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Annandale High School Orchestra Director Annie Ray with some of her students (courtesy FCPS)

(Updated at 2:25 p.m.) Annandale High School’s orchestra director is on her way to Los Angeles for the upcoming Grammy Awards.

Annie Ray, who teaches music and leads the orchestra program at the school, is the winner of the 2024 Grammy Music Educator Award, CBS Mornings announced today.

Given out by the Recording Academy and Grammy Museum, the award honors music teachers who make a “significant and lasting contribution to the field of music education and who demonstrate a commitment to the broader cause of maintaining music education” in schools. It can go to public and private school teachers of students in preschool through college.

Ray’s family, students and colleagues erupted in cheers when her name was announced during a watch party in Annandale High School’s auditorium, according to Fairfax County Public Schools.

“It’s been a whirlwind experience!” Ray said in a press release. “I’m so thankful to all the people who have poured love into me to allow me to make music. I am honored to have been selected from a remarkable group of educators.”

As the award winner, Ray will get a $10,000 honorarium and a matching grant to support her school’s music program. She was chosen from 10 finalists and more than 2,000 nominees.

Recognized by FCPS just last year as its Region 2 Outstanding Secondary School Teacher, Ray’s three-year tenure at Annandale High has already included the creation of a Crescendo Orchestra for students with severe developmental or intellectual disabilities and an FCPS Parent Orchestra where parents learn to play the same instrument as their kids.

The parent orchestra attracts over 150 parents every year, according to FCPS, which describes Ray as a “passionate advocate for universal access to quality music education.”

“Annie is known for her passion, skill, and belief that every student can achieve greatness,” Annandale High School Principal Shawn DeRose said to FCPS. “Her impact and dedication has made a positive difference in the school community. She truly is an inspiration, and we are so proud of her.”

Before joining Annandale High, Ray taught at Glasgow Middle School in Lincolnia and Annandale Terrace Elementary School.

In an interview with CBS News correspondent Jamie Waxman, Ray said playing in Annandale’s symphony orchestra teaches students confidence and gives them the willingness to make a wrong note. Students describe her as a leader “who doesn’t lead” but instead talks to and encourages them.

The show surprised Ray with a congratulations video from British singer-songwriter Jacob Collier, whose song “Little Blue” became a source of solace after a close friend of hers died.

Ray will officially receive the Music Educator Award at the 66th annual Grammy Awards ceremony, which will air at 8 p.m. this Sunday (Feb. 4) on CBS.

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A Fairfax County police mugshot for Zaire Davis, a suspect in two shootings and a robbery (via FCPD)

Forensic evidence has led to arrest of a suspect in a shooting in Woodbridge last year that left one man dead and another injured.

Prince William police on Monday served warrants for murder, malicious wounding and use of a firearm in a felony on Zaire Lee Davis, 21, of no fixed address, at the Fairfax County jail, said county police Lt. Jonathan Perok.

Davis has been incarcerated since last summer in connection with a robbery in Annandale and a Father’s Day shooting in Reston.

Perok said recent forensic results linked Davis to the Jan. 16, 2023 shooting in Marumsco Plaza that left a 27-year-old man dead and another wounded.

Police were called to the 13900 block of Richmond Highway at 8:50 p.m. that night and found a 22-year-old man suffering from a gunshot wound to the lower body. He was taken to the hospital where his injuries were determined to be non-life threatening, police said.

A short time later, security officers from a nearby shopping center notified officers of a second man suffering from multiple gunshot wounds. Officers provided first aid to the victim, identified as Akeem Rashaud Williams, until rescue crews took him to the hospital, where he died of his injuries.

The investigation revealed a group was in the area when gunshots were fired, striking the two men. While investigating, officers learned that an occupied car traveling on U.S. 1 was also hit by gunfire.

Perok said the shooting is believed to have stemmed from a previous altercation and ongoing dispute between the men involved.

Mugshot via FCPD. This article was written by FFXnow’s news partner InsideNoVa.com and republished with permission. Sign up for InsideNoVa.com’s free email subscription today.

A Recovery Program Solutions of Virginia participant (courtesy David Moss Photography)

With cooler temperatures returning after an unseasonably warm Friday (Jan. 26), a nonprofit headquartered in Reston is putting out a call for winter clothes to distribute to homeless adults throughout Northern Virginia.

An operator of wellness centers that assist people experiencing challenges with mental illness, substance use and homelessness, the Recovery Program Solutions of Virginia (RPSV) launched a winter gear clothing drive earlier this month that will continue until the end of the season.

The organization is seeking new or gently used coats, gloves, wool or thermal socks, scarves, hats, hand warmers and mylar blankets — all items that it says are “urgently” needed by its clients. The drive will also accept first aid and personal hygiene items, tarps, waterproof tents, sleeping bags, and waterproof rolling backpacks, according to a press release.

Donations can be dropped off at RPSV’s five recovery centers:

  • Arlington Peers Helping Peers in Recovery (3219 Columbia Pike, Suite 101)
  • The Consumer Wellness Center in Annandale (7611 Little River Turnpike, Suite E100)
  • Merrifield Peer Resource Center (8221 Willow Oaks Corporate Drive, Suite 1-105)
  • Reston Wellness Center (1850 Cameron Glen Drive, Suite 200)
  • The South County Recovery and Drop-In Center in Mount Vernon (8794-S Sacramento Drive)

Founded in 2011, RPSV serves Fairfax County, Falls Church, Alexandria and Arlington. Staffed by people who are in recovery, the nonprofit offers peer-run support groups, access to treatment, employment assistance, referrals to housing and financial assistance, and other services.

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The Persian restaurant Joon opened at Fairfax Square in Tysons in June 2023 (courtesy Joon)

Ten of the D.C. region’s best restaurants can be found in Fairfax County, according to a newly unveiled round-up by Washingtonian.

Acknowledging that “some of the year’s coolest spots…debuted in the Virginia suburbs,” Washingtonian ranked Joon at no. 23 on its 2024 list of the “100 Very Best Restaurants” in the region. Opened on June 13, 2023, the Tysons-based Persian restaurant was the only Fairfax County spot to be ranked.

Located in Fairfax Square (8045 Leesburg Pike), Joon is led by chefs Najmieh Batmanglij and Christopher Morgan, who blend traditional Iranian cuisine with contemporary western elements. It also contains the pop-up, The Kitchen Collective, which serves food from other concepts by Joon co-founder Reza Farahani.

Farahani says it’s “an honor” for Joon to be recognized less than a year after its launch in an area that boasts “a vibrant and innovative restaurant scene.”

“Our vision has been to showcase a modern approach to the ancient cuisine of Iran and the Middle East, while using local and seasonal ingredients and innovative techniques to create a one-of-a-kind experience,” Farahani told FFXnow. “Our wine list and craft cocktails have been developed with distinct Persian flavors such as saffron, rose and pomegranate and are an homage to Persia’s contribution to the earliest spirits and wines known in history.”

Washingtonian praised Joon for food “that’s both homey and beautifully presented,” singling out the “warm pita” offered to patrons when they arrive, dips and sour-cherry rice as highlights.

“Whole platters sized for two and up are stunners, whether a whole rotisserie chicken with apples, apricots, and honey or a strapping feast of kebabs,” the magazine’s staff said in a capsule review.

Joon’s inclusion on Washingtonian’s annual list continued a good day for Batmanglij and Morgan, who were also named semifinalists yesterday (Wednesday) for a James Beard award.

Other Fairfax County establishments that made the list, which is unranked after the top 25, include:

Several restaurants — A&J, Aracosia, L’Auberge Chez Francois, Mama Chang and Marib — also appeared on Washingtonian’s “100 Very Best” list for 2023.

In the case of A&J, the family-owned dim sum eatery has been recognized every year that the list has come out since 2019, though the magazine paused the yearly round-up in 2021 and 2022 in response to the Covid pandemic. A&J originated in Rockville, Maryland, in 1996 before adding the Annandale location in 2000.

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Fairfax County firefighters responded to a house fire in Mount Vernon on Saturday, Jan. 20 (courtesy FCFRD)

(Updated at 5:15 p.m.) Two people died in separate house fires over the weekend, the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department says.

The first fire occurred in the 3800 block of Kings Hill Court in Mount Vernon around 5:58 p.m. on Saturday (Jan. 20).

Summoned by a neighbor who saw a fire from the back of a two-story single-family house, firefighters arrived to see the blaze making its way from the first floor up to the second floor, according to an FCFRD press release.

After “quickly” extinguishing the fire, firefighters found a man described as elderly inside the house. He was taken with life-threatening injuries to a hospital, where he later died, the department said.

“The cause of death is pending an autopsy and toxicology report from the medical examiner,” the department said in a news release today (Monday). “There were no firefighter injuries.”

Investigators determined that the house had smoke alarms, but it’s unclear if they were triggered by the fire, which started in the living room.

The exact cause of the fire hasn’t yet been determined, according to the fire department. Some residents of the house who weren’t home at the time of the fire have been displaced.

The FCFRD estimates that the fire resulted in approximately $475,500 in property damages.

Later that evening, the fire department responded at approximately 11:23 p.m. to another fire at a two-story, single-family house, this time in the 8200 block of Mockingbird Drive in Annandale’s Wakefield neighborhood.

According to the FCFRD, arriving crews saw “heavy fire” visible from the house’s roof. A woman was found inside and taken to a hospital, where she later died from her injuries.

As in the Mount Vernon fire, no firefighter injuries were reported, and the woman’s cause of death will be officially determined by an autopsy and toxicology report from the medical examiner.

“The fire was called in by a neighbor who reported seeing flames from the roof of the home,” the FCFRD said. “The origin of the fire was within the attic space of the structure. The cause has been attributed to a fault within the electrical lighting branch circuit related to the second-floor bathroom.”

The Wakefield fire produced approximately $639,913 in damages, the fire department reported.

These are the first fatal fire incidents of 2024, but on Dec. 11, a man was found dead in a McLean house where a two-alarm fire broke out.

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Police leave the Fairfax County Courthouse (staff photo by David Taube)

The police investigation into Fairfax County’s first homicide of 2024 has resulted in a murder charge against a 14-year-old.

The teen allegedly stabbed a 17-year-old boy in Annandale at 11:30 p.m. on Saturday (Jan. 13), killing him, the Fairfax County Police Department reported last night (Thursday).

The 14-year-old and an 18-year-old man who tried to intervene were also injured, according to police.

“During the assault, the 14-year-old lost control of the knife and was stabbed by the victim,” the FCPD said. “The 18-year-old heard the commotion, attempted to intervene, and was injured in the process.”

The 14-year-old remains hospitalized and in police custody.

Here’s more on the stabbing in the Fairmont Gardens apartments from the original police report:

At 11:30 p.m. last night, officers responded to the 4200 block of Wadsworth Court in Annandale for a stabbing that occurred outside. Officers found the 17-year-old in a grassy area suffering from stab wounds. Fire and rescue personnel transported him to the hospital where he was pronounced deceased. The 14-year-old was found inside a nearby apartment and was also taken to the hospital, where he remains. As detectives were investigating an 18-year-old entered the hospital and was treated for injuries believed to be related to the stabbing.

Detectives are actively investigating the circumstances that led to the stabbing. This is not domestic related, and both juveniles are known to each other from previous disputes. Detectives believe all parties from this incident are accounted for.

The same apartment complex was the site of a shooting that hospitalized a woman on Tuesday (Jan. 16). In an update released yesterday, the FCPD said the circumstances of the shooting remain under investigation, but detectives don’t believe it was a random act.

“The suspect, accompanied by two other subjects, was briefly allowed into the apartment before discharging shots,” the police department said, noting that the apartment unit is “well-known to area officers.”

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The Fairmont Gardens apartments in Annandale (via Google Maps)

Fairfax County police are investigating a possible shooting at the Fairmont Gardens apartments in Annandale.

The woman arrived at a hospital with a gunshot wound early this afternoon, according to the Fairfax County Police Department, which describes her injuries as non-life-threatening.

Officers were dispatched to the 4200 block of Wadsworth Court around 12:51 p.m. after 911 received a call from someone who said they’d been shot, per scanner traffic on Open MHz.

“Someone’s saying they got shot in the hip,” the dispatcher told an officer who said he was at Wadsworth Court but hadn’t heard anything. “We’re just having a hard time understanding them. There’s a lot of screaming in the background.”

At 12:58 p.m., a police officer reported that they encountered two people at the scene. One person said they had been shot at but not hit, while another had a bloody hand after falling while running from gunshots.

The FCPD says it doesn’t have any description of a potential suspect right now. Police are advising community members to avoid the area, asking anyone with information to call 911.

Image via Google Maps

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Annandale High School (via Google Maps)

(Updated at 6:40 p.m. on 1/15/2024) A 17-year-old student was arrested yesterday (Friday) for allegedly sexually assaulting another student at Annandale High School.

The victim reported the assault to a school resource officer earlier this week, the Fairfax County Police Department said in a news release.

“Detectives determined the juvenile male suspect forcefully sexually assaulted the victim near a stairwell,” the FCPD said. “The victim was able to flee from the suspect which stopped the assault.“

According to police, the 17-old-year “made admissions to the assault” when questioned by detectives, who served petitions charging the teen with sexual assault-related felonies yesterday.

The teen is currently in custody at the Fairfax County Juvenile Detention Center.

Fairfax County Public Schools directed comments to the police department, which said all of the currently available information about the case was in the news release.

Image via Google Maps

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Mason District Supervisor Andres Jimenez (courtesy of Andres Jimenez)

For the first time this century, Fairfax County’s Mason District has a new supervisor.

In his first week since succeeding Penny Gross, who retired in December after 27 years in the position, Andres Jimenez says he has been actively engaging with constituents to tackle issues ranging from transportation to art projects and economic development.

An immigrant from Bogota, Colombia, who has now lived in the Falls Church area for 12 years, Jimenez is the first Latino to represent Mason District on the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. He also works as the executive director of the pay equity campaign Green 2.0 and previously served as an at-large member of the Fairfax County Planning Commission.

Winning a decisive victory last November over independent candidate Terry Modglin with 72% of the vote, Jimenez says that, since taking office on Jan. 1, he has been setting up his various social media channels, launching a new podcast and organizing several public forums across the district.

“I think that smart government is when residents don’t just come to you, it’s when the government — when the supervisor’s office — is going into the community and reaching out to residents…and asking them what is working, what’s not working, because only then can you really begin to make change,” he told FFXnow.

The dates for the public town hall and open house events have not been announced yet. However, Jimenez anticipates key areas will include transportation, housing and economic development.

“We do plan to go out into the communities [and] listen to the residents and make sure that we are prioritizing the needs of Mason District,” he said.

Pedestrian and traffic safety

Top on Jimenez’s agenda is addressing pedestrian and traffic safety concerns in neighborhoods like Annandale, Bailey’s Crossroads and Seven Corners.

Last year, the community advocacy group Fairfax Families for Safe Streets published a report showing that pedestrian fatalities increased in 2022 as a result of “underfunding for pedestrian-focused projects.”

“Unfortunately, there have been a lot of fatalities when it comes to the pedestrians,” Jimenez said. “…We need to really start working on figuring out not only why is this happening, but how can we solve this problem.”

In 2021, the Board of Supervisors approved $100 million for county-wide pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure improvements that will be allocated to different projects through 2028. About $30.2 million has been allocated to date, according to the county website.

At the moment, the county is reviewing 69 proposed safety projects proposed for Mason District. Each of the projects originated from resident suggestions through a county-led online survey.

Jimenez emphasized his objective is to ensure that money is promptly allocated to projects in Mason District, adding that the money is “desperately needed.”

Jimenez identified a few intersections — such as Leesburg Pike (Route 7) at both Row Street and Columbia Pike — as high priority, focusing more on signal upgrades and other spot improvements than more comprehensive, long-term solutions.

In the coming months, Jimenez noted that he plans to consult with local stakeholder groups, such as the Bailey’s Crossroads 7 Corners Revitalization Corporation, to help identify projects that need immediate attention.

“We’ve already identified several initiatives — obviously Seven Corners, Bailey’s Crossroads and Annandale — that need help,” he said. “They need signage and they need timers and they need different ways to make sure that pedestrians are safe.”

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Washingtonian readers voted for Andy’s Pizza as their favorite pizza spot in the magazine’s 2023 poll (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

The District dominates Washingtonian’s 2023 survey of its readers’ favorite restaurants, but a couple of the highlighted establishments can be found right in Fairfax County.

Looking at eateries that came out on top in the poll’s 21 categories, readers picked Andy’s Pizza as their favorite place for pizza in the D.C. area and Call Your Mother as their favorite spot for breakfast.

A bagel shop and deli with a flagship location in D.C.’s Petsworth neighborhood Call Your Mother is expected to open a brick-and-mortar location at Chesterbrook Shopping Center in McLean next year after launching a mobile truck there in May.

In its survey, Washingtonian lauds Andy’s Pizza for serving the “best New York–style slices and pies you’ll find in these parts.”

The pizzeria has eight locations across the region, including ones in Tysons and Old Town Alexandria. After five years, the Tysons Galleria location still seems to be going strong, the one constant in a food hall that has otherwise struggled to take off.

Speaking of food halls, The Block was voted no. 3 in the region by Washingtonian readers, behind Union Market and The Roost in D.C.

Claiming to be Northern Virginia’s first food hall, The Block launched at 4221 John Marr Drive in Annandale in 2016 and expanded to Bethesda in 2019. Focused on Asian cuisine and snacks, its current Annandale tenants are Bold Dumpling, Balo Kitchen, Pokeworks Co. and SnoCream Company.

“These Asian food halls pack a lot into their smaller spaces, including stops for bubble tea, hibachi, and dumplings,” Washingtonian said.

Other restaurants with Fairfax County ties that showed up in Washingtonian’s poll include:

Voters also recognized Ellie Bird and Rice Paper in nearby Falls Church City among the best new and Vietnamese restaurants, respectively. Ruthie’s All Day in Arlington, Thompson Italian in Falls Church and Alexandria, and The Inn at Little Washington were voted as Virginia’s top three restaurants.

Published on Monday (Dec. 11), this was the 46th iteration of Washingtonian’s annual reader poll.

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