(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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Reston community members have set up a GoFundMe to help an individual experiencing homelessness pay for a local hotel room.

On a sunny May morning, 62-year-old Mark sat on the curb at the back of Target’s parking lot on Sunset Hills Road in Reston.

When a gray Honda CR-V pulls up in front of him, he smiles and waves. The car’s window comes down, he stands up, limping to the car. The woman inside hands Mark some money.

“God bless you,” Mark said.

“Your smile makes me happy,” the woman responded.

“I love to see them smile back,” Mark said, sitting back on the curb as the woman drives away. “It’s a little bit of interaction.”

With his balloons, signs, and a smile, Mark — who asked Reston Now not use his last name out of privacy concerns — has become a well-known fixture at this spot. He has been sitting there six days a week, with Mondays off, since he started experienced homelessness five years ago, going on six.

Earlier this year, Oak Hill resident David Ritter set up a GoFundMe to assist Mark in paying for a room at a nearby hotel. Currently, the fundraiser amassed over $900, but it has a goal of $10,000.

Ritter tells Reston Now he’s helping because he’s gotten to know Mark over the last several years.

“A lot of homeless people don’t interact, don’t engage, and are not positive like Mark,” Ritter said. “I think that’s a testament to his character.”

Mark tells Reston Now that he’s a veteran and a Columbia University medical school graduate who has a past criminal record that has prevented him from getting a job.

“I’ve sent out 1,500 job applications in five years,” Mark said. “Nobody will hire me…The computer probably just spits it out once you check that box.”

He also has physical limitations stemming from diabetes, a bad hip, and a shoulder surgery gone bad, putting his left arm in a sling. He additionally suffers from bipolar disorder. He says he’s applied for disability and is still waiting to hear back about help.

Behind the smile and loquacious nature, Mark admits that the difficulty of his situation can affect his mental health.

“It’s definitely difficult at times,” he said. “I’m bipolar. I can have massive depression episodes. I go down hard.”

In general, Mark says, people are very kind to him.

The nearby Sunoco gas station owns the land where he sits, Mark says, and they let him sit there every day (Reston Now independently verified this with Sunoco). Target employees are also very nice, teasingly calling him the “goodbye person” since he waves to everyone exiting the parking lot.

He says Fairfax County police check in on him regularly, always treating him with respect and dignity.

And people in cars often stop to give a few dollars, food, and other supplies. On good days, he says he makes about a hundred dollars a day.

Over the course of his hour-long interview with Reston Now, no less than six people in cars stop to help Mark out. He greets everyone with a wave, a smile, and a hearty thank you.

“I get a lot of food from Target and all the restaurants from around here,” he says, chuckling. “I haven’t had to buy my own lunch or dinner in a long time.”

The hope with the GoFundMe is that it would provide Mark the means to get a room every night at the local hotel where he’s staying. Read More

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New electric vehicle charging stations are coming to Target in Reston this summer.

While the stations have been installed, they won’t go live until the summer. Four 150 kilowatt-hour chargers are planned at Target, which is located at 12197 Sunset Hills Road.

The stations are powered by Electrify America, a Reston-based company that promotes zero-emission vehicle adoption through an a fast and convenient charging network across the country.

The company, which was founded in 2016, currently does not have plans for additional stations in Reston and Herndon, a company spokesperson told Reston Now. But other locations are planned in Northern Virginia.

So far, the company has built more than 570 charging stations with around 2,500 individual chargers. Last year, Electrify America also completed two cross-country routes.

Roughly 800 total stations with about 3,500 chargers that are specifically designed for quick charging are planned by the end of this year.

The expansion at Target is part of a nationwide push to expand electric vehicle charging option. In 2018, Target announced that it plans to add the stations to 600 parking spaces at more than 100 sites across more than 20 states.

“Accelerating our efforts to install new charging stations at Target stores across the country is one way we’re building on our commitment to investing in solutions that leave our communities better for future families,” said John Leisen, vice president of property management at Target.  

Photo via Matt Bianco

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In response to the novel coronavirus, several local stores are offering special shopping hours for seniors and high-risk customers.

We’ve rounded up what we know so far about these hours, although some grocers have not defined the age minimum for being classified as a senior.

Here’s the latest update on specialized shopping hours for seniors and high-risk people:

  • Balducci’s Food Lover’s Market: First hour of shopping every day
  • Target: First hour of shopping on Wednesdays
  • Giant: Individuals who are age 60 or above and people with compromised immune systems between 6-7 a.m.
  • Safeway (Hunters Woods and South Lakes Village Centers): Between 7-9 a.m. on Tuesday and Thursday, according to store representatives
  • Walgreens: Tuesdays from 8-9 a.m., also open to caregivers and immediate families
  • Trader Joe’s: Mondays from 9-10 a.m.
  • Whole Foods Market: The location at 11660 Plaza America Drive opens at 8 am., but guests age 60 and above can shop at 7 a.m.
  • Though MOM’s Organic Market in Herndon isn’t hosting specialized hours yet, a store staffer said that headquarters is considering options to keep shoppers safe.
  • Sprouts Farmers Market in Herndon does not have special hours, a customer service representative said.

We’ll update this list as we hear from more local businesses about next steps.

Ashley Hopko contributed reporting

Photo by cbreezy

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“Babes in the Woods” — Parents can bring their toddlers up to 35 months of age for craft time and sing-alongs at the Walker Nature Center. Tickets cost $7 for Restonians and $9 for non-residents. [WebTrac]

Target increases paychecks — “Target workers in Reston are about to see their paychecks go up. The retail giant announced Thursday that all of its workers will make at least $13 an hour beginning in June as part of its commitment to have a $15 minimum hourly wage by 2020.” [Reston Patch]

Screen safety PSA — The fire department wants residents to remember that screens keep bugs out but won’t keep the kids in. “Screens DO NOT prevent children from falling out. Windows must operate easily for emergency exits in case of fire, but should be made ‘childproof'” — which the fire department has tips about. [Fairfax County Fire and Rescue]

Auditing action — “Some places in America are significantly more likely to get audited by the IRS than others. Unfortunately, Reston is one of them. That’s according to a new interactive map created by the folks at Pro Publica… According to the map, an estimated 7.9 per 1,000 filings in Fairfax County were audited.” [Reston Patch]

Restonian tried to get gun past TSA — “Federal security officers spotted an unloaded 9 mm handgun in a [Reston] man’s carry-on bag at a Baltimore Washington International Airport security checkpoint April 5… The gun owned by a Reston man was not loaded and was spotted in the checkpoint X-ray machine. Maryland Transportation Authority Police confiscated the gun and arrested him on a state weapons charge.” [Reston Patch]

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Two Sterling residents were arrested Saturday night in connection with a shoplifting incident at Target (12197 Sunset Hills Road).

According to the Fairfax County Police Department, Naim Arrak, 21, ran away from police after he left the store with stolen goods. Officers quickly caught up with Arrak and found a woman, Ashley Loza, 18, waiting for him in a nearby car.

Loza was charged with grand larceny and Arrak was charged with grand larceny, larceny with intent to sell, possession of schedule two narcotics and possession of schedule four narcotics.

In a separate incident, a woman receiving medical care in an ambulance allegedly assaulted a firefighter on Oct. 17. at around 4:16 p.m.

Linda Klotz, 59, of Centreville, pulled a firefighter down onto the gurney and caused several minor injuries. She was charged with assault on a firefighter, according to police.

FCPD also reported the following incidents in recent days:

LARCENIES:

11900 block of Market Street, merchandise from business

12100 block of Sunset Hills Road, merchandise from business

11600 block of Stoneview Square, dog from residence

12100 block of Sunset Hills Road, merchandise from business

12100 block of Sunset Hills Road, merchandise from business

STOLEN VEHICLES:

13300 block of Hungerford Place, 2012 Mercedes C350

Photos via FCPD

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Police continue to investigate a shoplifting incident at Target earlier this month that resulted in a multi-car police pursuit. Officers responded to Target on Sept. 17 at around 8 p.m. after an employee noticed a man was stealing merchandise. Police cars pursued the car, but the man was not found.

In a separate incident, police are investigating a home burglary on the 2200 block of Castle Rock Square. Sometime between Sept. 19 and Sept. 20, someone broke into the apartment and took electronic equipment, according to the Fairfax County Police Department.

The Herndon Police Department also continues to search for a man who they believe robbed M&T Bank in Herndon on Sept. 14. Police issued photos from a security camera but have not found the suspect yet.

FCPD also reported the following incidents in recent days:

LARCENIES:

1800 block of Cameron Glen Drive, cell phone from location

12900 block of Highland Crossing Drive, medication from residence

1900 block of Reston Metro Plaza, wallet from location 

1800 block of Cameron Glen Drive, cell phone from vehicle

11900 block of Democracy Drive, cell phone from business

11800 block of Spectrum Center, merchandise from business

5900 block of Kingstowne Towne Center, luggage from business

12100 block of Sunset Hills Road, liquor from business

STOLEN VEHICLES: 

None reported

On Sept. 16 just before 7 a.m., Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office deputies responded found a disabled car parked in the middle of the road on Waxpool Road in Ashburn. The driver and passenger were found attempting to get into another vehicle.

Maria Alevromagiros, 34, of Herndon, was arrested and charged with driving under the influence, possession of narcotics and driving on a suspended driver’s license, according to LCSO.

File photo

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A hot police pursuit in the parking lot of Target earlier this week raised some questions from Reston Now readers this week.

According to newly released information from the Fairfax County Police Department, the incident involved a man suspected of stealing merchandise from the store at 12197 Sunset Hills Road.

Officers responded to the scene on Monday (Sept. 17) at around 7:59 p.m. in response to a Target employee’s report that a man was stealing from the store. The man was found changing his clothes inside a car.

When officers approached the car, the driver ignored them and sped away. After pursuing the car in the parking lot, officers lost sight of it. The car was later found abandoned in a nearby parking lot, according to the police department.

The incident is under investigation and no other information was immediately available. The monetary value of the stolen merchandise was not released.

File photo

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Target stores nationwide have long had red balls (or “fanciful bollards,” as our friends at Restonian call them) marking the entrances serving and, ideally, a foil for cars to smash into the store in a robbery.

A Reston now reader did a double take this week when she noticed some of the red spheres outside the Reston Target were painted to look like Pokeballs.

Pokemon, the Japanese media company, is having a resurgence these days with the innovation of Pokemon Go, the phone-based GPS game that is being played seemingly everywhere this summer.

Comicbook.com reports that 400 Target stores across the country are getting the Poke-treatment in prep for a promotion between Target and the Pokemon Company.

A company spokesman says the the Pokeballs’ iconic button/clasp will be added to the ball once painting is complete.

In Reston, the two Pokeballs still had “wet paint” signs on them early Thursday.

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Safeway mailer

Hundreds of Reston homes got a piece of direct mail last week that piqued curiosity.

Safeway announced on the card that it is offering incentives for transferring prescriptions to its store at 12197 Sunset Hills Rd. in Reston.

There is no Safeway at that address. That’s the address of Target.

That was a cause of concern for some residents, several of whom contacted Reston Now.

“Is Target doing OK?” one asked.

Target is doing fine. The Reston Target is not on the list of a handful of U.S. stores that are slated to be closed by the company. There are Safeway locations at South Lakes Village Center and Hunter Woods Village Center, as well as on Elden Street in Herndon, with no immediate plans for new ones, Safeway spokesman Craig Muckle said.

Muckle said the Safeway flyer contained a printing error.

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