Reston, VA

Monday, Jan 25

  • The Nields Livestream Concert (8 p.m.) – Local folk band the Nields recently released their 20th album and they are celebrating by performing a livestream concert from Jammin Java in Vienna. Known for their songs being inspired by headlines, tickets are free but donations are welcomed.

Tuesday, Jan 26

  • Treasure Hunting at Home (11 a.m. to 12 p.m) – The Reston Association is hosting a virtual appraisal roadshow, where residents can show off their family heirlooms to see if they truly have a price. Each family can present one item – like jewelry, coins, timepiece, porcelain, or artwork – and experts will explain their origins and their monetary worth.

Wednesday, Jan 27

  • Summer Camp in a Bag (12 p.m. to 2 p.m.) – Due to COVID-19, the Reston Summer Camp Expo isn’t being held this year. But that doesn’t mean families can’t dream of sunshine and kids getting out of the house. Pick up a swag bag full of summer camp information and fun surprises at the Reston Community Center at Hunter Woods from January 25 to 30.

Thursday, Jan 28 

  • Queen’s Gambit (4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.) – Inspired by the popular Netflix show, local Ashley Xing joins the Fairfax County Public Library for a history of women in chess. Xing was a U.S. representative to the World Youth Chess Championships and founder of the Tyson-Pimmit library’s chess team.

Friday, Jan 29

  • Winter Wanderland (6 p.m.) – Take a socially distant wander through ice sculptures in the Village at Leesburg. There’s a new ice theme every week, but visitors have to guess what it is. Correctly doing so gets you entered into a drawing for a $100 gift card at a local store. If there’s poor weather, check social media for updates to the schedule.

Saturday, Jan 30 

  • Dear COVID Poetry Slam (6-8 p.m.) – Recovery Program Solutions of Virginia is partnering with Busboys and Poets for a poetry slam and open mic. Here’s a chance to get thoughts and feelings about COVID off your chest. Tickets are free, but donations are welcome. NBC4’s Drew Wilder is the guest emcee.

Photo via Helena1962/Pixabay

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Reston’s Lake Thoreau Entertainment Association is officially holding its 8th Annual Lake Thoreau Festival of Winter Lights. 

The festival, a lakeside tradition, will raise money for local causes. Residents must decorate the lake-facing side of their house, condo or boat with lights, and in return, donors will donate money to organizations of their choice.

This year, the initial pledges include:

  • $12 per house contribution (max $2,000) for Lake Thoreau concerts next year (contact [email protected] to join the pledge).
  • $8 per house contribution, cumulative from two donors, towards Cornerstones.
  • $5 per house contribution (max $1,000) to Public Art Reston to sponsor Reston community art projects (donations can be directed to the Lake Thoreau project).
  • $100 fixed contribution to Friends of Reston.

According to the statement, this means a total of $25 per house will go to the causes listed above based on the current commitments. 

Those interested in becoming a donor can reach out to James Pan at [email protected]. Donors can pledge either a fixed amount or on a per house basis. 

The Lake Thoreau Entertainment Association encourages the whole neighborhood to become involved and beat last year’s count of 177 homes and boats with lights. Since residents put up their own lights, the event is COVID-19 friendly — one of the safer seasonal celebrations to partake in. 

The houses will be counted on Monday, Dec. 21, weather permitting. 

Photo by Bob Ricca/Unsplash

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Donations for the annual Winter Coat Closet Program have officially begun this week. 

Cornerstones 50 is working in partnership with the Hunter Mill District Supervisor’s Office this year to help operate the Winter Coat Closet Program, according to a release from the nonprofit.

The collection is asking for new or gently used coats and new hats, gloves, mittens and scarves. 

The two locations for donation dropoffs are at Cornerstones (1150 Sunset Hills Road) and the North County Government Building (1801 Cameron Glen Drive). 

Cornerstones hours are Monday through Friday from Oct. 13 through Nov. 6, 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. The North County Government Building is collecting Nov. 14, Dec. 12 and Jan. 9 from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. 

The collection can accept plastic coat hangers, but not wire. For more information about the Winter Coat Closet Program, visit the Cornerstones website

Photo by Daniel Bowman/Unsplash

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As winter approaches, Cornerstones in Reston asks the community to come forward and donate cold-weather gear for those in need.

The annual Winter Coat Closet Charity Drive, which started on Thursday (Nov. 14), collects new or lightly used jackets, hats, scarves and gloves for men, women and children.

People who want to donate or are in need of winter clothing can stop by the Hunter Mill District Supervisor’s Office (1801 Cameron Glen Drive) and ask for the community room on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5 to 7 p.m. and on Saturdays from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

The location will be collecting jackets until Jan. 16, but those in need can come collect gear through March 14.

Kids’ coats, as well as men’s XXL sizes, are in high demand, according to the drive’s website.

Anyone wanting to volunteer their time can contact Morgan Grant, Community Resource Coordinator, at 571-323-3674.

Photo via Unsplash 

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The NOVA Relief Center is hosting a blanket and coat drive for Syrian refugees. The Hunter Mill District Office is once again collecting blankets and coats for the drive beginning Nov. 23 through Dec. 9.

All items will be shipped free of charge to three refugee camps in Jordan this winter.

Locally, donations can be dropped off at the Hunter Mill District Office (1801 Cameron Glen Drive), as well as at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints(1515 Poplar Grove Drive in Reston and 2727 Centreville Road in Herndon).

Other drop-off locations are also available online.

The center accepted clean items that are new or in gently-used condition. Sweaters and sweatshirts are also welcome. Gloves, hats and scarves must be in new condition only.

More information about the drive is available online.

Photo via NOVA Relief Center

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After bouts of snow hit Reston last month, the winter weather is finally on a vacation.

Forecasters expect temperatures to possibly reach 60 degrees for today (Feb. 5), Thursday and Friday in the Reston area.

The warmer weather doesn’t plan to stick around, though.

The Capital Weather Gang tweeted that snow might make a comeback in the D.C.-area on Sunday night. (And while the famous groundhog Punxsutawney Phil predicted an early spring on Feb. 2, meteorologists and statisticians point to his track record of inaccuracies.)

Let us know if your weekday plans are influenced by the forecasts.

File photo

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This Friday (Nov. 23), the Reston Town Center will host its annual Reston Holiday Parade.

The parade starts at 11 a.m. at the Reston Town Center (11900 Market St) and will feature a Macy’s-style parade of balloons, musicians, dancers and more.

The Reston Holiday Parade lasts for one hour and will travel a half-mile along Market Street. Before the parade starts, thousands of jingle bells will be handed out to the crowd to help welcome Santa and Mrs. Claus.

After the parade, visitors are invited to take photos with Santa and Mrs. Claus and enjoy a mini-train ride until 4:30.

At 6 p.m., a tree lighting ceremony will be held at Fountain Square, followed by horse-drawn carriage rides around the Reston Town Center.

The parade has been a Reston tradition since 1991.

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All Fairfax County Public Schools will open two hours late tomorrow (Friday), ushering in a second day of weather-related impacts on schools.

School offices and central offices will remain open. All county public schools were closed today due to snowy conditions.

Photo via Twitter user @MrErrett

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A blanket and coat drive for refugees fleeing Syria kicks off on Saturday (Nov. 10). The drive, which is organized by the NOVA Relief Center, will run through Dec. 8.

Donations collected this year will go to three refugee camps in northern Jordan, with shipping costs covered by Paxton Van Lines and Maersk.

Drop-off locations are available throughout the region. Options in Herndon and Reston include the following:

  • Office of Supervisor Cathy Hudgins North County Governmental Center (1801 Cameron Glen Drive)
  • The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (1515 Poplar Grove Drive) – Sundays only
  • The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – Franklin building (2727 Centerville Rd. Herndon, VA 20171) – Sundays only
  • Oak Hill Elementary School 3210 Kinross Circle Herndon, Virginia Town of Herndon Town Hall (777 Lynn Street Herndon)
  • The Episcopal Church of the Epiphany (3301 Hidden Meadow Drive)
  • Congregation Beth Emeth (12523 Lawyers Road) 

All sizes and fabric are accepted for the blanket and coat drive, but items must be clean and in new or gently-used condition. Interested residents can also donate funds for the drive, allowing the center to purchase high-quality blankets and coats in bulk and at non-profit discounts.

The drive is in its fifth year of operation. NOVA Relief Center is a non-profit organization that aims to improve the quality of life for refugees abroad and in northern Virginia.

Photo via NOVA Relief Center

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Reston Town Center’s ice skating pavilion will reopen for the season on November 9 (Friday).

The season will end on March 10. The hours for the rink are as follows: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday through Tuesday; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday; and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.

Admission is $10 for adults and $9 for children 12 and under, senior citizens 55 and older, and military personnel. Skate rentals are $6. On Thursdays, college students can earn a $2 discount from 6 to 9 p.m., with a valid college ID.

Skating events scheduled for the year include “Rock the Rink” on Fridays from 8-10 p.m. and “Cartoon Skate” on Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Skating lessons are offered on Saturdays from 9:30-10 a.m. and 10:15-10:45 a.m. Three sessions, each at a cost of $125, are available and more information is available online.

File photo

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As temperatures dip and the risk of hypothermia increases, local cold weather and hypothermia prevention programs are coming into full swing.

Beginning this month, all three of Fairfax County’s emergency centers that serve single adults instituted a “no turn-away policy.” Through March 31, the North County Human Services Building on 1850 Cameron Glen Drive will be open to individuals through the hypothermia prevention program.

Additional sleeping space will also be available at the Cornerstones’ Embry Rucker Community Shelter, a 70-bed residential shelter, throughout the winter season. Services include hot dinner, breakfast, bagged lunches, showers, laundry, bus tokens and basic self-care supplies.

On Wednesdays from 3 to 5 p.m., the organization will also provide employment services at the main shelter. The shelter, which opened in 1987, has 42 beds for families, 28 beds for unaccompanied adults and 10 beds for cold weather overflow.

If an unsheltered individual is seen at night who may be at risk of hypothermia, the Fairfax County non-emergency phone line accepts calls at 703-691-2131. Emergency personnel will determine the shelter most suitable for the individual as needed.

For more information, contact Cornerstones at [email protected] or [email protected] 

To volunteer or donate, please contact Susan Alger at [email protected].

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Snow Day in RestonIt’s been a mild winter in Reston so far. Remember wearing shorts on Christmas Day? Or that we’ve already set a record for the latest date with no measurable snow?

That could change on Tuesday. Maybe.

Meteorologists say an Alberta clipper will be dropping down across the Great Lakes and heading here today, bringing blustery conditions and snow showers to Northern Virginia.

But they also say temperatures may hover in the 40s, making it too warm for any significant snow. After sundown, though, temperatures will drop and the snow may pick up.

Still, they for calling “conversational” snow around here. Possibly enough to whiten the ground; not nearly enough to impact driving, school schedules or snowman making.

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Snowplow/Photo Courtesy of VDOTNorthern Virginia’s snow removal budget has increased by $20 million for this winter. The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) will likely need the money as it spent more than double its allotted amount last winter.

VDOT has $70.7 million for snow removal and road maintenance for 2015-16. Last winter’s budget for Northern Virginia was about $50.5 million and $128.5 million was spent, VDOT officials said last week.

The region’s snow budget is part of VDOT’s statewide maintenance budget of approximately $1.5 billion.

“Each year, we strive to improve our winter operations both on the road and behind the scenes,” Branco Vlacich, VDOT’s maintenance engineer for Northern Virginia, said at the agency’s annual snow briefing last week.

Vlacich said high-tech tools, such as a real-time map on VDOT’s website that shows the progress of plows, continue to be a good resource for citizens. This will be VDOT’s third winter with the map.

“Over two years, we’ve seen hits to the site increase while customer calls decrease, as residents check road conditions, locations of our trucks and the progress of our crews,” Vlacich said.

When it snows more than two inches, residents can enter their address at www.vdotplows.org to see whether plowing is underway, completed or not yet started in their neighborhood. They can also track the location of plows in relationship to their house. The site is refreshed every five minutes.

VDOT is responsible for 17,737 miles of road in Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William counties (Arlington County maintains its own secondary roads). About half of those miles are highways or high-volume routes, and half are neighborhood streets. During winter weather in northern Virginia, crews remove snow on both networks concurrently.

In Reston, main roads such as Sunrise Valley Drive, Reston Parkway, Sunset Hills Road, Lawyer Road, Fairfax County Parkway and Glade Drive are VDOT-plowed roads. Most neighborhoods, especially clusters, have private snowplowing contracts. Reston Association is not in charge of plowing Reston roads, though it does plow the 55 miles of paths, and will team with Fairfax County to plow several county-owned paths that will improve pedestrian access this winter.

VDOT is not responsible for sidewalks, even on VDOT-plowed roads, which continues to be a source of discussion and frustration among Reston residents each winter.

VDOT will have more than 3,500 contracted trucks and plows on the available this winter. Special equipment for some trucks will include a jet-powered snow melter for Park-n-Ride lots where snow piles can block spaces; seven high-pressure flush trucks clear snow and ice around the bollards separating the I-495 Express Lanes and regular lanes; two front loaders with 20-foot blades plow interstates during severe storms; speed-activated anti-icing equipment puts the right amount of material on the road.

VDOT file photo

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Car stuck trying to get onto Dulles Toll Road at Reston Parkway/Credit: Peggy Fox via Twitter

Winter weather is heading back to the area overnight. The National Weather Service has issued a Winter Weather Advisory. The Reston area could see about an inch of snow  late Monday into Tuesday.

From the NWS:

WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY IN EFFECT FROM 10 PM THIS EVENING TO 6 AM EST TUESDAY…

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN BALTIMORE MD/WASHINGTON HAS ISSUED A WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY FOR SNOW… WHICH IS IN EFFECT FROM 10 PM THIS EVENING TO 6 AM EST TUESDAY.

* PRECIPITATION TYPE… SNOW. SNOW MAY END AS A BRIEF PERIOD OF SLEET AND FREEZING RAIN.

* ACCUMULATIONS… 1 TO 2 INCHES. LITTLE OR NO ICE ACCUMULATION FROM FREEZING RAIN.

* TIMING… LATE THIS EVENING THROUGH OVERNIGHT.

* TEMPERATURES… MIDDLE TO UPPER 20S.

* WINDS… SOUTHEAST 5 TO 10 MPH.

* IMPACTS… ROADS WILL BE SNOW COVERED AND SLIPPERY… AND WITH TEMPERATURES BELOW FREEZING ANY UNTREATED ROADS WILL REMAIN SNOW COVERED AND SLIPPERY THROUGH THE MORNING RUSH.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS…

A WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY MEANS THAT PERIODS OF SNOW… SLEET AND FREEZING RAIN WILL CAUSE TRAVEL DIFFICULTIES. BE PREPARED FOR SLIPPERY ROADS AND LIMITED VISIBILITIES… AND USE CAUTION WHILE DRIVING.

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Snowplow/Photo Courtesy of VDOTThe Virginia Department of Transportation cannot stop the snow from falling, but it can use some new high-tech tools to better plow the 17,737 miles of Northern Virginia roads, keep residents informed and generally prevent accumulating flakes from becoming traffic mayhem.

At its annual Northern Virginia Snow Briefing on Tuesday, VDOT Assistant District Administrator of Maintenance Brancho Vlacich pointed out some of the predictions and tools for 2013-14.

First up: The National Weather Service predicts a “typical” Northern Virginia winter with about 15 inches of snow, he said.

“When it is two to four  inches [at a time], our goal is to have all roads passable in 24 hours,” he said. “Six inches, within 48 hours. But after  six inches, it presents a major challenge.”

But with a $63 million budget (up from $55 million last winter — $48 million of which was spent), as well as 340,000 tons of salt, 4,000 pieces of equipment and 95,000 tons of sand, the agency is ready, he said.

Also in the VDOT toolbox this winter:

  • A pilot program in which six VDOT trucks will have rear-mounted cameras. This will give the agency a real-time look at road conditions and whether roads were adequately plowed.
  • A new jet-powered snow melter for park-and-ride lots where snow piles can block multiple parking spaces.
  • An automatic vehicle locator system. Every VDOT and contractor truck will have an AVL to allow the agency and consumers to track where and when streets have been plowed. Bookmark www.vdotplows.org and check it often during a snow of more than two inches, said Vlacich. Also helpful: VDOT’s 511virginia.org site for updated traffic info
  • New road treatment featuring Chemshield, a new product that takes brine and mixes it with pine sap to better stick to the roads, even in rain.
  • A new VDOT mobile weather station – a Dodge Durango fitted with technology to assess road conditions.

Even with the latest in snow treatment and reconnaissance, Vlacich says VDOT still needs the public’s help. He reminds citizens to stay 100 feet behind snowplows, don’t pass plows, stay of roads during storms and telework if possible.

“Traffic is the major challenge for us in snow removal,” he said. “A plow sitting in traffic is ineffective.”

(Photo courtesy of VDOT)

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