Reston, VA

This Sunday (Jan. 18), the Liner Notes will perform “Music of the Movement.”

In this performance, the group will explore musical themes and the history of the Civil Rights Movement during the 1950s and 1960s.

The performance is set to take place at CenterStage at the Reston Community Center (2310 Colts Neck Road) from 2 to 3:30 p.m. and tickets cost $15 for Reston residents.

“Always striving to care for its audience, Liner Notes revisits this turbulent time in our history with authenticity, thoughtfulness and integrity, drawing connections and examining the intersections with the adversity still prevalent today,” according to the event page.

Tomorrow (Jan. 18)

  • Book Launch Celebration for Laura Renauld (11 a.m. to noon) — Children’s book author Laura Renauld will be at Scrawl Books (11911 Freedom Drive) for a meet and greet along with a book signing to debut her new book “Fred’s Big Feelings: The Life and Legacy of Mr. Rogers.” This event is free and open to the public.
  • Wine Tasting (2 to 5 p.m.) — Balducci’s Food Lover’s Market (1871 Fountain Drive) will host a wine tasting with various wines and food. There will be experts on-site to help answer questions and suggest pairings.

Sunday (Jan. 19)

  • Adoption Fair at Just Cats in Reston (1 to 3 p.m.) — Anyone looking for a new furry friend can stop by the Just Cats Clinic (1601 Washington Plaza) to play with adoptable cats and see if they find a good match.
  • Self Guided Painting (3 to 7 p.m.) — Guests will have the chance to work off temples to paint various items during this opportunity for independent creation at Pinot’s Palette (12976 Highland Crossing Drive). The cost for this event is $25.

Photo via Reston Community Center/Facebook

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The latest tenant to open near the Wiehle-Reston East Metro Station is celebrating its opening at an event next week.

M&T Bank, which is located at 1886 Metro Center Drive, plans to hold a grand opening on Wednesday, Jan. 22.

The company says the new location will “include more business bankers to meet the needs of local small-business customers and feature a new design intended to improve the customer experience by removing barriers between customers and bank employees.”

Customers of the M&T’s former branch at Wiehle Avenue are encouraged to visit the larger branch at Reston Station, the company says.

Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce President Charles Kapur will attend to share a few remarks. 

Image via Google Maps

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Editor’s note: A press release from the company previously misstated a location was planned at Reston Station.

Australian fitness company F45 Training will open a location in Reston Town Center, according to a company news release.

F45 Training plans to open at 11840 Freedom Drive in Reston Town Center by May this year.

Here’s more from the company about the expansion in Reston:

The rapid growth of F45 Training indicates that F45 is filling the gap left in the fitness industry by traditional gyms, where members commit to a cheap membership fee to work out individually, but pay for high-cost personal training sessions.

“We are very excited to have F45 Training as a part of Reston,” says Tariq Mojadidi, Studio Manager of F45 Reston Town Center and F45 Reston Station. “What we will bring to the Reston community is very unique and unlike anything else that is offered in terms of boutique fitness. F45 offers a unique concept, where personal training is offered in a group team environment, and trainers will work with you to correct your form, prevent injuries and offer nutritional support. The concept is a perfect fit for the Reston community.”

F45 Training combines elements of three separate cutting-edge fitness training styles: High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), Circuit Training, and Functional Training. The blend of these three training concepts offers a variety of different 45 minute workout experiences, keeping F45 members challenged, eager to grow and set to have fun. This combination of cardiovascular, strength and resistance training has been proven to be most effective in burning fat and building lean muscle.

The business will begin offering limited memberships on March 1. Membership reservations — which include discounted month-to-month rates — are available online.

F45 also plans to open a location in South Riding in April.

Photo courtesy F45/Facebook

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Friday Morning Notes

Fairfax County Park Authority Seeks Comment on Fee Increases — “The Fairfax County Park Authority will hold its annual public comment meeting on the agency’s proposed fee adjustments. The public is invited to share their perspectives on the proposals with the Park Authority Board either at the meeting, via correspondence or by email.” [Fairfax County Government]

New Trail Cycling Teen Ride Kicks Off with Free Class — “New Trail Cycling Studio, located at Lake Anne in Reston, is launching its teen program on January 22. Classes will be offered every Wednesday at 4pm for teens ages 12-17. ” [Patch]

Staff photo by Jay Westcott

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The demolition of a fire station on 1820 Wiehle Avenue has been delayed.

County officials estimated that the demolition, which would make way for a new and larger fire station, would begin in early December. Due to construction delays, it is likely the project will not begin until at least February.

Until then, a spokesperson for the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department said that firefighters will not move into the temporary station until late January.

The $13 million project calls for replacing Reston Fire and Rescue Station 25, which was built in 1972 and last upgraded in 1986, with a two-story station more than double the size of the current site.

The new 17,150-square-foot station will include four bays and is designed to have a more contemporary look.

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Local police deemed that a “possible threat” directed at Herndon High School earlier this week was not credible, according to school officials.

In an email to parents, Herndon HS Principal Liz Noto stated that police discovered the possible threat on social media.

Police interviewed the student who posted the message and determined there was no risk to the school or students.

The administration did not release any other details about the incident due to piracy restrictions.

For precautionary purposes, the school had extra security present on Wednesday (Jan. 15).

Photo via Fairfax County Public Schools

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Thursday Morning Notes

Metro Ridership Increases — “Metrorail’s ridership growth trend can now be expressed in years, with the system posting a four-percent increase in passenger trips for the 2019 calendar year, ending a downward trend that lasted most of the prior decade. Total rail ridership was 182 million trips, compared to 175 million in 2018, a net increase of seven million trips, reflecting increasing customer confidence in Metro’s reliability and on-time performance.” [Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority]

Reston Indivisibles Join Protest at U.S. Senate — “Eleven members of Herndon-Reston Indivisible join other resisters in peaceful protest at the U.S. Senate to press for trial and removal of President Trump.” [The Connection]

Reston Association Pool and Tennis Passes For Sale — Passes for unlimited access to pools and tennis courts during the 2020 season are available for purchase online. [Reston Association]

Staff photo by Jay Westcott

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A Reston telecommunications company has announced plans to shut down, according to the company.

NII Holdings, which sold wireless services in Latin America, filed a certificate of dissolution in Delaware, according to a press release. Stocks stopped trading on Jan. 9. Its headquarters were located at 12110 Sunset Hills Road.

The company first formed when mobile phones first hit the market. Here’s more from a recent report by the Washington Business Journal:

Founded in 1995, NII Holdings came of age during the early years of mobile phones, capitalizing on Nextel’s push-to-talk service. At one point, Nextel owned a stake in the company, which had millions of subscribers throughout Latin America and quarterly earnings of more than $1 billion. It was listed on the Forbes 2000. 

But the shifting winds of the wireless business took their toll. Nextel was acquired by Sprint, which disabled the push-to-talk Network in 2013. NII rolled out an iPhone version of the app in 2014, though it never became widely used. 

The company cut more than 1,400 in 2013 after filing for bankruptcy that year.

Image via Google Maps

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As Lisa Merkel wraps up her final term as the Town of Herndon’s mayor, she took a moment to reflect and talk to Reston Now about her experiences in office.

Merkel made town history as the first woman elected into the position in 2012 after serving as Herndon’s vice mayor during the 2010-2012 term.

According to Merkel, her decision to not seek re-election wasn’t based on any specific motive, besides a wish to spend time with her family and dedicate more time to volunteering around the community.

“I still plan on being involved in the town,” she told Reston Now.

Merkel told Reston Now her accomplishments include implementation of the Metrorail Expansion Project, the ongoing development of downtown Herndon and the establishment of the Economic Development Department.

“I’m really proud we’ve embraced the business community,” Merkel said, adding that — due to her efforts — the tax rate is now split evenly between residential and commercial incomes.

Many of the local businesses even give back to the community by acting as sponsors for official events like the annual holiday parade, which Merkel said is the largest event of the year.

In a press release, Merkel said her other key achievements include marking June as LGBTQ Pride Month, adding Circulator buses to Herndon Station, providing online and on-demand Town Council meeting access and approving construction plans for a new fire station.

“Sometimes it’s really the smaller things that get attention,” Merkel told Reston Now, adding that small projects make a huge difference in the town and help to develop a sense of place.

She gave examples of adding tables and umbrellas to the Town Square, lights on the W&OD Trail and gateway signs to announce entry into the town. The tables and umbrellas, especially, gave people a fun and welcoming place to gather, she said.

Merkel has faced some roadblocks, though, during her time in office.

She said she had trouble communicating with the public that development projects in the town won’t threaten the small community feel, which she said is at the heart of Herndon’s identity.

“There was a fear that if we started building like that at the Metro station, it would trickle into downtown,” Merkel said. “We had to reassure people that Herndon won’t be a bunch of highrises.”

During her final months in office, Merkel said she hopes to oversee the groundbreaking on the downtown Herndon project and continue to work on installing underground utilities around town.

Going forward, Merkel said she won’t endorse any particular candidate for the upcoming election. But she hopes the next mayor will be an effective listener, willing to consider other perspectives on topics and won’t be afraid to seek counsel on issues they aren’t familiar with.

She encourages anyone passionate about their community to run, regardless of their political experience.

“Don’t mix national policy issues with town issues because we don’t have jurisdiction over those things,” Merkel said. “You don’t want to alienate any of your constituents with issues that don’t relate to the job. That’s been my philosophy.”

Photo via Lisa Merkel

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Lily Siegel, the Greater Reston Arts Center‘s executive director and curator, has resigned effective mid-February as the institution explores rebranding and repositioning itself in the community.

Siegel will become the next executive director for Hamiltonian Artists in the District as its fellowship program and exhibit transitions into a nonprofit organization.

In a Jan. 13 letter, GRACE’s Board of Directors credited Siegel for leaving the center in “a much stronger position than we were in when Lily arrived three years ago.”

As difficult as it is to lose someone of Lily’s great capability and vision, that challenge presents opportunity. We look forward to announcing in the near future the hire of a new Executive Director and Curator who we are confident, given our achievements and repositioning, will also be someone of world-class caliber capable of taking us to the next level of accomplishment and distinction.

In the meantime, we will not miss a beat. As so many of you know, we have a very experienced and highly capable team of whom we are proud (Erica Harrison, Elizabeth Denholm, Sofia Blom, and Sarah Berenz), each of whom is already stepping up to ensure we stay right on track.

The leadership that Lily has provided this institution is something for which we are all grateful and celebrate, and every one of us wishes Lily all the best for what we know will be continued success in her career.

Siegel — who looks forward to changing jobs to a location where she lives — told Reston Now she’s proud of all her accomplishments over the last three years.

“I’m so proud of everything that I’ve done here and all that our team has accomplished,” she said, adding that she looks forward to continuing to support and work with artists in the community in her new role.

As executive director, Siegel helped bring on more main gallery exhibitions with established, nationally, and internationally recognized artists.

In addition to strengthening partnerships with area organizations, also helped establish GRACE’s satellite gallery at Signature in Reston Town Center, support Sue Wrbican’s new sculpture in Town Square Park in RTC, run the summer art camp with Reston Association, and add Festival Friday to the Northern Virginia Fine Arts Festival.

GRACE is accepting applications for Siegel’s position online.

Photo via GRACE

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Wednesday Morning Notes

Metro Releases Operating Budget for Silver Line Extension — “Metro will need $24 million from the District, Maryland and Virginia to begin hiring employees and preparing for service on the Silver Line extension, according to an operating budget proposal for the project released Monday. The transit authority plans to devote $60 million — including the local contribution — in this fiscal year to staff the long-awaited nearly-11-mile rail extension, which will connect Dulles International Airport to Loudoun County.” [The Washington Post]

Washingtonian Features Reston Company —  Today Parabon has become the hottest thing in cold cases, with law-enforcement agencies lining up for help in solving old crimes. Using an innovative method that can analyze DNA from incredibly small samples, Parabon’s Snapshot creates a genetic-genealogy report that’s used to find possible familial links via public DNA databases. Parabon contributed to breaks in several hundred crimes over the last year alone.” [Washingtonian]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn kicked off his first Fairfax County Board of Supervisors’ meeting today (Tuesday) by calling for a review of Reston’s Comprehensive Plan.

The proposal, which was approved by the board,  initiatives a 12 to 18 month period of public engagement to update the plan, which was last updated five years ago.

In a statement, Alcorn noted that more than 30 rezoning applications have been approved in Reston’s transit station areas since the last plan was last reviewed. He hopes to set up a community task force and start a series of public meetings.

Alcorn hopes to tackle the following topic areas, which were presented to the board today (Tuesday): 

  • Projected population thresholds for Reston, and how to ensure that population, infrastructure and the environment are all in balance
  • Land use in the village centers (Hunters Woods, South Lakes and North Point) – including clarification of what type of future redevelopment proposals might require an amendment to the Comprehensive Plan
  • The adequacy of existing plan language to generate additional affordable housing, and improvements to plan language to encourage preservation and enhancement of existing communities that now provide affordable housing
  • The adequacy of existing and planned pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure for accessing Silver Line stations
  • The adequacy of existing Comprehensive Plan guidance to facilitate urban-scale mobility and development design in the TSAs while protecting the stability of nearby neighborhoods
  • Existing Comprehensive Plan transportation improvements to ensure that they are aligned with planned development
  • How the Comprehensive Plan could better facilitate enhancement of Reston’s natural environment, encourage energy efficiency and support sustainable green neighborhoods
  • How the Comprehensive Plan could address concerns about monopolization of ownership in Reston, and ways to encourage diverse ownership and/or management over the long term
  • Whether the historic practice of promoting privately-owned and managed open space sufficiently addresses public needs during the next 50 years of Reston

In a previous interview with Reston Now, Alcorn said he hopes updates to the plan will help better manage growth and infrastructure in the rapidly changing community.

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Tuesday Morning Notes

New Express Route to Pentagon, Changes Come to Fairfax Connector — A new express route to the Pentagon will be available later this month after the Fairfax County Board of Supervisor’s approved changes to the bus system. Minor time adjustments will also go into effect on Route 950 –from Herndon-Reston. [Fairfax County Government]

Former comScore CEO and Board Member Steps Down — “ComScore has had a number of CEOs and board members come and go. Its latest executive to depart points to “clear skies and smooth waters” ahead for the embattled Reston company.”  [Washington Business Journal]

Reston Woman Dropped off by Redskins’ Player Died of Accidental Overdose — “A woman who was dropped off “unconscious and unresponsive” at a Loudoun County medical center by Washington Redskins safety Montae Nicholson and a friend in November died of an accidental overdose of fentanyl, authorities said a Virginia medical examiner has ruled. The Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office said Monday that the investigation into the death of Julia Crabbe, 21, of Reston, remains ongoing and that detectives are still trying to determine the source of the drug that killed her. No charges have been filed.” [The Washington Post]

Staff photo by Jay Westcott

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Super Tuesday” is in March — but Fairfax County is reminding voters about absentee voting and seeking election officers now.

Absentee voting for the 2020 presidential primary starts later this week on Friday, Jan. 17.

The deadline to register to vote in the March 3 primary is Feb. 10. People can check their voter eligibility on the Virginia State Board of Elections website.

Last week, the county announced that it needs 2,100 election officers for the primary.

The Office of Elections especially is looking for bilingual officers who speak Korean or Vietnamese for the Falls Church area, along with Annadel and Centreville, according to the county.

Election officers help set up voting equipment, check photo IDs and tabulate poll results. Compensation starts at $175 or people can choose to volunteer their time.

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A local bookshop plans to “purge” textbooks published by Pearson from its education section following a New York Times’ report that found the publisher’s American history textbooks offer different histories on highly partisan topics.

The investigation found that the publisher and others presented information on the Second Amendment, civil rights, capital, immigration and other topics differently in California and Texas.

For example, a California textbook explains how rulings on the Second Amendment leave space for some gun regulations. The Texas edition of the book contains a blank white space instead of the explanation in the California textbook.

Here’s more from the Jan. 12 story:

In a country that cannot come to a consensus on fundamental questions — how restricted capitalism should be, whether immigrants are a burden or a boon, to what extent the legacy of slavery continues to shape American life — textbook publishers are caught in the middle. On these questions and others, classroom materials are not only shaded by politics, but are also helping to shape a generation of future voters.

Conservatives have fought for schools to promote patriotism, highlight the influence of Christianity and celebrate the founding fathers. In a September speech, President Trump warned against a “radical left” that wants to “erase American history, crush religious liberty, indoctrinate our students with left-wing ideology.”

The left has pushed for students to encounter history more from the ground up than from the top down, with a focus on the experiences of marginalized groups such as enslaved people, women and Native Americans.

The books The Times analyzed were published in 2016 or later and have been widely adopted for eighth and 11th graders, though publishers declined to share sales figures. Each text has editions for Texas and California, among other states, customized to satisfy policymakers with different priorities.

The story prompted Reston’s Used Book Shop to reconsider how it categorizes certain American history textbooks. 

“This is outrageous. We often buy used books published by Pearson – no longer. And I will be purging them from our ‘education section.'”  The business wrote on Facebook

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