Reston, VA

Thursday Morning Notes

Playa Bowls Brings Taste of Jersey Shore to Reston — “Robert Giuliani started Playa Bowls in 2014 on the Jersey Shore, as a surf-themed restaurant offering healthy food for people on the go.” [Reston Patch]

Herndon Police Arrest Man in Connection with Child Pornography Charges — “After an investigation in conjunction with the Internet Crimes Against Children  Taskforce, Zoubir Chenini. 39, of Annandale, VA, was arrested by Herndon Police Department on one felony count of possession of child pornography, nine felony counts of 2nd/subsequent possession of child pornography, and five felony counts of distribution of child pornography.”[HPD]

CEO of Reston-based Company Lays Out Five-Year-Plan for Embattled Firm — “For years, comScore was distracted by prolonged and pricey internal investigations and high-cost debt. Now, at long last, CEO Bill Livek said he can focus on its future. [Washington Business Journal]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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For the next two weeks, Reston area restaurants will take part in the Metropolitan Washington Winter Restaurant Week.

Beginning Mon., Jan. 25 and through. Sunday, Feb. 7, restaurants around the DC region will offer prix fixe meals for two or four people.

A lunch meal for one is $22. The first dinner option includes a $60 meal for two and a $120 meal for four. The second option includes a $100 meal for two and a $200 meal for four.

The launch of the annual restaurant week, which is organized by the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington, delayed by one week “in consideration of the fluid nature of activities and regulatory measures” in effecting the area, according to the restaurant’s website.

The following local restaurants are taking part in the promotional week

The complete list of participating restaurants is available online.

Photo via Mon Ami Gabi/Facebook

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Dozens of local artists and arts-oriented organizations got welcome news last week when ArtsFairfax announced the recipients of $567,138 in emergency relief and recovery grants on Jan. 15.

A nonprofit that serves as Fairfax County’s designated local arts agency, ArtsFairfax created an Emergency Relief and Recovery Grants program in order to provide quick funding to an industry that has been devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The program comes in lieu of the agency’s usual grant programs, which were suspended for fiscal year 2021.

“The impact of COVID-19 continues to have a devastating effect on the arts community, yet we have seen the arts continue to provide arts education, senior engagement, family entertainment and so much more,” ArtsFairfax president and CEO Linda S. Sullivan said.

Out of the $108,500 in funding requests that it received, ArtsFairfax has awarded $101,950 in emergency relief grants to 40 different Fairfax County arts organizations. It also raised private funds to support $28,300 in grants to 29 individual artists.

In addition, 39 arts organizations will receive operating support grants for FY 2021. These funds are awarded annually to nonprofit arts organizations in Fairfax County and the cities of Fairfax and Falls Church to support basic operations.

ArtsFairfax is awarding $436,888 in operating support grants for this fiscal year after receiving $913,933 in requests from 39 different organizations.

“The arts will be a vital part of our health and economic recovery,” Sullivan said. “We need to support the arts today, so they are here for us tomorrow.”

With in-person performances and exhibitions largely suspended for the past year, the pandemic has taken a significant toll on the American arts and culture industry.

The nonprofit Americans for the Arts estimates that, as of Jan. 11, arts and cultural organizations have lost $14.8 billion nationally as a result of COVID-19. 63% of workers in the arts sector have become unemployed, and 95% have reported a loss of income.

According to a dashboard from Americans for the Arts, nonprofit arts organizations in Fairfax County have reported a median financial loss of $30,000 for a total impact of $4.3 million, though that is based on a small sample size of 55 respondents.

Local recipients include Arts Herndon, the Reston Chorale, and Reston Community Orchestra. A full list of ArtsFairfax grant recipients can be found on the nonprofit’s website.

Photo via Reston Community Orchestra

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The Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department is coming up with more ways to help local residents receive CPR in the event of an emergency.

Earlier this month, the department announced the official launch of the PulsePoint, a phone app that connects to 911 and alerts CPR-trained residents if someone in a nearby, public location is experiencing Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA).

The rate of survival from SCA decreases by between seven and 10 percent for every minute that passes before help arrives, according to the department. The app can be downloaded from the Apple Store or on Google Play. Potential resident rescues are also alerted to the exact location of a defibrillator.

Fire Chief John Butler is encouraging residents to download the app.

“In working with PulsePoint, our goal is to get every resident with access to early intervention in order to save as many lives as possible,” Butler said.

Butler pushed for the institution of the app in Howard County, Md., where he was previously the fire chief.

Last year, the American Heart Association (AHA) created new guidelines that urged fire departments to have the capability to alert willing bystanders for the need of CPR.

The AHA recommendation was considered and played a significant role in the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Departments’ implementation of PulsePoint,  said Battalion Chief George Robbins, the county’s community risk reduction program manager.

He noted that CPR-related calls are fairly common in Fairfax County. In 2019 and 2020, the department responded to 645 and 663 patients where EMS crews attempted resuscitation respectively, Robbins told Reston Now.

An email is required to set up an account once the app is downloaded.

Photo via PulsePoint Foundation/Facebook

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Makers Union is striving to embody the moniker “Pub For The People” with an offering of local products and community engagement throughout Reston Town Center.

The restaurant, a project by Reston-based company Thompson Hospitality, opened this past August at 1811 Library Street. It replaced American Tap Room, which closed in December 2019.

The restaurant’s general manager, Alex Brown, bills the establishment’s concept as an effort to provide a welcoming atmosphere and traditional American dishes “with a twist.”

“We wanted to really kind of create a space where everyone feels comfortable celebrating whatever life’s occasion is,” Brown said.

The menu reflects a variety of the restaurant’s ideals with trying something a bit different while paying homage to the local makers of the area. The menu features a diverse sampling from 30-layer deep-fried lasagna to yuzu lemon drop martinis.

“An occasion doesn’t have to be a birthday or anniversary. We really believe that when you go out to dine, whether it’s for lunch, brunch, dinner, celebrating happy hour with friends or maybe it’s just a casual lunch or dinner during the week or on the weekend, it’s a celebration.”

Makers Union offers an eclectic menu for lunch and dinner options as well as its happy hour, “The People’s Hour.” It also features a brunch with à la carte and family-style options.

“We wanted to bring the idea of a pub into the modern day… so food, beverage and décor while still holding true to traditional pub value – welcoming, energetic & celebratory environment,” Brown said.

The menu items feature a sampling of local wares from makers when possible for food and drink. A list of those makers can be found on the restaurant’s site.

“Obviously being a local Reston based restaurant, we really wanted to feature and celebrate local makers,” Brown said.

“Everybody who kind of had a piece in helping put this restaurant together is a group of makers. Everybody has different backgrounds in different areas, whether it be breweries, roasters, chefs, distillers, farmers. So a group of makers came together to kind of create this pub for the people.”

That celebration of local makers has spilled into the restaurant’s work to try and create a familial feel within the community.

The restaurant, like so many others in the area and country, was impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In addition to adhering to local, state and federal guidelines for safe business practices, Brown said the restaurant has significantly leveraged its to-go program to aid in establishing itself in the community. It has also offered free delivery within Reston Town Center.

Makers Union has also hosted a ghost kitchen pop up for another Thompson Hospitality restaurant, Big Buns Damn Good Burger Co.

“We say we’re made in Reston for Reston,” Brown said.

“We really wanted to look at what Reston Town Center was missing and what we felt the community was looking for, and then use that to kind of ideate the restaurant.”

Makers Union hosted a soft opening with a to-go event in August. It has since had a dog costume contest for Halloween and a “Yappy Hour” that allowed patrons to bring their dogs to the patio introduce the restaurant’s happy hour.

Brown says the restaurant is eyeing future opportunities to connect and serve the community, including offering Super Bowl Sunday dining packages and Valentine’s Day weekend specials.

“We just want to continue to get to know the community and really just grow the business through excellent food and high-level service in an amazing, clean environment with welcoming décor,” Brown said.

Photos courtesy Makers Union

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Arlington-based MakeOffices is shutting down all of its local locations, including their offices at Reston Town Center.

The news about MakeOffices closing down was first reported by Washington Business Journal.

Last week, members of the coworking company began receiving notifications at many locations that the co-working spaces would be closed.

Reston Now spoke to representatives at the Reston location, which opened in 2015, and an employee confirmed that they would be closing as well within the next three months.

While the deal isn’t fully done yet, another coworking operator may move into the MakeOffices space in Reston Town Center, an employee said.

In an email to Reston Now, MakeOffices spokesperson said they are closing but ‘still in the process of reorganizing.'”

MakeOffices opened its first location in Rosslyn in 2012 and has since expanded to 14 locations in Northern Virginia, Maryland, D.C., Chicago, and Philadelphia.

The Clarendon location is its flagship, opening in 2016 with 40,000 square feet of space and 135 private offices. The Reston location is similar in size.

Photo via Google Maps

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Wednesday Morning Notes

Pickleball Survey Open through Jan. 24 — The Fairfax County Park Authority is seeking the public’s input on how to support the emerging support. An online survey is open through Jan. 24. [Fairfax County Government]

Local DNA Tech Company Cracks More Cold Cases — Parabon NanoLabs, a Reston-based company, generated a total of 50 leads nationwide last year. Two cases were from Montgomery County and Arlington. [Local DVM]

What to Know About the Inauguration Today — The county government and schools will be closed today. The county joins state officials and regional leaders in urging the public to observe safely at home and not visit DC over the course of the week. [Fairfax County Government]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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The Fairfax County Police Department is preparing for Inauguration Day tomorrow with a heightened police presence throughout the county.

In a statement to Reston Now, FCPD said the department’s focus is safeguarding the community, major thoroughfares, critical infrastructure, and transit hubs.

FCPD has also staffed its civil disturbance unit, neighborhood patrols, and operational support units if they are needed in an emergency situation.

“Community members can expect to see an increased and vigilant police presence and if they have any concerns or observe any suspicious or. concerning activity, we encourage them to report it to an officer or call 911,” FCPD wrote in a statement.

The department noted that the county had an increased presence in past inaugurations.

FCPD deployed officers to DC to help law enforcement agencies to quell the U.S. Capital riots, which were started by a mob of Donald Trump. supporters.

No police officers were seriously injured earlier this month.  When asked by Reston Now, FCPD did not immediately indicate if it plans to formally deploy any officers to DC.

number of bridges connecting D.C. to Arlington are either completely shut down or have severely altered traffic patterns. Memorial Bridge is now closed through Thursday morning at 6 a.m. It was closed and then reopened over the weekend.

DC-bound lanes on Roosevelt Bridge, I-395 Bridge, and 14th Street Bridge will also be closed until Thursday morning, but lanes leaving the city “will flow normally” according to the Metropolitan Police Department traffic advisory. There are also a host of DC road closures

Key Bridge will remain open, but there’ll be no access to Whitehurst Freeway and only local traffic may turn right on M Street. Thru traffic can only turn left onto Canal Rd/MacArthur Blvd, this also according to the advisory. 

Chain Bridge will remain open in both directions, as well as the Wilson and American Legion Bridges connecting Virginia to Maryland.

Matt Blitz contributed reporting to this story.

Photo via FCPD

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Tuesday, Jan 19

  • Mr (Fictional) President (6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.) – Hail to the fictional chief. A day before a real president gets inaugurated, participate in a virtual conversation with actor Martin Sheen who played President Bartlet in the NBC television drama West Wing. Journalist Ken Walsh will be asking questions about how fictional depictions of government have impacted the real thing and why we view our national leaders the way we do. This event is hosted by the Smithsonian Associates.

Wednesday, Jan. 20

  • Bull Run Festival of Lights  (5:30 p.m.) – While this annual show of glimmery holiday lights was extended well into January, this is the final day for the season. So, bring your family, talk a socially distant walk, and appreciate this extra little bit of joy.

Thursday, Jan. 21

  • Fiber Art  (9 a.m.) – At Reston Community Center in Lake Anne, five local fiber artists are displaying contemporary quilts. Each artist has a different approach, but uses fabric and thread as their medium. Located in the Jo Anne Rose Gallery and runs through the end of February.

Friday, Jan. 22

  • Date Night (5 p.m.) – The Winery at Bull Run has all the pieces for a perfect outdoor but warm date night. A package includes a pair of rocking chairs around a fire pit, two glasses of wine in logos that are yours to keep, and one cozy blanket to snuggle up in together.

Saturday, Jan. 23

  • Hunt for Dinosaurs (1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.) – There are dinosaurs on the loose at Claude Moore Park in Sterling! Join a park naturalist in the search. Afterward, warm up by a campfire and toast some marshmallows (provided, individually wrapped, and Halel available upon request).

Sunday, Jan. 24

  • Notes From the Field screening and Q&A (3 p.m.) – Playwright and actor Anna Deavere Smith (best known for her role as Dr. Nancy McNally in the tv show West Wing) screens her new film “Notes From the Field” about systemic racism in the American justice system. Afterwards, she will appear virtually for a question and answer session.

Photo from distelAPPArath/Pixabay

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Fairfax County set a new single-day record for new COVID-19 cases over the three-day weekend leading up to Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

The county’s daily caseload rocketed to 1,485 cases on Sunday (Jan. 17), topping the previous high of 897 cases recorded on Dec. 21 by 588 cases.

The new record was part of a statewide surge that saw Virginia nearly reach 10,000 new cases in one day for the first time since the novel coronavirus was confirmed in the Commonwealth last March. 9,914 cases were reported in the state on Jan. 17, followed by 7,245 cases on Monday, which represented the second-highest daily caseload of the pandemic.

Unlike with previous jumps in new cases, the two-day spike could not be attributed to a lag in reporting.

“This increase is likely due to exposures during the holidays, similar to after Thanksgiving,” the Virginia Department of Health said in a statement reported by Inside NoVA and other news outlets. “VDH reminds Virginians to be vigilant and use the recommended guidance to prevent the spread of COVID-19.”

With an additional 313 cases coming in today (Tuesday), the Fairfax Health District has now recorded a total of 55,534 COVID-19 cases, 749 deaths, and 3,191 hospitalizations.

This weekend’s surge came as Virginia expanded eligibility for the COVID-19 vaccines to new populations, including people who are 65 and older or have high-risk medical conditions or a disability.

Fairfax County continues to outpace other jurisdictions in the state in administering vaccinations, delivering 43,161 doses as of this morning. 4,393 people in the county have been fully vaccinated, meaning they have received the required two shots of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine.

However, limited supplies and technical issues have complicated the vaccine distribution process.

In the week since Fairfax County opened appointments to residents in phase 1b, the online pre-screening registration system and phone hotline set up by the county health department have been overwhelmed by demand multiple times.

As of Jan. 16, more than 40,000 people had registered online or by phone to get a vaccination in the past week, but the vaccine supply “remains very limited,” and not everyone who has registered has been able to secure an actual appointment yet, according to the Fairfax County Health Department.

“We ask for your patience as it may take months to get through these priority groups,” the department said. “There are plans to increase options for vaccine in pharmacies and health care provider options, which over time will give people more choices.”

According to the VDH, Virginia has administered 341,388 vaccine doses total and distributed 943,400 doses. The state is administering 17,464 doses every day, still well shy of the 25,000 vaccinations-per-day goal set by Gov. Ralph Northam.

Image via CDC on Unsplash, chart via Virginia Department of Health

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Hotel rooms have suddenly become difficult to come by in Fairfax County ahead of Inauguration Day on Wednesday.

That is a welcome problem for the lodging sector of the hospitality industry, which has been in a downward spiral since the COVID-19 pandemic prompted a slew of travel restrictions and stay-at-home health guidance.

But this inauguration will be unlike any other in recent political history. The general public’s ability to attend President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris’s Oath of Office ceremony has been sharply curtailed due to the pandemic, but hotels are hosting another large group of guests: the National Guard.

Up to 21,000 members of the National Guard have been authorized to come to D.C. and secure the city ahead of potential attacks, after Trump supporters stormed Capitol Hill on Jan. 6. Fairfax County hotels are reportedly housing some of the 15,000 guard members already in the D.C. metropolitan area.

“We are indeed hearing anecdotally from hoteliers that there has been an uptick in reservations compared with the past 11 months, but we are unable to ascertain whether those reservations are directly related to the inauguration and/or the National Guard or people who are visiting for leisure or business travel,” Visit Fairfax President and CEO Barry Biggar said in a statement.

The pandemic and ensuing shutdowns devastated the hospitality industry across the U.S. In Virginia, COVID-19 has resulted in the loss of about 100,000 jobs, according to the American Hotel and Lodging Association.

In November, the AHLA found that 71% of its member hotels said “they won’t make it another six months without further federal assistance given current and projected travel demand.” 47% of respondents said they would be forced to close hotels.

Many hotels were forced to layoff more staff this winter, even as access to the second round of the Paycheck Protection Program has expanded to all lenders.

But the employees who remain taking the sudden surge of guests in stride, Biggar explains.

“What we do know is that our hotels have been working tirelessly, even with staff shortages and for long hours, to ensure that our guests are treated with the utmost hospitality,” he said.

Photo courtesy Sheraton Reston

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The first day of pre-screening and vaccine registration for Fairfax County residents between the ages of 65 and 74 and those with high-risk medical conditions began with a bumpy start after the county’s system went down for most of the morning on Monday.

Now, as the system returns to normal and vaccine registration resumes, county officials are urging residents to remain patient. Instead of contacting the county through the health department’s vaccine hotline, officials encourage residents to complete an online pre-screening form and appointment questionnaire instead of calling the county’s hotline.

Still, some residents — including frontline healthcare workers who received the first dose of the vaccine in December — say they’re still receiving uncertain answers about when to schedule their second dose.

A local healthcare worker told Reston Now that she and several others she knows have had trouble receiving any information from the health department on when the second dose will take be administered. All residents receive a vaccination card and are required to receive a second dose of the two-course vaccine roughly four weeks after the first dose.

But some say they haven’t received any information on when the second dose will be available.

“I have called the department hundreds of times to attempt to schedule the second required vaccine,” a healthcare worker told Reston Now. ‘A week ago, I literally called 50 times and was unable to get through to speak to someone.”

When residents were able to get someone on the line, the information provided was scant, the source told Reston Now.

“A system that is already overloaded is becoming even more overwhelmed.”

Tina Dale, a spokesperson for the Fairfax County Health Department, told Reston Now that residents do not need to call the health department to schedule the second dose of the vaccine. The health department will provide residents with a link to schedule their next appointment by email.

The earliest the second dose can be administered by the health department is late this week.

But it may be weeks before registered residents receive information from the health department to register an appointment.

Within the first few hours of pre-registration opening on Saturday, the county received more than 33,000 new registrations. Gov. Ralph Northam recently expanded the number of eligible Virginians who can register for the vaccine.

Now, more than 40 percent of the county’s total population is eligible to register for a vaccine. The Fairfax County Public Schools System began vaccinating employees on Jan. 16. Vaccinations for FCPS are offered through the Inova Center for Personalized Health in Fairfax.

Once all residents are pre-screening through the online form or by phone, they will be contacted by the health department for scheduling. The county has also launched a webpage with commonly asked questions about the vaccine.

“There is a very limited supply of vaccine from the Virginia Department of Health and the county is constantly working to get more,” said Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn in a statement. “This process will take months, not days.”

Technical difficulties with the county’s IT vendor prompted delays on Saturday morning. The county’s phone lines were once again overwhelmed with an influx of calls.

Alcorn said that while he understands the issues were unforeseen, challenges so far are “still not acceptable.”

“We need to do better.”

Photo via FCPS

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Reston has been ranked as the number one place to work from home.

According to a recent ranking from Money magazine, Reston came on the top of a national list, which considers the cost of living, safety, education quality the number of residents working from home, access to necessities like daycares and pharmacies, and sufficient internet connection.

The magazine states that Reston was “practically designed with the remote employee in mind.”

The ranking comes as Americans across the country make the transition to remote work, transforming living rooms into work stations and closets into virtual classrooms.

According to a recent survey by Redfin, roughly 72 pe recent of homebuyers expects to continue working remotely after the pandemic winds down.

Here’s what Money had to say about Reston.

Built from the ground up in the 1960s, Reston is a planned residential community created to be a green suburb where families could live, play and work without having to rely on a car.

The census-designated place has 55 miles of paved pedestrian pathways and trails that connect the various neighborhoods and a majority of residents live within a 10 minute-walk of one of Reston’s 73 parks. It’s home to two golf courses and four man-made lakes perfect for fishing, boating, or lakeside picnics.

The city has one main town center and five village centers — one for each neighborhood. Residents boast about the endless food options they offer. Like Cafesano in South Reston, where you can enjoy a $14 steak kabob seated on a deck that overlook Lake Thoreau.

The city is no stranger to work-from-home families so it’s well-equipped to take care of your remote needs. Pre-pandemic, about 6.3% of Reston residents worked from home, compared to the national rate of 4.5%.

Nearly all households have an adequate internet connection by the BroadbandNow definition. But if you need access to an office, Washington D.C. is only a 33-minute drive away (or 45 minutes and $8 via public transportation). In the opposite direction, Washington-Dulles International Airport is only 15 minutes by car (or 20 minutes and $2 on the Fairfax Connector).

The community has a median home price of $434,000 and roughly 88 percent of residents live within a 10-minute walk of a park. Overall, a little over 3 percent of residents were working from home before the pandemic.

Other areas that ranked high on Money’s list include Naperville, Illinois., Ann Arbor, Michigan, and Roseville, California.

Photo by Marjorie Copson

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A man was robbed at gunpoint by three juveniles in Reston on Jan. 10, according to the Fairfax County Police Department.

Two juveniles were arrested and charged with robbery and the use of a firearm in the commission of a felony, police said. Information about the third juvenile involved in the incident was not available.

Police believe the man was waiting at 4 p.m. near the 1500 block of Cameron Crescent Drive when the juveniles robbed the man at gunpoint and ran away.

No other information about the incident was released.

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A 50-member church proposed for 459 Herndon Parkway is nearing approval by the town of Herndon’s planning commission.

In November, Christ Fellowship Church applied for a special exception to take up residence in suites 7 and 8A at a facility owned by Parkway Crossing Condominiums.

A special exception is needed because religious institutions are not allowed in any of the town’s zoning districts. 459 Herndon Parkway lies in the office and light industrial zoning district.

However, parking concerns delayed a vote in December until later this month.

Earlier this week, though, planning commission staff said they’d recommend approving the application, provided certain conditions are met. Many on the commission also seemed to be in agreement that once the special exception is up for a vote, they’d vote to approve.

Concerns were brought up that discussion of parking logistics should actually be between the church and the condo association, rather than be subjected to a debate during the town’s planning commission meeting.

In mid-November, the condo’s Board of Directors voted to begin a study to explore ways to relax parking restrictions on first-floor condo units. This could open up more spots for the church.

That study is ongoing, according to the planning commission staff.

As for certain conditions, prohibiting daycare or school use and limiting the attendees to 44 at a time are the recommendations of the staff.

The church would be allowed to submit separate special exception applications for both of these in the future.

Christ Fellowship Church has been part of Herndon for almost 30 years and was worshipping at Arts Herndon, a local art gallery 750 Center Street. Currently, they are worshipping virtually.

The church has approximately 50 members, no full-time staff, and one part-time staff.

Photo via the handout/Town of Herndon Planning Commission 

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