Hunter Mill District Supervisor Election: Meet Laurie Dodd

Five Democrats are running for the seat of Hunter Mill District Supervisor after Cathy Hudgins, the current supervisor, announced plans to retire earlier this year. This week, Reston Now will publish candidate statements for each of the candidates.

Statements, which are in question-and-answer format, are published in the order in which they are received. With the exception of minor formatting edits, profiles are published in unedited form. Each candidate had the opportunity to answer the same questions in their own words. 

What inspired you to run for this seat? 

As a 23-year resident who has raised 2 children through our public schools, I know that Reston is a unique, inclusive community which has so much to offer. But Reston is at risk from poorly managed development that has threatened to take our open spaces and harm our quality of life. For years, I have been active with community groups who want to protect our planned community. That concern merged with my passion for the environment, and I decided that nothing I could do would have a greater impact than helping manage development in Fairfax County. As supervisor, I will foster smart growth and transit-oriented development while protecting our green spaces. And I will take action to reduce our carbon footprint and fight climate change.

My work as a child advocate attorney also inspired my candidacy. In that role, I have helped ensure that our most vulnerable children get the quality education they need in our public schools, along with mental health care. Both of these vital services provided through our county must be supported and improved.

What are the three biggest concerns you have for Reston? What do you plan to do address them? 

My top concern is uncontrolled development. We see this problem in the continuing battle to protect our open spaces (including two 18-hole golf courses) and the fight to avoid raising the density cap in our planned community. As supervisor, I would not approve more residential development without asking whether we have the schools, roads, parks, and public safety to serve them. We need transit-oriented development and expansion of affordable housing opportunities.  I will not give up one more inch of the district to unplanned growth.

Fairfax County should take the lead in addressing environmental issues through a public/private partnership, engaging the best minds of our region to find innovative solutions. We must move forward with a community-wide energy and climate action plan. Replacing our streetlights with efficient LED lighting is a good start that must be followed by bold action, including a focus on improving our transit system. Transit options must be expanded and buses upgraded to appeal to riders, reducing our reliance on cars.

Education is my third concern. We must fund universal pre-K. Teachers and other staff need pay raises, while class sizes are reduced. We must establish equity throughout the county by improving our lower-performing schools. When our county has more than 800 trailer classrooms, saying that our school system is “fully funded” rings hollow. We must accelerate our capital investment to eliminate trailer classrooms rapidly. I will work with the school board to ensure that we provide a world-class education to our children and future leaders.

How can the county improve how it manages growth and development in this growing community, especially as it relates to infrastructure needs, transportation, and affordable housing? 

Fairfax County residents thrive when growth is managed. The Reston area continues to benefit from the vison of Robert Simon, who believed that high-density housing combined with open space for recreational activities could create a lively and varied community. This philosophy merges easily with today’s transit-oriented development, which emphasizes compact walkable design focused on transit centers and allows decreasing dependence on cars. With expansion of the Silver Line, transit-oriented development should move forward in Fairfax County, while open spaces like golf courses and parks are protected. Bus service should be upgraded to be more convenient and appealing, allowing easy mobility from transit centers to retail and residential sites. Because elected officials should be able to make decisions about development without any possible conflict of interest, I have chosen not to accept any campaign funds from developers.

Affordable housing is a growing need in our area. The county should devote an additional penny on the real estate tax rate to create housing where our teachers, service workers, and young families can afford to live. As Supervisor, I will focus on protecting and increasing affordable housing in all parts of the county — not only in dense areas but also allowing duplex or triplex homes in lower density areas of the county. Affordable housing could be put into underused office buildings, if amenities like shopping and schools are nearby, or co-located in county projects that serve other purposes, like the Residences at the Government Center. Creative solutions must be explored.

What do you hope to accomplish in this position? 

Fairfax County should continue to be one of the best places to live in this country, with diverse neighborhoods, quality schools, and housing options for all. We should become leaders environmentally, bringing together the best minds of our high-tech region to solve energy issues and driving to zero carbon emissions by 2050. Our community-wide climate and energy action plan can become a model for others to emulate. Our transit system should evolve to decrease the amount of time and energy we spend getting from here to there. And all residents should share in a high quality of life that is sustaining and sustainable, with the equity and justice we all deserve. I believe I can lead Hunter Mill District towards this goal.

I am the only candidate in this race who has the breadth of experience in our district, who does not take a dime from corporations or developers — no matter where they have projects, who has advocacy skills to speak up for our residents, and who is beholden to no one but the citizens of Hunter Mill District. This is the leadership we need, now and for the future of Hunter Mill. I hope you agree.

Photo via Laurie Dodd

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Hunter Mill District Supervisor Election: Meet Walter Alcorn

Five Democrats are running for the seat of Hunter Mill District Supervisor after Cathy Hudgins, the current supervisor, announced plans to retire earlier this year. This week, Reston Now will publish candidate statements for each of the candidates.

Statements, which are in question-and-answer format, are published in the order in which they are received. With the exception of minor formatting edits, profiles are published in unedited form. Each candidate had the opportunity to answer the same questions in their own words. Stay tuned for a stand-alone article on the candidates’ positions on the recent sale of Reston National Golf Course.

What inspired you to run for this seat?

The Reston land use battles inspired me to run. As Reston grows around our new transit stations we must make sure infrastructure keeps pace, our green spaces are protected, and that we build on our tradition as the first open community in Virginia. New development must be managed to protect our residential neighborhoods, facilitate mobility, and provide housing and economic opportunities for all. Growth should not clog our roads nor price-out residents.

I am also running to improve the process for citizen engagement to ensure that communities are fully empowered in the planning and development review processes.

What are the three biggest concerns you have for Reston? What do you plan to do to address them?

My three biggest concerns for Reston are 1) plans for village center redevelopment, 2) balancing Reston’s population growth and infrastructure, and 3) preserving and increasing affordable housing. All three of these are guided in the adopted comprehensive plan.

And we need to update the comprehensive plan in 2020:

  1. Reston Village Center Redevelopment. Instead of the high-rises currently allowed in the adopted comprehensive plan, village centers such as South Lakes, Hunters Woods and North Point should undergo a rigorous community engagement process that reflects the needs and desires of the community before any density is assumed or development plans approved.

  2. Reston’s population growth. Should Reston’s population in 30 years be 90,000 — or in 40 years be 120,000, as suggested previously by the Coalition for a Planned Reston? This number should come from a community-wide discussion and a plan for balancing development and infrastructure. The result should be reflected in the comprehensive plan.

  3. Inclusivity and affordable housing. New county plan language on retaining existing affordable housing is sorely needed. The best approach may not always be redevelopment at three-to-four times current densities. Our kids growing up here should be able to afford to live here in the future.

How can the county improve how it manages growth and development in this growing community, especially as it relates to infrastructure needs, transportation, and affordable housing?

First, modify the comprehensive plan for Reston as suggested above.

Second, empower communities to chart their own future. For example, concerning efforts to redevelop Reston’s golf courses into other uses, the adopted comprehensive plan specifies their use as golf courses. As Hunter Mill Supervisor I would strengthen the role of affected residents by not initiating any possible change to the comprehensive plan until communities surrounding the courses so requested (i.e., residents in affected clusters — not developer-owned properties). Even then there must be support from the broader community (e.g., golfers, users of the trails through the course). Absent such support the golf courses should remain golf courses.

Third, we should accelerate critical infrastructure improvements to failing intersections, make or improve inadequate bicycle and pedestrian connections to transit and to workplaces.

These changes should be done through the One Fairfax lens which recognizes diversity as a core strength of Fairfax County. We should be inspired by and seek to carry forward the vision of Reston founder Robert E. Simon Jr. who created the first open community in Virginia — a place where people of all races could live together. Today we face new challenges to ensure inclusion and equity on many levels, including race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, income, ability, or where someone lives or has lived.

What do you hope to accomplish in this position?

  1. Clean up the Reston Phase 2 Comprehensive Plan (see above).

  2. Implement the affordable housing land use reforms developed by a work group I chaired in 2017 to get thousands of new affordable units across Fairfax County. This includes policies to allow old office parks and commercial centers to convert to mixed income communities but only with significantly higher affordable housing commitments — closer to 30 percent than the current 10 percent.

  3. Develop a Fairfax County Energy and Climate Action Plan for both county operations — 3 percent of the local problem — and its residents and businesses which generate 97 percent of Fairfax County greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The plan should incorporate the following:

  1. Affordable Living/Housing Strategy. Focus benefits of this plan (e.g., lower energy bills) on communities that would benefit the most as an extension of the county’s affordable housing initiatives.

  2. Sustainable Mobility. Prioritize low-carbon transportation options and related strategies around transit, walking, biking, telecommuting, electric vehicles, and emerging mobility options that reduce GHG emissions.

  3. Incorporate Renewable Energy Strategies into Facility Renovations and New Construction Projects. Plan and budget for the implementation of solar, wind and other renewable energy generation into the County’s Capital Improvement Program.

  1. End monopolistic ownership of the core of Reston Town Center by including updated language in the Reston Comprehensive Plan. When a single landowner controls the accessible parking garages, storefronts and streets with no public ownership nor public spaces the broader community suffers from unnecessary parking fees and other arbitrary decisions.

Photo via Walter Alcorn

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Hunter Mill District Supervisor Election: Meet Parker Messick

Five Democrats are running for the seat of Hunter Mill District Supervisor after Cathy Hudgins, the current supervisor, announced plans to retire earlier this year. This week, Reston Now will publish candidate statements for each of the candidates.

Statements, which are in question-and-answer format, are published in the order in which they are received. With the exception of minor formatting edits, profiles are published in unedited form. Each candidate had the opportunity to answer the same questions in their own words. Stay tuned for a stand-alone article on the candidates’ positions on the recent sale of Reston National Golf Course.

What inspired you to run for this seat? 

I decided to run for the Hunter Mill Supervisor’s position because I feel that the wishes of the community have too often been ignored, and that the developers have been allowed to gain too much power. I believe it is imperative that our local supervisor reflect the wishes of the people of Hunter Mill, and stand up to those who go against the people’s wishes. The developers have been the largest aggressors against what the people of Hunter Mill have wanted in my opinion.

In Reston we have seen a massive proliferation of high rises that much of the community has been against. This is on top of the fact that many more have already been approved, and have not broken ground. There will be little the new supervisor can do to stop those that have already been approved meaning the situation is already worse than it may currently appear. I want to make sure that going forwarded that any new development passes two litmus tests.

Does it have the approval of the community, and will it be truly beneficial? If not the developers should not have their way, and I would stand up to them to protect our great community. The issue of the paid parking in the Reston Town Center is another example of the developers excessive power with Boston Properties having created a significant problem at the center of community. I am running because I want this to end and the will of the people be implemented.

What are the three biggest concerns you have for Reston? What do you plan to do address them? 

My three biggest concerns for Reston are the issue of development that does not reflect the communities wishes, the situation of paid parking at the Reston Town Center, and making sure that all of our schools receive the proper resources to succeed. In Reston Town Center, the fact that Boston Properties was able to obtain complete ownership has caused significant problems for our community. The introduction of the paid parking program has been devastating.

Since its introduction, the amount of people who go to Town Center has declined drastically with many still refusing to outright go anymore. As a result of this many businesses have been forced to leave with those who remain having significant cuts to their profits. I want to bargain with Boston Properties to get contractual obligation with the county that ends the Paid Parking situation. Boston Properties wants numerous things from the county ranging from zoning changes, regulations, taxes and more. This leaves a wide range of room to get a deal that will see this awful policy end.

When it comes to education I want to see that our schools are fully funded, our class sizes are reduced, and that our teachers are paid better. Fairfax County already has a very good education system, but it can be much better. If we make sure our schools are not overcrowded and receive the necessary resources we will see major improvement in our education system going forward.

How can the county improve how it manages growth and development in this growing community, especially as it relates to infrastructure needs, transportation, and affordable housing? 

I am a big believer in self determinacy when it comes to growth. I believe every community should be allowed to develop along the lines it chooses, rather than the wishes of politicians agenda’s. For much of the county this means allowing them to effectively grow and develop quite a bit. Here in Hunter Mill both Reston and Vienna have significantly pushed back against calls to significantly increase the levels of development. Those wishes should be heard everywhere, instead of the county moving forward with a philosophy of every part should grow significantly.

When it comes to grow anywhere in the county, it needs to be done in a smart responsible way that does not significantly burden our schools or our transportation infrastructure. We cannot allow our schools to become even more overcrowded or our commute times significantly increased. Any development in the county needs to be done at a rate in which we can make sure that our infrastructure can stay on pace with it.

What do you hope to accomplish in this position?

On top of the major issues of development and the paid parking situation, there are some other major issues I want to see addressed county wide. I want to see that the number of affordable housing units is significantly increased throughout the county. While I believe in multifaceted approach to achieve this, I think a significant portion of the burden of creating new units needs to be put on the developers. If they want to develop in Fairfax County they need to really make it worth our while in the process. Traffic is an everyday reality for most people in the county. While there are no magical solutions to fix the problem, the county needs to work aggressively towards trying to reduce commute times. Making sure people’s the length of people’s commutes does not worsen is the first step, but we must also make sure to chip away a the current length of commute time. Even saving people five or ten minutes really adds up over time.

Our environment is so important, especially as climate change continues to get worse. I want to make sure that throughout the county that our forests and other green spaces are protected. We so often as county fail to protect them whether it be from environmental degradation or from developers who see additional land for them to profit off of. In addition to protecting our green spaces the county needs towards a higher use of clean renewable energy in Fairfax County.

Photo via Parker Messick for Supervisor website

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Reminder: Sign Up for Reston Now Email Subscriptions

Since 2013, Reston Now has been reporting news about the Reston and Herndon areas. Recently, we started providing additional coverage of Great Falls.

Keep up with our coverage by signing up for our email subscriptions.

The afternoon email — sent at 4 p.m. — rounds up the most recently published stories and sponsored content on our site. Our morning email is currently on a hiatus.

You can also opt in to receive emails we send on behalf of local businesses and nonprofits. If you opt out, you’ll still receive an occasional event or offer-related email as part of your subscription.

Note: we will never share your email address with a third-party.

Thank you to everyone who has signed up for our email subscriptions already!

Not receiving emails or want to change your subscriptions? You can re-enter your email in the subscription sign-up, which will then pop up a message saying that email is already subscribed. The message will prompt you to update your profile, which will then send you an email that will let you manage your subscriptions.

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Reminder: Send Us Your Photos and Story Ideas

Calling all local photographers: Reston Now is looking for your photos of Reston, Herndon and Great Falls. We’re also on the lookout for story ideas.

Whether you’re a photography pro or just love snapping pictures with your smartphone, we are always looking to include seasonal photos in our Morning Notes on weekdays or reshare pictures on our social media accounts.

To send us your photos, email us at [email protected], tag us in your photo on social media or join our Reston Now Flickr page. You will always receive credit for the photo — either with your username or actual name.

Thank you to photographers who have already sent us photos.

You can send us news tips through our website or email us directly.

File photo

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Setting the Record Straight on the RTC Falcon Naming

The following is a statement from Scott Brodbeck, founder and CEO of Local News Now, the Northern Virginia-based online publishing company behind Reston Now.

Yesterday, Reston Now announced the results of its poll to help name the two peregrine falcons that were found nesting at Reston Town Center.

Most of the announcement was devoted to rehashing the paid parking fiasco at the Town Center, because the top vote-getter in the poll, by far, was the names “Free” and “Parking.”

In the end, however, I made the call to select the runners up — Robert and Anne (as in Robert E. Simon and Lake Anne) — as the “official” names of the falcons. I felt the falcons deserved better than to be named after an acrimonious local parking dispute, and as a relatively new parent I did not think it fair for adults to ruin what could have been something fun for kids to participate in and learn from.

As we said, to the extent we have the power to decide such things, “Free” and “Parking” can be the birds’ unofficial nickname and considered the “People’s Choice” option.

The reaction to the announcement was disappointing. While we expected some push-back, and would understand some mild frustration, the cursing and threats of boycotts posted by some on Facebook were uncalled for. This was intended to be a light-hearted contest to name a couple of falcons, and instead the result has grown adults cursing and becoming angry.

It was reminiscent of the UK’s “Boaty McBoatface” kerfuffle, with more unironic invective.

Let’s set a few things straight about how this all came about. Boston Properties and its PR reps approached Reston Now with the idea of running a naming contest for the falcons that had been nesting at RTC. We agreed — I made the decision to move forward — because it sounded fun for readers.

Despite some wording about working with Boston Properties on it, we ran the contest on our own and made our own decisions, like including “Free” and “Parking” in the final poll. RTC’s owner let us know that they did not like “Free” and “Parking” as names, but we moved forward anyhow. Finally, when push came to shove, I made the decision to pick the second-place names — which were, let’s be honest about it, better names — over the first-place novelty names.

To be clear, there was no money or favors that changed hands as a result of this contest, it was done informally and for fun. Boston Properties is not a current Reston Now advertiser and its only recent ad purchase from us was a sponsored post that was published in March 2017. We have also not recently solicited advertising from Boston Properties or Reston Town Center.

The fact that we now have Boston Properties upset at us, for including “Free” and “Parking” in the poll to begin with, and readers angry at us for not selecting those names as the official winner, is frustrating to say the least. But life — and the news — goes on. Hopefully this statement clears some things up.

Scott

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Names Revealed for Reston Town Center’s Peregrine Falcons

Two weeks ago, Reston Now kicked off an attempt to name the two peregrine falcons in Reston Town Center. About 60 name suggestions and more than 850 votes later, one option clearly stood out: Free and Parking.

“Free parking” is a reference to Boston Properties’ paid parking at RTC, oftentimes serving as a rallying cry for protests against RTC or as an inside joke among Restonians. Reston Now frequently finds calls for free parking in comments under articles about business closures at RTC.

The shift from free parking to the ParkRTC paid parking initiative at RTC began at the start of 2017. In June 2017, Boston Properties, RTC’s owner, changed its paid parking structure to allow for more free parking, following a major outcry from tenants and customers.

Even with the changes, the controversy has still continued to this day, including boycotts and two lawsuits by restaurants — one ended in a settlement.

With 64 percent of the vote, the Reston Now Readers’ Choice Award for Falcon Names goes to Free and Parking — the falcons’ new nicknames. But for the official name, upon further reflection, it was clear that the regal birds deserved a more befitting, less joke-y name.

So like Boaty McBoatface before it, “Free” and “Parking” will be how the birds are remembered by many, but the clear second place winner in the voting — “Robert” and “Anne,” a reference to Reston’s founder Bob Simon and Lake Anne — will become the falcons’ actual names.

Happy name day, Robert and Anne.

Photo courtesy Boston Properties

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New Monthly Event Aims to Bring Remote Workers to Lake Anne Plaza

Starting this Friday (May 3), a monthly series will encourage remote employees to bring their work to Lake Anne Plaza.

Lake Anne Brew House will have high-speed wi-fi available for people who decide to work there from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. on the first Friday of each month.

“This event is the perfect solution for remote employees looking for a collaborative environment to connect with a new coworking network,” the brewery wrote on Facebook.

Workers based in offices can also take advantage of the recurring event to shorten their time working in a cubicle.

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Reminder: Sign Up for Reston Now Email Subscriptions

Since 2013, Reston Now has been reporting news about the Reston and Herndon areas. Recently, we started providing additional coverage of Great Falls.

Keep up with our coverage by signing up for our email subscriptions.

The afternoon email — sent at 4 p.m. — rounds up the most recently published stories and sponsored content on our site. Our morning email is currently on a hiatus.

You can also opt in to receive emails we send on behalf of local businesses and nonprofits. If you opt out, you’ll still receive an occasional event or offer-related email as part of your subscription.

Note: we will never share your email address with a third-party.

Thank you to everyone who has signed up for our email subscriptions already!

Not receiving emails or want to change your subscriptions? You can re-enter your email in the subscription sign-up, which will then pop up a message saying that email is already subscribed. The message will prompt you to update your profile, which will then send you an email that will let you manage your subscriptions.

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Poll: Pick the Names for Reston Town Center’s Peregrine Falcons

A joint effort between Reston Now and Boston Properties wants readers’ help naming the two falcons, who call Reston Town Center home.

Last week, Reston Now asked readers for their name suggestions for the two peregrine falcons that call Reston Town Center home.

The pair are both around 7 years old and are expecting four chicks. The dad hails from Maryland while the mom came from Pennsylvania.

About 60 people commented with name ideas below the profile last week and on Reston Now’s social media pages (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram).

From today (April 22) to the end of the week, readers can vote for the two names from this list of readers’ suggestions.

The winning names for the mom and dad falcons will get announced at the end of April.

Photo courtesy Boston Properties

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BREAKING: Tornado Touches Down in Reston

(Updated at 10:45 p.m.) There are numerous reports of trees down and emergency activity around Reston following a tornado touchdown Friday night.

Around 10:20 p.m. the National Weather Service confirmed that a tornado had touched down, after reporting extensive tree damage in the area.

“911 call center reports… multiple trees down in the Reston area with ones reported on Center Harbor Road and Baron Cameron Road,” said a storm damage report from the weather service. Emergency activity has also been reported along the Reston Parkway and Wiehle Avenue.

“Tree damage near intersection of Quietree Drive and Crosswind Drive,” NWS further reported. “One house condemned with tree falling through roof.”

The weather service will determine the tornado’s intensity via a storm survey during daylight hours on Saturday.

One large fallen tree crushed a pickup truck on Center Harbor Road. NBC 4’s Darcy Spencer reported that the truck’s owner was taking shelter inside his home as the storm roared past.

On Reston Now’s Facebook page residents shared their harrowing experiences and damage reports.

“I’m just off Bennett Road and I am pretty sure we had a tornado go through our backyard (or very close to it) around 8:45/8:50,” said one reader. “It was, literally, as the warning was going out. Spoke with several neighbors who heard it as well and took shelter in the basement. Tons of debris on our street and quite a bit on Bennett.”

“We heard a huge amount of wind and then several large big bangs… several large branches fell onto our house and were swept into the backyard,” said another resident. “The force of the large branches was so strong the drywall inside is busted in two places on the other side of this scar… So thankful our family is safe.”

The original Tornado Warning from NWS:

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN STERLING VIRGINIA HAS ISSUED A

* TORNADO WARNING FOR… SOUTHEASTERN LOUDOUN COUNTY IN NORTHERN VIRGINIA… NORTHWESTERN FAIRFAX COUNTY IN NORTHERN VIRGINIA…

* UNTIL 915 PM EDT.

* AT 853 PM EDT, A SEVERE THUNDERSTORM CAPABLE OF PRODUCING A TORNADO WAS LOCATED OVER RESTON, MOVING NORTHEAST AT 55 MPH.

HAZARD…TORNADO.

SOURCE…RADAR INDICATED ROTATION.

IMPACT…FOR THOSE IN THE DIRECT PATH OF A TORNADO TOUCHDOWN,  FLYING DEBRIS WILL BE DANGEROUS TO THOSE CAUGHT WITHOUT  SHELTER. DAMAGE TO ROOFS, SIDING, AND WINDOWS MAY OCCUR.  MOBILE HOMES MAY BE DAMAGED OR DESTROYED. TREE DAMAGE IS  LIKELY.

* LOCATIONS IMPACTED INCLUDE… RESTON, HERNDON, LOWES ISLAND, ASHBURN, STERLING, CHANTILLY, GREAT FALLS, COUNTRYSIDE AND STERLING PARK.

Storm reports and photos via social media:

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Reno of the Month: Community Matters

By Nicola Caul Shelley, Synergy Design & Construction

“Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.” This inspirational quote from Helen Keller has been a guiding principle at Synergy Design & Construction since the company was founded over 10 years ago.

It has been important from the very beginning to grow our impact within our local community — especially to those in need — just as much as growing the Company. That’s why it is such an honor to be recognized for this commitment as a 2019 Best of Reston Honoree!

Best of Reston recognizes the contributions of individuals, businesses, civic and community institutions and organizations who demonstrate significant contributions to the greater Reston/Herndon area through their philanthropy and volunteerism. So, this month, rather than feature one of our remodels, we are celebrating our Community and our Team.

Beyond the sticks and bricks of beautiful remodels, there is an underlying dedication at Synergy to give back to others.

Our team members show their commitment every day from working on housing repairs at Cornerstones transitional housing, helping make the holidays special at the Embry Rucker Community Center, mentoring and participating in the Special Olympics Virginia, donating to ReStore, leading Girl Scout Troops, running an arts program at a local elementary school to our recent participation in Walk MS Reston… and much, much more!

Inspired to volunteer? Here are more ways to get involved in our community:

  • Cornerstones offers year round volunteer opportunities
  • Reston Community Center has a number of needs throughout the year
  • You don’t need Marie Kondo to have a clear out. Green Drop will pick donations up right from your front door
  • Volunteer Reston offers teen volunteer youth/family groups opportunities for middle and high schoolers
  • All about the arts? Greater Reston Arts Center needs volunteers of the Northern Virginia Fine Arts Festival in May
  • Help make someone’s day brighter at Reston Hospital Center by delivering flowers, helping at the Information Desk or visiting with patients
  • Give nature a helping hand from bird box monitoring to wildlife counts to Earth Day projects at the Walker Nature Center

Read more about our Best of Reston Honor and how we try to make a difference everyday in our local community. If you see us out and about, come and say “Hello!”

Ready to remodel with a company who cares? Get in touch!

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Reminder: Sign Up for Reston Now Email Subscriptions

Since 2013, Reston Now has been reporting news about the Reston and Herndon areas. Recently, we started providing additional coverage of Great Falls.

Keep up with our coverage by signing up for our email subscriptions.

The afternoon email — sent at 4 p.m. — rounds up the most recently published stories and sponsored content on our site. Our morning email is currently on a hiatus.

You can also opt-in to receive emails we send on behalf of local businesses and nonprofits. If you opt out, you’ll still receive an occasional event or offer-related email as part of your subscription.

Note: we will never share your email address with a third-party.

Thank you to everyone who has signed up for our email subscriptions already!

Not receiving emails or want to change your subscriptions? You can re-enter your email in the subscription sign-up, which will then pop up a message saying that email is already subscribed. The message will prompt you to update your profile, which will then send you an email that will let you manage your subscriptions.

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Help Name Reston Town Center’s Peregrine Falcons

A joint effort between Reston Now and Boston Properties wants readers’ help naming the two falcons, who call Reston Town Center home. 

The story of Reston Town Center’s peregrine falcons started in June 2015 when two chicks were found on Market Street.

The pair was taken to the Raptor Conservancy of Virginia, where they were rehabilitated and released, Steve Potts, a raptor biologist who monitors the falcons, told Reston Now.

“That was the first indicator that we had nesting peregrine falcons in Reston Town Center,” he said. Fast forward to 2019, and the birds are still calling Reston home.

“This is our fifth year of breeding and that’s a really high rate of having chicks,” Potts said.

While most peregrine falcons used to live near coastal plains, Bryan Watts, the director of the Center for Conservation Biology in Williamsburg, Va., told Reston Now that he has seen more move inland recently as bridges, buildings and towers mimic cliff faces overlooking a wide vista of landscape for hunting and have updrafts for flying.

“They are one of the most spectacular bird species we have on the planet,” Watts said.

Here are some peregrine falcon fun facts Potts and Watts shared:

  • wild peregrine falcons can live up to about 18 years of age
  • females are larger in size than the males
  • eggs are usually a brick red color and about the size of a small chicken egg
  • chicks fly for the first time at about 42-45 days
  • juvenile peregrine falcons wander and the chicks from the RTC pair may go up to Canada to the Gulf Coast

“The pair up there is incredibly productive,” Watts said. “The hope is that they will be there for a long time.”

Potts said that he saw four eggs in the nest earlier this week. (Reston Now isn’t divulging where the nest is to protect the falcons.)

“It’s in a really remote little spot,” Potts said. “It’s a perfect spot hidden from the rain and sun, and it faces south.”

About 20 days after the chicks are born, Potts plans to return to help band them, which will take place sometime in May.

While Potts said that some people are against banding birds, he argues that annual medical exams made possible by the banding help keep the birds healthy and also allow birders and conservationists to track nest changeover.

The parents — both around 7 years old — have been identified. The dad hails from Maryland while the mom came from Pennsylvania. Reston Now readers will get the chance to name the pair.

Between now and next Friday (April 19), comment below this story and on the Reston Now social media pages (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) your name suggestions. On Monday, April 22, readers will be able to vote for the two names out a list of the most upvoted and liked suggested names.

The winning names for the mom and dad falcons will get announced at the end of April.

Photo courtesy Boston Properties

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GMU’s Schar School of Policy and Government No. 2 for Security Studies Programs

The Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University has been named No. 2 in the country in the 2019 U.S. News & World Report for its security studies programs.

If you dream of a career in international security, homeland security, emergency management or other fields that tackle “wicked problems” around the world, the Schar School has top-rated master’s degrees, graduate certificate programs and PhD programs to help you achieve your goals.

The Arlington, Virginia-based Schar School, convenient to the decision-and policy-makers of Washington, D.C., boasts a faculty that includes program former Central Intelligence Agency and National Security Agency director Michael V. Hayden, former ambassador Richard Kauzlarich and inaugural Carnegie Fellow and terrorism expert Louise Shelley.

Faculty also includes border security expert Guadalupe Correa-Cabrera, former president and CEO of the Stimson Center Ellen Laipson, regional economics expert Stephen Fuller and former Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe.

The Schar School is an important part of George Mason’s Research 1 Doctoral Universities rating as its faculty and students contribute research of consequence in fields including biodefense, homeland security, emergency management, global relations, war, elections, federalism, economics, energy and others.

For more information about Schar School offerings, including graduate programs in Biodefense, International Commerce, International Security, Organization Development & Knowledge Management, Public Administration, Public Policy, Political Science, Transportation Policy and Operations & Logistics, click here.

Join us for an online information session to learn more about the Schar School’s Master’s in International Commerce and Policy program. The webinar begins at noon (EST) on Thursday, April 11. The webinar is free. Register here.

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