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.

Like most people, I will not be attending any inaugural events this year because of the pandemic restrictions and threats of civil disturbances. The event today does bring back wonderful memories of the first and only inauguration I ever attended. It was on January 20, 1961. In 1960 I had graduated from high school and had not gone to college because of doubts as to whether I could be successful. Instead, I was attending a short-term vocational program in Washington, DC and living in a single room in a boarding house just a half dozen blocks from the White House. Even then I had an intense interest in politics and followed the Kennedy-Nixon campaigns and debates intensely. I loved candidate and then President-elect John F. Kennedy as did millions of others. I was not about to miss the opportunity to go to his inauguration when I was living so close by.

On the day before the inauguration, temperatures dropped to 20 degrees and eight inches of snow fell. I got up early Inauguration Day and literally put on all the clothing I owned and started a trek to the US Capitol on foot. Workers directed by the Army Corp of Engineers had been working throughout the night to haul away as much of the snow as possible from Capitol grounds and Pennsylvania Avenue. The military had brought in flame throwers to melt some of the snow and ice. More than a thousand cars that had been stranded in the area had to be removed

At the Capitol I was able to position myself on the edge of a wall that allowed me to see the inauguration over those who had tickets and were seated at the Capitol. My plan to film the event with my brother’s 8 mm camera did not happen because the cold kept the camera from running a few minutes after I brought it out from under my coat. Certainly there was security, but nothing like we are seeing leading up to this inauguration. I felt free to move about except for the area that had been blocked off for special invited guests.

The speech given by our new president still brings tears to my eyes. His words, “ask not what your country can do for you–ask what you can do for your country,” inspired me to public service.

We have been through four years that have been tragic for our democracy. I believe we are all better informed about threats to our system of government. The Biden-Harris team is well suited to restore hope and confidence in our government. Honesty and decency will become a new norm for the executive branch. Attention to the COVID-19 crisis will be focused, coordinated and intense. Respect for others will dominate our society except for a small minority that will slink away into the background. Equity will be the new standard by which we measure our economy. All this can happen if we truly believe it and dedicate ourselves to making it happen. We can have another inauguration to remember!

Photo via Ken Plum

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The Fairfax County Police Department is preparing for Inauguration Day tomorrow with a heightened police presence throughout the county.

In a statement to Reston Now, FCPD said the department’s focus is safeguarding the community, major thoroughfares, critical infrastructure, and transit hubs.

FCPD has also staffed its civil disturbance unit, neighborhood patrols, and operational support units if they are needed in an emergency situation.

“Community members can expect to see an increased and vigilant police presence and if they have any concerns or observe any suspicious or. concerning activity, we encourage them to report it to an officer or call 911,” FCPD wrote in a statement.

The department noted that the county had an increased presence in past inaugurations.

FCPD deployed officers to DC to help law enforcement agencies to quell the U.S. Capital riots, which were started by a mob of Donald Trump. supporters.

No police officers were seriously injured earlier this month.  When asked by Reston Now, FCPD did not immediately indicate if it plans to formally deploy any officers to DC.

number of bridges connecting D.C. to Arlington are either completely shut down or have severely altered traffic patterns. Memorial Bridge is now closed through Thursday morning at 6 a.m. It was closed and then reopened over the weekend.

DC-bound lanes on Roosevelt Bridge, I-395 Bridge, and 14th Street Bridge will also be closed until Thursday morning, but lanes leaving the city “will flow normally” according to the Metropolitan Police Department traffic advisory. There are also a host of DC road closures

Key Bridge will remain open, but there’ll be no access to Whitehurst Freeway and only local traffic may turn right on M Street. Thru traffic can only turn left onto Canal Rd/MacArthur Blvd, this also according to the advisory. 

Chain Bridge will remain open in both directions, as well as the Wilson and American Legion Bridges connecting Virginia to Maryland.

Matt Blitz contributed reporting to this story.

Photo via FCPD

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Del. Ken Plum: Insurrection

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.

Last Thursday’s one-word headline in the Richmond Times Dispatch was in such a large font that it extended across the entire width of the newspaper: INSURRECTION. The generally conservative newspaper that was in its history the mouthpiece of massive resistance against school desegregation could have termed the events at the United States Capitol the previous day a riot, a disturbance, or a protest. That they and many others chose insurrection as the best description of what happened is an indication of the seriousness of it.

No one expressed the situation better than Senator Mitt Romney in his prepared speech delivered at the Capitol as soon as the insurrectionists had been forced out: “We gather today due to a selfish man’s injured pride and the outrage of his supporters whom he has deliberately misinformed for the past two months and stirred to action this very morning. What happened here today was an insurrection, incited by the President of the United States.”

An insurrection is defined legally as the act or an instance of revolting especially violently against civil or political authority or against an established government. Under federal law, whoever incites, assists, or engages in any insurrection against the authority of the United States or the laws thereof, or gives aid or comfort thereto, shall be fined and/or imprisoned; and shall be incapable of holding any office in the future.

The rights to assemble and to petition the government are protected in the Constitution. America is known for its open protests to bring injustices to the attention of government officials and the public. Some would say that such actions are as American as apple pie. What happened last week is different. Incited and directed by the President of the United States, his lawyer and a retired general who was recently pardoned by the President, thousands of persons marched from near the White House to the United States Capitol where for the first time since the British occupied the Capitol in 1814 took over the building for a short time.

It is essential that the Congress and the justice system take appropriate action against those who incited, led and participated in the insurrection. Defense of our democracy demands it. Likewise, we need to understand why the Capitol was left so defenseless when it was well known that a major bullying of the Congress was going to take place that day as the President had been talking about for weeks.

The Guardian offered a perspective: “A group of white supremacists from throughout the country who had been radicalized by the rants and misinformation from the President occupied a space that has been the citadel of democracy.” About the ease with which the insurrectionists took over the Capitol it observed, “The contrast with the mass deployments of over 5,000 troops for the Black Lives Matter protests in the summer could not have been more glaring. Then, Washington resembled a city under occupation.”

Through what has been one of the most disturbing days of our history I remain hopeful that we will be able to undo the many wrongs of the last four years and the racism of hundreds of years. I pledge myself to working as hard as I can to make it happen!

Photo via Ken Plum

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With only a week left until President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration, Fairfax Connector announced that two bus routes will stop operating today (Wednesday) through Jan. 20 due to planned road closures in Washington, D.C.

Route 699, which normally travels between the Fairfax County Government Center and downtown D.C., will instead serve as a free shuttle to transport riders from the government center park and ride to the south entrance of the Vienna Metro station.

“The shuttles will leave the government center at the time on the schedule,” Fairfax Connector said in a tweet. “The shuttles will leave Vienna about 45 mins after their DC departure time with the goal of getting riders back to the P&R lot near their regularly scheduled arrival time.”

Fairfax Connector suggests Routes 631, 632, and 634 as travel alternatives for passengers on Route 697, which goes from the Stringfellow Road Park and Ride in Centreville to D Street SW in D.C. Routes 631, 632, and 634 all stop at the Stringfellow Park and Ride and the Vienna Metro station.

Fears that the violence that embroiled the U.S. Capitol last week could return during the lead-up to Inauguration Day have put the D.C. region on edge, prompting thousands of National Guard troops and federal, state, and local law enforcement officers to mobilize for the National Special Security Event.

Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay joined other local and state public officials in warning community members against traveling to downtown D.C. on the day of the inauguration and the days preceding it.

“Sadly, the terror that occurred at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, was not a contained or isolated incident, and there is continued concern that similar violence is an ongoing threat to Americans and our democracy,” McKay said in a statement today.

The chairman says that the Fairfax County Police Department has been in contact with D.C. police about “the evolving situation” and has increased its presence in “key areas” of the county.

McKay advises residents to stay home if possible, avoid downtown D.C., and report any suspicious activity to police at 9-1-1 or the FCPD’s non-emergency line at 703-691-2131.

“Fairfax County will do all we can to help our partners in the region ensure a peaceful and safe transition of power on January 20, 2021 because that is the will of Fairfax County residents and the majority of Americans across the country,” McKay said.

Photo via Fairfax Connector/Facebook

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Officers with the Fairfax County Police Department have been deployed to Washington, D.C., as part of a region-wide emergency response to far-right extremists who have stormed the U.S. Capitol, Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay’s office confirmed to Tysons Reporter.

Fairfax County has also opened its emergency operations center to Virginia State Police.

Earlier this week, McKay advised county residents to avoid visiting downtown D.C. as several right-wing groups planned to hold demonstrations to protest Congress’ scheduled certification of the November 2019 general election results.

Fairfax County police previously said they did not anticipate needing to assist D.C. authorities in managing the demonstrations. Like other law enforcement agencies in the D.C. region, the county has a mutual aid agreement in place for situations where additional help may be needed.

Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn also encouraged residents to stay home. His full statement is below.

Today has truly been one of the most remarkable days in our country’s history, and the sounds and images on our screens are frightening and saddening. Over the years we have seen many challenges to authority, to our system, and even to each other, but we have always emerged stronger and doubled down on our commitment to a more perfect union. Let’s not forget that our institutions are strong, our commitment to rule of law is unchanged, and that government by the people and for the people remains our foundational principle. We have the oldest democracy on earth and we will pull together so that does not change.

McKay’s full statement is below:

What is happening in Washington D.C. right now is nothing short of a coup. This is a dark day in American democracy and I am personally sad and angry. I’m hopeful residents of the county heeded our advice to stay home today.

We have deployed members of our police department and opened our emergency oerpations center ot Virginia State Police. Let us pray for their safety as well as the safety of the innocent people impacted. Our democracy will not be destroyed by violent, lawless mobs.

I’m in constant communication with County officials to ensure we provide as much help as possible and also protect our communities in Fairfax.

Photo via Sherry Xu on Unsplash

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Fairfax County police are not sending officers to D.C to assist with the first amendment demonstrations set to take place tomorrow, police spokesperson Sergeant Greg Bedor confirms to Reston Now.

The region is anticipating thousands of Trump supporters to descend on the region to protest Wednesday’s Congressional certification of the presidential election. Since November, the president has made numerous unproven claims that the election was stolen.

Over the last several weeks, he’s also repeatedly encouraged supporters via social media to protest on January 6. One such tweet in December said, “Be there, be wild.” He even said he would be there himself.

Previous rallies in November and December both ended in violence, particularly after the sunset. This has led to Arlington County to encourage their residents not to go to D.C. counter-protest.

Fairfax County police, along with a number of other local jurisdictions, have traditionally had mutual aid agreements in place with D.C. police, in case situations arise where help is needed.

However, Bedor says that he does not expect FCPD to be called into D.C. tomorrow. “The [D.C.] Mayor has arranged for other support, so our understanding that’s been covered,” he says.

That other support is a reference to the D.C. National Guard being activated to provide traffic control and crowd management.

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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.

Tears welled up in my eyes last Saturday evening as the President-elect Joe Biden and the Vice President-elect Kamala Harris addressed their supporters and the nation for the first time after having been declared the winners of the presidential election. The words they said, the message they delivered, and the tone they set struck the chords that have been so vitally important to me and to many others throughout our lifetimes. If we seemed ravenous in listening to their words, it was because we have not heard them for too long and were hungering for inspirational and positive leadership.

The President-elect made his approach to governance clear: “I pledge to be a president who seeks not to divide, but to unify–who doesn’t see red and blue states, but a United States, and who will work with all my heart to win the confidence of the whole people.” Starting with that kind of attitude will go a long way toward his success in being a unifier.

My interest in politics goes back to my teenage years and has been influenced by the great speeches I have heard, not simply for the words that were said but because of the hope they offered and the vision for greatness for our country they inspired. I stood in the foot-deep snow at the United States Capitol on January 20, 1961 and heard a leader I revered, the new President John F. Kennedy, say in his inaugural speech, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.”

Another inspirational moment came for me on my birthday, November 3, 2008, when Jane and I stood for hours in a crowd estimated at 80,000 people at the Prince William County Fairgrounds waiting for candidate Barack Obama who arrived at 10:30 p.m. for the final appearance of his campaign to be president. In his usual inspiring way he told us, “I come away with an unyielding belief that if we only had a government as responsible as all of you, as compassionate as the American people, that there is no obstacle that we can’t overcome. There is no destiny that we cannot fulfill.”

In an echo of President Kennedy’s words, former President Obama this fall challenged the country with his words, “Change will not come if we wait for some other person or if we wait for some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” And just as President-elect Biden reminded us of the unity of America, Barack Obama at the Democratic Convention in 2004 in a speech that brought him to the attention of political leaders had reminded us that, “There’s not a liberal America and a conservative America–there’s the United States of America.”

While these quotes are words, they reflect attitudes and beliefs that can stir us to positive action to realize the potential for an honest and decent America that is open and inclusive and where the American dream can become a reality for all.

File photo

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While the vote remains undecided nationally at the time of writing, Fairfax County has swung heavily towards Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden. At the precinct level, however, the results are a little more divided.

Biden won all three of Herndon’s precincts and all of Reston except Cameron Glen and North Point, which President Donald Trump won by 37 and 78 votes respectively.

Support for the Democratic presidential candidate surged this year in Fairfax County. In the 2016 presidential election, Hillary Clinton received 63 percent of the vote while Trump secured just under 30 percent of the vote. This year,  Biden won a decisive 80.67% of absentee votes in the county, while Trump received 17.86%.

In Pimmit, Biden had a six-vote lead over Trump, taking the precinct 48.92% to 48.20%.

Biden swept most of the precincts in the Tysons area, with Tysons itself going 57.71% for Biden. Merrifield had one of the largest percentages of support for Biden, with 62.23%.

The precincts didn’t unanimously favor Biden, however. In McLean and Spring Hill, Trump won by 55.49% and 50.71% respectively.

Further west, Trump won more securely in the Great Falls, Hickory and Seneca and Forestville precincts.

The results of this year’s election are far from final as results from more than 400,000 early voting and mail-in ballots are not reflected in the totals so far.

Absentee votes account for an estimated 51% of Fairfax County’s overall 77.5% voter turnout for this election. They are tallied by a central precinct and are not accounted for in the above breakdown.

Professor Frank Shafroth, director of the Center for State and Local Leadership at George Mason University, told Reston Now that it’s clear Democrats swept to a large victory in Fairfax County.

“[Expressing] trust in a time of such political upheaval… being in a state with the only medical doctor of any state serving as Governor… [and] the ability to rely on facts in the middle of this pandemic is vital to trust in governance at such a difficult time of loss [for] too many American lives,” he said.

Vernon Miles and Fatimah Waseem contributed reporting to this story.

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(Updated at 1:20 am) Newcomer Roland Taylor appeared to be edging out Vice Mayor Sheila Olem in the Town of Herndon’s mayoral race according to preliminary state elections results through 10 p.m. today.

But as the final precinct result from today’s votes poured in, Olem boasted a double-digit lead over Taylor with 61.5 percent of the vote. Taylor secured just 37.8 percent of the total vote. Most of the night, he maintained a two-percent lead over Olem in what appeared to be a close race.

County spokesperson Brian Worthy told Reston Now that a data entry error significantly skewed the results of the town’s race. In both races, the results flipped dramatically.

“Our previous numbers were off as a result of data entry error so you’ll see a big decrease in numbers,” Worthy said.

So far, there are extremely tight margins between eight candidates running for six seats on the Herndon Town Council. The leading candidate — Cesar del Aguila — is leading the pack with 13.6 percent of the total votes while Stevan Porter is coming in last, with 10.7 percent of the total votes.

Here’s the breakdown of how all candidates are faring so far:

  • Cesar del Aguila: 13.66 percent
  • Pradip Dhakal: 13.51 percent
  • Sean Regan: 13.16 percent
  • Naila Alam: 12.29 percent
  • Signe Friedrichs: 12.27 percent
  • Jasbinder Singh: 12.25 percent
  • Clark Hedrick: 10.92 percent
  • Stevan Porter: 10.66 percent

Most election results for Fairfax County are not expected to come in until later today, according to county spokesman Brian Worthy.

Tuesday’s results do not account for the more than 404,000 early votes and absentee ballots cast. That number may be enough to sway the outcome of close races like the Herndon Town Council contest. 

Even in years when record numbers of mail-in ballots were unaccounted for, the race was extremely tight. For example,  in the 2018 Herndon Town Council race, candidate Joe Plummer lost to Bill McKenna by just 22 votes.

The county, which has the most number of early ballots cast of all jurisdictions in the state, will process mail-in ballots that were received by 7 p.m. today but not counted tonight and ballots postmarked on or before Election Day until around noon on Friday.

That means the final results of the Herndon Town Council race may not be clear until Friday afternoon.

Fairfax County voters came out in droves over the last few weeks to cast their ballots. In early voting alone, 51 percent of registered voters cast a vote. As of 4 p.m. today, the county reported a turnout of 70.7 percent of the county’s 787,000 registered voters. 

So far, voters appear to favor Joe Biden for the presidential race. The Association Press has declared Virginia a win for Biden. 

In Fairfax County, the electorate appears to have loosened its Democratic sway. In 2016, Fairfax County voters went for Hillary Clinton by giving her 63 percent of the vote. President Donald Trump secured just under 30 percent of the total vote in the county. 

But this year, 52 percent of Fairfax County voters favored Biden with a more even split for Trump, according to results from 243 of the county’s 244 precincts. This number reflects votes cast today only.

Sen. Mark Warner (D) is projected to win reelection to a third term, beating out Republican Daniel Gade who had been polling well behind Warner into Election Day. The Association Press called the race at 7 p.m. Reps. Don Beyer (8th District) and Gerry Connolly (11th District) are ahead in their respective districts while incumbent Jennifer Wexton (D-10th District) is currently trailing Republican challenger Aliscia Andrews.

This story will be updated.

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A Reston-based company with ties to President Donald Trump’s brother was awarded a $33 million federal contract, The Washington Post reported Saturday.

An anonymous rival bidder filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice over the summer alleged that the company, CertiPath, did not disclose “one of the President’s closest living. Relatives stood to benefit financially from the transaction.”

CertiPath, which is owned by a firm with ties to Trump’s younger brother, Robert Trump, was awarded the contract from the U.S. Marshals Service to provide security for federal courthouses and cell blocks.

In a statement to the Post, CertiPath’s founder and president Jeff Bigriny said Robert Trump is “exclusively a passive investor” and does not have a management role.

In a statement published in response to the article, CertiPath wrote the following:

 Aside from the obvious difficulty of trading on someone’s name without disclosing it, CertiPath categorically denies it has ever made any attempt to trade on the Trump name nor has the company made any effort to hide Mr. Robert Trump’s indirect ownership in CertiPath.  Mr. Robert Trump is a minority shareholder as was disclosed on filings by the company with the General Services Administration.  He is not an officer, director, or agent of CertiPath, and took no part in the negotiation or preparation of the successful bid submitted to the United States Marshals Service.  CertiPath has an impeccable operating history and ethical background.  Our abilities and technical expertise are well known and speak for themselves and has no need to trade on anyone’s name other than its own.

The Post reports that while the contract was awarded to CertiPath, no money has been paid out yet because another company, NMR Consulting, filed a protest against the bid with the Government Accountability Office in July. The protest led to a stop work order, according to the Post.

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Hunter Mill District Supervisor Cathy Hudgins voiced disapproval against the Trump administration’s proposed shelter for migrant children in Northern Virginia.

Hudgins joins other Northern Virginia elected officials — including Fairfax County Board Chairwoman Sharon Bulova — who spoke out against the proposal.

“It doesn’t like it its is appropriate and it is certainly not representative of the community we live in,” Hudgins told Reston Now.

Earlier this month, the General Services Administration issued a pre-solicitation notice stating that the government is seeking 110,000 square feet of space for up to 14 years in Arlington, Fairfax Loudoun or Prince William counties.

Hudgins also noted that shelter for unaccompanied children may not meet the needs of the children they house.

“It seems like we should be trying to restore family structure,” Hudgins said.

The proposed shelter could house roughly 440 children.

Virginia currently has shelters for unaccompanied immigrant children in Bistow and Staunton.

File photo

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For the last year, local residents have held up large, lighted letters against the sky in front of the White House as part of the Kremlin Annex protests — a dramatic visual protest that has received national notoriety.

Protests began on July 16 last year when President Donald Trump met with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Protestors took issue with Trump’s acceptance of Putin’s assertions that he did not interfere with the 2016 presidential election.

Activists from Herndon-Reston Indivisible organized and sent teams of volunteers carrying lighted letters with key messages to the White House.  For the first four months of the initiative, protestors held up lighted letters every night. In mid-November, the initiative switched to three days per week. Following its one-year anniversary, letters light up the sky on Saturdays from 7:30-9 p.m.

Herndon-Reston Indivisible is a grassroots advocacy organization that aims to mobilize a progressive network to resist the Trump agenda, according to its website.

Organizers behind the visual protest said they were surprised by the attention received by their advocacy.  The visual appeal of their protest has earned a nod by the Grey Lady, the Washington Post, USA TODAY and Newsweek.

“In effect, they become our voice — and a loud voice at that,” said Nan Dearborn, a co-lead of the lighted letters initiative. “You just can’t miss the message when you have activists holding ‘treason’ or ‘corrupt’ or ‘racist’ in giant lighted letters right in front of the White House.”

The first night, volunteers held up letters spelling “liar” — a visual display that HRI co-founder Heidi Zollo said was “an instant hit.”

Since then, volunteers have made roughly 45 letters to spell out anything at short notice. The leaders of the initiative — Ginny Reed and Dearborn — scan the news and consider the number of volunteers to determine what word to hold up. On a typical night, the word of the night is unveiled when volunteers arrive at the White House.

One of the most memorable nights was when activists gathered for the “Close the Camps” protest. An energized crowd of protestors held up signs in the pouring rain in early July. The lighted letters also travel to other protests, including monthly vigils at the headquarters of the National Rifle Association.

Organizers expect to hold up the lighted letters every Saturday night so long as the Kremlin Annex protests continue.

Photo via Herndon-Reston Indivisible

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As the partial federal government shutdown nears its 19th day, the Dulles Regional Chamber of Commerce will host a free panel on Thursday to help companies and workers prepare for a long shutdown.

Certified public accountants, bankers, insurance experts and lawyers will provide advice during the panel from 4 p.m. to 5:15 p.m. at the Hilton Washington Dulles Airport Hotel (13869 Park Center Road) in Herndon on Jan. 10.

The individuals from the financial, legal and insurance industries will talk about the direct and indirect cost of the shutdown, along with how companies can remain solvent and what are the different options for their employees.

They will also give advice on remedies available to government contractors, what to do when this shutdown ends and how to prepare for a future shutdown.

The free panel is intended to help workers and local businesses of all sizes “mitigate the adverse effects the federal government shutdown and be ready to go when this shutdown ends,” Dulles Regional Chamber of Commerce President and CEO John Boylan said in a press release.

“Our region is disproportionately affected by federal government shutdowns, and the impact reaches deep into our community,” Boylan said.

More than 35 percent of Reston Now readers said in a poll on Jan. 3 that the shutdown affects them, with roughly 22 percent indicating they are federal workers.

The partial federal government shutdown started on Dec. 22 after Congress and the White House failed to reach a spending deal. It remains unclear if or when the White House and congressional Democrats could negotiate a deal as President Donald Trump keeps a firm stand for $5 billion to pay for a border wall.

With no immediate end in sight, Trump’s third government shutdown is nearing a record-breaking mark. (The longest government shutdown was 21 days during Bill Clinton’s presidency.)

“Beyond the direct effect felt among our friends and colleagues within the federal government, this shutdown imposes a real burden on many of the businesses in our region, especially contractors and subcontractors who are increasingly pressured each day this shutdown continues,” Boylan said.

Participants are encouraged to register for the event.

Photo via Dulles Regional Chamber of Commerce

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The partial federal government shutdown is nearing the two-week mark with no immediate end in sight.

Parts of the federal government shut down on Saturday, Dec. 22, after Congress and the White House failed to reach a spending deal. It remains unclear if or when the White House and congressional Democrats could negotiate a deal as President Donald Trump keeps a firm stand for $5 billion to pay for a border wall.

Yesterday (Jan. 2), Smithsonian museums and the National Zoo closed, joining National Parks around the country, according to news reports. Even though people got very concerned very quickly after the zoo’s beloved live “panda cam” went dark, the pandas and other animals will continue to get fed.

One place not affected by the shutdown — the Newseum — is offering federal workers who show their badge free admission.

Trump’s third government shutdown is impacting locals and visitors in the Washington, D.C.-area from furloughed federal workers to surprised tourists. (The longest government shutdown was 21 days during Bill Clinton’s presidency, in case you were curious.)

Now, on day 13, let us know if your work or D.C. plans have been affected by the shutdown.

File photo

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President Donald Trump praised two local police officers for helping to dismantle the gang MS-13 during his speech at a conference last Friday.

Trump lauded Fairfax County Police Department Detective Ray Betts, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia G. Zachary Terwilliger and Sgt. Claudio Saa from the Herndon Police Department as “three trailblazing leaders.”

The praise came during remarks Trump made at the 2018 Project Safe Neighborhoods National Conference in Kansas City, Mo. last Friday (Dec. 7).

The conference brings together U.S. Attorneys; federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement; community partners; and others to share ideas on violent crime reduction.

Trump’s remarks included the following:

Every American citizen is entitled to a safe community and a secure border. Here in the audience today are three trailblazing leaders — they truly are — who are working to dismantle MS-13 over the past two years. They’ve helped so much. They’ve done such an incredible job. Twenty-nine MS-13 members have been charged and convicted just recently, despite being targeted for retaliation.

These three patriots are U.S. Attorney Zach Terwilliger — where is Zach?  Hello, Zach. Heard great things about you. Herndon Police Sergeant Claudio Saa. Thank you, Claudio. Thank you very much. And Fairfax County Police Detective Ray Betts. Thank you. Thank you. All three, thank you very much.

At the conference, Terwilliger, Betts and Saa joined Assistant U.S. Attorneys Stephen Miller and Rebeca Bellows, Newport News Police Chief Steve Drew and Major Roger Russell of the Richmond Police Department in a team presentation on best practices for investigating and dismantling MS-13.

MS-13 started in Los Angeles before heading to Virginia and then making its way to El Salvador.

Betts accounted for more than 100 felony arrests and 30 misdemeanors in a one-year time period two years after he joined the gang investigations unit. He has been to El Salvador to investigate cases and train his Salvadoran counterparts, WTOP reported.

Saa has also traveled to El Salvador, where he explored MS-13’s ties to Virginia, NBC4 reported.

https://twitter.com/FairfaxCountyPD/status/1072219483044016128

Photo via FCPD/Twitter

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