Fairfax County’s once-a-decade redistricting process took a significant step forward this morning (Tuesday), as the Board of Supervisors approved appointees to a committee that will be responsible for recommending new district boundaries.
The 20-person Redistricting Advisory Committee consists of one resident representative from each of the county’s nine magisterial districts as well as three at-large members.
The county board made a conscious effort to appoint individuals from a variety of backgrounds, including people from the local African American, Hispanic, Asian/Pacific Islander, and Arab-American communities, according to the news release.
“Redistricting must be done fairly and in a way that ensures transparency and fair representation of the diversity of Fairfax County,” Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay said in a statement. “This is a community-led process, and I am confident the committee will develop fair and equal districts and everyone will have the same access to representation.”
Like other localities, Fairfax County is required by Virginia law to reexamine its electoral district boundaries every 10 years to ensure that each district has roughly the same number of people, with adjustments based on how the population has changed.
Because redistricting is tied to U.S. Census data, whose delivery has been delayed this year, the RAC won’t be able to start its work until Aug. 30. The committee is scheduled to deliver a report with its proposed district boundaries on Oct. 19, though it will ultimately be up to the Board of Supervisors to adopt a new plan on Dec. 7.
The county says members of the general public will be encouraged to provide input on the new district maps, including through an online portal that will allow residents to draw their own maps.
“Public input will be key to the committee’s efforts,” the county said. “Residents are encouraged to submit their own plans and provide feedback, revisions and comments on the committee’s or other’s proposed plans.”
The Hunter Mill District, which includes Reston, will be represented on the committee by Richard Chew, the Hunter Mill District chair for the Fairfax County Democratic Committee. He is one of seven FCDC members appointed to the RAC.
County Knew About Lawsuits Against New Police Chief — Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay says supervisors became aware of the lawsuits that Police Chief Kevin Davis faced while working in Prince George’s County during the hiring process. The Fairfax County NAACP has filed a FOIA request to get more information about the search, which McKay says tried to strike a balance between public transparency and confidentiality for candidates. [Patch]
Virginia Holds Vaccine Day of Action — Virginia wants residents to support COVID-19 vaccination efforts by joining a statewide “It’s Our Shot” Day of Action today. Ways to participate include making a plan to get vaccinated, sharing your vaccine story on social media, and becoming a COVID Community Ambassador. [Office of the Governor]
Tour de Hunter Mill Showcases County Cycling Options — More than 180 cyclists toured Reston, Vienna, and Tysons in the inaugural Tour de Hunter Mill on Saturday (May 15). The event was intended to highlight the multimodal transportation facilities that people can use to travel the district without getting in a car. [Patch]
Discount Available to Help Pay for Internet Services — Households struggling to pay for internet service due to pandemic-related hardships could get a temporary discount on broadband services with the Federal Communications Commission’s the Emergency Broadband Benefit program. Fairfax County Public Library will hold a virtual training on the program and application process from 2-4 p.m. today. [Fairfax County Government]
Photo via vantagehill/Flickr
New Police Chief to Speak at Public Input Session — Community members will get their first chance to talk to new Fairfax County Police Chief Kevin Davis at 7 p.m. on Thursday (May 6). Local civil rights groups have criticized Davis’s past record and a hiring process they say lacked transparency and public involvement, prompting the county board to issue a statement last night reaffirming its support for Davis. [Supervisor Rodney Lusk/Twitter]
Fairway Apartments Sold to Swedish Investor — Swedish investment firm Akelius has acquired Fairway Apartments, a 346-unit apartment community near Reston Town Center, from JBG for $93 million. Akelius says it plans to add new washers and dryers, renovate some kitchens and bathrooms, and make other minor upgrades to the property, which is 97% occupied. [Bisnow]
More Spots Open for Tour de Hunter Mill — More registrations are now available for the Tour de Hunter Mill bicycle ride that will take cyclists through Reston, Vienna, and Tysons on May 15. The event has expanded in response to Virginia easing restrictions on public gatherings that day, according to Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn’s office. [Walter Alcorn/Twitter]
Herndon IT Firm Acquired by McLean Contractor — “McLean, Virginia-based government contractor Booz Allen Hamilton will acquire Herndon, Virginia-based Liberty IT Solutions LLC for $725 million. Liberty IT Solutions has about 600 employees…Its work includes IT modernization projects for government agencies and in the health care industry.” [WTOP]
Nonprofit Food Pantry Distribution Helps 260 Local Families — “We’re happy to have assisted 260 families from the Herndon, Springfield, Chantilly, Alexandria, and Centreville area with groceries, toiletries, fresh produce and store gift cards to help with pantry staple purchases.” [Cornerstones/Twitter]
The discussion was based on the Fairfax County History Commission’s 539-page inventory, which was first released in December and details the history and context of each place named after a prominent Confederate figure.
The project traces its roots to last summer, when the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors directed the commission to study the legal and financial implications of possible name changes throughout the county.
The commission determined that, out of about 26,500 total named places in the county, approximately 157 streets, parks, monuments, subdivisions, and public places in Fairfax County bear names with ties to the Confederacy.
“This research confirmed…that Fairfax County was a crossroads of war,” Fairfax County History Commissioner Barbara Naef said. “Combatants of both Union and Confederates flourished, camped, marched, clashed, and suffered both victory and defeat here.”
In addition to cataloging sites, the report provides appropriate context, history, and narrative for possible name change discussions, including a dive into “Lost Cause” ideology, its pervasiveness in Fairfax County, and how it influenced the naming of places.
The Lost Cause ideology encompasses myths used to rationalize Confederacy sympathy, mainly that the Civil War was not fought over slavery, the pre-war Southern way of life is to be celebrated, and that prominent figures like Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee didn’t believe in slavery.
“There was an urging by some to exclude it from the report altogether or soften its tone,” Naef said. “These reactions prove the point. The perspective of the Lost Cause has been embraced by generations.”
In its report, the History Commission recommended making the inventory available to the public via the Fairfax County Public Library, which is currently the case, and using the report as a guide for “a robust public process for considering future actions.”
The Hunter Mill District town hall is one of the first steps in that process, members of the commission at the meeting noted.
Within the Hunter Mill District, there are believed to be four places named after Confederates: Fort Lee Street, Lee Manor, the Mosby’s Landing condominium complex, and Wade Hampton Drive.
Fort Lee Street was named in the mid-1970s when Fox Mill Inc. developed the Folkstone subdivision, while Lee Manor is directly tied to Lee Highway, which is in the process of being renamed.
The Virginia General Assembly passed a bill in February, allowing Arlington to rename their portion of Lee Highway.
Mosby’s Landing in Vienna takes its name from John Mosby, a Confederate commander who was also known as the “Gray Ghost.” The condo complex was built on the site where legend says that Mosby and his horse hid out from Union soldiers.
Vienna’s Wade Hampton Drive is named after a Confederate lieutenant general who reportedly led a unit of 600 men and horses down the road in 1865. After the war, Hampton criticized Reconstruction and worked to suppress the vote among South Carolina’s Black population when he became governor of the state.
According to the history commission, the Town of Vienna named the street after Hampton in recognition of the Civil War’s 100th anniversary. The town is currently in the process of having the road’s name changed.
“The town has appointed an ad hoc group to look at this street name and consider alternatives,” Fairfax County History Commissioner Anne Stuntz said.
While the Commission’s charge was to examine places named after Confederates, several residents suggested that places named after individuals involved in the “Mass Resistance” movement opposing school integration should also be re-examined.
Examples include former Fairfax County Public Schools Superintendent W.T. Woodson, who opposed desegregation and still has a high school bearing his name, though schools were overall not included in the history commission’s inventory.
Commenters also mentioned Carter Glass, a state senator who developed laws intended to prevent Black people from voting, including Virginia’s poll tax.
For years, the library at Lake Anne Plaza in Reston was named after Glass. Today, that building is now the Reston Museum.
Photo via Fairfax County/YouTube
(Updated 3/29) This May, bicyclists will get a chance to pedal around Hunter Mill District with Fairfax County Supervisor Walter Alcorn.
Fairfax County is planning its inaugural “Tour de Hunter Mill” for May 15 starting at 8:30 a.m. Alcorn will host the scenic bicycle tour of the district that he represents.
“This will allow people to explore parts of Hunter Mill District that they haven’t before,” Alcorn said on a call with reporters talking about the event.
After starting at Reston Community Center, the ridealong will take bikers along the Washington & Old Dominion Trail to the Vienna Metro station before following quiet trails to the Spring Hill Metro station. Then, the route will circle back to Reston Community Center.
All in all, this “long” route encompasses about 20 miles. There’s also an option to board the Metro at Spring Hill to come back to Reston, which shaves about six miles and 475 feet of climbing from the trip.
Families or more inexperienced riders can also take a route that’s less than five miles through the Reston Association’s pathway system.
The tour costs $25 per adult, but the price includes a pair of “Tour de Hunter Mill” socks and a $5 donation to Fairfax Alliance for Better Bicycling.
Safety and health protocols will be followed, adhering to Virginia Department of Health’s current guidelines. Riders will be capped at 150 people and must stay at least six feet apart. Ride marshals and Fairfax County police will follow along as well.
The event will take place rain or shine.
Photo Courtesy of Fairfax County
Alcorn Seeks Intern — The Hunter Mill District Office is seeking a part-time summer intern to help with public service activities. The deadline to apply is March 1. [Fairfax County Government]
Reston House Fire Extinguished — A small fire broke out on the outside of a roof on the 11500 block of Greenwich Point in Reston yesterday evening. The fire was quickly extinguished and no injuries were reported. [Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department]
Late Night Thieves Target Minority Business Owners — Detectives in Fairfax County are investigating a series of overnight commercial burglaries at minority-owned businesses located in Alexandria, Annandale, Falls Church and Springfield in Virginia. [WTOP]
Photo by Marjorie Copson
The Reston District Station police force is open to working alongside the community to establish trust and transparency.
That is the message that Reston District Station Commanders Captain Thea Pirnat and Lieutenant Marc Mitchell discussed with residents during a virtual Hunter Mill Town Hall hosted by Fairfax County Supervisor Walter Alcorn on Tuesday.
“We recognize the fact that police work is a changing profession,” Pirnat said. “It’s been evolving for a long time; we will continue to evolve. There’s always room for growth and improvement.”
Pirnat and Mitchell said that the Fairfax County Police Department’s policies and its work for the community, specifically as it relates to the Reston District Station and the Reston community.
Pirnat described the trends the station has tracked in crimes over the last two years and said the county “is one of the safest communities in the entire nation.” She added the crime rate is three times below the national average and the area saw a “down tick” in most crime over the last year.
She shared that a number of statistics fluctuated from 2019 to 2020, with calls to the police dropping. Overall, Pirnat said the number of calls for criminal acts have decreased and traffic enforcement went down as well as DWI fatalities in the Reston District Station.
Pirnat provided statistics to emphasize the decrease in some calls from 2019 to 2020. Robberies dropped from 344 to 314 and burglaries dropped from 635 to 619.
While some crime reports dropped, there was a noticeable increase in weapon calls and motor vehicle thefts. Weapon calls increased from 455 to 518 and motor vehicle thefts increased from 863 to 1,273. Service calls also increased as mental health case calls increased from 4,715 to 5,000 from 2019 to 2020.
Though some numbers spiked, Pirnat said she believes “Reston maintained a very safe atmosphere.”
She added the department has taken measures to address community concerns, particularly in the wake of homicides and reported gunshots. One highlight she pointed to was the establishment of the Reston Engagement and Safety Enforcement Team (RESET).
Pirnat described RESET as an assortment of officers focused on “a more blended response to what was going on, to engage with community members, to communicate better, build the rapport, build the trust, in addition to increasing visibility and suppressing potential crime.”
RESET is currently focused on south Reston, and Pirnat said the team has already removed numerous guns off the streets.
In reference to two homicides, Pirnat commended the department’s work in closing the case in the shooting of Samuel Onyeuka, 20, within 96 hours last week. She also mentioned the homicide case from September in which Iris Ponce Garcia, 19, of Reston was shot and killed in the area of Colts Neck Road and Glade Drive. Pirnat said the case is still active.
“It has not gone cold. There are active leads,” Pirnat said. “The Major Crimes Bureau is very much on top of several new leads right now that they believe is going to result in closure in the near future. I will certainly stay on top of that and keep our community informed, as well will our Major Crimes Bureau.”
Pirnat and Mitchell both stated there is always work to be done for the future of the police force.
“As your police department, we shouldn’t be operating in a manner in which you want to know, ‘ how do you investigate an accident,’ ‘what is your use of force policy when it’s reviewed, or if there’s a complaint,’ or ‘what’s the proper response for this type of police investigation,'” Mitchell said.
“We want to be transparent, we want to be deliberate and we want to be clear.”
Mitchell and Pirnat said the department has launched initiatives to engage with the community and be transparent. Among those was the introduction of a dashboard that houses data including arrests, citations, warnings and police department training and policies.
Pirnat also said body-worn cameras had been part of conversations prior to a pilot program in the county and the “expedited” process to issue the cameras to officers in 2020.
The officers also said the department will continue to build on the work the county has taken to previously address concerns. Those efforts include bringing in the Police Executive Research Forum in 2015 to review use of force policies and practices, and rewriting policies and updating force policy to focus on the sanctity of life.
Photo via the Fairfax County Government website
FCPS to Host Annual Special Education Conference — The school system’s sixteenth annual special education conference will be held virtually on Saturday, April 17th. [FCPS]
Local Town Halls Set for This Week — Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn is hosting a town hall tonight and Thursday. The first meeting is with the Reston district police station commanders and the second is with Alcorn. [Fairfax County Government]
Northern Virginia Returns to In-person Schooling — ”The case numbers of the new variants in Virginia are increasing as some school systems in Northern Virginia prepare to resume in-person instruction this week. The counties are returning to in-classroom learning before all teachers have received their COVID-19 vaccine.” [Reston Patch]
Photo via vantagehill/Flickr
Neighborhood safety dominated a virtual town hall by Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn last night.
The town hall was called to discuss the ways in which the Fairfax County Police Department is acting to keep the Hunters Woods neighborhood safe in the wake of an active homicide investigation, as well as a growing concern from the community regarding the increase in gunshot reports around Reston and the Hunters Woods neighborhood.
FCPD Capt. Thea Pirnat discussed that while there is an increased number of gunshot reports in the area, that doesn’t necessarily mean there are increased gunshots — it could mean that the community is doing a better job reporting data. However, the Reston District Police Department is still working to increase police visibility in the neighborhood to deter crime.
The department is also increasing patrols in the neighborhood through a crime suppression team, according to Lt. Marc Mitchell. The department has also been sending out bike patrols as an increased presence to help build trust and rapport with the community members.
2nd Lt. Erin Weeks discussed the current status of the homicide investigation, urging the community to come forward with tips or reports to help guide the active investigation. Weeks said that the detectives are actively following up on ledes and that she is “confident that we are going to solve this case.”
Jose Lorenzo Guillen Mejia, 24, of Reston, was found dead near a walking trail in the summer of 2019 near a wooded area between Hunters Woods Plaza and Breton Court. Mejia was found with trauma to his upper body and was pronounced dead at the scene.
PFC Katy Defoe, the Crime Prevention Officer at the Reston District Station, encouraged community members to pay more attention to their surroundings as they go about their daily lives so they can act as good witnesses if necessary.
Defoe also presented a series of contacts organized with the Hunters Woods Neighborhood Coalition that community members can keep in mind in emergent or non-emergent situations, including:
- Police non-emergency line: 703-691-2131
- Embry Rucker Center Outreach Worker for unsheltered medical attention: 571-323-1399
- Mental health crisis assistance: 703-573-5679
- Fairfax Detoxification Center: 703-502-7000
PFC Brandi Horita, Reston District Station’s Community Liason Officer, also discussed cityprotect.com and the Fairfax County Crime Solvers program as two resources for community members to watch police activity and to promote awareness and crime prevention strategies.
Another virtual town hall will be taking place on Feb. 4 at 5 p.m. with more details to come.
Screenshot from the Hunters Woods Town Hall/YouTube
Donations for the annual Winter Coat Closet Program have officially begun this week.
Cornerstones 50 is working in partnership with the Hunter Mill District Supervisor’s Office this year to help operate the Winter Coat Closet Program, according to a release from the nonprofit.
The collection is asking for new or gently used coats and new hats, gloves, mittens and scarves.
The two locations for donation dropoffs are at Cornerstones (1150 Sunset Hills Road) and the North County Government Building (1801 Cameron Glen Drive).
Cornerstones hours are Monday through Friday from Oct. 13 through Nov. 6, 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. The North County Government Building is collecting Nov. 14, Dec. 12 and Jan. 9 from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m.
The collection can accept plastic coat hangers, but not wire. For more information about the Winter Coat Closet Program, visit the Cornerstones website.
Photo by Daniel Bowman/Unsplash
In response to Fairfax County’s revised budget, Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn stressed that flexibility is key as the county weathers the economic impact of COVID-19.
The upcoming fiscal year 2021 budget, which is expected to be adopted on May 12 and begin on July 1, underwent revisions earlier this spring to address uncertainties stemming from the pandemic.
Though he expressed disappointment that COVID-19 altered the budget, he said he hopes for economic recovery.
“I strongly believe that we will recover and it should be noted that the Board of Supervisors will have the opportunity to make adjustments at our quarterly reviews,” he said. “This budget is by no means a done deal.”
In the future, Alcorn said he expects the budget to be a living document.
“It is also clear that we still don’t know what the final impacts of the virus will be, so we must continue to be flexible and strategic,” he said.
Earlier in April, he expressed displeasure with the revised budget draft. Now, Alcorn’s latest statement includes many of his previous concerns over a lack of support for local business owners.
“Going forward, I anticipate additional funds being used to help small businesses and others offset the impact of the pandemic on the most vulnerable in our county,” Alcorn said in his statement.
In the statement, Alcorn also reflected on the FY 2020 third-quarter review, saying there is now $200 million in additional funding for the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
The act benefits both families and small businesses, according to the U.S. Department of Treasury.
One of Alcorn’s main concerns was how Latino populations are being hit harder by the virus than other demographics around the county.
“Latinos represent 55% of all COVID-19 cases in Fairfax County even though they represent only 16% of the population,” he said, adding that “in Fairfax County stopping COVID starts with the Latino community.”
To address this, Alcorn suggested the application of the county’s One Fairfax policy, which aims to promote social and racial equity, but did not expand on how One Fairfax would directly be applied.
Photo courtesy Hunter Mill District
County Budget Hearings Begin Next Week — “The Board of Supervisors and county staff value public input on the revised FY 2021 Budget proposal. To keep everyone safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, there will be no in-person testimony during the rescheduled budget public hearings, Tuesday through Thursday, April 28 to 30, but there are many ways to share your input.” [Fairfax County Government]
Hunter Mill District Town Hall Today — Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn is hosting an online budget town hall today (Friday) from 12:30-1:30 p.m. Board member Melanie Meren will also attend the town hall. [Walter Alcorn]
How to Join Reston Association’s Annual Meeting — The association offers an update on how to take part in the annual meeting via zoom. The meeting takes place on Thursday, April 30 at 7 p.m. [Reston Association]
Photo via vantagehill/Flickr
Alcorn to Host Virtual Budget Town Hall Today — Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn is hosting a town hall today form 7-9 p.m. on the updated budget. Christina Jackson, the county’s budget director, will join Alcorn during the meeting via Crowdcast. [Crowdcast]
Fairfax Connector Scales Back Service — The county’s transportation department is reducing service on several routes due to reduced ridership. Changes will go into effect on Saturday, April 11. [Fairfax County Government]
Hold on to Your Yard Waste — The county is strongly discouraging from taking their yard waste to the I-66 Transfer Station or I-95 Landfill in order to allow employees to focus on collecting trash and encouraging social distancing. [Fairfax County Government]
Photo by Marjorie Copson
Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn is encouraging residents to give back to their communities as growing concerns about the coronavirus prompt event cancellations and working remotely.
Alcorn, who represents Vienna and Reston on the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, took to social media last week to let local organizations and nonprofits know that his office wants to connect them to volunteers and needed assistance.
“Whenever we have the opportunity to step up and help, we should,” Alcorn said. “There’s a lot of concern in the community.”
If you are a community organization/nonprofit who needs volunteer assistance to help neighbors impacted by coronavirus in #HunterMill, we can help get the word out. Send an email to [email protected] with details. pic.twitter.com/cQN9nkZCOV
— Supervisor Walter Alcorn (@WalterAlcornFFX) March 13, 2020
As of Sunday, March 15, the Virginia Department of Health says there are 10 presumptive cases of COVID-19 in Fairfax County — a number that officials say is expected to grow.
Alcorn said that local organizations are expecting higher demands for food and assistance, especially from people who work in the service industries who have limited or no sick leave and for seniors, who are at a higher risk of getting more severely ill from the virus.
“The anxiety level, particularly for seniors, is very high,” he said, noting that there is a “sizable” elderly community in the Hunter Mill District. “I think we can do a lot as we get through this public health challenge by reaching out to our more vulnerable communities and our neighbors and let them know that we care.”
By Friday (March 13), Alcorn’s office had created a “How to Help Your Neighbors” list on the Hunter Mill District page on the Fairfax County website.
“Locally, specifically in Hunter Mill, we’re focusing on giving folks something to do,” he said, adding that his office is helping to connect people who want to help with organizations that need extra volunteers.
Expecting a higher demand for underresourced families, Cornerstones, a local nonprofit organization that aims to promote self-sufficiency, is looking for donations to help with meal delivery and its food pantry.
Embry Rucker Community Shelter, which is run by Cornerstones, is seeking donations of tissues, hand sanitizer and cleaning products, Alcorn said.
Several organizations, like Second Story in the Vienna area, are asking for gift cards instead of volunteers.
Other opportunities on Alcorn’s list in the Reston area include “non-contact” drivers needed for Meals on Wheels deliveries in the Lawyer’s Road area and donations to Reston-based Shelter House.
People interested in the local organizations’ opportunities focused on the coronavirus can also check out Alcorn’s email newsletter and social media accounts.
“You can contact any of the organizations or call [my] office,” he said. “We’re going to continue expanding the list of needs.”
Alcorn emphasized “one overall need that also we want to make sure gets out there” — blood donations.
“A lot of folks donate blood to Inova,” he said. “We don’t want to get into a situation where [there’s] a low blood supply.”
Additionally, Alcorn is urging people to take “normal precautions,” like practicing good hygiene and frequent hand washing.
“My hope and expectation are that our community will rise to the occasion,” he said.
Former Vice President Joe Biden easily notched the Virginia Presidential Primary yesterday (Tuesday), winning 53 percent of the vote.
Sen. Bernie Sanders had just under a quarter of the vote, while Elizabeth Warren had 10.8 percent and Michael Bloomberg took 9.7 percent.
In the Hunter Mill District, Biden won by 48.4 percent. Sanders won second place with 18.9 percent and Sen. Elizabeth Warren took 12.1 percent. The Hunter Mill District’s voting pattern aligns with the county overall.
Here’s how the candidates fared in the Hunter Mill District:
- Joe Biden: 16,964 (48.4 percent)
- Bernie Sanders: 6,626 (18.9 percent)
- Elizabeth Warren: 4,241 (12.1 percent)
- Tulsi Gabbard: 247 votes
- Amy Klobuchar: 75 votes
- Pete Buttigieg: 74 votes
- Cory Booker: 28 votes
- Michael Bennet: 18 votes
- Marianne Williamson: 15 votes
- Julian Castro: 8 votes
- Deval Patrick: 6 votes
All but three of the state’s 133 counties were led by Biden, including Fairfax County where Biden won with more than 50,000 votes than Sanders.
The Hunter Mill District boasted the highest turnout in Fairfax County. More than 39 percent of voters cast a ballot, a few percentage points above the county-wide average of 34 percent. The Sully District had the lowest voter turnout (30 percent) in the county.
In the 2016 primary, voter turnout was 22.2 percent. Virginia was one of 14 states taking part in Super Tuesday.
Photo via Joe Biden/Facebook