Reston, VA

Before we head off into another weekend with COVID-19 abound, let’s take a look back at the biggest stories on Reston Now in recent days.

  1. A new seafood ghost kitchen is coming to Reston
  2. Reston Now employee booted from Reston Town Center for taking photos
  3. Fairfax police address recent concerns about crimes in Reston
  4. Fairfax County opens COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to public transit workers and mail carriers
  5. Contractor rescued from roof of Reston home

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 social distancing plans, or anything else that’s happening locally in the comments below.

Photo by Joel Shprentz

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Morning Notes

Wind Advisory In Effect Today — The National Weather Service has issued a wind advisory from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. today. Gusty windows could blow around unsecured objects and some power outages may be expected. [NWS]

Work on Lake Anne Garden Plot Begins — Reston Association is installing a 10-foot black vinyl fence around the perimeter of the garden. The project is expected to be completed within two weeks. [RA]

Fairfax County Jobless Rates Dip — The county’s unemployment rate fell nearly half a half-percent from December to January as part of an ongoing but slow trend toward recovery. [Sun Gazette]

Brabrand to Host Town Hall — Fairfax County Public Schools Superintendent Scott Brabrand will host a virtual town hall meeting from 6-7 p.m. on Monday, April 12. He plans to discuss Gov. Ralph Northam’s latest guidance of graduations and other school events. [FCPS]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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The Fairfax County Police Department is turning to the public for help in three shooting-related incidents this year.

In a public alert, FCPD is offering cash rewards varying from $500 to $2,000 for information that leads directly to an arrest.

On Jan. 2, someone fired a gun near Breton Court shortly after 2:45 p.m. Property was damaged as a result.

In the second incident, a man driving a light-colored SUV fired a gun at least three times from his car. The incident happened near Glade drive at Timberhead Court on Feb. 20 shortly after 5 a.m.

Police are offering a $500 reward for information related to both incidents.

A $2,000 award is being offered for information about the shooting death of a Reston man on March 11. Santos Antonio Trejo Lemus, 40, was shot and killed just outside of an apartment building on the 2200 block of Winterthur Court shortly before 5:30 p.m.

Local police canvassed the area of the crime in id-March to gather information about the incident.

Residents can submit tips to Fairfax County Crime Solvers by calling 866-411-8477 or by texting FCCS to 847411. Tips can also be submitted online.

Photo via FCPD

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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.

As a child of frugal parents who grew up during the Great Depression, I was always taught as long as I did not waste food or material things that I would never be without. “Waste not, want not” was an oft-heard slogan around our house. I carried my lunch to school in a brown paper bag that was recycled from our grocery store purchases, and my peanut butter and jelly sandwich was wrapped in wax paper. After lunch I would fold up the wax paper inside the bag and carry it home in my back pocket for use the next day. I could generally go an entire week without the need for another bag or more wax paper.

Needless to say, I feel a high level of discomfort with our current throw-away society. Not only do we consume ever-increasing levels of natural resources, but we create mountains of waste and the resulting degradation of our environment. Nowhere is the problem more evident than with plastic products. My paper bag and wax paper have been replaced with plastic bags for chips, a plastic container for fruit or dessert, a plastic sandwich wrapper and a drink in a plastic bottle. The manufacturer’s ability to find new uses and the public’s willingness to accept them seem unlimited

A two-year research project by the Pew Charitable Trusts and SYSTEMIQ, Ltd., a London-based environmental think tank, estimates that by 2040 the amount of plastic trash that flows into the oceans every year will triple to 29 million metric tons. Its report “Breaking the Plastic Wave” lists challenging actions that need to be taken to reverse this dangerous threat to our environment. (www.pewtrusts.org, July 2020). The Report was peer reviewed and presented in the journal Science (science.sciencemag.org, July 2020).

The report calls for a wholesale remaking of the global plastics industry by shifting to a circular economy that reuses and recycles plastics. It discusses ten critical findings “showing that a path forward to a low plastic pollution future already exists–now we have to make the choice to walk this path.” The Virginia General Assembly took two steps on the pathway to reduce plastic pollution.

A bill on which I was a co-patron passed and which the Governor has now signed into law prohibits the use of expanded polystyrene food containers, the white foam containers that break into endless number of pieces and litter our beaches and roadsides. The legislature also passed a bill designating advanced recycling as a manufacturing process that must follow all federal and state environmental regulations and laws and a budget amendment I introduced to require the Department of Environmental Quality to monitor the newly-emerging industry. Governor Northam recently signed a new executive order that will decrease plastic pollution and reduce the amount of solid waste going to landfills by phasing out single-use plastics at state agencies.

Clearly the General Assembly must take more aggressive actions in the future to reduce the use of plastics, provide for their reuse or recycling, and recognize that multiple strategies must be taken if the challenges that the Pew study identified are to be addressed. Citizens can join in taking voluntary actions to make choices in the marketplace of alternatives to plastics. Returning to a paper lunch bag or reusable container is a good idea, but the reuse of wax paper is not recommended!

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Local police have made a second arrest in the shooting death of a Reston man in late November of last year.

Earlier this week, the Herndon Police Department arrested and charged Jameel Byrd, 20, of Herndon on charges of second-degree murder and robbery.

Byrd’s brother — Jason Byrd, 20, of Herndon — was arrested in November on charges on second-degree murder and use of a firearm in the commission of a felony.

Police believe the brothers shot and killed Julian Rashad Martin, a 30-year-old resident, near the 1000 block of Queens Court.

The case remains under investigation.

Photo via Herndon Police Department

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Morning Notes

Dense Fog Advisory in Effect — The advisory is one effect through 11 a.m. today. Drivers should slow down, use headlights and leave plenty of distance between vehicles. [National Weather Service]

County Reiterates Need for Testing — The county is encouraging residents to get tested in order to perform case investigations and identify close contacts — a move that prevents the spread of COVID-19. A new strain is circulating in the United States that could be 50 percent more contagious. [Fairfax County Government]

Red Cross Blood Drives Coming to Reston Soon –The American Red Cross is hosting several blood drives in the area, including one on April 2 at the YMCA in Reston. A second blood drive is planned on April 5 at Herndon Ward LDS. [Reston Patch]

County Launches Parks Storytelling Project — ‘The Park Authority’s Healthy Strides program is launching a new storytelling project called “I Love Parks” — the theme of the annual 5K/10K/Kids Dash scheduled for Saturday, May 1, 2021. Share how parks have affected your life over this past year of pandemic shutdowns by submitting a photo and your story. Your experience could become part of a slideshow that will be showcased on the Park Authority’s website and on social media.’ [Fairfax County Government]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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Local police are investigating burglaries at three Herndon businesses that happened on March 15.

Two burglars smashed the front doors and windows of businesses on the 700 block of Grant Street with rocks and stole cash registers. A third suspect waited in the car, according to the Herndon Police Department.

Information about the incident was released on Tuesday. A spokesperson for HPD declined to release the names of the targeted businesses.

“We aren’t releasing the business names right now, for privacy reasons and because of the ongoing investigation,” the spokesperson told Reston Now in a statement.

Police believe the burglars attempted to target another business but ultimately failed.

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New electric vehicle charging stations are coming to Target in Reston this summer.

While the stations have been installed, they won’t go live until the summer. Four 150 kilowatt-hour chargers are planned at Target, which is located at 12197 Sunset Hills Road.

The stations are powered by Electrify America, a Reston-based company that promotes zero-emission vehicle adoption through an a fast and convenient charging network across the country.

The company, which was founded in 2016, currently does not have plans for additional stations in Reston and Herndon, a company spokesperson told Reston Now. But other locations are planned in Northern Virginia.

So far, the company has built more than 570 charging stations with around 2,500 individual chargers. Last year, Electrify America also completed two cross-country routes.

Roughly 800 total stations with about 3,500 chargers that are specifically designed for quick charging are planned by the end of this year.

The expansion at Target is part of a nationwide push to expand electric vehicle charging option. In 2018, Target announced that it plans to add the stations to 600 parking spaces at more than 100 sites across more than 20 states.

“Accelerating our efforts to install new charging stations at Target stores across the country is one way we’re building on our commitment to investing in solutions that leave our communities better for future families,” said John Leisen, vice president of property management at Target.  

Photo via Matt Bianco

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Morning Notes

Virginia to Further Ease COVID-19 Restrictions in April — “As COVID-19 vaccinations continue to rise in Virginia, certain sports and entertainment venues may begin to operate with additional capacity and indoor and outdoor gathering limits will increase starting Thursday, April 1…More than two million Virginians, or approximately one in four people, have now received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.” [Gov. Ralph Northam]

Fairfax County Board Adopts Resolution Condemning Anti-Asian Racism — The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously yesterday to adopt a resolution condemning “all bigotry, harassment, and hate violence directed at Asian Americans in our community.”  [Chairman Jeff McKay]

Access to DC Cherry Blossoms Limited — The National Park Service will limit pedestrian and vehicle access to the Tidal Basin, East Potomac Park and West Potomac Park during the peak of the bloom period. [Patch]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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Updated at 9:45 a.m. on 4/6/2021 — True Food Kitchen has extended the job fair for its new Reston Town Center site into late April, a spokesperson says.

Earlier: After months of delays, True Food Kitchen is opening in Reston Town Center on April 28.

The 7,798-square-foot restaurant is also kicking off a three-week job fair to hire 100 staff members ahead of its opening at 1901 Democracy Drive.

The schedule for job fairs is below. Applicants can also apply online.

  • Now – Saturday, March 27; 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
  • Monday, March 29 – Saturday, April 3; 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
  • Monday, April 5 – Saturday, April 10; 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. 

The restaurant includes a dining room, outdoor patio, and bar. Its dining chairs are made of recycled soda bottles and the space is designed around an open kitchen concept.

True Food Kitchen’s menu adheres to a diet developed by Dr. Andrew Weil, who specializes in integrative medicine. The menu focuses primarily on anti-inflammatory foods.

Open jobs include chefs, cooks, servers, hosts, dishwashers, and managers.

Photo via True Food Kitchen

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When Gary and Diane Reedy opened Famous Toastery in Reston two years ago, the couple looked forward to running a brunch and breakfast spot near Reston Town Center’s future Metro station.

Nearly two years after operating Famous Toastery, the couple decided to close the Reston location at 12100 Sunset Hills Road. The business, which offers a combination of breakfast, brunch, and lunch options, is one of several ground-floor retailers at RTC West, a mixed-use development owned by JBG Smith.

It is the last business venture for the couple, which built several businesses — including some of the first laser tag facilities in the area — in previous years.

Gary Reedy says the landlord of the property was difficult to deal with during the pandemic.

He says that although a discount on the rent was offered for six months, payments had to be paid back over two years.

‘We tried working with the landlord over the spring and summer with no progress,’ Reedy said.

The couple is now retired after 25 years of building businesses in Fairfax and Loudoun counties.

Famous Toastery has locations throughout the country, including a location in Ashburn and Roanoke.

Photo via Carlos Banos

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A contractor who was injured while working on the roof of a home in Reston was rescued Monday evening.

According to the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department, the man — who was repairing a roof at 1514 Park Glen Court — injured himself with a nail gun.

Fire and rescue crews lifted the man from the roof of the townhouse and transported him to a local hospital.

The incident happened around 6:22 p.m. A spokesperson for the fire department told Reston Now that the man’s injuries were not life-threatening.

Photos by Joel Shprentz

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Morning Notes

County Seeks Help with Vaccinations — The county’s health department is hiring roughly 250 vaccinators. Interested candidates should have experience vaccinating and hold a current license or multistate licensure privilege. [Fairfax County Government]

Reston Association Election Underway — Voting ends on April 2 at 5 p.m. Four candidates are running for two at-large seats and one person is vying for the South Lakes District seat. A 10 percent quorum is required for the results of the election to be considered valid. [Reston Today]

Local Organizations Receive Homeless Reduction Grants — Twelve projects in the Northern Virginia area received a total of $2.1 million in state grants from the Virginia Housing Trust Fund. Reston-based nonprofit organization Cornerstones received $100,000 to fund housing stabilization case management. [Patch]

State Bans Single-Use Styrofoam — Gov. Ralph Northam has signed a bill into law that bans the use of Styrofoam cups and food takeout containers. Food chains with 20 or more locations cannot package or dispense food in the containers beginning July 2023. [Patch]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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The number of COVID-19 cases in Fairfax County has remained relatively stable, mimicking case rates first reported in May of last year.

The stabilization of cases comes as Fairfax County picks up the pace of vaccinations. As of today, the county reported 119 new cases — a number that has remained relatively constant over the last week. Last May, daily case rates hovered in the 100s, similar to case rates that have occurred this month.

The county has said it can meet a deadline of May 1 for expanding eligibility for vaccine appointments to all adults, but officials remains noncommittal on whether or not every Fairfax County resident will receive a vaccine by May 31.

But the push for more vaccines continues. In a March 19 letter to Gov. Ralph Northam, the Northern Virginia Regional Commission urged the state health department to provide more vaccines.

With additional doses allocated to our health districts immediately, we can put that capacity to work to quickly assist the Commonwealth in achieving its vaccination and equity goals, the commission wrote.

So far, the county is making appointments for people who registered on Feb. 18. Still, 28 percent of the total people registered in the county still remain on a waiting list. That’s nearly 98,000 people of the 354,889 people registered.

In the county, 132,307 people are fully vaccinated and 248,323 people have received one dose. The county recently began administering the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which only requires one dose.

The county has also begun community vaccine clinics — which are not widely publicized — in order to target vulnerable populations.

Statewide, the number of vaccinations has picked up. More than two million Virginians have received their first dose and 1.1 million people are fully vaccinated.

The county also recently expanded eligibility criteria for vaccinations to include workers in manufacturing, grocery stores, and the food and agriculture industry.

As the pace of vaccinations picks up, the Centers for Disease Control has updated its policies on social distancing. Although the CDC still recommends universal masking, students should maintain a distance of at least three feet instead of six feet in classroom settings.

Photo via Fairfax County Health Department

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In a divisive decision, the Fairfax County School Board voted late last week to recognize some religious holidays in the next school year, but fell short of giving students a day off on those days.

Next year’s academic year will not give students a day off on 15 religious observances, including Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Eid, and Diwali. In what proponents described as a middle-ground option, the holidays would be recognized as special days during which tests, quizzes, field trips, and other events would not be scheduled.

Overall, students would receive an allowance of 16 hours to make up for any religious or cultural reasons.

The following religious and cultural observance will be observed; Eid al-Adha, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Día de los Muertos, Diwali, Bodhi Day, Three Kings Day/Epiphany, Orthodox Christmas, Orthodox Epiphany, Lunar New Year, Ramadan, Good Friday, Theravada, Orthodox Good Friday/Last Night of Passover and Eid al-Fitr. The days were selected based on absentee rates over the last five years.

Employees will also be given up to 16 hours of any time missed for religious and cultural observances.

School board chair Ricardy Anderson touted the move as one that favors “equity and inclusivity.”

“It aims to center equity by elevating our systems’ respect for religious and cultural observances. While this final calendar for 2021-22 may not align with the goals of everyone in Fairfax County, it recognizes all religious and cultural observances where Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) has seen above-average absences over the last five years,” Anderson wrote in a statement.

In a letter to the FCPS community, Superintendent Scott Brabrand recognized that the discussion surrounding this issue was divisive and riled by faith organizations and parents.

“We acknowledge that while this has been a challenging discussion, FCPS is committed to equity for all of its students and staff. Moving forward, FCPS will establish a calendar development process that allows the School Board to identify clear criteria and priorities for the calendar; defines the roles of staff, Board, and community members; and creates a robust community engagement process that outlines how and where feedback will be solicited and shared with the Board,” Brabrand said.

But the decision drew concern from many local and area religious groups. In a joint statement, Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, Association of United Hindu and Jain Temples of Metropolitan Washington, Durga Temple of Virginia, Hindu American Foundation, Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington, McLean Islamic Center, Northern Virginia Hebrew Congregation, and Temple Rodef Shalom wrote that the school board’s attempt to divide religious groups backfired.

“While the school board has sought to divide us further, we have coalesced around this issue, strengthening our commitment to one another and to the equity of religious minority groups in Fairfax County. We will continue to hold the FCPS School Board and Administration accountable to ensure that our communities are not disadvantaged by the decisions taken today,” the statement reads. 

The new rules will go into effect when the school year begins on July 1. The board also voted to decouple Good Friday from Spring Break.

Photo via FCPS

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