Reston, VA

With traditional graduation ceremonies canceled, South Lakes High School found a new way to celebrate the graduating class of 2020 on Wednesday night.

Cars congregated for a drive-by parade in honor of graduating seniors around 7 p.m. yesterday. The community-wide celebration gave a nod to graduates whose plans for celebrations were drastically changed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Graduates stood along the sidewalk near the school on marks designated by the school. Some gathered together for embraces as people from cars showered flowers, candy, and messages from inside their vehicles.

Earlier this week, students were able to pick up their caps and gowns. Each graduate was assigned to a designated spot as cars drove by to celebrate the students and their accomplishments.

The school’s administration also compiled a video to honor students who won special awards or recognition this year, including scholarships and decisions to serve in the military. 

Fairfax County Public Schools closed until the end of the school year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The school system has not yet determined if closures will continue in the beginning of the next academic year.

Staff photos by Jay Westcott

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In order to respond to the needs of older adults, Fairfax County has launched a new grocery shopping and pharmacy pickup service for older adults.

The health department’s Neighbor to Neighbor Program will pick up groceries and pharmacy orders for free for residents who are above the age of 60. 

The service is available for seniors who live in private residences and need assistance. Volunteers will have completed background checks.

In order to determine eligibility or place an order, residents can all the Fairfax County Aging, Disability and Caregiver Resource line at 703-324-7948.

The service is not available for longterm care retirement communities, assisted living centers, nursing homes, group homes or other facilities.

The program is supported by the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department and the Department of Family Services.

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Friday Morning Notes

Local Police Investigate Attempting Robbery — A man attempted to take cash from a truck driver while he was sitting in his vehicle on  May 13 at around 3:50 p.m. The incident happened on the 1500 block of Cameron Crescent Drive. The suspect ran away and no injuries were reported. [Fairfax County Police Department]

Reston Woman Creates “Dating While Gray” Podcast — “On Thursday, Laura Stassi of Reston posted the latest episode of “Dating While Gray,” a biweekly podcast focusing on love and relationships in the 50-and-over crowd. The new episode marks the end of the podcast’s first 10-episode season. The 59-year-old writer and editor, who has authored several nonfiction children’s books, never imagined she would get the chance to host her own podcast. It’s not what she had planned.” [Reston Patch]

Reston Association Board Elects Officers — At a meeting earlier this week, the Board of Directors elected four of its officers for the coming year. Julie Bitzer is president, Caren Anton is vice president, John Mooney is secretary and Robert Petrine is treasurer. [Reston Association]

Face Coverings Required on Fairfax Connector — Passengers on Fairfax Connector buses must wear face coverings starting on Monday, May 18. But passengers have a weeklong grace period through Monday, May 24. The county’s transportation department previously only encouraged wearing face coverings. [Fairfax County Government]

Cause of Great Falls House Fire Under Investigation — Authorities are investigating why a house on the 800 block of Walker Road caught fire on Tuesday, May 12. One resident was displaced as a result of the incident. [Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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While seniors at public schools in Fairfax County may have to wait until the fall for ceremonies, they will have opportunities this spring to celebrate finishing high school.

In a message to families yesterday, Superintendent Scott Brabrand shared that the school board has agreed to his proposals on how to recognize graduating seniors.

“We are committed to celebrating our seniors in the safest and most personalized manner possible,” Brabrand said. “We share the disappointment that the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent school closure placed on our senior class.”

Instead of in-person ceremonies this spring, the high schools will schedule individual graduate photo opportunities starting in June where the student and a small group of family members can watch the student get their diploma and have their photo taken.

Fairfax County Public Schools also plans to produce a celebration video with videos submitted by students. Brabrand said that the video will be available for free to everyone in the class of 2020.

If COVID-19 does not pose a health risk in the fall, each school may schedule an in-person ceremony, Brabrand said.

He noted that state health department data indicates that summer ceremonies would “pose too many health risks and too much uncertainty with regard to social distancing requirements and restrictions on large gatherings.” More details will be announced around Labor Day.

“If a fall in-person ceremony cannot be held for health and safety reasons, then we will consider scheduling the face to face ceremony in the winter or next spring,” Brabrand said.

Photo via Tai’s Captures/Unsplash

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A coronavirus outbreak at a long-term care facility in Herndon has been linked to 11 deaths.

The Associated Press reports that the deaths occurred at the Dulles Health and Rehab Center in Herndon since the first test on March 28. Since then, 63 patients have tested positive for the respiratory illness.

Jeannie Adams, the director of legal services for Commonwealth Care of Roanoke, which provides management services for the center, also noted that 19 members have tested positive.

State officials reported 91 outbreaks at long-term care facilities in the state, resulting in 78 deaths.

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam has created a task force devoted to handling outbreaks at long-term care facilities. The task force is aimed at ensuring facilities have resources to fight COVID-19, strengthen staffing and infection control measures, and ensure information about the pandemic is readily available.

Photo via Dulles Health and Rehab Center

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Previously approved plans for the redevelopment of Lake Anne Fellowship House are coming closer to reality following the securement of $3 million from the county.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors voted yesterday (Tuesday) to authorize the county’s housing authority to provide a $3 million loan for the project.

“The folks that are living in the existing Lake Anne Fellowship House have been waiting for this for a long time,” said Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn. “I think everything about it is actually quite straightforward and I’m very excited about having this move forward even in these uncertain times.”

Pat Herrity’s attempt to defer the vote failed. Herrity said he was concerned about approving the loan during “different and difficult times.”

The redevelopment plan ensures the 240-unit development, which offers affordable housing for seniors in Reston, will remain affordable for the next 30 years.

The plan, which was approved in Oct. 2018, would redevelop two aging buildings built in the 1970s, into a single building along North Shore Drive. Fellowship Square Foundation, the nonprofit organization that owns and maintains the current facility, and the Community Preservation and Development Corp., also plans to add 36 market-rate townhouses to the west of the property in order to help finance the construction of senior housing.

Construction is expected to begin in May, according to county documents.

Here’s more from the county on the project:

The Project will also be much more livable than Fellowship House: 100 percent of the units, and all of the common areas, are designed to Universal Design standards. Further, 54 of the units are designed to be fully accessible under the Uniform Federal Accessibility Standards, which is nearly double the accessibility code requirement. The units will be built to EarthCraft standards of energy efficiency. Fellowship House currently has a “two-pipe” central heating and cooling system, but the units in the new building will each have efficient, individually controlled HVAC systems.

To encourage energy conservation, the apartments will be individually metered for electricity. The residents will receive a utility allowance as part of their rent calculation. The Project will include extensive amenity spaces, including a business center, garden center, arts and crafts room, wellness room, game room and cybercafé. The Project includes an approximately 8,000 square-foot private outdoor terrace for the residents as well as an interactive tot lot and pocket park which will be available to the community at large.

The developers have also secured tax-exempt bonds from the Virginia Housing Development Authority.

Photo via Fairfax County Government

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The Reston Association no longer has a 55+ Committee.

RA’s Board of Directors voted to eliminate the committee at the meeting last week (Dec. 19).

“It’s been a difficult year,” Caren Anton, the board liaison to the committee, said during the meeting, adding that a lack of productivity, low membership and taking up RA staff’s time plagued the committee.

Earlier this year, RA launched the “Resources for Better Aging” webpage and the committee members met with people running neighbors helping neighbors-type programs to see if Reston could try something similar.

Anton said that the board asked the committee to go on a hiatus in June.

The board lost its staff liaison and its chair recently submitted a letter of resignation, Anton said.

“As board liaison, I feel that like there is more I could have done or should have done to sort get things on a more productive path,” Anton said, questioning where a new 55+ group might fit into RA’s strategic plan and if a working group might be better. “A 55+ Advisory Committee may not be the answer.”

While Anton said that the committee has struggled, she noted that its purpose — to help people age in place in Reston — is still alive.

Anton read a letter from Reston resident Steve Gurney, who urged for more intergenerational programming and said that senior programs can have stigmas attached to them.

She also said that an RA member commented at a meeting in July that seniors in Reston feel left out.

“I believe we have a responsibility to protect the liveability of all of our members,” Anton said. “I do think it is our obligation to make it easier for our members to age in place.”

RA Board President Catherine Baum, who said that most of her immediate family falls into the 55+ group, said that she thinks a lot about how the Reston Association could improve wheelchair accessibility and information about the Design Review Board and Covenants Committee.

“Some of these people who don’t know where they need to go to get ivy taken off walls,” Baum said.

Baum said that she would like to see future discussions about how the committee could be “rejuvenated” or join the Reston Community Center.

Ultimately, Baum proposed abolishing the committee — “I see a committee that is non-functioning” — and the motion passed, with a “nay” vote from Secretary John Mooney.

Photo via Reston Association/YouTube

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An author, history buff and former journalist will speak in Reston next week about her recent historical novel.

Laura Elliott will be at Sunrise Senior Living (1778 Fountain Drive) on Tuesday (Oct. 1) to give a presentation on her novel “Hamilton and Peggy!: A Revolutionary Friendship,” which explores the friendship between American historical figures Peggy Schuyler and Alexander Hamilton.

The event is part of “Creative Conversations” at the senior living facility, with similar talks scheduled through 2020, according to Connection Newspapers. The event begins at 6:30 p.m. and is open to the public.

Elliott began her writing career as a journalist and was a senior writer with Washingtonian where she said she wrote about women’s issues. Later in her career, she decided to become a novelist and has written nine novels so far, she told Reston Now.

She said she decided to write the novel after learning about their friendship — Peggy helped Hamilton by acting as a “wingman” to help Hamilton court her sister, Elizabeth.

Elliott said that many of her readers first became interested in the topic after hearing about the popular Broadway musical “Hamilton.”

“It’s amazing how much history they fit into the musical,” Elliott said.

She will tailor the presentation to the audience, understanding that some of the seniors at the living community may be veterans, she said.

“The thing about seniors is that they know their history,” Elliott said. “I really do try to gauge what interest the audience most and leave time for questions.”

Looking forward to the future, Elliott said she is discussing with her publisher another book focusing on other prominent figures from the era. She told Reston Now she is considering writing a novel about John Laurens, who was a soldier during the Revolutionary War.

Photo via Facebook

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Two Restonians took home top honors at the National Senior Games in Albuquerque, New Mexico last month.

Regina and Bill Bouie won gold medals during the games, where more than 14,000 athletes from around the country convened for two weeks to compete against one another in a mix of sports.

The residents qualified for the competition after earning awards in the state games.

During the games from June 11-25, Bill and his partner Steve Quatro won the gold in the men’s 65 doubles. Quatro also won gold in the men’s 65-69 singles. The Bouies won the gold medal in mixed 60 doubles and Regina won the gold medal in the women’s 50-54 doubles.

Regina is a personal trainer whose practice focuses on helping seniors above 50 remain active. Bill is the chairman of the Fairfax County Park Authority.

As we continue to grow and age in the County, it is important that we recognize that people recreate in different ways, so we continue to try to meet those challenges by offering as many programs as we can and try to have something for everyone, from cradle to grave,” Bill wrote in a statement.

According to its website, the games are a 20-sport, biennial competition for men and women age 50 and over. It is the largest multi-sport event in the world for seniors.

Photo via Sky Communications

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Third FCPS hiring event for furloughed workers — After two previous events to help furloughed federal employees, Fairfax County Public Schools will hold its third hiring event today from 5-7:30 p.m. at the FCPS Administration Center in Merrifield. [Tysons Reporter]

Senior movie day — The Reston Association’s “Meet Me at the Movies” will screen “Operation Finale” — a 2018 American historical drama — at 10 a.m. with free refreshments. Tickets are free for people age 55 and older. The monthly movie event is done in cooperation with the Bow-Tie Cinemas at Reston Town Center and is sponsored by Tall Oaks Assisted Living. [WebTrac]

Aslin moving to Alexandria — Herndon’s Aslin Beer Co. plans to open a production facility and a 3,500-square-foot tasting room in the city’s West End neighborhood. The beer company recently faced hurdles with design plans for a tasting room it wanted to open in Herndon. [Alexandria Living Magazine]

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Reston residents ages 55 and older now have an online resource created just for them.

The Reston Association launched a new page on its website yesterday (Jan. 7) that provides information on housing, transportation, recreation, home services and wellness.

The “Resources for Better Aging” webpage also lists more than 75 local organizations that offer different services around Reston that older residents might want to check out, including AARP RestonHerndon Senior CenterSeniors-On-The-Go and Reston Runners.

The webpage can be found under the “Around Reston” section on the RA’s website.

RA’s 55+ Advisory Committee and the Reston for a Lifetime, a citizens’ group, initiated the webpage project. The committee, which advises the Board of Directors on how to enhance the welfare of RA members ages 55 and older, collaborates with the citizens’ group to encourage aging-in-place.

Photo via Reston Association

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Hunters Woods at Trails Edge, a senior living community under construction near the Hunters Woods Village Center, is on track for its spring opening next year.

When complete, the IntegraCare facility will have 210 senior-living units — including 90 independent living units, 81 for assisted living, 24 for memory care and 15 for special needs.

“We believe that it will [open] in May, but have not set a specific date as projects of this nature are always subject to the timeline of county agency approvals,” Cissy Nickel, the community integration director for IntegraCare Corp., told Reston Now.

The exterior shell is finished, and the first floor is almost complete, Nickel said. Drywall, trim, flooring and appliance installation still need work.

Located on a 4.3-acre lot at 2222 Colts Neck Road, the retirement community took the former site of the United Christian Parish. The $72 million project aims to address the shortage of senior housing in the Reston area. 

Reston Now previously reported that construction started in May 2017.

A temporary office and showroom opened in July in the Hunters Woods Shopping Center (2254B Colts Neck Road) to provide more information. 

An open house is set for Dec. 27 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the showroom. 

Rendering by Moseley Architects

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A new exhibition featuring the work of artists age 55 and above is coming to Reston next week.

The exhibit, “Young at Art,” opens on Oct. 10 at 6:30 p.m. in the showroom of Hunters Woods at Trails Edge (2254B Hunters Woods Plaza).

Attendees can meet the artists behind the event and enjoy local wines paired with desserts. RSVP by emailing [email protected] or by calling 703-708-4047.

Hunters Woods at Trails Edge is an independent living and assisted living facility expected to open by the spring of 2019. The $72 million project is the first Virginia location for IntegraCare.

Photo via Marion Myers

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Tweaks to the redevelopment proposal of the Lake Anne Fellowship House will head to Reston Association’s Design Review Board for consideration on September 18.

The plan calls for redeveloping Lake Anne Fellowship House, an affordable housing community for seniors on North Shore Drive, into a new, eight-story, multi-family building for seniors. The 240-unit building will include a crafts room, community gardens, and a garage. A terrace will overlook North Shore Drive.

The remainder of the property will include up to 72 market-rate, for-sale townhouses to help finance the senior housing construction project.

In July, the DRB suggested a series of changes, including redesigning the southeast corner of the multi-family building away from North Shore Drive, redesigning the building’s parking garage, rethinking the placement of a row of townhouses away from North Shore Drive, more landscaping, and more contemporary architecture that uses flat roofs, rooftop terraces and metal canopies.

Fellowship Square Foundation and the Community Preservation and Development Corporation redesigned the multifamily building by shifting the parking garage from the base of the building to allow for more landscaping and further distance from North Shore Drive.

The garage wall will be screened by louvers or metal panels. To address concerns about the placement of two rows of townhouses, the applicant plans to increase the space between some rows by three feet. Architectural designs will also include more modern and contemporary elements.

The meeting is set for 7 p.m. at 12001 Sunrise Valley Drive in the conference center. The project will go before the county’s Planning Commission on October 4 and the county’s Board of Supervisors on October 16.

Photos via Reston Association/Handout

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A Pennsylvania-based company plans to complete a senior citizens’ independent living and assisted living facility nears Hunters Woods Village Center by the spring of next year.

The $72 million project — the first Virginia location for IntegraCare — aims to address the shortage of senior housing in the Reston area. Of the 210 housing units, 91 are for independent living, 80 are for assisted living and the remaining units are a combination of memory care and continuing care.

“This land was repurposed and purchased by a developer who did a significant amount of research to make sure that we were going to meet the cultural needs of the Reston community,” said Cissy Nickel, executive director of an IntegraCare location in Easton, Maryland. “We’re trying to create a mini-Reston within Reston.”

The community, called Hunter’s Woods at Trails Edge, is located on a 4.3-acre lot at 2222 Colts Neck Road, the former location of United Christian Parish.  The county approved the project, which is being developed by Atlantic Realty, AEW Capital Management and IntegraCare, in 2007.

Nickel said the company sought to mirror programming available for other residents within its community, especially given the close proximity of Turquoise Nature Trail. The project includes several dining venues, a beauty shop, a barber shop, an art studio where instructional classes will be offered, a library, a computer laband a garden with vegetables, herbs and flowers. The community will also include what Nickel called “man caves” or separate areas for men and women.

An underground garage includes more than 160 parking spaces, in addition to eight surface parking spaces. Nickel said the development team is working with Reston Association and Reston Community Center to provide transportation to and from the organizations in order to allow seniors to attend classes, programs and events.

The company is still working on how it will lease market and affordable housing as the project nears completion. Twenty percent of the units are affordable, Nickel said. The income level served by the units was not immediately available. It is likely the company will lease the market and below market units in a rotating cycle.

“There’s a huge need in the area and obviously our need is going to exceed our availability. We’re going to have be really methodical about it,” Nickel said.

A temporary office and showroom will open in mid-to-late June in Hunters Woods Shopping Center to provide more information, she said. Individuals 62 years and older can qualify for housing. 

Atlantic Realty Company did not respond to multiple requests for comment over several days from Reston Now.

Rendering by Moseley Architects

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