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Morning Notes

A frog statue looks up at Giant in University Mall (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Army Nurse Thanks Fairfax County Firefighters — “Sunday, August 7, was a powerful and inspiring day at Station 11, Penn Daw, C-Shift. U.S. Army Captain Paul Petrie, an OR Nurse at Fort Belvoir, stopped by to thank the shift for their role in saving his life in May. Injuries he sustained are fatal a vast majority of the time. Watch to learn more!” [FCFRD/Facebook]

Long-Term Fix for AT&T Service Issues in Reston Coming — A permanent proposal to restore full cell service in the Lake Anne area isn’t expected to come until later this fall, according to Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn. Alcorn says AT&T is looking at installing equipment on the new Fellowship House roof, but that will require approvals from Fairfax County and the Reston Association Design Review Board. [Patch]

Fairfax County Parkway Targeted for Traffic Enforcement — “Officers from our Motor Squad are focusing on traffic enforcement on the Fairfax County Parkway this month. On the first day of this enforcement campaign, an officer stopped a car going 108 MPH on the County Parkway at Barta Road, a 50 MPH zone!” [FCPD/Instagram]

Vienna Trail Closed for Repairs — “The Wildwood Park trail that runs between Follin Lane SE and Niblick Drive SE, along with the Mashie Drive Park entrance, will be closed tomorrow, Tuesday, Aug. 9, between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. for repairs. Please use caution when in the area and plan for detours.” [Town of Vienna/Twitter]

Police Seek Help with Centreville Cold Case — “One of the DNA-analysis companies that Fairfax County Police in Virginia have been working with is Texas-based Othram, which is now crowdfunding help to identify a woman who was found dead…nearly 30 years ago. Even today, there isn’t a lot that police know about the woman, whose remains were found in 1993 near a cedar tree around what’s now the corner of Sharpsburg Drive and Calvary Place in Centreville.” [WTOP]

Connector Buses Not Affected by Metro Shutdown — The closure of several Blue and Yellow Line stations next month will have no impact on Fairfax Connector routes, but instead of taking a train, passengers will transfer to free shuttle buses. Drop-off and pick-up locations at the Huntington, Van Dorn Street, Franconia, and Crystal City stations may also be slightly different. [Fairfax County Government]

Reminder to Get Kids Immunized for School — “Parents, you’ve probably reminded your kids about summer reading and started purchasing school supplies. Have you booked your immunization appointment yet? Don’t wait until the last minute, make sure your children are up to date with their school required immunizations.” [Fairfax County Health Department/Facebook]

Maryland Toll Lanes Project on Hold — “A key federal agency has delayed Maryland’s plan to build toll lanes on the Capital Beltway and I-270, the latest setback for the star-crossed project. The move was immediately criticized by Gov. Larry Hogan (R), who said the delay will imperil the state’s efforts to ease one of the nation’s worst bottlenecks.” [Maryland Matters]

It’s Tuesday — Humid throughout the day. High of 94 and low of 78. Sunrise at 6:18 am and sunset at 8:12 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Morning Notes

Lewinsville Park basketball courts in McLean (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

McLean Police Shooting Not Justified, Family Says — The parents of Jasper Aaron Lynch, who was fatally shot four times by a Fairfax County police officer during a mental health crisis call on July 7, said in a statement that the police “could have, and should have, handled this far differently.” Their comments came after the county police department released footage of the encounter. [WTOP]

Bailey’s Crossroads Car Dealership to Expand — “The Radley Acura dealership on Columbia Pike near Route 7 in Bailey’s Crossroads will undergo a major expansion. The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved a rezoning application Aug. 2 by Radley Management LLC to build a three-level parking garage with 307 spaces and an enclosed customer service drop-off addition.” [Annandale Today]

New Metro Safety Issues Raised — “Metro needs to inspect, clean, and protect Metrorail station rooms that house equipment that detects when trains are on tracks and helps the system avoid crashes, the agency’s safety oversight body said in a report released Thursday. The report further said that Metro had failed to follow through on inspections after the issue was raised in March.” [DCist]

County Pension Fund Doubles Down on Crypto — “Fairfax County, Va.’s $6.8 billion pension fund, the Fairfax County Retirement Systems, has received approval to invest $70 million across two crypto yield farming funds…The $1.8 billion Fairfax County Police Officers Retirement System has made a series of crypto investments in the past alongside the Fairfax County Retirement Systems” [CoinDesk]

Funds for Water to Historic Hall Approved — “The Fairfax County Park Authority Board approved a Mastenbrook Grant request from the Great Falls Grange Foundation (GFGF) in the amount of $20,000 to help install a municipal-connected water line to service the Great Falls Grange…The overall vision for this site is to serve the community as a self-supporting gathering place, a location for classes and a place to hold special events.” [FCPA]

Decision on Maryland’s Beltway Toll Lanes Coming — “With the U.S. Department of Transportation poised to issue its decision on an ambitious Capital Beltway and I-270 toll lanes plan, Montgomery County’s top planner accused state highway officials of running roughshod over Maryland law,” echoing similar complaints leveled by McLean residents over Virginia’s 495 NEXT project. [Maryland Matters]

Poll: What Does “Alexandria” Mean to You? — “One of the very first stories on ALXnow discussed…the distinction between the City of Alexandria and the areas of Fairfax south of Cameron Run sometimes referred to as Alexandria. This past week, two businesses opening this month — a cannabis dispensary and a metal supermarket — identified themselves as ‘Alexandria’ branches of their respective chains despite the fact that both are opening in Fairfax.” [ALXnow]

It’s Friday — Rain in the evening and overnight. High of 91 and low of 76. Sunrise at 6:15 am and sunset at 8:17 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Construction on the bicycle and pedestrian bridge over the Capital Beltway in Tysons will take slightly longer than anticipated.

The Virginia Department of Transportation says the first phase of the project — which will eventually connect Tysons Corner Center and the McLean Metro station via Old Meadow Road — is now expected to be completed this fall, behind the previously advertised summer 2022 timeline.

“No particular reason,” a VDOT Northern Virginia spokesperson said when asked what led to the delay. “But summer weather certainly doesn’t adhere to our timetables.”

VDOT has spent more than half a decade now working to provide a crossing from Tysons East over the Beltway (also known as I-495) for bicyclists and pedestrians, initially unveiling concept plans for a trail along Route 123 in 2017.

However, community members quickly raised concerns about the potential safety risks of at-grade crosswalks on ramps at the I-495/Route 123 interchange, prompting officials to pivot to the current bridge and shared-use path proposal.

Construction began on the bridge in August 2021. With this first phase, the project is also adding a 10-foot-wide path from the bridge, which leads to Tysons One Place, to the Old Meadow and Provincial Drive intersection.

The path will eventually be extended all the way to Route 123, but VDOT is still in search of funding for that phase of construction.

“VDOT continues to work to identify additional funding sources for Phase 2,” VDOT Northern Virginia Communications Coordinator Mike Murphy told FFXnow by email.

The first phase carries an estimated construction cost of $13.4 million, a price tag fueled in part by agreements for property easement and right-of-way acquisitions. VDOT says the cost hasn’t changed with the delay, despite inflation and supply-chain issues driving up construction costs nationwide.

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Drivers coming onto I-495 South from the GW Parkway will be detoured while the north side of Georgetown Pike bridge is demolished (via VDOT)

Nights are about to get noisier in McLean, as work begins in earnest this week on the demolition of the Georgetown Pike bridge over the Capital Beltway.

As early as Wednesday (July 27), construction crews working on the I-495 Northern Extension (495 NEXT) project will start demolishing the northern side of the bridge, which is being replaced and widened to fit six lanes and a new 6-foot-wide sidewalk.

During the demolition, traffic on Georgetown Pike will shift to the south side of the bridge. Crews have been laying the groundwork for the shift since late June, eliminating an existing concrete median and installing temporary traffic lights.

Demolition of the bridge’s north side is expected to take about three weeks, with work generally taking place between 9:30 p.m. and 5 a.m. on Sunday through Friday nights. Work may be needed on Saturdays from 9:30 p.m. to 7 a.m., depending on the weather and other factors, the Virginia Department of Transportation says.

“Specialized equipment will be used to demolish the bridge, including excavators fitted with hammers, saws and hydraulic jaws,” VDOT said in a news release published Friday (July 22). “While every effort will be made to control noise, certain demolition activities are unavoidably noisy and must be performed during nighttime hours when Beltway traffic below the bridge is lightest and necessary lane closures can occur.”

In the coming weeks, drivers should prepare for regular lane closures and traffic stoppages during overnight hours, according to VDOT:

To keep workers and motorists safe during the demolition, overnight triple- and double-lane closures on I-495 (Capital Beltway) and periodic stoppages of I-495 lanes for up to 30-minute intervals will be necessary. Virginia State Police will be on site to assist with implementation of the closures. Lane closures may also occur on Georgetown Pike approaching and over the bridge.

During certain multi-lane closures of the left side of southbound I-495, motorists coming from the George Washington Memorial Parkway heading for southbound I-495 will follow a minor detour accompanied by advance signage. Instead of accessing the Beltway from the left lane of the exit ramp, drivers will be directed to stay right and take the ramp up to Georgetown Pike, proceed straight through the traffic light, and take the ramp back down where traffic will then be able to merge onto the Beltway.

The Georgetown Pike bridge overhaul is part of the 495 NEXT project to extend the Beltway’s express lanes from the Dulles Toll Road in Tysons to the George Washington Memorial Parkway in McLean.

The bridge’s south side is scheduled to be demolished in spring 2024, according to VDOT. The overall project is currently slated for completion in 2026, with the new express lanes potentially opening in late 2025.

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(Updated at 5 p.m.) A tractor-trailer caught fire on I-495 this afternoon (Wednesday), shutting down all southbound lanes at the Route 50 interchange in Merrifield.

The fire appears to have sparked right as the afternoon rush hour was getting underway. The Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department reported at 4:16 p.m. that it has units on the scene working to extinguish the fire.

“Currently no clue as to how long the entire roadway will be closed,” a fire department spokesperson told FFXnow.

There have been no reported injuries resulting from the fire, according to FCFRD, which notes that the express lanes are open.

The Virginia Department of Transportation advises that drivers find an alternate route. VDOT traffic cameras suggest vehicles backups on the Beltway extend past Tysons to the Lewinsville Road bridge.

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A Virginia State Police vehicle (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

A Maryland driver has been arrested after leading police on an extended chase down the Capital Beltway yesterday (Monday) that crossed state lines and ended with a car flip in Tysons.

According to Montgomery County police, its officers were on the lookout for 26-year-old Frederick K. Njihia of Germantown after getting a report of a man shooting a rifle at people, including a local sanitation worker whose vehicle was hit multiple times.

No one was injured in the shooting, which occurred around 9:20 a.m., the Montgomery County Department of Police said.

The pursuit began when an officer spotted a blue Honda Civic matching the reported description of Njihia’s vehicle. Njihia shot at the police cruiser, flattening a front tire, and other officers pursued him on southbound I-270, police said.

Virginia State Police were notified about the pursuit at approximately 9:41 a.m. and took over once it crossed the American Legion Bridge and entered the state, according to a VSP news release.

Once the Honda Civic passed into Virginia on I-495, it exited onto Route 7 towards Tysons Corner. When it did a U-turn on Route 7 at Route 267/Dulles Toll Road, a Virginia State Police trooper administered a pursuit intervention technique by making contact with the suspect vehicle. The Honda Civic ran off the road, struck the Jersey wall, and overturned onto its roof.

With a pursuit intervention technique, also known as a precision immobilization technique or PIT manuever, police stop a vehicle by running into its rear, causing it to turn and often flip. The move has been the subject of some debate over its safety.

The crash closed all east and westbound lanes on Route 7 and required a medical response, according to the Virginia Department of Transportation. Virginia State Police reported that Njihia was transported to Inova Fairfax Hospital “for treatment of minor injuries sustained when his vehicle overturned.”

The VSP has charged Njihia with eluding police, a felony, and reckless driving, a misdemeanor. He’s currently being detained without bond at the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center.

Njihia also faces four counts of attempted murder and a count of first-degree assault with a firearm in Maryland.

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Morning Notes

Boats docked at Lake Anne Plaza in Reston (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

(Updated at 11:20 a.m.) Kitten Rescued in Groveton — Fairfax County firefighters from the Woodlawn station were dispatched to the 7000 block of Richmond Highway on Monday (June 27) after bystanders reported a stray kitten that got stuck in the engine compartment of their coworker’s SUV. First responders were able to “extriCATe the kitten without injury or damage to vehicle,” and a coworker of the original caller agreed to adopt the kitten. [FCFRD/Facebook]

(Correction: This article initially said the kitten was adopted by a firefighter, based on the department’s tweet about the incident.)

Vienna Proposes Tighter Regulation of Massage Parlors — “Council member Ray Brill Jr. requested that Town Attorney Steven Briglia provide possible town-code amendments to address the proliferation of massage establishments in Vienna and its surroundings, as well as possible illegal activity at unlicensed businesses.” [Sun Gazette]

Hidden Oaks Nature Center Reopens — “The newly expanded and renovated Hidden Oaks Nature Center reopened to the public on June  25. The nature center, at 7701 Royce St. in Annandale, had been closed for the past two years, first because of the Covid pandemic, then due to construction.” [Annandale Today]

Two Sent to Hospital by I-495 Crash — “Monday, 11:21 AM, units responded to I495 NB after Route 7 for 3 vehicle crash impacting main & express lanes. 1 van overturned. Crews worked efficiently to treat/transport 2 patients to hospital w/minor injuries. All lanes initially shutdown but reopened w/in 20 minutes.” [FCFRD/Twitter]

McLean Bible Church Lawsuit Dismissed — “The year-long legal fight between McLean Bible Church and a faction who accused leaders including David Platt of a ‘theological takeover’ has come to an end. On Friday, a Fairfax, Virginia, court dismissed a lawsuit from a group of current and former members of the Washington DC-area megachurch, who contested a June 2021 elder election for allegedly violating church bylaws.” [Christianity Today]

Reston Elementary School Gets Funds for Garden — “Lake Anne Elementary was recently awarded a $1,200 grant from EcoRise to create a community food garden. ‘It is our goal to produce food we can share with a food bank or members from our school community,’ said Consuelo Bachelet, a second-grade teacher at the school.” [Patch]

Fairfax County Eager to Draw FBI to Springfield — “No matter where it lands, federal officials suggest the FBI headquarters could host at least 7,500 personnel — about 3,500 fewer than what was pitched the last time around. Time, though, has only strengthened Springfield’s hand, [Board Chair Jeff] McKay said.” [Washington Business Journal]

County Board Approves $1M to Create Fund for Startups — “Fairfax Founders Fund will provide early capital to startup companies in Fairfax County.   The fund will target early-stage technology companies with technical assistance grants of up to $50,000 to help them prepare for later stage investments.” [Department of Economic Initiatives]

Reston Electric Vehicle Company Announces New Investors — “Reston, Virginia-based Electrify America…counts German industrial giant Siemens AG among its big backers…Volkswagen has also increased its investment in the company. Siemens is the first outside investor. The new funding totals $450 million and values Electrify America at $2.45 billion, the company said.” [WTOP]

It’s Wednesday — Partly cloudy throughout the day. High of 84 and low of 66. Sunrise at 5:48 am and sunset at 8:40 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Morning Notes

A mural on the side of the Quality Inn on Fordson Road in Groveton (staff photo by Brandi Bottalico)

Motorcyclist Dies Falling from I-495 — “An Alexandria motorcyclist was killed Sunday afternoon (June 26) after crashing and falling nearly 30 feet off the westbound Interstate 495 overpass exit ramp for Eisenhower Avenue toward Mill Road…He was transported to Inova Fairfax Hospital, where he succumbed to his injuries.” [ALXnow]

System for Helicopter Noise Complaints Unveiled — D.C. area residents finally have a clear place to go to lodge complaints about helicopter-related noise. The site planenoise.com/dcmetro was unveiled yesterday (Monday) as part of a 60-day pilot program that could become permanent. Complaints can also be filed by phone at 877-209-3200 or a mobile app. [Rep. Don Beyer/ARLnow]

Fire Department Shares Fireworks Safety Tips — “The Fourth of July would not be the same without those breathtaking fireworks. However, tragedy can strike within seconds when fireworks are not properly and safely used. Thousands of people are injured each year in the United States due to fireworks. Consider the following safety tips when using permissible fireworks…” [FCFRD]

Fort Belvoir Plans Springfield Expansion — “The U.S. Army is advancing plans to build a big new distribution center at Fort Belvoir as part of a larger planned intelligence campus expansion. The 525,000-square-foot facility, which would house some 600 employees, is proposed for the western portion of the 804-acre Springfield parcel known as Fort Belvoir North.” [Washington Business Journal]

Falls Church Seeks Information About Cat — “The City of Falls Church Police are looking for the owner of a black cat that bit a person in Big Chimneys Park (210 Gibson St.) on Friday, June 24. The police want to know if the cat is vaccinated against rabies. The cat is described as black with either yellow or brown eyes.” [City of Falls Church]

Influential Local Land Use Lawyer Dies — “Martin D. ‘Art’ Walsh, who helped reshape Arlington’s skyline as co-founder of one of Northern Virginia’s most prominent land use law firms, died June 6 at a hospital in Fairfax County, Va. He was 78 and a resident of McLean, Va.” [The Washington Post]

County Highlights Need for HIV Testing — June 27 was National HIV Testing Day, so the Fairfax County Health Department released a video highlighting an HIV-positive advocate’s journey and the importance of getting tested. While no cure has been found for AIDS, the disease sometimes caused by the virus, which attacks the immune system, prevention and treatment services are available. [FCHD]

Ribbon Cut on Wakefield Pickleball Courts — “This weekend we cut the ribbon on two new pickleball courts at Wakefield Park! Expanding access to this growing sport is a priority in Fairfax County.” [Supervisor James Walkinshaw/Twitter]

Vienna to Laud Local Pets — “The Town is launching the Mayor’s Pet of the Week! Nominate your pet by emailing Mayor@viennava.gov with your pet’s name, the kind of animal it is, and what makes it special. The first honorary award goes to Mayor Colbert’s cat, Ginny!” [Town of Vienna/Twitter]

It’s Tuesday — Partly cloudy throughout the day. High of 78 and low of 60. Sunrise at 5:47 am and sunset at 8:40 pm. [Weather.gov]

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The existing Georgetown Pike Bridge over I-495 (via Google Maps)

Construction on the I-495 Express Lanes expansion in McLean is about to get a little more intense.

Work to demolish the existing Georgetown Pike Bridge over I-495 — also known as the Capital Beltway — will begin this week, potentially even today (Tuesday), the Virginia Department of Transportation announced Friday (June 17).

Contracted for the 495 NEXT project to extend the Beltway’s toll lanes from Tysons to the George Washington Memorial Parkway, workers will start by demolishing the median in the center of the Georgetown Pike bridge and installing a temporary traffic barrier on the westbound shoulder, according to the news release.

“Temporary traffic signals will be installed to enable the removal of the existing signals,” VDOT said. “East- and westbound traffic on Georgetown Pike will then be shifted south on the existing bridge.”

The changes are necessary for crews to take down the northern part of the bridge, a process expected to start in mid-July and take approximately three weeks to complete, depending on the weather and other factors.

The Georgetown Pike bridge’s center median will be demolished, prompting changes to the lane configuration (via VDOT)

Here is more from VDOT on what to expect:

Specialized equipment will be used to demolish the bridge, including excavators fitted with hammers, saws and hydraulic jaws. While every effort will be made to control noise, some demolition is unavoidably noisy and must be performed during nighttime hours when Beltway traffic below the bridge is lightest and necessary lane closures can occur.

Overnight triple- and double-lane closures on the Beltway and periodic stoppages of all lanes for brief intervals will be necessary to ensure the work is performed safely. Virginia State Police will implement periodic shutdowns of all lanes for up to 30 minutes. Traffic will be cleared before subsequent shutdowns take place.

Periodic lane closures will occur throughout construction during midday and overnight hours.

“Travelers approaching the Georgetown Pike Bridge should use caution, pay attention to roadway signs approaching and in the work zone, and anticipate delays and plan their trips accordingly,” VDOT said.

The bridge will be replaced by a longer, six-lane-wide span to accommodate the Beltway, which is getting two new lanes in each direction. The revamped bridge will also have a six-foot-wide sidewalk and a trail link to Scotts Run Nature Preserve, according to updated plans shared earlier this month.

VDOT has spent months slowly ramping up work on 495 NEXT, starting preliminary activities late last year before breaking ground in March. Construction in the corridor began in earnest at the beginning of June with the permanent closure of the interstate’s northbound left-shoulder lane between Old Dominion Drive and the GW Parkway.

While VDOT says the project will provide much-needed congestion relief, it has faced resistance from some residents and elected officials, most recently over plans to task Maryland with some construction work tying the new toll lanes into the new American Legion Bridge that it’s supposed to build.

Maryland transportation officials released a final environmental study for proposed express lanes on their side of the Beltway on Friday, reporting that changes to the design will reduce the project’s anticipated impact on land, streams, and trees.

Photo via Google Maps

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Morning Notes

A “LOVE” sign at the Workhouse Arts Center, former site of the Lorton Prison (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Suspect in Annandale Burglaries Arrested — Fairfax County police have arrested and charged a 19-year-old man from Annandale in connection to nine commercial burglaries reported between May 26 and June 14. The suspect broke the front glass doors of each of the businesses, took cash and left on a bicycle, police say. [FCPD]

Covid Quarantine Guidelines Amended — The Virginia Department of Health no longer recommends quarantining for people exposed to COVID-19 who are up to date on their vaccinations or have recovered the disease in the last six months — double what the CDC advises. The state instead suggests isolating only if symptoms appear. [WTOP]

Roaming Rooster Opens in Chantilly — The Nashville-style hot chicken joint will open at 11 a.m. today (Friday) at 14394 Chantilly Crossing Lane, offering a free sandwich to the first 50 customers. Roaming Rooster also has locations in Tysons and Burke. [Roaming Rooster/Twitter]

Proposal Allowing More Housing Near Dulles Airport Advances — “The Fairfax County Planning Commission on June 8 backed a proposed comprehensive-plan amendment to allow residential uses in noisier areas near Washington Dulles International Airport, sending the measure to the Board of Supervisors.” [Sun Gazette]

Meeting Set on Blake Lane Safety — After a car crash killed two Oakton High School students last week, Fairfax County elected officials and transportation, police, and school leaders will hold a virtual meeting next Thursday (June 23) to discuss possible safety improvements. The meeting will take place from 7-8:30 p.m. on Zoom and be live-streamed on Facebook. [Supervisor Dalia Palchik/Twitter]

McLean Residents Criticize Maryland’s Role in 495 NEXT — “Maryland’s plans to undertake major construction work along the Capital Beltway in Fairfax County aren’t sitting well with some Northern Virginia residents and elected leaders, who are questioning why another state is involved in transportation projects outside its borders.” [Maryland Matters]

Boston Properties Sells Springfield Buildings — A Boston Properties affiliate has sold a cluster of 11 office and industrial properties in the Virginia 95 Business Park to the Bethesda-based firm Finmarc Management Inc., which closed the $127.5 million deal on Wednesday (June 15). Finmarc says it plans to lease the buildings, whose current tenants include the State Department and SAIC, but is also open to “longer-term possibilities.” [Washington Business Journal]

State Lawmakers Reconvene to Talk Budget Amendments — The Virginia General Assembly returns to the Capitol today (Friday) to take up 38 amendments proposed by Gov. Glenn Youngkin, facing a June 30 deadline to finalize a two-year spending plan. Items on the table include a three-month gas tax suspension and an elimination of state funding for abortions in rare cases where the fetus has “incapacitating” physical or mental issues. [The Washington Post]

Town of Vienna Collects Used Batteries — “Vienna is now collecting single-use & rechargeable lithium-ion batteries (11 lbs. or less; not damaged, bulging, or leaking) at the Vienna Community Center or Town Hall. Stop by during regular business hours and look for the recycling box.” [Town of Vienna/Twitter]

It’s Friday — Humid throughout the day. High of 85 and low of 74. Sunrise at 5:44 am and sunset at 8:38 pm. [Weather.gov]

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