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More sidewalks might be coming to Lockheed Blvd near Hybla Valley in an effort to create a better, safer connection to Huntley Meadows Park.

Franconia District Supervisor Rodney Lusk and Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay introduced a board matter on Tuesday (Aug. 2) calling for a portion of the leftover fiscal year 2022 budget to be used to fill a gap of about 1,500 feet of sidewalk on Lockheed Blvd leading up to the county-operated park.

Right now, there’s no sidewalk to the main entrance of Huntley Meadows Park. Adding one would make the 1,500-acre park safer and more accessible, the board matter says.

“I believe it is important that we fill that gap as soon as possible,” the board matter reads. “Not only would this make for a safer route for residents to get to Huntley Meadows, but it would also create a safer connection to the nearby Hybla Valley Elementary School.”

The school is less than a 10-minute walk from the park, but without a consistent sidewalk, the route there is inaccessible and unsafe. McKay acknowledged that student and pedestrian safety are top of mind after recent crashes.

“The idea that elementary school kids would have to cross a busy street not at a signalized intersection anywhere in two different places from the school to the park, which is a natural treasure of Fairfax County, seems to me not the message we want to be sending,” McKay said after reading the matter.

Extending the sidewalk and adding safer entrance points is not a new ask. In May, a local pedestrian and bicyclist safety organization called for protected bike lanes on Lockheed Blvd near the park.

Located less than a mile from Richmond Highway, Huntley Meadows Park is the largest park operated by the Fairfax County Park Authority. Established in 1975, the park has forests as well as open freshwater wetlands that have been described as a “waterfowl-filled oasis.”

There are trails, a picnic shelter, a visitor center, and a historic early 19th-century house once owned by George Mason’s grandson.

Lusk noted that the neighborhood and nearby school have one of the highest rates of students on free and reduced lunch in the county.

“Many residents [here] rely on public transportation or they are walking or biking as their primary form of transportation,” said Lusk.

Additionally, the new North Hill development and park are under construction less than a mile away from Huntley Meadows. Phase one could be completed later this year, and overall, it could bring over a thousand more residents to this portion of the Richmond Highway corridor.

The question, of course, is money. The board matter requests that the project be considered for the 2022 carryover budget, which will get a public hearing and vote on Oct. 11, but there was some debate about the project’s priority.

“We all have lots of projects that we want to put forward. We might want to have some criteria,” Mason District Supervisor Penny Gross said. “We all have pedestrian projects that we are anxious to get done. Last time we looked there were a thousand [projects] on the list, so the carryover [budget] may not make a dent in that.”

Images via Google Maps [1, 2]

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Morning Notes

A summer sunset over the I-66 West exit ramp in Centreville (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

I-66 West Traffic Changes in Oakton Today — “I-66 West between Nutley Street and Vaden Drive will be shifted to a new, long-term configuration beginning during the early morning hours on or about Wednesday, July 6. When this traffic change is implemented, the two right travel lanes will be separated from the two left travel lanes by barrier…This temporary traffic pattern will remain in place for approximately two months, and is part of the Transform 66 Outside the Beltway Project.” [VDOT]

Search for Suspect in Hybla Valley Homicide Continues — “A year ago today, Tafari ‘Trey’ Nadhim was fatally shot in the 7900 blk of Janna Lee Ave. Detectives continue to seek answers for Trey’s family & friends. If you have any info about his death, please call 703-246-7800 or submit tips through Crime Solvers.” [FCPD/Twitter]

Springfield Man Allegedly Hits Pedestrian After Stealing BMW — “A Springfield man was charged with grand larceny after he stole a car from a gas station on Braddock Road on June 25 and then ran into a pedestrian after Fairfax County Police attempted to stop him.” [Patch]

County Sees Uptick in Unemployment — “With 609,431 county residents in the civilian workforce and 16,122 looking for jobs, Fairfax’s unemployment rate stood at 2.6 percent for the month, according to figures reported June 29 by the Virginia Employment Commission. That’s up from 2.2 percent a month before, although it remained well below the rate of 3.7 percent a year ago.” [Sun Gazette/Inside NoVA]

Photos: New Citizens Welcomed on July 4 at Mount Vernon — “On Monday, July 4, George Washington’s Mount Vernon was the site of a naturalization ceremony for 52 new US citizens, some of whom serve in the US armed forces. Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen spoke, as did George Washington himself — well, the latest GW reenactor.” [Washingtonian]

Married FCPS Educators Help Ukranian Refugees — W.T. Woodson High School government teacher Lee Hedrick and Annandale High School ESOL Chair Meredith Hedrick recently traveled 18 hours to Poland to serve as volunteers for World Central Kitchen. They helped the nonprofit prepare and distribute meals to refugees at the border with Ukraine. [FCPS]

Great Falls Mansion Sold for $10M — “Innsbruck Holdings LLC on June 7 closed the sale of 576 Innsbruck Ave. in Great Falls, a 21,500-square-foot mansion, for $10.5 million…The Innsbruck mansion, also known as Alderley, has been through several owners since it was constructed in 2007, among them former AOL executive Richard Hanlon and James Carlson, the former CEO of AmeriGroup.” [Washington Business Journal]

It’s Wednesday — Rain starting in the afternoon. High of 85 and low of 78. Sunrise at 5:51 am and sunset at 8:39 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Hybla Valley Community Center (via Fairfax County/YouTube)

Lee District has officially been consigned to the history books.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors unanimously agreed yesterday (Tuesday) to adopt Franconia District as the new moniker for the magisterial district that represents portions of Springfield, Franconia, Kingstowne, and Hybla Valley.

Franconia District Supervisor Rodney Lusk said many residents associate the name of the district with positive memories there, such as the sound of footsteps on the boardwalk through Huntley Meadows, visions of the old gravel pits, or pride in the history of the Laurel Grove School.

“However for many, the name Lee District evokes another set of imagery, whether by design or by accident, and we may never know by which, the name stands as a lasting monument to the most recognizable Confederate figure in history,” he said.

Based on feedback from the community, Franconia was the most agreed-upon name.

“The name Franconia has always been central to our identity,” Lusk said. “It’s a name that makes sense, it’s a name that our community has embraced and it’s a name that memorializes a place and not a person.”

Lusk’s office confirmed that the new name “went into effect immediately” after the Board’s vote, but time will be needed to implement the change on signs, websites, social media accounts, and other entities that feature the district’s old name.

The approved board matter directed the county executive to initiate the process to change the name and report back to the board on administrative changes necessary to facilitate the change and a timeline for its adoption.

The board also voted to assign staff to reach out to businesses, nonprofits, community groups and other entities that may be impacted by the change and recommend possible strategies to support them.

“The exact timeline, cost, and scope will be determined through the County Executive’s review,” Lusk’s office said by email.

Just minutes earlier, the board also unanimously voted to call a new community center west of Richmond Highway the “Hybla Valley Community Center.”

Previously home to the Mount Vernon Athletic and Tennis Club, the building was purchased by the county in 2020 to be repurposed into the multiservice center meant to be “the epicenter of basic needs requests in all of South County.”

Lusk presented the motion to name the center at 7950 Audubon Avenue after getting public input at five community engagement sessions, he said.

“This community engagement effort was intentionally designed to reduce barriers to participation, create culturally appropriate engagement settings, and ensure that participation reflected those whose lives will be impacted by the decision,” Lusk said.

The center opened to the public on April 4, with a grand opening ceremony in May. It provides recreation services, youth programs and other resources for the Hybla Valley area in the Richmond Highway corridor.

“This community center is really an amazing place only in the very early stages of realizing its full potential, but one that I think is long overdue to the community,” Mount Vernon District Supervisor Dan Storck said.

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A Fairfax County police car (file photo)

Fairfax County Police charged a 32-year-old man with malicious wounding in connection to the deadly assault of a homeless woman in Hybla Valley earlier this month.

Chante Antonio Jones was arrested yesterday (Monday) after an officer saw him a block away from where the assault happened, wearing similar clothing from the night of the attack, police said.

Michelle Huntley, 63, was found at a bus stop on June 17 in the 7800 block of Richmond Highway with serious injuries from an assault, police said. She was transported to a hospital, where she died Sunday (June 26). Detectives are still investigating the relationship between Jones and Huntley and what led up to the assault.

Prior to his arrest, police located surveillance footage from areas near the bus stop and distributed an internal bulletin to ask officers for help to identify the person of interest, police said.

The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner is conducting an autopsy to determine the cause and manner of death, police said. Pending the results of the autopsy and consultation with the Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney, the charges may be changed.

Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeffrey McKay and Mount Vernon District Supervisor Dan Storck acknowledged Huntley’s death at the board’s meeting this morning (Tuesday), mentioning that police had taken a person into custody.

“Michelle was in her 60s and homeless, so a lot of times, we put a false image of what our homeless population is, and it’s just another sad reminder for us that there’s a lot of homeless people in our community, and they deserve respect and dignity,” McKay said. “Thankfully, we do have somebody in custody, but just a tragic, tragic event.”

Huntley was a familiar presence in the community. She had gotten the nickname “Mama” and was known to sleep at the bus stop, ABC7 reported yesterday.

Storck said:

Michelle Huntley was brutally beaten at a bus stop along Route 1. I want to acknowledge her passing, because she frankly did not deserve what she had. She was brutally beaten. She was in the hospital for many weeks, and it’s still unknown exactly what happened. I do want to also acknowledge the incredible work of our police department, not only our homicide unit, but also a patrol officer who happened to notice somebody who met the description of the individual that they’ve identified and arrested this individual, and now this individual is in custody. So, the core of this is to honor Michelle and the tragedy she encountered, but also to acknowledge what an incredible police department we have and how professional and skillful and good they are at making sure bad guys don’t last too long out in our community.

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A Fairfax County police car (file photo)

A woman found seriously injured from an assault at a Hybla Valley bus stop earlier this month died from her injuries over the weekend, police said.

Fairfax County police say the injuries were likely from blunt force, but the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner will conduct an autopsy to determine the specific manner and cause of death. This is the 12th homicide this year in the county, two more than at the same point in 2021.

Just after midnight on Friday (June 17), a passerby saw 63-year-old Michelle Huntley injured and unconscious at the bus stop in the 7800 block of Richmond Highway, police said. She was taken to the hospital, where she died Saturday.

“Detectives have reviewed hours of surveillance footage, conducted several interviews, and canvassed the surrounding area extensively to determine the circumstances that led up the deadly assault,” police said in a news release.

The full news release is below.

Mount Vernon Police District – Detectives from our Homicide Squad are investigating the deadly assault of a 63-year-old Alexandria woman. Just after midnight on June 17, officers responded to a bus stop in the 7800 block of Richmond Highway. A passerby saw the victim suffering from trauma to the upper body. The victim, Michelle Huntley, was taken to a nearby hospital for injuries considered life threatening. Sadly, Michelle succumbed to her injuries yesterday afternoon.

Detectives have reviewed hours of surveillance footage, conducted several interviews, and canvassed the surrounding area extensively to determine the circumstances that led up the deadly assault. Detectives believe the injuries Michelle sustained were likely from blunt force. The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner will conduct an autopsy to determine specific cause and manner of death.

Anyone who may have information about this assault is asked to contact detectives at 703-246-7800, option 2. Tips can also be submitted anonymously through Crime Solvers by phone – 1-866-411-TIPS (866-411-8477), by text – Type “FCCS” plus tip to 847411, and by web – Click HERE. Download our Mobile tip411 App “Fairfax Co Crime Solvers”. Anonymous tipsters are eligible for cash rewards of $100 to $1,000 dollars. Please leave contact information if you wish for a detective to follow up with you.

Victim specialists from our Major Crimes Bureau’s Victim Services Division have been assigned to ensure the victim’s family is receiving appropriate resources and assistance.

This is the 12th homicide of the year in Fairfax County. Year to date, there were ten homicides at this point in 2021.

For ongoing updates, please read our blog and follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram at @FairfaxCountyPD.

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Morning Notes

The sun pokes through the leaves as it readies to set in Fairfax County (staff photo by Brandi Bottalico)

Man Fatally Shot in Hybla Valley — “Officers were called at 8:12 p.m. to the 8000 block of Seaton Street for a man who had been shot while sitting inside a vehicle. Officers found Darren Davis, 19, of Alexandria, inside a white Dodge Challenger suffering from multiple gunshot wounds. Davis was transported to a local hospital where he succumbed to his injuries.” [FCPD]

Bomb Threats Made Against Schools — “Police are investigating multiple bomb threats against Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) over a span of six days.On Saturday, June 11, the Fairfax County Police department was notified by an FCPS IT employee that they had found multiple email threats sent to schools throughout Fairfax County. According to FCPD, even some faculty members were named in the email threats.” [WUSA9]

Unit Dedicated to Encouraging Fathers — “Using curriculum from the National Fatherhood Initiative and with help form Engagement Specialist Mercedes Alonso and Parent Support Specialist Michael Schut, Herron works with the unit to redirect fathers towards a healthy and engaged relationship with their children.” [Fairfax County Times]

Leaders Pledge to Curb Carbon Emissions — “Leaders from around the D.C. area voted Wednesday to adopt aggressive greenhouse gas reduction goals for the transportation sector, pledging to cut carbon emissions by 50% by 2030. Reaching that goal would require building more housing in walkable, transit-friendly areas, disincentivizing driving in favor of walking, biking and public transportation, and the rapid adoption of electric vehicles.” [DCist]

School Board Bans Guns in Non-Instructional Facilities — “Last night, the Fairfax County School Board unanimously approved a new policy affirming that all FCPS school zones are gun-free and deeming as gun-free any non-school zone building or property that the School Board owns or leases, which includes facilities like the Gatehouse Administration Center.” [Fairfax County School Board member Karl Frisch]

It’s Monday — Partly cloudy throughout the day. High of 75 and low of 57. Sunrise at 5:45 am and sunset at 8:39 pm. [Weather.gov]

FFXnow Observes Juneteenth Today— FFXnow will not be publishing today except for breaking news.

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Fairfax County police car lights (file photo)

(Updated at 3:05 p.m.) An unconscious woman who appears to have been assaulted and seriously injured was discovered at a bus stop in Hybla Valley, Fairfax County police said.

Officers responded to the bus stop near 7849 Richmond Highway around 12:05 a.m. this morning, a tweet from the department said. The woman appeared to have “trauma to the upper body” and was taken to the hospital.

Exactly what happened is unclear, but police say that, preliminarily, the woman does not seem to have been shot.

“Detectives continue to investigate the circumstances that led up to this woman’s injuries,” the Fairfax County Police Department told FFXnow by email.

Police ask anyone with information to call the department’s non-emergency line at 703-691-2131.

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Officials are proposing adding bicycle lanes and crosswalks to Farmington Drive and Fordson Road, which are in two highly trafficked areas south of the Beltway.

On Farmington Drive, the lanes and additional shared street markings would go between Telegraph Road and Edgehill Drive bordering Jefferson Manor Park and near the Huntington Metro.

On Fordson Road, new bike lanes are being proposed for the short segment of the road in Hybla Valley that connects Mount Vernon Plaza to Richmond Highway. The shopping center recently gained a 3,200-square-foot parklet.

New crosswalks across Fordson Road at Cyrene Blvd and near the entrance of the McDonald’s at the shopping plaza are also being suggested.

This would restrict “most” on-street parking south of Cyrene Blvd, the county notes on the project page, though on-street parking will remain intact north of the road.

All of this is set to be discussed with the community at a virtual meeting next week (June 15). A recording of the meeting will be posted afterward, and community feedback will be accepted until June 29.

Fairfax County Department of Transportation spokesperson Robin Geiger says these types of measures are recommended by the Fairfax County Comprehensive Plan and adding bike lanes can help slow down car traffic.

“The [roads are] wide enough to accommodate additional transportation infrastructure,” she wrote to FFXnow in an email. “Wide travel lanes can also lead to higher travel speeds, which is a safety concern for drivers, as well as cyclists and crossing pedestrians.”

The project only needs to be approved by District Supervisor Rodney Lusk, who is expected to make his decision in the coming weeks after the public comment period.

The proposed projects are part of the county’s annual maintenance, repaving, and striping of roads. Every year, FCDOT identifies roads that could be improved by additional safety measures like crosswalks, bicycle lanes, and shared street markings. The county collaborates with VDOT, which does the actual work and funding of the projects. The work begins in April and concludes in November.

However, these two projects were not part of the original collection of roads that were set for new safety measures this year.

The Farmington Drive and Fordson Road projects had originally been slated for consideration next year, but a lower bid on the paving contract allowed them to be possibly moved earlier.

If approved, the roads will be repaved between September 2022 and June 2023, so it still could be a full year before the new bicycle lanes and crosswalks are completed.

VDOT was not able to provide more information by publication on how much street parking would be lost with the addition of bike lanes to Fordson Road as well as the cost of both projects. Geiger did say the addition of bike lanes and crosswalks are just “making minor adjustments to the striping.”

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A Virginia Department of Transportation truck in Groveton after a May 16, 2022, storm (staff photo by Brandi Bottalico)

(Updated at 1:45 p.m.) Hundreds of people in Fairfax County are still without power after a thunderstorm swept through the D.C. area late yesterday afternoon (Monday).

Outages have been significantly reduced overnight, with the number of people affected dropping from more than 8,000 to about 500, as of 9:30 a.m., according to PowerOutage.US.

In terms of power losses, the storm primarily affected the south part of the county. Dominion Energy’s outage map indicates that 329 customers in West Springfield and over 50 customers in Hybla Valley, Mount Vernon, and Mason Neck are still waiting for their electricity to return.

Likely the result of fallen trees and branches on power lines, the individual outages appear to be limited in scope, each affecting only a few properties. The estimated time of restoration ranges from 1 to 7 p.m. today (Tuesday).

Yesterday’s storm brought 0.42 inches of precipitation to the Dulles Airport area and 0.27 inches to the National side of the region, according to preliminary climate reports from the National Weather Service.

However, the storm also had an unusual twist in the form of hail. Stones about the size of a quarter were spotted throughout the southeastern part of the county, including Franconia, Rose Hill, Fort Hunt, and Mount Vernon.

Maryland residents reported even larger hailstones.

According to the National Weather Service in Sterling, some hail is not especially unusual for this time of the year, but hail of the size seen yesterday is more rare.

“This is the time of year when we start to really warm up consistently. The caveat is that the atmosphere many thousand feet up is still cold as it takes more time to warm up further up at this point,” NWS meterologist Austin Mansfield said by email. “With lower freezing levels (0°C of the air temperature) in the atmosphere during this time of year but warmer and more unstable air masses looming, we can certainly see hail during this time of year.”

The NWS only tracks hail that’s 0.75 inches or larger in its archives. The last time the agency reported large hail in Fairfax County in May was on May 14, 2018, when it recorded hail with a 1.75-inch diameter, or roughly the size of a golf ball.

“Take that with a grain of salt because we are almost certain that hail has fallen in Fairfax County in the middle of May since then but it was more than likely smaller size (dime/nickel/pea),” Mansfield said.

Other scenes from the storm included fallen branches, waterborne trash cans, and post-rain goslings in Reston.

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Power outages following Monday’s thunderstorm are concentrated along the Route 1 corridor (via Dominion Energy)

(Updated at 6:30 p.m.) The thunderstorm has passed, but it has left some destruction in its wake, taking out electricity for more than 8,000 people in Fairfax County.

According to PowerOutage.US, there are currently 8,707 customers without power in the county.

The worst damage is in the Groveton and Hybla Valley area along Route 1, where around 5,835 Dominion Energy customers are currently without power, according to the utility company’s outage map.

Outages have also affected over 500 customers in Springfield.

The outages come after a thunderstorm hit the D.C. area earlier this afternoon (Monday), prompting reports of quarter-sized hail.

The National Weather Service issued a Severe Thunderstorm Warning for Fairfax County until 4:45 p.m.:

HAZARD…70 mph wind gusts and half dollar size hail.

SOURCE…Radar indicated.

IMPACT…Damaging winds will cause some trees and large branches to fall. This could injure those outdoors, as well as damage homes and vehicles. Roadways may become blocked by
downed trees. Localized power outages are possible. Unsecured light objects may become projectiles.

* Locations impacted include… Arlington, Alexandria, Centreville, Waldorf, Dale City, Annandale, Clinton, Springfield, Fort Washington, Fairfax, Fort Hunt, Vienna, Groveton, Falls Church, Huntington, Coral Hills, Mantua, Fort Belvoir, Woodbridge and National Harbor.

NWS urges residents to move to an interior room on the lowest floor of a building.

A Severe Thunderstorm Watch was also issued for the county. It was expected to last until 9 p.m., but got canceled shortly before 5:30 p.m. after the storm moved on.

Angela Woolsey contributed to this report.

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