A new kid-focused community center is opening tomorrow (Thursday) inside a long-vacant space at a Hybla Valley apartment complex.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony will be held at 1 p.m. for the Communities of Trust Center, a renovated two-story community gathering place within the Creekside Village Apartment complex at 7932 Janna Lee Avenue.
The project comes from the local nonprofit organization Communities of Trust (COT), which works to build trust between public safety agencies and the community, and HomeAid, an organization that builds housing and facilities for nonprofits.
“Within this two-story building, COT will focus on preventive solutions for at-risk youth by providing a safe haven, teaching job skills for employment, and building ties within the community,” the event flyer says.
The new community center in the Franconia District will be a “safe place” for kids to gather, do schoolwork, and participate in structured programs, Communities of Trust Chair Shirley Ginwright told FFXnow.
“This has been a community where there has been a large amount of negative interaction with law enforcement,” she said. “This facility will provide a place for them to go, after they get out of school and while their parents are working.”
The 1,582-square-foot space had been vacant for a decade and was very much in need of renovations, per a press release.
Walls and the kitchen were removed to create a large, open-space area, while vinyl plank flooring was installed throughout. A kitchenette, two water fountains, new lighting, and windows were added. All three bathrooms were renovated as well.
The renovation ended up costing about $125,000, but all the materials, labor, and project management were donated.
Ginwright said creating a space where kids can learn was important, because the pandemic hit this community particularly hard, while setting many students back in terms of reading, writing, and math skills. There will be workshops and programs aimed at helping kids catch up on those skills.
There will also be a number of specialized programs aimed at different interests, including filmmaking, podcast production, and music recording. STEAM education will be a focus too, Ginwright said.
“We will also be engaging with our law enforcement in implementing many of these programs to help build positive relationships and trust,” she said.
The Communities of Trust Committee was first established in late 2014 in response to the killing of Michael Brown by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri. The committee’s intention was to bring together public safety agencies and community representatives to prevent what happened in Ferguson from happening in Fairfax County.
From there, a nonprofit organization was established in 2016. The community center in Hybla Valley is the first of its kind to be built by COT.
(Updated at 3:40 p.m.) A teen was taken into police custody after allegedly stabbing and ultimately killing his mother’s boyfriend in a Hybla Valley apartment last night (Sunday), police say.
Officers were called to the apartment in the 7900 block of Janna Lee Avenue just before 10 p.m. after the teen reported that his mother was being assaulted by her boyfriend, Fairfax County Police Department Second Lt. James Curry said in a brief update at 1 a.m.
Marcus Roberson, a 32-year-old D.C. resident, was transported to a nearby hospital with stab wounds to his upper body, according to police. He died at the hospital.
“Detectives are actively investigating to determine the circumstances that led to the stabbing,” Curry said.
An initial investigation appears to have backed up the teen’s report to police:
Preliminarily, detectives from our Major Crime Bureau and Crime Scene Section determined Roberson was visiting the address when a verbal argument escalated into an assault. The juvenile teenager reported he stabbed Roberson to stop the assault. There were three other children inside the apartment that were unharmed. The woman was treated at the scene for injuries not considered life threatening.
According to the FCPD, the teen was released to his mother after being interviewed last night and hasn’t been charged for the stabbing, which detectives believe may have been “a justifiable homicide.”
“Detectives continue to conduct interviews and process evidence recovered from the scene to determine the circumstances that led up to the fatal stabbing,” the police department said.
Charges may be filed at a later date based on a consultation between police and the Office of the Fairfax Commonwealth’s Attorney. An autopsy will be conducted “in the coming days” to confirm the cause and manner of Roberson’s death.
This is the second fatal stabbing seen in Fairfax County this year. The previous incident on Jan. 10 also reportedly stemmed from domestic violence, as an adult man in McLean allegedly stabbed his mother and stepfather, who died.
Officers are on scene of a domestic-related fatal stabbing in the 7900 blk of Janna Lee Avenue, Alexandria. A man was stabbed in the upper body. He was taken to hospital where he was declared deceased. Person of interest is in custody. Detectives are responding to investigate. pic.twitter.com/3DVYF6yAFV
— Fairfax County Police (@FairfaxCountyPD) January 30, 2023
NOW FATAL stabbing in the Mount Vernon area. @ffxnow https://t.co/0OFWumNyY0
— Alan Henney (@alanhenney) January 30, 2023
The Fairfax County Police Department announced that Chante Jones, 33, will be charged with second-degree murder after allegedly assaulting Michelle Huntley in June.
According to a police release, Huntley was found by a passerby at a bus stop in the 7900 block of Richmond Highway.
“She was taken to the hospital and succumbed to her injuries on June 26,” the release said. “Detectives located surveillance footage from several sources near the bus stop where the fatal assault occurred. An officer then spotted Jones on June 27 and took him into custody. At the time, Jones was charged with aggravated malicious wounding and held without bond.”
This afternoon, county police said that the results of an autopsy have led to the aggravated malicious wounding charge being amended to second degree murder.
Huntley, 63, was a person experiencing homelessness and was known in the community as Mama, ABC7 reported.
According to police:
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), and by web – Click HERE. Download the ‘P3 Tips’ 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.
(Updated at 11:45 a.m. on 10/14/2022) The Richmond Highway corridor’s first parklet and southern food restaurant Della J’s are both getting grand openings at Mount Vernon Plaza next week.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony is set for 11 a.m. on next Wednesday (Oct. 19) to unveil a new 3,200-square-foot parklet in the shopping center at 7694 Richmond Highway, adjacent to Moe’s Southwest Grill.
Mount Vernon Plaza is owned by Federal Realty, which also owns a number of other developments in Northern Virginia and across the country.
The new parklet is being touted as the first such amenity in the Richmond Highway corridor and will feature a trellis, porch swing benches, cafe seating, landscaping, and green space. Construction on the space began in May and finished about five months later.
The parklet was developed in partnership with the nonprofit Southeast Fairfax Development Corporation (SFDC), whose mission is to develop and support projects that help economic growth along Richmond Highway.
“We were excited to work with Federal Realty for the first parklet project on the Richmond Highway Corridor,” SFDC Executive Director Evan Kaufman said in the press release. “The team at Federal Realty immediately realized the value of this project, not only to their businesses at the Mount Vernon Plaza but to the general community in the area. We look forward to working with more visionary property owners to help develop parklets and community spaces up and down the Corridor.”
Kaufman told FFXnow that space like this is hard to find in the corridor and the addition of this parklet helps with the “liveability” of the community. There have already been talks of movie nights, public art, and other events in the space, he said.
“These types of projects…brings identity, character, and livability to the corridor that’s sometimes been lacking,” Kaufman explained.
The collaboration with Federal Realty could be a model for public-private partnerships at other developments along the corridor, he said. In fact, SFDC is already in talks with other Richmond Highway shopping centers about creating their own parklets.
Franconia District Supervisor Rodney Lusk, who is expected to be at the ribbon-cutting, also believes the parklet is a crucial amenity.
“The parklet will be a valuable amenity that will stimulate local growth, and attract visitors from across our region,” Lusk said in the press release. “Federal Realty’s investment is a clear commitment to making the Richmond Highway Area a destination defined by mixed-use and transit-oriented development.”
Della J’s is cooking again
Also officially opening its doors at Mount Vernon Plaza on Oct. 19 is Della J’s Delectables, the popular family-owned southern comfort food restaurant that started in Springfield before deciding to relocate to a larger space.
Now located right off Richmond Highway in a former Ruby Tuesday’s, the restaurant actually had its soft opening about a month ago, employees told FFXnow, but the full grand opening is next week.
Della J’s is owned by Alexandria natives Jerry and Lydia Young and serves up southern cuisine, like chicken biscuits, sweet potato pie, grits, fried fish, and barbeque meats. The new location is envisioned as a bit more “upscale,” with plans to eventually host live jazz music a couple of times a week.
Jerry Young grew up right behind what was then called T.C. Williams High School, and his dad was a member of the nearby historic Bethlehem Baptist Church in Gum Springs. Its current pastor, Reverend Dr. Darrell Keith White, is a regular at Della J’s.
Named after Jerry’s mom, the restaurant serves a number of the recipies that he helped her cook when he was a kid. Though she died at 68, cooking and booking remind Jerry of her.
“Cooking is a huge stress reliever for me,” he told FFXnow in June. “I have this ability to just open the cookbook up, look at a recipe, and pretty much nail it the first or second time.”
(Updated at 4:50 p.m.) A man has died after a shooting at the Mount Vernon Square apartment complex in Hybla Valley, the Fairfax County Police Department announced this afternoon (Tuesday).
Fairfax County police received a call just after 1 p.m. for a shooting in the 7400 block of Vernon Square Drive, the department said. Officers found a person with multiple gunshot wounds to the upper body.
The man was transported to a hospital, where he died from injuries that police said were life-threatening.
A “person of interest” was taken into custody. Police confirmed at a media briefing that they believe the person was the shooter.
At the briefing, Fairfax County Police Department Public Affairs Bureau Director Katherine Hayek said that the suspect had been “detained” at the scene of the shooting by a “good samaritan” who heard the gunshots.
“We do not recommend that the public step in dangerous situations,” Hayek said. “Our officers respond very quickly to the scene and were able to apprehend regardless, so luckily this man was safe and everything, but it was something we thought we’d bring forward as a community service.”
Police said they found two handguns at the scene but can’t confirm yet who they belonged to. The victim and shooter are both believed to be in their 20s, according to Major Eli Cory.
Cory said the bystander could be considered for a “good samaritan” award that the FCPD sometimes bestows.
“I definitely know that’s something we’re going to talk about awarding to this person,” Cory said. “We’ll see what happens here.”
The victim has succumbed to his injuries. Detectives from our Major Crimes Bureau are responding to assume the investigation. A PIO is enroute to the scene.
— Fairfax County Police (@FairfaxCountyPD) August 30, 2022
Fairfax County police are investigating a dead body discovered near Huntley Meadows Park in the Hybla Valley area.
The body was found in “a wooded area” in the 7900 block of Janna Avenue, the Fairfax County Police Department said on Twitter this afternoon (Tuesday).
Due to the condition of the body, which detectives believe has been outside for some time, it will likely take a while for police to identify the person and determine a cause of death, FCPD spokesperson Second Lt. Jason Chandler told FFXnow.
Police were alerted to the body’s presence by a community member, who called it in, according to Chandler.
Detectives are in the 7900 blk of Janna Lee Ave in Hybla Valley after a body was found in a wooded area. Preliminarily, detectives believe the body has been there for an extended period of time. Follow our blog, https://t.co/JRe8hd5BIU for any available updates. #FCPD pic.twitter.com/aW6upkrcj7
— Fairfax County Police (@FairfaxCountyPD) August 23, 2022
Photo via Google Maps
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.”
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]
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.
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.
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.