John Gluck on NBC’s “Ordinary Joe” (Photo courtesy of Sandy Morris/NBC)

When Herndon resident John Gluck heard that he had gotten the part on NBC’s new drama “Ordinary Joe,” he freaked out.

The local-student-turned-television-star had never auditioned for a role like this, but he had always been a singer, a piano player, and a movie-lover. So, when NBC put out a casting call in early 2020 looking for a young actor with muscular dystrophy, then-11-year-old Gluck knew he had to go for it.

“The [casting call] is perfect for me and I’m probably not going to get another opportunity like this,” now 13-year-old Gluck tells Reston Now, reminiscing about the moment that changed his life. “Well, I guess I’ll give it a shot.”

He sent an audition tape and got a call a few weeks later to do another audition via Zoom with producers, writers, and potential co-stars. Two days later, he was told he was officially casted on the NBC show.

“[The producers] really liked my energy, enthusiasm, and passion,” says Gluck, from Atlanta, Georgia, where he’s in the midst of production on the show. “I am very energetic.”

After a long COVID-related delay, “Ordinary Joe” finally premiered to big ratings last week on NBC and will have new episodes on Monday nights at 10 p.m. for at least the remainder of the year.

Gluck plays “Christopher,” a co-starring role though to reveal the specifics of the character would be a bit of a spoiler.

“It was very surreal to see my name in the credits [last week].” he says. “I screamed. I’ve been waiting like two years to actually see that. So, the fact that [the show] is out there for the world to see is really awesome.”

Gluck was in second grade, at Crossfield Elementary School, when he caught the acting bug, making short films that “really helped me come out of my shell.”

He started taking classes at Lopez Studios, a 25-year-old performing arts school in Reston.

“John is great talent, great voice, overall personality, and has been in several of our mainstage performances,”  Victor Lopez, the owner and founder of the school, tells Reston Now. “John is a model student, does his homework, and now we are seeing it pay off.”

Gluck is a lifelong musician, singing and playing the piano. Performing is nothing new for him, but auditioning for an acting role was.

“My acting coach had to explain how to do an [acting] audition. I didn’t know all of the vocabulary,” Gluck says.

However, in another stroke of destiny, he saw the sides (portion of script used for auditions) and it included belting out “New York State of Mind” by Billy Joel. He sang a rendition of the song for his audition and the producers were very impressed.

“They told me the second they heard that, they thought ‘Oh my goodness, we need to keep him,'” he says. “Now, I’m singing in every other episode, which is incredible.”

Over the summer, he drove with his family from his Herndon home to Atlanta, where he’ll be staying until December as the show wraps up production. While he’s living his dream, he admittingly misses home and knows this wasn’t an opportunity he could ever pass up.

Gluck has muscular dystrophy and understands that this is a special chance to be a role model.

“There’s not a ton of representation for muscular dystrophy on screen. The few movies and shows that I’ve seen where they do have a character with muscular dystrophy, they aren’t actually played by somebody with muscular dystrophy,” Gluck says. “I know I’m representing lots of people that are just like me and they’re going to see someone like themselves on TV.”

As a newbie to television acting, he was surprised about a few things on set. For one, how many camera angles and takes they do for every single scene. Also, there are television monitors everywhere, showing producers and actors scenes as they will look to the viewer at home. For Gluck, it kinda feels like getting sucked into the television.

“There’s a lot of monitors everywhere and I’m watching what’s going on… like I’m watching on TV,” he says. “Then, I literally roll right into the scene, which is a very crazy feeling.”

Gluck explains his acting style as one that fully understands the context of the scene, realizing that what’s written in the script isn’t always the only things that need to be communicated.

“If a character is asking a question, I’ve got to realize what they are actually saying? They are not just asking this one question, I have to know what they are truly meaning to say. This has to come not just through my words, but the way I act.”

All of this is truly impressive for any actor, much less one who’s 13 and new to the business. But Gluck certainly has the “it” factor, that special something that makes it clear someone is a star. He hasn’t thought specifically about what’s coming next for him, other than he wants to continue to work in the television business, perhaps behind the cameras as well.

For young actors like him, who are thinking of auditioning for a role that they may think is out of their reach, Gluck’s advice is simple.

“Go for it. It never hurts to try,” he says. “[If you don’t], you could be missing out on something really big. With your acting, just leave it all out there. Give it all you got.”

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Morning Notes

Herndon Prepares for Metro — Town officials reflect on how they’re preparing for Metro’s arrival. The town has 38 acres of developable land north of the new Metro station. [Washington Business Journal]

Aslin Beer Co. to Expand — The brewery, which has locations in Alexandria and Herndon, is opening a 7,000-square-foot taproom in The Terminal, a large redevelopment of Pittsburg. [Washington Business Journal]

QR Codes Now Available to Verify Vaccine Status — The state’s health department has announced that QR codes are now available to verify an individual’s vaccination status. Virginia is now the fifth state in the country to adopt the QR code method. [Fairfax County Government]

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Lake Newport Pool (via Reston Association/YouTube)

Labor Day weekend has almost arrived, unofficially bringing summer to an end with an occasion to recognize the achievement of workers and the labor movement.

For students, the weekend has already begun, since Fairfax County Public Schools has designated both today (Friday) and Monday (Sept. 6) as holidays.

While Reston Association’s summer pool season has mostly come to a close, a handful of pools will be open over Labor Day weekend, with the North Shore and Ridge Heights heated pools remaining open through Sept. 19.

RA announced on Tuesday (Aug. 31) that the North Shore, Ridge Heights, Lake Newport, and Glade pools will all open from noon to 7 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday (Sept. 4-5) as well as from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Monday.

“We are happy that we were able to open and operate the majority of RA pools safely this summer for our members enjoyment,” RA Director of Recreation and Environmental Education Laura Kowalski said in an email. “In addition, RA swim lessons, water exercise and pool events were well attended. And of course, our annual end of season Dog Paddles for our furry friends was a big hit.”

Elsewhere in Fairfax County, many public facilities and services will be closed or have altered schedules for Labor Day. Here are some of the changes that Reston and Herndon residents should be aware of for the federal holiday:

Fairfax County Government

Fairfax County Courts

Town of Herndon

  • Town offices and the Herndon Community Center will be closed for Labor Day.
  • There will be no recycling collection that day. Residents whose recycling is typically collected on Mondays will instead have pick-ups on Tuesday (Sept. 7).
  • The Herndon Centennial Golf Course will be open on Monday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

County Libraries and Recreational Facilities

Public Transit

  • Fairfax Connector buses will operate on a Sunday schedule for Labor Day. Check the transit system’s website for the specific routes that will be in service.
  • Metro will operate from 7 a.m. to midnight throughout Labor Day weekend, with trains serving 87 of 91 stations normally on the Red, Blue, and Silver lines and scheduled maintenance on the Orange, Yellow, and Green lines.
  • On Labor Day, Metrorail, buses, and MetroAccess will follow a Sunday service schedule with off-peak fares and free parking in effect all day.

County Trash and Recycling

  • Labor Day will not affect trash and recycling collections for county customers. However, the customer service center will be closed in observance of the holiday.
  • The I-66 Transfer Station and I-95 Landfill Complex will both be open.

Photo via Reston Association/YouTube

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Dulles Toll Road after Route 28 in Herndon (via Google Maps)

Updated at 4:50 p.m. — All lanes and ramps at the Dulles Toll Road/Route 28 interchange have now reopened.

Earlier: All eastbound lanes on the Dulles Toll Road after Route 28 (Sully Road) in Herndon remain closed after a state police trooper crashed into a motorcycle during a pursuit this morning (Thursday).

According to the Virginia State Police, the pursuit began when a trooper tried to stop a motorcycle for speeding on the Dulles Greenway at 9:42 a.m. The biker had been going 84 miles per hour in a 55 mile-per-hour zone.

“The motorcycle refused to stop for the trooper and sped away at an excessive speed,” the VSP said in a news release. “A pursuit was initiated. The motorcycle continued onto the Dulles Toll Road where its operator lost control and crashed.”

Police clarified in an update that the crash occurred when the biker “pulled off to the shoulder and suddenly braked. The trooper was unable to stop in time and struck the motorcycle.”

The motorcyclist, who has been identified as an adult man, was flown to Inova Fairfax Hospital to receive treatment for injuries that police say were life-threatening.

According to the VSP, the motorcyclist reached speeds of up to 130 miles per hour during the pursuit east on the Dulles Toll Road. He was wearing a helmet.

“The crash and pursuit remain under investigation,” state police said. A VSP crash reconstruction team is currently on the scene.

The Dulles Toll Road says all eastbound lanes on the toll road and the Airport Access Highway are closed as of 11:55 a.m. The Virginia Department of Transportation has also closed the ramps from north and southbound Route 28 to the eastbound Dulles Toll Road lanes.

Photo via Google Maps

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(Updated at 10:25 a.m.) When the Washington Football Team opens its season against the Los Angeles Chargers on Sept. 12, Northern Virginia fans who catch the game at FedEx Field might notice a familiar name among the stadium’s food options.

The Herndon-based, family-owned taqueria Casa De Ávila Tacos is one of eight local vendors included in the ‘Flavor of the DMV Showcase’ that D.C.’s NFL franchise will introduce to FedEx Field for the 2021 season.

“A year ago we never saw ourselves on a huge platform, where we find ourselves today,” Abraham Avila, a founder of the taqueria, said. “I consider it lifechanging.”

Abraham and his wife Stephanie Avila launched the taqueria on Sept. 5, 2020 with his mother Luz Avila and sister Jessica Avila.

Stephanie, whose background is in nursing, came up with the idea for the taqueria because she wanted to do something different. After the couple discussed the idea, Luz and Jessica offered to assist with the venture.

“In the beginning, we knew our food was good. Growing up, my friends would always come over and they would always look forward to my mom’s cooking,” Abraham said.

With influences from Guadalajara, Mexico, the taqueria’s recipes are often homemade, coming from either his mother’s family or his wife’s side of the family.

“When we started, the reception was great,” Abraham recalled. “We didn’t expect the numbers we had, and so that very first day we looked at each other and we were like, ‘we’re onto something.’ And so we started building a following.”

That community support inspired the Casa de Ávila team to apply for the Washington Football Team’s first-ever Flavors of the DMV Showcase, which was brought to their attention by a customer.

Abraham says, when he and his wife discussed the possibility of applying, they initially felt daunted by the competition, but they realized that “the worst they’re going to say is ‘no.'”

“So, we submitted the application and we told them why we think our food would be a good idea as they’re reinventing their image,” he said. “And a couple weeks later we got the invitation as one of the finalists to compete. We were over the moon.”

The family taqueria pitted its birria quesatacos against restaurants, food trucks, food stands, and more from the D.C. area. They were evaluated by a tasting panel consisting of Washington Football Team Vice President of Guest Experience Joey Colby-Begovich, Super Bowl XXII MVP Doug Williams, and representatives from Levy Restaurants.

After getting feedback, the family waited a couple of weeks before being notified that they had been selected as one of the official vendors for the season. After initial speculation that Abraham may be pranking the group, the reality of the moment set in, and there were “a lot of tears, screams, a lot of ‘oh my goodness,'” Abraham says.

“That just sent chills through everybody,” he said. “It gave everybody here a new sense of energy. It kind of told us we’re on the right path of what we’re doing.”

During the application process, Abraham made the case that Casa De Ávila could help the football team connect with the local Hispanic community, letting that segment of its fanbase know  that “we see you, we hear you, and here’s a piece of home in our stadium for you guys.”

Colby-Bagovich says the D.C. area’s increasingly diverse population was considered when selecting vendors for the showcase, along with the food’s taste, quality, and appropriateness for a stadium setting — that is, food that could be served in bulk and eaten without a table.

“One of our tent pole goals is to bring the community in as a part of our gameday experience,” Colby-Begovich said. “The DMV community is vast and diverse, and what better represents the richness of the DMV than food? We are thrilled to have local vendors representing their cultures, traditions, and culinary delights.”

The NFL extension of Casa De Ávila Tacos is located in Section B 134, near one of the end zones. It features three meats, with quesatacos (cheese) and carnitas (pulled pork) as permanent offerings, while a third will rotate between chicken, al pastor (sliced pork), and carne asada (beef) tacos.

While the NFL showcase will give the taqueria a whole new audience, for its owners, it will always remain a family affair.

“For us, family is number one. So our business name is our family name,” Abraham said.

When Abraham’s grandfather died earlier this year, the family had an opportunity to visit Mexico and bring his grandmother back to the U.S. visit her children. The sight of the taqueria’s name “brought tears” to her eyes, because she saw it as a way to keep her husband’s last name alive, he recalls.

“Being at the stadium, we want [people] to know that they’re also going receive the same high-quality food they can find at our restaurant or anywhere,” Abraham said. “We want to change the game up for concession food. And we’re doing it as a family.”

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Herndon’s NextStop Theatre is one of the organizations to receive a grant from ArtsFairfax (courtesy NextStop Theatre Company)

ArtsFairfax has awarded grant funding to 40 nonprofit organizations in Fairfax County, the arts agency recently announced.

This year, ArtsFairfax received requests for over $937,000 in funding and allocated a total of $441,900.

The Operating Support Grant program is designed to assist local, nonprofit arts organizations with funding to support their basic operational needs.

In recognition of the challenges that the arts community has faced during the COVID-19 pandemic, ArtsFairfax says it increased the minimum grant amount to $1,000 and waived a requirement that recipients match the funds they receive.

ArtsFairfax President and CEO Linda S. Sullivan says the program was also modified to place more emphasis on equity and how organizations are considering issues of diversity, access, and inclusion in their operations, programs, and services.

“The past year has created an unprecedented hardship for arts organizations and artists,” Sullivan said. “The Operating Support Grant provides arts organizations with critically needed funding for basic operations — funding that helps keeps the doors open — as they develop artistic programming for audiences return.”

The Reston and Herndon organizations that received grants are:

“Fairfax County residents benefit from a dynamic and diverse arts sector,” Sullivan said. “To sustain and grow our cultural capital over the long-term requires a consistent source of public and private funds. ArtsFairfax’s Operating Support Grants are a direct investment in our community ensuring that the arts remain centerpieces and economic engines in our community.”

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The Fairfax County Police Department has concluded for a second time that allegations of racial profiling by one of its officers during a 2019 incident in Herndon were unfounded.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors directed police to revisit the case in question in January after the county’s Police Civilian Review Panel recommended an additional review in its first-ever challenge of police findings.

According to a June 1 FCPD memo obtained by Reston Now, the second review — this time under a new police chief — found no evidence that a police officer who followed and questioned a Black driver was motivated by racial bias.

“I have reviewed the supplemental investigative findings and concur that no new evidence was revealed to support the allegation of bias-based policing,” Fairfax County Police Chief Kevin Davis said in the memo.

Davis took over as police chief on May 3 amid criticism of his past work in Baltimore and Prince George’s County. In the initial months of his tenure, he has emphasized his willingness to introduce reforms, including revisions to the department’s vehicle pursuit policy and the addition of a data director.

For its follow-up investigation of the Herndon incident, Fairfax County police asked eight employees in the Reston District Station’s Criminal Investigations Section the following question:

“Do you have any direct or indirect knowledge which would indicate [employee name] has engaged or is engaging in behavior that was or is motivated by bias toward a victim’s race, religious conviction, ethnic/national origin, disability, and/or sexual orientation?”

Police said no one indicated there was any evidence of bias exhibited by the detective.

Davis also suggested options for reviewing the case were limited, noting that FCPD started collecting data on officers’ interactions with civilians last October that it wasn’t measuring at the time of this particular incident.

The change aligns with new state requirements for police data collection that took effect on July 1.

“Due to recent updates in Virginia legislation, the Virginia Community Policing Act, the Department has updated our current record management system to capture additional details pertaining to the circumstances of community contacts,” the FCPD said in a statement. “The further details will allow our Department to better understand the contacts we have within our community.”

In his memo, Davis wrote that the department has “further enhanced our transparency by creating a Police Data Sharing Dashboard” that allows people to search information related to warnings, citations, and arrests.

The civilian review panel began reviewing the Herndon incident on May 23, 2019, when it got a citizen’s complaint about an officer who followed him into the parking lot of his apartment complex and repeatedly questioned whether he lived there. Read More

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SpringPark Technology Center (via Google Maps)

A block of office buildings in Herndon previously known as the Spring Park Technology Center is getting rebranded as “Marker 20” as part of a revitalization that will emphasize the development’s proximity to the Washington & Old Dominion Trail.

Pedestrians already cut through bushes along the perimeter of the business complex at 450-485 Springpark Place to access the trail, so property owner Penzance is looking to formalize that connection with the new name.

During its public hearing at 7:30 p.m. tomorrow (Wednesday), the Town of Herndon’s Architectural Review Board will consider applications for building and site renovations as well as new signage to replace the Spring Park branding still posted at the front entrance of the complex.

“Penzance has been planning a rebranding to revitalize the park and enhance its connection to the W&OD Trail,” the developer says in a presentatation for the board. “The plan encompasses enhancement to four of the seven buildings, owned by Penzance, utilizing similar materials and levels of finish to create and maintain uniformity across the park.”

Penzance bought the Spring Park Technology Center for $71.5 million in September 2019 under the name Springpark Place LLC.

With the Herndon Planning Commission’s approval, the developer divided the property into eight separate parcels for potential sales last year. The parcel at 460 Springpark Place was sold to LDI Propco 2 LLC for $20.4 million in February, according to a Fairfax County property database.

According to the website and a video for the project, Penzance’s plans for Marker 20 include a 9,000 square-foot amenity center in 485 Springpark Place with a tenant lounge, conference facilities, a fitness center, bicycle lockers, and an outdoor patio.

To serve tenants and W&OD Trail users, the developer is seeking a brewery, distillery, or restaurant to occupy Suite 100 — a 18,688 square-foot space — in 450 Springpark Place, according to a site plan brochure.

Proposed outdoor amenities include a bicycle lane that connects to the W&OD Trail, a bicycle repair station, a hammock grove, a linear park with fitness stations, a bocce court, a golf putting green, and additional seating and landscaping.

With the applications submitted to the Town of Herndon, Penzance is seeking to add synthetic wood patios or decks and a garage door with a metal awning at Building 450 as well as a bi-folding door, a new floor-to-ceiling glass storefront, and a common area with a fire pit at Building 485, among other changes.

Town staff has recommended that the architectural review board approve the upgrades and new signage after previously raising concerns.

In an Aug. 4 staff report, town staff withheld its stance on the signage rebranding, citing a need for additional information.

Currently, signage at the business park is “indirectly lit” with ground-mounted spotlights, but proposed internal illumination of the new Marker 20 logo is something usually associated with shopping centers and other commercial uses along business corridors, according to the town.

Staff also recommended indirect illumination or a halo effect to reduce lighting impacts on the single-family townhouse development located on the other side of Spring Street.

Penzance’s revised application now calls for signage that satisfies town requirements, where the Marker 20 logo would be in metal letters highlighted by halo-lot light-emitting diodes, according to a memo that Herndon Deputy Director of Community Development Bryce Perry sent the board on Aug. 12.

“The applicant has submitted new information and revised drawings that address the issues raised by staff in the report,” Perry said in the memo. “A site plan was submitted that confirms all sign placement comply with the applicable zoning ordinance regulations.”

Signs for tenants currently at the business park include Windstream, Mark Construction Group, Acuity Brands Lighting, and Wärtsilä.

The architectural board is returning to in-person meetings after meeting online for the pandemic. It held an in-person work session on Aug. 4, but this will be the board’s first in-person public hearing since February 2020.

Photo via Google Maps

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Firefighters respond to a townhouse fire in the 100 block of Fortnightly Boulevard in Herndon (via Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department/Twitter)

(Updated at 4:55 p.m.) Two people have been displaced, and a cat was found dead after a fire ripped through a townhouse in Herndon early this morning (Tuesday).

Fairfax and Loudoun county firefighters responded at approximately 12:56 a.m. to a reported fire in the 100 block of Fortnightly Boulevard in the Town of Herndon, according to a report that the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department released in the afternoon.

Upon their arrival on the scene, the responders saw fire showing in the back of a three-story, middle-unit townhouse. Two residents were spotted at a second-floor window above the front door, prompting crews to deploy a ladder so they could reach the second-floor balcony and help the residents out.

The units also requested assistance from other agencies in the area, including the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority Fire and Rescue Department.

“The fire was quickly brought under control and eventually extinguished,” FCFRD said. “One occupant was transported to a hospital for a check-up. Sadly, one cat was found deceased. There were no firefighter injuries reported.”

Investigators have determined that the fire was accidentally triggered by an issue in the electrical system of the townhouse’s garage, where a motorcycle was being charged by a trickle charger.

The residence’s two occupants were both at home and asleep when the fire started. The sound of a smoke alarm woke them up, but they were unable to get out of the house through the first floor due to smoke, moving instead to the second-floor balcony, according to the fire department.

The fire has displaced both residents and resulted in approximately $253,550 in damages, not including water damage to the adjacent townhomes. It also destroyed a car and two motorcycles that were in the garage.

Photo via Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department/Twitter

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Morning Notes

A tree looms behind a wooden fence in Reston’s Hickory Cluster (via vantagehill/Flickr)

Emergency Alert Test Coming Today — Expect an alert message “accompanied by a unique tone and vibration” on your mobile phone around 2:20 p.m. today as part of a test of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. FEMA and the Federal Communications Commission regularly test the nationwide system to ensure the infrastructure works in case of an emergency. [Ready Fairfax/Twitter]

Herndon Reinstates Mask Requirement — “Effective Wednesday, August 11, all members of the public over age two are required to wear masks indoors in town facilities…Masks are required for all visitors to town facilities, regardless of vaccination status. Masks are also required for attendees at public meetings, including public hearings of the Herndon Town Council, boards and commissions.” [Town of Herndon]

COVID-19 Vaccines Could Be Fully Approved Soon — “The head of Virginia’s vaccination program said on Tuesday that next month, the Food and Drug Administration will likely fully approve the COVID-19 vaccines, and approve their use for children ages 5 to 11 as well…Currently, the COVID-19 vaccines distributed in the U.S. are authorized but not approved.” [WTOP]

New Traffic Signal Installed at Fox Mill Road — A temporary traffic signal is now active at the Fox Mill Road (Route 665) and Pinecrest Road intersection in Herndon to address safety concerns before construction begins on a long-term project in fall 2024. That project will include a permanent signal, new left-turn lanes on Fox Mill, crosswalks, sidewalks and curb ramp reconstructions, and an eight-foot-wide walkway and curb ramp at the southeast corner. [VDOT]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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From drivers seeking to safely exit driveways to vehicles blocking garbage cans and mailboxes, parking is becoming a headache for Herndon residents, who raise complaints only to be told that police have no way to address those issues.

That could soon change.

The Herndon Town Council is now considering a newly proposed ordinance that would prohibit parking in front of or within 10 feet of a driveway, imposing a $50 fine for violations.

Several council members, however, raised concerns about moving forward without more information.

“It’s a safety issue,” Herndon Police Chief Maggie DeBoard said Wednesday (Aug. 4) at a town council work session. “So, when you have people that can park right next to the end of the driveway, it severely limits visibility when somebody’s pulling out or trying to get around, especially in some of the narrowed streets we have here in Herndon.”

The topic will be open for public comment when the town council meets this coming Tuesday (Aug. 10), allowing community members to share their concerns and needs, including how the change would affect their ability to get parking.

Town officials noted that addressing parking visibility and access issues could leave people without anywhere to park.

“To solve that issue, are we creating another problem?” Councilmember Pradip Dhakal said.

Town officials suggested that the reported problems stem in part from Herndon’s overall outdated parking ordinance, which even allows people to park in town streets and use a ride-hailing app like Uber to get to Dulles International Airport, for example.

The town began reviewing its ordinance two years ago after seeing neighboring governments update their parking policies, but the effort was delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic, DeBoard said.

According to a staff report, the review was put on hold when the town’s priorities shifted at the beginning of the pandemic, but it has been revived now that Herndon is starting to return to more normal town operations.

While an ordinance overhaul could be presented in September, town management raised the question of parked vehicles blocking driveways in residential neighborhoods as a piecemeal issue, describing it as a critical situation.

Councilmember Signe Friedrichs noted that emergency vehicles such as fire trucks can have trouble navigating streets because of parked automobiles.

“I can’t tell you how many times I have nearly gotten hit by someone coming out of one of their driveways or trying to get…onto Ferndale Avenue or onto Jorss Place,” she said. “And coming out of Burwick Drive, I’m always very close to getting hit. I have to pull all the way out.”

Mayor Sheila Olem suggested that spending too much time studying the issue could leave pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers in unnecessary danger.

“No one is being considerate of anyone’s need to be able to back out of their driveway,” Olem said.

Graphic via Town of Herndon

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Coomber Hall at 1521 Dranesville Road (via Newmark Grubb Knight Frank)

Historic Coomber Hall, a family home, and several other structures at McMillen Farm in Herndon are set to be “deconstructed” within 30 days after Fairfax County granted a demolition permit late last month.

The 171-year-old dairy-barn-turned-music-school at 1521 Dranesville Road will be disassembled this month along with several other structures, the developer that now owns the property confirmed.

Tradition Homes owner Steve DeFalco told Reston Now that a majority of materials from the barn are being relocated elsewhere in Fairfax County and will be used to construct a new barn by a private homeowner.

A new residential subdivision will be built on the site which is known as McMillan Farm, thanks to a rezoning request that was approved in 2018. The development is currently on track to be completed next summer, DeFalco noted.

A demolition permit was granted only after the developer fulfilled all obligations laid out in the rezoning proffer agreement, a Fairfax County official confirmed to Reston Now.

Under that agreement, one of the requirements was for the developer to market the sale for at least 180 days. If the main farmhouse and barn were purchased, they would have had to be deconstructed or safely moved in one piece to another property within county limits.

However, no one stepped up to purchase the structures within that time frame, giving the developer the right to remove the structures.

“It is the County’s goal to save historic buildings if feasible,” Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust wrote in an email to Reston Now. “During the rezoning process, the county requested that the owner agree to market the barn and home for at least 180 days to find one or more purchasers who might save the buildings by buying and relocating them. The owner agreed to do so. Unfortunately, the owner’s efforts were unsuccessful and no purchasers were found.”

McMillan Farm is on the county’s inventory of historic sites but not on the Virginia Landmarks Register or the National Register of Historic Places, though it is eligible for both.

The barn was partially built in 1850, and the family home was completed about 50 years later in the early 1900s. Owned by John Richard McMillen, it was the center of a 550-acre dairy farm, one of a number of similar farms that dotted Herndon in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

“Herndon was predominantly a dairy farming community,” Herndon Historical Society Director Barbara Glakas told Reston Now. “The whole McMillan farm property — from the house to the outbuildings to the chicken coop to the barn — are…one of the last vestiges of the Herndon-area farming community.”

In the 1960s, the barn was converted into a music and dance school and recital hall by George and Mary Coomber, who had inherited the property.

The school operated within the barn for a number of years, but in 2017, the Fairfax County Office of Code Compliance inspected the site and found that many of the structures were in “various states of disrepair,” according to a county official.

The damage was potentially related to a lighting strike, according to a permit obtained for repairs related to the incident in 2012.

The county requested the buildings be further stabilized and secured, but as the rezoning application notes, the property owner had already made the decision to demolish buildings.

DeFalco bought the house and barn for $2.3 million in 2019, according to county records.

While the structures will no longer be standing on the site past the end of the month, the farm’s story will not be lost. As part of the proffer, the developer is required to erect an accessible, public memorial on the site telling the history of the farm.

“At a minimum, an information panel or panels with appropriate references to the farm’s history and appropriate landscaping and/or hardscaping,” the proffer agreement says.

DeFalco confirmed that this is the developer’s intention.

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(Updated at 3:25 p.m.) Herndon Police officers are investigating reports that gun shots were fired in the 900 block of Alabama Drive, the department says.

According to the Herndon Police Department, the incident involves a dark gray Dodge SUV, possibly the Journey model, with “scraping along rear passenger door.”

Police are advising the public to stay away from the area. No ambulance or medical services have been requested so far, the department tells Reston Now.

Anyone who might have information about the incident can contact 703-435-6846.

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Great Falls (via Wikimedia Commons/MamaGeek)

Monday, August 2 

  • Ornery Beer Reopening (4-10 p.m.) — After closing in Woodbridge, Ornery Beer Company is finally reopening in Fairfax near George Mason University with a celebration including live music from local Cat Janice.

Tuesday, August 3

  • Little Historians (11 a.m.) — Join the Reston Historic Trust outside for a new program connecting little ones to the history of their community of Reston. Take a seat and listen to a book related to Reston’s founding principles. Everyone also gets a goodie bag!
  • Coffee Break (8:30 a.m.) — Take a coffee break at National Landing’s Summerhouse in Arlington. The beach-themed installment located on 12th Street South is open every Tuesday morning with free coffee from a local roaster for the first 50 guests. Grab a cup of joe and relax before work.

Wednesday, August 4

Thursday, August 5

  • Frying Pan Farm Park Concert (7:30 p.m.) — Head off to Herndon for an evening with Billy Coulter, a local singer/songwriter inspired by musicians from Bob Dylan to David Bowie.

Friday, August 6

  • A Brief Shakespeare Festival (6 p.m.) — Fairfax City Theater is putting on a festival dedicated to the Bard by performing 15 minute-versions of some of his greatest works. The performances will take place outside at Veterans Amphitheater, next to City Hall.
  • Movies in the Park  (7:45 p.m.) — Bring a blanket, chair, a picnic and the whole family for a movie outside of Brown’s Chapel in Reston. This week’s movie is “Croods: New Age.” This event, of course, is weather-permitting.

Saturday, August 7

  • Lubber Run Concert (8 p.m.) — Listen to Arlington-native Bobby Thompson perform songs from his latest album at the Lubber Run Amphitheater in Arlington. This venue celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2019 and, after a season of cancelled performances, concerts are back in this amphitheater located in a wooded county park.

Sunday, August 8

  • Meteor Shower (1 a.m.) — Stay up late (or get up early) for this meteor shower watch party at Goose Creek Bridge Historic Park in Loudoun County. Every August, Earth passes through a debris field caused by a comet which creates the Perseid Meteor Shower. 1 a.m. is the best time to see meteors due to activity and lack of light pollution.
  • Night Hike and S’mores (7:30 p.m.) — Take a night hike with a county naturalist through Reston’s Lake Fairfax Park, listening and looking for evidence of nocturnal animals. End the hike with a campfire and gooey s’mores.

Via Wikimedia Commons/MamaGeek

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Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay announces plans for the county’s 2021-2022 School Age Child Care program at London Towne Elementary School (via Chairman Jeff McKay/Facebook)

After a hiatus due to pandemic-related school closures, Fairfax County is not only reviving its School Age Child Care (SACC) program, but expanding it with two new locations, both of them in Herndon.

With Fairfax County Public Schools planning for five days of in-person learning starting Aug. 23, the county-run child care program will be available at 142 schools, including new centers at Clearview and McNair Upper elementary schools, Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay announced yesterday (Thursday).

“We hope to quell some anxiety today and give our working parents in particular confidence knowing that the Fairfax County government and our Fairfax County Public Schools have worked very closely together over many months to ensure that our kids can return to school and return to our SACC program,” McKay said.

SACC provides before and after-school care for children from kindergarten through sixth grade. Run by the Fairfax County Office for Children, the program operates out of public elementary schools as well as the Key and Kilmer centers, which focus on youth aged 5-21 with multiple disabilities.

As a result, when FCPS initially closed school doors as COVID-19 spread in March 2020, SACC centers were shuttered as well, leaving many families to juggle full-time work and a bumpy introduction to virtual learning on their own.

The county resumed offering some child care services in the summer of 2020 with its Camp Fairfax program, which serves first through seventh graders. The day-long camps were held in school buildings with social distancing and other health measures in place.

When FCPS opted for an all-virtual start to the 2020-2021 school year, the county launched a new Supporting Return to School (SRS) program that essentially functioned like a full-day version of SACC, providing care before and after school hours along with distance learning support.

According to McKay, the Camp Fairfax and SRS sites were chosen based on where the need for child care services was greatest, focusing on children whose parents were unable to stay at home with them or who otherwise lacked structured support during the day.

Just over 1,000 children have enrolled in Camp Fairfax, which returned this summer with smaller sites, Office of Children Director Anne-Marie Twohie said at yesterday’s news conference, which was held at one such site in Centreville’s London Towne Elementary School.

In comparison, the program typically drew over 4,000 children before the pandemic.

McKay says the Camp Fairfax and SRS programs helped the county understand how child care could be provided safely, experience that will be crucial when the full-scale SACC program starts next month.

“The need for high-quality school-age child care has indeed never been greater, and the extended site availability this year will help meet these needs,” said Fairfax County School Board Chair Stella Pekarsky, who represents the Sully District.

Twohie says SACC rooms are generally added in conjunction with elementary school construction and renovation projects.

Work on both McNair Upper (2410 Fox Mill Road) — a new building intended to relieve crowding at McNair Elementary School — and renovations at Clearview (12635 Builders Road) is nearing completion.

With COVID-19 cases on the rise again, McKay and Pekarsky stressed the importance of vaccinations for everyone who is eligible in ensuring that schools and SACC can fully open on Aug. 23 as planned.

“We are continuing to build toward normalcy, full school days, full SACC programs, the freedoms that we’ve enjoyed over the last several months,” McKay said. “We have to, as a community, roll up our sleeves, get to those remaining people who aren’t vaccinated, get them vaccinated so we can continue down the right path in Fairfax County.”

While FCPS isn’t requiring vaccinations for students or staff, the school system said earlier this week that everyone must wear face masks when students are inside school buildings, regardless of their vaccination status.

Noting that at least 90% of teachers and staff are vaccinated, Pekarsky suggested that FCPS could follow the county government’s lead in potentially instituting a vaccine mandate for its employees at some point.

“We are continuing to offer our teachers the opportunity to get vaccinated,” she said. “We will collaborate with county government to explore if we will make them mandatory sometime in the future, but right now, they are not.”

via Chairman Jeff McKay/Facebook

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