Morning Notes

Comstock Unveils Reston Station’s Next Phase — The company plans to build a six-tower, two-million-square-foot project complementing its Reston Station buildings on the opposite side of the Dulles Toll Road. Plans include the demolition of the building at 11400 Commerce Park. [Washington Business Journal]

Diversity and Accessibility in Reston Comes Into Focus — Reston Community Center is hosting a discussion on Reston’s early dedication to diversity and accessibility today. The event takes place online. [RCC]

County Warn of Covid-related Scams — The county is encouraging residents to be wary of Covid-related scams, including fake testing kits and misinformation about treatment methods on social media. [Fairfax County Government]

Photo by Marjorie Copson

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Morning Notes

Teachers Get Valentines — Fairfax County Public Schools’ teachers received 7,000 personal Valentine cards across 40 schools last week. The initiative was part of Volunteer Fairfax’s annual Valentine’s challenge. [FCPS]

New County Testing Sources Begin Today — After the closure of community testing center, the county is working with the state to launch a vendor-operated van for testing. The service is expected to begin today and will offer free PCR testing for individuals three months and older. [Fairfax County Government]

Reston Manager Receives Lifetime Award — Caliber Home Loans recognized Michael McBride with a lifetime achievement award for managing the company’s Northern Virginia Branch. McBridge was selected from a pool of nationwide contenders. The award is given to managers who provide exceptional production performance. [Reston Patch]

Photo by Terry Baranski

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An event that is a staple for Restonians — the Reston Triathlon — is officially coming to an end.

The Reston Triathlon Association formed in 1983 and organized the event on the second Sunday of each September.

In an online post, the organization’s Board of Directors said that it was not able to find another organization to take over and continue the race.

“Unfortunately, we were just not able to overcome the mounting financial and logistical challenges we experienced these past few years to host a race that the community has come to know and love,” the statement read.

The nonprofit organization, which is staffed entirely by volunteers, canceled last year’s event due to the pandemic.

For years, participants have taken part in a race of Olympic proportions. The event was organized into into a 1500-meter swim, a 25-mile bike ride, and a 6.2-mile run.

Here’s more from the board on the change:

We have had an incredible journey with all of you, our racers, your supporters, our volunteers and all of the leaders in the community. We are very thankful for the memories and many years of racing. We will miss all of you. 

The Reston Triathlon is a non-profit organization.  Once we close out our expenses,  any remaining funds will be donated to local charities.

Thank you for the many years of support.  Stay healthy, volunteer and support your community events!

Photo via Reston Triathlon/Facebook

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Morning Notes

Driver Charged in Crash that Killed Reston Woman — Police have charged a Manassas man with driving under the influence and involuntary manslaughter in connection with a car crash that killed a Reston woman. [Fairfax County Police Department]

Lake Anne Visioning Plan Broadens — The county is considering a plan to dedicate $250,000 for a long-term visioning plan for the Lake Anne area. [Reston Patch]

Schools to Maintain Mask Requirement — Despite Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s order to lift mask mandates in schools, the Fairfax County Public Schools will maintain mask requirements for students. Virtual town halls to discuss the issue are planned for this week. [FCPS]

Police Investigate Gas Station Robbery — Local police are investigating a robbery that happened at Sunoco Gas Station at 13470 Coppermine Road on Jan. 19. A man displayed a gun and demanded property, according to police. [FCPD]

Photo by Marjorie Copson

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Hunan East Restaurant (Via Google Maps)

A Chinese restaurant that’s been at a Reston-area shopping plaza for 17 years is closing next month.

Hunan East Restaurant told Reston Now that the permanent shuttering is due to a variety of factors and will occur at the end of February.

The COVID-19 pandemic led many customers of the restaurant to get takeout orders, but the business said it didn’t use assistance to restaurants adversely affected by the shutdowns.

Federal funding through the CARES Act in 2020 gave money to Fairfax County, which distributed around $53 million to over 4,800 small businesses and nonprofits through its RISE program.

The American Rescue Plan Act in 2021 provided further money to the county, which has already awarded over $16 million of $25 million set aside for its PIVOT program.

Last year, Weber’s Pet Supermarket, another longtime tenant also located in the Fox Mill Shopping Center, announced it would relocate.

Photo via Google Maps

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Although the pandemic wreaked havoc on supply chains and labor demands, the state’s massive improvement project along the Route 7 Corridor remains on track.

The $313.9 million project will improve seven miles of Route 7 between Reston Avenue and Jarrett Valley Drive is on schedule. Crews are working to widen the road from four to six lanes and add a shared-use path on both sides.

The project was not significantly impacted by staffing challenges and supply chain issues, a spokesperson for the Virginia Department of Transportation told Reston Now.

Kathleen Leonard, a spokesperson for VDOT, said that the design-to-build project team was able to take advantage of light traffic counts in 2012 to extend land closure hours and maintain progress throughout the pandemic.

But traffic patterns and a race-track environment are likely to remain for a little over two years.

Leonard says the project is 57 percent complete and on track for completion by July 31, 2024.

VDOT provided the following updates on the most recent work on the project:

Area 1: Reston Avenue to Colvin Forest Drive (Except Baron Cameron Avenue Intersection)

Area 1 West: Reston Avenue to Baron Cameron Avenue:

  • Completed drilling for noise barrier foundations west of Reston Parkway along eastbound Route 7. 
  • Storm sewer installation west of Baron Cameron Avenue continued.

Area 1 East: Baron Cameron Avenue to Carpers Farm Way:

  • Continued post installation for the noise barrier wall along westbound Route 7 between Colvin Run Road (east) and Colvin Run Road (west).
  • Storm sewer installation between Baron Cameron Avenue and Colvin Forest Drive continued.

Area 2: Baron Cameron Intersection

  • Continued earth-moving activities at the intersection of Route 7 and Baron Cameron Avenue.

Area 3: Difficult Run Area (Colvin Forest Drive to Faulkner Drive)

  • Continued construction of the retaining wall between eastbound Route 7 and the Colvin Run stream channel.
  • Construction of foundations for the piers and western abutment of the eastbound Route 7 bridge over Difficult Run continued.
  • Completed storm sewer installation for Stage 2 between Difficult Run and Serenity Woods Lane.

Area 4: Faulkner Drive to Jarrett Valley Drive

  • Completed storm sewer installation for Stage 3A between Serenity Woods Lane and Middleton Ridge Road.  
  • Installed underdrain, curb, and placed base and intermediate asphalt for Stage 2 between Towlston Road and Lewinsville Road. 
  • Placed base and intermediate asphalt between Lyons Street and Towlston Road.  
  • Completed the jack and bore storm sewer pipe crossing underneath Route 7 between Middleton Ridge Road and Newcombs Farm Road.  
  • Earth-moving activities for Stage 3B commenced between Lewinsville Road and Jarrett Valley Drive.
  • Began installing storm sewer for the service road between McLean Bible Church and Laurel Hill Road. 

Image via VDOT

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Morning Notes

(Updated at 7:51 pm)

Library Testing Kits Put On Hold — County libraries will no longer provide COVID-19 rapid tests for distribution. The program, which is managed by the Virginia Department of Health, is on hold due to supply chain issues. The program will restart when the issues are resolved. [Fairfax County Government]

Deadline for Reston Association Fee Approaches — The association’s annual fee is due on March 1. Payments can be made online, over the phone or by mail. [RA]

Reston-based Company Prepares for Growth Spurt — Science Logic, a software company, is embarking on another hiring spree. It plans to boost its workforce by 40 percent this year, a spree that could lead to a Wall Street debut. [Washington Business Journal]

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Reston Hospital Center is now requiring its staff to get at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, reversing course on a previous policy that did not require staff to be vaccinated.

The hospital, which is part of the HCA Healthcare, did not institute a vaccine mandate due to a pending court case against vaccine mandates from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

In a 5-4 ruling last week, the U.S. Supreme Court allowed the vaccine mandate, which covers nearly all healthcare workers, to proceed.  The ruling covers two dozen states under federal injunctions that prohibited the CMMS from imposing mandates. It applies to roughly 76,000 health care facilities, including hospitals and long-term care facilities.

In their opinion, justices implied that the court’s ruling overrode state laws that ban vaccination requirements at facilities taking part in the Medicaid and Medicare programs. As a result, failing to comply with the ruling could compromise some health care facility’s ability to serve patients under the Medicare and Medicaid program.

“To ensure our ability to continue caring for Medicare and Medicine patients, Reston Hospital will comply with the CMS mandate and require colleagues covered by the mandate to receive the COVID-19 vaccine or seek a religious or medical exemption,” Suzanne Kelly, the healthcare system’s marketing and communications director, wrote in a statement.

The court also ruled that the OSHA mandate for businesses with 100 or more employees was not enforceable and exceeded the office’s statutory authority.

All staff is required to receive their first dose of the vaccine by Jan. 27 and be fully vaccinated by Feb. 28.

The hospital did not provide information on vaccinations rates for staff, although a spokesperson said a majority of its staff are vaccinated.

Angela Woolsey contributed to this report

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Morning Notes

At-home Tests Coming This Week — Americans will be able to order free COVID-19 rapid tests on Wednesday. Each household will be eligible for up to four tests. [The Washington Post]

Redistricting Plan Gets Big OK — The Virginia Attorney General recently approved the county’s recently-passed redistricting plan. In planning jargon, the attorney general granted the county a certificate of no objection, which allows the county to implement its new local election districts as adopted. [Fairfax County Government]

Rapper Arrested After Narcotics Found in Bags — Rapper Vic Mensah was taken into custody Saturday morning after customs officials found a cache of illicit narcotics in his baggage. [Reston Patch]

Photo by Marjorie Copson

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Banana Republic is planning to close its location at Reston Town Center by the end of the month.

A store representative tells Reston Now that the retailer, which sells women’s and men’s business casual clothing, is expected to close by Jan. 24.

No word yet on what will replace the store at 11905 Democracy Drive.

Banana Republic has other locations in Dulles Town Center, Tysons Corner Center, and Montgomery, Md.

County permits do not indicate what will take up the space, once it is vacated.

The parent company, Gap Inc., plans to close 350 Gap and Banana Republic stores by the end of next year. The closures are part of the company’s plans to move out of malls and other areas where foot traffic is low.

The company did not return several requests for comment.

Boston Properties has indicated that seven new businesses are expected to open this year.

Compass Real Estate, for example, is in the permitting process to open at 11943 Democracy Drive.

Crunch Fitness closed on Dec. 20.

Image via Google Maps

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As COVID-19 cases surge nationwide and staffing shortages cut through multiple industries, Reston Hospital Center says it has no immediate plans to institute a vaccine mandate for staff.

HCA Healthcare Inc., the Nashville-based hospital system that owns RHC, StoneSprings Hospital Center in Ashburn and Dominion Hospital in Falls Church, says the vaccine mandate was paused after a federal court in November ruled that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services could not require health care workers to get vaccinated.

“While a majority of our staff are vaccinated, we continue to strongly encourage our colleagues to be vaccinated as a critical step to protect individuals from the virus,” HCA Healthcare’s communications director Suzanne Kelly told Reston Now.

Kelly declined to release Reston Hospital Center’s vaccination rates and specific statistics about staff shortages at the Reston location.

A majority of health systems in the region do require staff to get vaccinations, especially as COVID-19 variant Omicron sweeps through the area. The Washington Business Journal recently rounded up how area hospitals are handling the issue. According to that analysis, most hospital systems are leaning toward vaccine mandates. That’s despite an increasing number of staff shortages and less manpower, partly due to COVID-19 infection rates and other industry-related factors.

Other area hospitals require mandates as a condition of employment. Inova, for example, has preserved its vaccine mandate, which it sees as a tool to promote recruitment and retention.

Reston Hospital Center offered the following statement in response to questions about how staffing shortages are being handled and the extent of the staffing shortage:

We are investing in our colleagues by continually reviewing the nursing market and making strategic pay adjustments, implementing additional incentive and recognition programs, and by providing a stable workplace by not laying off our medical staff during the pandemic as did some of our competitors. To support immediate staffing shortages, we are also recruiting nurses from other states and even other countries to come to Virginia to support our nurses and help ensure we are providing top quality care to our patients during this unprecedented time. We are attracting new nurses to work at our facilities through aggressive recruitment efforts including sign-on bonuses and referral bonuses in strategic areas and specialties. We also continue to partner with bricks-and-mortar colleges and universities, and online programs, to attract more people to choose careers in healthcare. This will build a future pipeline to fill long-term healthcare staffing needs.

While there is no simple solution to the complex staffing challenges facing our nation and the healthcare industry, we believe through this combination of tools, and the unique opportunities we can provide our nurses and colleagues as of the largest healthcare companies in the nation, we will be able to attract and retain a world-class workforce to meet the needs of the communities we serve now and in the future.

Currently, the hospital system’s most critical vacancies are for nurses and imaging colleagues in its new standalone emergency room, Tyson’s Emergency, which is opening soon.

The county and Fairfax County Public Schools require vaccines for staff.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments on whether the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services can institute a vaccine mandate after the agency filed an appeal. The appeal comes after a federal court granted 10 states’ requests to preclude the centers from enforcing their vaccine mandate in late November.

Photo courtesy of Reston Hospital Center

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Morning Notes

Park Authority Meetings Go Virtual — The Fairfax County Park Authority’s board meetings have returned to virtual format due to current social distancing recommendations and safety concerns related to the surge of COVID-19 cases. [Fairfax County Government]

County Awards $16 Million in Funds to Local Businesses — The county dispersed $16 million in grant funds to 1,016 county businesses that were adversely impacted by the pandemic. Grants ranged between $1,500 and $207,000. The program is called PIVOT and is run through the Fairfax County Department of Economic Initiatives. [Fairfax County Government]

Man Charged After Two Shooting Incidents — One man is dead and another seriously injured after two separate shootings on Jan. 8. Jordan Eugene Chochran, 20, of Alexandria, was charged in connection with the incidents, which happened in Hybla Valley. [Fairfax County Police Department]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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Morning Notes

Sunset at a snowy Lake Thoreau (photo by Marjorie Copson)

Reston Teen Aims for Beijing Winter Olympics — Ilia Malinin, a Reston-based teen, is aiming to compete at the Winter Olympics this year. He is described as one of the best junior skaters in the world. [Washington City Paper]

7-Eleven on Parcher Avenue Robbed — A man robbed the 7-11 on Parcher Avenue on Dec. 11 shortly before 7 p.m. Police believe the robbery happened at gunpoint. No injuries were reported. [Fairfax County Police Department]

Feedback Sought on Search for New CEO — Reston Association recently hired Baker Tilly to conduct a nationwide search for a new CEO, a position that has been vacant for many months. The association also launched a survey to gauge feedback from members on what qualities they want on RA’s new leader. [RA]

A Reminder to Social Distance — County officials are reminding residents to adhere to social distancing as much as possible as the winter surge of COVID-19 cases continues. [Fairfax County Government]

Schools Seek Bus Drivers –– The Fairfax County Public Schools system is seeing bus drivers. A job fair is planned for Friday, Jan. 14 from 10 a..m. to 3 p.m. at the Lorton Transportation Center. [Fairfax Schools]

Photo by Marjorie Copson

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Morning Notes

Sunset at a snowy Lake Thoreau (photo by Marjorie Copson)

Snow Closes Schools Again — Fairfax County Public Schools are closed again today (Friday) as the school system anticipated snowfall overnight into this morning. This is the last allotted traditional snow day of the year. The National Weather Service projected snow accumulation of 2 to 4 inches for the D.C. region. [NWS]

New Reston Fire Station Gears Up for Service — Some Fairfax County Fire and Rescue personnel spent Thursday moving. The department gave a sneak peek inside its new Reston fire station yesterday, as staff moved to the new location from a temporary station. [FCFRD/Twitter]

More COVID Testing Centers Coming to Virginia — Gov. Ralph Northam announced $5 million for new COVID-19 community testing centers, which will be near or on the same property as existing mass vaccination centers that have been operating since October, including one in Tysons. [Governor’s Office]

Police Shoot Man Who Aimed Bow and Arrow — A 50-year-old Chantilly man was charged with attempted aggravated murder of a police officer after he aimed a compound bow at officers Tuesday, prompting one to shoot him, the Fairfax County Police Department says. The man’s injuries were not life-threatening, and no officers were injured. [FCPD]

Parents Group Press for In-person Teaching —  “COVID is not going away,” members of the Fairfax County Parents Association said in a statement released Jan. 2. “We must learn to live in a world where COVID exists, and where children are still receiving access to a robust, in-person education.” [Inside NoVa]

Get Free Coffee for Blood Donations — In exchange for a blood donation, the American Red Cross will hand out coupons for a free pound of Dunkin’ Donuts packaged ground coffee that can be redeemed at Dunkin Donuts in the Reston area. To schedule a donation, download the Red Cross Blood Donor app or visit RedCrossBlood.org. [Patch]

One Year Since Capitol Was Stormed — The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chair Jeffrey McKay joined many marking the one-year anniversary of the Jan. 6 attack, releasing a statement. “It is important for all of us to remember across the political spectrum, that democracy is something we must always defend.” [Twitter]

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Morning Notes

Winter Weather Warning in Effect — A winter storm warning is in effect for the county. The warning is in effect until 10 a.m. The heaviest snow is expected between 4 and 10 a.m. [Fairfax County Government]

Police Release 2021 Crime Summary — The Fairfax County Police Department says that overall crime fell by nearly 10 percent. The reductions were primarily driven by drops in burglaries, robberies, domestic assault and automobile thefts. Police Chief Kevin Davis says Fairfax County remains one of the safest jurisdictions in the country. [FCPD]

Schools Closed Today — Schools are closed today and no virtual learning will be offered. Classes are expected to resume tomorrow, despite a rise in COVID-19 cases. [FCPS]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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