Grilled Cheese Bar to Open in Great Falls Next Month

A new restaurant that pairs grilled cheese and wine is expected to open soon in Great Falls.

Bites Wine and Grilled Cheese Bar plans to open a 2,064-square-foot restaurant at the recently redeveloped Great Falls Center in mid-November, a restaurant representative told Reston Now.

The Leesburg-based restaurant, which opened in late 2017, pairs grilled cheese and wine.

Photo by Jay Westcott

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Great Falls Then and Now: Lockmoor Farm

A former landfill used by the CIA and the Russian embassy near Great Falls is looking to push past its complicated history and become protected agricultural land.

The current owners of Lockmoor farm (802 Utterback Store Road) went before the Fairfax County Planning Commission on Thursday (Oct. 2) to request that the county label the farm as an agricultural district — ultimately giving the owners a tax break as long as they do not develop the land. They plan to add goats, sheep, bees and possibly a vineyard to the property.

The landfill was in use from 1970 until 1989 and served as a place to dump old tree stumps, earning it the nickname “Stump Dump,” as well as a dumping ground for waste from the CIA and certain foreign embassies, according to a Fairfax County report.

Both the CIA and the Russian embassy used to dump garbage there.

“The Russians arrived every few months, paying the dump fee in cash or bottles of vodka,” according to the Washington Post. “A landfill employee would then call the FBI, whose agents would soon arrive to paw through the discards, usually restaurant receipts and parking tickets but once a stripped-down, brand-new Russian car.”

The almost 69 acres of land was also once a zoo with giraffes, zebras, kangaroos, gazelles, buffalos and other non-carnivorous creatures, according to Fairfax planners. The previous owner also wanted to bring lions and bears to the property, but Fairfax County wouldn’t allow it, Peter Murphy, the chairman of the Planning Commission, said. 

Evidence of the zoo can still be seen from underground enclosures at the base of the hill on the property.

Despite previous uses, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality determined that the land is fit for agricultural use because the soil and water meet safety and health requirements. VDEQ stopped monitoring the area in 2016 and now requests that the current owners maintain the landfill cap, which sits on the top of the hill. 

Partners John Nguyen and Hanna Chakarji bought the land two years ago in pursuit of their lifelong dream of farm ownership, Chakarji told the Planning Commission. 

“When the opportunity presented itself to purchase this property, we jumped, we grabbed it and have no intention of developing it,” Chakarji said. “We want to keep it in its present state, which is beautiful.”

The land is now divided into five parcels. Onlookers can spot the growing Tysons skyline in the background of the property, as the farm sits on one of the highest points in Fairfax County.

Currently, the men own several cows and ducks, 20 chickens and 49 goats. They sell the goats to local restaurants in D.C. and produce more than 1,000 pounds of tomatoes, which they donate to local churches, according to county documents.

Chakarji said their top priority is to integrate the sheep and bees, saying they understand that a vineyard and winery would take time.

“The winery is an afterthought, I’m sure it will take a lot of zoning,” he said, adding that his top priority is to preserve the farmland for his family. 

After an extensive discussion about goats, the Planning Commission recommended approval of the agricultural district proposal, which now heads to the Board of Supervisors next week.

“This was probably the most interesting agriculture and foresting districting we’ve had in a long time,” Murphy said.  

Images via Fairfax County

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Investigators: Great Falls Fire Caused by Electrical Event

A Great Falls home fire on Saturday, Sept. 28 was caused by an electrical event, according to investigators.

An investigation by the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department found that the fire, which caused nearly $55,000 in damages, found that the fire was accidental in nature. It began on the outside of the one-story, single-family home after an electrical event linked to the outside flood. light.

Two residents, who were at home during the fire, were displaced. Red Cross assistance was offered but declined.

The fire happened at around 2:19 a.m. No civilian or firefighter injuries were reported

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Ceremony to Honor 9/11 Victims Set at Great Falls Freedom Memorial

A ceremony at the Great Falls Freedom Memorial will honor 9/11 victims on the 18th anniversary of the terrorist attacks.

“Six residents of Great Falls perished in the 9/11 attacks,” according to Great Falls Freedom Memorial.

The annual remembrance ceremony on Wednesday (Sept. 11) is set to start at 7 p.m.

Frank Sesno, the then-CNN Washington Bureau Chief on 9/11, will be the keynote speaker. The event will also have patriotic songs, a raising of the flags by the Boy Scouts and a candle-lighting, according to the Celebrate Great Falls Foundation.

In the case of rain, the event will get moved to the Great Falls Library (9830 Georgetown Pike).

Attendees can find parking in the library parking lot. While there will be limited seating, attendees are encouraged to bring portable chairs.

Photo via Great Falls Freedom Memorial/Facebook

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Progressive Climate Change Group to Launch at Great Falls Library

A new statewide progressive advocacy group for climate change is set to launch at Great Falls Library on Saturday (August 17).

The group, Earth Rise Indivisible, seeks to seeks to mobilize the public to address what it calls a “climate crisis.”

The science on the climate crisis is precise; climate change is happening, and can likely be attributed to human activities.  We are impacting every facet of life on our planet destructively.  However, we can take action to save our big blue marble.  Immediate action can stop or reduce potential adverse outcomes,” according to a press release issued by the organization today (Thursday).

The event runs from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and features a vegetarian bag lunch, a celebratory happy hour at Old Brogue (760 Walker Road), skill-building workshops, yoga breaks and presentations by Climate Reality and Green New Deal VA.

Registration is open online.

Photo via Fairfax County Government

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Virginia Native American Festival Heads to Great Falls in September

Eight Native American tribes from the state are set to take part in the Virginia Native American Festival at Riverbend Park in Great Falls next month.

The festival — which includes hands-on activities and live demonstrations — is set for Saturday, September 7 at the park from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Demonstrations include storytelling, fire making, archery, spear throwing and making stone tools. Attendees will also get the change to help build a dugout canoe. Vendors will also be on-site to sell Native American crafts, pottery and jewelry.

Registration is $8 online and $10 at the gate.

The Rappahannock tribe dancers and drummers are also scheduled to perform at the event.

The festival is organized by the Fairfax County Park Authority and Riverbend Park, which is located at 8700 Potomac Hills Street in Great Falls.

Photo via Fairfax County Park Authority/Facebook

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Colvin Run Barn to be Renamed in Honor of Local Parks Advocates

Colvin Run Mill Historic Site’s barn will be renamed in honor of two local parks advocates.

The Fairfax County Park Authority voted on July 25 to rename the barn in honor of Robert and Marjorie Lundegard. The board described the Lundegards as advocates who were “a major influence in getting park recommendations for Colvin Run implemented.”

FCPA wrote the following about the couple:

Robert Lundegard and his wife, Marjorie, spent much of their retirement time volunteering and spearheading preservation fundraising efforts at Colvin Run Mill. After Mr. Lundegard’s death in May of this year, he was hailed as a park icon and an “amazing guy” who would be remembered for his love of parks, in particular, Colvin Run Mill Historic Site. He was known as a dedicated and visionary leader who saw the importance and value of educating the public, especially school children, about Fairfax County’s colonial and 19th Century heritage. He pushed for the restoration of the mill and miller’s house, efforts which led to today’s fully operational facilities.

The barn will officially be renamed the Marjorie and Robert J. Lundegard Education Center. Park staff will work with the Friends of Colvin Run Mill to schedule a public ceremony to celebrate the facility’s naming.

The couple raised more than $50,000 to support Colvin Run Mill’s capital improvement plan, which includes renovation of the Miller’s House on the site and the building of a planned visitor education center. They were among the first members of the Friends of Colvin Run Mill when it formed in 1997.

They also raised funds for the mill through a partnership with a local consignment shop in McLean and through Marjorie’s written work about mills in the region.

Photo via FCPA

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Lake Anne Brew House to Host Meet and Greet with Washington Spirit

Lake Anne Brew House and Great Falls Reston Soccer are partnering up on Sunday, August 4 for a special event.

From noon to 5 p.m., residents will get the chance to take part in a meet and greet with Washington Spirit, an American professional soccer club based in Germantown, Md.

The event, which will take place at the brew house, is being held to celebrate Great Falls Reston Soccer Club Day.

Participants can also donate used soccer gear to the club, which will be selling spirit wear.

The meet and greet will also include a raffle.

Photo via Lake Anne Brew House/Facebook

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TRAFFIC ALERT: Georgetown Pike at Seneca Road Reopens

Update on Friday, July 26 at 8 a.m.: The road was reopened early Friday morning.

Commuters passing through Georgetown Pike at Seneca Road should plan to take a detour today (Thursday).

The Fairfax County Police Department indicated that the road is shutdown due to emergency repairs.

It is unclear how long the road will remain shutdown.

No other information was immediately available.

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The Region’s First New Bank in a Decade to Open in Great Falls, Reston

Trustar Bank will open in Great falls on July 10, making it the first new bank to open in the Washington area in more than a decade.

The Washington Business Journal reports that it is the first bank to receive approval from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporate and open its doors since FVCBank opened in November 2007.

Here’s more from the report:

Trustar most recently received approval from Virginia, which also made it the first bank since 2008 to get state consent. Meanwhile, other banks in organization are also working on their own approvals, including Tysons-based VisionBank, which hopes to open its doors in the coming months, D.C.-based Founders Bank started by Bank of Georgetown alums, and District-based Moxy Bank, which recently received its conditional approval from the District.

Trustar recently closed on more than $50 million in new funding, above the high end of the $35 million to $50 million it had originally intended.

The bank has also fleshed out its advisory board, recently adding Ryan Kerrigan, a star outside linebacker for Washington’s NFL team, and former Republican congresswoman Barbara Comstock, who lost a 2018 bid for reelection in Virginia’s 10th District.

The bank is rapidly expanding in the area. It has signed a letter of intent at The Spectrum at Reston Town Center (11846 Spectrum Center) and plans to open a lending office in McLean.

Logo via Trustar

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Where to Find Fourth of July Festivities Around Reston

The Fourth of July is coming up next Thursday, and several festivities are planned nearby.

Here’s where to head in Reston, Herndon and Great Falls for Independence Day events.

Reston July 4th Celebration

Lake Newport Recreation area (11601 Lake Newport Road); noon-4 p.m.

A precursor to fireworks, this free event will include a DJ, contests and pool time. Pizza, popcorn and cotton candy will be available to purchase.

Firecracker 5K for the Troops

Reston Town Center (11911 Democracy Drive); starts at 8 a.m.

The annual race is now in its 10th year. Refreshments and live music will be offered. There will be cash awards for the top three men and women finishers ($300, $200, $100) as well as $100 for the top master runners.

Fourth of July Hometown Celebration and Parade

Great Falls Village Centre Green (776 Walker Road); 8 a.m.-1 p.m.

Great Falls has a packed schedule for its Independence Day celebrations, including a 5K starting at 8 a.m.; two parades — a kids’ parade at 9 a.m. and the main parade at 10 a.m.; and food, games and a magic show from 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Fireworks will start at 6 p.m. at Turner Farm Park (925 Springvale Road).

Town of Herndon’s Independence Day Celebrations

Bready Park softball field (814 Ferndale Avenue); start at 6:30 p.m.

The free, family-friendly events kick off with games, kids’ crafts and bingo at 6:30 p.m. Then, the ’80s cover band Guys In Thin Ties will perform at 7:15 p.m. The fireworks show begins at 9:30 p.m. Food will be available to purchase from vendors.

Photo by Elisha Terada on Unsplash

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Local Police Rescue Lost Hikers and Dogs at Seneca Regional Park

Local police helped rescue two lost hikers and two dogs earlier this month.

Ashley Finch, her sister, and two dogs — Lucille and Bo — were lost at Seneca Regional Park in Great Falls after dark.

With only one low-battery phone, the hikers texted 911 at the direction of local emergency staff.

After receiving the text, officers pinpointed their location and texted them a map to guide them toward a nearby house.

The rescue was complicated because of challenging terrain, limited phone service and limited police radio coverage. Both hikers and the dogs were not injured.

“The hikers were then able to work their way toward our helicopter and officers, using their phone flashlight to signal where they were — despite being blanketed by tree foliage and darkness,” the Fairfax County Police Department wrote on Facebook.

When Finch asked how to thank FCPD for their help, the department decided to arrange a union at the dispatch center “so everyone involved would get a chance to meet under less dire circumstances.”

FCPD did not indicate what day the incident occurred.

Photos via FCPD/Facebook

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County Board OKs Thomas Avenue Cut-Through Traffic Restrictions

The Fairfax County’s Board of Supervisors greenlighted cut-through restrictions on Thomas Avenue today (June 4).

The restrictions would end Thomas Avenue serving as a conduit to get to Route 7 and the resulting traffic jams during rush hour along the narrow residential road.

Back in January, the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) presented potential solutions and gathered feedback from locals concerning ways to limit cut-through traffic at the congested street that lies north of Herndon.

Now, VDOT can install a “No Right Turn” sign from southbound Algonkian Parkway onto westbound Thomas Avenue between 7-10 a.m.

This change has been in the works for almost three years, starting in 2016 with the county board endorsing a resolution to VDOT requesting that the avenue get considered for measures that reduce its volume of cut-through traffic.

Photo via Google Maps

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Public Comment Sought on ‘Connect Route 7’ Project

A $313.9 million project is underway to improve almost seven miles of Route 7 between Reston Avenue and Jarrett Valley Drive. But before construction begins later this year, state transportation officials are courting public comment on the “Connect Route 7” project, which has been contemplated since 1975.

The project, which should be complete by July 2024, widens the road from four to six lanes, adds a 10-foot wide shared-use path on both sides, and improves several intersections along the corridor.

A public meeting on the project is set for May 7 from 7-9 p.m. at Forestville Elementary School (1085 Utterback Store Road) and on May 14 during the same time at Colvin Run Elementary School (1400 Trap Road). Experts will be on hand to answer questions about the project.

It’s possible that more than 500,000 square feet of noise barriers could be installed along the corridor, according to VDOT. Property owners will be surveyed to determine if noise barriers will be constructed.

The project will not be completed until July 2024. Utility relocation could take until the summer of 2023 and right of way acquisition will likely be complete by early 2021, VDOT says.

These improvements will increase capacity, improve safety and traffic flow, and enhance mobility for cyclists and pedestrians, all in conformity with Fairfax County’s Comprehensive Plan.”

Map via VDOT

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Great Falls Preschool Program Seeks to Expand Programs

Village Green Day School, a private preschool in Great Falls, is expanding its infant care programs in celebration of its 40th anniversary this year.

The school will offer a new infant program this summer in response to growing parental demand for expanded programs, according to Jason Lody, the Executive Head of School.

“As we reflected on our current community’s needs, we also identified a growing need for infant care in Great Falls and its surrounding communities. Because of this we will start a dedicated infant care program with an environment inspired by the Montessori philosophy and use of the Creative Curriculum to support the child’s development during their time here,” Lody told Reston Now.

Although county approval is pending — the school must modify its special exemption with the county — the expanded program is expected to open its doors on August 26.

No changes to occupancy or the number of on-site employees are proposed. But the school is seeking to restrict the enrollment age from two months to three months. The school does not enroll children who are older than one year.

Lody offered the following description about the program:

Village Green’s Infant Program is designed to provide a stimulating environment where each child is provided an individual routine that supports physical, literacy, language, health, and social/emotional learning.  Guided by standards from the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) our infant program allows for each child to experience relationship with caring adults who are specially trained teachers with experience in infant care.

The school’s application is set for a hearing before the Fairfax County Planning Commission on July 17, followed by a vote by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors on July 30.

Photo via Jason Lody

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