Reston, VA

A hair salon and spa is replacing a hair salon in North Point Village Center.

Christie-Adam Salon and Spa, which is currently located in Great Falls, plans to open a new location at 1410 North Point Village Center, on March 2, a business spokesperson tells Reston Now.

The space was formerly occupied by KLS Studios, a hair salon that has plans to shift its operation to Tysons earlier this year.

Christie-Adam first opened in 1999 in Great Falls. The full-service salon and spa offers skin treatments, massages, hair cuts, hair dye treatments, and nail services.

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COVID-19 Partners Expand in Fairfax Health District — “Giant Pharmacy and MyDr.’s Pharmacy have joined the list of vaccination partners who are assisting the Health Department in its efforts to vaccinate eligible individuals in its queue… All vaccinations occur by appointment only, there are no walk-ins.” [Fairfax County Government]

First Case of COVID-19 Variant Identified in Virginia — “The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) today announced that the first case of the SARS-CoV-2 variant B.1.1.7 has been identified in a sample from an adult resident of Central Virginia who had no history of travel during the exposure period. The B.1.1.7 variant, which first emerged in the United Kingdom in late 2020, is associated with increased person-to-person transmission of COVID-19.” [Virginia Department of Health]

Phone Issues Reported in Town of Herndon — Some of the town’s phone lines are experiencing issues. Anyone with non-emergency police needs should call 703-437-118. [Herndon Police Department]

Deadline for Reston Association Assessments Approaches — Members have until March 1 to pay their assessment fee payments. RA encourages members to make their payments online by credit card, over the phone or by mail in order to avoid late fees. [RA]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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A new fitness gym opened in Reston Town Center this week.

Australian fitness company F45 Training brings a mix of functional training, which combines circuit and high intensity interval training, to 11840 Freedom Drive.

The opening was delayed by nearly a year due to permitting hiccups and the COVID-19 pandemic. The gym previously expected to open in May.

Another location is planned at Faraday Park. So far, Khalid Mojadidi, who is managing both locations, tells Reston Now that the location is expected to open in the summer at 11201 Reston Station Boulevard.

The company has received its permits and is expected to begin construction soon. More information on classes at the RTC location is available online.

Photos via F45 Training

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Fairfax County is considering lowering its real estate tax rate by one cent for the next fiscal year in an attempt to give relief to homeowners during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

County Executive Bryan Hill presented the proposal to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors yesterday (Tuesday) as part of an advertised Fiscal Year 2022 budget that illustrated how the pandemic has curtailed the county’s ability to fund top priorities, from education and employee pay to affordable housing and environmental initiatives.

According to Hill, the county’s residential real estate market has been “very strong” over the past year with 88% of residential properties seeing an increase in assessed value, but that also places a greater burden on homeowners at a time when unemployment is up and many people are struggling to pay their bills.

Noting that upticks have been highest for properties that typically house lower-income residents, like townhomes and condos, Hill says that, with no change to the rate, the average tax bill would increase by almost $285 for the coming year. Lowering the rate by a cent to $1.14 per $100 of assessed value would bring the average increase closer to $224.

“Homeowners have struggled due to a loss of income during the pandemic,” Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay said. “I appreciate that the County Executive has created a budget that reflects these uncertain financial times. Next year’s proposed budget does not meet every community need, but shows our commitment to preserving County programs and working to protect our residents in these uncertain times.”

The proposed tax rate decrease was coupled with an overall conservative approach to the advertised budget, which freezes pay increases for county employees for the second consecutive year and funds only a fraction of Fairfax County Public Schools’ request.

The Fairfax County School Board sought an additional $104.4 million from the county, primarily to cover a proposed 3% pay raise for all FCPS employees, but Hill’s advertised budget increases the county’s transfer by only $14.1 million.

During a press conference following the budget presentation, education advocates in the Invest in Fairfax Coalition — a grassroots organization comprised of county employee groups, residents, and other community members — urged the Board of Supervisors to give the school system more funds to pay workers and provide mental health services for students, among other needs.

“We’re very disappointed with the county executive’s proposed budget and its failure to prioritize schools,” Fairfax County Federation of Teachers President Tina Williams said. “To help students and staff recover from this pandemic, we urge this county to adopt a budget that keeps our community whole and opens our schools safely.”

Hill’s advertised budget makes similarly modest investments in the county government, providing a net revenue increase of just $11.7 million.

According to Hill, funding the county’s employee compensation program would cost more than $55 million, including almost $30 million for a calculated 2% market rate adjustment.

“We simply do not have the resources available at this time,” Hill said.

Outside of FCPS, the most substantial investments in the advertised budget are related to public safety, including the rollout of the police body camera program, the Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney, and staff for the new South County Police Station and Scotts Run Fire Station.

The proposal also includes funding for new health department staff, Coordinated Services Planning, collective bargaining work, and two new positions in the Office of Elections. In addition, Hill recommends that the board set aside $20 million to support economic recovery efforts.

“As I look ahead into fiscal [year] 2023, I have hope for a more positive budget year, but it will still be a challenge,” Hill said. “Employee compensation and other board priorities, such as affordable housing and school revenues, which have not been adequately addressed as part of this budget, will be at the forefront of our conversations.”

Invest in Fairfax Coalition Chair David Edelman says he was “a little surprised” to see the tax rate decrease in the proposed budget, since the group had anticipated the rate would remain the same. While the coalition consists of people with different backgrounds and focuses, their overall goal is to encourage Fairfax County to invest in public services and employees.

“Now more than ever, it’s critical that our budget reflects the values, priorities, and urgent need of our diverse community,” Edelman said.

The Board of Supervisors will officially approve an advertised tax rate on Mar. 9, and public hearings on the FY 2022 budget will take place on Apr. 13-15.

Each supervisor will host a budget town hall for their magisterial district. The schedule for districts in the Tysons area are as follows:

  • Dranesville: Mar. 1 at 7:30 p.m. through the McLean Citizens Association
  • Hunter Mill: Mar. 29 from 7-9 p.m. through WebEx and Supervisor Walter Alcorn’s YouTube Live channel
  • Providence: Mar. 8 from 7-9:30 p.m. It will be streamed on TV, Fairfax County’s website, and Facebook Live.

The board will adopt a final FY 2022 budget on May 4.

Staff photo by Jay Westcott

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Wednesday Morning Notes

Reston Software Firm Secures Big Funding — Fast-growing software company ScienceLogic has raised $105 million in fresh funding to take advantage of a Covid-19-inspired “tectonic shift” in IT operations management. [Washington Business Journal]

Residential Real Estate Assessments Are Up — Real estate assessments are up an average of 4.25 percent countywide. House prices increased in most areas of the county due to record low-interest rates and low inventory. [Fairfax County Government]

Task Force on Equity and Opportunity Convenes — Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay is urging the county’s task force on equity and opportunity to consider several issues, including cradle to career success, community health, and community safety and justice. [Fairfax County Government]

Local Police Investigate Herndon Robbery — Local police are investigating a robbery that happened on the 1200 block of Springtide Place on Feb. 21. The victims were robbed at gunpoint. One individual was assaulted and the other victim’s purse was taken. [Herndon Police Department]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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Tuesday Morning Notes

Wind Advisory In Effect — The National Weather Service has issued a wind advisory that will be in effect from 2-6 p.m. today. [NWS]

Metro Seeks Comment on Proposed Budget — Metro is seeking the public’s feedback on its budget, which faces a significant shortfall due to a decrease in ridership caused by the pandemic. Ridership is down about 90 percent on Metrorail. [Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority]

Reston Association Committee to Host First Public Forum — The organization’s multimodal transportation advisory committee is hosting its first public forum of this year on March 11. The committee seeks input on sidewalks, trails, pathways, crosswalks, and the overall pedestrian experience in Reston. [RA]

Death Penalty Repeal Sent to State Governor — Virginia could become the first state in the South to end the death penalty. The legislation was passed on Monday by state lawmakers and now heads to the desk of Gov. Ralph Northam. Virginia has executed more people in its history than any other state. [Reston Patch]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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Following statewide trends, the number of daily COVID-19 cases continues to dip in Fairfax County.

As of Feb. 22, the number of new cases stood at 113 with a rolling weekly average of 193 cases — the lowest number of daily reported cases this year.

The number of new cases has continued to fall since cases peaked with an all-time high of 1,485 on Jan. 17, according to data released by the Virginia Department of Health.

So far, 134,359 people have been vaccinated by Fairfax County, a number that includes first and second doses, according to the county’s data dashboard.

The county’s health department is currently scheduling appointments for people who registered on Monday, Jan. 18. A little over 96,900 people remain on the county’s waitlist.

While county officials have touted progress with the vaccination system, the jurisdiction’s decision to opt-out of the state’s new COVID-19 vaccine pre-registration caused confusion late last week.

Since then, the county’s health department has addressed common concerns and questions in a recent blog post. The county is still encouraging residents to use the county’s online form to register for vaccines.

Across the state, 1.1 million have received at least one dose and 481,297 people have been fully vaccinated.

Image via VDH

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The Fairfax County School Board unanimously adopted an advertised Fiscal Year 2022 budget for the county public school system when it met last Thursday (Feb. 18).

The $3.2 billion budget includes a $60.3 million increase in Fairfax County Public Schools’ request for funding from the county board of supervisors to increase employee compensation rates by 3%, a significant change from what FCPS Superintendent Scott Brabrand proposed in January.

Anticipating a tough financial year due to the continued impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, Brabrand had originally proposed freezing staff salaries aside from $3 million to complete a three-year push to bring the salaries of instructional assistants and public health training assistants up to 50% of the salary scale for teachers who have bachelor’s degrees.

Improving employee compensation has been a priority of the school board in recent years, as the board seeks to restore over $70 million and nearly 2,700 positions that have been cut since 2008, according to Lee District Representative Tamara Derenak-Kaufax.

“As a board, we must be committed to making certain we are hiring and retaining the best and brightest employees to teach our children, to counsel our children, to transport our children, to feed our children, and to ensure that their social and emotional needs are being met,” Derenak-Kaufax said. “In order to do so, we must be competitive with our surrounding jurisdictions.”

On top of the requested county transfer funds, FCPS projects that it could receive an additional $13.4 million in state revenue to cover the compensation increases based on a proposed budget from the Virginia State Senate that would provide a 3% salary bump for public school educators.

When approving the advertised budget, the school board also amended Brabrand’s proposed budget to include an additional $1.4 million to hire instructional coaches at six Title I elementary schools and create pay parity for elementary school principals and assistant principals.

Overall, the FY 2022 advertised budget seeks to increase FCPS funding by 2.4%, or $75.5 million, compared to the school system’s approved FY 2021 budget.

In addition to employee compensation, the increase provides for expanded preschool special education classes, retirement rate increases and rising health care costs, and support for student needs related to the pandemic, according to FCPS.

The budget also includes $4.9 million and 50 staff positions for English as a Second Language programs at the elementary school level, along with $500,000 and three positions for a collective bargaining team after the Virginia General Assembly passed legislation in 2020 allowing localities to recognize collective bargaining rights for public employees starting on May 1.

Karen Corbett-Sanders, who represents Mount Vernon District on the Fairfax County School Board, noted that the advertised FY 2022 budget does not include money for possible summer school programming, which will instead come from federal COVID-19 relief funds that Congress approved in December.

“We recognize that the past year has been incredibly difficult for our community,” Brabrand said. “This budget is designed to bring hope to students, their families and our staff by providing the resources each of them needs to help recognize and support all their extraordinary contributions during this pandemic.”

While not included in the advertised budget, the school board also directed Brabrand to identify funds to create positions for a neuro-diversity specialist and a trauma-informed social emotional learning specialist, roles that are, respectively, intended to provide support for students with disabilities and address students’ mental health needs.

At-large member Rachna Sizemore Heizer, who was a disability rights advocate before being elected to the school board in 2019, says having a neuro-diversity specialist could be “transformative” in helping eliminate disparities in academic achievement and discipline for students with disabilities.

“A neurodiversity-oriented approach, with its focus on student strengths, positive teacher expectations, and inclusion of the lived norms of students with disabilities within the norms of classrooms, can improve outcomes for students with disabilities and set them up for success after they leave FCPS,” Sizemore Heizer said.

County Executive Bryan Hill is scheduled to present his proposed FY 2022 budget to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors tomorrow (Tuesday). The school board will present its advertised budget to the Board of Supervisors on Apr. 13 and adopt an approved FY 2022 budget on May 20.

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The National Weather Service issued a Winter Weather Advisory at 8:43 a.m. today for much of the D.C. area, including Fairfax County.

Precipitation started falling early this morning and could result in up to an inch of snow accumulation. The alert will remain in effect until 3 p.m.

Here is the full alert:

…WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY IN EFFECT UNTIL 3 PM EST THIS AFTERNOON…

* WHAT…Rapid onset of snow which will result in snow covered roadways. Snow accumulations of up to one inch.

* WHERE…Portions of central and northern Maryland and northern Virginia.

* WHEN…Until 3 PM EST this afternoon.

* IMPACTS…Plan on slippery road conditions. The hazardous conditions will impact the morning or evening commute.

“Slow down and use caution while traveling,” the NWS said. “When venturing outside, watch your first few steps taken on steps, sidewalks, and driveways, which could be icy and slippery, increasing your risk of a fall and injury.”

Photo by Jessica Fadel on Unsplash

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Monday Morning Notes

Self-Driving Cars Make Local Debut — Self-driving cars from Optimus Ride are now navigating DC’s waterfront, available for pick-ups in the Yards with access to Barracks Row and Capitol Hill. Rides are currently limited to a select group of tenants in waterfront apartment buildings, similar to when the service made its DC-area debut at the Halley Rise mixed-use development in Reston. [Washingtonian]

Stolen Dodge Charger Recovered by PoliceOfficers in the Reston District Station of the Fairfax County Police Department recently recovered an automobile that had been reported stolen in the Herndon area of the county, according to the weekly crime report. [Reston Patch]

Members Sought for County Board of Appeals — The county’s Board of Zoning Appeals has openings for two members. Interested candidates should apply by Monday, March 1. [Fairfax County Government]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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Reston Association has shifted to cloud platforms amid an ongoing conversation on how to address IT security concerns. Some members of RA’s Board of Directors are pushing for the creation of a new IT committee that would guide RA staff on best practices for IT security.

The discussion comes after some board members expressed major concerns about how personal data is stored, why RA’s website was suddenly taken down that year, and allocated funding for IT-related projects.

In a letter to members today, RA noted that its IT department has taken ‘a number of steps to fortify and protect members’ information.’

Currently, no member data is hosted on RA systems, a shift from previous years. The organization transitioned to vendor-hosted software as well.

More from the letter is below.

RA member data related to annual assessment payments, recreational registrations, covenants records and other external business transactions are now on cloud systems managed by professional vendors who use the latest security standards to protect private information. 

Additionally, internal business operations such as email and document-sharing systems have been migrated to Microsoft Office 365 cloud platform. The Microsoft platform offers increased security features that combat social engineering, phishing and other online threats.

As new technologies to address security issues are ever-evolving, RA’s IT team is constantly reviewing controls and policies to protect the organization and its members’ private information. RA wants to ensure members that their data and personal information is safeguarded by a robust cloud-based network of vendors that uses the industry’s highest standards to protect all data.

RA’s Board Governance Committee will review the proposal for a new IT committee on March 4. The meeting takes place via Zoom at 6:30 p.m.

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Friday Morning Notes

Reston Community Center to Open Late — The center’s facilities will open at 9 a.m. today. Water aerobics classics that start before then in the Terry L. Smith Aquatics Center are canceled. [RCC]

Detectives Issue Warning about Texas License Plate Scam — ”Detectives with our Organized Crime and Intelligence Bureau are warning unsuspecting motorists of vehicle registrations being illegally sold involving the issuance of temporary Texas state license plates. Late last year detectives learned that Latinos Solutions Inc., formerly located at 7202 Poplar Street, Suite F, in Annandale, was fraudulently distributing temporary Texas license plates. After a lengthy and complex investigation, detectives arrested Karla Lopez, 25, of Woodbridge. ” [FCPD]

Fairfax Connector Returns to Regular Service with Detours — ”As wintry weather is expected to continue to impact Fairfax County and the National Capital Region, Fairfax Connector will operate full service with established detours tomorrow, Friday, Feb. 19, 2021.  As road conditions improve, detours will be lifted on a route-by-route basis, or system-wide.” [Fairfax County Government]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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The Town of Herndon is considering plans to reconfigure a new traffic signal along Herndon Parkway at Sunset Park Drive in order to access Sunset Business Park.

In the town’s proposed capital improvement program for fiscal years 2022 through 2027, the town is considering realigning the current intersection to include new street lighting, signals for bikes and pedestrians, crosswalks, and cycle tracks.

The changes are expected to improve the safety of the area and traffic circulation between Herndon Parkway and Sunset Business Park.

So far, roughly 75,000 in funding from the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority has been allocated for preliminary engineering and administrative tasks. The project is expected to cost at least 700,000.

Future funding will likely be received through the Virginia Department of Transportation’s revenue sharing program. Construction is expected to be completed in fiscal year 2025.

Because of limited funding due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the town has preliminary identified four priority projects for funding, including minor sidewalks, trails and bicycle facility improvements, the replacement of a fuel tank in the town shop, and the expansion of a police service room.

The town’s Planning Commission is set to review the proposal at a meeting on Feb. 22. 

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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.

I have never known a politician who has not promised better schools, quality of life and safety. Although these standards are defined differently by the persuasion of the persons making them, the promises share one thing in common: to be realized fully will cost money. The true measure of an officeholder comes not in the promises made but whether that person is willing to put their money where their mouth is. I could not be prouder as a member of the House of Delegates and the Appropriations Committee of the budget passed in the House of Delegates last week. The Senate passed a very similar budget with the differences between the two to be resolved in a conference committee over the next couple of weeks.

While debate over the budget is most often about spending, discussions need also to take into account revenues and investments. There had been dire predictions about state revenues heading into the pandemic, but the loss in revenue has not been nearly as great as feared. In addition, federal monies coming to the state for education and for COVID relief helped make up for lost revenue. The Governor’s proposed budget already had more than a billion dollars in reserve, and the House added $150 million to that amount to soften the impact of a decline of revenue next year without the same level of federal relief.

Both the House and the Senate funded the biggest investment in preschool education ever made. I term it an investment for much research shows that investing in early childhood education pays off many fold in later learning success, civic engagement, and quality of life. The House budget includes the state share of a five percent pay increase for teachers whose average pay has continued to lag behind the national average and who have had to do double duty this year with virtual learning. Funding is provided for another step to a 1:325 school counselor-to-student ratio moving towards the ideal of 1:250. Federal relief of $1.3 billion is provided for schools along with $51.1 million to address COVID-19 learning loss. An amount of $84 million is provided in the budget to maintain affordable access to Virginia colleges and universities and $8.5 million to increase Tuition Assistance Grant awards and include online education.

COVID-19 concerns drove many budget decisions. In addition to getting the schools open when safe and to make up for lost learning, the budget provides paid sick leave for essential workers, increased funding for nursing homes, and worker compensation for health care workers and first responders.

The budget makes investments in the future of the economy and our environment. Funding is provided to expand broadband access throughout the state. A one-time five million dollar capitalization fund is established for rebates on the purchase of electric vehicles for persons whose income qualifies them. The largest ever amount is provided for agricultural best-management practices to meet Chesapeake Bay clean-up benchmarks.

The best compliment that I and my colleagues could receive is that we put the public’s money where we have been told that it should be!

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Local closures are in effect today as snow continues to fall in the Reston area today.

A Winter Storm Warning is in effect through early Friday morning, with the possibility of three to six inches o of snow and one-tenth t one-quarter inch of ice is also expected.

Fairfax County government offices and courts are closed today and all employees have been given emergency leave.

The Fairfax Connector will operate a on holiday weekend service schedule. If road conditions get worse, service may be reduced further.

All Fairfax County Public Schools and central officers are also closed today. In-person and virtual learning is also canceled.

Today’s school board meeting will take place virtually at 7 p.m.

Here’s more from the Fairfax County Department of Transportation on recent changes.

Routes 231232335351393394395396 422432461494495556585599624634697698699722724 and 985, which will not operate 

Route 980 will run every 12-15 minutes instead of every 6-8 minutes.

Passengers are encouraged to check the status of routes online before heading to a bus stop. If a bus is on detour, the county’s BusTracker will not reflect real-time estimated arrival information.

The county has also cancelled all COVID-19 vaccine clinics administered directly the Fairfax County Health Department for today. Residents will receive an email with a re-registration link for the upcoming week.

Reston Association’s member services office is also closed for appointments today. Members can call or email RA for more information.

Photo by Marjorie Copson

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