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A Youth Art Exhibition at Dulles Airport showcases work by Fairfax County students (courtesy McLean Project for the Arts)

Before enduring the indignities of modern airport security, people flying out of Dulles can now calm their nerves by taking in the artistic talents of Fairfax County’s students.

A youth art exhibition from the McLean Project for the Arts (MPA) is now on display in the check-in area of Dulles International Airport, the nonprofit announced last week.

All of the featured work was created by local students at public and private schools. The pieces were going to be included in the Children’s Art Walk that’s typically displayed during the organization’s annual MPAartfest, but the festival got rained out last year.

“We are thrilled to have the artwork of some of our community’s talented young artists on display at Dulles Airport,” MPA Executive Director Lori Carbonneau said. “This is a wonderful example of the community building at the heart of our programming at McLean Project for the Arts.”

The idea of a youth art exhibit at Dulles took root last summer, before the remnants of Hurricane Ian washed out MPAartfest.

As a supporter of MPA’s community arts programming, Del. Kathleen Murphy (D-34) invited its leaders to talk to Metropolitan Washington Airport Authority (MWAA) staff, according to the nonprofit. The delegate sits on the group’s advisory board, and her husband William Sudow also happens to chair the MWAA Board of Directors.

“There was a preliminary call late in the summer about [Murphy and Sudow’s] idea to feature youth art from county school students at Dulles,” MPA said, noting that Reagan National Airport is hosting a similar exhibit featuring student artists from D.C.

MPA suggested using art intended for the Children’s Art Walk, which is sponsored by the New Dominion Women’s Club of McLean and compiles work shared by local art teachers.

The final exhibit was assembled by MWAA staff.

“The support of our advisory board member Delegate Kathleen Murphy and her husband, Bill Sudow…led to this opportunity to share art and information about MPA with travelers to and from the D.C. area,” Carbonneau said.

The display can be found by the Transportation Security Administration’s west precheck security checkpoint on the airport’s departures level. For now, the artwork will remain for an indefinite period of time.

“They don’t have a date for when it would be switched out,” MPA spokesperson Deborah Bissen said.

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Giant Food in Vienna (via Google Maps)

A man who allegedly fired a gun during a family dispute in the parking lot of Vienna’s Giant Food has been arrested, the Vienna Police Department announced today (Friday).

Multiple people reported hearing gunshots in the shopping center parking lot near 311 Maple Avenue East on Jan. 8, according to police.

“Officers from the Vienna Police Department responded to the area and after an initial investigation, determined the incident involved a civil dispute between family members, which resulted in one individual discharging a firearm,” the department said in a news release.

One person sustained “minor” injuries as a result of the incident, police said at the time.

After a “lengthy” investigation, detectives obtained arrest warrants for Aria Shahryary on Jan. 31, charging him with felonies for shooting into an occupied vehicle and willful discharge of a firearm in a public place. He also faces a misdemeanor brandishing charge.

Shahryary voluntarily turned himself in at the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center yesterday (Thursday), the VPD says.

A judge set a $50,000 secured bond for his release. An arraignment has been scheduled for Wednesday (Feb. 8), and there will be a preliminary hearing in the case on March 30, according to Fairfax County General District Court records.

“The Vienna Police Department would like to thank the witnesses who remained on scene to give statements and the Fairfax County Police Department who assisted in the investigation,” the VPD said.

Photo via Google Maps

A health worker attends to a kid at the Fairfax County Government Center’s mass COVID-19 vaccine clinic (courtesy Fairfax County Health Department)

As work gets underway to memorialize those killed by COVID-19, the Fairfax County Health Department wants to ensure the individuals and organizations who helped it navigate the pandemic will have at least one moment in the spotlight.

The department will host a recognition ceremony tomorrow (Saturday) for its many partners in the local pandemic response, from hospital workers and nonprofit volunteers to residences and businesses that supported public awareness campaigns.

“We are honoring individuals and organizations who supported the COVID-19 vaccination effort from the mass vaccination clinics to hosting vaccine equity clinics,” Sharon Arndt, the event’s lead organizer, said. “Public health is what we do together as a society to create the conditions in which everyone can be healthy. Thank you to all who served a role in support of public health.”

For Arndt, the ceremony will close out a 25-year career working for Fairfax County. The director of FCHD’s community health development division is retiring after next week, according to a department spokesperson, who praised her dedication to her public health work and the county.

Over 1,000 community members and groups will be recognized at the ceremony, which will take place at the Fairfax County Government Center in three separate sessions. In addition to hosting vaccine clinics, their contributions ranged from providing basic resources like food to sharing information with non-English-speaking residents.

The proceedings will start at 10 a.m. with Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay delivering remarks. Providence District Supervisor Dalia Palchik is scheduled to speak at 11:30 a.m., followed by Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust at 1 p.m.

Each session will also feature musical and dance performances by local artists.

“These organizations played key roles during the worst health crisis of our lives and we couldn’t have done it without them,” McKay said. “This is true not just during COVID-19 but at all times. They allow the County to leverage our resources and reach the most people possible with life-saving services.”

The ceremony will precede a potential end to the county’s ongoing state of emergency for the pandemic.

The agenda for the Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday (Feb. 7) includes an item requesting that the board vote on whether to terminate its local emergency declaration, which has been in place since March 17, 2020. If the measure is approved, the declaration will end March 1.

The county previously said a vote could come last September, but that didn’t happen, as officials were still evaluating the possible implications of ending the declaration, which gave the county more resources and flexibility to address Covid.

Most other Northern Virginia localities have already let their emergency declarations expire, and President Joe Biden is expected to end the national emergencies on May 11.

Though it may soon no longer be labeled an official “emergency,” Covid hasn’t vanished.

The Fairfax Health District, including the cities of Fairfax and Falls Church, is averaging 140 new cases and three deaths per day for the past week, as of yesterday (Thursday). Hospitals are admitting 9.4 Covid patients for every 100,000 county residents — just within the threshold for a “low” community level, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Over the past three years, the district has reported 264,878 cases, 5,301 hospitalizations and 1,763 deaths. Nationwide, over 1.1 million people have died from Covid.

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The tennis and pickleball courts at Glyndon Park in Vienna (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Getting court time at Glyndon Park in Vienna may be tougher going forward for pickleball players.

In the hopes of alleviating noise complaints from nearby residents, the Vienna Town Council approved a significant reduction in playing time for the increasingly popular sport at the 11-acre park’s four courts during its Monday (Jan. 23) meeting.

However, the new schedule represents less of a reduction in days than initially proposed, allowing pickleball on four days per week instead of just three. It also eliminates shared playing times between tennis and pickleball, so hours designated for pickleball will be exclusively reserved for that sport.

“I see this as a long-term issue,” said Councilmember Chuck Anderson, who proposed the adopted schedule. “I think we all on council agree on that, that what we need to do is roll up our sleeves and take a look at capacity. This is a rapidly growing game. It’s very popular, but it also has a noise issue, and it’s something I think we need to work on and manage.

Pickleball is now limited at the park to the following hours:

Dec. 1 to the end of February

  • 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday and Friday
  • 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday

March 1 through Nov. 30

  • 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday
  • 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday

Outside of those hours, only tennis will be allowed. The courts close at 10 p.m.

As part of the approved motion, the council also directed the Department of Parks and Recreation to post signage at the park recommending that pickleball players use “quiet” paddles that supposedly make less noise.

Prior to Monday’s 5-2 vote, pickleball and tennis were both permitted at Glyndon Park (300 Glyndon Street NE) seven days a week, but they alternated during open-play hours on Monday through Thursday mornings — a schedule confusing enough that the town council spent several minutes of a Jan. 23 conference session on the proposed changes trying to get clarification.

Anderson said he had considered continuing some shared usage of the courts as part of his proposal but ultimately decided it would be too complicated. He also found that the suggestion didn’t appeal to either pickleball players or the residents who raised the noise issues.

“If you start sharing [on pickleball days], you have to do it the other way too,” he said. “On a tennis day, if the tennis courts aren’t being used and a pickleball player shows up, it would be used, and I just don’t think that’s workable.”

Since Vienna added pickleball lines to Glyndon Park’s two tennis courts in 2020, some residents have complained that the noise made by paddles hitting the plastic balls is “unbearable,” an issue that has cropped up across the country.

Town staff reduced open-play hours and introduced a reservation system for afternoons, but complaints persisted, with some residents calling for pickleball to be banned from the park altogether, Parks and Rec Director Leslie Herman told the council.

After talking with staff, the residents agreed limiting pickleball to Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays would be acceptable, leading Mayor Linda Colbert and Councilmember Ed Somers to object to the addition of a fourth day.

“I’m just concerned about adding a fourth day at this point. I might get there eventually if more people use the soft paddles, if the noise is reduced, if things change, I could get there very easily, but I’m not there right now,” Somers said to a smattering of claps from the audience.

Anderson and other supporters of the four-day schedule said it would give players more flexibility, while starting play later and ending it earlier.

“There’s just a one-hour difference, and it gives people more peace in the mornings and evenings,” Councilmember Nisha Patel noted.

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Fairfax County Public Schools (file photo)

Fairfax County Public Schools has to adjust its budget outlook for the next two years after a miscalculation led the state to overestimate how much funding it will give local school districts.

The error means FCPS will get nearly $18 million less than it had anticipated, including $5.1 million for the current fiscal year 2023, which began on July 1, 2022. The remaining reduction of $12.7 million will affect the upcoming budget for FY 2024.

Overall, Fairfax County’s shortfall is the biggest of any district, Virginia Department of Education spokesperson Charles Pyle confirmed to FFXnow.

According to the Washington Post, an unidentified “someone” discovered last week that a calculator tool provided to help local school divisions determine their allocation from the state budget had failed to account for the elimination of the state’s grocery tax.

Virginia stopped imposing a 1.5% tax on groceries and personal hygiene products on Jan. 1, though a 1% local tax remains in effect. The legislation, which was incorporated into the state budget, directed the state to use its revenue to compensate localities for any lost education funding, starting Feb. 1.

“The tool released last month did not include recognition of the grocery tax hold harmless payment, which began in FY 2023,” State Superintendent Jillian Balow said in an email sent to local superintendents last Friday (Jan. 24).

Statewide, Virginia will provide $201 million less in aid than expected, including $58 million for the current school year, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch. Balow said the VDOE will release an updated calculation tool after the General Assembly votes on a new state budget on Feb. 9.

It’s unclear how the $18 million deficit will affect FCPS, though it’s a relatively small portion of the district’s $3.3 billion budget. FCPS said it didn’t have an immediate comment, as of press time.

As part of their legislative agenda for the General Assembly, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors and school board are advocating for the state to increase its funding for FCPS, arguing that the current formulas used to calculate allocations for each district don’t adequately reflect the area’s high cost-of-living.

FCPS received a projected $869.7 million — or 26.4% of its operating budget — from the state for FY 2023.

A $3.5 billion budget that Superintendent Michelle Reid proposed last month projected $696.4 million in state aid. Items covered in the budget include the addition of middle school athletic programs, staff compensation increases, and expanded pre-kindergarten education.

“The average Virginia school division receives less than 50 percent of its financial support from its local government,” the budget overview says. “FCPS must rely on local funds for 68.8 percent of its revenue.”

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Tysons moviegoers can now escape to Pandora while munching on blackened salmon.

CMX CinéBistro (2001 International Drive, Suite 1700U) has officially opened at Tysons Galleria after a couple of delays last fall. The dine-in movie theater, which features a full bar and lounge, is located on the third floor of the mall’s redeveloped Macy’s wing.

CMX Cinemas announced on Instagram that its newest theater opened its doors for the first time last Friday (Jan. 27).

The 43,268-square-foot theater has over 800 reclining seats in eight screening rooms. Available in theaters and at the Stone Sports Bar in the lobby, the menu focuses on “rustic New American cuisine” prepared by formally trained chefs, CMX said in a press release.

“The thing that really sets our menu and concept apart from other theaters in the region is that we serve it in-theater while guests are sitting in a plush recliner, and we pair it with the latest projection and audio technology,” CMX CEO Patrick Ryan said. “We want to be able to check every box in terms of food, technology, comfort and amenities, because it’s when you put it all together that it adds up to an unbeatable experience.”

Dishes include blackened salmon with roasted garlic mash and butter sauce, artichoke cakes with Old Bay remoulade and Brazilian tomato slaw, a signature CMX Burger, and a crispy chicken bowl with jasmine rice.

Standard movie theater concessions are also available, along with alcoholic and non-alcoholic milkshakes.

Patrons planning to use the in-theater dining service need to arrive at least 30 minutes before their showtime, and except for films designated as “family-friendly,” showings after 8:30 p.m. are limited to people 21 and older.

Movies currently playing include recent Oscar nominees like “Avatar: The Way of Water” and “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” along with this weekend’s new releases “80 for Brady” and M. Night Shamalyan’s “Knock at the Cabin.” There was also a repertory screening of “Rocky” on Wednesday (Feb. 1).

Ticket prices vary based on the movie and time of day, from $8 for a weekday matinee of “80 for Brady” to $14.49 for a “prime time” showing of “Top Gun: Maverick” on Friday night. On Tuesdays, all tickets for adults and kids are just $5, according to a promotional sign outside the theater.

This is CMX’s first location in Fairfax County, though the Florida-based company has theaters in Richmond and Leesburg.

“We are proud of our tenant offerings, and CMX CineBistro is one of the final elements that will complete the new wing at Tysons Galleria,” said Chris Pine, executive vice president of anchors, big box leasing and development at Brookfield Properties for retail. “CMX offers a sophisticated and comfortable experience that compliments the Tysons Galleria experience.”

The final additions to the new wing include the Southeast Asian restaurant Jiwa Singapura, which is located directly across from CinéBistro and expected to open early this year, and Yard House.

The sports bar was scheduled to have a grand opening on Jan. 15, but permit issues with Fairfax County delayed the opening, which will now be on Feb. 26, according to Dylan Wieder, executive chef for Yard House’s Tysons location.

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A Fairfax County school bus tire caught on fire in Pimmit Hills (via Ring)

A Fairfax County Public Schools bus had a tire catch fire while on Route 7 yesterday (Wednesday), causing some alarm in the surrounding Pimmit Hills neighborhood.

The tire fire occurred around 11:42 a.m. on Leesburg Pike in front of the Trader Joe’s shopping center near Pimmit Drive, as first reported by the Falls Church News-Press.

The bus driver noticed smoke coming from the vehicle’s wheel area and evacuated the students who were on board, according to the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department.

“Tire fire was small and did not catch fire until students were off,” FCFRD spokesperson William Delaney said, confirming that there were no injuries to students or staff.

FCPS says the bus was towed by Fairfax County’s Department of Vehicle Services, which manages and maintains the fleets for both the county government and the school system. The department “will conduct a thorough investigation,” an FCPS spokesperson said.

Community members on Nextdoor reported hearing explosions, with one resident saying the “second one” made their house shake. Another person said they could hear and feel the explosions from Idylwood Road.

Delaney told FFXnow that the “explosion” was from the tire “popping.”

H/t to Alan Henney

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Fairfax County is no longer considering a proposal to allow more housing in Wolf Trap’s Crowells Corner neighborhood.

The Site-Specific Plan Amendment (SSPA) submission has been withdrawn by its nominator, county planner David Stinson said at a virtual meeting last night (Tuesday) to discuss requested land use changes in east Reston and along Hunter Mill Road.

The proposal had requested an increase in density for six parcels totaling 10 acres on Crowell Road to one to two dwellings per acre, up from under 0.5 dwellings per acre as currently designated in the county’s comprehensive plan.

Submitted by Panthea Mohtasham, a local real estate agent, the application suggested either closing off Crowell Road in front of the new development, or rerouting it around the north side of the houses.

“As the Community and Fairfax County have grown, traffic has increased, safety concerns have become more acute,” the application said. “The Nominator’s proposal would permit restructuring of the road to increase safety for current residents, provide access to existing and future residences, and encourage commuters to adhere to safe speeds along Crowell Road.”

The first option would’ve turned the road into a private street, adding a gated entry after the driveway to Oakcrest School and eliminating the current connection to Browns Mill Road in favor of a cul-de-sac.

The second option would restructure Crowell Road with multiple turns, encouraging slower traffic compared to the existing straight segment, according to the application.

However, the road is a key link to Vienna and Reston for existing residents as the only direct connection between Hunter Mill Road to the west and Beulah Road to the east other than Route 7, according to community members.

“This would be a horrible decision that would block access to schools, the metro, the Toll Road, grocery stores, doctors, the hospital and numerous other devastating impacts,” a Crowells Corner resident said on Nextdoor. “In addition — a large number of homes would be effectively blocked in any time a large rain fall floods Brown Mill and people must go to Hunter Mill to go around. This is a safety and environmental problem and it must be made clear this proposal cannot move forward in any way.”

While the withdrawn application wasn’t discussed at yesterday’s meeting, some attendees said in the chat that safety and vehicle speeds have indeed been a concern on Crowell Road.

“We have children on this road who play and cars honk at us for checking our mail, pulling in and out of our driveways, etc,” commenter James C said, stating that residents have contacted the county and state about reducing the speed limit. “This is not a Nascar race track. This is our family road. We’ve almost gotten Tboned coming out of our drive 1 too many times.”

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved a plan amendment in 2018 that realigns Sunset Hills Road to create an intersection with Crowell at Hunter Mill Road in the hopes of easing traffic congestion in the area.

An SSPA nomination that would develop the south side of that intersection remains up for consideration, along with other Reston proposals. A virtual meeting on applications for Tysons will be held at 7 p.m. tonight (Wednesday).

Map via Google Maps

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Thomas Jefferson High School students Soham Jain, Rohan Kotla and Samvrit Rao (left to right) developed the app RoutineRemind to help kids with autism (courtesy Samvrit Rao)

An app created by a trio of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology students to help kids with autism may someday be deployed in Fairfax County’s special education classrooms.

Sophomores Soham Jain, Rohan Kotla and Samvrit Rao have already earned recognition from Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D-10) for RoutineRemind, an app designed to help parents and kids keep track of their schedules.

RoutineRemind was the 10th District’s winner in the 2022 Congressional App Challenge, Wexton announced on Dec. 22. The annual competition aims to encourage science, technology, engineering and math education by inviting students from across the country to develop and submit their own apps.

The 2022 contest drew over 500 submissions, a new record, according to organizers.

“I was so impressed by not only their remarkable technical skills in designing this winning app, but also their ingenuity and care in developing a way to help kids with autism and their families,” Wexton said in a statement, congratulating the TJ students.

In joint comments to FFXnow, Soham, Rohan and Samvit said they have regularly worked together on school projects and share an interest in “the intersection between computer science and biology.”

Seeing the challenge as an opportunity to put their tech and teamwork skills to the test, the students turned to personal experience when brainstorming ideas for an app.

In a demonstration video, Rohan said he has a younger brother with autism and has always been interested in finding ways to improve the lives of people with autism and other cognitive disabilities.

His brother sometimes struggles to remember his schedule, leading him to frequently ask for reminders. Individuals with autism often find comfort in routine, but many also experience executive functioning challenges, affecting their ability to plan or focus.

“After surveying the special needs community in [our] area, we found that this is a mutual problem across children with autism, since many of them are schedule-oriented,” the students told FFXnow. “Given the prevalence of the problem, we wanted to develop a simple, adaptable, and user-friendly schedule and reminder app to help those with social and cognitive impairments.” Read More

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Fairfax County firefighters respond to a fire in the 1000 block of Westwood Drive (photo by M. Clark via FCFRD/Twitter)

A firefighter was injured while responding to a house fire in Vienna just before midnight.

Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department units were dispatched to the 1000 block of Westwood Drive NE at 11:58 p.m. yesterday (Tuesday), according to a tweet.

“Crews arrived [with] fire visible from 2nd floor of a house under construction,” the department said.

The firefighter’s injury was described as “minor.” An investigation into the fire is now underway, and the department says more information will be shared as it becomes available.

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