Morning Notes

Metro Looks for Bus Drivers — Metro is offering up to $2,500 in bonuses as it begins a campaign to hire more bus drivers. The agency is looking to hire nearly 70 bus drivers. [Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority]

South Lakes Graduate Prepares for Winter Olympics — Maame Biney, a graduate of South Lakes High School and speed skater, is preparing for her second Olympics this month. She completed in 2018’s Winter Olympics in South Korea after winning the U.S. women’s championship in the 500-meter race. [Fairfax County Public Schools]

A Look at Local Jobs — The Fairfax County Economic Development Authority has worked with 146 businesses and added nearly 9,000 jobs to the local economy. At the top of the list is Peraton in Herndon, which added 1,200 jobs. [Fairfax County EDA]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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Morning Notes

(Updated at 7:51 pm)

Library Testing Kits Put On Hold — County libraries will no longer provide COVID-19 rapid tests for distribution. The program, which is managed by the Virginia Department of Health, is on hold due to supply chain issues. The program will restart when the issues are resolved. [Fairfax County Government]

Deadline for Reston Association Fee Approaches — The association’s annual fee is due on March 1. Payments can be made online, over the phone or by mail. [RA]

Reston-based Company Prepares for Growth Spurt — Science Logic, a software company, is embarking on another hiring spree. It plans to boost its workforce by 40 percent this year, a spree that could lead to a Wall Street debut. [Washington Business Journal]

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Morning Notes

Sunset at a snowy Lake Thoreau (photo by Marjorie Copson)

Reston Teen Aims for Beijing Winter Olympics — Ilia Malinin, a Reston-based teen, is aiming to compete at the Winter Olympics this year. He is described as one of the best junior skaters in the world. [Washington City Paper]

7-Eleven on Parcher Avenue Robbed — A man robbed the 7-11 on Parcher Avenue on Dec. 11 shortly before 7 p.m. Police believe the robbery happened at gunpoint. No injuries were reported. [Fairfax County Police Department]

Feedback Sought on Search for New CEO — Reston Association recently hired Baker Tilly to conduct a nationwide search for a new CEO, a position that has been vacant for many months. The association also launched a survey to gauge feedback from members on what qualities they want on RA’s new leader. [RA]

A Reminder to Social Distance — County officials are reminding residents to adhere to social distancing as much as possible as the winter surge of COVID-19 cases continues. [Fairfax County Government]

Schools Seek Bus Drivers –– The Fairfax County Public Schools system is seeing bus drivers. A job fair is planned for Friday, Jan. 14 from 10 a..m. to 3 p.m. at the Lorton Transportation Center. [Fairfax Schools]

Photo by Marjorie Copson

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Morning Notes

Sunrise over Audubon (courtesy anonymous)

See Snow Photos from Around Reston — “That’s the other thing about winter storms. They make everything look so beautiful. Here are some of the photos readers from the Reston area submitted to Patch.” [Patch]

Metro Announces Changes in Response to Omicron — Rising COVID-19 infections among Metro employees have fueled a staffing shortage, prompting the transit system to reduce weekday bus service to its typical Saturday schedule starting on Jan. 10. WMATA will also let bus drivers bypass potential riders who aren’t wearing a mask. [DCist]

Break-in Reported in Herndon — Sometime overnight from Dec. 30-31, an “unknown number of subjects” broke glass doors and windows of a building in the 800 block of Ferndale Avenue, which could be either the Herndon Community Center or St. Joseph Catholic Church and School. Nothing appears to have been taken, but the case remains under police investigation. [Herndon Police]

Summer Camp Registration Begins Next Week — “Registration for summer camps begins Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2022. The Fairfax County Park Authority offers more than 1,000 summer day camp options for kids ages 3 to 17 at dozens of locations at Rec Centers, nature centers, historic sites, lakefront parks, golf courses and schools.” [FCPA]

Water Mine Hiring Season on the Way — “Water Mine Family Swimmin’ Hole has a splashtastic summer job opportunity! From lifeguards and park attendants, more than 200 positions need to be filled. Virtual interviews start Jan. 15; open hires start in March.” [FCPA/Twitter]

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Morning Notes

Proposal to Beautify Plaza Awaits Approval — A group of Lake Anne owners has promised to pay $45,000 to cover a $250,000 beautification project. [Reston Patch]

Holiday Message from Reston Association — Acting CEO Larry Butler says that the new year will bring improvements to several recreational facilities and new capital projects. Butler also encourages members to vote in the upcoming board election in March. [RA]

Police Recruitment Fair This Week — The Fairfax County Police Department will have recruiters on sight at the Merrifield Sports Fitness Center from 5-8 p.m. tomorrow. [FCPD]

Photo by Marjorie Copson

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The Herndon Police Department faces a storyline similar to that experienced by law enforcement agencies statewide and throughout the country. Police officers are leaving and staff shortages are reaching historic highs.

This year, the police department is short 10 officers of its force of 55 sworn officers, a staffing shortage that is “significantly higher than in years past,” according to police chief Maggie DeBoard. The issue has escalated over the last two years as more officers leave for non-law enforcement-related career changes or early retirement. 

This has been due largely to the negative portrayal of our profession by the media, efforts at defunding the police, legislative efforts that have made our job more difficult and more dangerous, and the targeting of law enforcement officers,” she said.

DeBoard says that shortages have significantly hampered the police department’s ability to conductive proactive policing and take part in prevention programs.

The Fairfax County Police Department and other law enforcement agencies face similar staffing shortages. Agencies are also competing with each other to attract and retain candidates.

While the police department did not release specific compensation information, an HPD spokesperson said that Herndon’s benefits, pay and employee perks are on par with neighboring agencies.

The police department is currently conducting a pay parity study in order to ensure its compensation package is competitive and properly compensates officers when they are promoted or given additional responsibilities.

While we typically don’t lose officers to neighboring agencies, we thrive on hiring sworn officers from other agencies who are looking for a change and are attracted to what the Herndon Police Department has to offer,”  she said.

HPD has adjusted its shift configuration in order to account for limited sworn officers.

“We continue to ensure we are fully responsive, however, to emergency calls for service at all time.’ The spokesperson declined to specify how shifts are changed for safety and tactical reasons.

“Our goal is to continue to make the Herndon Police Department a desirable place to work so that we remain highly attractive to new hires due to our positive culture and caring and supportive community,” she added.

Just yesterday, the police department put out a call for applicants. The social media post touted the police department’s take-home car program, in-house dry cleaning, and the availability of a town prosecutor for traffic and misdemeanor crimes.

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Morning Notes

Attempted Robbery, Abduction in Reston — On Sept. 28, an attempted robbery was reported on the 22000 block of Colts Neck Road. Police believe a man grabbed the victim and demanded property. In a separate incident, police believe a man demanded property and car keys from an individual around 11:46 a.m. on the 11800 block of Breton Court. The man drove away in the victim’s car. The victim was treated for non-life-threatening injuries. [FCPD]

A Look at the District 36 Race — Democrat Ken Plum is the incumbent candidate in 36th district for the Virginia House of Delegates. He faces Republican challengers Matthew Lang. [Reston Patch]

Metro to Add More Trains Today — Metro plans to have 39 trains in shrive today. Seven trains were added after major service cuts last month. Metro removed all of its 7000-series railcars from service as part of its investigation into the derailment of a Bue Line train on Oct. 12. [Popville]

Schools Seek Substitutes — The Fairfax County Public School system is seeking substitute teachers. Once a candidate’s application, orientation and background check is approved, hiring can begin within one week. [FCPS]

Increased Police Presence Still In Effect — Northern Virginia police departments continue to increase their presence at shopping malls and high-volume roads and transit areas in response to a purported threat from ISIS. The move was made out an abundance of caution, according to Fairfax County Police Department’s police chief Kevin Davis. [WTOP]

Photo by Marjorie Copson

 

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Dessert and smoothie shops in Reston Town Center are in need of workers, with one still keeping hours scaled back due to staffing needs.

One store remains operating at a reduced-hours schedule: Pitango, which makes gelato and sorbets, is open from 4 to 10 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.

“We would like to be open daily, from early morning for coffee customers to late evening for gelato,” owner Noah Dan said in an email. “We are actively seeking new employees but it has been very slow-going.”

The family-owned business looks to begin to open daily as soon as possible, it says on its website. A hiring sign and notices to customers are posted on its entrance.

The notices state that it will return to daily operations as soon as it hires and trains new employees, and they thank customers for supporting the business.

Other shops reported similar issues. Ice-cream customers may have noticed Ben and Jerry’s temporarily reduce its schedule, but a manager said a shift lead will bring its hours back to normal. It currently has around six employees, though, which was less than the dozen workers or so it had last year.

At Playa Bowls, store manager Isabella Heffel noted the location’s front door has a sign encouraging people to apply and specifically asks for those with daytime availability.

She said the store has connected with colleges but has found the hiring to be tough. The store has around 30 workers, though, allowing it to maintain a full schedule, Heffel said.

The unemployment rate for 16 and 17-year-olds, seasonally adjusted, had been improving since January, reaching as low as 8.9% as of May 1 before rising to 9.6%, 9.7% and 11.6% in coming months. It eventually landed on 11.4% as of Sept. 1, according to data from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.

Like the rest of the country and world, teen workers weren’t immune to reductions in the workforce during the pandemic, being especially hit last year starting in March as restaurants and retail stores closed due to state shutdowns.

But it’s still one of the best times in decades to be a teenage worker. Prior to this year, unemployment for the age group hasn’t been this low since 1957.

The restaurant industry has faced a labor shortage that has put pressure on an already strained segment of the economy — not just teenage workers.

A Goldman Sachs survey from last month found that 87% of small businesses are finding it difficult to recruit qualified candidates for open positions, and most say their workforce challenges have worsened since before the pandemic.

The survey, involving 1,145 participants from across the U.S., found Black-owned small businesses have also been slower to recover to pre-pandemic employment levels.

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Similarweb attends the Web Summit 2016 in Lisbon, Portugal (via Web Summit/Flickr)

The online metrics firm Similarweb is expanding into Reston.

The company, which has its global headquarters in Tel Aviv, Israel, announced yesterday (Monday) that it is opening an office at the coworking site Spaces that launched in Reston Station (1900 Reston Metro Plaza) in December 2018.

Similarweb is adding around 10 employees and expects to keep hiring more here.

“Our office in Reston, VA is now open,” the company said on Twitter. “A big welcome to our amazing team members who will collaborate there.”

Despite the announcement, the office is scheduled to open Sept. 1, the company said in a statement to Reston Now.

Similarweb provides marketing and research data to businesses looking to measure the effectiveness of their websites and other digital platforms.

With economic development leaders seeking to make sure companies have the talent they need in the area, Similarweb’s hiring between local candidates and those outside the area will serve as yet another example for whether an employee pipeline is meeting needs.

The Reston office is the company’s fourth in the U.S. and its first opening since going public earlier this year. Donna Dror, Similarweb’s general manager for North America, says the technology industry’s growing presence in Reston made it an attractive location for expansion.

“We see the Dulles Tech Corridor as a great opportunity to bring in new talent, especially for our Marketing and Sales teams,” Dror said in the statement. “We’re excited to join the many great companies already based in Reston and surrounding areas.”

Dror told Technical.ly that the company has 200 open positions that are remote, and half of those will be based in the U.S. She said the company is still reviewing its return-to-work strategy and would like to see at least 25 roles filled locally, but the openings aren’t tied to the Reston area specifically.

“We are actively hiring and planning to add a number of new employees before the end of the year and beyond,” she told Reston Now. “In the U.S. alone, we have nearly 100 open roles today, and we hope that many of those can be based in Reston.”

The new office will be home for the company’s chief marketing officer, Kevin Spurway, along with other employees in the sales and marketing departments.

Similarweb launched its initial public offering in May and began trading on the New York Stock Exchange. Its clients have included DHL, Lego, and Lending Tree.

Photo via Web Summit/Flickr

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A person holds a phone with the Instagram app opened (via Solen Feyissa/Unsplash)

The Fairfax County Economic Development Authority gave nearly $29,000 to 10 social media influencers over the past year to highlight its jobs portal and virtual career fairs.

The campaign primarily involved Instagram users posting about events with hashtags and links to drive traffic. Economic development officials said the effort was intended to develop its brand as well as the region’s job market and engage target audiences, specifically with millennials in mind.

“We felt like we needed to do some experimentation,” FCEDA President and CEO Victor Hoskins said.

The campaign drew 536 clicks to the authority’s Work in Northern Virginia jobs board and generated 276 views in online registration page traffic for technology and entry-level career fairs.

While Instagram advertising can average around $1.25 per click, the FCEDA said influencer marketing helps reach a highly targeted audience through sources that users trust. The campaign required the influencers to note that their social media posts were sponsored content.

The social media influencer contracts cost a total of $28,800 with individual agreements ranging from $800 to $7,000 and mainly required users to make Instagram posts and stories, according to agreements obtained by Reston Now. One agreement included an Instagram video, and some included blog post requirements.

The authority says third-party consultant New York City-based Development Counsellors International and each influencer negotiated rates.

“[What we’re] really ultimately trying to do is build awareness of northern Virginia as this location that has thousands and thousands of jobs, and it’s a great place to live,” said Alan Fogg, the authority’s vice president of communications.

Economic development officials say the campaign delivered $205,000 in earned media value, reached more than 332,000 Instagram users, and generated nearly 25,000 likes, comments, and shares.

The FCEDA is not unique in using social media personalities to reach potential audiences. Other governmental bodies have turned to social media influencers for tourism marketing as well as running COVID-19 messaging.

Fairfax County funds the economic development authority with around $9 million each year currently, and social media advertising is just one way economic development leaders are trying to market the region to help improve the jobs pipeline.

“The message we deliver to all the recruiters and chief human resources officers from all the companies here in Fairfax County is: You sell your organization, your company, and why [to] come work there, and we’re going to help complement you with selling the region,” Mike Batt, the director of the authority’s talent initiative program, said.

The FCEDA used Development Counsellors International to identify and vet the influencers, set goals for the number of posts, and ensure posting requirements were met, Fogg said in a statement. FCEDA staff selected the influencers presented to them.

Batt said Development Counsellors International received a competitively awarded contract from the EDA. The consultant also developed the jobs hub, which the authority recently lauded.

The Fairfax County Economic Development Authority spearheaded the jobs posting site, but it’s connected to nine other economic development groups and localities in Northern Virginia.

“Economic development is not the business it was five years ago,” Hoskins said. “It really takes a lot of innovation.”

Photo via Solen Feyissa/Unsplash

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Morning Notes

Boating on Lake Anne (via vantagehill/Flickr)

Fairfax County Sees Uptick in Unemployment — “Unemployment rates across Fairfax County and Northern Virginia ticked back up above 4 percent in June…which likely is a return to more seasonal ups and downs than a retreat from gains made in the post-COVID era. With 595,420 county residents in the civilian workforce and 25,225 on the hunt for jobs, Fairfax County’s unemployment rate for June stood at 4.1 percent, according to figures reported July 28 by the Virginia Employment Commission.” [Sun Gazette]

Reports of Sick Birds in Virginia Declining — “After Virginia and other states began receiving reports of a mysterious illness sickening or killing birds in late May, reports are starting to go down. However, the cause of the birds’ illness and deaths remains unknown…From May 23 to June 30, the most reports have occurred in Fairfax and Arlington Counties, according to a map of reports.” [Patch]

Thousands of Job Seekers Used County Website — “Just over one year after the official launch of its workinnorthernvirginia.com website and accompanying talent initiative funded by the Fairfax County government, the site created by the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority (FCEDA) has logged more than 483,000 visitors and 72,000 job views. The website connects a new and diverse talent pool — in Northern Virginia and in key target markets such as the Bay Area and New York City — with companies in the region.” [FCEDA]

Dog Paddle Events Coming to Reston Pools — Reston Association’s annual Dog Paddle will return in August, giving pups a chance to play in its swimming pools. There will be three events in August and one in September. Registration is now open with a $12 fee for RA members and a $20 fee for non-members. [RA/Twitter]

via vantagehill/Flickr

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Morning Notes

Gun Discharged in Torrey Pines Court — Employees of a building in the 1700 block of Torrey Pines Court discovered bullet holes around 1:18 a.m. on June 17. Fairfax County police officers who arrived at the scene found cartridge cases nearby, but no injuries were reported. [FCPD]

Judge Considers Dismissing Charges in Taser Case — A circuit court judge is considering dismissing charges of brutality against a Fairfax County police officer who faces three misdemeanor counts for punching and using a Taser on a Black man in the Mount Vernon area in June 2020. The judge criticized the Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney on Friday (June 25) for making statements that seemed misleading and failing to disclose evidence to the defense. [The Washington Post]

Tephra Institute Hiring — The Tephra Institute of Contemporary Art, formerly the Greater Reston Arts Center, is hiring an education and public programs manager who will be responsible for planning and implementing programs, including family activities for the Northern Virginia Fine Arts Festival. The institute is also seeking interns to assist with its Summer Art Camp. [Tephra ICA]

In-Person Dating Returns to D.C. Area — “With 70% of people in D.C., Maryland, and Virginia at least partially vaccinated and all remaining pandemic restrictions now lifted, in-person dating is picking back up in the D.C. region. But the dating landscape has changed dramatically since March 2020 — as have people’s expectations of what dating should look like.” [DCist]

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StarKist Co. is relocating its headquarters from Pittsburgh to Fairfax County.

The food manufacturer known for its tuna is investing $3.6 million to relocate its corporate and administrative headquarters, occupying approximately 24,000 square feet at 1875 Explorer St. in Reston, according to a news release from Gov. Ralph Northam’s office.

“StarKist is proud to make Reston, Virginia our official global headquarters starting in April 2022,” Andrew Choe, president and CEO of StarKist, said in the release.

The 10-story property was developed by Boston Properties in 2008. It’s located in Reston Town Center and totals 253,643 square feet of space.

Northam noted Virginia is now home to 800 corporate headquarters, and Fairfax County “consistently attracts top talent and is well connected to key customer markets and major metro areas.”

Known for its brand mascot Charlie the Tuna, StarKist began as the French Sardine Co. in 1917 by Martin Bogdanovich, who immigrated from Croatia to California, and four associates. The company says it started selling products with the StarKist name in 1942.

The company announced in May it would relocate to Virginia in 2022 but did not indicate at the time where the new site would be. Its Pittsburgh headquarters will close March 31 next year.

A company spokeswoman declined to answer questions about how many employees will be at the new headquarters and the company’s hiring plans, but Northam’s office says SunKist’s arrival in Reston will create 83 jobs.

One job listing posted nine days ago confirmed the Reston location, but another posting from over a month ago listed Washington, D.C. but said the position was in Pittsburgh.

“I am so pleased to thank StarKist for choosing Fairfax County for its new headquarters,” Fairfax County Economic Development Authority President and CEO Victor Hoskins said. “This is a testament to the growing attractiveness of Northern Virginia to a wide variety of industry sectors and companies that know we have the assets and talent base to succeed here.”

StarKist comes as Volkswagen Group of America is also moving its headquarters nearby to Reston Gateway, and Metro’s Silver Line anticipates opening next year.

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Morning Notes

Fairfax County School Board Adopts Budget — The Fairfax County Public Schools fiscal year 2022 budget includes funding for 50 new positions for English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) students, school-based technology specialists, and 18 new social worker and psychologist positions to meet state requirements. It also covers technology support fees previously charged to families and a 2% market rate adjustment for all employees. [FCPS]

Bike To Work Day Is Here — The D.C. area’s annual initiative to encourage people to ride a bicycle to work marks its 20th anniversary today. There will be a pit stop at Reston Station Plaza from 6:30-9:30 a.m. and one at the Herndon Town Hall Green that will be open in the morning (5:30-10 a.m.) and the afternoon (4:30-6 p.m.). [Bike to Work Day]

Northern Virginia Vets Will Get Free Rides to Vaccine Appointments — Starting in mid-June, veterans in Northern Virginia can get free transportation to and from COVID-19 vaccine appointments, thanks to a partnership between the Dulles Area Transportation Association and Northern Virginia Veterans Association. The effort to organize rides through a taxi service was made possible by $80,000 in funding from the Federal Transit Administration. [WDVM]

Reston Association to Hold Big Yard Sale on June 19 — “Join Reston Association at the Reston Community Yard Sale. Eighty families will be selling a variety of items, so this event is a great opportunity to find things for a new home or a college dorm. Sign up to have a booth or stop by to browse for great bargains.” [RA/Twitter]

Baby Panda to Make Public Debut Today — The Smithsonian will reopen the National Zoo to the public today after a six-month closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and visitors will get their first chance to see giant panda cub Xiao Qi Ji in person. The cub, whose name translates to “little miracle,” was born on Aug. 21, 2020 and now weighs 45 pounds. [The Washington Post]

Park Authority Hiring for Summer Camp — “Rec-PAC, affiliated with the Fairfax County Park Authority, is hiring to fill over 200 positions for its six-week summer camp. Rec-PAC is hosting two open hires for job seekers interested in working as a camp counselor or camp director…Join us for the virtual open hire on Monday, June 7, 2021 anytime between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m.” [FCPA]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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Morning Notes

No South Lakes HS Vaccine Clinic Next Week — Contrary to notices from Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay’s office and Dogwood Elementary School, there will not be a COVID-19 vaccine clinic for students at South Lakes High School next Wednesday (May 26). FCPS spokesperson Lucy Caldwell told Reston Now that the site was changed and will be at Langley High School in McLean, as previously reported. “We are adding sites as needed and as school space availability/staffing allow,” she said.

Amazon Hiring for Hundreds of Jobs in Herndon — “Amazon.com has more than 3,000 job openings in Northern Virginia. More than 2,100 of those openings are in Arlington, many attached to HQ2…Almost 800 are in the Herndon area, where [Amazon Web Services] has its East Coast headquarters.” [Fairfax County Economic Development Authority]

Reston Man Raises Money to Send Oxygen to India — A GoFundMe started by Reston resident Afzal Memon and five other organizers has raised over $36,000 to buy and ship more than 100 oxygen concentrators to India on behalf of The Saiyed Foundation, a nonprofit that provides health care and emergency aid to remote villages. India is in dire need of oxygen and other medical supplies as the country struggles with a COVID-19 surge that claimed a reported 4,329 lives just on May 17. [Patch]

Elden Street Business Burglarized — The Herndon Police Department is investigating a burglary that reportedly occurred in the 1100 block of Elden Street overnight between May 15 and 16. Police say “an unknown number of subjects gained entry” to the business through a rear door and took “cash and various equipment.” [Herndon PD]

Litter Clean-up Coming to Glade Drive — “Reston Association, @FairfaxCountyPD, Southgate Community Center, & Dogwood Elementary School, FCPS will be hosting a community cleanup May 26-29th along Glade Drive from Reston Parkway to Sunrise Valley. For more information or to get involved contact Ha Brock at [email protected]” [RA/Twitter]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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