Reston, VA

Top Stories This Week

Before we head off into another weekend with a stay-at-home order in effect, let’s take a look back at the biggest stories on Reston Now in recent days.

  1. JINYA Ramen Bar to Open in Reston Town Center This Week
  2. Penzance Offers Peek into Herndon Office Park Revitalization
  3. Reston Community Center Resumes Summer Concerts at Lake Anne Plaza, Reston Station
  4. Police Investigate Bullet Holes in Reston Home
  5. Reston-Based Entrepreneur Secures Patent On Shopping Application

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 social distancing plans or anything else that’s happening locally in the comments below.

Photo via JINYA

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“Shop local” has become a popular refrain during the pandemic as small businesses struggle with the economic fall-out and health risks from the coronavirus pandemic.

Several small businesses have permanently closed during the pandemic, but many have found ways to keep their doors from shutting. Owners have said over the last few months that affluent residents, loyal customers and community support give Reston-area businesses advantages.

Fundraisers to support businesses’ operations and employees, social media efforts by residents to promote local eateries and loans and grants from the government also aim to keep small businesses alive.

Even as businesses grapple with the pandemic, many are giving back to the community. Some local restaurants are donating meals to people facing food insecurity, while others are hosting food drives.

Let us know in the poll and comments below how much you have been spending at small businesses during the pandemic.

Photo by Lucrezia Carnelos/Unsplash

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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.

Communications experts advise that a message needs to short and punchy to convey its intended meaning in a short period of time. Short and sweet can lead however to confusion, mixed meaning and unintended consequences.

Virginians have realized the fallout from simple, bumper-strip-sized messages in the past. “End parole” as a campaign slogan helped former Governor George Allen overcome a 20-point polling difference to be elected governor. For some people the slogan meant less crime and safer streets, but it also filled Virginia’s prisons to over-flowing shifting huge sums of money from other programs to the Department of Corrections. More people were incarcerated and for longer lengths of time, but the crime rate stayed essentially the same. The campaign slogan “End the Car Tax” got Jim Gilmore elected governor, but the resulting policy costs Virginia schools nearly a billion dollars every year even until today.

I am not particularly good at campaign slogans, but I am fearful that the current “Defund the Police” slogan in response to the real problems in policing throughout the country may inhibit progress towards reform. The number of people who want to literally take all funding from the police is small, but the use of a simplistic phrase to describe the reform movement may turn off many moderates and completely scare away conservatives. There has to be a better way to describe the desired outcomes that reflects the complexities of the problem.

Policing desperately needs reform at all levels of government. The misuse of police power and tactics by the federal government in Portland is frightening, and the Congress must take steps to reign in the administration politicizing the use of police powers. At the state level Virginia needs to increase–not defund–its funding of state police to ensure that its pay structure will attract the best trained and most professional persons to its ranks. It needs to be able to fill its open slots to reduce overtime and stress on its current force.

At the same time the Virginia General Assembly needs in its special session this month to enact the reforms proposed by the Legislative Black Caucus including eliminating the use of choke holds, using body cameras, and enhancing training.

The same reforms need to be applied to police at the county, city and town levels including sheriff departments in Virginia. The responsibilities that have befallen the police in the area of mental health need to be assumed more by personnel in the departments responsible for and skilled in this area of concern.

The public demands and legislators will ensure that the public is safe. At the same time we must demand and put into existence a system free of discrimination and inappropriate use of force. That means we need to redefine our expectations of policing and reimagine the role of public safety officers in our society. We must be willing to spend dollars appropriately to accomplish those objectives. It is over-simplifying a complex issue to suggest that we can “defund the police.”

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A temporary statewide moratorium on eviction proceedings will remain in effect from this week through Sept. 7, according to a Virginia Supreme Court Order.

The move comes amid an ongoing Congressional stalemate over the next economic relief package.

In a statement on Monday (Aug. 10) Gov. Ralph Northam said the decision is necessary to ensure all Virginians maintain “safe, stable housing” as the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic continues. He hopes to work with the Commonwealth’s General Assembly this month to craft more permanent legislative protections for homeowners and tenants.

So far, the state has pumped $50 million via the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES) specifically for households facing eviction or foreclosure due to the pandemic. A number of county-based resources to navigate the issue are also available online.

The end of the federal moratorium on evictions, which expired last month, and the lapsing of the $600 weekly boost to unemployment benefits, has left many renters in peril.

Roughly 27 percent of adults in the country missed their rent or mortgage payment in July, according to a nationwide survey by the U.S. Census Bureau. Roughly 34 percent of renters said they were unsure how they would make their August payments.

Given this economic backdrop, do you think Northam should further extend the temporary ban on eviction proceedings? Let us know in the comments below. Also, we’d love to hear from readers on their experiences with paying rent, mortgages, and interactions with landlords.

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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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 mom and dad had little or no formal education which was not that unusual for children in large families growing up in rural Virginia in the 1920s. What they lacked in schooling they made up in basic values of honesty and hard work. Their ambition for their three sons of which I was the youngest was to finish school which for them meant high school. Mom’s advice to me for I had obvious interests in doing more than graduating high school and working a local job was captured in the words of the country music song of Earl Scruggs and later Ricky Skaggs, “Don’t Get Above Your Raisin.'”

Going off to college as the first in my family to do so was a frightening experience but one that soon became a labor of love. I could not learn enough about the world around me and most especially about history and politics. I was a product of a public school system in Virginia, and even as a youngster I knew that the story of the state was much more complex and involved than the glorification of its history presented in the state-approved textbooks. My love of learning led me to finish an undergraduate degree in history and political history at the then Old Dominion College. I went on to the University of Virginia where I received a master’s degree in teaching the social studies in 1967. That program had an internship experience that led to me being placed in Fairfax County Public Schools from which I retired thirty years later.

I refused to use the state-approved textbook on Virginia history in my classroom because of the distortions and misinformation it contained. My school administrator supported me, and a few years later I consulted with FCPS when it produced its own edition of a more-accurate Virginia history textbook. Also about the same time, I announced my candidacy for the House of Delegates and was elected on my third try. My interest was not to change school textbooks but to help alter the course of the state’s history to remedy the many wrongs of its past and to make it a state where all people had equal opportunity. I knew about the inequality of opportunity in the state by my volunteer work with the Community Action Agency.Setting aside challenges related to the pandemic and the craziness of the current federal administration, I feel a greater sense of hope for the Commonwealth than I believe I have ever had. I have written often about the transformative General Assembly session this year and the passage of much-needed legislation on fairness and equality that had been debated and never passed for years. This month the General Assembly will take another important step in reforming our criminal justice system.

As my friend and historian Bent Tarter wrote recently in a column “Black Lives and Confederate Monuments,” (www.virginiaforum.org) “We all have much to learn, or we will continue to repeat the sorry sequences of violence that exacerbate rather than solve problems. Learning, one of my college teachers explained, should involve a change in behavior.” As a native Virginian I sense that now more than ever we will at long last be seeing changes in behavior in the Commonwealth.

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Virginia has teamed up with Google and Apple to offer a smartphone app for COVID-19 exposure alerts, making it the first state in the U.S. to use the new technology.

COVIDWISE will notify users if they’ve been in close proximity to someone with COVID-19 by using Bluetooth Low Energy. The app is meant to reduce the risk of spreading the virus.

When announcing the app yesterday, Gov. Ralph Northam said the app can help catch new cases sooner, especially since the virus can spread before infected people show symptoms.

“This is another tool we can have to protect ourselves, our families and our communities,” Northam said. “This is a way we can all work together to contain this virus.”

Once someone gets an alert, Northam encourages them to self-isolate and get tested. If the test is positive, he said that users can add that information into the app, which will then alert users that the person has recently been around.

Android and iPhone users can download the app for free.

More from Google Play about how the app works:

If someone reports to the app that they tested positive, the signals from their app will search for other app users who shared that signal. The BLE signals are date-stamped and the app estimates how close the two devices were based on signal strength. If the timeframe was at least 15 minutes and the estimated distance was within six feet, then the other user receives a notification of a possible exposure. No names! No location!

The BLE framework within COVIDWISE will run in the background, even if the exposure notification app is closed. It will not drain the device battery at a rate that would occur with other apps that use normal Bluetooth and/or are open and running constantly.

“I want to be clear, this app COVIDWISE does not — I’m going to repeat that, does not — track or store your personal information,” Northam said. “It does not track you at all. It does not rely on GPS or your personal information. While we want everyone to download it, it is voluntary.”

Let Reston Now know in the poll and comments section below if you plan to download the app.

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Top Stories This Week

Before we head off into another weekend with a stay-at-home order in effect, let’s take a look back at the biggest stories on Reston Now in recent days.

  1. Reston Association Issues Statement on Return of $1.3 Million PPP Loan
  2. ‘Significant Shift’: Northam Highlights COVID-19 Cases Among Young Adults, Kids
  3. Police Make Arrest in Reston Peeping Incidents
  4. Fairfax County Establishes Affordable Housing Preservation Task Force
  5. Boston Properties’ Revenue Dips Due to COVID-19

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 social distancing plans or anything else that’s happening locally in the comments below.

Photo by Jay Westcott

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Earlier this week, Gov. Ralph Northam announced new regional restrictions to address a surge of COVID-19 cases in Hampton Roads.

The new restrictions, which go into effect today, lower the maximum number of people allowed at gatherings, limit late-night alcohol assumption at restaurants and cut back indoor dining for restaurants.

The eastern region’s beaches and non-compliance with public health guidelines and mandates appear to be some of the factors for why the area became a coronavirus hot spot.

While the eastern portion of the state has seen a rising number of cases, Northam noted that the percent positivity rates for Northern Virginia and the western region were below the statewide rate.

“There’s been a dramatic decrease in Northern Virginia,” Northam said, about the rate.

When asked by reporters earlier this week if he would consider domestic travel restrictions, Northam said that it’s an option he’s considering. Some states are asking travelers from “high-risk” states to self-quarantine following their arrival.

Let us know in the poll and comments section below if you think Northam’s regional effort is sufficient or if he should announce statewide restrictions.

Photo via Governor of Virginia/Facebook

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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.

Virginia and the southern states of the Confederacy lost the Civil War with the surrender of Robert E. Lee to Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House, Virginia, on April 9, 1865, but for more than another hundred and fifty years it appeared that the South may have won the peace. There was the Emancipation Proclamation, three amendments to the Constitution, and a period of Reconstruction to guarantee the new social order without slavery, but Southerners who favored the old order found ways around the new laws to perpetuate a society of racial segregation and inequalities. Jim Crow laws replaced slave codes, oppressive laws limited the freedoms of Blacks, unequal schools limited their opportunities, and various voting limitations kept Blacks from registering and voting. There were thousands of lynchings to remind Blacks of their status in society and a Lost Cause movement that erected thousands of monuments in celebration of the old order of white supremacy.

After World War II, historian C. Vann Woodward wrote that America went through a Second Reconstruction as Blacks started to win significant victories against racist policies and laws with the various civil rights laws that passed including the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and Supreme Court decisions like Brown v. Board of Education ending school desegregation. Even those advances were short-lived and limited; the Voting Rights Act was repealed, and inequities suffered by Blacks in educational programs and employment persisted. The mistreatment of Blacks by policing authorities became more tolerable than society could stand.

A series of events over many years culminating with a police officer murdering George Floyd from his knee on Floyd’s neck signified that, like the original Reconstruction, the Second Reconstruction left many inequalities and much work to be done. The Black Lives Matter message seems finally to have been heard and finally for many understood. There is no postponing change.

Much of what has been happening to date in what Rev. William Barber II has termed a Third Reconstruction has been symbolic but important. No longer do visitors to the original House of Delegates chamber in the Capitol in Richmond have to walk around a bigger-than-life and impossible-to-miss statue of Robert E. Lee. While his statue on Monument Avenue remains at present, it too will be taken down as soon as the court case about it is resolved. Throughout Virginia and the South more statues have been removed along with other symbols of the old South. Even the state of Mississippi gave up the Confederate flag as part of its flag.

More meaningful changes are coming. As a member of the House Public Safety Committee I am pleased with the public testimony we received last week. Other hearings are scheduled for this week and next to determine the changes we need to make in our policing policies and criminal justice system to remove the racial biases. We will enact important changes at a special legislative session in August. We have had two chances at getting reconstruction right for all our citizens; we must commit ourselves to making this third effort a charm!

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As COVID-19 cases continue to surge across the U.S., some jurisdictions are turning to domestic travel restrictions to curb the spread of the virus.

D.C. recently announced that people arriving from 27 states considered to be COVID-19 “hotspots” for nonessential business will be required to quarantine for two weeks. Several states, including Florida, Hawaii and Maine have asked certain visitors to self-quarantine, according to legal site Justia.

Virginia is among the states listed on the travel advisories for New Jersey, New York and Connecticut, Patch reported.

“Virginia currently does not have any quarantine requirements upon arrival from travel within the U.S.,” according to the Virginia Department of Health, adding that international travelers are asked to self-quarantine for two weeks.

Gov. Ralph Northam tweeted a warning on Saturday (July 25), saying that the state might have to bring back more COVID-19 restrictions if cases continue to rise, especially in the eastern part of the state near the beaches.

Northam is scheduled to deliver a COVID-19 update today (Tuesday).

Let us know in the poll if you think he should put domestic travel restrictions in place, like the self-quarantine.

Photo by Gabrielle Henderson/Unsplash

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Top Stories This Week

Before we head off into another weekend with a stay-at-home order in effect, let’s take a look back at the biggest stories on Reston Now in recent days.

  1. Photos: Local Police Investigate Double Stabbing in Reston
  2. Apple Store Expands in Reston Town Center
  3. JUST IN: Fairfax County Public Schools to Start Classes Virtually
  4. ‘Pub for the People’ in Reston Town Center Begins Hiring
  5. Report: Balducci’s Sued by Boston Properties Over Unpaid Rent

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 social distancing plans or anything else that’s happening locally in the comments below.

Photo via Apple

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Fairfax County Public Schools has reversed course and now plans to have a fully virtual start new school returns in a few weeks.

On Tuesday, the Fairfax County School Board approved the virtual start after FCPS Superintendent Scott Brabrand said that he was worried about staff feeling comfortable returning for instruction in the classroom.

Previously, the school system was going to give parents the option to choose between fully online learning or a hybrid model with a combination of in-person and virtual learning.

In late June, the Fairfax County Federation of Teachers and Fairfax Education Association raised concerns about teachers’ safety with in-person learning during the pandemic.

In early July, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos slammed FCPS as a “disaster” and DeVos, along with President Donald Trump, said that schools must open in the fall. Yesterday, Trump said that schools may need to delay opening as COVID-19 cases rise.

When Reston Now asked readers on Monday, July 13, which option they liked, roughly 55% said they would choose fully online learning, while 30% picked the hybrid model.

Now that the school system has switched to the fully virtual option to kick off the school year, we want to know what your thoughts are. Do you agree with the school system’s decision?

Photo courtesy Dan Dennis on Unsplash

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This 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 body of John Lewis will be laid to rest this week, but the legacy of his leadership in the Civil Rights Movement will live on. In his role as chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, he was the youngest person to speak at the March on Washington in August 1963. While his words that day are not as well remembered as those of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who spoke after him that day with his “I Have a Dream” speech, the message of John Lewis is as relevant today as it was then. He exhibited a style of frank speaking that day that became famous over the decades of his leadership in the Civil Rights Movement when he told the crowd:

“We are tired. We are tired of being beaten by policemen. We are tired of people being locked up in jail over and over again. And then you holler ‘be patient.’ How long can we be patient? We want our freedom, and we want it now!”

He must have had some sense of satisfaction when last month with District of Columbia Mayor Muriel E. Bowser he visited the Black Lives Matter Plaza near the White House and stood where the Black Lives Matter message was painted in the street. That day was in sharp contrast to the day in 1965 when he marched with others in the Civil Rights Movement across the bridge in Selma, Alabama, and suffered a skull fracture from being hit in the head with a police baton in what became known as “Bloody Sunday.”

John Lewis was the last of the great civil rights leaders of the 1960s. He lived long enough I believe to realize that his message was being more widely heard than ever before in this country. Should John Lewis be beginning his career today rather than ending it, I have no doubt he would be at the forefront of Black Lives Matter. While Lewis experienced the police batons, dogs and fire hoses, others today have felt the knee of white authority pressing on their necks or bullets hitting them in the back. The words “I cannot breathe” have come to be more than the last words of individuals whose lives were being snuffed out but are the words of generations living under a society of oppression because of the color of their skin. I cannot breathe means to many that they cannot live freely in an unjust and discriminatory society.

John Lewis never gave up through many challenges that are now being chronicled by other writers. In recent years I have appreciated his efforts to get the Congress to take action to end gun violence that affects communities of color disproportionally. What would John Lewis have us do? He offered this advice: “When you see something that is not right, not fair, not just: say something, do something. Get in trouble, good trouble, necessary trouble.” We can participate in making a more just society when we follow John Lewis in getting into necessary trouble!

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This 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 are certainly aware that on more than one occasion I have praised the work of the 2020 General Assembly session as being historic and transformative.

I believe historians will agree with my assessment of the work of the legislature in the early months of 2020 to rid the state of discrimination of all kinds, but I wonder how they will explain the subsequent phase within several months of its adjournment. Within just a few months, the legislature was faced with the need to take even more historic steps to transform the state and to do so with a sense of urgency.

While the COVID-19 pandemic is an historic event that overlays what was happening in the social and political structure, it played a minor role. If anything, the pandemic demonstrated that the federal government under the current office holders is incapable of taking responsible actions regarding the coronavirus or the social and political unrest that abounds in this country. The pandemic has shown that state governments must step up in leadership related to the health crisis and to the stark inequalities in our society.

The pleas of George Floyd that he could not breathe were echoed by Black persons in Virginia and throughout the country that they could no longer live under the suppression of a knee on their necks that they have endured for centuries and has kept them from realizing equality under the law and in society. That is why the Virginia legislature cannot rest on the important steps it took in the opening months of this year towards a more just society but rather now must take significant next steps in the closing months of this year.

The House Courts of Justice Committee and the Public Safety Committee on which I serve will be identifying the next steps that must be taken beginning in a special session of the legislature in the next month or two. The Legislative Black Caucus has outlined next steps, with which I concur.

These steps include declaring that racism is a public health crisis in the state, reinstituting parole, creating a civilian review board of police actions with subpoena power, defining the use of excessive force including banning the use of chokeholds and ending no-knock warrants.

The Caucus also proposes the important step of investing more in community and less in law enforcement, funding mental health professionals to respond to those who may be having mental health crises, replacing resource officers in schools who are often police personnel with mental health professionals, restricting the use of militarization tactics and weapons against citizens and expanding the use of body cameras.

In issuing its agenda, the Legislative Black Caucus said in a printed release, “And on a larger scale, this moment is calling on leaders to combat institutional racism and societal discrimination that exists in the criminal justice system, economic structures, housing, education, in healthcare, mental health, in environmental policy and many other areas.”

Your suggestions on next steps are welcome, [email protected]

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The deadline is nearing for families to decide how they want their kids to return to Fairfax County public schools this year.

Families have until Wednesday, July 15, to complete a form indicating whether they want their kids to take fully online classes or join a hybrid model combining in-person and online learning.

Families who pick the fully online option would have four days of synchronous learning. The hybrid model would combine two days of learning in schools with asynchronous online learning.

Superintendent Scott Brabrand has said that the school system will consider adding more in-person days — not to exceed four — depending on the demand for the hybrid model.

For families who are having trouble deciding, Brabrand encourages parents to see how their kids react to wearing a face covering for six hours — the amount of time they would need to wear it while at school.

No matter which option parents pick, students will return to the county’s public schools on Tuesday, Sept. 8.

Let us know in the poll below what your preference is for students returning to school this fall.

Photo via Element5 Digital/Unsplash

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