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The new Lorton Community Center (via Fairfax County)

The doors of the $18 million Lorton Community Center are now open, ahead of a ribbon-cutting ceremony set for this coming weekend.

The 30,000-square-foot facility on Richmond Highway is combined with a renovated and expanded Lorton Library as well as the new 1.7-acre Lorton Park.

The community center features a gym, a fitness room, a kitchen, an art room, and a sensory room. The facility also includes space for the Lorton Senior Center and the Lorton Community Action Center, a nonprofit that provides emergency financial assistance to those in need.

The 10,000-square-foot library has been expanded by 6,000 square feet for a larger children’s area, increased seating, and more meeting and study rooms. The new Lorton Park is located behind the parking lot and has open field space, picnic tables, playground, fitness area, and a trail loop.

The new Lorton Community Center site plan (via Fairfax County)

The facility also has sustainability features like a rain garden, underground stormwater facility, and infrastructure for solar panels.

The full project — the park, community center, and library — cost $27.23 million, with the community center accounting for essentially two thirds of the cost, according to a county spokesperson.

The entire facility opened to the public yesterday (Monday) with a ribbon cutting and “community celebration” scheduled for Saturday (Oct. 15) afternoon, rain or shine.

Mount Vernon District Supervisor Dan Storck, Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay and other local officials are expected to attend. There will be tours of the new center and light refreshments.

The facility was initially scheduled to open late last month but was pushed several weeks to allow for “final facility work to be completed,” Storck said.

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Morning Notes

Birds perched on a ledge in the Fair Lakes area (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

County NAACP Calls for Action on Heat — “It is Too HOT for people to be outside all day and all night. Fairfax County needs to create and publicize more cooling options for homeless and low-income residents NOW. See the full Fairfax NAACP resolution” [Fairfax County NAACP/Twitter]

Stolen Laptops Were Wiped Clean, FCPS Says — “The Fairfax County Police Department has made a number of arrests in connection to the theft of approximately 35,000 laptops from a warehouse. We want to let you know that the laptops had been stripped of all data and their hard drives in preparation for their auction and that, as a result, no student data was compromised in this theft.” [FCPS]

FCPS Students See Progress With Free Online Tutoring — “In Fairfax County, Virginia, the academic backlog became more evident than ever with the complete return of children to the classroom last fall. Students are lagging behind in math, language arts, English, and social skills. The solution? Since April, an online tutoring service has been made available to more than 180,000 students, 25% of whom are Latino.” [DCist]

New Metro GM Takes Charge — “New Metro General Manager Randy Clarke began his role at the transit agency Monday, marking the end of a leadership vacuum that was created during a tumultuous spring…Clarke on Monday said his priorities will be improving service frequency and ensuring customer safety ahead of addressing longer-term goals, such as finances and the agency’s business model.” [The Washington Post]

Fundraiser Up for Family of Woman Killed in Springfield — “An online fundraising campaign was launched to help the family of Evelin Cali, a Springfield woman who was killed in her home on [July 17]. The family plans to use the funds to cover the cost of Cali’s funeral. Fairfax County Police have charged Cali’s husband, Jose Hernandez Mejia, in her stabbing death.” [Patch]

Police Investigate Reston Stabbing — “Around 2:23 a.m., on July 15, two men confronted the victim in the 1800 block of Sycamore Valley Drive in Reston, according to police. One of the men then stabbed the victim in the upper body. The victim was later treated for non-life-threatening injuries.” [Patch]

Swap Plant Seeds at Library in Rose Hill — “Do you have extra seedlings, #Fairfax? On the hunt for different varieties of plants to add to your collection? Bring your cuttings, seeds, seedlings, transplants & garden supplies to our John Marshall branch Saturday for a community plant swap.” [Fairfax County Public Library/Twitter]

It’s Tuesday — Rain starting in the afternoon. High of 81 and low of 73. Sunrise at 6:06 am and sunset at 8:27 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Morning Notes

A plane at Dulles International Airport, visible from Chantilly (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Man Arrested for Fairfax Church Thefts — “On June 28, our officers responded to the Saint Mary’s of Sorrows Catholic Church in Fairfax for a man who stole a purse from a car in the parking lot. The man used stolen credit cards from the purse at several stores nearby. On July 4, the same suspect returned to the church and stole from two donation boxes. At least one stolen check was cashed from donation box.” [FCPD]

Covid Cases Close Reston Pools — “RA is currently experiencing a lifeguard shortage due an uptick in Aquatics staff testing positive for Covid-19. As a result, the Ridge Heights and Upland pools will be closed for the next five days (Friday through Tuesday).” [Reston Association/Twitter]

Silver Line Delays Not Justified, McKay Says — Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay says any further delays of Metro’s Silver Line Phase 2 project “will be met with a lot of discontent.” He’s hopeful the rail extension will open this fall but wants to be certain that a $250 million budget increase approved earlier this week will be the last needed payment. [WTOP]

Vienna Lodge Seeks Funds for Repairs — “Vienna Moose Lodge, a fraternal organization that does community service work, launched a Save the Lodge fundraising campaign this week to help remain open and continue its mission…One of the major repairs needed is a new HVAC system in the banquet hall that will cost $35,000.” [Patch]

Ribbon Cut on Reston Affordable Senior Housing — “It was warm this morning but still a great turnout for the ribbon cutting for Hunters Woods Fellowship House! Much needed $26 million renovations provide modern & safer home for many older residents.” [Walter Alcorn/Twitter]

Herndon Company Expands HQ — The defense and intelligence contractor Expedition Technology has signed a lease amendment for its corporate headquarters offices “that will support its current and anticipated growth.” Lasting through June 2033, the new agreement doubles its office space from approximately 32,000 to more than 64,000 square feet and can accommodate up to 170 workers. [CityBiz]

GMU Joins Gun Violence Research Effort — “Fifteen members of a consortium of local schools will pool their resources, researchers and faculty experts in areas including maternal and child health, public policy, mental health, criminology and technology, officials said. The goal is to provide lawmakers and the public with steps they can take to drive down gun violence.” [The Washington Post]

Good Pups Visit McLean Nursing Home — “Fairfax County senior residents are getting some furry visitors at their nursing homes thanks to a group of volunteers at Pets on Wheels…The non-profit is run by volunteers that say pets can be therapeutic for senior citizens.” [ABC7]

Cool Off With Dolley Madison Library — “#Fairfax teens can beat the heat Saturday at our Dolley Madison branch. We will meet at the library before heading to McLean Central Park for a sponge war! Sponges provided. Wear clothes that can get wet (minimum shorts & shirts required).” [Fairfax County Public Library/Twitter]

Cirque du Soleil Makes Tysons Return Next Week — “Cirque du Soleil has become the gold standard of 21st century circus productions…The global brand brings ‘KURIOS: Cabinet of Curiosities’ to the Under the Big Top tent at Lerner Town Square in Tysons, Virginia from July 29 to Aug. 27.” [WTOP]

It’s Friday — Clear throughout the day. High of 90 and low of 75. Sunrise at 6:03 am and sunset at 8:30 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Construction on the new, nearly $80 million Franconia Government Center will begin later than expected.

Back in February, construction was anticipated to begin in “early summer,” but it’s now been pushed back a few months to the fall, Department of Public Works and Environmental Services spokesperson Sharon North told FFXnow.

The project is expected to cost about $79.5 million, though that could change with construction bidding currently underway. If commenced this fall, construction will be completed in early 2025 — slightly behind the initial 2024 date.

Located between Beulah Street, Silver Lake Boulevard, and Interparcel Road in Franconia, the 90,000-square-foot building will house a number of county services and departments with the goal of centralizing the services and providing better facilities.

The building will include the Franconia police station, the public library, an active adult center, a childcare center, the Franconia Museum, and the office of now-called Franconia District Supervisor Rodney Lusk, who will run for re-election.

“​​County services in the Kingstowne area of Alexandria are scattered and facilities are small and outdated,” the county’s project page says.

Site of the new Franconia Government Center (via Fairfax County)

The Kingstowne Regional Library’s footprint will double in the new building, getting more seating, group study rooms, a brighter children’s area, and a teen zone with a gaming station.

The Active Adult Center will also nearly double in size to 7,200 square feet of space.

Both are currently in leased space that the county says “has significant challenges including space constraints, limited parking and disruption to operations due to maintenance.”

The Franconia police station, Franconia Museum, and the district supervisor’s office are all currently housed at 6121 Franconia Road, about a mile and a half from where the new building will be.

According to the county, the old building “needs to be replaced” since it is “undersized” and “outdated.” Parking is also insufficient, and the county-owned fuel station is “located within the secure perimeter thereby disallowing access to it by county vehicles other than those used by the police.”

When the county departments eventually move out in a few years to the new one, the old building might be redeveloped and turned into affordable housing.

That part of Franconia is undergoing a lot of changes.

Next to the new building will be a new townhouse development that is being planned. Just down the street, Inova is massively expanding its campus while the nearby Franconia-Springfield Metro might get new bus bays and a layover facility. This is part of the $180 million Frontier Drive extension project.

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Morning Notes

Bella Mack of Vienna spins and jumps on roller blades at Wakefield Skate Park in Annandale (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Underground Utilities Proposed for Route 1 — Mount Vernon District Supervisor Dan Storck has joined many residents, businesses, and state Sen. Scott Surovell (D-36) as an advocate for moving power lines along Richmond Highway underground, though that isn’t in the current designs for widening the road. Advocates say undergrounding would limit storm damage and bring economic benefits. [On the MoVe]

Metro Plans for Budget Shortfall — “Metrorail has only recovered 42% of its ridership and Metrobus has recovered about 60%. This time, Metro officials are not banking on the cavalry — in the form of a federal bailout or additional local dollars — to arrive. Later this summer, board members and new Metro General Manager Randy Clarke will begin to calculate how to plug a $356 million operating budget gap.” [DCist]

Police Investigate Gunshot in Fair Oaks — “Fairfax County Police are investigating a shooting that occurred early Tuesday morning in the Fair Oaks area, according to the weekly crime report. Police responded around 3:18 a.m., for the report of a man firing a handgun into the air in the 12000 block of Thompson Road.” [Patch]

Bailey’s Crossroads Library Volunteer Honored — “Fairfax County officials gathered Saturday to honor Carmen Fernandez, a longtime pillar of the Culmore community. A conference room at the Woodrow Wilson Library in Falls Church now bears plaques in Fernandez’s honor.” [Fairfax County Public Library]

McLean Theater Group Retakes the Stage — “McLean Community Players is back after a three-year hiatus and will hit the Alden Theatre’s stage July 22 to 24 with ‘The Show Must Go On! A Musical Revue.’ The effort features an array of songs from past productions and shows the company hopes to perform in the future.” [Sun Gazette]

Local Hummingbird Photographers Get Focus — “I have been promised hummingbirds. I am, after all, at Green Spring Gardens, in the Alexandria area of Fairfax County, prime hummingbird territory…Jane [Gamble] takes me somewhere we’re guaranteed to find hummingbirds: inside the house, where 46 hummingbird photos hang on the walls.” [The Washington Post]

It’s Tuesday — Rain in the evening. High of 87 and low of 70. Sunrise at 5:55 am and sunset at 8:36 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Morning Notes

American flag blows in wind at Wolf Trap National Park (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

FCPD Officer Found Not Guilty in Taser Incident — “A jury found a Fairfax County, Virginia, police officer not guilty of using excessive force against a man in a June 2020 incident caught on body camera. The officer, Tyler Timberlake, who is white, had faced three misdemeanor assault and battery charges for tasering Lamonta Gladney, who is Black.” [NBC4]

Community Members Rally in Support of FCPS Librarians — “Nearly 70 people participated in a rally to support school librarians March 24 before a school board meeting at Luther Jackson Middle School. At the meeting, several people attacked librarians for supporting LGBTQ students’ rights.” [Annandale Today]

Fairfax County Plea Deal for Shootings Suspect Scrutinized — Recently arrested for allegedly shooting five homeless people, Gerald Brevard III previously faced charges in Fairfax County for assaulting a hotel worker and breaking into an apartment. Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares argues that county prosecutors’ plea deal was too lenient, while Commonwealth’s Attorney Steve Descano says weaknesses in the case meant it was the ‘best outcome’ his office could’ve gotten. [The Washington Post]

Armed Carjacking Reported in Mount Vernon — “Detectives on scene of armed carjacking in 3700 blk of Rolling Hills Ave. 4 suspects described as black men 18-20 yo in dark clothing driving bro Nissan Altima. Suspects displayed firearm, assaulted the victim & took a 2017 gray Toyota Corolla. Call 911 w/info.” [FCPD/Twitter]

Capitals Star Relocates Within McLean — “Washington Capitals forward T.J. Oshie…and his wife Lauren paid $7.5 million earlier this month for a newly constructed 9,890-square-foot home on Dogue Hill Lane, according to public records. The five-bedroom, eight-bath home is within the exclusive Langley Farms community.” [Washington Business Journal]

Crumbl Cookies to Open Reston Store Friday — “To celebrate the April 1 grand opening of [its] new location in Reston, Crumbl Cookies will be giving away a year’s worth of free cookies to one lucky person.” [Patch]

Tysons Corner Center Announces Spring Events — “Easter festivities have begun as April approaches. Families can get the traditional Easter Bunny photos, and there’s even an adults-only egg hunt…From May to September, shoppers can find events like monthly outdoor movies, game night tournaments, live music and more.” [Patch]

Fire and Rescue Department Wins Charity Hockey Game — “A hard fought 6-2 victory for #FCFRD @FairfaxCountyPD Chief Davis will look good in an FCFRD hockey jersey! Great game for great causes! Fantastic crowd! In the end, #FCPD and FCFRD remain one public safety team!” [FCFRD/Twitter]

It’s Monday — Mostly cloudy throughout the day. High of 32 and low of 23. Sunrise at 7:01 a.m. and sunset at 7:30 p.m. [Weather.gov]

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Closed sign (via Tim Mossholder/Unsplash)

As the holidays approach, here are a number of closures to keep in mind in the area.

Fairfax County Government offices officially close at noon tomorrow through Friday. Offices will also be closed on Friday, Dec. 31 for the New Year’s holiday. But some facilities are open and schedules may differ.

All library branches will be open from 10 a.m. to noon on Christmas Eve, but will remain closed on Friday, Saturday, Dec. 31, and New Year’s Day.  Fairfax County Public Schools are closed through Jan. 3. The school system is encouraging the school community to reach out to address mental health concerns.

The Fairfax Connector will operate on Saturday service schedules tomorrow and Friday.

The county’s Circuit Court will be closed on Thursday and Friday, along with Dec. 30 and 31.

Residents should contact their trash and recycling collection for service changes due to the holidays.

All recreation centers operated by the Fairfax County Park Authority are open tomorrow from 5 a.m. to noon, but closed on Christmas Day. The George Washington Recreation Center, however, will be closed both days.

All county parks and recreation facilities will be closed on Christmas.

Vaccination clinics at the Fairfax County and South County Government Centers will remain closed from tomorrow through Dec. 26, as will the county’s COVID-19 call center.

The Tysons Community Vaccination Center will be closed from tomorrow through Dec. 27 and from Dec. 31 through Jan 2. Between the 28th and 29th, the center will be open from 10 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. and between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. on Dec. 30.

Public health officials are also encouraging residents to maintain social distancing measures in order to minimize hospitalizations during the winter surge of cases.

Photo via Tim Mossholder/Unsplash

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Fairfax County Public Library branches that serve low-income neighborhoods, including Reston Regional Library, tend to have more cards blocked due to fines

Fairfax County Public Libraries will no longer charge fines for most overdue materials, joining other jurisdictions in the D.C. area in an effort to maintain equity.

The FCPL Board of Trustees unanimously approved the policy in a meeting on Wednesday (Dec. 8). The new system, which begins on Jan. 1, would also reset fines that have already been incurred.

Board of Trustees Chair Fran Millhouser said the policy change is intended to encourage all individuals to take advantage of the library system.

“The FCPL Board of Trustees has approved eliminating fines on most materials and joins surrounding jurisdictions in removing this significant barrier to equitable access to information and library services,” said Millhouser.

The move comes after the board discussed the issue with the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors in mid-October. An FCPL analysis showed that overdue fines affect young people and individuals in low-income areas.

Blocked cards — cards that are not allowed to check out materials due to fines exceeding $15 — were more prevalent in the following areas:

  • Reston Regional Library
  • City of Fairfax Regional Library
  • George Mason Regional Library
  • Kingstowne Library
  • Sherwood Regional Library

Before the pandemic, 17% of all cardholders had blocked cards. Blocked youth cards accounted for 23% of the total youth cardholder population. A link was found between low-income communities and blocked cards.

Library systems across the country, including in neighboring Alexandria City, Loudoun County, and Prince William County, have adopted fine-free models — a move that has resulted in a surge of returned materials.

Fines will still apply to materials in special collections like interlibrary loan materials, Chromebooks and mobile hotspots.

At the Thursday meeting, board trustee Liz Walker encouraged the library system to further identify what items were still not fine-free. 

But Millhouser noted that a prescriptive approach was not appropriate because the library offers many resources.

“It’s good to leave it open as the library just becomes so diversified… we’re not just a library anymore.”

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A rapid COVID-19 at-home testing kit (via Jernej Furman/Flickr)

Fairfax County Public Library offered at-home COVID-19 test kits to the community for the first time this morning (Friday). An hour later, they were all gone.

The county announced on Monday (Nov. 29) that it would join a pilot program that the Virginia Department of Health launched last month to distribute free COVID-19 tests through participating public libraries.

FCPL received 2,300 BinaxNOW COVID-19 Antigen Card Home Test that were made available at its 13 open community branches and eight regional libraries when they opened at 10 a.m. today.

All of the kits were distributed within the first hour, according to FCPL spokesperson Erin Julius, who says demand was high at all branches.

“The high demand for these test kits this morning indicates a continued need for accessible COVID-19 testing kits in Fairfax County, and FCPL is pleased to help distribute them,” FCPL Director Jessica Hudson said. “Libraries are trusted community hubs and we are glad to help stop the spread of COVID-19 in our community by making testing kits more accessible. We will continue to distribute tests as more are made available to us.”

Julius said the state is sending more test kits that will arrive next week, but she advises residents to call their local branch to ensure their availability before visiting. The library system also asks that anyone with COVID-19 symptoms request a kit using its contactless curbside pickup service.

VDH says the number of test kits distributed to participating localities depends on the size of each library system and feedback about how much interest they expect in the program, along with the general availability of supplies.

“The uptake varies,” VDH spokesperson Cheryl Rodriguez said. “However, some library systems are reporting that distribution has been brisk.”

According to VDH data, COVID-19 testing has been trending upwards in the Fairfax Health District since early November, with a spike seen in the days leading up to Thanksgiving (Nov. 25).

Fairfax County joined the state’s library test kits pilot slightly later than the other participating localities, but the move comes amid rising COVID-19 cases and renewed anxiety over the new omicron variant, which was confirmed in the U.S. for the first time on Wednesday (Dec. 1).

The Fairfax County Health Department said there has been increased demand for testing throughout Virginia recently, and offering free test kits at libraries gives people an alternative when retail supplies have been low.

Rapid COVID-19 tests have been in short supply since this summer after declining testing rates led manufacturers to decrease production. As infections surged again due to the delta variant, the federal government committed over $560 million to help boost the country’s supply.

“During the late summer months and early fall, many states across the country experienced limited access to rapid testing kits, due in part to slower production,” Rodriguez said. “However, production is increasing and more rapid tests should become available.”

Photo via Jernej Furman/Flickr

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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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