Reston, VA

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:

  • 9-1-1
  • 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

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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

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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 

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Friday Morning Notes

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

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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]

New Grocery Store Changes — Harris Teeter and Giant will limit the number of shoppers in their stores. Giant is also implementing one-way aisles. [Washington Business JournalWTOP]

Photo by Marjorie Copson

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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.”

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.

The Herndon Neighborhood Resource Center and Connections for Hope Partnership in Herndon are also looking for cleaning products, he 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.

https://twitter.com/WalterAlcornFFX/status/1239186588019691521?s=20

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.

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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

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Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn will kick off his first town hall next week in Reston.

Alcorn, who pledged to host several community engagement meetings in this term, plans to discuss his priorities for the district at the Feb. 3 meeting. It is set to take place from 7-9 p.m. at Reston Community Center Lake Anne’s Jo Ann Rose Galley (1609-A Washington Plaza-N).

His presentation will be followed by a question-and-answer session with attendees. Residents are encouraged to RSVP by emailing [email protected] with the subject “Feb. 3 town hall.”

The next town hall is planned for Feb. 24. A time and location has not been announced yet.

In his first board matter earlier this month, Alcorn moved to kickstart a 12-to-18 month period to review Reston’s Comprehensive Plan.

Staff photo by Ashley Hopko

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The Hunter Mill District’s Winter Coat Closet is open for another season through Jan. 16.

The closet, which is a partnership between the Hunter Mill District Supervisors Office and Cornerstones, offers winter coats for those in need since the program started in 2001.

Donations of new or gently-used winter coats, as well as hats, gloves, mittens and scarves are accepted. Items are needed for all ages.

The closet accepts donations at the Coat Closet, which is located at 1801 Cameron Glen Drive on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5-7 p.m. and on Saturdays from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Individuals in need can get a coat from the closet at the North County Governmental Center through March 14.

For questions, email Cornerstones at [email protected] or call 571-323-1410.

Photo via Unsplash

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The NOVA Relief Center is hosting a blanket and coat drive for Syrian refugees. The Hunter Mill District Office is once again collecting blankets and coats for the drive beginning Nov. 23 through Dec. 9.

All items will be shipped free of charge to three refugee camps in Jordan this winter.

Locally, donations can be dropped off at the Hunter Mill District Office (1801 Cameron Glen Drive), as well as at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints(1515 Poplar Grove Drive in Reston and 2727 Centreville Road in Herndon).

Other drop-off locations are also available online.

The center accepted clean items that are new or in gently-used condition. Sweaters and sweatshirts are also welcome. Gloves, hats and scarves must be in new condition only.

More information about the drive is available online.

Photo via NOVA Relief Center

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Fairfax County voters are headed to the polls today.

In the Hunter Mill and Drainsville districts, there are several seats up for election including the Commonwealth’s Attorney, Fairfax County School Board positions and Board of Supervisors seats.

Polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. and voters can swing by anytime throughout the day.

There are several options for anyone wishing to monitor turnout and results. Fairfax County’s Twitter account will be posting updates at 9 a.m., noon and 3 p.m.

There are around 20 various polling locations, which will be open throughout the area. Voters can find their designated polling location using the My Neighborhood Map or through the Virginia Department of Elections website.

Below is a map of all the voting locations throughout Reston and Herndon.

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Editor’s Note: Two candidates are running for the seat of Pat Hynes, who currently holds the Hunter Mill District seat on the Fairfax County School Board. Earlier this year, Hynes said she would not seek reelection after serving on the 12-member board for the last seven years. This week, Reston Now will publish statements by the candidates.

Statements are published in the order in which they are received. With the exception of minor formatting edits, profiles are published in unedited form.

Melanie Meren, MPP, is a parent, small business owner, and school board appointee who has lived in Fairfax County for over 15 years. Originally from New York, where she attended public school her entire life, Melanie moved to Virginia after accepting a Presidential Management Fellowship in 2004 at the U.S. Department of Education.

While at the Dept. of Ed, Melanie oversaw a multi-million-dollar budget for services for students at underperforming schools. Her responsibility encompassed both evaluation and problem-solving situations, with oversight of federal grant recipients. She recovered over $1 million in funds when program services were not provided to the target population of students most-in-need of support.

Advocacy and community are central in her life. Joined by her husband, Drew Meren, the two are active in local government. Melanie’s current community service commitments are:

  • Appointed member of Fairfax County School Board’s Human Resources Advisory Committee
  • Elementary school PTA Green Team Chair and representative to the Fairfax County Council of PTAs
  • Girl Scout troop co-leader
  • Member of the Virginia Association for Environmental Education
  • Until 2019, she was a Leadership Team member for eight years of NoVA Outside, the alliance for outdoor educators in Northern Virginia

Melanie views academic success as a community effort: there must be a connection among those impacted by student achievement: parents, teachers, community members, and of course, students. Motivating students to succeed is essential, and the environments around them must be built and supported by dedicated public servants who steward resources along a responsible path.

Melanie is focused on three core areas in her candidacy. First, she wants to cultivate holistic student environments – classrooms, playgrounds, activities, school gardens, and outdoor spaces are all part of the learning ecosystem. For example, Melanie champions scientific learning in outdoor classrooms. Students who interact in these spaces achieve learning goals essential to a 21st century economy, benefit from being in a healthy space, and discover lessons that anchor their sense of community. No matter where in Hunter Mill students live, their greatest challenge should be in understanding what array of choices lay before them, not if they’ll have those opportunities.

Second, Melanie is concerned with facilities and the future of FCPS infrastructure. No student should experience public schooling inside a trailer, and existing buildings need to be reviewed, refitted, or replaced. Joyful learning and a positive classroom experience is critical, and it is incumbent upon those responsible to identify every way to accomplish that. Facilities and trailers are a clear place to start.

Third, Melanie is focusing on equity and opportunity. That means honoring teacher and staff professionalism with opportunities for competitive pay and benefits, realistic expectations on their time, and access to vital instructional resources. For students, the promise of a Fairfax County Public Schools education must align with their strengths and cultivate their path into adulthood. Melanie believes that parents and families are what bring the whole learning experience together. Melanie has advocated with and for fellow parents since her first year as an FCPS parent. She will bring her steadfast commitment to listening to and working with parents to her role on the school board.

Melanie welcomes your questions and input about her candidacy – and for your vote on November 5th. Learn more at melaniemeren.com.

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Frying Pan Farm Park will come to life with music from around the world this summer.

The series, “Hunter Mill Melodies,” kicks off tomorrow (Thursday) and runs through Aug. 22. It aims to celebrate the county’s commitment to diversity and community spirit.

Attendees are encouraged to bring a picnic, blanket and chairs. So far, the schedule, which is subject to change, is below:

  • June 27: Scythian (Irish Rock)
  • July 11: The Reunion Jazz Orchestra (Big Band)
  • July 18: Whiskey Wildfire (New Country)
  • July 25: Bumper Jacksons (Americana, Country, Bluegrass)
  • August 1: Incendio (Latin)
  • August 8: Chopteeth (Afrofunk)
  • August 15: Veronneau (World Jazz)
  • August 22: The United States Navy ‘Cruisers’ (Pop Rock)

For last minute performance cancellations due to inclement weather, call 703-324-7469 one hour prior to the program start time.

Photo via Fairfax County Park Authority‎/Facebook

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Melanie Meren won the endorsement of the Hunter Mill District Democratic Committee for school board with 80 percent of the vote on Wednesday.

The self-described Fairfax County parent leader, whose platform centers around “strong education,” is one of three candidates that were seeking the Hunter Mill District seat on the Fairfax County School Board.

“We are excited to support Melanie’s campaign for School Board and thank outgoing School Board member Pat Hynes for her many years of service to Hunter Mill, to our students and teachers,” wrote Gordon Simonett and Denver Supinger, co-chairs of the HMDDC.

Andy Sigle, former president of Reston Association’s Board of Directors, and Laura Ramirez Drain, whose campaign focuses on Family Life Education and the budget, were also running for the board seat. The seat was vacated by longtime Hunter Mill District Representative Pat Hynes in January. Meren’s endorsement bumps other candidates out of the race.

Paul Berry, Meren’s campaign manager, wrote the following about the endorsement:

Meren and her husband Drew are 14 year residents of Hunter Mill District, where their two children attend public school. After graduating with a Master’s degree in Public Policy she worked in early childhood education at the US Department of Education’s Title 1 office managing a $15 million grant program for the nation’s most underfunded schools. After leaving the Dept. of Ed she founded her own education policy firm that advocates in particular for environmental education in public schools. Her professional and personal lives overlapped in 2016 when budget cuts threatened a multi-million dollar reduction in school funding. She responded by successfully advocating for and recovering $60 million through community activism and organizing parents in Hunter Mill. 

Meren won with an overwhelming 109 votes, while Sigle had 27 votes.

An official endorsement by the Fairfax County Democratic Committee is expected on May 21. Meren’s name will be on the November ballot without party identification.

Photo via Melanie Meren website

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Residents in Reston and Herndon will soon get the chance to attend a free forum featuring the candidates running for Cathy Hudgins’ Hunter Mill District Supervisor seat.

The Reston Citizens Association plans to hold the forum on Tuesday, April 23, at the Jo Ann Rose Gallery (1609-A Washington Plaza N.) from 7-9 p.m.

The association is hosting the forum to allow Restonians to learn more first-hand from their potential supervisor’s positions and plans first-hand, according to a press release.

“RCA is very excited to resume our long tradition of connecting the citizens of Reston and the Hunter Mill district with their local leaders and with the information they need to make informed decisions,” Dennis Hays, the president of the Reston Citizens Association, said in the press release. “We expect this to be the first of many such forums.”

Hudgins announced her decision in January to retire after her current term ends.

Four Democrats have entered the race for her seat on the county’s Board of Supervisors, including:

Fairfax Democrats will hold their candidate forum on Monday, April 29, from 7-9 p.m. at the Reston Community Center (2310 Colts Neck Road).

Photo via Fairfax County Republican Committee 

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