The owner of a local “exotic” snack shop has been arrested as part of a drug ring investigation by county police.
Last week, the Fairfax County Police Department announced it had arrested four individuals related to an investigation into an “extensive drug ring” in the Mount Vernon District.
One of those arrested was Matthew Powers, owner of the snack and collectible shop “Highs & Lows” which has locations on Richmond Highway and in Springfield Town Center. There’s also a shop inside the mall in Pentagon City.
Highs and Lows is advertised as having the “biggest selection of exotic sodas and snacks” in Virginia, with snacks “from all seven continents.”
Powers, who goes by the moniker “Fresh” and calls himself the shop’s “CE-BRO,” appeared over the summer on Fox5DC to promote the shops.
After a months-long investigation, FCPD says it arrested Powers and charged him with six counts of distributing narcotics and two counts of money laundering.
“During the operation, the detectives successfully confiscated a range of illicit substances, including Psilocybin and LSD, along with two firearms,” police said in the Sept. 18 press release. “Additionally, they seized over $138k in cash, discovered several bank accounts, valuable jewelry, and even a Porsche SUV – all believed to be connected to the illegal operations.”
The release notes that the seized narcotics have an estimated “street value” of hundreds of thousands of dollars. Powers is being held on a $10,000 bond.
FFXnow has reached out to FCPD for more details and to see if the stores were involved in any of the alleged illegal activity but didn’t hear back by publication.
As of yesterday (Tuesday) afternoon, Highs & Lows on Richmond Highway was closed, and its phone number was disconnected. FFXnow emailed the business for comment but has not heard back either as of publication.
Three others were also arrested along with Powers, all charged with similar crimes. Those three men are in custody at the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center without bond.
Fairfax County is considering renaming its community center in Bailey’s Crossroads after a mid-20th-century pillar of the Black community.
At a Board of Supervisors meeting yesterday (Tuesday), its first since July, retiring Mason District Supervisor Penny Gross proposed looking into renaming the decades-old Bailey’s Community Center after Minnie Peyton.
Peyton was the well-known matriarch of Springdale, a historically Black community in Bailey’s Crossroads that originated as a home to freedmen after the Civil War.
Peyton founded several local churches and donated land to the county, specifically for an elementary school for Black students. When the school was completed in 1956, per county tax records, Fairfax County was still segregating Black and white students.
Today, the land once occupied by the school is the site of Bailey’s Community Center and Higher Horizons Head Start Program, an early education facility founded in 1963.
Naming the community center after Peyton would be a fitting acknowledgment of her role in the area’s history, Gross said in a board matter.
The Springdale community in Bailey’s Crossroads had its beginnings as home to freedmen following the Civil War, and has nurtured hundreds, perhaps thousands, of families in the last century-and-a-half. As with many traditional Black communities, the residents erected a church and built a small elementary school to educate their children, but the neighborhood received few local services – no paved roads, no sidewalks, no public drinking water or wastewater infrastructure. There is a growing desire in the community to re-name the community center to honor Minnie Peyton and reflect its historic roots.
While advocating for the change, Gross acknowledged that “more research needs to be done” and requested that the Fairfax County History Commission “verify available documentation” before the switch.
Gross gave the commission a deadline of next summer to report its findings.
The Board of Supervisors approved the request unanimously, though no date or timeline was given on when the community center’s name might actually change.
Scott was a former supervisor and represented the county in the Virginia House of Delegates for over two decades. He was most known for advocating for the state’s “motor voter” law, which allowed people to register to vote at DMVs, employment centers, and welfare offices. He died in 2017.
A renaming ceremony for the community center in Oakton will be held on Sept. 30.
A new clothing store focused on “sustainability” and social impact has opened in the Mosaic District.
Faherty opened its newest store over the weekend at 2905 District Ave. It was first announced in early 2023. This is the company’s third location in the D.C. area, including stores in Bethesda and Georgetown.
The company also aims to have a social impact, particularly by acknowledging that the brand sells items with patterns inspired by indigenous Native Americans. The company says now it has a “mission as a brand to model a mutually beneficial relationship between Native artists and non-Native companies for collective healing.”
The Fairfax location’s webpage notes that the store sits on Nacotchtank, Piscataway, and Pamunkey lands.
Mosaic District has seen a slew of openings in recent weeks. Last month, Pottery Barn opened while, in July, Latin wine bar Grand Cata started serving. Jewelry store Brilliant Earth also opened earlier this year as well.
Arlington-based ice cream shop Mimi’s Handmade is set to begin scooping soon too.
How public records should be handled will be a key issue in the race to replace retiring Fairfax County Circuit Court Clerk John Frey.
Democrat Chris Falcon and Republican Gerarda Culipher are both vying to fill the position that Frey will vacate when he retires in December. Frey, a Republican, has served as clerk of the county’s circuit court for the last 32 years. He ran for Virginia Attorney General in 2012.
Election Day is Nov. 7, but early voting starts in less than a month on Sept. 22.
The two candidates have distinctive points of view when it comes to how public records — like divorce cases, property records, and civil matters — should be made accessible.
Under Frey’s tenure, Fairfax County made records available online through its Court Public Access Network (CPAN) system, but it has a paywall, costing $150 a quarter, or $600 a year, to access.
While most jurisdictions utilize a platform run by Virginia’s Supreme Court, Fairfax County uses its own system and is the only Northern Virginia jurisdiction to charge for viewing information remotely, as permitted by Virginia code.
Records can be accessed for free in person at the Fairfax County Courthouse, and the court launched an e-filing system last year so residents and lawyers can submit documents online, though it also comes with subscription and search fees.
Currently the deputy clerk of the court for Arlington County, which offers free access to records through the Virginia platform, Falcon resides in Annandale and is a graduate of W.T. Woodson High School in Fairfax.
He told FFXnow that he’s running for court clerk to bring some reforms from Arlington to his home jurisdiction.
“I’ve encountered countless people who have reached barriers along the way when trying to access justice and access the court system,” Falcon said. “Those can be barriers because of their inability to pay for counsel or because of their lack of proficiency with the English language, or even because of transportation issues or childcare issues. For the past nine years, I’ve been working for the court system over here in Arlington, and I’ve been very proud that we’ve been able to take down a lot of those barriers.”
He called it a “real shame” that Fairfax County does not provide “free, online case information” — and he intends to change that if elected.
Falcon said this lack of access particularly hurts those representing themselves in civil cases or those who may not know the process.
“A lot of those people are not able to find the necessary information that they need, like their case numbers, their hearing dates and times, because that information is currently blocked behind a paywall that the Fairfax Circuit Court clerk’s office has in place,” he said. “I don’t know that they understand actually how many people it’s hurting.”
Culipher argues there are good reasons why the county handles its records and operates in the way it does. Currently the chief deputy clerk, she’s worked in the Fairfax County Circuit Court Clerk’s Office for a decade.
She agreed with Falcon that the “default posture” of the court is to provide public, open records, but there are “notable exceptions.”
Calling the Fairfax County Circuit Court the “hearth and home” court, since it deals with life events like probate, adoption, marriage, and divorce, Culipher noted that many records are “sensitive” and deserve to be treated “thoughtfully.” Read More
Franconia District Supervisor Rodney Lusk is asking the owner of Rose Hill Plaza to lower the number of residential units and increase retail space in its next redevelopment proposal.
The six-decade-old shopping center located off Franconia Road is slated for significant redevelopment but has met some community opposition in terms of how exactly that will be done and what the new center will include.
The developer’s preliminary proposal submitted on Oct. 25, 2022 envisioned adding a six-story, mixed-use residential building with 56,000 square feet of retail and green space to the shopping center.
Now, Lusk is asking for specific changes to that initial plan based on “community feedback” after meeting with Combined Properties twice since April, he said in a recent newsletter. Lusk said he was set to meet with the developer again shortly.
“My message to them will be the same as it has been in the previous two meetings,” Lusk wrote. “My expectation, based on community feedback, is that the next version of their proposal should significantly lower the amount of proposed residential units and significantly increase the proposed amount of retail space.”
Lusk said he believes Combined Properties will follow this request, but if not, the proposal will be deferred once again until “I believe [it’s] ready for public consideration.”
He anticipates the new proposal to be ready by the fall or early winter. If so, the Board of Supervisors could then approve a review by staff and remove it from Tier 3 of the county’s 2023 Comprehensive Plan Amendment Work Program.
Eventually, public hearings will be scheduled, sending the plan to the board for approval — potentially by the end of the year, Lusk noted.
However, some residents oppose reducing the amount of housing proposed at Rose Hill Plaza. The YIMBYs of Northern Virginia — a budding regional group that advocates for “more and denser housing” to make housing more affordable, per its website — said it is “disappointed” in Lusk’s request in a statement to FFXnow.
Rose Hill faces the same crisis that most of NoVA faces: working class residents – including essential workers like teachers, nurses, and government employees – cannot afford to live in the area. We remain excited by plans to upzone and develop the Rose Hill development with newer retail, more green space, and hundreds of new residential units. We are disappointed to hear that Supervisor Lusk has recommended deferring the project until the plans include more retail and less housing. The two need not be mutually exclusive: by building up, there’s plenty of space for more retail and more housing.
The group said that while a “vocal subset” of locals may oppose more housing, the idea has support from plenty of others who don’t have time to speak up, use English as a second language or are currently “priced out” of living in Rose Hill.
“Building a place people want to live and linger in is more important than an arbitrary amount of square footage assigned to retail,” local resident Alexis Glenn said. “Retail space will remain empty if we continue to scale back the housing needed to support it. Rose Hill will never be able to support the kind of high-quality retail and services the community desires if there isn’t a significant increase in housing.”
On the other side of the argument is the Rose Hill Coalition, a group of private citizens fighting against reducing retail at the shopping center. Founder Sharada Gilkey says the group is “neither encouraged nor discouraged” by Lusk’s statement, which she says came after she and the Rose Hill Civic Association talked to the supervisor last month. Read More
Summer Restaurant Week starts later this month across the region, with more than 30 Fairfax County businesses scheduled to participate.
Hundreds of restaurants are participating during this year’s summer edition, including several Reagan National Airport and Dulles International Airport eateries — a first for the campaign.
“This year’s Summer Restaurant Week cycle is a special one,” RAMW President and CEO Shawn Townsend said in the press release. “Not only does the promotional week take place during the DC Jazz Festival, we have multiple restaurants participating from our region’s airports, allowing both locals and travelers to the area to take part in the special offerings.”
The restaurants offer brunch and lunch menus for $25 a person and dinner for $40 or $55 a person. There will also be alcoholic and non-alcoholic drink specials as well.
There will be 32 Fairfax County restaurants participating in the upcoming edition, which will run from Monday, Aug. 28 through Sunday, Sept. 3.
- Bistro Atelier — French cuisine
- Bracket Room — Sports bar
- Carrabba’s — Italian food
- Chef Geoff’s — American food
- Devil’s Backbone — Gastropub fare
- District Chop House — Steakhouse
- The Washington Burgundy and Gold Club — American classics
- 2941 Restaurant (2941 Fairview Park Drive) — French cuisine
- Alta Strada Mosaic (2911 District Avenue) — Italian food in the Mosaic District
- B Side (8298 Glass Alley) — American food in the Mosaic District
- Matchbox (2911 District Avenue) McLean, and Reston locations) — Pizza in the Mosaic District
- TRIO Grill (8100 Lee Highway) — American food
- Founding Farmers (1904 Reston Metro Plaza) — Locally sourced food and bar at Reston Station
- Matchbox (1900 Reston Metro Plaza) — Pizza at Reston Station
- North Italia (11898 Market Street) — Italian food at Reston Town Center
- Morton’s (11956 Market Street) — Steakhouse at Reston Town Center
- PassionFish (11960 Democracy Drive) — Seafood restaurant at Reston Town Center
- Pisco y Nazca Ceviche Gastrobar (1871 Explorer Street) — Peruvian food at Reston Town Center
- The Melting Pot (11730 Plaza America Drive) — A fondue restaurant
- Agora Tysons (7911 Westpark Drive) — Greek/Mediterranean/Turkish
- American Prime (1420 Spring Hill Road) — Steakhouse
- Circa at The Boro (1675 Silver Hill Drive) — American bistro
- Earls Kitchen + Bar (7902 Tysons One Place) — American food at Tysons Corner Center
- Founding Farmers (1800 Tysons Blvd) — Locally sourced food and bar at Tysons Galleria
- Jiwa Singapura (2001 International Drive) — Singapore cuisine at Tysons Galleria
- Joon (8045 Leesburg Pike, Suite 120) — Persian food in Fairfax Square
- Matchbox (1340 Chain Bridge Road) — Pizza in McLean
- North Italia (1651 Boro Place) — Italian cuisine at The Boro
- The Capital Grille (1861 International Drive) — Steakhouse and seafood restaurant in Tysons Corner Center. The Fair Lakes location at 12169 Fair Lakes Promenade Drive is participating as well.
- Wildfire (2001 International Drive) — Steak and seafood in Tysons Galleria
- Wren (1825 Capital One Drive South) — Japanese restaurant at Capital One Center
Fairfax County’s libraries are set to expand their hours later this month after going a year with reduced hours due to staffing shortages.
That means all libraries will open at 10 a.m. with the eight regional branches staying open until 9 p.m. on Monday through Wednesday and until 6 p.m. Thursday through Sunday. The 15 community branches will be open until 9 p.m. Monday and Tuesday, and 6 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday.
The community branches will remain closed on Sundays.
Until Aug. 28, the branches will continue operating at the reduced hours put in place a year ago due to staffing shortages.
An additional $6 million dollars was approved as part of this year’s county budget to go towards library personnel services, which helped the library hire the staff needed to go back to regular operating hours.
“While recruitment remains challenging, the library has been fortunate to have retained a pool of amazing staff and hired some great new people enabling us to return to regular hours,” Deputy Library Director Kevin Osborne told FFXnow in an email. “We have active recruitments for several positions and are optimistic that we will be able to hire more great staff for our return to regular hours.”
Osborne said FCPL is continuing to staff up and is “confident” in returning to regular hours. It was only April when the vacancy rate was between 18% and 20%, but that rate appears to have dropped in recent months due to the influx of cash.
The budget covers 390 positions, but Osborne did not share the exact number of open positions or the current staffing vacancy rate, noting that many positions are “in various phases of the hiring process.”
After returning to full in-person services in June 2021, FCPL struggled to maintain expanded and consistent hours — a goal even before the pandemic. Budget cuts had reduced the system’s operating capacity after the 2008 recession.
But, according to Osborne, several open positions are on the way to being filled, allowing FCPL to return to normal operating hours and maintain them for the first time in potentially years.
“FCPL would like to thank the people of Fairfax County for their patience and understanding as it navigated the effects of the pandemic and staffing difficulties,” reads the announcement. “FCPL is excited to once again be able to offer everyone a greater opportunity to visit its branches and enjoy its array of services.”
(Updated at 3:10 p.m.) An extra $150,00 is being requested to add a “unique lighting feature” to the colorful “Springfield” welcome sign set to be installed on a pedestrian bridge near Old Keene Mill Road later this year.
At last week’s Fairfax County Board of Supervisors meeting, Franconia District Supervisor Rodney Lusk proposed that the board consider spending $150,000 from the fiscal year 2023 carryover adjustment on a lighting feature to “complement” a welcome sign going up on the pedestrian bridge near the new Springfield Commuter Parking Garage.
The lighting would be part of a branding project to install colorful welcome signs at four different sites around the greater Springfield area in the fall. It’s being done to “raise the visibility and reputation of Springfield as a great place to live and do business,” per the project’s website.
The requested lighting feature would illuminate the pedestrian path underneath the bridge, known as the Frontier Drive underpass.
However, an extra $150,000 is needed for the feature, which was not part of the initial planned project. Lusk is requesting that the money be allocated from the FY 2023 Carryover Budget, which has a balance of about $203 million (which is slightly more than last year).
“This lighting feature will improve the connection with the Franconia- Springfield Metrorail station while also improving pedestrian safety and comfort,” Lusk’s board matter said. “This installation is beyond the budget of the initial gateway project, so additional funds are being sought to complete the gateway system for Springfield.”
Lusk noted in a follow-up statement to FFXnow that the extra lighting is needed for safety and security and to enhance the signage visually.
The priority for the lighting is to provide increased pedestrian safety beneath the underpass. The new lighting will enhance visibility and security for pedestrians who are walking from the Metro to the Springfield Towne Center. Additionally, the lighting will be designed to highlight the new Springfield Branding elements including color and design from the Springfield logo and new gateway signage. The preliminary design intends to project lighting on the columns of the underpass providing a brighter, more well-lit space with color.
A public hearing and board action on the package is scheduled for Sept. 26. Other items suggested for consideration by individual supervisors include funds to continue an economic visioning study for Lake Anne in Reston.
If the Springfield lighting feature is approved for inclusion, then the final design work and construction would move forward.
Construction on the gateway signs is now underway and expected to finish between October and December, according to Lusk’s office. However, the Frontier Drive underpass lighting is more likely to come along next year, depending on when funding, the final design and permits are secured.
“The lighting installation for the Frontier Drive underpass is conceptual at this time, and subject to change,” a spokesperson for Lusk’s office said.
Fort Belvoir’s Lee Road is officially being renamed EO 9981 Road in a ceremony this morning (Wednesday).
The name change comes as a result of a 2022 recommendation made by the Congress-backed Naming Commission tasked with coming up with a plan to remove names, symbols, displays, and monuments that honor the Confederacy from all “Army assets.” That includes bases and roads.
Lee Road in Fort Belvoir, a U.S. Army installation, is named after Confederate General Robert E. Lee. But that will officially change when the road gets renamed after Executive Order 9981.
The order integrated the armed services and was signed into law by President Truman on July 26, 1948 — exactly 75 years ago to the day.
“The impact of EO 9981 cannot be overstated,” Fort Belvoir spokesperson Paul Lara told FFXnow. “By removing barriers based on race and fostering a merit-based system, it opened doors for countless men and women, regardless of their racial or ethnic background, to serve their country with dignity, honor, and equal opportunities. It set a powerful precedent for future civil rights advancements within the United States and inspired similar reforms in other sectors of society.”
The public ceremony will start at 10 a.m. today at Woodlawn Chapel (6050 Gorgas Road). Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay will present a proclamation recognizing EO 9981 to Col. Joseph Messina, who commands Fort Belvoir.
The ceremony will also include remarks from author and retired judge Rohulamin Quander, who is a descendant of enslaved servants under George Washington. The event will conclude with the unveiling of the new sign and refreshments.
While the recent effort to rename nine Army bases has gotten most of the attention, roads and buildings are also part of the directive. In the instance of Lee Road, Lara says the decision on the new name was left to Fort Belvoir leadership.
Leadership went with EO 9981 Road because of the order’s significance and because a concept was preferable to a person or place, which would have required significantly more vetting and approvals from the Secretary of the Army, Lara said. A concept, though, allows the renaming to happen quicker.
This won’t be the only Fort Belvoir road that will be renamed. Beauregard Road, Stuart Road, and Johnston Road are also slated for a change, per Lara.
“The possible names are still being decided, but we wanted to act on the 75th anniversary of the Executive Order for this first rededication,” Lara said.
As for Fort Belvoir itself, that name looks to be sticking around, despite ties to the plantation that once stood on the property and its history as the site of Confederate Memorial Day celebrations.
In a final report released last year, the Defense Department Naming Commission noted that it didn’t have the authority to move forward on the renaming of Fort Belvoir, but a change was recommended.
However, the Fairfax County History Commission expressed concerns with the report, citing a lack of transparency, potential historical inaccuracies, and the impact a change might have on telling the stories of enslaved people who lived on the plantation.
Lara confirmed there are “no current plans” at this time to rename Fort Belvoir.
There has been another change in criteria for determining where the new FBI headquarters will go, prompting annoyance and even anger from several local officials.
Late last week, the General Services Administration (GSA) announced that it will now weigh cost and “advancing equity” as factors of higher importance when deciding if the new FBI headquarters will end up in Springfield or one of two sites in Prince George’s County, Maryland, per an updated site selection plan.
“The consultations with the delegations provided valuable feedback, and helped us refine our plan to maximize value for the FBI and the public,” said GSA commissioner Nina Albert in a press release. “While the core elements of the site selection plan remain the same, we have updated the plan to incorporate new government-wide directives and to increase the consideration of cost to deliver better value for taxpayers. We believe these adjustments will support a process that results in a site that best serves the FBI and the public for years to come.”
The federal agency also lowered the importance of transportation accessibility and the proximity of being near other FBI facilities (like Quantico, which is in Virginia). Proximity remains the highest determining factor, though, sitting at 25%.
This is the second time in less than a year that the GSA “updated” its criteria for selecting the location of the new headquarters. It also comes a little over a month after the FBI stressed the importance of having a headquarters close to its pre-existing facilities.
GSA anticipates making a decision on where the new FBI headquarters will go “in the coming months,” the press release notes. Some had anticipated a decision was going to be announced in March, but that didn’t happen.
The late-stage shift has prompted a number of Virginia lawmakers to speak out, arguing that this change is a result of political inference and constant lobbying from Maryland officials seeking to gain an edge for the Prince George’s sites.
Rep. Gerry Connolly, whose 11th District includes the Springfield site, was particularly incensed. In a statement posted on social media, Connolly accused Maryland of trying to “cook the books” and the GSA of caving to political pressure.
Only Virginia has consistently opposed and condemned political meddling in what should be a purely independent, agency-run effort. We will continue to make the case for the only location that truly makes sense for the FBI HQ – Springfield, Virginia. pic.twitter.com/WqdGZNM6H7
— Rep. Gerry Connolly (@GerryConnolly) July 14, 2023
Virginia Sens. Tim Kaine and Mark Warner put out a combined statement reiterating their confidence that the FBI will still end up moving to Fairfax County, coupled with worries that the change will further delay a decision that’s been in the works for years.
The GSA didn’t pluck its initial criteria out of thin air — it spent years talking to experts and carefully deliberating on what is best for the mission of the FBI. While we are concerned that these changes to the criteria will further delay what has already been a drawn-out, decade-long process to select a new site to replace the dilapidated headquarters downtown, we remain confident that Virginia continues to be a home run in every category, and encourage the GSA to draw this process to a close sooner rather than later.
In a statement to FFXnow, Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay also expressed his displeasure, particularly with the likelihood of another delay of a final decision. Read More