatening injuries after the out-of-service trains collided.

Commuters should consider using alternative routes. Metro’s rush hour promise will be suspended on the three lines this afternoon.

Metro says the trails did not derail and no damage to Metro’s infrastructure was reported.

File photo

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