Reston, VA

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, and with that brings closures around the county. Let’s take a look at what’s open, and what’s closed.

All Fairfax County Government offices will be closed on Nov. 26 and 27 for the holiday. 

The Fairfax Connector will be operating on a Sunday service on Thursday, and a holiday weekday service on Friday. 

Fairfax County Public Schools provided seven-day meal kits for Thanksgiving week, which were available for pickup through Nov. 24. 

In Herndon, all trash collection is halted for the holiday, and all trash usually collected Thursday will be collected today. 

Reston Community Center in Hunters Woods will be open from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. on Thanksgiving, and from 9 a.m. until 9 p.m. the day after. However, RCC Lake Anne will be closed both days. 

All Fairfax County parks will be closed on Thanksgiving, but all RECenters are open until noon. The day after Thanksgiving, the RECenters will be running normal hours and Frying Pan Farm Park will open its farm and indoor area. 

Photo by Shoeib Abolhassani/Unsplash

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On Nov. 19, The Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce held its 2020 Awards for Chamber Excellence (ACE), recognizing the most engaged businesses, members and committees of the Chamber community over the last year.

In past years, awardees are honored in June at an annual membership meeting luncheon, according to a press release from the Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce.

However, due to COVID-19 restrictions, the luncheon could not take place. Instead, the Chamber held a virtual event to recognize and appreciate the honorees for their hard work and contributions. 

The 2020 ACE Award Winners are:

The full list of ACE sponsors and nominees can be viewed on the award website

The 2020-2021 Chamber Board of Directors was also announced after being confirmed by membership in June.

Image courtesy of the Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce

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Neighborhood safety dominated a virtual town hall by Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn last night. 

The town hall was called to discuss the ways in which the Fairfax County Police Department is acting to keep the Hunters Woods neighborhood safe in the wake of an active homicide investigation, as well as a growing concern from the community regarding the increase in gunshot reports around Reston and the Hunters Woods neighborhood.

FCPD Capt. Thea Pirnat discussed that while there is an increased number of gunshot reports in the area, that doesn’t necessarily mean there are increased gunshots — it could mean that the community is doing a better job reporting data. However, the Reston District Police Department is still working to increase police visibility in the neighborhood to deter crime. 

The department is also increasing patrols in the neighborhood through a crime suppression team, according to Lt. Marc Mitchell. The department has also been sending out bike patrols as an increased presence to help build trust and rapport with the community members.

2nd Lt. Erin Weeks discussed the current status of the homicide investigation, urging the community to come forward with tips or reports to help guide the active investigation. Weeks said that the detectives are actively following up on ledes and that she is “confident that we are going to solve this case.”

Jose Lorenzo Guillen Mejia, 24, of Reston, was found dead near a walking trail in the summer of 2019 near a wooded area between Hunters Woods Plaza and Breton Court. Mejia was found with trauma to his upper body and was pronounced dead at the scene.

PFC Katy Defoe, the Crime Prevention Officer at the Reston District Station, encouraged community members to pay more attention to their surroundings as they go about their daily lives so they can act as good witnesses if necessary. 

Defoe also presented a series of contacts organized with the Hunters Woods Neighborhood Coalition that community members can keep in mind in emergent or non-emergent situations, including:

  • 9-1-1
  • Police non-emergency line: 703-691-2131
  • Embry Rucker Center Outreach Worker for unsheltered medical attention: 571-323-1399
  • Mental health crisis assistance: 703-573-5679
  • Fairfax Detoxification Center: 703-502-7000

PFC Brandi Horita, Reston District Station’s Community Liason Officer, also discussed cityprotect.com and the Fairfax County Crime Solvers program as two resources for community members to watch police activity and to promote awareness and crime prevention strategies.

Another virtual town hall will be taking place on Feb. 4 at 5 p.m. with more details to come. 

Screenshot from the Hunters Woods Town Hall/YouTube

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The Town of Herndon is currently considering plans to welcome a new church to the neighborhood. A planning commission public hearing took place virtually to discuss the arrival of Christ Fellowship Church this week.

In Herndon, religious institutions are typically not allowed in any of the town’s zoning districts. The church is applying for a special exception to permit a religious institution with a capacity of 300 persons, according to the Planning Commission’s Staff Report.  

The church plans to occupy suites 7 and 8A at the Parkway Crossing Condominiums (459 Herndon Parkway).  

Christ Fellowship Church has been a part of the Herndon community for almost 30 years, according to the staff report. As of now, the small congregation has approximately 50 members, no full-time staff members and one part-time staff member.

The church plans to hold small gatherings in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, with some activities taking place on weekday evenings, but primarily over the weekends. 

Photo via handout/Herndon Planning Commission 

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Looking to donate toys this holiday season? The Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Stations are collecting donations for the regional Quantico Toys for Tots campaign.  

The Quantico toy collection will run through Dec. 13. However, the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Station collections are only running through Dec. 12. Individuals can leave small donations in collection boxes outside the front door of each station every day until 8 p.m. 

These hubs will accept donations, however, they will not be distributing supplies, according to the campaign website.

Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Stations collected around 12,000 toys last year. The entire Quantico campaign collected more than 108,000 toys that were distributed to more than 106,000 children.

Quantico’s Toys for Tots program is run by the U.S. Marine Corps with a mission to collect new toys for distribution to underprivileged children for Christmas. The non-profit aims to inspire these children to become responsible, productive and patriotic citizens through these gifts.

Those who are interested in donating but do not live near a Fire and Rescue Station can visit the Quantico website for a list of more donation centers.

Photo by Ryan Fields/Unsplash

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Fairfax County Public Schools has decided to delay bringing more students back into in-person learning due to rising COVID-19 cases — a decision made after previously stating they would prepare to bring back 6,800 students on Nov. 17.

A Return To School Town Hall will be taking place on Thursday, Nov. 19 to discuss the decision and next steps. The town hall will take place virtually on the FCPS website from 6-7 p.m. Participants can submit questions to [email protected] or call in to 1-800-231-6359.

The Fairfax Education Association, alongside other Northern Virginia education associations, has urged Gov. Ralph Northam to fully return to virtual learning. The association also wrote a letter to FCPS on Nov. 12 demanding virtual learning. 

Gov. Northam, however, exempted educational settings from his new 25-person limit on social gatherings in his tightening of restrictions on Nov. 13. 

Do you believe trying to maintain the current hybrid learning is the right decision? Or do you believe FCPS should return to a virtual model? Was delaying the return of students the wrong call?

Photo via the FCPS website 

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Jeffery McKay, the Chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, was elected to serve as the 2021 President of the Virginia Association of Counties (VACo) yesterday. 

The statewide group advocates with the state’s legislature for the interests of the Commonwealth’s 95 counties, according to a press release from McKay. 

“I’m honored to serve as the next President of the Virginia Association of Counties. Throughout my many years with VACo, I have always considered us to be a large family,” said McKay in a speech delivered to members.

Chairman McKay had led efforts with VACo over the last several years to drastically increase state education funding, transportation funding and ensure the perspective of counties is heard statewide, according to the press release.

“I treasure the many relationships I have built with my colleagues throughout Virginia. VACo is a great way to bring us all together to advance our communities,” said McKay. 

This upcoming year, Chairman McKay wants to lead VACo with the same level of equity as that of Fairfax County. 

“As a kid riding my bike with friends, I didn’t realize what this meant, but I saw firsthand that where you come from was an important factor for your future success and livelihood. When I got older, I understood that this was wrong,” McKay said. 

“This was a driving force behind my decision to begin a career in local government and an inspiration behind the One Fairfax equity policy that I introduced in 2017. This policy has become central to all decision making in Fairfax County by requiring us to look at all policies.”

McKay started his tenure yesterday.

Photo via Jeff McKay/Facebook

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Tomorrow is Veteran’s Day, and the holiday means it’s time to take a look at which community sites will be open, and which will be closed. 

All Fairfax County government offices will be closed. Libraries and courts will be closed as well.

The Fairfax Connector will be operating on its Holiday Weekday Service, with several routes altered. 

Fairfax County Public Schools will hold an all-virtual, two hour early release day for all students. 

All parks will be closed with the exception of Frying Pam Park, which will be open from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m.

RECenters will be open, offering free service to all veterans for the day. Due to COVID-19, reservations will be required. 

Reston Community Centers will be open and operating under normal hours. However, the Fairfax County Neighborhood and Community Services community centers will be closed. 

Photo by Aaron Burden/Unsplash

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Voting is officially open for Chik-fil-A’s True Inspiration Award.  Cornerstones of Reston was chosen alongside five other finalists competing for up to $150K to help support local families. 

The finalists for this award, chosen in October, must provide community support in education, fighting hunger and diminishing homelessness, according to a statement from Chick-fil-A North Point Village. 

Cornerstones has served the Northern Virginia community for more than 50 years, and they primarily reach communities of color.  The non-profit was nominated by the North Point Village Chick-fil-A for their service to the community and action on the three pillars listed, according to the statement. 

“There is no better organization than Cornerstones, that we as a community-based restaurant (Chik-fil-A) should partner with,” said Larry Everett, the Operator of Chick-fil-A North Point Village. “I am honored to know that Cornerstones will possibly receive up to $150,000 to continue impacting the Northern Virginia Area.”

Voting can be completed through the Chick-fil-A app until Nov. 21. The Grand Prize winner will receive $150K, while three other winners will receive from $50K to $100K for the Northeast Region. 

Chick-fil-A also committed to give more than $5 million dollars this year to local organizations whose primary focus is on communities of color through education, hunger and homelessness, according to the statement. 

Photo via Chik-fil-A/Facebook

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In anticipation of the upcoming holiday season, Fairfax County Emergency Information released a list of guidelines with information on how to celebrate Thanksgiving safely.

The county emphasized it’s still vital to work to slow the spread of COVID-19. Despite the cold months and inevitable pandemic fatigue, community members can’t let their guards down now, health officials say.

The county’s seven-day average of cases is creeping up. On Nov. 2, the weekly case count was the highest since mid-June when an average of 137 cases was recorded on June 12. Now, that number has increased to nearly 134 weekly cases.

According to the guidelines, high-risk activities include:

  • Going shopping in crowded stores just before, on, or after Thanksgiving,
  • Participating in or spectating a crowded race.
  • Attending crowded parades.
  • Attending large indoor gatherings with people from outside your household.

Moderate-risk activities include:

  • Having a small outdoor dinner with family and friends in your community.
  • Visiting pumpkin patches or orchids where people use hand sanitizer before touching produce, wearing masks is encouraged or enforced and people can maintain social distancing.
  • Attending small outdoor sports events with safety precautions in place.

Lower risk activities include:

  • Having a small dinner with people who live in your household.
  • Having virtual dinner and sharing recipes with friends and family.
  • Preparing recipes for family and neighbors and delivering them in a way that doesn’t involve contact with others.
  • Shopping online the day after Thanksgiving, as opposed to in-person.
  • Watching sports events, parades, and movies from home.

The county also advises not participating in in-person activities if you or anyone in your household has or are showing symptoms of COVID-19. They advise following the CDC’s recommendations on holiday gatherings to further lower risk. Traveling increases the chance of getting and spreading COVID-19.

Photo via Unsplash

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The Reston Community Center is working with the Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce, Reston Association, and Cornerstones to expand its Annual Thanksgiving Food Drive this year.

The drive is introducing two “Stuff the RA Camp Van” events this month, according to a press release from the RCC, encouraging people to bring non-perishable food and other items to the RA Camp Van. The van will be open at these places and times:

  • Saturday, Nov. 7 from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. at the SunTrust Bank parking lot at South Lakes Village Center.
  • Saturday, Nov. 14 from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. next to the BB&T Bank at North Point Village Center.

The Annual Thanksgiving Drive as a whole will run through Nov. 23. There are collection boxes at RCC facilities, the Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce and other drop-off points, according to the release. People are encouraged to donate non-perishable food and gift cards, amongst other things. 

“The impact of COVID-19 has been profound, and the challenges faced by families struggling to meet their commitments during the pandemic are enormous,” said Leila Gordon, the RCC Executive Director. “We know that keeping our community strong and safe depends on the generosity of those who have the ability to give. We are very grateful for all the support people can offer.” 

Those looking to volunteer can sign up to be a Volunteer Loader on Nov. 24 or 25, or a Volunteer Food Sorter on Nov. 26 or 27. The events will be held with social distancing, mask-wearing, and smaller group sizes.

Photo via the RCC website

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More than 30 companies in the D.C. metro area are looking to hire women for open positions in STEM-based fields at a Women in Technology Virtual Career Fair tomorrow (Thursday). Some of the companies include Amazon, Capital One, and Hewlett Packard Enterprise.

The career fair is sponsored by the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority and Capital One as part of an ongoing series of virtual career fairs that the FCEDA has supported in response to the COVID-19 crisis, according to a press release from the FCEDA.

The first three virtual fairs in the series attracted more than 2,100 attendees, the release says.

“More girls and women need to be exposed to the high-paying jobs in the technology sectors that are a major part of the economy of Fairfax County,” Mason District Supervisor Penny Gross said.

Gross, who serves as vice chair of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, added that “efforts such as this career fair open up a wider talent pipeline for the companies that have so many job openings even during the pandemic.”

According to the release, only 26% of the jobs held by women in the workforce are computing-related jobs. The career fair on Nov. 5 will help connect technology professionals with top organizations in the D.C. metro area, seeking to help increase access to opportunity “in a field where women have been historically underrepresented.”

Participants will be able to browse companies through a virtual lobby, enter their booths, view open positions, engage in video conferencing, and talk with human resources representatives at the virtual fair.

“In Northern Virginia, we have more than 15,000 tech firms constantly hiring. In fact, tech job postings are growing more in Virginia than in California and New York,” FCEDA President and CEO Victor Hoskins said. “We are a region that not just embraces, but pioneers diversity: women are twice as likely to work in tech in Northern Virginia than in Silicon Valley.”

Participation in the career fair is free of charge. Employers interested in promoting their job openings can contact Mike Batt, the FCEDA Director of Talent Initiative Programs at [email protected] or visit the Employer Resources page.

Photo via the FCEDA/Instagram

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On Wednesday, Nov. 4, the Town of Herndon Architectural Review Board will be holding a virtual work session to discuss the signage of a new retail store called Herl’s Bath and Home Solutions.

Herl’s Bath and Home Solutions is a bathroom remodeling company with two locations throughout Maryland — one in Salisbury, and one in Columbia. The Herndon location will be coming soon. The business has been running since 1990, according to the company website. Reston Now did not hear back from them about an opening date. 

The store, looking to move to the Herndon Reston Industrial/Business Park (366 Victory Drive), proposed a sign with a font type and color that does not meet the standards required by the facility’s Master Sign Plan, according to a report released by the ARB. At the work session, the ARB will review their application.

The ARB will discuss the four motion alternatives: to deny the application, approve the application as submitted, approve the application with conditions, or continue the public hearing at another date, according to the report.  

After the work session, the Board can take action on the case at the Board Public Hearing on Nov. 16, according to Anne Curtis, the Chief Communications Officer for the Town of Herndon.

The work session will take place at Herndon Council Chambers Building (765 Lynn Street) tomorrow night at 7:30 p.m.

Photo via the Herndon ARB

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South Lakes High School’s annual Tag Day band fundraiser will officially be held virtually this year as a result of the pandemic. 

The fundraiser helps pay for musical instruction, instruments, student scholarships, uniforms and more, according to a press release from Melissa Gifford, the President of Band Boosters. Tag Day is the nonprofit’s largest SLHS fundraiser each year.

“Even though band classes are virtual right now, our staff and students are working hard on new music, and they can’t wait to play for the community!” said Gifford. 

The funds are currently being allocated to support students now and upon their eventual return to in-person learning. To support virtual learning, Band Boosters are looking to bring in additional help in the online classroom to increase the individual attention given to each student. 

Fundraising proceeds will also go towards purchasing new sheet music for smaller performing groups for an eventual return to in-person school, and to help purchase and repair instruments, according to Gifford. 

“Most people aren’t aware that many of our students use or even share school-owned instruments,” she said. “Obviously it’s important that we are able to provide a working instrument for every student at home, and sharing is now a thing of the past.”

The nonprofit has set up a crowdsourcing campaign, with information on the website about the band program and how proceeds are being used. Those interested in donating can donate online or by check payable to SLHS Band Boosters (South Lakes Band Boosters, PO Box 8561, Reston VA 20195-8561). 

“Each ear we are overwhelmed by the support of our community,” said Shannen Setlik, the Tag Day Coordinator. “We are especially grateful this year, during these difficult times.” 

Photo courtesy of Melissa Gifford

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As Election Day approaches, public facilities in Fairfax County are announcing what will be closed and what will remain open on the state holiday.

Since the county opted to give most employees the day off, most Fairfax County government facilities will be closed, including the government center. However, the Office of Elections will be open, and polls will be open from 6 a.m. until 7 p.m.

“The right to vote is a very important, very important part of our American process,” Fairfax County Executive Bryan Hill said on the “Connect with County Leaders” podcast. “The Board of Supervisors on the FYI 22 calendar added Election Day as a day off, so it made most sense on a presidential election cycle to also add it.”

“Once they added it on…the calendar year ’22, I spoke to the supervisors and asked them if they would like it also to be on November 3, 2020,” Hill added.

Students within Fairfax County Public Schools will have both Nov. 2 and Nov. 3 off of school, with today marking the end of the first quarter. Additionally, FCPS will be distributing double breakfast and lunch meals on Nov. 2 to cover both days off as a food resource for students, according to FCPS.

Virginia designated Election Day as a state holiday for the first time this year when the General Assembly passed legislation to substitute it for Lee-Jackson Day, which the Commonwealth had observed on the Friday preceding Martin Luther King Jr. Day in January since 1904.

“Voting is a fundamental right, and these new laws strengthen our democracy by making it easier to cast a ballot, not harder,” Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam said upon signing the bill into law. “No matter who you are or where you live in Virginia, your voice deserves to be heard.”

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