Poll: How Do You Feel About ‘FCPSOn’?

This week, students from Herndon and South Lakes High School are picking up laptops from their respective schools as part of the new county schools initiative “FCPSOn.”

Fairfax County Public Schools plans to issue computers to all high school students in the county through the initiative. It is meant to transform learning for students and educators by providing ““equitable access to meaningful learning experience and technology to support their learning.”

A $50 annual fee is required for the program.

As the initiative rolls out, we’d love to hear your thoughts on what you think of the program in the poll below.

Photo via FCPS/YouTube

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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. Poll: What are Your Thoughts on Reston Town Center’s Rebranding Efforts?
  2. County to Limit Parking at Wiehle-Reston East Garage for Three Weeks
  3. Reston Association: No Immediate Plans to Close Lake Thoreau Pool for 2020 Season
  4. Steel Sculpture On Track for Fall Installation in Reston Town Center
  5. Vandals Dump Feces into Glade Pool, Other Pools Vandalized

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.

Images via Reston Town Center

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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.

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Del. Ken Plum: Prekindergarten

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.

When asked at a session at the National Conference of State Legislatures what is the most important thing the government should be doing today, the Honorable Robert “J.B.” Pritzker, the 43rd governor of Illinois, responded “preparing young children to be successful in kindergarten.” His answer was not surprising considering that he had written earlier in a publication of his Pritzker Foundation that “preparing young children to learn the first day they enter kindergarten is the single most important step we can take to ensure better K-12 education, healthier kids, lower poverty rates, increased wage-earning capacity, and a stronger, more competitive workforce.”

He is not a former educator turned politician. He is an extraordinary person, however. According to Wikipedia, he holds more private wealth than any other governor in U.S. history and is the second wealthiest U.S. politician to have ever held office, after Michael Bloomberg. Forbes estimates his personal worth at $3.2 billion including his interest along with his family in the Hyatt hotel chain.

Governor Pritzker along with his wife established The Pritzker Children’s Initiative which directs its investments on a single, attainable goal: that all at-risk infants and toddlers in the United States have access to high-quality early childhood development resources, increasing their likelihood of success in school and life. As the Governor explained further, “Early childhood development is an arena that’s long been overlooked by philanthropy and government. Even programs as large as Head Start cover a very small sliver of the population of at-risk kids. It’s an arena attractive for a private philanthropist like me because I see it as a terrific investment.”

There is an abundance of evidence to support the Governor’s conclusion, but government has been slow to invest in early education as he advocates. While Virginia has made some modest beginnings, there is much remaining to be done by state and local government. There are some hopeful signs. Last week Governor Ralph Northam announced release of an Early Childhood Education Needs Assessment and Draft Strategic Plan for public reviews and comment. Echoing the sentiments expressed by his counterpart in Illinois, Governor Northam said that “when children have access to quality, stable, affordable care during their earliest years they build the foundation they need for future success not only for themselves but for their communities.” I encourage everyone interested in this critically important issue to review the draft plan at vcef.org and to submit their comments on it to [email protected] by August 31, 2019. More information on the plan and an opportunity to discuss it is provided on August 14, 10:00 a.m. at the ACCA Child Development Center, 7200 Columbia Pike, Suite 2, Annandale, VA 22003. Sorry for the last minute notice that I just received.

The Virginia State Chamber of Commerce that has been a consistent supporter of early childhood education is teaming up with the Virginia Early Childhood Foundation for a conference in Richmond on “Smart Beginnings for Virginia’s Workforce Pipeline” for legislators and thought leaders to explore a strong, public-private early childhood system in Virginia.

The evidence of the importance of earlier than kindergarten programs must not be ignored by politicians.

File photo 

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Poll: What are Your Thoughts on Reston Town Center’s Rebranding Efforts?

Recently, Reston Town Center shed its iconic logo of the Mercury Fountain in favor of a more modern and simplistic design.

For weeks, Boston Properties and their public relations company TAA PR have been mum about the rebranding effort, as well as the latest on a planned renovation to RTC’s common areas.

In response to multiple requests from Reston Now, company representatives said they have some “exciting news to share” about the future of RTC in the coming weeks. In absence of hard details, Reston Now is turning to its readers to get their thoughts on what they think about the new logo and what message the new design seeks to convey.

RTC’s first logo features a line drawing of the 20-foot Mercury Fountain, which was designed by sculptor Saint Clair Cemin and anchors the pavilion. While the new logo retains the original blue palette, its circular form — with a ‘C’ rested in the center — lends itself to many interpretations.

A new crop of tenants are expected to open up in RTC by 2020, including Jinya Ramen Bar, The Candle Bar and Muse Paint Bar. The company also announced plans to renovate most of its gathering places in over the next several months. 

Until more details are made public, we’d love to know your thoughts about the new logo and the future of RTC in the comments below.

File photo

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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: Laboratories of Democracy

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.

State Senator Toi Hutchinson of Illinois who is president of the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) spoke last week in Jamestown as part of the commemoration of the 400th anniversary of representative democracy in the United States. She was eloquent in describing the evolution of legislative bodies in the states: “That evolution is breathtaking–from that rudimentary gathering of a handful of land-owning, white men to professional legislative bodies filled with the best and brightest of every race, every creed and every gender. Legislatures now serve as the place where ordinary hard-working Americans become extraordinary ambassadors of their neighborhoods, towns and cities and strive together to secure the blessings of liberty.” (full text of her remarks)

I am attending the annual meeting of the NCSL this week. NCSL uses the term “laboratories of democracy” in describing the states. The attendance at its annual meeting reflects the diversity that President Hutchinson described in her remarks at Jamestown. The Virginia General Assembly has made major strides in becoming more diverse the last several years as more people reflecting diversity have come forward to run for office and have been welcomed by the voters. Recent court decisions that wiped out some of the gerrymandering that kept white men in charge will no doubt add to the diversity in election winners this November.

Just as in any laboratory setting, the results of some experiments are worth keeping and others are just as well cast aside. Too many states are still involved in passing laws to restrict those who can vote and to legalize discrimination against certain classes of people. Fortunately few if any of these people show up at this conference but rather go to other meetings where they might feel more comfortable. NCSL for the most part tends to attract middle-of-the-road moderates to progressives.

With the federal government reneging on so many matters that might best be resolved with common solutions across state lines, the states are having to step up to respond to these issues. The current federal administration continues to deny climate change, but it is the people in the states who are getting their feet wet and who are suffering the consequences of climate change including extreme weather events. I look forward to attending sessions with expert speakers and panels who will present what is happening in states that are taking environmental issues seriously.

Criminal justice reform, educational reforms including the expansion of early childhood education, new approaches to mental health, cybersecurity, and a fair census and resulting redistricting are a short list of topics that will be on my mind and the minds of legislators from other states with whom I will have an opportunity to interact during the several days of the conference. I will share some of what I have learned or confirmed in future columns.

As at any meeting, discussions that take place at the breaks and social gatherings can be the most profitable. I know there will be an overwhelming number of attendees who will be gravely concerned about what is happening with our national leadership and institutions. That makes work as state legislators even more important as we work to maintain our laboratories of democracy.

File photo

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Reminder: Send Reston Now Your News Tips, Feedback

Want to get in touch with the team bringing you news about Reston, Herndon and Great Falls?

Send us your news tips, press releases and feedback to [email protected] or use our anonymous message form. Our news team does not have a phone line for inbound calls.

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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. North Italia to Open This Week in Reston Town Center
  2. Amid Concerns, Reston Planning and Zoning to Revisit Campus Commons Proposal
  3. Report: Amazon Web Services Expands in Herndon
  4. Lack of Affordable Housing in New Developments Near Future Herndon Metro Station Sparks Debate
  5. Wanted Reston Man Charged with Obstruction of Justice

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.

File photo

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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: Beginning of Representative Government in America

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.

Four hundred years ago yesterday, July 30, 1619, a group of 22 colonists met in the wooden and mud church on Jamestowne Island as instructed by the investors of the colony “to establish one equal and uniform government over all Virginia” and to provide “just laws for the happy guiding and governing of the people there inhabiting.” They adjourned on August 4. That event is variously described as the beginning of representative government in America and as the beginning of the oldest continuous law-making body in the western hemisphere. It merits the commemoration it is receiving.

In order to fully understand the importance of a signature event as this one, I believe it is important to put it into perspective as our knowledge of what happened afterwards allows us to do. While termed the beginning of representative government, the first legislative meeting was anything but representative. Only white males could vote or serve in the Assembly. The indigenous people — called Indians because one of the purposes of sailing to this new world was to find a shorter route to India — were not able to participate even though they had inhabited the land for at least 15,000 years. Not only were they kept out of the Assembly, they were forced off their lands where they had their homes, governance, religion, and farms. In less than a half century the immigrants had taken over the land and displaced the indigenous people.

Nor could women take part in that first Assembly because they did not arrive in Virginia until 1619 and did not secure the vote until three centuries later! Enslaved people from Africa did not arrive in the colony until 1619 and not only were they not in the First Assembly but they were the subject of laws in subsequent sessions of oppressive slave codes that denied them basic human rights. It was necessary in the beginnings of the Assembly to belong to and pay taxes to the established church.

The history of Virginia and of America has been to move from this humble beginning and through decades and centuries of events to evolve into what is more closely a representative government. The planners of the events surrounding 1619 have correctly I believe termed it “evolution.” Contrary to what some may have us believe, our state and our country did not start out meeting the ideals and vision that we have. We have built on a humble beginning to evolve into the country we are today.

I trust that this important celebration will not be allowed to be taken over by an ignorance of what happened at Jamestowne and turned into a biased partisan view to justify the terrible actions of government today against people of color, people from other lands, and people in the LGBTQ communities. We do not need to try to return to a past that was much more imperfect than we sometimes care to admit. I am attending the Commemorative Session of the General Assembly to learn more about the past and how we can learn from our experiences and evolve further into a more perfect union. I will not be attending the session with POTUS.

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Poll: How Should the Town of Herndon Handle Affordable Housing Policies?

As we reported last week, two new Town of Herndon council members are exploring ways to beef up the town’s affordable housing policies for new development.

With several new major developments already approved by the town and more than 600 units in the pipeline, no units are set aside as affordable or workforce housing.

Town officials are beginning preliminary conversations to explore how and if the town should beef up its affordable housing policies.

Council members Cesar del Aguila and Pradip Dhakal say that one of the most lucrative options is for the town to seek state-enabling legislative that would gave it the statutory authority to administer an affordable housing program similar to the county’s process.

Others, however, caution that the administrative burden is far too hefty for the town to shoulder, especially since town officials already maintain the town’s existing affordable housing stock.

What policy instruments do you think the town should explore? Let us know in the poll below.

Photo via Town of Herndon

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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: The Fox Guarding the Chicken Coop

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.

In last week’s column I suggested that the record-breaking for brevity, 90-minute session of the General Assembly came about because of a dysfunctional House of Delegates and a lack of leadership by the Speaker of the House. Further evidence unfolding since I wrote that column strengthens my concern and adds to it the problem that in the Virginia House of Delegates the “fox is guarding the chicken coop.”

The Special Session of the General Assembly that was called by Governor Ralph Northam in response to increasing gun violence should have provided a forum for debate to determine a response by the legislature to keep the people of Virginia safe. Few sessions general or special have attracted as much public attention as this one with hundreds of advocates at the Capitol representing all sides of the issue.

One side got high-level special attention. Ordinary citizens and state-wide and national groups concerned about gun violence attended a rally at the Bell Tower in Capitol Square and spent the rest of the morning visiting legislative offices and milling about the street between the Pocahontas Building where legislative offices are and the State Capitol. The National Rifle Association (NRA) representatives were in the Speaker of the House of Delegates Conference Room picking up their red caps and tee shirts and no doubt getting reassurances that everything was going to be alright.

A website inviting NRA members to the event encouraged their attendance: “Governor Ralph Northam and his gun ban allies are ready to push their extreme anti-gun agenda when the General Assembly convenes its special session tomorrow–July 9th. Your NRA is calling on members and Second Amendment supporters to join in the fight against Gov. Northam’s misguided gun control proposals by coming to Richmond on July 9th to personally urge their elected officials to stand up for our rights and oppose the Northam gun ban agenda.”

The most astonishing part of the announcement came in the details of the event: “WHERE: Pocahontas Building, 6th Floor, House Conference Room.” That just happens to be the Conference Room of the Speaker of the House of Delegates!

On this topic the Speaker effectively relinquished any impartial role of conducting the business of the House and became the host for those opposing common-sense gun safety laws that according to dozens of public opinion polls are supported by an overwhelming majority of Virginians. It brings back memories of the time this same Speaker moved from his position as Speaker to take the floor of the House of Delegates to speak passionately against a women’s right to make decisions about her own reproductive health.

The announcement included some red meat to encourage participation: “Our members are concerned that Gov. Northam’s special session is a political stunt aimed at distracting from his scandals…”

With the cooperation of the Speaker of the House of Delegates we clearly have the fox guarding the chicken coop in Virginia.

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Op-Ed: Open Space — All of It for All of Us

This op-ed was submitted by Connie Hartke, president of Rescue Reston. It does not reflect the opinions of Reston Now. We publish article and opinion contributions of specific interest to the Reston community. Contributions may be edited for length or content. 

You’ve probably seen this yourself:  communities that once were charming and lovely but are now car-clogged concrete canyons.  Rescue Reston and other like-minded yellow-shirted citizens associations in Reston are dedicated to preserving the charm of Reston and preventing over-development.  Rescue Reston focuses specifically on preserving Reston’s two planned open spaces, which are the two 160+ acre golf courses–Reston National and Hidden Creek.

Open space matters.  It’s good for us.  It not only enhances our physical health but our moodcreativity, and memory.  Scientific studies show this.  You cannot get these same health benefits from walking in busy, dense spots such as Reston Town Center or in the Village Centers.  Fairfax County says in its Economic Success Plan that it wants to encourage health benefits like these through a “Health in All Policies” approach.

Preserving Reston National and Hidden Creek is not all about promoting golf, though that is a worthwhile endeavor in keeping with Reston’s promotion of healthy living through sports.  It’s about preserving Reston’s deliberate plan for everyone to benefit from the Reston Association paths that were designed–from Reston’s founding in 1964–to go along and through the golf courses.

The vast majority of people who benefit from Reston National and Hidden Creek are not the golfers themselves but the hundreds of walkers, joggers, bicyclists, kids in strollers, and elderly and disabled people with canes or wheelchairs who enjoy these open spaces via the RA paths every single day.   Everyone in Reston–from the youngest to the oldest among us–has access to the benefits of this open space.

The out-of-state outfit that owns Hidden Creek, Wheelock Communities, is talking about redeveloping this land into housing and turning some of it into a park.  Don’t be deceived.  The so-called “grand park” that Wheelock is promoting would result in a loss of the majority of this beautiful and rare open space.  What Wheelock is offering as a so-called park is only that part of its property that is not suitable for housing.  The latest proposal says a large chunk would be marshland.

As density increases–as planned–at the Metro stations and the Transit Station Areas, the Restonians living or working in those high-density areas will need and want the vistas of the golf course open space that they have access to now.  It is short-sighted and, frankly, greedy for out-of-area developers to try to take these planned open spaces away from Restonians just when we need it most.

Yet we Restonians were promised that this open space would be preserved for the long term.  The latest Reston Master Plan(completed in 2015) that guides our community’s development for the next thirty to forty years commits to keeping this open space.  Violating that 30-to-40-year open-space pledge after only four or five years would truly be a violation of the plan for generations to come.

Unlike most of Fairfax County, Reston has always been a planned community.  Restonians know and abide by planned-community rules that affect things as small as whether we can change the color of our shutters or put in a bay window.  And yet, despite the respect that we residents have always shown to planned-community principles, real estate developers who are brand new to our community want to violate the plan and change the character of our community forever by robbing it of its planned, promised, and dwindling open space.

Remember:  once the open space is gone, it is gone forever.   Preserve the open space at Reston National and Hidden Creek.  All of it.

Photo by Paul Hartke

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