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Reston Real Estate: Just Sold

This is a sponsored post from Eve Thompson of Reston Real Estate. For a more complete picture of home sales in your neighborhood, contact her on Reston Real Estate.

It’s been an interesting fall market in Reston. Our housing inventory has been very constrained with fewer than 200 houses on the market — we’re especially tight right now with just 148 active listings on the market.

Even with the constrained inventory property is not selling so fast that you could call it a “Seller’s Market.” The average days on market is a whopping 80 days!

The buyers are out there but they are being very particular and, they aren’t over-paying. Seller’s need to put the time into getting their homes ready for the market and they need to price them competitively.

Here are a few of the recent sales:

11081 Pelham Manor Place
5 BR/3.5 BA
List Price: $1,025,000
Sold Price: $998,000

 
 

11005 Burywood Lane
4 BR/3.5 BA
List Price: $819,000
Sold Price: $800,000

 
 

1609 Greenbriar Court
4 BR/3 BA
List Price: $625,000
Sold Price: $597,000

 
 

11763 North Shore Drive
5BR/3.5 BA
List Price: $579,900
Sold Price: $564,000

 
 

11783 Indian Ridge
3 BR/2.5 BA
List Price: $510,000
Sold Price: $514,500

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Pet of the Week: Diesel

Becky's Pet Care

Meet Diesel, a German Shepherd dog mix available for adoption locally.

Here is what his friends at NOVA Pets Alive! have to say about him:

Diesel is a goofy shepherd mix who loves to go, go, go!

His favorite things include playing fetch and tug with his rope toy. Going out for a walk is always at the top of his list. And after a day of play and fun, Diesel is ready to curl up with his people nearby to get some sleep.

We’ve got a laundry list of reasons about why he’s the PERFECT pal. For starters, this lovable boy is;

  • A snuggler. Snuggling with nice people and his fuzzy toys is his favorite pastime.
  • A lover! Seriously, this guy loves EVERYONE.
  • An adventurer. Walking, hiking, exploring the great outdoors — Diesel is a great companion for active folks, too!
  • An absolute goofball! This cool guy really likes to play and has a knack for keeping his humans thoroughly entertained. Who needs television when you have a Diesel?

Diesel’s got a lot of love to give, and one adoption application can send him to his forever home today!

Are you and Diesel a match? If so, let us know and our sponsor, Becky’s Pet Care, will send you some treats and prizes.

Want your pet to be considered for the Reston Pet of the Week?

Email [email protected] with a 2-3 paragraph bio and at least 3-4 horizontally-oriented photos of your pet. Each week’s winner receives a sample of dog or cat treats from our sponsor, Becky’s Pet Care, along with $100 in Becky’s Bucks.

Becky’s Pet Care, the winner of three Angie’s List Super Service Awards and the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters’ 2013 Business of the Year, provides professional dog walking and pet sitting services in Reston and Northern Virginia.

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Reston Real Estate: Selling In Reston? Start Now to be Ready for the Spring Market

This is a sponsored post from Eve Thompson of Reston Real Estate. For a more complete picture of home sales in your neighborhood, contact her on Reston Real Estate.

I don’t typically hold to the notion that one time of year is better for selling your home versus another. For as long as I’ve been selling real estate, I have always had at least a couple of transactions around the winter holidays, but conventional wisdom says that there is something magical about spring.

As of this writing there are 87 days until spring. I have two listing appointments this week with sellers that want to go over what they should do to get their property ready for the spring market.

They’ll be surprised when they find there is a long list of “to do’s” to get a house ready for the market.

The first place to start is by cleaning. I don’t the mean the vacuum & dusting kind of cleaning. I mean the scrub the grout with a tooth brush kind of cleaning. I mean you do your best imitation of your crazy Aunt Saddie with the obsessive compulsive cleaning disorder kind of cleaning.

Some clients opt for hiring a cleaning crew; if you’re going to do that you should de-clutter your house before bringing in a cleaning professional. And if your “to do” list includes painting, save the professional cleaning for the last item on your list.

So what does the typical seller “to do” list look like?

  • Reduce contents of all closets by half. Stuffed closets speak to prospective buyers — they say “this house doesn’t have enough storage.” This may not be the case; maybe you’re just really bad about getting rid of the excess we all seem to accumulate.
  • Neutralize your home. Pre-pack most of your personal items like family photos, your ceramic frog collection and other things that can distract buyers from seeing the house.
  • Be prepared to put furniture and other items in storage.
  • 50% of the houses I see prior to listing need to be painted — go neutral.
  • Clean everything — every, nook, cranny, light switch cover, door jamb, door knobs, everything.
  • Do not overlook the utility areas of your home, they should be thoroughly cleaned and organized including the area around the furnace and water heater.

A super clean and orderly home says “I have been well maintained.” A clean house reduces buyer anxiety.

One of the first things I do for clients after signing a listing agreement is to drop off 100 office sized boxes to be used to de-clutter, or as we like to call it, pre-packing.

A home that is free of clutter makes room for the prospective buyer to mentally picture themselves with their own possessions in that home; which in turn helps to move the buyer from thinking to acting…writing a contract.

The more you can do to clean, organize, neutralize, paint and upgrade, the faster your home will go from being on the market to sold.

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Legal Insider: Rights for Federal Employees in Disciplinary Cases

This is a sponsored column by attorneys John Berry and Kimberly Berry of Berry & Berry, PLLC, an employment and labor law firm located in Northern Virginia that specializes in federal employee, security clearance, retirement and private sector employee matters.

By John V. Berry, Esq.

More common types of federal agency “adverse actions” (more serious discipline) include removal, demotion, reduction in grade or suspensions of greater than 14 days. Some types of “disciplinary actions” (lessor discipline) include letters of warning, letters of reprimand, oral or written counseling or suspensions of less than 15 days.

Federal Employee Rights in Disciplinary Cases

If a federal employee is issued a proposed disciplinary action, the proposal will normally include a description of the alleged misconduct and the type of charge against the employee (e.g., insubordination, theft, conduct unbecoming, lack of performance, etc.).

Federal employees in adverse action matters (suspensions of 15 days and above, and demotion matters) and in some disciplinary actions (suspensions of any length (usually 14 days and below)) have the following rights: (1) right to an attorney; (2) right to respond to the proposal in writing or orally, and (3) the right to review all of the materials relied upon in the issuance of the Proposal.

We recommend that employees involved in proposed disciplinary or adverse action always request from the agency all of the materials that it is relying upon to propose discipline. Sometimes disciplinary actions will not be drafted properly and reviewing the materials relied upon can help in responding to the discipline.

Present Both a Written and Oral Response

We also usually recommend, in most cases, that a federal employee present both a written response and an oral response to the deciding official (the decision maker on the disciplinary action) in a proposed disciplinary or adverse action.

The oral response portion of a federal employee’s response can be extremely important and usually follows the submission of the written response.

Typically, when we assist federal employees in this regard, we obtain a full statement of facts from the federal employee involved and prepare a full written rebuttal to the allegations. We also contact the deciding official in the personnel action and request an appointment for the oral response.

In these types of cases, we respond to both the merits of the alleged conduct and argue for mitigation under the Douglas Factors. Douglas Factors typically are mitigating reasons as to why a particular disciplinary penalty should be reduced (i.e., based on years of successful performance, no prior disciplinary actions, lack of clarity about the rules at issue and other reasons why a disciplinary penalty should not be so harsh).

Conclusion

If you are in need of assistance in the federal employee discipline process please contact our office at (703) 668-0070 or through our contact page to schedule a consultation. Please also visit and like us on Facebook or Twitter.

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Pet of the Week: Mikey

Becky's Pet Care

Meet Mikey, a labrador retriever mix available for adoption locally.

Here is what his friends at Safe Haven Puppy Rescue have to say about him:

Full of puppy love and the sweetest guy you’ll ever meet.

Mikey is an adorable 7 month old lab mix looking for his forever home, and is also looking for some key elements in his forever home.

Mikey is very shy and timid so another fun-loving yet confident canine friend is preferred, as well as a patient, calm family that is willing to go the extra mile allowing Mikey to decompress and readjust to a new home.

Having another canine companion would allow Mikey to learn and build confidence as he readjusts to new people, places and things. It took him some time to feel comfortable and safe at the shelter but now that he has little personality shines!

Transitioning to a new home is exciting, but also stressful for little guys like Mikey. Please allow Mikey 4-6 weeks at minimum to decompress and feel like part of your family.

Are you and Mikey a match? If so, let us know and our sponsor, Becky’s Pet Care, will send you some treats and prizes.

Want your pet to be considered for the Reston Pet of the Week?

Email [email protected] with a 2-3 paragraph bio and at least 3-4 horizontally-oriented photos of your pet. Each week’s winner receives a sample of dog or cat treats from our sponsor, Becky’s Pet Care, along with $100 in Becky’s Bucks.

Becky’s Pet Care, the winner of three Angie’s List Super Service Awards and the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters’ 2013 Business of the Year, provides professional dog walking and pet sitting services in Reston and Northern Virginia.

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Pet of the Week: Cheeto

Becky's Pet Care

Meet Cheeto, a tabby & domestic short hair mix kitten available for adoption locally.

Here is what his friends at Little Buddies Adoption and Humane Society have to say about him:

Cheeto is a delightful young cat. He is full of affection and love.

He is quite the lap cat. His antics at play time will bring a smile to your face.

Cheeto was rescued from the outdoors. He gets along well with dogs and children. He will be about 4 months old the end of November.

(Note: Little Buddies has adoption events every Saturday from noon to 3 p.m. at Pet Valu in the North Point Village Shopping Center.)

Are you and Cheeto a match? If so, let us know and our sponsor, Becky’s Pet Care, will send you some treats and prizes.

Want your pet to be considered for the Reston Pet of the Week?

Email [email protected] with a 2-3 paragraph bio and at least 3-4 horizontally-oriented photos of your pet. Each week’s winner receives a sample of dog or cat treats from our sponsor, Becky’s Pet Care, along with $100 in Becky’s Bucks.

Becky’s Pet Care, the winner of three Angie’s List Super Service Awards and the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters’ 2013 Business of the Year, provides professional dog walking and pet sitting services in Reston and Northern Virginia.

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Legal Insider: Five Considerations for Federal Employee Disability Retirement Cases

This is a sponsored column by attorneys John Berry and Kimberly Berry of Berry & Berry, PLLC, an employment and labor law firm located in Northern Virginia that specializes in federal employee, security clearance, retirement and private sector employee matters.

By Kimberly H. Berry, Esq.

One of the more typical types of retirement matters that our firm handles involves the representation of federal employees in the disability retirement process before various federal agencies and the Office of Personnel Management (OPM).

Federal employees thinking about filing for disability retirement should consider the following five issues as they debate whether or not to proceed.

1. How Serious are the Federal Employee’s Medical Disabilities and are They Linked to Duties in Their Position Description?

When making a disability retirement decision OPM evaluates a federal employee’s continued ability to work with their medical condition in the context of the duties described in their position description. OPM uses the phrase “useful and efficient service in your current position” to describe the degree to which a federal employee can carry out their job duties.

If the medical disability is not considered serious enough, or not fully supported by medical documentation and evidence, then OPM may deny the disability retirement application.

2. How Long is the Medical Disability Expected to Last?

The duration of a medical disability is very important when OPM makes a disability retirement decision. OPM generally requires that a medical disability be expected to last at least 1 year.

When considering whether to file for disability retirement, it is important for a federal employee to consider the expected length of the individual’s medical disability. Disabilities with shorter durations can be problematic for federal employees in the disability retirement process.

3. Is it Possible for the Federal Employee to Survive on a Reduced Annuity?

If a federal employee is considering filing for OPM disability retirement, it is important to understand that this type of retirement can provide a federal employee with a lower monthly retirement annuity in comparison to full retirement. Therefore, we recommend that a federal employee consult with a financial advisor about the impact of a potentially reduced annuity before filing for disability retirement.

The good news is that an individual approved for disability retirement can generally work again in the private sector (not in other federal employment) and supplement their income (usually up to 80% of their prior salary) without losing their disability retirement income.

4. Are There Reasonable Accommodations that can be Made to Allow the Federal Employee to Continue to Work?

Sometimes a federal agency will work with an employee to provide them with a reasonable accommodation (i.e., change in duties, assignments, hours, telework or other adjustments) that can make the employee’s current position and medical condition workable and thereby avoid the disability retirement process, although this is less common.

As a part of the disability retirement process, a federal agency is required to certify that it is unable to accommodate your disabling medical condition in their present position.

The agency must also certify that it has considered a federal employee “for any vacant position in the same agency, at the same grade or pay level, and within the same commuting area, for which [you] qualified for reassignment.” Federal agencies typically do not have an issue with such certifications.

5. Does the Federal Employee have Medical Support for Disability Retirement?

Medical documentation and evidence is the most important consideration for a federal employee when filing for disability retirement. We also find that physicians will usually help their patients in the disability retirement process.

When OPM reviews disability retirement applications, they rely heavily on a federal employee’s medical evidence. As a result, physicians and their medical opinions are crucial in the disability retirement application process with OPM.

OPM will require physicians’ statements about a federal employee’s medical issues, and these physician statements can either make or break the potential outcome in the disability retirement application process. It is important for a physician to understand a federal employee’s position description and how their disabilities interfere with their duties.

Conclusion

If you are in need of assistance in the federal employee retirement process please contact our office at 703-668-0070 or through our contact page to schedule a consultation. Please also visit and like us on Facebook or Twitter.

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Pet of the Week: Astro

Becky's Pet Care

This is a sponsored post from Becky’s Pet Care, a professional pet care service in Northern Virginia.

This week’s Reston Pet of the Week is Astro, a goldendoodle who calls Reston home.

Here is what Astro’s owner, Paige, had to say about him:

Astro is a 1 and a half year old goldendoodle who has so much personality!

Astro can be seen carrying his favorite stick proudly around the neighborhood during his walk, or “giving the belly” — his way of asking strangers to give him belly rubs.

Astro loves to pout when his parents leave for work and is equally excited, bouncing between sofa cushions, when they return. Although he is both golden retriever and poodle, he is working on his swimming skills. He will get there some day.

He’s a total goofball who befriends any person or creature he encounters, with the exception of squirrels.

If you see us around Lake Anne or RTC, please say hi!

Want your pet to be considered for the Reston Pet of the Week?

Email [email protected] with a 2-3 paragraph bio and at least 3-4 horizontally-oriented photos of your pet. Each week’s winner receives a sample of dog or cat treats from our sponsor, Becky’s Pet Care, along with $100 in Becky’s Bucks.

Becky’s Pet Care, the winner of three Angie’s List Super Service Awards and the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters’ 2013 Business of the Year, provides professional dog walking and pet sitting services in Reston and Northern Virginia.

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Reno of the Month: Reston Home Design Trends that are Here to Stay

by Mina Fies, Synergy Design & Construction

Interior Design trends come and go — so how do you know which have staying power and which ones will make you say “That was so 2018” in a couple of years? Before you splurge on that remodel you’ve been thinking about, here’s my advice on how to get the look you want without going over-the-top on trends.

Kitchen Cabinets

All-white kitchen cabinets are a great example of a design trend with longevity. White cabinetry continues to be a firm favorite and is a great choice for a clean, modern look.

However, we started to see a move away from the all-white kitchen a few years ago. It started with homeowners willing to take a risk with a different colored island, or different colored/two toned cabinets. It’s a beautiful look.

More recently, we’ve seen a shift to different colored kitchens altogether. Those who want to play it safe have been choosing neutral sand colors, but some have gone all-out with blues, greens and even black accents!

You don’t have to go ultra-modern to get the look. The key to great design is respecting the aesthetic of the rest of your home so it feels cohesive.

Tile

Portuguese and Moroccan-inspired tile is everywhere right now!

A friend recently asked, “I love this look, but will I regret it in a few years?” There’s a way to do it right. If you aren’t a risk taker, then start small. Use the tile you love in a mudroom or laundry room, or use it as an accent piece behind your stove in the kitchen.

My prediction is this look is here to stay, so have fun with it!

Wallpaper

Once the staple of the family home, wallpaper got a bad reputation after the 80’s overuse with lots of busy patterns and borders. Not any more! The resurgence of wallpaper started a few years ago with statement accent walls and now it’s now back with a bang!

New wallpapers are geometric, textured and beautiful. Believe it or not, floral wallpaper is back too, but with a modern twist with large flowers that make really bold (yet tasteful) statements!

Flooring

Hardwood was the only way to go for many years. However, there’s new competition on the block and hardwood is no longer the must-have solution. Alternative flooring types bring a few benefits: some are more eco-friendly and/or are less expensive than hardwood.

Bamboo floors are a great option and look beautiful. They have similar water resistance and durability as hardwood but are more environmentally friendly because bamboo grows quickly (and therefore takes less time to replace).

Luxury Vinyl Tile (LVT) has also made a big comeback. This is not your Grandma’s kitchen floor. The new LVT is modern, hard wearing and can look beautiful in any space in your home. You’ve probably seen this in homes and not even realized it was LVT!

With lumber tariffs having an ever-increasing impact on remodeling costs, the trend for non-hardwood floors is growing with all signs pointing to the reign of hardwood being over.

Brass Fixtures

For the last decade (and counting), brass fixtures were everywhere. Everyone was ready to leave the heady days of 1980/90s brass everywhere in the past and there was a shift to satin nickel and chrome.

Well, what was old is new again, but with an updated look. Gold brass has been given an updated look with softer shades and finishes. What’s nice about the new-look brass is that is pairs so well with the trend of mixed metals.

That’s right, not every fixture has to match any more — brass and mixed metals have been all over the design shows and magazines this year.

Is it a trend that will stick? If you do it right! But no, that doesn’t mean you get to claim your faucets from 1985 are once again trendy!

This month’s remodel features a single family home remodel in North Reston. What we loved about these wonderful clients was their desire to think outside the box with regards to cabinetry. Anything is possible: we even matched the blue cabinetry to the homeowner’s favorite blue purse!

Find out more about our approach to remodeling. Not ready to remodel and just want to keep in touch? Sign up to receive design inspiration directly in your inbox!

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Pet of the Week: Jasper

Becky's Pet Care

Meet Jasper, an Italian greyhound mix available for adoption locally.

Here is what his friends at Safe Haven Puppy Rescue have to say about him:

A happier dog you just will not find — Jasper is ready to make some lucky adopter out there a terrific new best friend.

This great little fella is a nice blend of friendly affection and normal puppy playfulness and will be great company.

Are you and Jasper a match? If so, let us know and our sponsor, Becky’s Pet Care, will send you some treats and prizes.

Want your pet to be considered for the Reston Pet of the Week?

Email [email protected] with a 2-3 paragraph bio and at least 3-4 horizontally-oriented photos of your pet. Each week’s winner receives a sample of dog or cat treats from our sponsor, Becky’s Pet Care, along with $100 in Becky’s Bucks.

Becky’s Pet Care, the winner of three Angie’s List Super Service Awards and the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters’ 2013 Business of the Year, provides professional dog walking and pet sitting services in Reston and Northern Virginia.

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Reston Real Estate: Chadd’s Ford Cluster, South Reston

This is a sponsored post from Eve Thompson of Reston Real Estate. For a more complete picture of home sales in your neighborhood, contact her on Reston Real Estate.

Restonians love their lakeside living and Chadd’s Ford Cluster is one of the many townhome communities in South Reston to take advantage. This neighborhood of 57 brick and siding townhouses is located off Ridge Heights Road on Lake Thoreau — about half of those are direct lakefront properties.

The cluster was built between 1978 and 1980, and each three-level home has two to four bedrooms. And, all homes have at least two assigned parking spaces.

For those who enjoy boating or rafting, Chadd’s Ford Cluster owns and maintains two docks for the residents and guests to use and enjoy. Any day the weather is nice, you’ll see people making the most of living on lovely Lake Thoreau.

For those who like leisurely walks or runs, the Reston Association paths run through the cluster. It’s a beautiful, short walk to South Lakes Village Shopping Center for dining and shopping.

For families, Chadd’s Ford Cluster is walking distance to South Lakes High School, Langston Hughes Middle School and Terraset Elementary School.

This is the kind of neighborhood where you can see the residents’ pride in the beautifully manicured landscaping. The cluster association sponsors several social gatherings each year, adding to the warm community feel.

Give it a visit and you’ll see what I mean. This is a wonderful neighborhood.

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Legal Insider: Thin Line Between Social Media and Employment

This is a sponsored column by attorneys John V. Berry and Kimberly H. Berry of Berry & Berry, PLLC, an employment and labor law firm located in Plaza America in Reston that specializes in federal employee, security clearance, retirement and private sector employee matters.

By John V. Berry, Esq.

One of the most evolving areas of employment law today is how off-duty social media use is increasingly affecting employees and their employment. One of the most common misconceptions about employee off-duty social media use is that it is somehow protected by law and cannot subject an employee to discipline. In particular, there is a belief that the First Amendment protects speech made outside of work on social media.

This isn’t the case. The First Amendment generally does not protect this type of speech for private sector employees and only rarely does for public sector employees.

Recent Examples in the News

Some recent examples of the connection between social media and employment have made the news recently. In one example, a private school administrator was placed on suspension for making inappropriate comments to Attorney Michael Avenatti on Twitter. A second example involved a Dean at Catholic University who this week was suspended for making comments about a female complainant related to the Kavanaugh U.S. Senate Supreme Court proceedings on social media.

Few Protections for Employee Use of Social Media

We have seen similar kinds of social media use issues arise in workplace termination cases far more frequently these days. The use of social media by employees is generally not protected by the First Amendment which only protects individuals from government action, not actions of private employers.

Employees can be terminated for social media speech even if it was created with their private accounts and prepared after work hours. Many companies are increasingly receiving complaints about employees who make threatening or inappropriate comments on Facebook, Twitter or other social media outlets.

As a result, many employers are then taking disciplinary action against these same employees. As the law on social media evolves we may see some protections develop where an employer takes discriminatory action for a post or violates other state and federal laws.

However, right now there is little in the way of protections for employment actions taken due to social media postings.

As easy as it is for an individual to express an inappropriate comment on social media in a moment of frustration it is just as easy for someone who sees the comment to report it to an employer.

In this evolving world of social media and employment law, it is generally a good idea for employees to understand the thin line that exists between posting on social media in a moment of frustration and an employer taking disciplinary action against them.

Conclusion

When facing employment or wrongful termination issues in Virginia it is important to obtain the advice of and representation of an attorney.  Our law firm advises and represents individuals in wrongful termination matters in Virginia and other jurisdictions. We can be contacted at www.berrylegal.com or by telephone at 703-668-0070.

Please also visit and like us on our Facebook and Twitter pages.

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Pet of the Week: Jack

Becky's Pet Care

Meet Jack, a retriever mix available for adoption locally.

Here is what his friends at Safe Haven Puppy Rescue have to say about him:

Jumping Jack is such an adorable puppy with that cute little face. At six weeks old and about 6 pounds we think that he is a retriever mix. He will most likely be a nice medium/large size guy when full grown, perhaps around 50 pounds.

This great little guy is a nice friendly affectionate puppy that loves to play and gives great puppy kisses. He can’t wait to meet his new family with whom he can grow and learn.

Are you and Jack a match? If so, let us know and our sponsor, Becky’s Pet Care, will send you some treats and prizes.

Want your pet to be considered for the Reston Pet of the Week?

Email [email protected] with a 2-3 paragraph bio and at least 3-4 horizontally-oriented photos of your pet. Each week’s winner receives a sample of dog or cat treats from our sponsor, Becky’s Pet Care, along with $100 in Becky’s Bucks.

Becky’s Pet Care, the winner of three Angie’s List Super Service Awards and the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters’ 2013 Business of the Year, provides professional dog walking and pet sitting services in Reston and Northern Virginia.

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Pet of the Week: Baxter

Becky's Pet Care

Meet Baxter, a domestic short hair kitten available for adoption locally.

Here is what his friends at Little Buddies Adoption and Humane Society have to say about him:

Baxter is a sweet boy. Enjoys being cuddled. He loves affection and is very playful.

He loves to bat toys, play with a track ball, and chase a laser light. He also loves wresting with his brother, Buster.

Baxter was about 3 months old the first part of September.

(Note: Little Buddies has adoption events every Saturday from noon to 3 p.m. at Pet Valu in the North Point Village Shopping Center.)

Are you and Baxter a match? If so, let us know and our sponsor, Becky’s Pet Care, will send you some treats and prizes.

Want your pet to be considered for the Reston Pet of the Week?

Email [email protected] with a 2-3 paragraph bio and at least 3-4 horizontally-oriented photos of your pet. Each week’s winner receives a sample of dog or cat treats from our sponsor, Becky’s Pet Care, along with $100 in Becky’s Bucks.

Becky’s Pet Care, the winner of three Angie’s List Super Service Awards and the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters’ 2013 Business of the Year, provides professional dog walking and pet sitting services in Reston and Northern Virginia.

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Legal Insider: The Statement of Reasons Leading to Security Clearance Determinations

This is a sponsored column by attorneys John V. Berry and Kimberly H. Berry of Berry & Berry, PLLC, an employment and labor law firm located in Plaza America in Reston that specializes in federal employee, security clearance, retirement and private sector employee matters.

By John V. Berry, Esq.

Many individuals come to us when they receive a document referred to as a Statement of Reasons (SOR) which federal agencies issue to individuals when considering the denial of their security clearance. A SOR can be issued to federal employees or government contractors currently holding or seeking a security clearance.

What is a Statement of Reasons?

A SOR lists the factual basis for potentially denying an individual’s security clearance. The SOR will list individual security concerns and provide the individual an ability to formally respond.

Typically, a federal agency will issue the SOR to the individual following the development of a security clearance concern. Subsequently, this security concern will be reviewed by the federal agency’s security office and either be cleared or proceed formally through the clearance adjudication process.

The SOR is the key document to analyze when attempting to avoid an adverse security clearance decision. For federal employees, agencies will generally attach the SOR to a cover letter that references the agency’s intent to revoke eligibility for the employees’ security clearance and provide it directly to the employee. For government contractors, the government will typically issue the SOR through the employer’s security officer.

The following is an example of a SOR issued for a federal employee based on personal conduct:

STATEMENT OF REASONS

Guideline E, Personal Conduct: Conduct involving questionable judgment, lack of candor, dishonesty, or unwillingness to comply with rules and regulations can raise questions about an individual’s reliability, trustworthiness, and ability to protect classified or sensitive information. Of special interest is any failure to cooperate or provide truthful and candid answers during national security investigative or adjudicative processes.

  1. a. On September 26, 2018 after a fellow employee accused you of theft in the office you engaged in aggressive physical conduct towards him and were subsequently detained by law enforcement.
  2. On September 27, 2018 you falsely recorded the amount of hours you worked on your weekly time sheet.
  3. On October 23, 2018, you lied to investigators when you falsely stated that you worked all of the hours you claimed on your weekly time sheet on September 27, 2018.

How to Respond to a SOR

If an individual receives a SOR, the key for a potential successful defense involves being able to refute the specific factual allegations or to mitigate them. This process begins with hiring an attorney to assist the individual in their response.

In the example above, since it is often the case that mistakes are made in SOR’s or that information is outdated, the first step is to determine from the individual whether the allegations themselves are true, i.e. whether they actually engaged in physical conduct, falsely recorded hours on their time sheet and/or was truthful with investigators during the investigation.

Accordingly, if the facts turn out to be true, the next task is to find out what mitigating factors could be helpful in explaining why the person should still be granted a security clearance.

To do this, one must review the National Security Adjudicative Guidelines for potential conditions that can mitigate the corresponding security concerns. Additionally, the Whole-Person Concept provides overall mitigation factors for security clearance matters.

For instance, in the example above, after reviewing the Adjudicative Guidelines and the Whole-Person Concept, there may be an argument that the issues raised were isolated incidents and do not reflect the overall character of the person.

Similarly, it would also be helpful to understand whether the employee reported the incidents to security officials prior to their discovery. Additionally, letters of character, charitable work, prior military service and/or good work performance can often help to demonstrate mitigation.

Overall, the key to responding to the SOR is to start with the factual allegations, provide a full synopsis of all facts involving each allegation, and then review the corresponding potential mitigating factors. Taking these steps will begin the process of properly preparing an effective response to the SOR.

Conclusion

We represent federal employees and government contractors in security clearance cases. Should you need assistance in a security clearance matter, please contact us by telephone at 703-668-0070 or through our contact page. Please also visit and like us on our Facebook and Twitter pages.

By John V. Berry, Esq.

Many individuals come to us when they receive a document referred to as a Statement of Reasons (SOR) which federal agencies issue to individuals when considering the denial of their security clearance. An SOR can be issued to federal employees or government contractors currently holding or seeking a security clearance.

What is a Statement of Reasons?

A SOR lists the factual basis for potentially denying an individual’s security clearance. The SOR will list individual security concerns and provide the individual an ability to formally respond.

Typically, a federal agency will issue the SOR to the individual following the development of a security clearance concern. Subsequently, this security concern will be reviewed by the federal agency’s security office and either be cleared or proceed formally through the clearance adjudication process.

The SOR is the key document to analyze when attempting to avoid an adverse security clearance decision. For federal employees, agencies will generally attach the SOR to a cover letter that references the agency’s intent to revoke eligibility for the employees’ security clearance and provide it directly to the employee. For government contractors, the government will typically issue the SOR through the employer’s security officer.

The following is an example of a SOR issued for a federal employee based on personal conduct:

STATEMENT OF REASONS

Guideline E, Personal Conduct: Conduct involving questionable judgment, lack of candor, dishonesty, or unwillingness to comply with rules and regulations can raise questions about an individual’s reliability, trustworthiness, and ability to protect classified or sensitive information. Of special interest is any failure to cooperate or provide truthful and candid answers during national security investigative or adjudicative processes.

  1. a. On September 26, 2018 after a fellow employee accused you of theft in the office you engaged in aggressive physical conduct towards him and were subsequently detained by law enforcement.
  2. On September 27, 2018 you falsely recorded the amount of hours you worked on your weekly time sheet.
  3. On October 23, 2018, you lied to investigators when you falsely stated that you worked all of the hours you claimed on your weekly time sheet on September 27, 2018.

How to Respond to a SOR

If an individual receives a SOR, the key for a potential successful defense involves being able to refute the specific factual allegations or to mitigate them. This process begins with hiring an attorney to assist the individual in their response.

In the example above, since it is often the case that mistakes are made in SOR’s or that information is outdated, the first step is to determine from the individual whether the allegations themselves are true, i.e. whether they actually engaged in physical conduct, falsely recorded hours on their time sheet and/or was truthful with investigators during the investigation.

Accordingly, if the facts turn out to be true, the next task is to find out what mitigating factors could be helpful in explaining why the person should still be granted a security clearance.

To do this, one must review the National Security Adjudicative Guidelines for potential conditions that can mitigate the corresponding security concerns. Additionally, the Whole-Person Concept provides overall mitigation factors for security clearance matters.

For instance, in the example above, after reviewing the Adjudicative Guidelines and the Whole-Person Concept, there may be an argument that the issues raised were isolated incidents and do not reflect the overall character of the person.

Similarly, it would also be helpful to understand whether the employee reported the incidents to security officials prior to their discovery. Additionally, letters of character, charitable work, prior military service and/or good work performance can often help to demonstrate mitigation.

Overall, the key to responding to the SOR is to start with the factual allegations, provide a full synopsis of all facts involving each allegation, and then review the corresponding potential mitigating factors. Taking these steps will begin the process of properly preparing an effective response to the SOR.

Conclusion

We represent federal employees and government contractors in security clearance cases. Should you need assistance in a security clearance matter, please contact us by telephone at 703-668-0070 or through our contact page. Please also visit and like us on our Facebook and Twitter pages.

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