Reston, VA

Carahsoft, a Reston-based IT company that was founded in 2004, is taking part in the state-based veteran employment program.

State Gov. Ralph Northam announced this week that the company will participate in the Virginia Values Veterans Certification Program, which aims to give veterans more employment opportunities through training and education.

The Reston-based company is the 1,000th to receive certification in the state program.

The program was created in 2012 and is describes the first state-based program dedicated to improving employment opportunities for veterans by training employers on national best practices for recruitment, hiring, and retention.

Northam plans to visit Carahsoft next week to present the certification.

Photo via Unsplash

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A cybersecurity company that was founded in Virginia has announced plans to expand in the Town of Herndon, according to a release by Gov. Ralph Northam.

Expel, Inc. will expand its headquarters at 12950 Worldgate Drive, creating 164 new jobs in engineering, customer experience, IT, marketing and sales team over the next three years.

“There’s a fantastic pool of tech talent location in Northern Virginia, and we have close proximity to strong education institutions and major tech companies,” said Dave Merkel, Expel’s CEO.

The company, which is investing $1.4 million in the expansion, offers managed security on-premises and in the cloud, including 24/7 monitoring through security operations using security tools that customers already have.

The expansion was made possible through the Virginia Economic Development Partnership, which provides consultancy and funding services to help companies create new jobs.

Here’s more from Northam’s office:

“Virginia has emerged as a national leader in cybersecurity and continues to be at the forefront of workforce development in this rapidly-evolving industry, thanks to companies like Expel, Inc.,” said Governor Northam. “We are thrilled to support this homegrown Northern Virginia business as they grow and expand and look forward to their ongoing success in Herndon.”

“Herndon and the 86th District continues to attract tech companies and workers of all backgrounds because we work hard to create economic growth while maintaining an accessible community and excellent quality of life,” said Delegate Ibraheem Samirah. “I’m excited to see the growing tech center in Herndon and hope that it solidifies Herndon’s position as the best place to live and work in the Commonwealth.”

“I am proud to see that the Town of Herndon continues to attract and retain the best and brightest companies like Expel, Inc.,” said Senator Jennifer Boysko. “Working to recruit a diverse and talented workforce continues to strengthen our robust economy. I welcome Expel Inc.’s expansion in the 33rd Senate District.”

Image via Google Maps

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Macedon Technologies, a privately-held software company, plans to invest $1.65 million to expand its corporate headquarters in Reston.

The expansion is expected to create 147 jobs, according to a Thursday press release by Gov. Ralph Northam.

The company, which is an Appian platform partner and provides programs for managing workflow and business, plans to lease 12,000 square feet at 11694 Plaza America Drive, next to its current offices at the shopping center.

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This is an opinion column by Del. Ken Plum (D), who represents Reston in Virginia’s House of Delegates. It does not reflect the opinion of Reston Now.

In the oddities of the Virginia government calendar, the one-term limited governor spends the first two years of the term implementing a biennial budget proposed by the previous governor and passed by the General Assembly in the first two months of his term.

It is only after serving nearly two years that the governor has the opportunity to propose a budget reflecting the priorities on which he was elected. The governor then has two years to implement his budget before proposing a budget that will be implemented by his successor.

The complexities of changing the calendar are more than is likely to be undertaken at this time. Some like the system for it slows down the process of change for certainly the “Virginia Way” has never been to bring about any change too swiftly!

A fix that would take care of part of the snail pace of doing business in the Commonwealth would be to allow the governor to run for a successive term. I support such a change for it would allow the voters to decide if an individual should be granted a second term.

One area in which there is a need for haste in taking action is related to the environment and the role the state will take in reducing carbon emissions and responding to climate change and all of its ramifications.

Gov. Ralph Northam ran on a platform promising more protection for the environment. He and his staff worked busily on his new budget that was announced yesterday before this column was written. In the weeks leading up to his announcement, the governor held press conferences around the state on various parts of the budget including one on his environmental proposals.

The budget and legislative proposals he announced on environmental protection are the strongest ever proposed by a Virginia governor. He said of his proposals that “these significant investments in environmental protection, environmental justice, clean energy, and clean water will combat climate change and ensure we maintain our high quality of life here in Virginia.”

To reduce carbon pollution the governor recommends removing budget language added by the Republican legislature two years ago prohibiting Virginia from participating in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). He instead proposes legislation making Virginia a part of the regional effort to reduce carbon emissions by requiring the purchase of credits that through the marketplace will make fossil fuels more expensive than solar and wind sources of energy. The proposal is already being attacked as a “carbon tax.”

The governor’s proposals include $400 million for the Chesapeake Bay clean up that will keep that effort on track. Significant new investments in state agencies with environmental responsibilities will provide the staffing and resources for doing a more effective job in enforcing environmental regulations, improving public engagement, and ensuring environmental justice.

An investment of up to $40 million to upgrade the Portsmouth Marine Terminal will support the offshore wind supply chain and the development of offshore wind energy generating capacity to achieve 2,500 megawatts by 2026. Additional funding will also be provided for land conservation. This additional focus on the environment is sorely needed in Virginia.

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Friday Morning Notes

Britepaths Seeks Volunteers — The Fairfax-based nonprofit organization is seeking volunteers to sponsor families in need throughout the county. Sponsors are matched with families and may opt to provide a December holiday meal and gifts for children under 18. [Britepaths]

First African American Appointed as State Fire Marshal — “Governor Ralph Northam today announced the selection of Virginia’s new State Fire Marshal, Garrett Dyer. Garrett Dyer will oversee the law and code enforcement branch of the Virginia Department of Fire Programs (VDFP), and lead more than 28 inspectors and administrative support staff. The Virginia State Fire Marshal’s role is to implement and enforce the fire code.[Office of the Governor]

Toy Drive in Reston Town Center Kicks Off This Month — RTC’s “Toys for Tots” drive will run from the last week of November through the first week of December. The program is held in partnership with the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve. Toys will be collected in building lobbies. [Reston Town Center]

Photo by Marjorie Copson

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One of the region’s worst bottlenecks is expected to get some relief after state Gov. Ralph Northam announced a plan to expand the American Legion Bridge.

Virginia and Maryland, which will take the lead on the project, which Northam said was a “once-in-a-generation achievement for the capital region.” The interstate compact has been named the “Capital Beltway Accord”

Once completed, existing lanes in each direction across the Potomac River will be replaced and two new Express Lanes will be added in each direction for roughly three miles between George Washington Memorial Parkway in Virginia to River Road in Maryland. Trails on both sides of the Potomac River are planned to improve bicycle and pedestrian access.

“This is once-in-a-generation project that will improve accessibility throughout the region,” said Virginia Secretary of Transportation Shannon Valentine. “This is a milestone in regional cooperation. We in Virginia look forward to working hand-in-hand with Maryland to deliver this transformative transportation solution.”

Officials expect the changes to reduce congestion in regular lanes by 25 percent, providing 40 percent more lane capacity over the old bridge.

While Maryland would rebuild the Legion Bridge, Virginia would pay nearly half of the cost.

No homes or businesses are expected to require relocation as a result of the project, according to a statement from the governor’s office.

Daily traffic on the American Legion Bridge has grown by 390 percent since the bridge opened in 1962.

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The security systems of Dogwood Elementary School are expected to get an upgrade after state Gov. Ralph Northam awarded five Fairfax County Public Schools a state grant.

The $236,102 grant pays for video monitoring systems, mass notification systems, visiter identification technology, two-way radios and other security upgrades.  It was established through the School Security Equipment Grants program, which was passed by the Virginia General Assembly in 2013 following the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Four other schools were selected for the grant: Crestwood Elementary, Parklawn Elementary, Riverside Elementary and Whitman Middle School. The grant is given to schools that are most in need of modern equipment, cannot afford the equipment, or have a relatively high number of offenses.

This year’s grant favored elementary schools at the recommendation of Northam’s Students Safety Workgroup.

A local match of 25 percent is required of most divisions to accept the grant.

Image via Google Maps

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State Gov. Ralph Northam has appointed Robert Goudie, board chair of the Greater Reston Arts Center to take part in the Virginia Commission for the Arts.

The commission is state agency tenant supports the arts by seeking funding from the Virginia General Assembly and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Goudie is also the executive director of the Reston Town Center Association, where he expanded the RTCA’s programming. He also helped found Public Art Reston and serves on its Board of Directors. He is also a member of ArtsFairfax’s advocacy committee.

GRACE wrote the following about Goudie:

In the six years that Mr. Goudie has served as GRACE Board Chair, GRACE has built out its exhibition and educational content and Northern Virginia Fine Arts Festival in service of a new vision to identify GRACE as an important cultural destination along Metro’s Silver Line and grow its voice in the DC metropolitan region’s cultural conversation; added to its board depth and diversity; grown its financial capacity; forged new partnerships with prestigious downtown institutions like the National Gallery of Art and others; built a strong strategic partnership with George Mason University and added collaborations with other educational institutions; added a satellite gallery at the Signature building in Reston Town Center; and was recognized as one of only four visual arts institutions in the entire Commonwealth to receive a VCA 50th anniversary award.

In a statement, Goudie described the appointment as an “institutional honor.”

“We have a very dedicated and talented Board of Directors, a superb staff led by our Executive Director and Curator, Lily Siegel, and fantastic supporters,” he said. 

Photo via GRACE

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Del. Ken Plum/File photoThis is an opinion column by Del. Ken Plum (D), who represents Reston in Virginia’s House of Delegates. It does not reflect the opinion of Reston Now.

Sixteen-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg sailed across the Atlantic on a zero-emissions sailboat to speak at the United Nations Climate Action Summit this week. Thunberg has a strong reputation as a climate activist having staged weekly sit-ins outside the Swedish Parliament resulting in a growing movement of youth climate activists holding their own protests in more than 100 cities worldwide. Having a young person speak about climate issues is appropriate considering the higher-level interest shown by young people over adults on climate-related concerns. After all, it is their future that is being discussed.

Results of a Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation poll released last week found that young people include climate change among the issues they think are most important facing the country. Eighty-six percent of youth think that human activity is causing climate change. Of considerable concern is the finding that 57 percent of the youth polled said that climate change makes them feel afraid. It is their future, and they feel afraid of the future we adults are leaving them. The good news is that 54 percent feel motivated to do something about it.

But young people fortunately are not alone in being fearful of climate change and motivated to do something about it. The 2019 Virginia Climate Crisis Forum held at the First Baptist Church in Vienna attracted nearly 300 activists to focus on climate justice. The forum was moderated by William Barber, III, son of the famous Rev. Dr. William Barber II, and Karenna Gore, the eldest daughter of former Vice President Al Gore. Reflecting the broad interest in the issue, panelists included representatives of the Green New Deal of Virginia, People Demanding Action, Young Evangelicals for Climate Action, the Faith Alliance for Climate Solutions and others. Emphasis of the discussion was on working together to repair a damaged climate while ensuring that everyone most impacted–including low-income people, people of color, the vulnerable, and those on the front lines–are part of every solution and not disproportionally impacted.

Coming out of the Virginia Clean Energy Summit also held last week was an announcement by Governor Ralph Northam that the goal in Virginia is that by 2030, 30 percent of Virginia’s electric system will be powered by renewable energy resources and by 2050, 100 percent of Virginia’s electricity will be produced from carbon-free sources such as wind, solar and nuclear. In his Executive Order establishing the goals, the Governor expressed the concerns being heard from the young people and in the various meetings on the issue: “Climate change is an urgent and pressing challenge for Virginia. As recent storms, heat waves, and flooding events have reminded us, climate disruption poses potentially devastating risk to Virginia.” Reflecting the concern about economic justice, the Governor’s Executive Order stated that “These clean energy resources shall be deployed to maximize the economic and environmental benefit to under-served communities while mitigating any impact to those communities.”

Young people remind us that there are ample reasons to be afraid of an unknown future with climate change. The best response to that fear is to intensify the discussions such as have been going on while taking positive steps like that by the Governor to reverse impact on climate change.

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Del. Ken Plum/File photoThis is an opinion column by Del. Ken Plum (D), who represents Reston in Virginia’s House of Delegates. It does not reflect the opinion of Reston Now.

When asked at a session at the National Conference of State Legislatures what is the most important thing the government should be doing today, the Honorable Robert “J.B.” Pritzker, the 43rd governor of Illinois, responded “preparing young children to be successful in kindergarten.” His answer was not surprising considering that he had written earlier in a publication of his Pritzker Foundation that “preparing young children to learn the first day they enter kindergarten is the single most important step we can take to ensure better K-12 education, healthier kids, lower poverty rates, increased wage-earning capacity, and a stronger, more competitive workforce.”

He is not a former educator turned politician. He is an extraordinary person, however. According to Wikipedia, he holds more private wealth than any other governor in U.S. history and is the second wealthiest U.S. politician to have ever held office, after Michael Bloomberg. Forbes estimates his personal worth at $3.2 billion including his interest along with his family in the Hyatt hotel chain.

Governor Pritzker along with his wife established The Pritzker Children’s Initiative which directs its investments on a single, attainable goal: that all at-risk infants and toddlers in the United States have access to high-quality early childhood development resources, increasing their likelihood of success in school and life. As the Governor explained further, “Early childhood development is an arena that’s long been overlooked by philanthropy and government. Even programs as large as Head Start cover a very small sliver of the population of at-risk kids. It’s an arena attractive for a private philanthropist like me because I see it as a terrific investment.”

There is an abundance of evidence to support the Governor’s conclusion, but government has been slow to invest in early education as he advocates. While Virginia has made some modest beginnings, there is much remaining to be done by state and local government. There are some hopeful signs. Last week Governor Ralph Northam announced release of an Early Childhood Education Needs Assessment and Draft Strategic Plan for public reviews and comment. Echoing the sentiments expressed by his counterpart in Illinois, Governor Northam said that “when children have access to quality, stable, affordable care during their earliest years they build the foundation they need for future success not only for themselves but for their communities.” I encourage everyone interested in this critically important issue to review the draft plan at vcef.org and to submit their comments on it to [email protected] by August 31, 2019. More information on the plan and an opportunity to discuss it is provided on August 14, 10:00 a.m. at the ACCA Child Development Center, 7200 Columbia Pike, Suite 2, Annandale, VA 22003. Sorry for the last minute notice that I just received.

The Virginia State Chamber of Commerce that has been a consistent supporter of early childhood education is teaming up with the Virginia Early Childhood Foundation for a conference in Richmond on “Smart Beginnings for Virginia’s Workforce Pipeline” for legislators and thought leaders to explore a strong, public-private early childhood system in Virginia.

The evidence of the importance of earlier than kindergarten programs must not be ignored by politicians.

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Del. Ken Plum/File photoThis is an opinion column by Del. Ken Plum (D), who represents Reston in Virginia’s House of Delegates. It does not reflect the opinion of Reston Now.

In last week’s column I suggested that the record-breaking for brevity, 90-minute session of the General Assembly came about because of a dysfunctional House of Delegates and a lack of leadership by the Speaker of the House. Further evidence unfolding since I wrote that column strengthens my concern and adds to it the problem that in the Virginia House of Delegates the “fox is guarding the chicken coop.”

The Special Session of the General Assembly that was called by Governor Ralph Northam in response to increasing gun violence should have provided a forum for debate to determine a response by the legislature to keep the people of Virginia safe. Few sessions general or special have attracted as much public attention as this one with hundreds of advocates at the Capitol representing all sides of the issue.

One side got high-level special attention. Ordinary citizens and state-wide and national groups concerned about gun violence attended a rally at the Bell Tower in Capitol Square and spent the rest of the morning visiting legislative offices and milling about the street between the Pocahontas Building where legislative offices are and the State Capitol. The National Rifle Association (NRA) representatives were in the Speaker of the House of Delegates Conference Room picking up their red caps and tee shirts and no doubt getting reassurances that everything was going to be alright.

A website inviting NRA members to the event encouraged their attendance: “Governor Ralph Northam and his gun ban allies are ready to push their extreme anti-gun agenda when the General Assembly convenes its special session tomorrow–July 9th. Your NRA is calling on members and Second Amendment supporters to join in the fight against Gov. Northam’s misguided gun control proposals by coming to Richmond on July 9th to personally urge their elected officials to stand up for our rights and oppose the Northam gun ban agenda.”

The most astonishing part of the announcement came in the details of the event: “WHERE: Pocahontas Building, 6th Floor, House Conference Room.” That just happens to be the Conference Room of the Speaker of the House of Delegates!

On this topic the Speaker effectively relinquished any impartial role of conducting the business of the House and became the host for those opposing common-sense gun safety laws that according to dozens of public opinion polls are supported by an overwhelming majority of Virginians. It brings back memories of the time this same Speaker moved from his position as Speaker to take the floor of the House of Delegates to speak passionately against a women’s right to make decisions about her own reproductive health.

The announcement included some red meat to encourage participation: “Our members are concerned that Gov. Northam’s special session is a political stunt aimed at distracting from his scandals…”

With the cooperation of the Speaker of the House of Delegates we clearly have the fox guarding the chicken coop in Virginia.

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Gov. Ralph Northam will be in Herndon tomorrow (Tuesday) to promote his successful move to reinstate driver’s licenses that were suspended for failure to pay court fines.

Northam’s initiative, which began on July 1, allow any Virginian whose driver’s license was suspended for failure to pay court fines and costs to have their driving privileges restored. Fees for reinstatement will also be waived.

DMV 2 GO, the state Department of Motor Vehicles’ mobile office, will set up shop at the Herndon Fortnightly Library (768 Center Street) to raise awareness about the policy from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

State elected officials will be also be on-site to deliver remarks.

The Virginia General Assembly passed Northam’s proposed budget amendment in April, a move that his office said would “help countless others by preventing future debt-related suspensions for the remaining duration of the state budget.

“All Virginians must have a fair opportunity to fulfill their obligations without losing their jobs, their ability to take care for their families, and their dignity,” Northam wrote in a statement.

The mobile offices will come to Herndon every third Thursday of the month.

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Drivers who hold a cellphone while passing through a Virginia road work zone could face a $250 fine.

The law — which bars drivers from holding cellphones in work zones — goes into effect today (Monday).

Gov. Ralph Northam signed the bill in April as part of a broad attempt to tackle distracted driving in the state. Currently, texting while driving is banned.

Northam is also cracking down on drivers who fail to slow down or move to the side of a road when police or firefighters pass by with flashing lights.

Additionally, children up to age eight must be secured in a child safety restraint that meets standards adopted by the U.S. Department of Transportation. Children must remain in a rear-facing carseat until the age of two or until they reach the minimum weight requirement for a forward-facing child safety seat.

Failure to follow the new law, which also went into effect today, will be considered reckless driving.

Lawmakers also approved a move that would free up the ability to increase local housing stock.

The quick fix changes how jurisdictions in the state bargain with developers for proffers or development conditions.

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The redevelopment of Lake Anne Fellowship House, which has provided affordable housing for seniors in Reston fore more than 40 years, received a funding boost on Tuesday (June 5) .

Gov. Ralph Northam announced that the project will receive $700,000 in state gap funding, one of 17 projects in the state to tap into $11.1 million in affordable and special needs housing loans.

In a release, the loans will create or maintain 1,283 affordable housing units in the state. Northam made the announcement at American Legion Post in Arlington.

Loans were awarded through a competitive process by the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development. Funding streams for loans include a combination of state and federal sources.

The state selected proposals from 29 applications requesting a total of more than $21 million. Proposals were scored based on funding availability.

“Through this program, we are providing the necessary financing to preserve and create safe and sustainable housing for many low-to-moderate-income Virginians,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Brian Ball in a statement.

Four other Northern Virginia projects received funding:

  • $1.3 Million for the Residences at North Hill Bond 94
  • $1 million for the Residences at North Hill Bond 47
  • $700,000 for The Arden
  • $700,000 for Virginia Square

The redevelopment of Lake Anne Fellowship House, which was approved in October last year, will preserve 240 apartments as affordable units for seniors for the next 30 years.

Approved plans call for replacing the existing apartments at Lake Anne Fellowship House with a modern building along North Shore Drive near the intersection with Village Road.  The plan also include 36 market rate townhouses to help pay for the cost of senior housing.

The project is part of a partnership between Fellowship Square Foundation, which owns and operates Lake Anne House, and real estate developer Community Preservation and Development Corp.

Rendering via Fairfax County Government

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Open chair — Want to run the Reston Association’s Fiscal Committee? The chair position is open and accepting applications. [Reston Association]

Northam appoints Reston man — Gov. Ralph Northam recently announced more appointments to his administration, which include Michael Rush, a Reston resident and senior vice president of the Association of American Railroads, to the Washington Metrorail Safety Commission. [Virginia Governor]

Great Falls historian and civic activist dies — “Kathleen J. Murphy brought her intellect and passion to initiatives that improved the community, friends said. Murphy, who died Jan. 2 at age 71, was president of the Great Falls Historical Society from 2011 to 2017 and was ‘absolutely dedicated to preserving the history of Great Falls, which is a very historical area,’ Supervisor John Foust (D-Dranesville) said” at a recent Board of Supervisors meeting. [Inside NoVa]

Read to a therapy dog — Head to the Reston Regional Library this evening for kids to read to a therapy dog during 15-minute sessions. [Fairfax County]

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