Reston, VA

Morning Notes

Virginia Declares State of Emergency Over Gas Supplies — Gov. Ralph Northam gave the state and local governments increased flexibility and funding yesterday (Tuesday) after a ransomware attack disrupted the Colonial Pipeline, which provides 45% of the East Coast’s gasoline supply. 7.5% of the state’s 3,880 gas stations reported running out of fuel, a shortage primarily attributed to panic buying. [WTOP]

ABC Stores Will Resume Pre-Pandemic Hours on Friday — “After more than a year of reduced operating hours in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, all Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority (ABC) stores will return to pre-pandemic operating hours on May 14, 2021. All stores will open by 10 a.m. every day, apart from some stores which regularly open later on Sundays…Closing times vary by store.” [Virginia ABC]

Herndon Robbery Suspect Still Unidentified — An armed robbery of a business in the 1000 block of Elden Street on Thursday (May 6) is still under investigation. Police say “an unknown subject” entered the business shortly before 10 a.m., displayed a weapon, and demanded money. The business and amount of money taken have not been disclosed. [Herndon Police Department]

Fairfax County Warns About “Phone Spoofing” Scam — Multiple Fairfax County residents have reported receiving calls from 703-324-1000 saying that their data has been compromised and they need to set up fraud protection. While the number appears to be from the MyFairfax online portal, it is a scam, and the county says people should not call any secondary number or give out their personal or county information. [Fairfax County Government]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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Recent thefts at Reston community gardens are leading to increased security and involvement of the police, Reston Association announced in a statement yesterday (May 10).

Just last week, thieves stole hundreds of dollars of plants from a community garden plot in Hunter Woods Park, Patch reported.

This isn’t the first time this has happened at the garden, which is located at 2501 Reston Parkway. Incidents of this nature date back at least two years, with thieves stealing materials, supplies, tools, and even a little girl’s garden gnome.

Reston Association previously installed a 10-foot chain link fence and motion detector lights, but that didn’t prevent this past month’s robberies.

“Before this season, there was no real fencing or locked gate,” Reston Association spokesperson Mike Leone told Reston Now in an email. “So, this is the first break-in.”

The Fairfax County Police Department has received 23 theft reports from this particular community garden since last year, a police spokesperson tells Reston Now.

However, that number reflects the number of victims, rather than separate incidents, with many of the thefts occurring on the same day.

There have been six reported thefts in this past year alone, with three of them occurring on the same day. Many are happening between the months of May and July, according to the police spokesperson.

As a result, RA says it will ramp up security efforts at the community garden.

The organization is looking into upgrading the lighting and installing a trail camera that would help identify anyone coming or going from the garden. Its Central Services Facility team is also asking all gardeners to constantly check if the gates are locked and not to share the combinations with anyone.

Additionally, FCPD is increasing its presence in the area overnight to deter further thefts and break-ins.

Beyond safety concerns, gardeners spend a lot of time, money, and energy working their plots.

“We know how much the Reston’s garden plots mean to our community members,” Reston Association CEO Hank Lynch wrote in a statement. “Gardeners give their time and energy to help us manage these facilities and they get immense personal satisfaction out of growing their own plants and vegetables. We want residents of all ages to feel they can pursue this wonderful hobby in a safe and secure manner.”

The motives behind the thefts remains unclear, though one person told Patch that the nature of the stolen items and the methods used to obtain them, such as the unscrewing of wooden frames around the garden, suggest the culprits could be landscapers.

FCPD is continuing to investigate and follow-up on the reported thefts and encourages community members to report any suspicious activity they see in the garden’s vicinity.

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Public Art Reston has a new executive director.

The nonprofit announced last week that Trinity Villanueva officially took over the role on April 26. She succeeds Anne Delaney, who served as executive director for 11 years before stepping down on July 31.

Villanueva says that she plans to focus on making art more accessible and inclusive. Citing Reston founder Robert E. Simon’s belief in art as a necessity, she says she is “thrilled” to know it is such an ingrained principle in Reston’s culture.

“Art is a connector. It fosters a strong climate and elevates voices on the spectrum of agency,” Villanueva said. “We will continue to cultivate accessibility and equitable art, already embedded in Simon’s guiding principles.”

Villanueva comes from the Carlos Rosario International Charter School in D.C., where she founded and led the arts integration and culture department for more than a decade.

She’s also the co-founder of Mixt Collective, which supports marginalized artists, and she’s a graduate of multiple institutions, including the University of Pennsylvania and Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music.

Public Art Reston Board of Directors Chair Maggie Parker noted how Villanueva’s energy has already impacted Reston, complimenting her “zest for living and her unlimited view of what public art can do for a community.”

“She has already injected joy and enthusiasm into Reston and will be a wonderful collaborator and thought leader in the community,” Parker said.

The COVID-19 pandemic has kept the art world on the sidelines in recent months, shuttering venues and limiting many events to online spaces, but Villanueva feels it has also spotlighted the need for art to take on a more primary role.

“The constraints of these times have further shown that you do not need to go into a building to engage in art,” Villanueva said. “Your direct involvement is what makes art transformative, and this next chapter for Public Art Reston will set that tone.”

As Public Art Reston’s executive director, Villanueva will oversee the continued implementation of the Public Art Master Plan for Reston that the organization adopted in 2008.

“I look forward to gathering the Reston community to collectively define public art,” said Villanueva. “It is a wonderful time to recharge and regenerate what public art means, across disciplines, and positively impact Reston’s current and future growth.”

Photo via Public Art Reston

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Meet Joyful Jen, a friendly 2-year-old Great Pyrenees mix who’s looking for her forever family.

Here’s what her friends at Safe Haven Puppy Rescue have to say about her:

Jen is a happy, friendly girl who is 2 years old and weighs in at 88 pounds. She is so incredibly sweet and calm. She has been a joy to have with us, but she is ready to go to her forever family. We’re confident she will make her adopters a terrific companion. This beautiful girl is a nice blend of friendly affection and normal puppy playfulness and will bring lots of love to any home.

Are you and Joyful Jen the perfect match?

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The potential expansion of Tall Oaks Assisted Living Facility’s parking lot has taken another step.

After earning conceptual approval from the Reston Association Design Review Board on April 20, the facility’s proposed parking lot expansion on North Shore Drive has now gotten a recommendation from Fairfax County’s planning department.

Released on May 5, the staff report includes some conditions but supports the overall expansion plan.

“The applicant has satisfactorily demonstrated to staff that the proposed parking will sufficiently meet the parking needs of the facility and has minimized impact to the surrounding area,” the staff report said.

The staff conditions include providing three secure bicycle racks within 200 yards of the building’s front entrance and pre-wiring 2% of the proposed parking spaces for electric vehicle charging stations.

Tall Oaks Assisted Living currently has 44 parking spaces, which matched the requirements of a facility of its size when it was constructed in 1988. However, with 152 beds and 48 employees, it does not meet the county’s current zoning requirement of one parking space for every three beds and one space per employee.

The county’s current regulations require 99 parking spaces for a facility of this size, so Tall Oaks has applied for a waiver to reduce that number to 73 spaces.

The plan for the expanded lot includes five tandem spaces, 12 spaces at the front of the building, 54 spaces along the southern and western edges of the site, and seven spaces at the rear of the building.

“In staff’s opinion, the 99 required parking spaces could create unwanted environmental impacts and would encroach on existing conservation easements,” the staff report said.

The proposal’s environmental impact was a primary concern of RA’s Design Review Board. Tall Oaks estimates it would need to remove 66 trees and 95 shrubs, while only proposing to plant 17 new trees.

The staff report, however, states that the proposed parking layout “will not impact the existing trees.” It further details that a mix of canopy and understory trees, as well as shrubs, are proposed to screen and buffer the site.

“The design now includes one row of parking and a 12-foot wide buffer area between the building and parking area to mitigate noise and light impacts on adjacent units,” the staff report said. “Additionally, the applicant is proposing a mix of deciduous understory and canopy trees that, in combination with the natural topography of the site, will reduce the light impact to the adjacent townhouse community.”

The Fairfax County Planning Commission is slated to host a public hearing and vote on the expansion of Tall Oaks’ parking lot expansion on May 19.

Photo via Google Maps

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Red Velvet Cupcakery is coming back to Reston and is set to open later this summer.

The well-known bakery that was formerly at Reston Town Center will open a new location at Reston Town Center West on Sunset Hills Road, owner Aaron Gordon tells Reston Now.

It will share a kitchen with Little Beast Bistro, a sandwich and pizza concept also developed by Gordon, but much like the two do in Chevy Chase, D.C., they will have seperate, distinct storefronts.

“I’ve always wanted to get back out [to Reston],” Gordon said.

His partner on these ventures is Kristen Brabrook, the former manager of Red Velvet’s Reston Town Center location.

“She’s been the manager with me since the store opened 10, 11 years ago. This is for her hard work,” he said.

Red Velvet Cupcakery and Little Beast will be located at 12100 Sunset Hills Road, replacing Famous Toastery, which closed in March.

Gordon says they sought out a pre-built, second-generation space so they could open on a quicker timeline.

The plan is open in early August, he says. The new location will be right across from Cooper’s Hawk Winery and Restaurant.

“It’s an ideal location,” Gordon said. “…With [development] projects and the Metro coming, it was very attractive. It’s easy to get in and out for take away and delivery too.”

Red Velvet Cupcakery will be carry-out with 10 to 12 seats outdoors and a separate, side entrance from Little Beast. It will serve up many other treats beyond cupcakes, Gordon says, including croissants, cinnamon bins, acai bowls, and cruffins.

Little Beast will have about 100 seats inside, 20 outside, and a bar/cocktail area. It will focus on pizza, pasta, sandwiches, and cocktails, and brunch will be available everyday.

To support these ventures, Gordon launched a crowd-sourcing campaign last week through MainVest, allowing anyone to invest in his Reston restaurants in exchange for perks like owner hats, a customized beer stein, and cupcakes for life.

Red Velvet closed almost exactly three years ago at Reston Town Center, a decision was mainly driven by developer Boston Properties instituting paid parking.

“We did our best to fight paid parking in RTC and we are proud to have played a large role in forcing the owners to reduce the paid parking hours, which costs them tens of millions yearly,” Gordon said at the time. “We only regret we were unable to force them to scrap their greedy money-grab entirely.”

A number of businesses ended up suing the developer over the paid parking system, claiming that it was costing them significant business. The lawsuits were settled in 2019.

Gordon says Red Velvet Cupcakery at Reston Town Center stopped being profitable when paid parking was put in place. So, when the lease ended in 2018, he was unable to negotiate an extension with Boston Properties, since he felt it no longer made sense to stay “at the same high rent.”

Now, Gordon is happy to be coming back to Reston particularly after a very tough past year.

“Going through the pandemic was hard for all, but particularly so for restaurants,” he says. “It was about finding the perfect spot, and I think we have.”

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Morning Notes

New Fairfax County Police Chief Sworn In — Kevin Davis was formally sworn in as Fairfax County’s new police chief yesterday morning (Monday). The former Baltimore police commissioner begins his tenure amid intense scrutiny of his past conduct and the county’s hiring process. [FCPD]

Republican Attorney General Candidate Calls for Recount — Former Virginia Beach Republican Party Chairman Chuck Smith is requesting a recount after he lost the party’s nomination for attorney general to Del. Jason Miyares (R-Virginia Beach) by a 52-48 margin on Sunday (May 9). The state’s Republican Party held a convention on Saturday to determine its nominees in statewide races for governor and lieutenant governor as well. [WTOP]

Reston Station Architect Killed in Car Crash — Architect Helmut Jahn, 81, died on Saturday (May 8) after he was struck by two separate cars while bicycling in the Chicago suburb of Campton Hills. Jahn’s work includes the plaza at Reston Station and the development’s first office building, where Google is planning to expand. [Patch]

Frying Pan Farm Park Ranks Second in RegionFrying Pan Farm Park was named the second-best park in Northern Virginia by Virginia Living readers in the magazine’s “Best of Virginia 2021” competition, coming behind only Burke Lake Park. The Herndon park features a carousel, equestrian facilities, and Kidwell Farm, a living interpretation of a 1930s-era working farm. [Fairfax County Park Authority]

Herndon Summer Camps and Classes Announced — The Herndon Parks and Recreation Department has released a brochure of summer camps and June classes, which will be tweaked due to COVID-19. Camps will run from mid-June to mid-August, and offerings could expand depending on community health conditions. Registration begins at 10 a.m. on Wednesday (May 12) for town residents and and at 10 a.m. on May 18 for non-town residents. [Herndon Recreation]

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Reston community members have set up a GoFundMe to help an individual experiencing homelessness pay for a local hotel room.

On a sunny May morning, 62-year-old Mark sat on the curb at the back of Target’s parking lot on Sunset Hills Road in Reston.

When a gray Honda CR-V pulls up in front of him, he smiles and waves. The car’s window comes down, he stands up, limping to the car. The woman inside hands Mark some money.

“God bless you,” Mark said.

“Your smile makes me happy,” the woman responded.

“I love to see them smile back,” Mark said, sitting back on the curb as the woman drives away. “It’s a little bit of interaction.”

With his balloons, signs, and a smile, Mark — who asked Reston Now not use his last name out of privacy concerns — has become a well-known fixture at this spot. He has been sitting there six days a week, with Mondays off, since he started experienced homelessness five years ago, going on six.

Earlier this year, Oak Hill resident David Ritter set up a GoFundMe to assist Mark in paying for a room at a nearby hotel. Currently, the fundraiser amassed over $900, but it has a goal of $10,000.

Ritter tells Reston Now he’s helping because he’s gotten to know Mark over the last several years.

“A lot of homeless people don’t interact, don’t engage, and are not positive like Mark,” Ritter said. “I think that’s a testament to his character.”

Mark tells Reston Now that he’s a veteran and a Columbia University medical school graduate who has a past criminal record that has prevented him from getting a job.

“I’ve sent out 1,500 job applications in five years,” Mark said. “Nobody will hire me…The computer probably just spits it out once you check that box.”

He also has physical limitations stemming from diabetes, a bad hip, and a shoulder surgery gone bad, putting his left arm in a sling. He additionally suffers from bipolar disorder. He says he’s applied for disability and is still waiting to hear back about help.

Behind the smile and loquacious nature, Mark admits that the difficulty of his situation can affect his mental health.

“It’s definitely difficult at times,” he said. “I’m bipolar. I can have massive depression episodes. I go down hard.”

In general, Mark says, people are very kind to him.

The nearby Sunoco gas station owns the land where he sits, Mark says, and they let him sit there every day (Reston Now independently verified this with Sunoco). Target employees are also very nice, teasingly calling him the “goodbye person” since he waves to everyone exiting the parking lot.

He says Fairfax County police check in on him regularly, always treating him with respect and dignity.

And people in cars often stop to give a few dollars, food, and other supplies. On good days, he says he makes about a hundred dollars a day.

Over the course of his hour-long interview with Reston Now, no less than six people in cars stop to help Mark out. He greets everyone with a wave, a smile, and a hearty thank you.

“I get a lot of food from Target and all the restaurants from around here,” he says, chuckling. “I haven’t had to buy my own lunch or dinner in a long time.”

The hope with the GoFundMe is that it would provide Mark the means to get a room every night at the local hotel where he’s staying. Read More

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Fairfax County has surpassed the halfway mark for COVID-19 vaccinations, as reported cases of the disease caused by the novel coronavirus continue to decline.

According to Virginia Department of Health data, 51% of Fairfax County’s population — or 585,447 residents — have now gotten at least one COVID-19 vaccine shot. That puts the county in line with neighboring jurisdictions in Northern Virginia, including Loudoun (50.4%) and Arlington (51.2%).

After previously trailing by a hair, the county now has now inched past Virginia as a whole in terms of fully vaccinated residents. 35.4% of the county’s population — or 406,383 people — have received all required shots, compared to 35.1% of the state overall.

Virginia has administered at least one dose to more than 4 million people, or 47.1% of its population. 3 million residents have been fully vaccinated.

With more people getting vaccinated, Fairfax County’s COVID-19 caseload continues to shrink.

While the number of new cases ticked back up to 126 cases on Friday (May 7), the Fairfax Health District reported just 22 cases today (Monday), the fewest since 21 cases came in on Sept. 28.

The county is now averaging 63.4 cases over the past seven days, bringing the case rate down to a level not seen since Aug. 1, when the weekly average was at 60.6 cases after hovering in the 50s and 60s throughout July.

The Fairfax Health District has now recorded a total of 77,422 COVID-19 cases, 4,053 hospitalizations, and 1,104 deaths.

While demand for the COVID-19 vaccine has started to ebb, Virginia’s push to achieve herd immunity could get a boost if federal officials approve the vaccine for adolescents between the ages of 12 and 15 this week as anticipated.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices is scheduled to meet on Wednesday (May 12) to discuss recommending that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine be approved for 12 to 15-year-olds, according to the Fairfax County Health Department.

Pfizer reported on March 31 that its vaccine has shown a 100% efficacy rate and “robust antibody responses” in a clinical trial with 2,260 participants between 12 and 15 years old, none of whom contracted COVID-19 after getting vaccinated.

The company says it expects to get authorization from the Food and Drug Administration for the expanded use of its vaccine, which is currently approved for people 16 and older, sometime this week.

The Fairfax County Health Department says vaccine will be ready so that parents and guardians can start making appointments as soon as the federal approval comes in.

“The state and local health departments will let everyone know when the vaccine is approved for use among 12-15-year-olds and our appointment scheduling systems will update accordingly,” the FCHD said in a blog post.

Chart via Virginia Department of Health

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(Updated at 12:55 p.m.)

Monday, May 10

  • Learn Sumi-e (6-7 p.m.) — Sumi-e is a Japanese art form that uses ink and water to create a calligraphy type of painting. Take a virtual class on this art through the Thomas Jefferson Library in Falls Church. All materials are picked up and returned to the library.

Tuesday, May 11

  • Super Snakes (10 a.m.) — Don’t worry, there’s no Marvel movie about super snakes (yet). Join a naturalist from the Fairfax County Park Authority to learn about the snakes that slither through our region. Then, head out to Burke Lake Park to go find some.

Wednesday, May 12

  • Village Centers of Reston (7-8:30 p.m.) — Join the Reston Historic Trust and Museum for a virtual presentation on the history of village centers. It will feature archival materials from the museum’s collections, as they continue to embrace the future to explain the past.

Thursday, May 13

  • X-Wing Lands At Smithsonian (10:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m.) — The X-Wing flown by Poe Dameron in 2019’s Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker has landed at the National Air and Space Museum’s Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly. It’s in the restoration hanger and can be seen by the public while it undergoes inspection, conservation, and cleaning before heading off to a galaxy far, far, away — that is, D.C. where it will hang in the museum downtown starting late next year.

Friday, May 14

  • First Date (8 p.m.) — In NextStop Theatre’s first return to the stage since the pandemic, follow Casey and Aaron on their first date through the Town of Herndon.
  • Drive-In Movie Night (7:15 p.m.) — Catch a free drive-in movie at Reston Hospital to honor Nurses and Hospital week. The movie will be “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle,” and there’s space for 150 cars.

Saturday, May 15

  • RA Pools Opening (1 p.m) — It’s finally pool season, even if the weather remains a bit cool. The first two of Reston Association’s 12 pools opens this weekend for the season. And, don’t worry, the pools are heated.
  • Tour de Hunter Mill (8:30 a.m.-1 p.m.) — Join this community bike ride around the district to reacquaint oneself with the hidden treasures, cultural, and environmental resources in the area. It’s the inaugural ride and also a chance to peddle around with Supervisor Walter Alcorn.

Sunday, May 16

  • Virginia Psychic Fair (9 a.m.) — Some of the area’s most well-known psychics, mediums, healers, and readers of all types will be on hand at the Virginia Psychic Fair held at the Arlington-Fairfax Elks Lodge in Fairfax. The fair is for the serious-minded and those just curious alike. Masks are required.
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(Updated at 1:30 p.m.) It took about nine months longer than anticipated, but True Food Kitchen is officially in business at Reston Town Center.

As announced in late March, the health food restaurant opened its new Reston franchise on April 28. This is True Food Kitchen’s 37th location nationwide and its fourth in the D.C. area, joining venues in the Mosaic District, Ballston Quarter in Arlington, and Bethesda, Maryland.

“We are thrilled to officially plant our roots in Reston, a buzzing dining scene and community home to a vibrant, active and wellness-driven community,” True Food Kitchen CEO Christine Barone said. “We’re grateful to be welcomed into Reston Town Center and look forward to sharing our mission to bring people together to eat better, feel better and celebrate a passion for better living.”

Founded in 2008 by integrative medicine specialist Dr. Andrew Weil, True Food Kitchen emphasizes anti-inflammatory food and offers a menu that changes depending on what ingredients are in season.

Right now, the restaurant has its spring menu, which features a new vegan double cheeseburger, spicy tuna spring rolls, and avocado key lime pie as a dessert option. Some dishes, such as the ancient grain bowl and spaghetti squash cassarole, are available year-round.

Located in the former M & S venue at 11901 Democracy Drive, True Food Kitchen Reston occupies 9,379 square feet of space with a main indoor dining room, outdoor patio seating, and a private dining room that can seat up to 44 patrons, according to a press release.

The location also boasts a private entrance and room exclusively for people looking to get takeout or pick up online orders, a feature that seems especially useful while the COVID-19 pandemic persists.

Other accommodations for pandemic-related public health guidelines include mobile ordering, a seating arrangement set up for social distancing, and modified service intended to minimize contact between customers and workers.

True Food Kitchen is still hiring for several open positions, including servers, cooks, hosts, dishwashers, and bartenders.

Like other chain restaurants, True Food Kitchen maintains a standard aesthetic design and atmosphere across its different franchises, but the Reston Town Center location has one local touch in the form of wall murals with plates hand-painted by four different artists based in the D.C. area.

Sabrina Cabada, who lives in Arlington, says she appreciates hearing from brands who are interested in working with local artists.

“I am a figurative artist and liked the idea of incorporating food and emotion into my signature style,” Cabada said.

The other participating artists are Martina Sestakova, Emon Sura, and Natasha Platt. They each painted a row of plates based on how they interpreted the moods of happiness, calm, energy, and focus.

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Morning Notes

Power Shut Off around Reston Town Center — Dominion Energy turned off power in Reston on Saturday evening (May 8) so that first responders from Fairfax County’s police and the fire departments could address “an incident involving an individual who has climbed a power transmission line.” [Fairfax Alerts]

Hunter Woods Community Gardens Plagued by Thefts — Two community gardens at Hunter Woods Park have been repeatedly targeted by thieves, who have taken thousands of dollars in plants over the past two years, volunteers say. The thefts have persisted despite the installation of surveillance cameras, motion-sensor-triggered lights, and new fencing with a padlocked gate. [Patch]

Halley Rise Officially Signs Second Tenant — The bowling, bocce, and bar venue Pinstripes has had its sights set on the Halley Rise development for at least two years, but the move is now official. This is the second retail tenant to join the mixed-use development next to the Reston Town Center Metro station, which will be anchored by Wegmans. [H&R Retail]

South Lakes Safeway Burglarized on May 2 — “A man entered the store, damaged a secured high-end liquor cabinet and stole property. An employee confronted the man and was subsequently assaulted. The man implied he had a firearm then left with the property.” [FCPD]

Contract Awarded for Fox Mill Elementary Renovation — The Fairfax County School Board voted on Thursday (May 6) to award a nearly $20 million contract to Howard Shockey & Sons, Inc. for the Fox Mill Elementary School renovation project. On-site construction work will begin this month and is expected to be completed by spring 2023. [FCPS]

Reston Wellness Center Reopens Today — The nonprofit Reston Wellness Center (1850 Cameron Glen Drive, Suite 200) is restarting in-person services on May 10 after being closed due to the pandemic. The center provides meals, employment assistance, support groups, and other services for free to people in recovery for mental health and substance use issues. [Recovery Program Solutions of Virginia]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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Before we head off into another weekend amid increasingly available COVID-19 vaccine appointments, let’s take a look back at the biggest stories on Reston Now in recent days.

  1. Virginia updates rules for face masks, could lift all capacity limits in June
  2. JUST IN: Thousands in Great Falls affected by power outages due to strong winds
  3. DEVELOPING: Herndon Police investigate armed robbery near Dulles Park
  4. Taste of Istanbul to open at Reston Town Center on May 16
  5. A veteran legislator and a fresh face contend for Virginia’s 36th House District seat

If you have ideas on stories we should cover, email us at [email protected] or submit an anonymous tip. Photos from around the Reston and Herndon area are also welcome, with credit always given to the photographer.

Feel free to discuss these topics, your socially distanced weekend plans, or anything else that’s happening locally in the comments below.

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(Updated 5:00 p.m.) Kevin Davis’s first challenge as Fairfax County’s new police chief is to earn the public’s trust, and if the community input session held last night (Thursday) was any indication, it will be a formidable task.

In a virtual discussion that lasted more than two hours, caller after caller expressed dismay at what they believe was insufficient transparency and community engagement from the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors during the hiring process, leading many to question that if the county made the right decision in appointing Davis.

“The Board’s closed-door deliberations and no community involvement in the vetting process left us in the dark. This, coupled with press revelations after the selection, rendered the process fatally flawed,” Diane Burkley Alejandro, lead advocate for the immigrant rights organization ACLU Power People Fairfax, said during the session.

Late last month, NBC4 reported that Davis had faced — and lost — civil lawsuits in the 1990s related to the use of force and unconstitutional detainment while on the job in Prince George’s County.

Callers also brought up concerns about Davis’ authorization of secret aerial surveillance while he was Baltimore’s police commissioner as well as comments he made in a 2020 Baltimore Sun op-ed about defunding the police.

The Board of Supervisors acknowledged that the community has expressed concerns about Davis’s record in a broad statement earlier this week, but county leaders have not wavered from their position that he was the best choice to lead the Fairfax County Police Department and implement the reforms that the board has been seeking.

“Your hiring of Mr. Davis in today’s environment is just plain tone deaf,” Hunter Mill District resident Diana Smith said yesterday, directing her ire to the board. “…It sends a really negative message. I think this was a really flawed decision based on a really flawed process, which led to a flawed selection of a candidate.”

A number of callers backed Fairfax County NAACP’s call last week for a new police chief search, a stance that has won support from other community groups throughout the week.

“I and other community organizations expressed not only the lack of community engagement but the type of community engagement. It’s fine to check a box and say ‘we did a survey, we had community meetings’ but was that enough and were we really heard?” Amanda Andere, a member of the Chairman’s Equity Task Force, said. “We need to start over. We need a process rooted in equity that starts and ends with community input.”

For Davis’s part, he acknowledged the criticisms in his opening remarks and said that he made mistakes over the years but plans to continue to work to gain the community’s trust.

“I have certainly changed, grown, and have learned many lessons throughout the course of my career,” Davis said in response to one caller. “Every year along my journey, I’ve learned more and have become more attuned to community expectations and sensitivities…Was it always a perfect journey? No.”

Throughout the night, Davis reiterated that he was proud of his career, the progress he’s made in terms of building trust with communities of color, and his belief that he has been “one of the most progressive reform leaders in our country.”

“I’ll follow my own mother’s advice…by being the best chief of police I can possibly be,” Davis said. Read More

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Reston is now home to an expansion of PuroClean, a national business that specializes in cleaning, restoration, and commercial services.

PuroClean announced on Wednesday (May 5) that entrepreneur and Army veteran Joseph Ortiz is opening the company’s latest franchise, which will primarily provide service in Reston, Herndon, Great Falls, Tysons, and Shady Oaks.

Founded in 2001, PuroClean has more than 325 franchise offices throughout the United States and Canada. The company’s focus is providing a range of cleaning services, including water damage restoration, mold removal, fire and smoke damage restoration, and biohazard and virus cleanup.

The business also offers inspections, demolition, debris removal, and cleaning for carpet, upholstery, air ducts, vents, and tile and grout, along with commercial property restoration services for property owners who suffer large-scale damage.

“We’re happy to announce the expansion of the PuroClean network in Virginia with the opening of PuroClean of Reston.  This team is certified and equipped to serve local property owners during their times of need,” PuroClean President and COO Steve White said in a press release.

The Reston franchise brings PuroClean up to five franchises in Northern Virginia. The company also has offices in McLean, Alexandria, Springfield, and Sterling.

“By growing and supporting franchise owners like Joseph across North America, we can help small business owners begin their entrepreneurial journey and serve their local communities,” he added.

Before starting his PuroClean franchise, Ortiz served in the U.S. Army and subsequently worked multiple positions within the aerospace industry. He is also president of the aircraft maintenance company DCJets Services LLC, which he opened in Sterling in 2016.

“As a military veteran, it was a natural transition for me to become a franchise owner at PuroClean, who provides services to people during their times of need throughout Fairfax county,” Ortiz said. “Amid the pandemic, our homes and workplaces are our most personal spaces and if I can help someone save their property, then I’ve completed my duty.”

Photo courtesy PuroClean

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