Wednesday Morning Notes

A Guide on How to Handle Peer Pressure — “Everyone has peers. Peers can be your friends who are about your age and have similar interests and experiences. Peers can also be other kids who are about your age and are involved in the same activities with you or are part of a community or group you belong to. You may not consider all of your peers to be friends, but they can all influence you.” [Fairfax County Public Schools]

A Legacy to Live on in Reston — “Commissioned by Public Art Reston, Volta took calculated measures during the production phase of the community-inspired project finalized in 2019 to protect the mural panels against sun and element damage as well as vandalism. A few days before the Oct. 17 unveiling of the Public Artwork at Colts Neck Road Underpass, Volta shared, in a one-on-one interview, key processes and materials essential in the successful creation of the paneled mural, and safeguards he took to protect the investment.” [The Connection]

Volunteers Sought for Halloween House and Trick-or-Treat Trail — Reston Association is looking for volunteers over 15 years of age for its annual event. An orientation Is set for today (Wednesday) from 6-7 p.m. at the Walker Nature Center. [Reston Association]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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Reston Pumpkin 5K and More This Weekend in Reston

Although Flavors of Fall will not be happening this year, residents can still enjoy the Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce’s Reston Pumpkin 5K and Kids Pumpkin Dash on Sunday (Oct. 13). The race kicks off at 8:15 a.m. at Reston Town Center and the pumpkin dash kicks off at 9:15 a.m.

Participants are encouraged to debut their Halloween costumes. Today (Friday) is the last day to take advantage of the early registration rate $30 per person. Prices rise to $35 per person over the weekend.

Participants in the pumpkin dash — which is open to children age 14 and under — are divided into heats based on age. Distances vary from 20 to 100 yards based on the age of participants.

Tomorrow (Oct. 12)

  • Indie Author Day (10 a.m. to 3 p.m.) — Drop by and meet local writer sin the community at Reston Regional Library. Books will be available for sale and signing.
  • ArtSplash for Adults (2-4 p.m.) — Create your own masterpiece in this workshop led by artists from Abrakadoodle Northern Virginia.

Sunday (Oct. 13)

  • Bird Walks (7:30-10:30 a.m.) — Search for birds in some of Reston’s most beautiful areas at this walk, which is co-sponsored by Audubon Society of Northern Virginia and The Bird Feeder store.
  • History of World War II (2-4 p.m.) — Harry Butowsky, a George Mason University professor, continues his six-part lecture series on the war at Reston Regional Library.
  • Book Launch Party with Sen. Janet Howell (2 p.m.) — Howell and her daughter-in-law, Theresa Howell, will introduce their new book, “Leading the Way: Women in Power,” at Scrawl Books.
  • Sunday Afternoon Dance (2:30-4:30 p.m.) — Dancers of all skill levels are invited for an afternoon of dance at Reston Community Center Hunters Woods. Each session is $5 for Reston residents and $10 for all others.
  • Country Western Dance (5:30-7:30 p.m.) — Western dance is the focus of this evening session at Reston Community Center Hunters Woods. Each session is $5 for Reston residents and $10 for all others.

Photo by Chip McCrea 

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Reston Association Looks to Increase All Staff Salaries Amid Staffing and Retention Issues

Reston Association’s 2020-2021 budget, which would increase member assessments by five percent, will likely include across-the-board salaries increases for all staff. The move, which allocates $1 million over the next two years for salary and benefit increases, comes in response to unprecedented turnover last year and ongoing concerns related to staff recruitment and retention.

Last night (Thursday), RA’s Board of Directors also voted to approve reclassifying the positions of four staff members — whose names and salaries were not disclosed — because their positions were misclassified by RA. Board member Ven Iyer — who frequently challenged matters discussed by the board throughout the meeting — was the lone dissenting vote.

The board’s decisions were guided by a compensation study authorized by RA CEO Hank Lynch and conducted by Archer Company, a South-Carolina based firm that offers human resource management.

The study provided the basis for a one-time salary increase of 2.6 percent for all employees to “offset [the] recent below market merit pool,” as well as an increase in retirement match contributions and ensuring salaries are at or above the market rate within five years of service.

In 2020, the draft budget calls for nearly $227,594 in merit increases, $166,547 for a one-time salary increase, $132,277 to elevate salaries to the market midpoint, and $74,832 to match benchmarks by adjusting 401k matches. In 2021, roughly $445,960 in salary and benefits-related increases are also planned.

The board also expressed support for a documented compensation philosophy that aims to attract talent and offer salaries and benefits that are similar to comparable entities.

Board member John Mooney said the proposed compensation philosophy was “very balanced” and ensures RA is competitive with other similar employers, including the staff in municipal or county-level government positions in Fairfax and Arlington counties.

Iyer questioned if the comparison of RA to public entities with significantly larger budgets and resources was appropriate.

He also challenged the labeling of several documents received by the board with disclaimers like “RA board’s eyes only” and “extremely confidential” — a move that he said violates members’ trust because the materials were unrelated to contractual or business matters. RA declined to release the materials referenced by Iyer to Reston Now.

RA’s general counsel, Anthony Champ, said the documents were provided as background information to the board and their confidentiality could be assessed if an RA member requested the materials.

The organization’s fiscal committee was not consulted about the salary and benefits increases, Iyer, who is the board’s committee liaison, also stated.

The majority of the board, however, concurred with the need to increase salaries in accordance with the Archer study’s recommendations.

Board President Cathy Baum said the proposed salary and benefits increases were “logical” — challenging Iyer’s assertion that the board was acting based on emotion, not fact.

Iyer, however, said the Archer study was not prescriptive and instead pitched broad recommendations that were subject to the scrutiny of the board.

As the budget heads for adoption in November, Lynch said he hopes RA’s new outlook on compensation and benefits will provide market-based incentives to recruit and retain top talent.

Photo via YouTube/RA

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Friday Morning Notes

Reston Association to Hold Public Hearing on Budget — RA’s Board of Directors will hold a public hearing on the 2020-2021 biennial budget on Oct. 24 at 6:30 p.m. at RA headquarters. The budget is set to be approved by the board in November. [Reston Association]

Mentoring Program at South Lakes High School Kicks Off — “DIAMONDS (Determined, Intelligent, Ambitious, Motivated, Original, Nifty, Dazzling, Strength) is a mentoring program for young minority women-led by Angel Scott and Lisa Girdy. The program’s mission is to inspire, transform, and educate young ladies on how to be successful in every area of life. DIAMONDS kicked off its second year with many returning students, some new students, volunteers from the community, and dedicated South Lakes staff members who serve as mentors.” [Fairfax County Public Schools]

Reston-based Company partners with Leading Cloud Security Company — “FireEye, a publicly traded cybersecurity company with an office in Reston, Virginia, is partnering with cloud security company iboss to provide a joint tech solution for cloud-based cyber threat protection.” [Technical.ly]

Photo by Marjorie Copson

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An Evening with Beverly Cosham and More This Weekend in Reston

Reston’s own Beverly Cosham, an entertainer known for her work in the local theatre and cabaret scene, returns to Reston Community Center’s stage tomorrow (Saturday).

Cosham presents her personal interpretation of the Great American Songbook at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15 for Reston residents and $20 for all others.

Tomorrow (Saturday)

  • Hispanic Heritage Literary and Culture Fair (1-5 p.m.) — Celebrate Hispanic heritage month at this festival at Reston Regional Library, which features local authors who share selections of poetry and stories.
  • STEM Club (10:30 a.m. to noon) — Children between ages 5 and 10 can enjoy hands-on engineering activities at Reston Regional Library. Registration is required online.

Sunday (Oct. 6)

  • Picture This! (1-4 p.m.) — Children between ages 6 and 11 can drop in and create an illustration inspired by an excerpt provided by the library. Supplies are available at Reston Regional Library.
  • History of World War II (2-4 p.m.) — Hatty Butowsky of George Mason University kicks off his six-part lecture series on the war at Reston Regional Library.
  • Fall Favorites (2-3 p.m.) — Families, couples and individuals can complete hands-on activities at the Walker Nature Center. Registration is $8 for Reston Association members and $10 for all others.
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Thursday Morning Notes

Reston Newcomers’ Bus Tour Coming Soon — Reston Association will offer a bus tour for newcomers to Reston on Oct. 19 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The event includes a tour, which is limited to new Reston Association property owners within the last year, and an open house. [Reston Association]

Bollywood Dance Fitness Tonight — Enjoy a free Bollywood dance fitness class inspired by popular music and Indian movies. No experience is necessary. The class runs from 6:30-8 p.m. at Reston Regional Library. [Reston Regional Library]

Absentee Voting Underway — In-person absentee-voting is available at various locations in the county. Several satellite locations are also available.  [Fairfax County Government]

Photo by Jay Westcott

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Wednesday Morning Notes

Boat Rental Season Extended — Reston Association has extended boat rental season through Oct. 15. Hours are from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays,  11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays, and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m on Oct. 14. [Reston Association]

County Seeks Comment on High School Science Resources — “Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) is soliciting public review and comment on basal instructional resources under consideration for high school science.  A basal resource review committee composed of community members, administrators, and teachers will meet this fall to review and recommend new high school science instructional resources to the Fairfax County School Board.” [Fairfax County Public Schools]

Lake Thoreau Pool Structural Analysis Update — Reston Association has received preliminary findings from engineers about the pool’s concrete decking and shell. A complete analysis and recommendations is expected in October. [Reston Association]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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Reston Association to Study Plans to Repurpose Hunters Woods Ball Field

Reston Association plans to explore ways to repurpose the Hunters Woods Ball Field using funds originally allocated for path lighting near Hunters Woods Village Center.

The field, which is located behind Reston Community Center, is no longer used by the Reston-Herndon Little League due to its distance from the nearest parking lot.

RA’s Board of Directors approved a motion to reallocate funds previously approved for pathway lighting at a meeting last Thursday (Sept. 26) to design, study and implement the project.

In tandem, RA plans to install 16 lights near the village center and the ball field. The roughly $100,000 project uses $81,300 in proffer commitment funds from the developer of Hunters Woods at Trails Edge, a senior living community on Colts Neck Road. The proffer is designated specifically for path lighting and cannot be used for any other purpose.

Larry Butler, RA’s Chief Operating Officer, said staff will work with the community to brainstorm possible ideas for the ball field. The Hunters Woods Neighborhood Coalition — which has long advocated for pathway lighting to improve safety in the area —  requested that RA examine the issue.

“We could do a lot of things there,” Butler said, adding the plan is in its early phases.

In a July 19 letter, the county’s planning staff indicating the ball field is classified as open space, which is designed for scenic or recreational purposes.

Meanwhile, RA is working with Dominion Energy to develop preliminary design plans for the pathway lighting project. The latest plan — which Butler said addresses the “area of most concern” —  is a scaled-back version of a 2014 plan to install 52 lights, which faltered due to limited funding.

The cost of the study is unclear, especially because RA will likely engage with a design architect to determine constraints on the site, including utility polls, Butler said.

The preliminary design calls for 16 LED, shoebox lights likely spread out by about 80 feet. The original plans did not call for LED lights.

Once plans are in place, the project will head to RA’s Design Review Board for a discussion and a vote.

File photo

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Reston Multicultural Festival and More This Weekend in Reston

The annual Reston Multicultural Festival is set to celebrate the community’s rich diversity tomorrow (Saturday) from 11 a.m. to6 p.m. at Lake Anne Plaza.

The festival offers a mix of song, food, dance and art at the plaza. It is hosted by Lake Anne Plaza and co-sponsored by Reston Association.

Attendees are encouraged to dress in their multicultural attire at the free festival. This year’s event includes a naturalization ceremony, three performance stages, family arts and crafts, a global cafe, and a global market.

More information about the event is available online.

Tomorrow (Saturday)

  • Beer Run (9:45 a.m.) — Join the Lake Anne Brew House for a weekly Saturday morning beer run around Lake Anne. The lake loop is 1.5 miles and all ages and paces are welcome.
  • Reston Friends Semi-Annual Book Sale (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.) — The book sale continues today and tomorrow (Sunday) at Reston Regional Library. Thousands of gently-used books will be available for purchase.
  • PSV Race to Make It All Better (8:30-11:30 a.m.) — Pediatric Specialists of Virginia will host their fifth annual fundraiser and 5k in Reston Town Center to support patients and families in need. The race and health fair also includes booth with giveaways, health tips, activities and prizes.

Sunday (Sept. 29)

  • Walk to End Alzheimer’s (1;30-4:30 p.m..) — The Alzheimer’s Foundation hosts its annual walk, to raise funds for Alzheimer’s care, support and research. The event is open for all and there is no fee to register. Participants are encouraged to fundraise to take part in the walk.
  • Shear Madness (2-5:45 p.m.) — Enjoy a trip to see Shear Madness at the Kennedy Center. The trip begins with bus pick-up at Reston Association’s headquarters. Tickets are $51 for RA members and $56 for all others.

Photo via RCC

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Reston Association Mulls Increasing Member Assessments By Five Percent Next Year

Members assessments could increase by five percent in 2020, according to the first budget draft reviewed by the Reston Association Board of Directors Thursday night.

The plan, which will undergo revisions before a final board vote in November, pitches increasing the rate to $728, a $35 increase from the previous year. The current assessment rate is $693, an $11 increase from the 2018 rate.

At the Thursday meeting, RA’s CEO Hank Lynch — who has been working with staff over the last several months to identify new and creative ways to manage RA’s budget — explained the changes to the fee as “an increase of less than 10 cents per day.”

Board Director Ven Iyer called Lynch’s description a “very stealthy way” to represent the assessment increase.

Lynch said the proposed budget includes roughly $390,000 in one-time capital spending, including improvements to the Lake House to increase rental revenue, the installation of a yurt as a new summer camp classroom and meeting space, “major” improvements to RA’s Lake Anne Plaza operations, and six permanent pickleball courts.

The budget would also fund five additional employees for covenants, social media IT to address a members’ request for a community app and other needs, land use, member services, and business engagement and sales to find ways to grow non-assessment revenue.

In a recent news release, Reston Association indicated that the member assessment rate would “avoid the past practice of using the association’s reserve funds to pay down the fee.” That financial practice was used by the board in over the last three years — a move that underwrote assessment rates by roughly $1.7 million in supplements.

Lynch said he hopes to find new resources of non-assessment revenue in the future in order to avoid using surplus cash to pay down fees.

In a statement on RA’s website, Lynch said that practice was unsustainable.

A working session on the budget is planned in October.

Photo via YouTube

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Thursday Morning Notes

Reston Association Board to Discuss Budget — RA’s Board of Directors will discuss the first draft of the upcoming budget at a meeting today (Thursday) at RA headquarters. Issues related to boat and dock policies, as well as path lighting near Hunters Woods Village Center, will also be discussed at the meeting, which begins at 6:30 p.m. [Reston Association]

Burglary Reported at Forest Edge Elementary School — Police believe some broke into a school trailer and damaged property. The incident happened between Sept. 20 and Sept. 23. [Fairfax County Police Department]

Spots Available on Fairfax County Chaplain Corp. — The Fairfax County Community Chaplain Corps works as part of an emergency disaster team to provide chaplain care to community members impacted by the effects of a disaster or emergency. Register for an orientation session to meet current community chaplains, learn more about what it means to serve as a community chaplain and learn how to apply. [Fairfax County Government]

Photo by Jay Westcott

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With New Funding, Long-Awaited Path Lights Near Hunters Woods Under Consideration

After a proffer from the developer of Hunters Woods at Trails Edge, a long-awaited project to bring path lights near Hunters Woods Village Center is coming closer to reality.

The Reston Association Board of Directors is considering installing 16 poles and lights near the village center and repurposing ball field behind Reston Community Center that is no longer used by the Reston-Herndon Little League.

RA received $81,300 via a proffer from IntegraCare, the developer of the senior living community. Plans to improve lighting in the area have been in the works since as early as 2013, but were hampered by limited funding.

The cost of the project increased over the last several years. Previous cost estimations did not account for expenses related to Dominion Energy’s engineering and equipment costs.

The first stretch of pathway lights is expected to cost around $100,000. At the request of the Hunters Woods Neighborhood Coalition, RA is also considering repurposing the ball field.

RA plans to use the remaining balance of funds to study, design and consider repurposing the ball field. Overall, RA has $124,916 to complete the overall project — after accounting for costs related to completing tree surveys and preliminary design work.

Larry Butler, RA’s Chief Operating Officer, is expected to discuss the issue at a board meeting on Thursday, Sept. 26.

In draft agenda materials, RA staff noted that the installation of the first stretch of path lights does not preclude additional projects in the future.

Photo via Reston Association/handout, File photo

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Community Yard Sale and More This Weekend in Reston

Reston Association is hosting a community yard sale tomorrow (Saturday). Eighty families will gather to sell a variety of items from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Families will set up their booths at the parking lot behind 1900 Campus Commons Drive.

All sales are final. Space is limited and pre-registration was required to take part in the event. Anyone with questions is encouraged to email [email protected].

Tomorrow (Saturday)

  • A Conversation with Fran Lebowitz (8 p.m.) — Lebowitz, who is known for her acerbic views on current events and the media, will speak at Reston Community Center. Tickets are $25 for Restonians and $35 for all others.
  • Susco 8K (8:30 a.m.) — Tom and Nancy Susco of Reston organize the last 8K race in memory of their son, Tim Susco, who died due to a ruptured brain aneurysm. The race, which has raised more than $500,000 for charity, kicks off at South Lakes High School.

Sunday (Sept. 22)

  • DogFest (11 a.m. to 3 p.m.) — Dog lovers can unite for a one-mile walk to celebrate dogs and raise money for providing service dogs to individuals with disabilities.  The event, which is organized by nonprofit Canine Companions, takes place at Reston Town Center.
  • High Intensity Interval Training (11 a.m.) — Enjoy free one-hour high intensity interval training at Reston Town Center at 11 a.m. The event is organized by Athlete.

File photo

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Friday Morning Notes

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Updates on Crime Incidents in Herndon — Three teenagers (ages 13, 14, and 15) were arrested in early September in connection with two robberies. Further charges are pending. In a separate case, Christopher Alvarado, 23, of Herndon was arrested on two charges of robbery on Sept. 14. [Herndon Police Department]

Conversation with Fran Lebowitz Tomorrow — Lebowitz, who is known for her acerbic views on current events and the media, will speak at Scrawl Books at 8 p.m. tomorrow (Saturday). [Scrawl Books]

Pickleball Picks Up in Reston — Reston Association reports that pickleball is becoming an increasingly popular sport in Reston. The sport is a combination of badminton, table tennis and tennis. [Reston Today]

Staff photo by Jay Westcott

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Thursday Morning Notes

Lunch in the Park Today in Reston Town Center — “Join co-presenters Reston Town Center Association and the Reston Community Center to welcome the GMU College of Visual and Performing Arts for Thursday Lunch in the Park! This week’s performance is NOVATEQ.” [Reston Town Center]

Brush Chipping by Reston Association — RA members can bring their brush for chipping at no cost to Lake Audubon Pool this weekend. Members are reminded not to dump grass clippings, dirt, vines, thorns or other debris. [Reston Association]

Chalking It Up for ChalkFest — “The iconic Public Art Reston sculpture, Mercury Fountain by Saint Clair Cemin, served as the backdrop for the sixth annual Chalk Fest at Reston Town Center on Saturday, Sept. 14. Presented by Public Art Reston in partnership with Reston Town Center, according to Anne Delaney, Executive Director of Public Art Reston, the Festival proved once again to be among the community’s most photogenic events.” [The Connection]

Staff Photo by Jay Westcott

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