Crime Roundup: Fairfax Police Investigating Robbery, Assault in Herndon

Fairfax County police are looking for four of the five suspects involved in a robbery and assault in Herndon.

The incident occurred around 8 p.m. on Monday (Sept. 9) in the 13100 block of Parcher Avenue.

“The victim was walking home when five suspects surrounded him,” according to a police report. “They assaulted him and removed personal items.”

Police said that they found one juvenile connected to the robbery after a lookout was provided. The juvenile was charged with robbery.

“The other suspects were described as Hispanic males in their late teens,” police said.

FCPD’s Reston District Station also reported the following incidents in recent days:

LARCENIES:

11700 block of Arbor Glen Way, license plate from vehicle

1800 block of Cameron Glen Drive, property from residence

12900 block of Centre Park Circle, purse from vehicle

12000 block of Creekbend Drive, property from residence

11800 block of Freedom Drive, camera from business

2300 block of Hunters Woods Plaza, liquor from business

2300 block of Hunters Woods Plaza, liquor from business

11900 block of Market Street, jewelry from residence

11600 block of Plaza America Drive, wallet from location

1000 block of Preserve Court, license plate from vehicle

12100 block of Sunset Hill Road, electronic device from business

STOLEN VEHICLES:

None reported

On Saturday, Sept. 7, a man was robbed by two men while walking home. The incident occurred in the 1700 block of Ascot Way around 12:30 a.m.

“The men were described as being in their late teens to early 20s,” police said.

File photo

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Fairfax Officials Raise Concerns About Silver Line Phase 2 Safety

Fairfax County officials’ concerns about safety dominated the county board’s latest discussions about phase two of the Silver Line project.

The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority reportedly wants to open the six-station second phase from Wiehle-Reston East to Loudoun Gateway and Ashburn next July. 

Mark Canale from the Fairfax County Department of Transportation provided the Board of Supervisors with an update on the project today (Tuesday) at the Transportation Committee meeting.

Currently, dynamic testing and safe breaking testing are taking place for the project, he said.

Canale said that there are “four issues that are ongoing right now.” The issues include problems with concrete and leveling.

This isn’t the first time the project has run into problems. Earlier this year, defective concrete rail ties put the tracks out of alignment.

“This is a big project and an important project,” Chairman Sharon Bulova said. “I think it’s absolutely critical that when something is not getting done correctly, that we don’t brush over it and that we hold the contractors’ feet to the fire.”

Braddock District Supervisor John Cook said that the safety concerns should be taken seriously. “It will kill us,” he said.

Cook stressed that he wants transparency and honestly around the issues so that they can get fixed.

“It’s pretty bad when your concrete doesn’t work,” Cook said. “That’s a bad thing.”

In addition to the issues facing the project, Canale said that riders can expect several weekend closures at the Wiehle-Reston East Metro station in the coming months as work on the Silver Line project continues.

The first closure — which has been approved already — would last from Oct. 5-7. The following month, riders can expect closures from Nov. 9-12 and Nov. 30-Dec. 2.

Photos courtesy Dusty Smith/Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project

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Construction Almost Finished on Temporary Fire Station in Reston

A temporary fire station in Reston is almost ready for fire and rescue personnel to use while they await their new, permanent station.

Built in the early 1970s, Reston Fire and Rescue Station 25 is set to get demolished this fall and replaced with a new fire station at 1820 Wiehle Avenue.

Construction is set to begin later this year on the new fire station, which will more than double the size of the current department. The project is expected to cost $14.8 million.

“We are not planning a groundbreaking as this new permanent station is a replacement station not a new one to Fairfax County,” Ashley Hildebrandt, a fire department spokesperson, told Reston Now. “We will have a grand opening once the station is built.”

Until the new fire station is finished, fire and rescue personnel will use a temporary fire station at 1800 Cameron Glen Drive near the North County Government Center.

The temporary station consists of trailers and a large tent.

“The temporary fire station is in the final stages of construction,” Hildebrandt said. “Personnel are preparing to move into the temporary station in October.”

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Reminder: Follow Reston Now on Instagram

Reston Now is upping its Instagram game with new photos by a professional photographer.

Jay Westcott recently joined Reston Now — and our sister sites ARLnow and Tysons Reporter — in September as our first full-time photojournalist.

Jay’s 15 years of professional photography experience — he previously worked locally for TBD.com, Politico and the Washington Examiner — will help bring a new visual language to our local news sites and enhance our breaking news coverage.

Check out more of Jay’s photography on our ‘gram (@restonnow).

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Proposed Fairfax Connector Changes to Impact Reston, Herndon Riders

A community meeting next week will tackle proposed Fairfax Connector changes that would impact riders in Reston and Herndon.

Fairfax County Department of Transportation (FCDOT) is seeking the public’s input on proposed service changes to six routes:

  • Route 396: a new route servicing Backlick North Park-and-Ride to the Pentagon
  • Route 306: GMU- Pentagon
  • Route 395: Gambrill-Pentagon Express
  • Route 640: Stone Road-Westfields Boulevard
  • Route 650: Chantilly
  • Route 950: Herndon-Reston

The proposed changes to the Herndon-Reston adjust the running time on Elden Street on Saturdays heading eastbound and westbound between 3-7 p.m.

FCDOT says that the proposed changes for all of the routes “will improve on-time performance.”

The meeting is set for 7 p.m. at the cafeteria at Eagle View Elementary School at 4500 Dixie Hill Road in Fairfax on Thursday, Sept. 19.

“In addition to the community meeting, Fairfax Connector staff will connect with customers, in-person throughout September, on routes that are affected by the proposed service changes,” according to FCDOT.

People can submit comments until Oct. 1. After reviewing the feedback, FCDOT plans to bring the proposed changes to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors this fall.

If approved, riders can expect the changes to go into effect in January.

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Death Investigation Prompts Short Closure of Baron Cameron Park

Baron Cameron Park’s facilities have reopened after a death investigation last week prompted a brief closure.

Fairfax County police received a call around 1 p.m. last Tuesday (Sept. 3) about a dead body, a police spokesperson told Reston Now. Police conducted a death investigation and said that there was no threat to the public.

Judy Pedersen, a spokesperson for the Fairfax County Park Authority, told Reston Now that the park’s facilities were closed “for a short time on Friday” in connection with the police investigation.

Pederson said as of yesterday (Monday) morning that the park’s facilities have now all reopened.

If you or someone you know is in immediate danger of self-harm, call 911 or the Department of Human Services’ emergency services line at 703-527-4077. 

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Tuesday Morning Notes

Farmers and Makers Market at Reston Town Center — Every Tuesday until November, a market at Reston Town Center will feature local farmers and artisans selling a variety of items. The market is open from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. today. [Reston Town Center]

Sprouts Hiring Fair in Herndon — From 8 a.m.-6 p.m. today and from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. tomorrow (Wednesday), people interested in working at Sprouts can attend a hiring fair at the Crowne Plaza Dulles Airport Hotel (2200 Centerville Road). Interested applicants should bring copies of their resumes. Positions open include cashiers, clerks, department managers and administrative coordinators. [Facebook]

ARTSFAIRFAX Welcomes New Board Members — “New board members include Cathy “Smitty” Smith, a Realtor with Long & Foster; Scott Cryer of DLR Group; Jennifer Owen with Sandy Spring Bank; and d’Andre Willis of HGA. The 2020-21 board president will be Michele “Shelly” Hazel.” [Inside NoVa]

Herndon Police Department Seeking Detective — The police department is looking to hire an experienced detective to join the Criminal Investigation Section. “We have a great incentive package for those who qualify.” [Twitter]

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Great China Takes Sign Down at North Point Village Center

Great China appears to have closed its doors for good at North Point Village Center.

The restaurant had its windows papered last week, according to a reader-submitted photo. As of today (Sept. 9), the sign is now gone at the restaurant’s spot at 1484 North Point Village Center.

The restaurant is no longer listed in the shopping center’s directory.

A building permit indicates that the address will be home to a new restaurant.

Hat tip to Laura Crielly

Second photo courtesy Laura Crielly

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Paddywax Candle Bar Coming to Reston Town Center

Paddywax Candle Bar is set to fill the former space of a wine bar at Reston Town Center.

A license is pending for the wine and beer for the Paddywax Candle Bar at 1816 Library Street. The Tasting Room Wine Bar and Shop left the spot in March.

People can create their own candles at Paddywax Candle Bar’s candle pouring workshops while enjoying food and drinks.

The Reston spot is one of several new spots from The Candle Bar Stores LLC, which also has new locations coming to Madison, Wisc. and Philadelphia.

Currently, Paddywax Candle Bar is in Texas, Tennessee and North Carolina.

Photo via The Candle Bar/Facebook

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Mission BBQ Coming to Village Center at Dulles

A new barbecue restaurant chain is coming to a shopping center along Sunrise Valley Drive in the Herndon area.

Mission BBQ has a license pending to serve beer at 2445 Centreville Road, Suite 34B at the Village Center at Dulles.

Currently, Mission BBQ has locations in 16 states — with 16 spots in Virginia. The closest spots right now are in Chantilly and Sterling.

Photo via Mission BBQ/Facebook

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Ceremony to Honor 9/11 Victims Set at Great Falls Freedom Memorial

A ceremony at the Great Falls Freedom Memorial will honor 9/11 victims on the 18th anniversary of the terrorist attacks.

“Six residents of Great Falls perished in the 9/11 attacks,” according to Great Falls Freedom Memorial.

The annual remembrance ceremony on Wednesday (Sept. 11) is set to start at 7 p.m.

Frank Sesno, the then-CNN Washington Bureau Chief on 9/11, will be the keynote speaker. The event will also have patriotic songs, a raising of the flags by the Boy Scouts and a candle-lighting, according to the Celebrate Great Falls Foundation.

In the case of rain, the event will get moved to the Great Falls Library (9830 Georgetown Pike).

Attendees can find parking in the library parking lot. While there will be limited seating, attendees are encouraged to bring portable chairs.

Photo via Great Falls Freedom Memorial/Facebook

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Monday Morning Notes

Local Schools Receive “Common Sense Recognition” — Aldrin and Hunters Woods elementary schools in Reston and Clearview and Crossfield elementary schools and Carson Middle School in Herndon are a part of the 23 Fairfax County Public Schools recognized for their digital citizenship. [FCPS]

Fixing Up Reston Ball Field — The Reston Association recently uploaded a video about ball field maintenance. [YouTube]

Lights! Camera! Action! — People can watch “Jumanji” — a movie starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson — at the Reston Community Center Hunters Woods today from 10 a.m.-noon. The movie is about four high school kids who become adult avatars in a video game’s jungle setting. The screening is free to attend and appropriate for all ages. [Reston Community Center]

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Reston Residents Accuse Local ‘Music Man’ of Repeated Overcharging

Two Reston families said they’ve been waiting months to get their money back after suing a music school for “random” credit card charges.

Michele Chesser said that she learned about District Music Academy from a parent-teacher association event last June at a Reston school and signed up her daughter, who “loves music and trying new things,” for a free lesson.

“It was a good lesson,” Chesser said. “What I liked about District Music Academy is they come to the house. We don’t have to go anywhere.”

At first, she said she communicated mostly with the piano teacher who would come to the house. Then the business owner reached out later in the fall to let her know that the teacher had left and would be replaced by a new one.

A couple of months later, she noticed the company was double-billing her credit card for the lessons, charging her at the beginning and end of the month. In total, according to court documents, District Music Academy overcharged her $1,260.

Chesser said she contacted business owner Jeffrey Levin in November, and he took her credit card off of automatic billing, telling her that it was a billing mistake that was taking care of caused the issue.

In December, he offered to give her credit toward future classes, but Chesser declined, saying the amount he offered was incorrect.

At that point, Chesser said there was one lesson left that she had paid for. When that lesson came around on Dec. 28 at 3:10 p.m., Chesser said that the teacher never showed up — upsetting both her and her daughter.

“After a month of emailing and calling him, I realized he wasn’t going to do anything about it,” she said, so she contacted her credit card company, which was able to credit her two out of the five months of double billing. She decided to try to recover the rest of the money in court.

Earlier this year, she tried to serve Levin his court summons three times, finally resorting to a process server, according to court records. The judge heard the case in May and ordered Levin to pay the full amount.

But as of August, Chesser said she hasn’t gotten the money back.

“I don’t think I’ll ever see my money again,” she said.

The Breakdown

District Music Academy offers private in-home lessons, after school programs, entertainment for retirement communities in the D.C. area and other services, according to its website.

Chesser is not the only one in Reston who has sued Levin’s company for unwanted credit card charges in small claims court.

Anjia Nicolaidis told Reston Now that her daughter started ukulele and voice lessons once a month in February 2018 and the family scheduled lessons through August.

For a family with two full-time working parents, she said that District Music Academy seemed like a convenient solution, adding there are “not a lot of companies offering that in-home instruction in the immediate area.”

But by July of that year, Nicolaidis noticed double charges and “random charges.” When she reached out to Levin, “first there was some delay in getting him to acknowledge that our records and the teacher’s record were consistent,” she said.

“We asked for that reimbursement and gave him a number of opportunities to give it to us,” Nicolaidis told Reston Now, adding that Levin at first offered to make up the amount with credits to future lessons. After she declined the offer, the discussion over repayment broke down.

According to court records, Nicolaidis emailed Levin back on Sept. 10, writing:

As of this morning, September 10, 2018 you have not refunded the money you owe us. It has been a week since we received your email indicating you would process the refund. We have been corresponding about this issue for nearly two months…

We feel victimized and are in contact with other families that have had the same experience with District Music Academy.

Levin responded via email the same day, saying, “We have resolved all issues with our credit card system, but the process to refund the money is taking longer than expected. If it is acceptable to you, I can mail you a check today for the money due so that you can receive the fund more quickly.”

Nicolaidis said Levin never sent the check and she hasn’t heard from him since.

Taking Levin to Court

Early this year, Nicolaidis took Levin to court and the judge ordered him to pay to $1,526 with 6% interest starting Feb. 15.

“We still have no compensation to date,” she said as of Friday.

Records from the General District Courts for Fairfax and Loudoun counties indicate that 11 other people have individually sued Jeff Levin, District Music Academy, or Sebbie Enterprises — a limited liability company started by Levin — since 2014 for alleged unpaid debts.

The judges sided with the plaintiffs in two cases in Loudoun and four in Fairfax — totaling $11,842 in damages. One case in the Loudoun General District Court is still pending.

In one of the Fairfax cases, a judge sided with a Great Falls family suing Levin for $960 after the business owner wrote them on Nov. 5 that he was “waiting on long overdue vendor payments from our retirement communities and it has put us in a tight spot” and offered to pay back the money by hand-delivering a check for the $960 on Nov. 9, per court records.

Levin told Reston Now that the Nicolaidis and Chesser families and one in Great Falls have all been repaid.

“Also, we no longer process credit cards in house,” Levin said. “More than 90% of our clients pay by check and the remaining clients use our online system to input their own payments after receiving and approving an invoice.”

Today, there are about 30 former contractors and families are sharing their experiences with the company and its owner in a private Facebook group called District Music.

“Part of the reason the Facebook group has been such an important resource for everybody who is on it [is] we can compare notes and learn from each other,” Nicolaidis said.

Disharmony Within District Music Academy

Five former contractors spoke to Reston Now on the condition of anonymity, citing a non-disparagement clause in their contracts. The workers alleged that District Music Academy paid them less than it promised, paid late, and in some cases didn’t pay at all.

“I was never objecting to how much I was getting paid,” one former contractor told Reston Now. “I was objecting to not getting paid.”

The contractor alleged that Levin has yet to pay wages for three months of work over the summer of 2018.

Another former contractor who played gigs at retirement communities said that Levin would blame payroll problems on complex invoices and the retirement communities not paying on time.

A third contractor told Reston Now that Levin still hasn’t paid the several hundred dollars owed from their brief work with the company.

“I smelled the BS almost immediately,” the contractor said, adding that the lack of lesson plans and the “promise of ‘next week it would change'” concerned them.

“Regarding the contractors, I’d be happy to review their invoices with them,” Levin said, in response to a question from Reston Now about the allegations. “We now pay our contractors the day of their events or lessons so that there are no issues regarding payments.”

“We do great work in [the] community and my intent is [to] continue to build good relationships and to mend any fences where needed with past customers and contractors,” Levin said.

The contractors who spoke with Reston Now said that Levin ran his music business from two separate apartments in Reston. Today, District Music Academy lists an Ashburn address.

Levin is also the founder of Bach to Rock, a chain of musical schools that lists 39 locations across 18 states and D.C. on its website.

“Jeff Levin started the original Bethesda school that we acquired and used to launch our Bach to Rock business,” Angela Sakell, the vice president of marketing and operations for Bach to Rock, told Reston Now. “He was involved in the business in the early years before moving on to other interests and isn’t currently involved in running the business today.”

Image via District Music Academy/YouTube

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Herndon-Reston FISH Names New Executive Director

Herndon-Reston FISH, an organization that helps Reston and Herndon residents with short-term financial crises, has the new executive director.

The nonprofit’s Board of Directors announced at a recent annual meeting that Mary Saunders will fill the role, which was vacated when Lisa Groves stepped down at the end of June, according to a press release.

Saunders was previously the development director for Volunteer Fairfax and has been active in the area from serving as a former festival director for Reston’s Northern Virginia Fine Arts Festival to a board member of the Falls Church-McLean Children’s Center.

“As Herndon-Reston FISH celebrates is 50th anniversary, we are pleased to announce that Mary Saunders of Reston as our new Executive Director” Robert Reed, the board’s president, said. “A local resident for many years, she comes to us with great experience in management and development of nonprofit organizations in our area.”

Speaking on behalf of the board, Reed added, “We very much appreciate Groves’ service to FISH over the past five years and as a board member and volunteer prior to that.”

Photo 1 via Herndon-Reston FISH/Facebook, photo 2 via Mary Saunders/LinkedIn

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Wednesday Morning Notes

Emergency Alert System Test Today — “FEMA, in coordination with the Federal Communications Commission, reminds the public that it will conduct a nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) on Wednesday, Aug. 7, 2019. The nationwide test message will be sent to radio and television stations beginning at 2:20 p.m. EDT… This is solely a test of alerting on radio and television.” [Federal Communications Commission]

Reston Lending Firm Raises Millions in Debt Funding — “Small business lending platform StreetShares has raised nearly $30 million in fresh debt funding, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing Monday.” [Washington Business Journal]

A Look Back at Herndon’s History — Herndon Patch’s regular “Remembering Herndon’s History” column delves into the Caywood Family. “Benjamin and Philena Caywood were prominent Herndon citizens who settled here before Herndon became an incorporated town, leaving a long Herndon legacy.” [Herndon Patch]

Photo via @vantagehill/Flickr

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