Morning Notes

Washington Plaza shops reflected in Lake Anne (via vantagehill/Flickr)

Community Raises Money for Family of Hit-and-Run Victim — A GoFundMe started on Friday (Sept. 3) by the sister of Reston resident Andrew Willingham, who was killed in a hit-and-run incident on Fairfax County Parkway last week, has received more than $257,000 as of 7:30 p.m. yesterday (Wednesday). The money will go toward helping Willingham’s wife and two sons with expenses, including a future college fund. [Patch]

County Launches Data Hub for Reston Parks — “You can now access the latest information on urban parks and athletic fields associated with redevelopment in the Reston Transit Station Areas through the new Urban Parks Activity Hub. The new online hub is one of three components of the Reston Data Visualization project created by the Department of Planning and Development in coordination with the Park Authority.” [Fairfax County Government]

Herndon Police Chief With Rare State Award — “Chief [Maggie] DeBoard and Executive Director Dana Schrad were recognized by the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police & Foundation with the 2021 Outstanding Contribution to Law Enforcement Award…This award recognizes an individual’s conspicuous act or achievement in the performance of their duty that results in an exceptional and responsible contribution to the law enforcement profession here in VA.” [Herndon Police/Twitter]

Reston Contractor CEO Recalls Company’s 9/11 Origins — Reston-based defense technology contractor EverWatch Corp. CEO John Hillen says his life “is very oddly wrapped up with 9/11.” His experience in downtown New York City on Sept. 11, 2001 propelled him from Wall Street to the State Department under the George W. Bush administration, and his company now provides tools for defense missions that directly stem from the attacks. [Washington Business Journal]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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Regional transportation officials are considering more ways to improve transit along the I-66 corridor, led by a multi-million-dollar proposal to create a new express bus route from Reston to key Arlington County work sites.

The express bus is one of four projects now up for public comment as the Northern Virginia Transit Commission decides what to fund for the latest round of the agency’s I-66 Commuter Choice program, which has $7 million in available funds, according to NVTC senior manager Ben Owen.

These four projects are part of a supplemental fourth round for fiscal year 2022 after the NVTC approved an initial batch of projects last year that was limited by the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on I-66 toll revenue, which funds the Commuter Choice program.

The available money includes prior-year carryover that hasn’t been allocated, interest from the funds, and money released back to the commission from past projects that finished, NVTC communications and public affairs manager Matt Friedman said in a statement.

One of two projects proposed by Fairfax County, the new express bus service would connect Fairfax Connector’s Reston South Park and Ride lot with key employment destinations in Arlington County, including the Pentagon and Pentagon City and ending in Crystal City.

The county is seeking $5.1 million to cover two years of operating costs for the service as well as the purchase of six buses.

For its other project, the county has requested $154,000 to reduce Connector fares from $7.50 to $4.25 on the 599 express route from the Reston North Park and Ride to the Pentagon, Pentagon City, and Crystal City Metro stations in Arlington.

The other projects up for public comment come from OmniRide, which is seeking $85,000 to provide $200 per month incentives for new vanpools along I-66, and the Town of Vienna, which has applied for $5 million to design and construct a new Park and Ride lot at the soon-to-be-renovated Patrick Henry Library.

Staff presented a report on the proposed projects to the commission yesterday (Thursday). They recommended funding all of the projects except for the Patrick Henry Park and Ride.

For each round of Commuter Choice funding, NVTC staff give each of the submitted projects a technical score out of 100 that’s based primarily on their potential for reducing congestion, but also takes other factors into account.

The Town of Vienna’s proposal actually received a higher technical score of 56 than Fairfax County’s Reston North fare subsidy idea, which got a score of 44. However, staff said that the Patrick Henry Park and Ride would “exceed the available funding,” pushing the total cost of the projects to $10 million.

“The staff recommendation to fund Fairfax County’s fare buy-down proposal reflects the strong regional interest in fare reduction and equity initiatives,” NVTC staff wrote in their report. “It would also be a low-cost/costeffective means to help rebuild transit ridership in the I-66 Corridor.”

The OmniRide project received the highest score (62), followed by the Reston South express bus service (59).

Excluding the Vienna Park and Ride, the projects would move an additional 250 transit users through the I-66 corridor inside the Capital Beltway each morning when fully implemented, according to NVTC estimates.

The Commuter Choice program allows proposals to be resubmitted for future funding cycles if they’re not approved.

The public comment period runs through Sept. 17. People can participate by filling out a 12-step online form, providing feedback by email and phone, and joining in a virtual town hall this coming Wednesday (Sept. 8).

After the public comment period, NVTC will determine what it wants to fund, but the 17-member Commonwealth Transportation Board will have final approval over which projects are selected.

The commission is scheduled to approve its program on Oct. 7, followed by the CTB vote on Oct. 20.

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The Fairfax County Police Department is still investigating the fatal hit-and-run crash that took place on Fairfax County Parkway in Reston earlier this week.

According to an update published by the department this morning (Friday), officers responded to the intersection at Walnut Branch Road just after 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday (Sept. 1) after receiving a report that an SUV had run a red light and hit a car.

The SUV driver fled the scene after the crash and has still not been located, despite an extensive search that included the FCPD’s K9 unit and a helicopter.

The driver of the car — a 2013 Volkswagen Passat — has been identified as Andrew Willingham, 37, of Reston. He died Wednesday in the hospital where he was transported after the crash by responders from the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department.

According to the FCPD, its Crash Reconstruction Unit detectives have determined that Willingham was trying to make a left turn from northbound Fairfax County Parkway onto Walnut Branch when the crash occurred.

Though Willingham had a green arrow, the driver of a 2006 Chevrolet SUV “disregarded the red signal” when he arrived at the intersection while traveling south on Fairfax County Parkway. The SUV drove through the intersection and hit the car.

“Detectives believe speed may have been a factor in the crash and continue to investigate to determine if alcohol was also a factor for the driver of the SUV,” Fairfax County police said. “Speed and alcohol do not appear to be factors for the driver of the car.”

As reported on Wednesday, police say the SUV driver was described as a heavy-set Hispanic man who was between 5 foot, 6 inches and 6 feet tall. He reportedly wore a black, short-sleeved shirt over a white undershirt.

“He was also described as having a beard and shaggy hair,” the FCPD added in its update today.

The FCPD advises anyone who witnessed the crash or might have information about it to contact its detectives at 703-280-0543. Information can also be submitted anonymously through the department’s Crime Solvers tip line online or by phone (1-866-411-TIPS).

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(Updated 3:35 p.m.) Mark Sugden, a familiar face to customers and employees of the Target on Sunset Hills Road in Reston, has died, family and friends have told Reston Now.

Known for his ever-present smile and balloons, Sugden had been a constant sight at the back of the Target parking lot for the last six years. He usually sat on the curb and waved at passersbys, who sometimes stopped to hand Sugden money or groceries.

Sugden had been experiencing homelessness, and a GoFundMe had been set up to help with the costs of staying in a nearby hotel. He also suffered from bipolar disorder, depression, and several other physical limitations, as he told Reston Now back in May.

Despite these challenges, Sugden continued to have a positive attitude.

“He was just a really, down-to-earth, good person. He always treated everybody well,” his brother George Sugden told Reston Now. “[He was] one of those things that’s pretty rare these days — a good soul.”

A memorial and tribute was set up this morning (Thursday) in his honor in front of the Sunoco station on Sunset Hills Road. It’s expected to be there for at least the next few days for those who would like to pay their respects, friend David Ritter tells Reston Now.

There may also be a remembrance service at a later date, but the logistics are still being figured out, Ritter notes.

According to the original GoFundMe page, Sugden died on Aug. 27. The Fairfax County Police Department confirmed the death, though a cause is not immediately known. FCPD does not suspect foul play.

A new fundraiser has been launched to help with funeral costs. The goal is to raise $2,000.

Ritter met Sugden a few years ago and was immediately struck by Sugden’s positivity. He believed that attitude rubbed off on everyone Sugden met.

“It never ceases to amaze me how Mark affected people,” Ritter said.

Once, when it was snowing during the winter, Ritter went to check on Sugden and make sure he had everything he needed. When Ritter arrived, he found a line of cars already waiting to give supplies and food to Sugden.

In May, Reston Now joined Sugden for about an hour at his usual spot between the Target and Sunoco on Sunset Hills Road. Six people in cars stopped to say hello and help him out.

Each time, Sugden greeted them with a wave, a smile, and a thank you.

“Your smile makes me happy,” one woman told Sugden. After she drove away, Sugden said, “I love to see them smile back.”

Over the last several days, both Ritter and George have been hearing from the community about how much Sugden meant to them.

“[From] the stories and the people I’ve met in the last 24 hours, it’s obvious that he touched a lot of people without really going out of his way,” George said. “It was just the way he was.”

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Fairfax County police are on the lookout for a man who was involved in a fatal hit-and-run crash on Fairfax County Parkway in Reston.

Officers are currently on the scene at the Walnut Branch Road intersection, the Fairfax County Police Department reported at 8:41 p.m. today (Wednesday).

The crash apparently involved two vehicles. One driver was taken to the hospital, where he ultimately died. The driver of the other car that police say instigated the encounter left the scene on foot.

Police describe the driver as a “heavy” Hispanic man with long hair who was wearing a black shirt.

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Mahjong is just one of multiple games and events happening at Reston Community Center this fall (courtesy RCC)

After many months of restrictions, Reston Community Center is bringing back some of its most popular Lifelong Learning programs, the organization announced yesterday (Thursday).

These programs intended for a wide range of ages are among the dozens of the classes and events in RCC’s 2021 Fall Program Guide, which can be viewed in full on the RCC website.

“While we have reinvented many of our programs since March of 2020, offering virtual and socially distanced options, it was impossible to convert some of our most popular programs to that format,” RCC Director of Leisure and Learning Karen Brutsché said. “We know our patrons are eager to socialize with their friends at their favorite RCC activities.”

Registration is now open for both Reston and non-Reston residents:

  • Bridge — Players with intermediate or advanced knowledge of Bridge are invited to play on Mondays at Hunters Woods (10 a.m.-2 p.m.) and Tuesdays at Lake Anne (10 a.m.-1 p.m.). These games are free to attend.
  • Trips — Day trips organized by RCC this fall include the Museum of the Bible (Sept. 16), the International Spy Museum (Oct. 14), Toby’s Dinner Theatre (Nov. 17), and more. Prices vary depending on the trip.
  • American Mah Jongg — Open to American mahjongg players on Wednesdays (1:15-3:45 p.m.) and Thursdays (9:30 a.m.-noon) at Hunters Woods. These games are free to attend.

With the recent spike in COVID-19 cases, all events will require registration, including activities like bridge that used to operate as drop-in programs.

The shift to advance registration for drop-in programs was an initially temporary change prompted by the need to limit crowds during the pandemic, but RCC decided to make it permanent after seeing how the appointment system eliminated conflicts over space for its most popular activities.

RCC also still has some safety precautions in place, including the continued availability of touchless hand sanitizers and virtual programming. Masks are required for everyone when indoors in accordance with Fairfax County’s recently reinstated policy for public facilities.

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Morning Notes

An eastern tiger swallowtail butterfly on purple flowers (via vantagehill/Flickr)

Reston Mother Among Those Affected by Return of Evictions — “Gladys Suarez has lived in her Reston apartment for 20 years with her daughter and 4-year-old grandson. When she fell behind on rent after COVID-19 affected her housecleaning job, a federal eviction moratorium gave her some peace of mind. Now that the moratorium has ended, Virginia eviction courts are busy processing the pandemic backlog of cases, and Suarez has found herself packing all her family’s belongings into boxes, with her scheduled eviction just days away.” [WUSA9]

Nonprofit Seeks Recall of Fairfax County Top Prosecutor — A nonprofit called Virginians for Safe Communities is planning recall campaigns against three liberal prosecutors, including Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney Steve Descano, who defended his reform efforts. The group’s leaders include a former FBI assistant director, a policy director for the Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund, and the Department of Justice’s deputy director of public affairs under the Trump administration. [The Washington Post]

Boston Properties Reports Rent Drops in Reston — Boston Properties “reported the 508-unit Signature at Reston saw average monthly rent drop to $2,143, a 7.6% decline compared to the second quarter of 2020, while the 359-unit Avant at Reston Town Center saw an 8.1% decline to $2,180 a month. On Boston Properties’ earnings call last week, President Douglas Linde said the company’s rents are below pre-pandemic levels but it too is cutting concessions, believing people are moving back to cities.” [Washington Business Journal]

via vantagehill/Flickr

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Patrons enjoy a show at CenterStage before the pandemic (via The CenterStage at Reston/Facebook)

Reston Community Center has announced the lineup its 2021-22 Professional Touring Artist Series.

After a truncated season with limited audiences last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the series will bring a variety of musicians, theatrical performances, and speakers to a full-capacity CenterStage starting in September.

“It is our great pleasure to welcome our audiences back to the CenterStage,” RCC Arts and Events Director Paul Douglas Michnewicz said in a press release. “Whether you are seeking an escape from your troubles with sublime dance or want to be inspired by thought leaders or you just need to laugh, the Professional Touring Artist Series has something for everyone to enjoy.”

With seating limited by Virginia’s restrictions on indoor entertainment venues, RCC Executive Director Leila Gordon says the community center was still able to host some artists and speakers last season, including the folk/rock band Trout Fishing in America, jazz violinist Regina Carter, and actor BD Wong, whose talk coincided with the 2021 Reston Pride Festival in June.

Many artists who were unable to come to Reston still sent video messages that RCC posted to its YouTube channel, and some were rescheduled for this upcoming season.

Gordon says RCC has seen attendance at its shows pick up since late spring, but even in June, a good day would be one with an audience of 100 people for a show that normally might’ve filled up the 260-seat CenterStage auditorium.

“We are keeping our hopes high that widespread vaccination will continue to offer protection that will help artists and audiences return safely to the CenterStage this season,” Gordon said.

Unless otherwise noted, all shows are held at CenterStage, which is located at RCC Hunters Woods (2310 Colts Neck Road). Tickets go on sale for Reston residents and employees on August 1 at 1 p.m. Sales open to the general public on August 8 at 1 p.m.

The full schedule for this season is below:

Mutts Gone Nuts, A Comedy Dog Act

  • Sept. 19, 3-7 p.m.
  • $10 Reston/$15 Non-Reston
  • Expect the unexpected, as canines and comedy collide in a smash hit performance that’s leaving audiences everywhere howling for more.

National Heritage Award Fellows at the Reston Multicultural Festival

  • Sept. 25, 11 a.m.-6 p.m.
  • Lake Anne Plaza; free, all ages
  • National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) National Heritage Fellowships are the nation’s highest honor in folk and traditional arts. This year’s fellows, who will be recognized at the annual Reston Multicultural Festival, are Rev. Paschall & Company and The Chuck Brown Band.

The Seldom Scene

  • Oct. 2, 8 p.m.
  • $25 Reston/$35 Non-Reston
  • What does it take for a bluegrass band to remain popular for more than four decades? For The Seldom Scene, it has taken talented musicians, a signature sound and a solid repertoire, as well as a delightful sense of fun.

Read More

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Reston Town Center North 2021 conceptual plan (via Fairfax County)

Plans for Reston Town Center North continue to slowly develop.

The Reston Association Design Review Board approved an amendment to the previously accepted conceptual plan for Reston Town Center North during its virtual meeting on Tuesday (July 20).

Put forward by Fairfax County’s building design and construction division and Inova Health Care Services, the amendment pertains to the grid of streets, a central green space and tree preservation areas, and establishing future developable blocks in conformance with the comprehensive plan.

A conceptual plan for the 47-acre site was previously approved in 2019. It included 400,000 square feet of public space for office, residential and retail, nine-plus acres for open spaces and eight developable blocks, all of which remains the same after Tuesday’s amendment.

Among the changes in this amendment was an increase of the allotted central green space from 2.3 acres to 3.5 acres, while keeping the tree preservation area intact. It also maintains the curvilinear streets, public space, athletic field, and county rec center.

Additionally, Cameron Glen Drive will connect to a different new street in the conceptual plan to allow for the larger central green.

“I don’t see it as a huge deviation from what was previously proposed, I see it as an improvement,” Design Review Board member Michael Wood said. “I see that we still need a lot of detail, but I think they know that after all of us kind of basically said it in all different ways.”

Comparison of Reston Town Center North conceptual plan between 2019 and 2021 (via Fairfax County/Reston Association)

Maintaining the other features falls in line with objections the design review board expressed to the initial plan in 2018.

“The DRB at that time expressed objections to the plan, and indicated that they’d like it to be more Reston-like in character with curvilinear streets and a greater emphasis on preservation,” Joan Beacham, a project coordinator for the building, design and construction branch of Fairfax County, told the board.

The design of the amended central green will be advanced as a portion of a zoning development plan that will be brought to the board in a future meeting.

The amendment was approved with some additional conditions requested by DRB member Bruce Ramo, including a retention of requests previously made in 2019 when the board approved the initial plan:

  • Further define the buffers surrounding the developmental blocks with illustrative cross-sections and dimensions
  • Confirm and provide approximate minimum percentages of additional open/green space per developmental blocks in addition to the total open space requirements in the Memorandum of Understanding
  • Provide a more cohesive merge in design and active involvement with Edgewater Park

The final condition added that final approval should be in line with Fairfax County’s comprehensive plan for Reston, which is currently being revised.

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Rendering of office building proposed for Reston Gateway Block D (via Fairfax County)

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved the alteration of Boston Properties’ plans for Reston Gateway to swap previously designated retail and parking space for offices after holding a public hearing on Tuesday (July 13).

The decision came two months after the county planning commission approved the proposal to amend the mixed-use development’s site plans and proffer conditions in May.

Mary Ann Tsai with the county’s department of planning and development noted on Tuesday that “no change is proposed to the approved overall gross floor area, or FAR, of the development.”

Submitted to the county in October, the application suggests replacing retail space and garage parking with offices and a screened level of above-grade parking. It will transfer up to 78,000 square feet of office space to Block D from parcels earmarked for Fannie Mae and and Volkswagen’s North American headquarters.

“The big move with this application is to take four stories of above grade structured parking and essentially turn them into office space,” Cooley partner Mark Looney, a legal representative for Boston Properties, told the board.

The Reston Gateway development design blocks (via Fairfax County)

“That office space is coming from other blocks within the existing development where there was office space allocated to them, but they were being developed with less than what the maximum potential was,” Looney said.

Boston Properties, the developer of the multi-phase development, also proposed providing additional design elements on the street level as a part of this application. These elements could include façade articulation, decorative materials, and additional lighting.

Looney added that, while the developer thinks it has made “great strides,” further discussion and work will still need to be had to address these potential changes with Public Art Reston, Town Center Design Review Board, and Fairfax County planners.

Looney said this application is designed to shift square footage “into what used to be an above-grade structured parking facility to improve to overall design of the building itself.”

Located adjacent to the impending Reston Town Center Metro Station, Reston Gateway will expand the town center by 4.4 million square feet of development when finished, adding 2.2 million square feet of offices, 93,000 square feet of retail, 2,010 residential units, and a 570-room hotel.

The first phase, which encompasses the Fannie Mae and Volkswagen buildings, is currently under construction and expected to be completed in the fourth quarter of 2021.

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The Encore Chorale of Reston will be back in person this fall after shifting to a virtual environment last year.

A branch of Encore Creativity for Older Adults, the largest choral organization for adults over 55 in the U.S., the community singing group announced last week that it has now opened registration for the fall semester, which will begin on Sept. 7 and conclude with a free public concert in December.

“We are thrilled to return to in-person singing and live performances in Reston, ” said Jeanne Kelly, Encore Creativity’s founder and artistic director. “Our singers not only learn about the craft of singing and improve their technique, but they can now enjoy socializing and bonding with a new community of friends, which is so important.”

The Encore Chorale of Reston meets on Tuesdays from 2:30 to 4 p.m. at Heritage Fellowship Church (2501 Fox Mill Road). It is directed by David Lang, who has led the group since it formed in 2015 and also serves as director of the Reston Chorale.

No audition is necessary, as Encore’s mission is to “provide an excellent and accessible artistic environment for older adults, regardless of experience or ability,” according to the Encore website.

There will also still be online rehearsals and classes through Encore University, which was founded in the summer of 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“During the pandemic, we reinvented Encore so we could continue to engage and enrich older adults during an unprecedented time for choral singing,” Kelly said. “Our virtual Encore University drew singers from 28 states who enjoyed a creative assortment of classes, virtual concerts and choral singing in a totally new way.”

Encore University will offer seven classes this fall, starting on Sept. 7:

  • Chorale Sings/Rehearsals
  • ROCKS Sings/Rehearsals
  • Vocal Technique
  • A History of Jazz
  • Great Operatic Tenors
  • Music & Your Brain
  • #1 Hits of the 60s & 70s

Singers can choose to attend exclusively in-person rehearsals, only online rehearsals and classes, or a hybrid of in-person rehearsals and online classes.

Interested participants ages 55 and older can register through the Encore Creativity website or by calling 301-261-5747.

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Fourth of July celebrations (via Sheri Hooley/Unsplash)

The Fourth of July is coming up this weekend, and with Monday (July 5) as a designated federal holiday, many public facilities and services will be shaking up their schedules.

The Fairfax County Health Department announced today (Friday) that all of its COVID-19 vaccination clinics will be closed on Independence Day, but walk-in services will be available at the Fairfax County Government Center and the former Safeway at Mount Vernon Square in Alexandria on Saturday.

A vaccine site at Springfield Town Center will also be open for walk-ins on Monday.

Here are some other closures that county residents should keep in mind this holiday weekend:

Fairfax County Government

Fairfax County Courts

County Libraries, Recreation Centers, Parks

Public Transit

  • Fairfax Connector buses will operate on a Saturday service schedule on Monday. Check the link for details on specific routes.
  • WMATA Metrorail service will operate from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Saturday and 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Sunday. Details on routes and closed stations can be found on the Metro website.
  • WMATA Metrobus will operate on a Saturday service schedule on Monday.

County Trash and Recycling

Reston

Herndon

  • Town offices and the Herndon Community Center will be closed on Sunday and Monday.
  • Recycling will be collected on Monday as normal.
  • The farm at Frying Pan Park and the indoor arena will be open, but the visitor center will be closed.
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Reston residents will soon be able to track changes in the area’s land and urban development over time.

Fairfax County launched an interactive Reston Transportation Hub in January as the start of the Reston Data Visualization project. The hub features data about vehicle, pedestrian, bicycle, and public transit developments.

“This will help us capture changes over time,” Beth Elliot, an urban centers section planner for the Department of Planning and Development, told the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors during a land use policy committee meeting yesterday (Tuesday).

Right now, the dashboard only features one year of data — specifically, from 2019.

“But in the future, as we add additional data, you’ll be able to see how it’s progressed and where changes have occurred,” Elliot said.

Since its release, the Reston Data Visualization project has continued to evolve as more data becomes available and put into the digital system. Elliot says the planning department hopes to release additional sections of the project in the “next few months.”

“With this tool, our goal is to move towards an interactive format which allows us to present more data than a static format would provide, and utilize current technology compared to a printed document,” Elliot told the board. “We also hope this will allow us to have users access the data they’re specifically interested in, compared to, say, a 200-page report where you’re flipping through trying to figure out which page you care about.”

The additional phases to be rolled out include applications that present information for zoning activity and urban parks in Reston.

Elliot added that the department is planning to develop the Tysons Annual Report into an interactive platform, starting with an upcoming publication in October, as the department coordinates with the agencies responsible for putting together the progress report.

“I have to say, in the month and a half or so since I was briefed on this, it just keeps getting better,” Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn said. “Data is added, and I think this has quite an upside over the years and as data becomes available.”

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Reston is now home to an expansion of PuroClean, a national business that specializes in cleaning, restoration, and commercial services.

PuroClean announced on Wednesday (May 5) that entrepreneur and Army veteran Joseph Ortiz is opening the company’s latest franchise, which will primarily provide service in Reston, Herndon, Great Falls, Tysons, and Shady Oaks.

Founded in 2001, PuroClean has more than 325 franchise offices throughout the United States and Canada. The company’s focus is providing a range of cleaning services, including water damage restoration, mold removal, fire and smoke damage restoration, and biohazard and virus cleanup.

The business also offers inspections, demolition, debris removal, and cleaning for carpet, upholstery, air ducts, vents, and tile and grout, along with commercial property restoration services for property owners who suffer large-scale damage.

“We’re happy to announce the expansion of the PuroClean network in Virginia with the opening of PuroClean of Reston.  This team is certified and equipped to serve local property owners during their times of need,” PuroClean President and COO Steve White said in a press release.

The Reston franchise brings PuroClean up to five franchises in Northern Virginia. The company also has offices in McLean, Alexandria, Springfield, and Sterling.

“By growing and supporting franchise owners like Joseph across North America, we can help small business owners begin their entrepreneurial journey and serve their local communities,” he added.

Before starting his PuroClean franchise, Ortiz served in the U.S. Army and subsequently worked multiple positions within the aerospace industry. He is also president of the aircraft maintenance company DCJets Services LLC, which he opened in Sterling in 2016.

“As a military veteran, it was a natural transition for me to become a franchise owner at PuroClean, who provides services to people during their times of need throughout Fairfax county,” Ortiz said. “Amid the pandemic, our homes and workplaces are our most personal spaces and if I can help someone save their property, then I’ve completed my duty.”

Photo courtesy PuroClean

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A Reston man was sentenced to 12 years in prison on Wednesday (April 21) for selling fentanyl to an individual who later succumbed to a fatal overdose on the drug.

Peter Andrew Romm, 36, regularly traveled to Baltimore to purchase heroin and fentanyl, which he sold in Northern Virginia, according to federal court documents.

Court documents identified one of Romm’s customers as “N.G.,” the individual who suffered the fatal overdose after consuming fentanyl purchased through a middleman, Tyler Huston, 28, on Oct. 7, 2019. The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner determined that N.G. died by acute fentanyl poisoning.

“The defendant’s fentanyl trafficking significantly endangered our communities and caused victim N.G. to suffer a tragic overdose,” Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia Raj Parekh said in a press release.

“While no prosecution can bring victim N.G. back to his family and loved ones, we hope that this case has brought some measure of peace and closure to them, all of whom deserve justice and healing for their devastating loss.”

Romm was arrested on Feb. 11, 2020 upon returning from Baltimore while in possession of approximately 75 capsules of fentanyl. Romm admitted to selling fentanyl in Northern Virginia, including to N.G. through a middleman, during a post-arrest interview with law enforcement.

Romm was arrested again eight days later, along with his girlfriend and co-conspirator Donnetta Ferguson. They were again returning from Baltimore, and 72 capsules of fentanyl were discovered in Romm’s vehicle, according to the press release.

Romm pleaded guilty on Nov. 4 to one count of conspiracy to distribute one kilogram or more of heroin and 400 grams or more of fentanyl, as well as one count of distribution of fentanyl. He accepted a plea agreement that required a minimum of 10 years in prison. He also admitted to distributing the fentanyl that caused N.G.’s death, as a part of the plea agreement.

Huston and Ferguson also pleaded guilty to charges related to their roles in the conspiracy. Huston was sentenced on Dec. 16 to 28 months in prison for brokering the deal that resulted in N.G.’s fatal overdose on fentanyl.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Katherine E. Rumbaugh and former Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Karolina Klyuchnikova prosecuted the case. U.S. District Judge Anthony J. Trenga sentenced Romm.

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