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A display of peppers at a local farmers market (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Fairfax County is gearing up for the return of its 10 farmers’ markets this spring, with some locations set to return later this month and others in May.

The 2024 season starts on April 17 with the McCutcheon/Mount Vernon Farmers Market outside the Sherwood Regional Library (2501 Sherwood Hall Lane), the Fairfax County Park Authority announced last week.

Farmers and producers are only allowed to sell what they raise on their farms or make from scratch and come from within a 125-mile radius of Fairfax County, with a few exceptions for hard-to-find products, according to the county website.

“This year, you can expect to find locally grown produce, delicious baked goods, and prepared foods at our farmers markets,” the Fairfax County Park Authority said in a news release. “Additionally, enjoy a variety of family-friendly activities from musical performances, games — and don’t forget to bring your food scraps to support our community composting efforts.”

A list of vendors can be found on each market’s webpage, and SNAP will be accepted at the Mount Vernon, Annandale, Lorton, Reston and Wakefield locations.

Three farmers markets are coming back later in April, all operating from 8 a.m. to noon:

  • April 17: McCutcheon/Mount Vernon on Wednesdays
  • April 20: Burke at Burke Centre Field (5671 Roberts Parkway) on Saturdays
  • April 27: Reston at Lake Anne Plaza (1608 Washington Plaza North) on Saturdays

The seven remaining farmers markets will open in May:

  • May 1: Oakton at the recently renamed Oakmont Rec Center (3200 Jermantown Road) on Wednesdays 8 a.m.-noon, Wakefield at the Audrey Moore Rec Center (8100 Braddock Road) in Annandale on Wednesdays 2-6 p.m.
  • May 2: Annandale at Mason District Park (6621 Columbia Pike) and Herndon outside the Herndon Municipal Center (765 Lynn Street) on Thursdays 8 a.m.-noon
  • May 3: McLean at Lewinsville Park (1659 Chain Bridge Road) on Fridays 8 a.m.-noon, Kingstowne (5844-5862 Kingstowne Center) on Fridays 3-7 p.m.
  • May 5: Lorton at Lorton Station Town Center (8994 Potomac Bend) on Sundays 8 a.m.-noon
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(Updated at 3:55 p.m.) A local bald eagle stretched its wings for the first time in over a month when it got released at Burke Lake Park this past weekend.

The adult, male bird was found in Fairfax Station on Dec. 23 by Fairfax County Animal Protection Police officers, who were responding to a call for service. In addition to being “underweight,” the eagle had head injuries and “a deep laceration on a leg,” according to the Fairfax County Police Department.

“The exact cause of the eagle’s injury remains unknown, but it is common for wildlife in urban areas to sustain injuries from various factors,” an FCPD spokesperson told FFXnow.

After managing to capture the eagle, the responding officers enlisted the assistance of Wildlife Rescue League volunteers, who transported it to Wildlife Veterinary Care in Boyce, Virginia. Led by veterinarian Dr. Belinda Burwell, the clinic provides free veterinary and rehabilitation services for sick and injured native wildlife.

According to the FCPD, Burwell specializes in treating raptors, but Wildlife Veterinary Care can take care of more than 200 different species of animals, per its website.

Burwell released the bald eagle at Burke Lake Park (7315 Ox Road) on Sunday, Feb. 4 after it spent six weeks in treatment and recovery, the FCPD said. Animal Protection Police officers, Wildlife Rescue League volunteers and park staff all attended the release.

Encompassing 888 acres of water and woodland, Burke Lake Park is an “ideal habitat” for eagles and other large birds, according to the police department’s media team.

“The park offers a suitable environment with abundant food sources and minimal human interference, providing the eagle with the best chance of thriving after its rehabilitation,” the FCPD said.

This isn’t the first time local police have worked with Burwell to rehabilitate a bald eagle.

She previously helped care for a bird suffering from an injured shoulder and lead poisoning that a community member had encountered on a trail near Burke Lake in December 2019. That eagle was also released at Burke Lake Park on Jan. 12, 2020, an occasion that drew over 500 onlookers, the Fairfax County Park Authority said at the time.

Burwell told the Washington Post that lead poisoning is a common issue in the five to 10 eagles that Wildlife Veterinary Care typically sees each year. Raptors are often exposed to lead when they eat the remains of animals shot by hunters, according to the Wildlife Center of Virginia, which admitted over 60 bald eagles last year — the most in one year since its founding in 1982.

The Wildlife Rescue League’s helpline, which is entirely supported by volunteers and donations, received 6,500 calls for assistance last year, including 2,896 calls for sick, injured or orphaned birds, according to WRL President Beth Axelrod.

“Ten of those calls were about eagles, and four eagles were transported by WRL volunteer transporters,” Axelrod told FFXnow. “I believe three of them were Fairfax County, one was from Loudoun.”

Virginia once had just 30 breeding pairs of bald eagles, but the species has recovered nationally in recent decades, to the point where it was taken off the federal list of endangered species in 2013.

According to data gathered by the Center for Conservation Biology, most of Fairfax County’s recorded nests can be found in the southeast, particularly around Mason Neck, but there was one nest in Burke Lake Park counted in 2015. The county is also home to hawks and at least one family of falcons that regularly nests at Reston Town Center.

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Bradfield Drive and Braddock Road (via Google Maps)

Updated at 8 p.m. on 2/7/2024 — A third person — Yan Zhou, 68, of Burke — has died as a result of Sunday’s crash at the Braddock Road and Bradfield Drive intersection in Burke, police said. There have now been five deaths from vehicle crashes in Fairfax County this year.

Updated at 4:55 p.m. on 2/6/2024 — One of the two people hospitalized with serious injuries from Sunday’s crash on Braddock Road has died, bringing Fairfax County’s traffic death toll for the year up to four people, police announced today (Tuesday).

Hong Tang, 63, of Fairfax was a passenger in the 2006 Lexus RX330I that crashed into a BMW at the Bradfield Drive intersection. Another Lexus passenger is still in the hospital.

Earlier: Two people remain hospitalized in the wake of yesterday’s fatal crash on Braddock Road in Burke.

Fairfax County police officers were called to the intersection of Braddock Road and Bradfield Drive around 9:42 a.m. on Sunday (Feb. 4) after the driver of an eastbound 2024 BMW X6 on Braddock Road crashed into a 2006 Lexus RX330I that was turning left into the westbound lanes.

Yun Hu, 72, of Annandale was one of five people in the Lexus. They were all taken to a hospital, where Hu died, according to the Fairfax County Police Department.

The BMW’s two occupants were also transported to a hospital.

“Two passengers remain hospitalized,” the FCPD said. “The other four passengers were treated for non-life-threatening injuries and released from the hospital a short time later.”

The circumstances of the crash are still under investigation, though police say speed and alcohol aren’t believed to have been factors.

Area residents told WUSA9 that speeding has long been an issue on Braddock Road, where there have now been 13 fatalities since 2011, according to Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles data.

Hu was the third person to die in a vehicle crash in Fairfax County this year. The FCPD also reported this afternoon that an 85-year-old man had died from the injuries he sustained in a Jan. 24 crash on Clifton Road, and on Jan. 3, a woman died after crashing into a tow truck on I-66 that was responding to an earlier multi-vehicle collision in the Centreville area.

Image via Google Maps

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A rehabilitation center in Burke wants to expand, and it’s asking Fairfax County to approve its plan.

In an effort to “improve its ability to serve the Northern Virginia area,” the Burke Health and Rehabilitation Center submitted an application to the county on Jan. 16 requesting a rezoning and an amendment that would allow an addition, a statement of justification reads.

The 120-bed facility at 9640 Burke Lake Road offers short and long-term post-surgery care, cardiac and stroke care, and other nursing services. The proposal calls for a roughly 25,000-square-foot addition to the existing facility to accommodate 68 more beds.

“To accomplish this, a rezoning to the R-3 District is requested as the proposed floor area ratio (FAR) is slightly over 0.2,” the statement reads, referring to the size of the new building compared to the size of the lot. “Additionally, the existing special exception approval from 2008 will have to be amended to accommodate the proposed site changes.”

According to the application filed by 9640 Burke Lake Road LLC, the property is governed by a special exception initially approved in 1985 and amended in 1987 and 2008. Currently, the 46,143-square-foot building is zoned for the county’s R-1 district and occupies 7.65 acres with two-story and one-story sections.

The proposed building would be tucked into the “L” formed by the existing building, the statement reads. The rehab center is also seeking 10 additional parking spaces south of the addition.

The center would keep an existing recreational area west of the building, which has a gazebo, a picnic table, benches and trails. Additionally, areas that are in a floodplain, resource protection areas and Environmental Quality Corridors will not be disturbed, according to the application.

The statement of justification also describes the center’s relationship with the adjacent Heatherwood Retirement Community as symbiotic.

“In addition to providing much needed medical and rehab services to the retirement community residents, as needed, the center is also accessed through the retirement community property,” the statement reads.

Next steps include referring the special exception application to the Health Care Advisory Board for a recommendation and report, which will then be given to the Fairfax County Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors.

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Fairfax County Parkway is closed at Burke Centre Parkway after a three-vehicle crash (via FCPD/Twitter)

A driver has been hospitalized with potentially life-threatening injuries from a three-vehicle crash in Burke.

Police officers and emergency medical services were dispatched to Fairfax County Parkway at Burke Centre Parkway around 8:53 a.m. for a crash with a trapped person, according to scanner traffic on Open MHz.

At least one vehicle was found overturned onto its roof with the driver pinned inside.

“One driver was air lifted to a local hospital in life-threatening condition,” the Fairfax County Police Department reported just before 11 a.m.

Northbound Fairfax County Parkway has been closed at the intersection as Crash Reconstruction Unit detectives investigate, police said.

The Virginia Department of Transportation studied Burke Centre Parkway this fall for potential safety improvements after a teen was killed in a crash outside the Burke Centre Shopping Center in July.

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Police are investigating assaults against minors that occurred in September around trails in the Burke area (via Google Maps)

(Updated at 12:20 p.m.) Fairfax County police believe a single man may be responsible for a series of assaults on minors in the Burke area.

A 65-year-old Burke man has been arrested and charged with sexual battery of a minor in connection to an incident that occurred on Sept. 7, the Fairfax County Police Department announced today (Monday).

According to police, a juvenile girl reported that “an unknown man approached her, grabbed her wrist, and groped” her chest while she was walking on the Wards Grove path near the 5800 block of Poppy Court around 6:30 p.m.

“The victim was able to run away and call the police,” the FCPD said in a news release.

Major Crimes Bureau detectives assigned to the case developed a composite sketch of the possible suspect on Sept. 14 and canvassed the area “looking for additional leads,” police said.

“During the canvass, additional incidents involving the suspect were reported to police, including an assault against a minor and an additional instance of sexual battery against a minor,” the FCPD said.

While canvassing, police say officers saw a man who matched the suspect’s description. Detectives interviewed him and learned that he often uses the trails around Burke Commons Road and Roberts Parkway, prompting them to make an arrest.

So far, the man has only been charged with the Sept. 7 case, but detectives are still investigating his possible connection to other reported cases in the area, according to the FCPD.

“Our dedicated detectives are working closely with the community to identify any additional incidents that may have occurred,” an FCPD spokesperson said. “We understand the importance of gathering all necessary evidence and conducting thorough interviews with all victims involved.”

The police department is asking anyone who may have been a victim or have additional information to contact its detectives at 703-246-7800, option 3. Tips can also be sent anonymously through Crime Solvers by phone (1-866-411-TIPS) and online.

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Some community members say a median on Burke Centre Parkway should be extended at a roadway out of the Burke Centre Shopping Center (via Google Maps)

In October, the Virginia Department of Transportation will put together recommended improvements for the portion of Burke Centre Parkway where a fatal crash occurred last month.

The recommendations will come after VDOT staff can review the official police investigative report on the crash in September. The department is also planning to conduct studies on potential speed limit changes and the feasibility of a traffic signal in September and October.

The exact dates when the recommended improvements will be presented and implemented are to be determined, VDOT Assistant District Administrator Steven Welch said at a virtual community meeting about the parkway Tuesday night (August 15).

The timeline for implementation can depend on the nature of the changes. A median closure would take less time put in place than a new traffic signal, for example, Welch said.

“The range is really wide,” he said.

Welch also recapped safety improvements made on Burke Centre Parkway in the last three years, which include removing the flashing yellow arrow from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. at the intersection of Burke Centre Parkway and Roberts Parkway and adding pedestrian warning signs at four crosswalks.

More than 70 people attended the virtual community meeting, which Braddock District Supervisor James Walkinshaw hosted in the wake of the July 18 crash that killed 17-year-old Rebekah Zarco and hospitalized three other teens.

The bulk of the roughly hour-long meeting featured questions and comments from community members, including on the possibility that the July crash involved cars racing.

“In the days after the crash, we did hear there may have been vehicles racing,” said Second Lt. Ian Yost, a crash reconstruction unit supervisor in the Fairfax County Police Department’s traffic division.

Police say 42-year-old Burke resident Jose Angel Zelaya, who was arrested on Aug. 1 and has been charged with involuntary manslaughter, was driving at almost double the 40-mph speed limit when he crashed into the car of teens.

District 37 State Sen. David Marsden said he was intrigued by the potential connection to racing. He said he has submitted a bill to the General Assembly to deal with loud vehicle muffler noise.

“Certainly loud mufflers don’t cause people to race, but it certainly is indicative of some desire to be aggressive with your car, at least its noise and perhaps its speed,” Marsden said.

Some community members asked about the possibility of adding speed cameras. Under a 2020 state law, Fairfax County can place speed cameras in school and construction zones. A pilot program with cameras outside eight schools has been underway since February.

“Where we are right now is we recently started the school zone pilot program,” Walkinshaw said. “I anticipate we’ll want to expand that to other schools around the county and use that to learn and maybe advocate for additional authorities from the General Assembly in Richmond to do more.”

Multiple community members also brought up the possibility of adding a median barrier at the intersection outside the Burke Centre Shopping Center where the crash occurred.

At the meeting, FCPD officers also provided a brief overview of the department’s recent traffic safety efforts, including the summer “Road Shark” campaign and recent traffic enforcement on Burke Centre Parkway.

FCPD’s motor unit issued 440 citations while conducting “high visibility enforcement” on the roadway between July 24 and July 29, according to a presentation at the meeting.

Community members who have questions or comments about Burke Centre Parkway can contact Walkinshaw’s office at braddock@fairfaxcounty.gov or 703-425-9300. The FCPD says anyone who may have witnessed something related to the July 18 crash can contact its crash tip line at 703-280-0543.

Image via Google Maps

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Fairfax County police on Burke Centre Parkway (via FCPD/Twitter)

The driver who crashed into a car of teenagers on Burke Centre Parkway last month has been charged with involuntary manslaughter, police announced today (Tuesday).

Jose Angel Zelaya, a 42-year-old Burke resident, was arrested yesterday after detectives found that he was driving almost double the speed limit around the time his 2014 Cadillac XTS4 collided with a 2023 Kia Forte exiting the Burke Centre Shopping Center parking lot on July 18, according to the Fairfax County Police Department.

The crash killed 17-year-old Rebekah Zarco and sent three other teens who were in the Kia to the hospital, where all of them are still being treated, according to police.

Zelaya is being held at the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center without bond.

As community members started a petition calling for a traffic light or other safety improvements in the area, the FCPD increased the presence of its officers on Burke Centre Parkway last week for a crackdown on dangerous driving.

The High Visibility Enforcement campaign resulted in 419 traffic summons and warnings, including 222 speeding infractions, the department said on Monday.

The road’s speed limit is 40 mph in the 5700 block where the fatal crash occurred.

A recent graduate of Robinson Secondary School, Zarco had been preparing to pursue a degree in technology at George Mason University’s School of Engineering this fall, according to an obituary published by her family.

She also played the piano and enjoyed traveling. The obituary says she was “an exemplary friend” who was “always ready to lend a caring ear or offer a helping hand to those in need.”

“In the midst of our grief, we find solace in knowing that Bekah’s beautiful soul has left an indelible mark on the world,” Zarco’s family wrote. “Her kindness, grace, and love will forever be remembered and cherished by all who were touched by her presence.”

A memorial service for the teen was held this past Saturday (July 29).

Photo via FCPD/Twitter

Fairfax County police are stepping up their presence on Burke Centre Parkway this week (via FCPD/Twitter)

Drivers on Burke Centre Parkway can expect to see more police than usual this week, as the community still reels from a crash that killed one teen and put three others in the hospital.

The Fairfax County Police Department launched a High Visibility Enforcement (HIVE) initiative today (Monday) that will increase the presence of motor and patrol officers along the roadway between Fairfax County Parkway and Burke Lake Road.

The initiative is intended to “deter and change dangerous traffic behaviors on Fairfax County roads” after a driver who was allegedly speeding crashed into a Kia exiting the Burke Centre Shopping Center on July 18, killing a 17-year-old identified by news reports as Rebekah Zarco.

“This coordinated and targeted enforcement effort aims at identifying aggressive drivers and addressing hazardous driving behaviors,” the FCPD said. “It is part of the department’s ongoing commitment to reducing crashes and enhancing safety on our roadways.”

The HIVE initiative builds on an ongoing campaign by local police to crack down on dangerous driving in response to a surge in pedestrian fatalities last year.

Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles data shows 17 traffic deaths in Fairfax County so far this year, though the database doesn’t yet list any fatalities from June or July.

Zarco was the eighth non-pedestrian killed on a county road in 2023, according to the Fairfax County Police Department, whose count doesn’t include crashes on highways or the Dulles Toll Road.

Last week’s crash brought renewed attention to safety concerns specifically on Burke Centre Parkway. As of April 30, there had been 12 crashes on the roadway this year, a rate slightly behind the 39 crashes recorded last year and 41 in 2021, according to the FCPD.

Since July 2020, the department has issued over 2,100 citations on Burke Center Parkway.

A petition calling for a traffic light at the intersection where the incident occurred has drawn over 1,500 supporters, as of press time. Some commenters suggested the road’s concrete median should be closed instead to prevent left turns out of the shopping center.

The FCPD hasn’t shared how fast the driver in last week’s crash was traveling, but detectives believe “speed was a contributing factor.” Burke Centre Parkway’s speed limit is 40 mph.

As it focuses traffic enforcement efforts on sites known to have high crash rates, the police department shared some tips for safe driving:

Traffic safety is everyone’s responsibility. FCPD reminds drivers to:

  • Put the phone down and go hands-free.
  • Avoid distractions.
  • Be mindful of crosswalks and pedestrians.
  • Share the road with bicyclists.
  • Yellow means “slow down” and red means “stop.”
  • Don’t speed.
  • Allow ample time to get to your destination.
  • Keep your eyes and mind on the road.

By following these safety tips, you are playing a crucial role in making our highways safer by preventing unnecessary crashes. With your assistance, the FCPD can mitigate injuries and prevent fatalities resulting from traffic crashes.

Photo via FCPD/Twitter

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Fairfax County Police Lt. James Curry at scene of fatal crash on Burke Centre Parkway (via FCPD/Facebook)

A driver who crashed into a car with four teenagers, killing one of them, in Burke last night (Tuesday) might have been speeding, Fairfax County police say.

A preliminary investigation suggests the adult, male driver was driving a 2014 Cadillac XTS4 west on Burke Centre Parkway when he crashed into a 2023 Kia Forte attempting to exit the Burke Centre Shopping Center parking lot, the Fairfax County Police Department said in a news release today.

Police responded to the scene in the 5700 block of Burke Centre Parkway at 9 p.m. yesterday.

The Kia driver died at the scene, and three passengers — all juveniles — were transported to a hospital with potentially life-threatening injuries. All of them remain hospitalized, according to police.

State law prohibits police departments from publicly sharing information about juvenile victims without parental consent.

The Cadillac driver, who also hasn’t been publicly identified, was taken to a hospital with injuries not considered life-threatening.

“Preliminarily, detectives believe speed was a contributing factor in the crash,” the FCPD said. “Detectives continue to investigate the circumstances that led to the crash and determine appropriate charges.”

This was the eighth fatal crash on Fairfax County roads in 2023 that didn’t involve a pedestrian — and the second such crash in as many days after 27-year-old Mahdere Fassil died in a crash in Fort Belvoir on Monday (July 17).

After seeing a sharp increase in pedestrian fatalities last year, the county has recently undertaken a variety of measures aimed at improving traffic safety, from speed cameras in school zones to a study of turn-calming measures designed to slow down vehicles.

The Fairfax County Police Department launched a “Road Shark” campaign this spring to crack down on aggressive driving behaviors, including speeding. A third “wave” of the enforcement effort took place during the week of July 10 after previous iterations collectively resulted in more than 8,000 citations.

Photo via FCPD/Facebook

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