Following months of opposition from local residents, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the addition of a cell tower at Herndon High School on Tuesday.
In response to concerns about the location and size of the facility, Milestone reduced the monopole’s height from 124 to 114 feet and the facility’s size from 2,590 to 1,175 square feet. The latest plan also shifts most of the ground equipment under the visitor’s bleachers and away from a more central location on the football field.
Still, residents said concerns about the use of the field for the facility remained unaddressed.
““We have consistently opposed the monopole because it is taking valuable land from our schools. It is a hazard to our children and is inconsistent with the school,” said Heather Metz, a Herndon High School parent who helped launched an online petition to oppose the facility.
Others said they were concerned the pole and facility was placed between in the middle of the football field.
Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust said it was misleading to suggest the facility was located in the middle of the field.
“The reality is, that’s not where the pole and the compound are,” Foust said, adding that the revised proposal addresses many of the community’s concerns.
“I think everybody has done their best to minimize the impact of this proposal.”
Other board supervisors expressed dismay that a representative from Fairfax County Public Schools was not present at the meeting to allay concerns.
Vernon Miles contributed reporting to this story.
Photo via Milestone
As Fairfax County Public Schools students are learning virtually during the 2020-2021 academic year, renovations are moving forward at Herndon High School.
The renovation’s second phase was mostly completed during the summer, according to Herndon High School assistant principal Jim Hannon. The school’s main gym was expanded by roughly a third, while the renovation of the auxiliary gym was completed alongside the construction of new locker rooms, a weight room and art rooms.
“To start this school year, if we weren’t in the virtual world we are in right now, we’d have students in the new areas that were completed in phase two,” Hannon said. “Those areas include both upstairs and downstairs, first floor and second floor, the completion of the wings that were for math, ESOL, social studies and English.”
Very few outstanding items remain from phase two of the renovation before its final completion. Among these is the installation of the main gym’s new bleachers, due to supply line issues caused by some vendors temporarily shutting down as a result of COVID-19.
Despite a few hang-ups in the supply chain, the renovation process has progressed into phase three. This includes an opportunity to begin work early on the student’s dining portion of the cafeteria that otherwise would have been relegated to weekend and evening work during phase four due to the presence of students in the halls. The renovation of the kitchens for the cafeteria, however, will be included in phase four of the renovation process.
The completion of the second phase follows the introduction of a new wing to the back and front of the building, as well as a new library, main office, and administrative and counseling office. The first phase, which was completed in the fall of 2019, also included a new entrance, 65 classrooms, a gourmet foods room, science labs and additional classroom spaces.
The progress of the renovation has also allowed the school to move approximately 60-65 school personnel from outdoor trailers into the freshly renovated or constructed spaces, according to Hannon.
Following the removal of the trailers, the renovation process will begin on the parking lots as well as the school’s tennis courts as a part of phase three.
Other plans during this phase include a new wrestling and gymnastics room and renovating the school’s performing arts area, which includes the auditorium, and rooms for the orchestra, band and chorus.
Phase three will take place during the majority of this school year, Hannon said. The exact completion date of the project has not yet been determined.
The final phase of the project will include renovating the existing cafeteria to feature a food court design, as well as updates to the tennis courts, the stadium press box and concession stands.
As part of the project, the school will undergo a complete renovation with new plumbing, HVAC, fire alarm and protection systems. Also, the campus will include a new bus loop, more parking, bike racks and improved stormwater management. The renovation project in total includes 138,558 square feet of additions and modifications to expand the school to 431,000 square feet, according to the webpage for Grunley Construction Company, Inc.
“Hopefully when we move back in the building, we’ll have very few classes still outside in the trailers. And the majority of those are going to start being removed in September and October,” Hannon said.
Photo via Jim Hannon
Herndon High School third-place finishers in Real Food for Kids’ annual culinary contest were given the opportunity to replicate their winning recipe for community members in need.
The team consisted of Liam Owens, Eli Shifflett, Alex Chang and Ivonne Claros-Vigil. Their recipe, Carne Asada Tacos with Asian Slaw, was replicated for the Chefs Feeding Families’ Mighty Meals Program to feed those in need, according to a statement from Fairfax County Public Schools.
The four students were invited to help with the distribution of meals at Harvey Hall Apartments in Arlington earlier this summer, according to the statement.
“When I found out that our recipe was going to help out with people in need, it made it more exciting and more nerve-racking because it’s a really good feeling knowing that you’re helping people and you’re helping the community,” said Claros-Vigil in the statement.
Claros-Vigil credits her Gourmet Foods class with her success because of the wide variety of spices, foods and traditions they learned. Her background also includes lots of cooking with her mom, which gave her experience cooking new things.
The competition gave students the opportunity to experience how they can create change in a community while innovating in the kitchen, according to Mary Porter of RFFK in the statement. Connecting the competition to Chefs Feeding Families and helping families in need allowed the students to see their work come “full circle,” said Porter.
“You ever want to grow a relationship with someone? Cook, bake etc., just hop into the kitchen and let your maker mind go to work,” said Owens in the statement. “The goal and challenge of the meal is what was fun.”
Photo via Fairfax County Public Schools website
After several deferrals, a proposal for a new cell tower at Herndon High School cleared the Fairfax County Planning Commission.
At a meeting Wednesday night, the commission unanimously voted in favor of the project. Milestone Tower Limited Partnership plans to build a 114-foot monopole and other equipment for the facility, which could be blocked off by an eight-foot-tall fence. The facility is expected to improve cell phone coverage for Sprint customers.
Dranesville District Supervisor John Ulfelder said that Milestone’s latest proposal addresses some concerns raised by residents at public hearings earlier this year.
Ulfelder said he believes the changes, which were reviewed by staff last month, are adequate. He added that he was unsure critics would be happy with project unless it was completely withdrawn.
Milestone submitted several revisions earlier this year, which the county’s staff recommended for approval in an addendum to their initial report.
The project heads to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors for a vote later this month.
Photo via Sprint
Milestone Tower Limited Partnership hopes to build a 114-foot monopoly and other equipment for the facility, which would be blocked off by an eight-foot-tall, chain-link fence.
Dranesville District Supervisor John Ulfelder said the applicant submitted several revisions earlier this year, which the county’s staff recommended for approval in an addendum to their initial report.
“I would like to give a little more time for people to review the staff addendum and provide comments,” he said.
Ulfelder also noted the Fairfax County Public Schools met with residents who were concerned about the plan earlier this month.
Milestone reduced the height of the tallest monopole by 10 feet. The company also plans to install a sand filter for water quality treatment purposes.
Initially, Milestrone proposed purchasing off-site nutrient credits to make up for water quality control requirements. The facility would be located on the north side of the existing football field between two existing stadium light poles with heights of 70 and 85 feet.
The proposal has been deferred, but a date on the planning commission’s docket has not yet been announced.
Once approved by the commission, the proposal will head to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors for a final vote.
Photo via Sprint
The Closet of the Greater Herndon Area, Inc. has awarded 22 local high school students $45,000 worth of college scholarships. The students span across five high schools in the community, according to a statement released by the organization.
“We are so proud of these youth and their families and are happy to continue supporting this important educational need in our community,” said Gene Wiley, The Closet’s board president
According to the statement, The Closet thrift shop has awarded more than $500,000 in college scholarships to more than 500 students since 1974. They have also distributed almost $3 million in direct cash grants to local service groups.
A breakdown of the awardees is below:
- From Herndon High School, the recipients are Lucilla Antwie, Karen Ayala-Bonilla, Caleb Calderwood, Sean Frias, Maryum Khan and Judith Velasquez.
- From Mountain View High School, the recipients are Doris Alvarado, Abonesh Tadese and Tenzin Tsering.
- From Oakton High School, the recipients are Olohi Anteyi, Monica Alexandra Castellanos and Maria S. Rivera.
- From Park View High School, the recipients are Ebanneh Atabe, Charlotte Edwards, Kimberly Fuentes-Galvez, Kimberly Molina Rivas, Kaitlyn Smith, and Melana Washington.
- From South Lakes High School, the recipients are Rhema Ebna Konadu, Nicol Katherin Salinas Perez, Daniel Mebratu Tolessa and Nia Jordan Winston.
The thrift shop is a non-profit group based on faith-based congregations. They hold a small staff, with volunteers helping out the store as well.
Those looking to donate can drop off clothing and small household items on Monday through Sunday from 8 a.m. until 3 p.m. Additionally, those interested in volunteering can contact the store owner, Patricia Rhodes, at 703-437-7652.
Photo courtesy of The Closet of the Greater Herndon Area, Inc.
The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors plans to defer a decision on a cellphone communications facility at Herndon High School to later this year.
At a meeting this afternoon, the board is expected to defer the vote to September 15, according to county documents. The proposal has been deferred five times since the public hearing crossing the board’s desk on Feb. 25.
The county’s planning commission voted to defer a decision to yesterday (Monday) following concerns from the public. Commission members encouraged Fairfax County Public Schools to address issues flagged by residents.
Milestrone Communications is seeking to install a 124-foot monopole and associated equipment in a compound on the north side of the school’s football field. The tower is expected to help improve service for Spring customers.
The 3,185-square-foot compound, which will be enclosed by a chain-link fence, will be roughly 35 feet by 91 feet in size, according to the proposal.
The gym is now closed off as the renovation project begins. The project — which will expand the gym by roughly one-third — will be completed over the summer. It will also include new boys and girls locker rooms, a new weight room, team rooms, training rooms, and storage areas.
The goodbye event included a moment of silence to “remember the good times” as the school celebrates the beginning of the construction project, according to the school. All proceeds from the event will be used to outfit the newly-renovated athletic facilities once they are completed. Around 250 people attended the event, according to the school’s assistant principal Jim Hannon.
The school has been an active construction area for more than a year. A new wing was added to the back and front of the building, including a new library, main office, and administrative and counseling offices.
Future phrases include a new wrestling and gymnastics room, renovated music rooms, an expanded auditorium, and new baseball and softball structures.
In the final phase of the project, the cafeteria will be modified into a food court design and the stadium press box and tennis courts will be renovated.
Photo via Jim Hannon
Vote on Herndon HS Monopole Delayed — “The Fairfax County Planning Commission voted Wednesday, March 4, to postpone its decision on whether to approve an application to install a telecommunications monopole on the grounds of Herndon High School until later in the month.” [Reston Patch]
New Mobile Forensics Lab for Fairfax County Police — “Fairfax County police can potentially identify murder suspects much quicker with their new mobile forensics lab. Maj. Christian Quinn said the idea to build the mobile lab started at a crime scene in 2017.” [NBC Washington]
Dulles Customs and Border Protection Seize Date Rape Drug Shipment — “U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers on Monday seized five large bottles of gamma-butyrolactone (GBL) that arrived at Washington Dulles International Airport in international mail from China. The DEA says GBL is known as a precursor of date rape drug gamma-hydroxybutyric acid (GHB).” [Fairfax County Times]
Photo via vantagehill/Flickr
The Fairfax County Planning Commission is expected to vote on a proposal for a telecommunications facility on the grounds of Herndon High School today (Wednesday).
Milestone Tower Limited Partnership plans to build a 124-foot monopole and other equipment for the facility, which would be blocked off by an eight-food-tall chain link fence.
If approved, the facility would be located on the north side of the football field in between two existing stadium light poles. It’s expected to help Sprint improve coverage in the area.
In a staff report, the county noted that although the best option would be to move the facility to an existing structure or building that is tall enough to accommodate the facility, there is no option to do so in the area since it is largely home to single-family units.
“These sites provide few opportunities to minimize the impact on the surrounding residential neighborhoods. The large size of the Herndon High School parcel provides a large buffer from neighboring properties than other sites,” according to the report.
Staff also expect that the pole will blend into other lights that are already on the football field.
If approved tonight, the plan heads to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors for a vote on March 10. The meeting begins at 7:30 p.m.
Photo via Sprint
As the number of local students who vape soars, Fairfax County Public Schools doubling down on how to decrease the use of e-cigarettes.
In September, Fairfax County Public Schools pursued more stringent measures if a student was caught vaping on campus. Additionally, the school board also classified vaping as a prohibited activity in the school system’s student rights and responsibilities handbook last year.
Lucy Caldwell, the school system’s communication director, said that FCPS also works with the Fairfax County Health Department to develop a toolkit for students to provide educational information about the health impacts of e-cigarettes.
Stemming the rise of e-cigarettes — which some see as a safe alternative to smoking — is a nationwide challenge. The number of youth who are e-cigarette users jumped by 1.5 million between 2017 and 2018, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. No change was found in the use of other tobacco products during this time.
A recent survey administered by FCPS found that one in five students vaped recently.
South Lakes High School held four parent sessions through the Parent Teacher Student Administration or administration-sponsored meetings to help parents partner with the school on addressing this issue, according to SLHS Principal Kim Retzer.
The school also has a substance abuse prevention specialization who provides support for students and resources for parents, Retzer told Reston Now.
“South Lakes deals with students vaping as do other high schools in the area,” she said.
At Herndon High School, Principal Liz Noto says that the school is working with FCPS’s Student Safety and Wellness Office to educate the student body about the issue. Like other schools, HHS also finds ways for students seeking to quit vaping.
Photo via Unsplash/Tbel Abuseridze
Sprint is gearing up for several community engagement events in order to educate residents about a 125-foot monopole and ground equipment that is proposed at Herndon High School (7999 Bennet Street).
The company is seeking the county’s approval to build at 91-by-35-foot structure enclosed with a telecommunications facility. The project heads to the Fairfax County Planning Commission for a public hearing on Wednesday, Jan. 15, at 7:30 p.m.
Here’s more from Sprint on why the project is needed:
The project will help Sprint bring improved coverage to your community. The shaded section below shows the approximate area that will receive enhanced network strength with the proposed wireless facility. The new facility will improve Internet connectivity speed and voice connectivity–especially inside homes and buildings–and help your area respond to the increasing demand for quality wireless service. Users outside of the shaded area may also see improved service as the new facility off-loads some of the traffic from the existing facilities in the area.
A community balloon fly will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 12 at 8 a.m., with a rain date of Wednesday, Nov. 13 at 8 a.m. A community meeting is set for Monday, Dec. 16 at 6 p.m. at Herndon United Methodist Church (701 Bennett Street).
More information about the project is available online.
Photo via Sprint
The Town of Herndon has a number of openings for local advisory committees, boards, and commissions.
Town residents are encouraged to apply to open positions in the Pedestrian and Bicycle Advisory Committee (PBAC) — which aims to promote safe walking and bicycling in the town — and the Fairfax County Athletic Council. One resident will represent the town on the athletic council, which is an advisory body that sets policies and priorities to improve sports programs in the county.
Middle and high school students can also serve on the Herndon Youth Advisory Council, which advises the council on issues and decisions relevant to youth. Students who either live in the Town of Herndon or attend Herndon Middle and Herndon High schools are encouraged to apply.
Town of Herndon Mayor Lisa Merkel said the youth council is a critical way to engage Herndon’s youth, especially as the town’s population increases in number and diversity.
“This is a great way for middle and high school students to develop lifelong habits of community activism,” Merkel said. “The voices of our young people are important and need to be heard.”
Applications are available online and at the clerk’s office in the Herndon Municipal Center (777 Lynn Street).
Image via Town of Herndon
Several local schools were acknowledged by Fairfax County Public Schools Superintendent Scott Brabrand and the Fairfax County School Board for bridging achievement gaps in English and math.
Lake Anne Elementary School was one of the top schools in the county to achieve the greatest reduction in the English achievement gap.
Awards were given based on school performance in the 2018-2019 school year and revised accreditation standards approved by the Virginia Board of Education in 2017.
Photo via Facebook
The 21st Century Community Learning Centers grant will help the Herndon High School 21st Century Community Learning Center, which will provide afterschool programming to improve academic performance and support developmental wellbeing.
Students will receive guidance on college, careers, life skills, community involvement, and cultural awareness. An eight-week program will supplement the school-year program.
The program will be open to between 50 and 60 students. The success of the program will be measured through objectives like improved reading and math skills, increased family engagement, reduced dropout rate, and increased emotional and social learning competencies. Rising ninth-grade students will also be involved in the center.
The grant from the U.S. Department of Education covers 32 percent of the total cost of the three-year program. Additional funding will be provided from the following community partners:
- Herndon High School
- Fairfax County Public Schools Food and Nutrition Services
- Fairfax County Neighborhood and Community Services
- Childcare Resources
- Herndon United Methodist Church
- Town of Herndon
Cornerstones will help develop the curriculum and activities for the project.
Photo via FCPS