With Silver Line Phase 2 finally reaching substantial completion, the clock has started ticking on when the line will actually open to riders.
Late last week, Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) announced the completion of major construction on the long-delayed multi-billion dollar transportation project that will extend the Silver Line from Reston into Loudoun County with six new stations.
“This is a significant step toward completing the 11.5-mile extension that will provide rail service for residents in Reston, Herndon and eastern Loudoun County and give Metro riders direct access to Dulles Airport,” wrote Jack Potter, MWAA’s president and CEO, in last week’s press release.
However, the project has not been handed over to Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) just yet, an authority spokesperson confirmed to Reston Now.
“Metro looks forward to entering the next phase of the project, during which we will perform hundreds of tests to ensure the extension can be operated safely and reliably before the Board accepts ownership and sets an opening date,” they wrote. “Metro takes full ownership only after the operational readiness evaluation and pre-revenue activities are satisfactorily completed.”
While this is fully expected and doesn’t necessarily impact the timeline for the line’s opening to riders, there are several steps that still need to happen prior to the handover.
First, Metro’s set to conduct about 200 safety tests with any necessary repairs being made. At the same time, Metro’s safety oversight body – Washington Metrorail Safety Commission – will start the certification that the line is safe.
Additionally, the railyard needs to be completed before Metro takes over the project. It currently remains unfinished, both WMATA and MWAA spokespeople confirmed to Reston Now. Hensel Phelps is the contractor for that portion of the project.
When testing, repairs, certification, and the railyard all are done, the Metro Board will vote to take “provisional control” of the project. After that happens, WMATA will set a date to launch passenger service and will begin employee training, simulations, and emergency drills.
In total, this all should take about six months, meaning that a tentative date for opening could be May 2022.
“We’re not projecting an opening date. [It is] dependent on many factors, and the Board will ultimately make that determination,” wrote a WMATA spokesperson.
In the meantime, the public can expect to see more trains running on the line, according to MWAA, as there’ll be a significant increase in testing in the coming months.
While months remain before passengers can catch a ride to Herndon or Ashburn, substantial completion marks a significant milestone for the long-delayed project.
“This is a major step in bringing passenger rail service to Dulles Airport and beyond. And as our residents know well, rail to Dulles has been years in the making,” Hunter Mill District Supervisor (and alternate on the Metro Board) Walter Alcorn wrote in a statement to Reston Now. “The progress of this phase of the Silver Line is made possible by Dulles Toll Road users and landowners who funded most of the project and have waited patiently for this day. I look forward to all parties working together to initiate passenger service during the coming months.”
McKay appeared to reiterate his frustration in a statement to Reston Now.
“This is great news from WMATA this week. While the work was still incredibly behind and WMATA has a lot to do to rebuild trust with customers, I’m happy to see that significant [progress] has been made so we can fully open the Silver Line soon,” wrote McKay.
Initially, Silver Line Phase 2 construction was scheduled to be completed in 2018. But contractor issues, design changes, flawed materials, defective panels, and bad concrete all led to the years-long hold up which has tested the patience and viability of local businesses near the stations.
(Updated, Nov. 9) After years of delays, Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) has announced that it has reached substantial completion on Silver Line Phase 2.
The announcement came Thursday afternoon and nearly two weeks after the successful tie-in of the two lines at the Wiehle-Reston East Metro station
MWAA is preparing to hand over the $2.8 billion public transportation project to Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA). Metro currently owns the project and still has sole responsibility for the project until Metro assumes ownership.
WMATA has confirmed to Reston Now that the agency will still need about six months to complete testing and pre-revenue preparations before opening to riders. However, they are not yet setting an official opening date.
“Metro looks forward to entering the next phase of the project, during which we will perform hundreds of tests to ensure the extension can be operated safely and reliably before the Board accepts ownership and sets an opening date,” writes a WMATA spokesperson to Reston Now.
If that six month timeline does remain accurate, Silver Line Phase 2 should open to riders in May 2022.
From MWAA’s press release:
Silver Line Phase 2 Reaches Major Milestone
Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority officials announced Thursday they have declared substantial completion for work by Capital Rail Constructors (CRC) on Phase 2 of the Metrorail Silver Line extension project. The work by CRC, a joint venture led by Clark Construction Group and Kiewit, is a key component of the project to extend the region’s Metrorail public transit system to Dulles International Airport and beyond.
Substantial Completion means major construction is complete and allows operational readiness testing to begin, during which the contractor will demonstrate the project’s functionality, as a key step toward delivering the new rail line to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, which operates the Metrorail system.
“This is a significant step toward completing the 11.5-mile extension that will provide rail service for residents in Reston, Herndon and eastern Loudoun County and give Metro riders direct access to Dulles Airport,” said Jack Potter, president and CEO of the Airports Authority. “In addition to providing new public transportation options, the Silver Line is a major catalyst for jobs and economic development in the National Capital region.”
The project also includes a 90-acre rail maintenance yard at Dulles International Airport, being built by Hensel Phelps, which is also nearing completion under a separate contract.
Phase 1 of the Silver Line opened in 2014, extending Metrorail service from East Falls Church to the eastern edge of Reston and triggering major transformations in the Tysons Corner and Wiehle Avenue areas. Those same trends are beginning along Phase 2, with changes already underway along the Dulles Corridor in Reston, Herndon and Ashburn, and at Dulles International Airport. The Silver Line’s goal is to help ease traffic congestion by providing alternative routes and easier commuting times, access to regional entertainment, shopping and Dulles Airport.
In a statement, contractor Capital Rail Constructors calls this a “significant milestone.” Here’s more from Keith Couch, the company’s project director:
“After successful Phase 1 and Phase 2 tie-in testing at Wiehle Avenue, MWAA has approved substantial completion of the Package A Silver Line Phase 2 project. The project will now move into Operational Readiness Testing, which will be completed by MWAA and WMATA. This significant milestone is a testament to the hard work, dedication, and collaboration of the project team and stakeholders. The CRC team is proud to have been a part of this transformational piece of infrastructure for the region.”
(Updated, 3:50 p.m.) Work to tie-in Silver Line Phase 2 to Phase 1 was completed this past weekend, a Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) spokesperson tells Reston Now.
“The tie-in was a success and the Automatic Train Control System has been connected,” says spokesperson Marcia McAllister.
The work nessicated a shutdown of the Wiehle-Reston East Metro station.
One of the main goals was to finish the automatic train control system and it was completed, says McAllister. Additionally, signal infrastructure tests were done and those are still being reviewed.
There remains one or items that need to be finished, but those items can be completed without service outages, says McAllister.
However, MWAA is not committing to a date or specific timeframe for substantial completion and for when the $2.8 billion public transportation project could be handed over to Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA).
“We are now following procedures set forth in the contract so we can move forward with what needs to be done to keep this project moving forward,” wrote McAllister when asked about a specific timetable.
In September, WMATA scheduled a weekend shutdown of Wiehle-Reston East Metro station in order to allow MWAA and the contractor Capital Rail Contractors (CRC) to connect the first and second phase of the Silver Line as well as perform tests related to signal infrastructure.
This work was crucial to keeping the opening of Silver Line Phase 2 on track and originally was supposed to be finished in June, but that didn’t happen as expected and necessitated a second shutdown.
All of this comes at a particularly fraught time for Metro as service has been drastically reduced to at least mid-November due to ongoing investigations into 7000-series cars related to the Blue Line train derailment in Arlington earlier this month.
“The Airports Authority, WMATA and lead contractor Capital Rail Constructors worked together to make this a success,” reiterated McAllister.
Reston Now has reached to CRC about how the tie-in work this past weekend may impact their own assessment of a timeline for substantial completion, but have to yet to hear back as of publication.
Early last month, WMATA officials noted that it could be done and handed over to them in November.
However, there now seems to be some hedging on this timeline. At the Fairfax County Transportation Committee meeting at the end of September, it was announced that MWAA was “holding, at the moment, to the fourth quarter of 2021.”
A clearly-frustrated Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn responded at the meeting that it better be done prior to the Christmas holiday.
“Our next meeting of the transportation committee is December 14,” he said. “We better have substantial completion by then.”
A possible fake campaign sign spotted in Herndon saying “Keep Parents Out Of Classrooms” and “Vote McAuliffe” was not sanctioned or distributed by Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe’s campaign or the Democratic Party of Virginia.
The controversy arose this past weekend when Matt Lang, Republican challenger for the delegate seat in the 36th District, tweeted about the sign that uses a phrase that Republican candidate Glenn Youngkin has latched onto during the gubernatorial campaign.
This is how @TerryMcAuliffe and @VAHouseDems think of us as parents. They tell you to “shut up, sit down, and pay your taxes”. I say, NO! My child, my school, my voice! Let’s tell them to pound sand on November 2! Win with @GlennYoungkin and @vahousegop pic.twitter.com/iJLrgxAybW
— Matt Lang (@LangForVA) October 24, 2021
It appears the aim with the sign is reverse psychology, promoting that Democrats and McAuliffe want to “keep parents out of classrooms” while asking voters to “Keep Virginia Blue.”
The sign also does not include a federally-required disclaimer identifying who or what organization paid for them.
Reston Now has independently confirmed that, as of Monday night, the sign at Frying Pan Road and Burrough Farm Drive was still there.
However, both Democratic Party of Virginia and McAuliffe’s campaign have denied their involvement with the sign or others that have apparently been spotted in Northern Virginia.
“These signs are not ours. They were not sanctioned or distributed by Terry for Virginia or the Democratic Party of Virginia,” Manuel Bonder, a spokesperson for the Democratic Party of Virginia, wrote in a statement to Reston Now.
“This is not a sign distributed by us,” a spokesperson for the McAuliffe campaign told PolitiFact. “It’s not our sign.”
Lang told Reston Now that he also has spotted the same sign near Fox Mill Road and heard of other signs near McLean.
“I have no idea who put them up,” he said. “But they echo what [McAuliffe] has been saying at the debates and during the campaign.
At this point, it remains unclear who put the signs up as they’ve garnered some national attention.
Reston Now has reached out to the Youngkin campaign, but has yet to hear back as of publication. Reston Now has also reached out to the Virginia Department of Elections about if they could provide more information on the legality of such signs, but that information has yet to be provided.
With less than a week before the election for Virginia’s next governor, McAuliffe holds a very narrow lead in the polls over Youngkin.
David Taube contributed to this story
In July, Delaney’s remains were found in the Sugarland Run area concluding a 14-month long search for him.
He served in the Navy for over a decade and was a Vietnam War veteran, as his obituary notes. During Delaney’s service, he or his crew received a number of commendations and medals. He was honorably discharged as a Lt. Commander in 1980.
Internment at Arlington National Cemetery will occur at a later date, notes the obituary.
In 1978, he married Dyanna R. Park, whom he met while attending Bishop O’Connell High School in Arlington. They lived in Reston the rest of their lives where Delaney worked as a system analyst and for Fairfax County Public Schools.
He was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2016.
On May 9, 2020, Courtney Park-Jamborsky dropped off her stepfather at the emergency room at Reston Hospital Center. He had fallen earlier in the day and suffered only a minor cut, but Park-Jamborsky wanted to be cautious. She, however, couldn’t enter the emergency room due to COVID-19 protocols.
“I stood at the sliding emergency room door at the hospital, and he stood there with me,” she told Reston Now earlier this year. “I felt like I was letting a five-year-old walk through that door without someone helping him. But I had confidence that [Reston Hospital] knew what they were doing. I never thought in a million years that he would disappear.”
She never saw her stepfather again. Delaney was officially reported missing two days later, as surveillance video showed him walking out of the facility at 9 p.m. on May 10.
Searches using helicopters, K9s, and rescue teams commenced but police couldn’t locate Delaney.
14 months later, his remains were found only a few miles from Reston Hospital. It remains unknown exactly how or when he died.
“Skeletal remains were found on July 10 which led our Search and Rescue team to the area of Sugarland Run. During that search, officers found the remains of what was later determined to be Mr. Delaney, which was confirmed by the Medical Examiner,” a Fairfax County Police Department spokesperson wrote to Reston Now in an email.
“It is unknown what occurred during the time that Mr. Delaney was reported to be missing, but detectives believe that he likely passed in days following his disappearance. Detectives do not suspect foul play in his death and the investigation is closed.”
The obituary notes that Delaney died on July 10. That’s not the actual day of death, however, but rather the date remains were found.
“It is [Office of the Chief Medical Examiner] practice to use the date found as the date of death instead of determining the actual date of death,” confirms an OCME spokesperson to Reston Now.
Delaney loved helping people, according to the obituary. He gave blood often, was a fabulous chef and a history buff. He enjoyed double-feature movies, the Vienna Inn, crossword puzzles, and football.
“He was, above all, a kind and gentle soul,” reads the obituary.
In July, Park-Jamborsky remained hopeful that her step-father would be found alive.
“Every day, I wake up in the morning and think ‘will today be the day that I get the call … that Michael’s body has been found or maybe he’s been found living with a loving family or a widowed woman that wanted to take care of him,” Park-Jamborsky said at the time. “But then I think this isn’t the movies.”
Those wishing to honor Delaney’s memory are being asked to make a donation to the Alzheimer’s Association.
Butler, a long-time employee of RA, was formerly the chief operating officer nd actually was the acting CEO once before, prior to the hiring of Lynch in 2018.
All of this is to say that Butler understands RA and the challenges that come with running one of the largest community associations in the country.
It’s also a complicated time for RA, with the organization in the midst of budget season, possibly increasing assessments, cutting capital projects, and still dealing with the effects of the pandemic.
This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.
Reston Now (RN): Since you took over as acting CEO in early September, what’s been taking most of your time? What have been the challenges so far?
Larry Butler: What’s taking the most time is working through the budget process, which is always time consuming. The key part there is trying to get a [grasp] from the broader community on what the priorities are for the coming year. There’s obviously a lot of opinions on what those priorities should be and how we fund those priorities.
RN: And what have you heard from the community so far?
LB: Not as much as we would have liked. I would have thought we have had more people participating in the September board meeting. We’ve had listening and work sessions… and very, very few members are jumping on that.
We do a pretty good job of getting information out there. One person [told me] maybe that means people are okay with the job that RA is doing in the community. Maybe that leads to some apathy, at least regarding the budget.
RN: In terms of the budget, an assessment increase is being considered. Why is that and is there any way to avoid it?
LB: We are a staff-driven organization, a service organization. Whether that is our central service facility, taking care of all of our myriad facilities throughout the community, or our programing staff and intelligence, we are staff-driven. What I’ve put into the budget draft is a 3% merit pool increase because there was no merit increase in 2021. I feel strongly that’s a very important thing. It’s a very difficult job market right now.
Insurance costs are also going up, that’s something we must absolutely pay for. There’ll be three new positions as well. We’re going to be adding into the next budget draft a senior environmental position at the RA Board’s direction. We are currently operating without three of our senior leadership team. We don’t have a CEO, our IT director resigned, and October 20 is the last day for our director of Human Resources. There’s also inflation.
One of our considerations to help offset these costs and increasing assessments… is looking at our fiscal position in terms of the repair and replacement fund as well as some operating surplus going forward in 2022, as well as possibly 2023.
RN: If assessments do increase, how does that impact the affordability of living in Reston? There’s been some discussion about working with the Friends of Reston on providing help to those who can’t afford the assessments.
LB: We haven’t fully fleshed out how that could work yet. It’s a difficult situation because when one buys into or even rents in Reston, it’s contractual in nature. We don’t have the ability in our governing documents to afford relief. We’ll have more discussion about it, certainly with the Friends of Reston. The difficulty there too is that there’s limited funding there as well. We may be able to assist a handful of people, but not hundreds.
RN: There’s been a lot of talk about capital improvement projects, renovations, and possibly “repurposing” of pools. Where is the discussion currently at with that and how is a decision made on that?
LB: In terms of big projects, we are not in much different position than in years past. But, sure, none have been like Lake Thoreau Pool, which is much more complicated because it’s next to a lake… that will be the biggest capital project we’ve ever done in terms of cost.
In terms of smaller projects on pools and tennis courts, what we are finding now is that it makes more sense if you are going to go spend a [few] hundred thousands of dollars on a pool, that might be a time to rethink the shape. Or could it be something else? I think we’ve done a really good job of managing that and managing the expectations.
Anytime you bring up the notion of closing recreation facilities, whether it’s a pool or a tennis court, you get a lot of input. Those four pools [being considered for repurposing] have historically really low usage, but cost is the same to maintain and repair. We’ve heard a lot from those [communities] around those four pools. It’s really about starting a conversation about what’s possible.
In the end, if that conversation leads to we would like our pool exactly the way it is, so be it. That’s what we will program for and budget for. It was really just to get that conversation on the table.
RN: What’s the status update on the process of finding a new permanent CEO?
We are finalizing the contract with the search firm. Hopefully, that will be done [soon]. The search firm will be putting together a profile based upon input from the RA board… like what skill sets, traits, and experiences are wanted. Then, we will kick it off in earnest.
There’s not an established timeline, at least not until the board meets with the search firm. Typically, a search like this could take four to five months.
RN: Any last thoughts you’d like to share?
LB: We have public hearings on the budget coming up on October 13 and November 10. It would be great to have people come out and share their thoughts.
We know people are so busy and they get most engaged when something impacts them really close to their homes, like the pool discussion, but talking about the more nebulous things that don’t impact them exactly where they live, it’s harder for them to get excited about that.
FedWings opened the outpost last month, smoking and frying chicken wings out of Ted’s Bulletin kitchen at 11948 Market Street.
The wings were being served at their barbecue restaurant Federalist Pig (with locations in D.C. and Maryland) prior, but it became clear to the owners that there was a big appetite for this easy-to-eat-at-home, finger food.
“When the pandemic happened, a lot of people wanted more wings,” co-owner Nick Salis tells Reston Now. “And we were trying to figure out how to keep our kitchen staff employed and keep people working… so we launched this wings brand.”
Their first so-called “ghost kitchen” was out of Kramer’s Bookstore in D.C.(which they also own) and have since expanded to eight locations, including Reston as well as ones in Merrifield and Arlington.
Salis says what makes their wings unique is that they smoke them, quickly deep fry them, and, then, toss them in a proprietary rub.
“These wings are not the easiest wings to make,” he says. “We smoke them for an hour to an hour and a half, depending on the wood. Smoking is a little bit of an art.”
Since they started smoking and frying in mid-September, Reston’s FedWings has been doing crisp business, Salis notes.
While the pandemic continues to change and debilitate the restaurant industry, Salis says that the Ted Bulletin’s location at Reston Town Center has been hurting ever since Boston Properties infamously instituted paid parking back in 2016.
“There was a drop in sales of 30% overnight,” he says. “It was like your worst nightmare. It leaves a scar.”
Salis is hopeful though, since sales are climbing back, creeping closer to what it was when the restaurant opened there in 2014.
The hope is that FedWings will help continue that trend. The response has been “awesome” so far and the company is evaluating what the next steps could be, whether that means opening more ghost kitchens or establishing dedicated brick and mortars for FedWings.
“As of right now,” Salis says, “We’re just enjoying serving these wings to the community of Reston.”
Tech company Cloudpermit has set up its North American headquarters in Reston.
The Finland-based electronic permitting company that works with local governments to simplify their building permit process has set up shop at 11911 Freedom Drive in Reston Town Center.
“[Reston] is a very good atmosphere for high tech companies,” Cloudpermit’s Chief Executive Officer Jan Pawli tells Reston Now. He also cited Reston’s location near D.C, Arlington, and points west as a huge selling point for the move here. “There’s easy access to a lot of modern facilities.”
In the press release, he also notes that “Virginia has the highest concentration of tech talent in the U.S. and thousands of tech companies have made Fairfax County home.”
Cloudpermit takes the often-complicated building permit process and digitizes it, putting all the paperwork, payment, and scheduling of inspections online. They currently count nearly 500 local governments across Europe and North America as clients, according to the release.
“Earlier, it could take six months to get a building permit because you need to shake so many hands,” says Pawli. “Today, you can do it overnight.”
Pawli notes that the company made the decision to relocate here without first visiting. This was due, in large part, to Virginia Governor Ralph Northam and a delegation meeting with them in Germany this past spring. T
his went a long way, he says, in convincing them to move to the Commonwealth since it provided a personal connection, good discussion, and a shared frustration in how long the building permit process can take.
While only about twenty employees will be working out of their Reston office by the end of year, the impact of the move goes beyond the number of employees.
“A company like Cloudpermit has many options for a North American base,” wrote Victor Hoskins, president and CEO of the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority, in the press release. “Choosing Fairfax County is an important vote of confidence in our business climate, our assets for company success and the kind of talent it can find here – whether the company is from the U.S. or another country.”
In a follow-up statement to Reston Now, Hoskins added that “the company’s decision to expand its European-based operations here during the ongoing pandemic reflects well not only on the optimism for the post-COVID return to working at offices, but also for the robust business climate in Fairfax County and Northern Virginia.”
The company also has offices in Helsinki, Vancouver, Toronto, San Diego, and Chicago.
Cloudpermit isn’t the only tech company in recent months to move to Reston. Government defense and intelligence contractor CACI debuted their new international headquarters across the street from the (hopefully) soon-to-be-opened Reston Town Center Metro station in June.
Pawli only moved to Northern Virginia in mid-August, but is already enjoying himself. He says, compared to Finland, the weather is much milder and has found the people here very friendly so far.
“I think we made a very good decision on this,” Pawli says on moving Cloudpermit to Reston. “We’re very happy to be here.”
As Silver Line Phase 2 slowly pulls into the station of completion, local officials are expressing their frustration at constant delays and missed deadlines.
In a brief update at yesterday’s (Sept. 28) Fairfax County Transportation Committee meeting, it was reiterated that Silver Line Phase 2 is expected to be substantially completed by the end of the year.
“In our discussions with [Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority], they are holding, at the moment, to the fourth quarter of 2021,” said Martha Elena Coello, special projects division chief for the Fairfax County Department of Transportation.
There are currently only two unresolved issues, according to a slideshow presented at the meeting, both of which are at the railyard and do not need to be resolved for substantial completion.
Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn said he was hopeful that meant MWAA would be handing over the project to Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority [WMATA] in late October, after the planned outage at Wiehle-East Reston Metro Station to tie-in the two lines. That work was supposed to be completed in June.
Alcorn and others at the meeting showed their frustration at how Silver Line Phase 2 has been besieged by constant delays.
“This is four years overdue from the original date,” said Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay. “To not express some frustration here… would be a mistake. I think all of us are very frustrated.”
Alcorn also was noticeably exasperated at the pace of the project.
“Our next meeting of the transportation committee is December 14. We better have substantial completion by then,” he said.
In response, MWAA acknowledges the disappointment that many have about the delays.
“We understand the frustrations of everybody, elected officials and public alike,” MWAA spokesperson Marcia McAllister told Reston Now. “Our goal is to proceed with the [October] outage, evaluate the work that is done that weekend, and make decisions as soon as possible.”
McAllister also reiterated that MWAA is “holding on to fourth quarter 2021” as a timeline for substantial completion.
While MWAA said it would be completed by the end of the year, CRC said spring 2022.
But now, CRC seems to be backing off their timeline, noting that increased collaboration with the authorities have quickened the pace.
“We are working together with MWAA and WMATA on coordinating and finalizing testing to target substantial completion of the Silver Line Phase 2A in Q4,” CRC project executive Keith Couch wrote in a statement to Reston Now.
Even if Silver Line Phase 2 is substantially completed by late October, as noted in the presentation provided to the committee, WMATA will still need approximately six months to complete testing, pre-revenue preparations, and to open the system to riders.
That could mean an opening date of April or May 2022.
The $2.8 billion public transportation project will include six new stations, extending Metro from Reston to Loudoun County.
It remains a potential game changer for the region, though many with financial investment connected to the project have grown understandably impatient.
“A lot of folks have contributed substianal money to making this happen,” said McKay at the transportation committee meeting. “And they are sitting here, waiting for service.”
When Herndon resident John Gluck heard that he had gotten the part on NBC’s new drama “Ordinary Joe,” he freaked out.
The local-student-turned-television-star had never auditioned for a role like this, but he had always been a singer, a piano player, and a movie-lover. So, when NBC put out a casting call in early 2020 looking for a young actor with muscular dystrophy, then-11-year-old Gluck knew he had to go for it.
“The [casting call] is perfect for me and I’m probably not going to get another opportunity like this,” now 13-year-old Gluck tells Reston Now, reminiscing about the moment that changed his life. “Well, I guess I’ll give it a shot.”
He sent an audition tape and got a call a few weeks later to do another audition via Zoom with producers, writers, and potential co-stars. Two days later, he was told he was officially casted on the NBC show.
“[The producers] really liked my energy, enthusiasm, and passion,” says Gluck, from Atlanta, Georgia, where he’s in the midst of production on the show. “I am very energetic.”
After a long COVID-related delay, “Ordinary Joe” finally premiered to big ratings last week on NBC and will have new episodes on Monday nights at 10 p.m. for at least the remainder of the year.
Gluck plays “Christopher,” a co-starring role though to reveal the specifics of the character would be a bit of a spoiler.
“It was very surreal to see my name in the credits [last week].” he says. “I screamed. I’ve been waiting like two years to actually see that. So, the fact that [the show] is out there for the world to see is really awesome.”
Gluck was in second grade, at Crossfield Elementary School, when he caught the acting bug, making short films that “really helped me come out of my shell.”
He started taking classes at Lopez Studios, a 25-year-old performing arts school in Reston.
“John is great talent, great voice, overall personality, and has been in several of our mainstage performances,” Victor Lopez, the owner and founder of the school, tells Reston Now. “John is a model student, does his homework, and now we are seeing it pay off.”
Gluck is a lifelong musician, singing and playing the piano. Performing is nothing new for him, but auditioning for an acting role was.
“My acting coach had to explain how to do an [acting] audition. I didn’t know all of the vocabulary,” Gluck says.
However, in another stroke of destiny, he saw the sides (portion of script used for auditions) and it included belting out “New York State of Mind” by Billy Joel. He sang a rendition of the song for his audition and the producers were very impressed.
“They told me the second they heard that, they thought ‘Oh my goodness, we need to keep him,'” he says. “Now, I’m singing in every other episode, which is incredible.”
Over the summer, he drove with his family from his Herndon home to Atlanta, where he’ll be staying until December as the show wraps up production. While he’s living his dream, he admittingly misses home and knows this wasn’t an opportunity he could ever pass up.
Gluck has muscular dystrophy and understands that this is a special chance to be a role model.
“There’s not a ton of representation for muscular dystrophy on screen. The few movies and shows that I’ve seen where they do have a character with muscular dystrophy, they aren’t actually played by somebody with muscular dystrophy,” Gluck says. “I know I’m representing lots of people that are just like me and they’re going to see someone like themselves on TV.”
As a newbie to television acting, he was surprised about a few things on set. For one, how many camera angles and takes they do for every single scene. Also, there are television monitors everywhere, showing producers and actors scenes as they will look to the viewer at home. For Gluck, it kinda feels like getting sucked into the television.
“There’s a lot of monitors everywhere and I’m watching what’s going on… like I’m watching on TV,” he says. “Then, I literally roll right into the scene, which is a very crazy feeling.”
Gluck explains his acting style as one that fully understands the context of the scene, realizing that what’s written in the script isn’t always the only things that need to be communicated.
“If a character is asking a question, I’ve got to realize what they are actually saying? They are not just asking this one question, I have to know what they are truly meaning to say. This has to come not just through my words, but the way I act.”
All of this is truly impressive for any actor, much less one who’s 13 and new to the business. But Gluck certainly has the “it” factor, that special something that makes it clear someone is a star. He hasn’t thought specifically about what’s coming next for him, other than he wants to continue to work in the television business, perhaps behind the cameras as well.
For young actors like him, who are thinking of auditioning for a role that they may think is out of their reach, Gluck’s advice is simple.
“Go for it. It never hurts to try,” he says. “[If you don’t], you could be missing out on something really big. With your acting, just leave it all out there. Give it all you got.”
“I’ve already raised more than that in September alone,” Lang tells Reston Now. “Voters are paying attention and like what they see.”
However, due to Plum’s fundraising efforts earlier in the year, the incumbent far exceeds the challenger in regards to both overall cash raised and ending balances.
Plum has raised about $140,500 during this election cycle, while Lang is about a quarter of that at about $33,400. In terms of ending balances, Plum currently has about $73,000 in his coffers while Lang has about $13,600.
Plum’s highest fundraising months were in April and May while he was in a midst of primary challenge against Mary Barthelson, raising more than $50,000 in those two months alone. He won that race easily with about 77% of the vote.
Digging a bit deeper reveals that Lang’s funds since the beginning of the year have come from a mix of individual contributors and Republican-backed political action committees.
The PACs that have given money to Lang include the 11th Congressional District of VA Republican Committee, Virginia Wins (buoyed by a million dollar donation from Virginia gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin), and New Mission Commonwealth, which donates to Republican candidates who are veterans.
This a bit of a contrast to Plum, who mainly has gotten money from assorted companies, corporations, and labor unions as well as individual contributors and political actions committees.
The companies and corporations that have donated to Plum include several that are higher profile. This includes Westrock, America’s second-largest packaging company, waste management company Covanta Energy, Anthem Blue Cross And Blue Shield, and Total Wine & More (owned by Maryland Congressman and Democrat David Trone).
All of these companies have a presence in Virginia.
Additionally, Plum also received money this election cycle from Amazon, which is building a headquarters in nearby Arlington, and a cannabis company called Golden Piedmont Labs from South Boston, Virginia. In April, the General Assembly voted to legalize marijuana possession in Virginia and now are looking to speed up the ability to sell it for recreational purposes.
When asked about these contributions, Plum tells Reston Now that sometimes companies and corporations give without him knowing. But he would never let it factor into his decision-making process.
Additionally in July and August, Plum used a chunk of his considerable campaign chest to donate to other Democrats running in Virginia, including Irene Shin, who is running for the delegate seat in the nearby 86th District, and Wendy Gooditis vying for re-election in the 10th District. He also contributed money to Schuyler VanValkenburg’s campaign in the 72nd District and Chris Hurst’s in the 12th District.
“I can’t signalulary get the job done in Richmond,” he says about why he uses his campaign funds to help other candidates. “We need others who are progressive Democrats and share my values to get things done… it’s certainly worked recently.”
Plum says he plans on sending out more checks in the coming weeks to help other candidates.
Lang’s expenses in July and August were majority for consulting services, advertising, and fundraising event-related items.
The reports that were just filed this past week covered campaign financial information from July and August. The last report for this cycle will cover September and October items and will likely be released after the November election.
Early voting started this past Friday (September 17) and will continue to election day, November 2.
Despite a few days’ delay, Red Velvet Bakery and Little Beast Bistro are now set to open at Reston Town Center West on Saturday (September 18).
Initially planning to open earlier this week, owner Aaron Gordon tells Reston Now they “weren’t quite ready” but doors will open at Red Velvet at 10 a.m. on Saturday.
The first 200 people at the bakery will receive a free cupcake, Gordon says.
Little Beast Bistro will also officially open that day at 4 p.m..
The restaurant and bistro first announced it’s new 12100 Sunset Hills Road location back in May.
Gordon previously ran the popular Red Velvet Cupcakery at Reston Town Center. However, that bakery closed more than three years ago largely due to the implementation of paid parking at Reston Town Center.
“We’re extremely excited to be back in Reston after three years away!” he wrote in an email to Reston Now last month. “Red Velvet Bakery is coming back to Reston much stronger.”
The menu at Red Velvet includes a “full array of favorite cupcakes” as well as croissants, cross-cinnamon rolls, butterkuchen, and other pastries. It will be carry-out only, but offer some seating outside.
Little Beast Bistro serves sandwiches, pizza, and Detroit-style pizzas. It has a dining room with about 100 seats, plus 20 seats outside as well as carry-out options.
Photos courtesy of Aaron Gordon Food Group
With early voting starting later this week, incumbent Ken Plum is facing off against his first Republican challenger, Matt Lang, in a decade for the delegate seat in the 36th District.
“A fresh set of eyes…and a different set of experiences,” Lang tells Reston Now about what he would bring if elected as the representative for the 36th District, which encompasses Reston to Leesburg Pike in Great Falls to Flint Hill Road in Vienna.
He also noted that he “wasn’t exactly comfortable” with much of the legislation being passed by the General Assembly recently.
“We’ve had a lot of people who have been in the same position for a long time… and I figured, ‘why not?,” he says about why he was challenging the long-time incumbent. “Someone needs to stand up.”
Lang announced his candidacy back in January, making him the first Republican to vie for the seat since Hugh Cannon in 2011. Cannon earned only about 36% of the vote and was easily defeated by Plum.
Plum says he believes he’s being challenged this year, both during the primary and the general election, because there’s a perception that he might be retiring soon.
“My suspicion is that there’s a thought in people’s minds that one of these days, I’m actually going to hang it up,” Plum tells Reston Now. “But I will tell you, I have no such plans currently.”
79-year-old Plum (he turns 80 the day after the election) has served as House Delegate for the 36th District since 1982. He’s the longest-serving member in the Virginia House of Delegates. In June, he handily defeated a primary challenge with more than 77% of the vote.
Plum reiterates that he’s not a status quo candidate, but someone that’s made a career vouching for change.
“I think people who review my record realize that I’m a change agent,” he says.
As examples, he cites his work and chairing committees that are pushing to clean up the Chesapeake Bay, reduce greenhouse emissions in the state, requiring universal background check for gun purchases, expanding voting rights, and abolishing the death penalty.
Plum also notes that while the Virginia Clean Economy Act was a huge step forward when signed into law in April 2020, amendments are already needed to broaden energy efficient programs and hasten the move to electric transportation.
If elected, that will be a major priority of his, he says.
“We’ve seen the most progressive legislation ever in Virginia’s history,” Plum says. “Passing laws that are most beneficial to all citizens.”
Lang says he felt compelled to run during the General Assembly’s 2020 special session, when he says a number of bills were passed “haphazardly and rushed,” particularly around law enforcement.
He is former law enforcement himself; he’s a Marine Corps veteran, once worked in the Fairfax County sheriff’s office, and now a security consultant.
“I looked at a lot of the people who work in the [House of Delegates] and realized a lot of these people are making decisions on things they don’t have a lot of experience in,” says Lang. “And I just don’t agree with that.”
He particularly noted the Senate Bill 5032, which eliminates a minimum term of confinement for those charged with simple assault on a law enforcement officer (as well as judges, others). However, that bill more or less died in the House.
Lang believes that lawmakers are not taking input from those who “are doing the job every day” and are losing the support of police officers due to that. This includes Plum, he says, who is on the Public Safety Committee.
“[Officers] are upset with the fact that they are not able to do their jobs the way they used to be,” he says about his conversations with law enforcement officers. “It’s not because they don’t want to do the job, it’s the fear that extreme oversight infers in the performance of their work.”
Both candidates understand that schools are going to be on top of voters’ minds this election, no matter if they vote on Friday or November 2.
Earlier this year, both chambers of the Virginia General Assembly passed a law that mandated in-person schooling for the upcoming school year. However, Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) have had a host of challenges since school started a few weeks ago. Now, virtual options are seemingly back on the table.
“Our first priority is to keep schools open for [in-person] learning,” says Plum. “But we need to follow the medical experts about how you do that.” He admits that could mean returning to virtual for a period of time.
Lang, whose own children attend FCPS, says it’s been “a quilt work of policies” and believes it’s important for children to remain in-person at school. He doesn’t think FCPS should be going back to a virtual option.
He’s also not in favor of vaccine mandates, like the one instituted late last month for all FCPS student-athletes. He is vaccinated himself, though, and encourages all to get it if they want to.
“I don’t think that it’s fair to force people to get the vaccine,” he says. “There are a myriad of reasons, [could be] a personal choice, could be health-related, could be religious exemptions, you name it.”
When asked why voters should check his name at the ballot box, Plum says because he brings experience, know-how, and understanding to the table.
“I am a known quantity and have been around a long time,” he says. “I believe the values I possess are the values of this district.”
He also noted that he supports Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe for governor.
Lang supports the Republican candidate Glenn Youngkin, but says he’d reach across the aisle if elected.
“Politicians used to work across the aisle routinely, but in the past, 15, 20 years, it’s become less and less common,” he says.”And that’s a shame.”
He insists that he will always make himself available, listen to everybody, and consider their positions.
“It’s like your family. If you have a large family, you’re not going to get along with everybody,” Lang says. “You have to come to some kind of compromise… otherwise, your family holidays are going to be chaos.”
Early voting starts in Virginia this Friday, September 17, and will continue until election day November 2.
Monday, September 13
- An International Murals Festival (varies) – D.C. Walls is an international mural festival highlighting public wall art across the city and region. Take a self-guided tour and celebrate the murals that make up the city.
Tuesday, September 14
- Fermenting Hot Sauce (6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.) – Head over to maker space NoVa Labs in Reston for a lesson on fermenting your very own hot sauce. The class will teach you about fermenting techniques, styles from across the world, and different types of chilis. You’ll also get a chance to blend your own very small batch sauce.
Wednesday, September 15
- Country & Western Line Dancing Lesson (6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.) – Swing your partner round and round at Frying Pan Farm Park. Learn a variety of country and western line dances with the help of the Fairfax County Park Authority. All – singles, partners, and families – are welcome.
Thursday, September 16
- By the Seashore (10:30 a.m.) – Take a magical journey to the beach in this sensory-filled production at Plenty Amphitheater at Lee District Park in Alexandria. Best for children up to three years old, the show is at an outdoor amphitheater, and runs 20 minutes.
Friday, September 17
- “Can I Kick It?” Featuring Black Panther (7:30 p.m.) – Gerald Watson and DJ 2-Tone Jones take the 2018 Marvel hit Black Panther to the next level by adding a fresh, new soundtrack alluding to martial arts films of lore. Taking place on the Mason Pond Lawn at George Mason University, the event is open to the public.
Saturday, September 18
- Alexandria Old Town Art Festival (10 a.m. to 5 p.m.) – The 19th annual art festival will take place at John Carlyle Square this year. It’s free admission, there’ll be dozens of vendors, and the festival is consistently recognized as one of the top in the area.
- Buckets N Boards Comedy (5 p.m.) – Take the family to this high energy musical comedy show featuring tap dancing, percussion, and buckets. It will take place in McLean Central Park and run about 90 minutes long.
- Rosslyn Jazz Fest (1 p.m. to 5 p.m.) – One of Arlington’s premier music festivals is back this year with local acts, food, fun and music. Taking place in Gateway Park this year, the 2021 version is a culmination of a series of events in Arlington celebrating jazz. Though the festival is free, registration is strongly encouraged.
Sunday, September 19
- Korus Festival (10 a.m. to 5 p.m.) – This celebration of Korean-American culture, music, food, and dance is back and is now set to take place in the Bloomingdale’s parking lot in Tysons Corner Center.
- Mutts Gone Nuts (7:00 p.m.) – Dogs make for great comedy. Head on over to the Reston Community Center for a dog and comedy show full of tricks, jokes, and barks. As the listing says, the show will leave you “howling” for more.
Approximately seven miles of the Dulles International Airport Access Highway going westbound will be closed this weekend (Sept. 11 and 12) for maintenance work on pedestrian bridges.
Starting just east of Reston at mile marker 8.3, traffic will be diverted to the left lane of the Dulles Toll Road. Drivers will be able to enter the airport access road again at mile marker 1.7, near the Route 28 toll plaza and right past the soon-to-be-opened Innovation Center Station.
Ramps at mile marker 9 and 3.3 for the westbound portion of the airport access highway will also be closed.
The closures will run from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day.
All work is weather-dependent, though weather does not appear it will be a factor this weekend.
This work is being done by contractor Capital Rail Constructors as part of its preparations for the opening of Silver Line Phase 2, a Metropolitan Washington Airport Authority official says.
A weekend was chosen to conduct the maintenance work in the hopes of minimizing the closure’s impact on traffic, the MWAA official notes.
Photo via MWAA