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Church Street in Vienna on a winter day (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Where to Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day — “St. Patrick’s Day is always an exciting time in the National Capital Region so find fun St. Patrick’s Day events and things to do in Fairfax County, VA and the rest of Northern Virginia and Washington, DC. Whether you’re looking for a quaint local Irish pub to relax in, or a rowdy Irish party to join, you’re bound to find our list of suggestions below a useful St. Patrick’s Day guide to Irishness!” [Visit Fairfax]

No Charges Against Officer in Lorton Shooting — “The commonwealth’s attorney for Fairfax County, Virginia, isn’t going to file charges against the police officer who shot a man in a van in Lorton last month. Michael Vaughan, 34, was shot Feb. 15 in a van on Fitt Court while he was holding a rifle.” [WTOP]

Prominent County Developer Dies — Land-use lawyer and developer John T. ‘Til’ Hazel Jr. on Tuesday (March 15) at 91 years of age in Broad Run. Crucial in shaping Fairfax County, including Tysons and George Mason University, Hazel helped clear land for the Capital Beltway and “went on to develop homes now occupied by 1 in every 10 residents of Fairfax County.” [The Washington Post]

FBI HQ Relocation Search Could Restart — “The omnibus fiscal year 2022 spending bill signed by President Joe Biden this week includes language that would advance the FBI’s selection of a new headquarters location — which it, along with the General Services Administration, had previously narrowed down to Greenbelt, Landover, and Springfield.” [Washington Business Journal]

FCPS Offers New Firefighter Training Program — “Thanks Fox 5 DC for highlighting this unique program and partnership between Fairfax County Public Schools and #FCFRD. Ten alums are now FCFRD career members. Two career elsewhere. Several volunteer firefighters. One attending Naval Academy!” [Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department/Facebook]

Herndon Native Stays with NHL Team — “Joe Snively, who grew up and played youth hockey in Herndon, was just re-signed by the Washington Capitals to a two-year, $1.6 million contract. Brian MacLellan, the Caps’ senior vice president and general manager, made the announcement on Wednesday, according to NHL.com.” [Patch]

GMU Reopens Renovated Performing Arts Theater — “After 18 months of renovations, Harris Theatre on George Mason University’s Fairfax campus is once again open for performances…The renovation features an expanded lobby, an updated ticket office, a new entrance near the walking meditation garden and a marquee to announce upcoming performances.” [Sun Gazette]

Tysons Contractor Buys Reston Security Company — “McLean, Virginia-based Booz Allen Hamilton, the largest government IT consulting contractor, continues a recent string of acquisitions by acquiring Reston-based cybersecurity firm EverWatch. Financial terms of the acquisition weren’t disclosed.” [WTOP]

McLean Fire Department to Host Blood Drive — The McLean Volunteer Fire Department will host another blood drive by Inova from 1-5:30 p.m. on March 25. This will be the department’s second blood drive of the year, following one in January that ultimately saw all spots fill up. [McLean VFD/Facebook]

It’s Thursday — Rain in the morning and afternoon. High of 58 and low of 49. Sunrise at 7:18 a.m. and sunset at 7:19 p.m. [Weather.gov]

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Kimchi in bowl (via Portugese Gravity/Unsplash)

(Updated on Feb. 1) Irene Shin, the first Korean American woman to serve in Virginia’s House of Delegates, believes it’s time the Commonwealth gave kimchi its due.

Shin, who started representing the 86th District this year, has introduced a bill to celebrate Nov. 22 as Kimchi Day, a tribute to the classic Korean fermented vegetable dish.

Del. Marcus Simon, who represents Pimmit Hills, Merrifield, and the City of Falls Church in the 53rd District, has signed onto the legislation as a cosponsor.

California became the first U.S. state to make such a designation last year, and the Republic of Korea (South Korea) also celebrates the day each year.

“I think it’s really an incredible opportunity to celebrate the cultural heritage and the contributions they’ve made [through] cultural diversity, especially in the northern Virginia region,” Shin said.

Called H.J. 147, the bill recognizes Korean culture’s influence and reach around the world, from K-pop music to Korean dramas.

It notes that the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization “recognized Korea’s traditional process of preparation and preservation of kimchi, known as kimjang, as a National Intangible Cultural Heritage Item” in 2013.

The proposal also speaks to the region’s changing demographics. The largest Korean population in metropolitan areas in the U.S. is Los Angeles, followed by New York and D.C., according to 2019 data, the Pew Research Center found.

According to the 2020 Census, Fairfax County is now Virginia’s second most racially diverse county, in part due to an increase in its Asian population, though the data was not broken down into more specific ethnicities or nationalities.

Growing up, Shin felt the dish might be unfamiliar to people when they visited her home, but she’s seen its prevalence and popularity rise over the years. She’s eager to help celebrate that diversity like other parts of the country have, even if it means introducing the cuisine to legislators who may not have tried it.

“In Virginia, Korean is the third most spoken language other than English,” she noted. Spanish is the second most spoken language in the Commonwealth.

To mark the occasion of being sworn into office on Jan. 12, Shin wore her family’s hanbok, a traditional Korean dress.

“I hope it will serve to remind us that diversity makes our Commonwealth great,” she said on Twitter.

Del. Mark Keam, who serves the 35th District, was the first Korean-American elected to any statewide office in the Commonwealth.

Photo via Portugese Gravity/Unsplash

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The Fairfax County School Board is looking at adding more holidays, including Diwali and Yom Kippur, to a proposed calendar for the upcoming 2022-2023 school year.

The board reviewed a proposed calendar from Fairfax County Public Schools staff during a work session yesterday (Tuesday), with a vote on the matter scheduled for their next regular meeting on Jan. 27.

The proposed 14-holiday schedule would begin July 1 and have a two-week winter break, one-week spring break, and days off for students through professional work days. It would mirror neighboring school districts’ holidays, a staff presentation showed.

FCPS staff recommended adding Diwali and Yom Kippur as full holidays with Rosh Hashanah as a day off for students. Staff would have the option to use it for professional development or also take the day off at their own discretion.

The proposed calendar includes an observance of Eid al-Fitr in 2023, even though it falls outside of school hours. The Muslim holiday marking the end of Ramadan will begin at sundown on Friday, April 21 to sundown on Saturday, April 22 next year.

FCPS is officially observing those four holidays for the first time this academic year, but the school board stopped short of granting students days off.

Last year’s calendar development proved unusually tense, with numerous residents voicing concerns about the process and local religious leaders expressing disappointment from a diversity standpoint.

Superintendent Scott Brabrand said yesterday that he accepted responsibility for a calendar process last year that was divisive and hurtful but added that he thought the calendar process this year was enhanced. 

It is complex. There’s no perfect calendar process. I think this process was better than the process we had before,” Brabrand said.

This time around, FCPS enlisted a calendar committee, consisting of school staff, students, parents and associations, to weigh in on the changes. FCPS Chief Operating Officer Marty Smith said several faith-based groups were invited, but not all chose to participate.

School board members wondered whether staff assigned different weights for priorities identified through a community input process that included surveying staff, students, and families. Brabrand said the proposal wasn’t a formula, but the staff’s best solution.

Despite a nearly two-hour long work session, school board members called for clearer justification from staff regarding which holidays will be recognized and adding Veterans Day as a day off for students.

“We want for this to not come across as arbitrary to our community, that people can take a look at the same data and kind of come close to the same conclusion,” Mason District Representative Ricardy Anderson said.

School board members suggested that the survey feedback wasn’t incorporated as well as it could have been.

Guided by U.S. Supreme Court rulings throughout the last century, public school holidays for religious occasions must be justified with a secular reason, such as high absence rates.

Mount Vernon District Representative Karen Corbett-Sanders said the proposed calendar was driven by FCPS’ operational needs, not one that reflects community feedback.

“We need to work on this calendar more to ensure that that has that mutual respect and inclusivity of all in it,” she said.

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With Thanksgiving on the horizon, many local entities and organizations will be closed.

Fairfax County government offices and Fairfax County Public Schools will be closed for Thanksgiving (Thursday, Nov. 25) and Black Friday (Nov. 26). County libraries are also closed both days.

Fairfax County Circuit Court, General District Court, and Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court close at noon today (Wednesday) through Friday.

The Fairfax County Animal Shelter is open for services by appointment only. For emergencies, contact Animal Protection Police at 703-691-2131.

All Department of Motor Vehicle service centers will be closed from Nov. 25 through Nov. 27.

While the Fairfax Connector has regular service today, riders can expect Sunday service on Thursday and holiday weekday service on Friday. More details on specific routes are available online.

Metrorail and Metrobus will also operate on a Sunday school tomorrow and offer week day service on Friday.

All recreation centers will open Thursday from 5 a.m. to noon with the exception of George Washington Recreation Center. All centers reopen on Friday.

The Fairfax County Government Center and South County Government Center vaccine clinic and the Tysons Community Vaccination center will be closed Thursday through Sunday for Thanksgiving. More locations are available online.

For trash and recycling collection, residents should contact their trash and recycling collector directly for any schedule changes due to the holiday.

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The American flag flies in the skies (via Aaron Burden/Unsplash)

Veterans Day, honoring all those who have served in the U.S. military forces, is Thursday (Nov. 11).

From banks to post offices and more, expect many services to be not operating to observe the holiday.

Libraries, courts and other swaths of county, state and federal services are affected, such as the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles.

Aside from banks, most businesses will be open. If you’re unsure, call ahead to check.

Meanwhile, Fairfax County Public Schools will have a two-hour early release.

Transportation

The Fairfax Connector will operate on a holiday weekday schedule, meaning some routes will offer their standard, weekday service, while others won’t operate at all.

The Washington Metropolitan Transit Authority Metrorail will continue with its reduced frequencies on the Silver Line amid its railcar investigation following a derailment in Arlington on Oct. 12.

WMATA buses will operate on a Saturday schedule.

Metro will have off-peak fares throughout the day, and parking at all Metro-owned lots and garages will be free.

Parks, Falls Church Services

County recreation centers and parts of Frying Pan Farm Park will be open, but other Fairfax County Park Authority centers will be closed.

Rec Center admission will be free for all veterans, active-duty military personnel, and their families with a military identification.

City of Falls Church offices and services, including the Mary Riley Styles Public Library, will be closed.

Photo via Aaron Burden/Unpsplash

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