Top Stories This Week

Before we head off into the weekend, let’s take a look back at the biggest stories on Reston Now in recent days.

  1. DEVELOPING: Fire Breaks Out at South Lakes Shopping Center
  2. UPDATED: After Police Pursuit, Man Arrested in Felony Hit and Run Incident
  3. After Fire, Cafesano’s Cafe in South Lakes Village Center Closes Until Further Notice
  4. New Indian Vegetarian Restaurant Opens in Herndon
  5. Town of Herndon Moves Forward on Free WiFi, Charging Station in Downtown Herndon

If you have ideas on stories we should cover, email us at [email protected] or submit an anonymous tip.

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

Photo by Jay Westcott

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Reminder: Send Reston Now Your Op-Eds and Letters to the Editor

Have thoughts about Reston Now’s coverage of Reston, Herndon and Great Falls? Want to share your opinions about local issues?

Reston Now welcomes letters to the editors and op-eds of specific interest to the Reston, Herndon and Great Falls community.

The key difference is that an op-ed can be an opinion piece about a local issue, while a letter to the editor responds directly to a Reston Now story.

Please email it to [email protected] You are also welcome to contact us with your idea for feedback before submitting it.

While there is no word limit, we suggest under 1,000 words. Contributions may be edited for length, content and style/grammar.

Reston Now does not publish op-eds relating to a specific candidate running for political office — either from the candidate’s team or opponents.

Thank you to everyone who has submitted op-eds and letters to the editor already.

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Del. Ken Plum: Skepticism on Casino Gaming in Virginia

Del. Ken Plum/File photoThis is an opinion column by Del. Ken Plum (D), who represents Reston in Virginia’s House of Delegates. It does not reflect the opinion of Reston Now.

After intensive lobbying by some local governments and private investors during the 2019 session, the General Assembly passed a bill requesting the Joint Legislative Audit Review Commission (JLARC) on which I serve to conduct a review of the impact if resort-style casinos were to be built in Bristol, Danville, Norfolk, Portsmouth, and Richmond. These locations represent a pattern only of local governments that are interested and /or private investors who want to invest there. The JLARC staff along with assistance of private consultants who specialize in gambling operations reported to the Commission last week. A copy of the report is available at jlarc.virginia.gov/landing- 2019-gaming.

Gambling has long been prohibited in Virginia, with the exception of the lottery, charitable gaming such as bingo, and wagering on horse races. Virginians currently wager over $1 billion annually on these forms of gaming, generating about $600 million in revenue for various purposes, primarily K-12 education. Nearby states permit more forms of gambling than Virginia does, including casino gaming, sports wagering, and online casino gaming.

According to estimates from The Innovation Group, a national gaming consultant who assisted JLARC staff with the study, resort-style casinos could be built and sustained in Bristol, Danville, Norfolk, Portsmouth, and Richmond. These estimates assume an initial $200 million to $300 million capital investment and an annual gaming revenue state tax rate of 27 percent (the national median). Casinos in these five locations are projected to generate about $970 million annually in net gaming revenue and approximately $260 million in gaming tax revenue for the state. For comparison, the Virginia Lottery generates over $600 million annually after prizes are paid out. About one-third of total casino revenue is projected to be generated by out-of-state visitors.

The projected median wage of $33,000 for casino employees would be below the median wage in the five localities. Not all casino jobs would represent a net gain of employment for the localities, and nearly half of the jobs would be low-skill and low-wage. Casino gambling would reduce the revenues in existing forms of gambling such as the Lottery that generates money for the schools.

According to the study, the prevalence of problem gambling in Virginia has not been measured, but evidence from national studies and states with a broad array of gaming options suggests that an estimated 5 to 10 percent of adults may experience gambling problems. The introduction of casinos would make more people at risk of experiencing problems as gambling opportunities increase.

The negative impacts of gambling are not limited to problem gamblers. The report indicates that research consistently shows adverse effects on others, most often a spouse or partner, but also the parents and children of problem gamblers, as well as other family members and close friends. The negative effects of problem gambling can be severe in a small portion of cases and include financial instability and mental health and relationship problems.

I am skeptical of introducing additional gambling opportunities in the Commonwealth. From what I have been able to learn, the modest revenues are not worth the risks involved. Is there something I am missing?

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Poll: What Causes Do You Support for Giving Tuesday?

With Cyber Monday behind us, Giving Tuesday is in full swing. During this charitable day of giving, we would love to know how and if you plan to take part.

The movement was created in 2012 to encourage people to give back to their communities after a weekend of consumerism.

Let us know how you plan to participate in the poll below.

Photo via Kat Yukawa/Unsplash

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Morning Poll: Thanksgiving Consumption

Nearly half of all adults the United States say they’re trying to trim widening waistlines, but it’s unclear if that happens during annual Thanksgiving feasts.

On Thanksgiving, roughly 45 million turkeys will be consumed this year, according to the National Turkey Foundation.

Do you plan to embrace gluttony during your Thanksgiving meal or will you try to cut back this year? Let us know in the poll below.

Photo via Unplash

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Top Stories This Week

Before we head off into the weekend, let’s take a look back at the biggest stories on Reston Now in recent days.

  1. With Conceptual Proposal, Reston Town Center North Redevelopment Renamed Cameron Green
  2. County Looks to Sell Land to Comstock Near Wiehle-Reston East
  3. Third Phase of Halley Rise Development Moves Forward
  4. Paddywax Candle Bar Opening Next Week in Reston Town Center
  5. Metro to Sell Naming Rights to Innovation Center Metro Station

If you have ideas on stories we should cover, email us at [email protected] or submit an anonymous tip.

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

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Reminder: Sign Up for Reston Now 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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Op-ed: Fairfax Connector Drivers are ‘Overlooked’

This op-ed was submitted by Kaelyn Serrao. It does not reflect the opinions of Reston Now. We publish opinion contributions of specific interest to the Reston community. Contributions may be edited for length or content. 

I am writing in response to the article titled “Strike Against Metrobus Contractor Could Impact Fairfax Connector Service”, published in your online newspaper on November 18th, 2019.  I was not aware of the current dispute going on between the Fairfax Connector drivers and the contractor of Metrobus and felt that your article articulated the issue well.  I felt that there was no overwhelming bias present and appreciated the Fairfax County Department of Transportation stating their position on the negotiations. 

Although they predict that there will be no impacts on service due to these negotiations, there is a possibility it could cause issues for those who are dependent on the transportation line.  People may not feel that this labor dispute is a big deal because it does not affect them directly, but if the negotiation doesn’t go well it could result in problems for a large portion of the community.  

I felt compelled to write a letter about this article because I feel that these types of issues are often overlooked.  The Fairfax Connector drivers are silent heroes that continually get people where they need to be in a safe and timely fashion. They deserve to be recognized for their service to the public and have their labor requests reviewed and implemented with the upmost respect.

Staff photo by Jay Westcott

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Del. Ken Plum: A Retrospective on This Election Cycle

Del. Ken Plum/File photoThis is an opinion column by Del. Ken Plum (D), who represents Reston in Virginia’s House of Delegates. It does not reflect the opinion of Reston Now.

The outcomes of the election on November 5 are not known as I write this column. I will no doubt have much to say about the results in future writings as this election is going to be pivotal for the Commonwealth’s history regardless of who turns out to be the winners. What I was able to observe in the weeks and days leading up to election day was the highest level of people willing to help throughout the state in knocking on doors, making phone calls, writing postcards, and otherwise willing to chip in for their favorite candidates. If the level of activity leading up to election day is any indication, the turnout of voters should have been record-breaking. “When we vote, we win” became the mantra of campaigns hoping to hold onto power or to transfer it to a more progressive legislature. As I traveled around the state, I became aware that while I had focused on state legislative contests there were many local elections that were critical to the future of local boards of supervisors and school boards.

What is known before the first vote was cast is that these elections were the most expensive ever seen in off-year elections in Virginia. When the total expenses of both candidates in many legislative elections are added together, it will not be unusual that the total exceeds a million dollars. For some highly contentious races the totals exceed three million dollars. I have never seen the generosity of individuals to contribute to elections in other parts of the state as great as it was this year. There is a growing recognition that while it is important who your elected official is, there is an equal importance to who holds the majority in the legislative body. You not only work to get your representatives elected, you also need to help the campaigns of those with whom he or she will have to work. Political contributions from out-of-state individuals and organizations poured into the state in record amounts.

Also interesting in this election cycle is the amazing transformation that occurred in some incumbent legislators. It took Virginia more than four years to approve Medicaid expansion in the state. Yet, if you listened to television commercials downstate you would not be able to find anyone who opposed the expansion. To the contrary, there were claims on the part of some incumbents who had voted against the expansion who in the campaign claimed credit for passing it. It is amazing what a refreshment with voters can do to some legislators’ point of view and memories

To analyze state and local election returns I recommend that you go to the website of the State Board of Elections at elections.virginia.gov to see actual voting results. For more information on who the candidates were and how much they spent I suggest a visit to the Virginia Public Access Project, vpap.org. In future columns I will provide my take on what the election results mean for the future of the Commonwealth.

A special shout out of recognition and thank you goes to all who worked so hard this election cycle. You are what makes the system work. Thank you!

 

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Top Stories This Week

Before we head off into the weekend, let’s take a look back at the biggest stories on Reston Now in recent days.

  1. Report: Reston-based Company with Trump Ties Awarded Federal Contract

  2. Reston Association Board Scales Back Proposed Assessment Increase by $10

  3. Local Schools Recognized for Bridging Achievement Gaps in English and Math

  4. Planning Funds Sought for New ‘Silver Line’ Elementary School

  5. Walker Nature Center Warns Residents about Invasive Insect

If you have ideas on stories we should cover, email us at [email protected] or submit an anonymous tip.

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

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Reminder: Sign Up for Reston Now 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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Del. Ken Plum: More Than Just Voting

Del. Ken Plum/File photoThis is an opinion column by Del. Ken Plum (D), who represents Reston in Virginia’s House of Delegates. It does not reflect the opinion of Reston Now.

Readers of this column no doubt have next Tuesday, November 5, marked as election day on their calendars. You are exceptional. If history holds true, fewer than half of registered voters will vote. Getting people to register is a year-round activity but getting registered voters to actually cast a vote is a crunch-time activity for the last couple of weeks before the election.

Tired of all the robo-calls? Slick postcards in the mailbox? Contentious debate on the news media? Endless social media posts? Much of that activity is directed to reminding people to vote and to gain a competitive advantage, but it oftentimes turns off folks who are cynical about the electoral process or who are confused by it all.

Historically there have been many efforts to suppress the vote by passing laws that prevent various classes of people from qualifying to register or that add to the complexities of voting that discourage people from going to the polls. Virginia’s history is filled with numerous examples of laws that reduced the franchise. Literacy tests that were unreasonable or unfairly administered, poll taxes that not only charged for voting but included a time schedule for collection that only insiders could meet, and unusually long residency requirements are but a few examples. For much of our history in Virginia, the majority party in control of state politics worked to keep people from voting!

Against that backdrop of individual cynicism and confusing election laws, what are we who understand the importance of elections to do to increase participation in voting? I believe we need to get past the old adage that it is not polite to talk about politics and religion. Leaving religion for another discussion, I believe more than ever that we need to have a more inclusive discussion that might inevitably lead to a debate about politics and government in our state and in our nation. Keep it civil is the first rule but be sure to end the discussion with a reminder to friends, family and neighbors to vote. Our government is no better than voters decide.

Between 6 am and 7 pm Tuesday, November 5, polls will be open for voting in Virginia. If you are not sure where to vote, go to fairfaxcounty.gov/elections. You can find where your polling place is but also what is on the ballot. All seats in the House of Delegates and the State Senate are up for election as are Constitution officers (for Fairfax that is the sheriff and the Commonwealth’s attorney). At the Fairfax County level, voters elect the chairman of the Board of Supervisors, the supervisor to represent their magisterial district, three at-large School Board members and a School Board member for their magisterial district, three members of the Soil and Water Conservation District Board, and a question on issuing school bonds.

There are few surprises in how I intend to vote. School children often ask me if I vote for myself, and I can assure you that I do. I will be voting for Senator Janet Howell; for Sheriff Stacey Kincaid; for Commonwealth’s attorney Steve Descano; for Board of Supervisor chairman Jeff McKay; Walter Alcorn for Hunter Mill supervisor; Melanie Meren for Hunter Mill School Board representative; for School Board at-large Karen Keys-Gamarra, Abrar Omeish, Rachna Sizemore Heizer; and for Soil and Water Conservation Board Gerald Peters, Chris Koerner, and Monica Billger; and yes on the school bond issue.

If you need to vote early, get absentee voting information at Elections. See you at the polls with your friends and neighbors on Tuesday. Now more than ever, it is important to vote and to take someone to the polls with you!

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Top Stories This Week

Before we head off into the weekend, let’s take a look back at the biggest stories on Reston Now in recent days.

  1. Despite Appeal, Future of $50 Million Condo in Reston Town Center North Remains in Jeopardy
  2. One of Reston’s First Office Developments is Approved for Major Redevelopment
  3. Rolls-Royce North America to Relocate Headquarters from Reston Town Center to Reston Station
  4. Priest Admits to Sexual Contact with a Minor at Reston Church
  5. New Taco Restaurant Coming to Herndon

If you have ideas on stories we should cover, email us at [email protected] or submit an anonymous tip.

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

Photo by Jay Westcott

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Del. Ken Plum: A Green New Deal for Virginia

Del. Ken Plum/File photoThis is an opinion column by Del. Ken Plum (D), who represents Reston in Virginia’s House of Delegates. It does not reflect the opinion of Reston Now.

My parents were not political; they tended to always want to avoid controversy. One exception was their support of President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal. They were married shortly before the Great Depression and had a really tough go of it in rural Virginia during the depression. They were convinced that it was President Roosevelt’s New Deal that saved the country, and they never let me forget it! Many historians would agree with them.

While the challenges facing our state today are very different from those that the country faced in the 1930s, there are issues that burden many of our citizens and jeopardize our country’s future that demand a plan and a set of actions not unlike those of the New Deal era. Appropriately the response to these needs is called the Green New Deal. (www.greennewdealva.com)

Many politicians are shying away from the Green New Deal terming it too ambitious, too hasty, and too costly. I support the plan and share its goals of “creating thousands of good jobs addressing climate change and restoring Virginia’s environment.” A long list of groups and organizations supporting the coalition have very thoughtfully put together our immediate need to respond to climate change with the need to put more people to work productively. Green New Deal supporters seek “to develop and implement a comprehensive state-wide energy transformation plan that centers environmental sensitivity, equity, transparency, justice and sustainability in its solution.”

The devil in the myriad of details that must be worked out over the next several years will require listening to each other, respecting the needs and rights of all our citizens, compromising when it moves us towards our ultimate goals, and giving credit to all stakeholders as they make advances supporting the goals.

With the emphasis being put on climate change and the necessity that we move forward on renewable energy, I was pleased that Governor Ralph Northam last week announced what is being characterized as “the largest state renewable energy contract in the Nation.” As the Governor described it, “With this landmark contract, Virginia is leading by example and demonstrating how states can step up to combat climate change and advance a clean energy economy.” Under the contract the partners will supply state government with 420 megawatts of renewable energy, which is the equivalent of powering more than 100,000 homes. It is an important small step forward that puts the Commonwealth on record as being on board with renewables.

Virginia has had a slower start than many of us would like, but I am encouraged by recent developments. The first off-shore wind turbines in federal waters are to be completed by the end of next year leading to full development of 2,600 megawatts of offshore wind that would power 650,000 homes. A press release from the Governor’s Office indicates that since January of 2018 the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality has issued 23 permits for solar projects that will generate more than 800 megawatts of energy, and the agency expects to issue permits for an additional 478 megawatts for seven projects by the end of the year.

It is time for a new deal in Virginia and a green one at that. Children of the future will appreciate the wisdom of the actions that we are taking today.

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Reminder: Send Reston Now Your News Tips, Feedback

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