Reston, VA

Super Tuesday” is in March — but Fairfax County is reminding voters about absentee voting and seeking election officers now.

Absentee voting for the 2020 presidential primary starts later this week on Friday, Jan. 17.

The deadline to register to vote in the March 3 primary is Feb. 10. People can check their voter eligibility on the Virginia State Board of Elections website.

Last week, the county announced that it needs 2,100 election officers for the primary.

The Office of Elections especially is looking for bilingual officers who speak Korean or Vietnamese for the Falls Church area, along with Annadel and Centreville, according to the county.

Election officers help set up voting equipment, check photo IDs and tabulate poll results. Compensation starts at $175 or people can choose to volunteer their time.

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The Reston Association no longer has a 55+ Committee.

RA’s Board of Directors voted to eliminate the committee at the meeting last week (Dec. 19).

“It’s been a difficult year,” Caren Anton, the board liaison to the committee, said during the meeting, adding that a lack of productivity, low membership and taking up RA staff’s time plagued the committee.

Earlier this year, RA launched the “Resources for Better Aging” webpage and the committee members met with people running neighbors helping neighbors-type programs to see if Reston could try something similar.

Anton said that the board asked the committee to go on a hiatus in June.

The board lost its staff liaison and its chair recently submitted a letter of resignation, Anton said.

“As board liaison, I feel that like there is more I could have done or should have done to sort get things on a more productive path,” Anton said, questioning where a new 55+ group might fit into RA’s strategic plan and if a working group might be better. “A 55+ Advisory Committee may not be the answer.”

While Anton said that the committee has struggled, she noted that its purpose — to help people age in place in Reston — is still alive.

Anton read a letter from Reston resident Steve Gurney, who urged for more intergenerational programming and said that senior programs can have stigmas attached to them.

She also said that an RA member commented at a meeting in July that seniors in Reston feel left out.

“I believe we have a responsibility to protect the liveability of all of our members,” Anton said. “I do think it is our obligation to make it easier for our members to age in place.”

RA Board President Catherine Baum, who said that most of her immediate family falls into the 55+ group, said that she thinks a lot about how the Reston Association could improve wheelchair accessibility and information about the Design Review Board and Covenants Committee.

“Some of these people who don’t know where they need to go to get ivy taken off walls,” Baum said.

Baum said that she would like to see future discussions about how the committee could be “rejuvenated” or join the Reston Community Center.

Ultimately, Baum proposed abolishing the committee — “I see a committee that is non-functioning” — and the motion passed, with a “nay” vote from Secretary John Mooney.

Photo via Reston Association/YouTube

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Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) unveiled its proposed fiscal year 2021-25 Capital Improvement Program (CIP) last week.

In November, Fairfax County voters approved a $360 million school bond referendum that includes $2 million in planning funds for a new “Silver Line elementary school,” along with other construction and renovation projects.

“Funds approved in the 2019 School Bond Referendum and previous referenda will address approximately $500 million of the five-year requirement, leaving a balance of approximately $573 million unfunded,” according to FCPS.

For the new Silver Line elementary school, permitting would happen in FY 2022, with permitting in FY 2023 and construction from FY 2024-2026, according to the CIP draft.

The revised budget estimates the Silver Line elementary school will cost $39.5 million.

“Anticipation of the completion of the Silver Line Metro has already spurred higher density residential growth along that corridor which may result in an increase in students within FCPS,” according to the CIP draft.

Along with the Silver Line school, the proposal addresses a new elementary school in the northwest area of the county to address current overcrowding in the McNair Elementary school area, with a projected budget of $34.8 million.

In addition to the Silver Line school, the CIP also includes information on a new high school that would provide relief to high schools in Centreville, Chantilly, Herndon, Oakton, South Lakes, and Westfield areas.

The new high school is projected to cost $157 million.

A public hearing will be held on the CIP on Jan. 7 at 6 p.m. at Jackson Middle School (3020 Gallows Road), followed by a school board work session on it on Jan. 13. A vote on the CIP is scheduled to take place on Jan. 23.

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Reston Association’s new information technology director says that the association needs to upgrade its technology to prevent issues.

Clara William, who started her new job in September, presented to RA’s Board of Directors on Thursday the issues she’s identified along with RA staff.

“It has challenges and it needs improvement,” William said, listing a variety of issues, older products no longer under warranties, outdated software and slow or no wireless speeds.

“We lack security from the end users point of view,” she said. “There is not a substantial amount of security that is there.”

Crashes can cause problems — which has happened already — because the association is using old software, like financial software from 2013, she said.

“I want to move away from customized programs completely,” she said, adding that the more customized a website is, the harder it is to maintain and update. “We want to move to a more cloud-based solution.”

During the presentation, William laid out the plan for how staff plan to fix the IT issues. “To do all of this work, were going to hire IT consultants,” she said.

William said goals for 2020 include:

  • stabilizing the infrastructure
  • modernizing the technology and security
  • augmenting IT skills gap with professional tech services
  • moving apps to the cloud software as a service
  • building centralized data and business intelligence reporting

People can also expect a new RA website next year, according to William’s presentation.

The work means that the IT budget for next year will increase $413,000 due to infrastructure upgrades, licensing and contract costs and consultants — totaling just over $1 million.

“It is required to take RA IT to the next level otherwise things are going to crash and fall apart,” William said about the high budget amount.

“I had no idea that our IT situation was this bad,” Vice President Julie Bitzer said, asking if the budget increase would be a one-time or continued increase.

William said that some of the costs may “go down or go away” next year, like the professional tech services.

“This budget will not be high next year,” William said.

William said that she will work with RA CEO Hank Lynch to come up with metrics for the project and how often the Board of Directors will receive updates.

“I will make sure there is a progress report,” William said.

Images via Reston Association/YouTube

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Fairfax County fire investigators say that an electrical event caused the house fire in Reston on last Monday, which resulted in thousands of dollars worth of damage and displaced four residents.

The fire broke out around 6 p.m. in the 2000 block of Beacon Place.

“The fire was swiftly contained and extinguished,” Fairfax County Fire and Rescue said in an update today (Monday). “There were no civilian injuries reported. One firefighter suffered a minor injury and was transported to an area hospital for a check-up.”

Three people who were home at the time of the fire safely evacuated after the homeowner smelled smoke, the fire department said.

“Fire Investigators determined that the fire started in the basement and was accidental in nature,” the fire department said. “The cause of the fire was an electrical event involving the wiring for the AC disconnect box.”

The fire resulted in damages worth $183,750 and displaced four residents, according to the post.

The displaced residents declined Red Cross assistance.

Photo by Fairfax County Fire and Rescue 

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(Updated 12/28/19) Come Jan. 1, the Fairfax County School Board will have a lot of new faces.

The 12-member board will see eight newcomers in 2020.

Half of the school board’s incumbents decided not to seek reelection, including: Ilryong MoonRyan McElveen, Jane Strauss, Pat Hynes, Sandy Evans and Dalia Palchik. The two Republican incumbents — Elizabeth Schultz and Thomas Wilson — lost their reelection bids.

At-Large Member Karen Keys-Gamarra won reelection, along with:

Here is information on the new incoming members, who took their oaths of office on Thursday (Dec. 12) at Jackson Middle School.

At-Large Members Abrar Omeish and Rachna Sizemore Heizer

Omeish and Heizer, along with incumbent Karen Keys-Gamarra, beat three opponents for the At-Large seats.

Heizer has worked as a college professor, disability justice advocate and lawyer, according to her campaign website. Omeish is the co-founder of Give, a youth-led nonprofit and led the county-wide campaign for an anti-bullying campaign, according to her campaign website.

Hunter Mill District: Melanie Meren

Meren, a former U.S. Department of Education employee, beat her opponent, Laura Ramirez Drain. Meren is a parent and small business owner who has lived in Fairfax County for more than 15 years, according to Reston Now

Dranesville District: Elaine Tholen

Tholen beat three opponents. A resident of Fairfax County for 25 years, Tholen most recently served as the director and treasurer for the Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District, according to her campaign website.

Mason District: Ricardy Anderson

Anderson beat opponent Tom Pafford. She has been a community volunteer, a veteran of the National Guard Army Reserve and lived in Annandale for more than 10 years, according to her campaign website.

Providence District: Karl Frisch

Frisch beat opponent Andrea Bayer in the election. Frisch has served as the executive director of consumer watchdog Allied Progress, was a small business owner and worked as a staffer for the Committee on Rules in the U.S. House of Representatives, according to his campaign website.

Springfield District: Laura Jane Cohen

Cohen beat two opponents, including Republican incumbent Elizabeth Schultz. Cohen has been a resident in the county for nearly 20 years and is a former preschool teacher, according to her campaign website.

Sully District: Stella Pekarsky

Pekarsky beat Republican incumbent Tom Wilson. She was previously an FCPS ESOL teacher, small business co-owner and trustee on the Fairfax County Board.

Come 2020, the school board seats will all be filled by Democrats.

“Corbett Sanders will remain chair of the School Board and Derenak Kaufax will remain as vice-chair,” according to FCPS. “School Board officers are elected at the first meeting in July of each year.”

The board also includes a non-voting student representative who is selected by the Student Advisory Council.

Image via FCPS/YouTube, photo via Melanie Meren website, photo via Facebook

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Safety Tips for Candles — Fairfax County Fire and Rescue has advice on how to prevent fires this holiday season. [Fairfax County Fire and Rescue]

New Tenants at Reston Station — “During 2019, Comstock Holding Companies, Inc., has announced the signing of more than 500,000 Sq. Ft. of new office leases in the Reston Station development, which covers nearly 40 acres surrounding the Wiehle-Reston East Station on Metro’s Silver Line… Most recently, Solar Winds signed a lease covering 16,349 Sq. Ft. at 1900 Reston Metro Plaza.” [GlobeNewswire]

Where to Dine Out on Christmas — Here are some restaurants that will be open on Dec. 25 around the Reston area. [Reston Patch]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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(Updated at 2 p.m.) A Vietnamese restaurant, gym and nail salon are planning to come to a new development in Reston.

Alo Vietnam will occupy a 1,746-square-foot space, according to Renaud Consulting. Other newcomers will include A+ Nails and F45, Josh Weiner, the senior vice president of the commercial real estate firm KLNB, told Reston Now.

The Faraday Park development consists of multifamily buildings with ground-floor retail at 1831 Michael Faraday Drive.

More from the consulting firm about the restaurant:

The group comprising the team of Alo Vietnam is made up of 4 partners, which includes 2 established local businessmen and 2 famous chefs from Vietnam. Together this group owns and operates 4 well-known restaurants in Saigon, Vietnam.

Alo Vietnam also has a wine and beer license pending for its Herndon location at 2321 Dulles Station Blvd, Suite C.

Photo via Alo Vietnam/Facebook

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A two-car crash along Springvale Road has sent one person to the hospital with minor injuries and caused the road to close.

Fairfax County sent out an alert about the crash and road closure near the intersection of Parkerhouse Drive at 9:46 a.m. today (Friday).

Sgt. James Curry, a police spokesperson, told Reston Now that one person was taken to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

The road is currently closed in both directions, Curry said that it is expected to reopen soon.

Image via Google Maps 

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The Latest on the Silver Line Phase II — “The stations and most of the rail yard appear to be ready to go and only await some finishing touches. New train testing started Wednesday, and fixes to other switch issues should allow new Metro trains to join the testing program next month.” [WTOP]

Appalachian Music, Stories at Herndon Event — For $10, attendees can enjoy an evening of Appalachian music and original stories from the hills of Virginia told by members of the Join Shoestring Theatre Company. The event takes place at ArtsSpace from 7:30-9:30 p.m. [Eventbrite]

Reston Company Wins $43 Million Contract — “Intelligent Waves LLC, an end-to-end information technology government solutions provider, announced the Department of the Interior, Interior Business Center has awarded it a $43 million Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase III contract. These contracts are part of a highly competitive U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) initiative.” [BusinessWire]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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Rotary Club of Reston is soliciting donations ahead of its event to make thousands of meals for families in need.

The Reston Rotary Foundation, the fundraising and grants-making part of the Reston Rotary Club, students from South Lakes High Scool plan to pack 10,000 meals on Saturday (Jan. 11) that will get distributed in schools in poverty-stricken areas across the globe, according to a press release.

The service event through Anython will be done in partnership with Rise Against Hunger, an international hunger relief organization.

People can donate $1, $2, $5 or more to support the event.

“Initial donations made will support the efforts of the Reston Rotary Foundation’s kick-off event, and when the $10,000 goal has been met to fund the Rise Against Hunger program, additional funds will be used be support the Foundation’s ongoing community efforts,” the press release said.

The community efforts include:

Volunteers are also needed for the January event.

Photo via Rotary Club of Reston/Facebook

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Fairfax County police have arrested a Reston man following a suspicious package investigation at The Spectrum yesterday (Wednesday).

Police said in an update today (Thursday) that around 3:30 p.m. a man who was previously banned from the Verizon store (11830 Spectrum Center) “set a suspicious package on the counter and indicated to an employee that it was a bomb.”

Shortly before 5 p.m. yesterday, police tweeted that several businesses were evacuated as a result of the investigation, and then around 8 p.m. that the suspicious package was determined to not be hazardous.

“Officers from the Special Operations Divisions examined the device and determined it to be a hoax,” police said today.

Police arrested Timothy Stein, 54, today and charged him with felony bomb threat, felony hoax explosive device and trespassing.

Image via Google Maps 

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Leidos Buys Hypersonic Weapons Contractor — “Leidos Holdings Inc. will ring in the holiday season with a new acquisition: The Reston company announced Tuesday it plans to purchase defense contractor Dynetics Inc. in a $1.65 billion cash deal.” [Washington Business Journal]

A Look at Reston’s Battle for Its Soul — “It’s been a fiasco–a rambling, wide-ranging dispute marked by bureaucratic false starts, allegations of manipulated photos, and the widespread belief that Reston as we knew it is slipping away.” [Washingtonian]

Reston Hospital Honored — “Reston Hospital Center this week earned a Top General Hospital designation from The Leapfrog Group, a watchdog organization that reviews heath care safety and quality across the U.S.” [Reston Patch]

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(Updated 12/19/19) Earlier this week, the members of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors were sworn in.

The 10-member board will see four new faces in the New Year, including Dalia Palchik, the new representative for Tysons.

Here is information on who will be in the seats at the board’s first meeting next year.

Chairman: Jeffrey McKay

McKay was first elected to the board in 2007, serving as the Lee District Supervisor until the end of this year, according to his county bio. Prior to joining the board, he was the chief of staff to former Lee District Supervisor Dana Kauffman from 1996 through 2007.

McKay beat three challengers to clinch the Democratic nomination for the county board’s chair in the June primary before defeating Republican Joseph Galdo in the November election.

Hunter Mill District: Walter Alcorn

Alcorn will fill the seat of Cathy Hudgins, who served on the board for five terms and announced her retirement at the start of this year. He beat five Democrat challengers in the primary.

Alcorn is a former Fairfax County Planning Commissioner and served on the Fairfax County Park Authority Board. He has also worked as a policy aide in the Providence District supervisor’s office and was the president of the Herndon High School PTSA. His top priorities include managing growth and infrastructure and updating Reston’s comprehensive plan.

Lee District: Rodney Lusk

McKay’s run for the chair left the Lee District seat open. Lusk beat three Democratic challengers in the June primary.

Lusk has been a Fairfax County employee for the past 29 years — including working for then-Supervisor Gerry Connelly as a land use zoning aide and most recently as the national marketing director for the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority, according to his campaign website.

Providence District: Dalia Palchik

Palchik grew up in the area after immigrating with her family to the United States at an early age from Argentina. She was elected to the Fairfax County School Board in 2015 and served as the Providence District Representative.

Just days after current Providence District Supervisor Linda Smyth announced in December that she wouldn’t seek election, Palchik jumped into the race and defeated four Democratic challengers in the June primary. In November, she beat Republican Eric Anthony Jones.

Sully District: Kathy Smith

First elected to the board in 2016, Smith was re-elected as Sully District Supervisor in November, beating Republican Srilekha Palle.

Previously, Smith served as the Sully District Representative to the Fairfax County School Board for 14 years, including as the chairman three times, according to her county bio. She was also a teacher for seven years and taught in her home state of New Jersey.

Mount Vernon District: Daniel Storck

Storck was first elected as Mount Vernon District Supervisor in 2015 and reelected this fall.

He has developed and owned healthcare, benefits and insurance consulting firms and was previously a school board member from 2004-2015, according to his county bio. Notable resume item: he also was an Abraham Lincoln impersonator.

Braddock District: James Walkinshaw

Walkinshaw, a former chief of staff to Rep. Gerry Connolly, announced his run for the seat to replace Republican John Cook, who retired. He beat Republican Jason Remer and independent candidate Carey Chet Campbell in November.

Walkinshaw previously volunteered as a mentor to at-risk boys through Fairfax County’s Befriend-A-Child program and joined Fairfax County’s Council to End Domestic Violence, according to his campaign website.

He serves on the Board of the Ravensworth Farm Civic Association and is a volunteer with the Friends of Lake Accotink Park, the bio says.

Dranesville District: John Foust

First elected to the board in 2007, Foust was reelected to represent McLean, Great Falls and Herndon residents on the county board. He defeated Republican Ed Martin in the November election.

Originally from Johnstown, Pennsylvania, Foust has been living in Northern Virginia since 1981 and in McLean since 1987, according to his county bio. Foust worked in steel mills and practiced construction law in Northern Virginia.

Mason District: Penelope Gross

In the November election, Gross was able to keep her seat, defeating Republican Gary Aiken. She was first elected to the board in 1995, according to her county bio.

Previously, she worked as a staffer in various congressional offices, served on the Board of the Lincolnia Park Civic Association and was on the Executive Board of the Mason District Council of Civic Associations, her bio says.

Springfield District: Pat Herrity

Herrity hung onto his seat, beating Democrat Linda Sperling. He was first elected to the board in 2007, according to his campaign website. Herrity’s father was a former chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors.

With Cook retiring, Herrity will be the only Republican on the board in 2020.

The Board of Supervisors is scheduled to have their first meeting in 2020 on Jan. 14.

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Public schools in Fairfax County are open today (Monday). But a lot of people on social media think they shouldn’t be.

With snow and icy rain last night and this morning, several counties, including Prince William and Loudoun, in the D.C. area have closed or delayed start times today for their public schools.

FCPS announced shortly before 5 a.m. on Twitter their schools would be open and start on time today. By 9 a.m. more than 4,000 tweets were using #closefcps and the hashtag was trending in the U.S. on Twitter.

Reston Now spotted many memes, frustration about FCPS not closing and elation over the hashtag’s popularity among the #closefcps tweets.

Let us know what you think about FCPS staying open today.

Hat tip to Kalina Newman 

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