Person Hospitalized After Vienna Shooting — “Officers are in the 8400 blk of Wesleyan St in Vienna for a shooting. Prelim info, a man shot a roommate inside the home. Victim taken to hospital w/non-life-threatening inj. Suspect is in custody.” [FCPD/Twitter]
Report: Police Declare Personnel Emergency — “Fairfax County Police Chief Kevin Davis and senior staff declared a personnel emergency Thursday, according to a police source, which means mandatory overtime for police officers as FCPD grapples with an ongoing police officer shortage.” [ABC7]
Affordable Housing Projects Get State Funds — Virginia has awarded more than $27 million in state loans for affordable and special needs housing projects, including two in Fairfax County, Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s office announced last week. The county’s recipients were the Autumn Willow project near Centreville and the One University project by George Mason University’s Fairfax campus. [Patch]
Argument Leads to Stabbing in Centreville — A 32-year-old woman from Falls Church stabbed another woman in the 5700 block of Ottawa Road last Tuesday (July 26) after they got into a dispute, Fairfax County police say. The woman was arrested and charged with malicious wounding. The victim received treatment for injuries not considered life threatening. [FCPD]
Herndon Education Company Plans Reston Move — “Stride Inc. will start the school year in drastically smaller space in a new building. The Herndon educational-technology company is slashing its local office space by more than 80% — moving out of approximately 129,000 feet of office space in Herndon and into 22,000 square feet in a new office it will officially open this fall in Reston’s Plaza America.” [Washington Business Journal]
Instagram Account Shows Maintenance Issues at McLean HS — “The bio for the account @mclean.rot on Instagram reads, ‘The best single word to define this school is ‘gross.” With 71 posts, the anonymous student owner of @mclean.rot has been posting an unvarnished look at McLean High School since February, detailing for all a need for serious maintenance.” [Fairfax County Times]
Chantilly Park Gets Grant to Monitor Water — “Fairfax Water recently awarded Ellanor C. Lawrence Park Friends a Water Supply and Protection Grant in the amount of $1,437 in support of ECLP’s water quality monitoring program…This grant will provide funding for on-site water quality monitoring to address potential pollution threats from nearby construction projects.” [FCPA]
Kings Park Neighborhood Gets Spotlight — “Aside from the people and neighborhood celebrations, the amenities and surrounding businesses have also compelled residents to stay in the area. Charlotte Hannagan, a resident since 2014 and Kings Park Civic Association vice president of social outreach, noted that there’s so much within walking distance of the neighborhood.” [The Washington Post]
It’s Monday — Partly cloudy throughout the day. High of 84 and low of 71. Sunrise at 6:11 am and sunset at 8:22 pm. [Weather.gov]
A new 19,000-square-foot satellite manufacturing facility has opened in the Town of Herndon.
The facility, known as the Advanced Technology and Development Center, is run by HawkEye 360, a commercial provider of space-based radio frequency data and analytics.
The company celebrated the grand opening of the facility at 196 Van Buren Street on Friday (July 22). It will bring 70 jobs to the area.
HawkEye 360 CEO John Serafini said the facility allows his company to centralize its data engineering and satellite manufacturing in-house.
“This gives us more flexibility to adapt and innovate our commercial RF GEOINT technology,” Serafini said. “Our customers will benefit through our discoveries, as we place more sophisticated RF-sensing satellites into orbit and build algorithms that extract value from this important data. We are proud to be investing in the local economy with these high-paying, mission focused jobs that make a global impact.”
The facility also includes a customized clean room and electronics lab for advanced technologies.
The company also plans to launch a sixth cluster of satellites before the end of the year, adding to an existing fleet of 15 satellites.
After nearly shutting down during the pandemic, Escape Room Herndon’s team-based puzzle game experience has won a national award.
The business, run by longtime Herndon resident Omer Are, was recognized by TripAdvisor as this year’s Travelers’ Choice Award winner for fun and games.
Kanika Soni, Tripadvisor’s chief commercial officer, noted that the award recognizes the best in tourism and hospitality based on selections made by customers. Awards are based on a full year of reviews on Tripadvisor.
“Whether it’s using new technology, implementing safety measures, or hiring outstanding staff, I’m impressed by the steps you’ve taken to meet travelers’ new demands. You’ve adapted brilliantly in the face of diversity,” Soni said in a news release.
The pandemic was a show-stopping force for an entertainment business that depends on people closely collaborating with others in an indoor, contained setting. In March of 2020, Escape Room Herndon closed and refunded future bookings. It remained closed for five months and instead designed free online games for guests to play while they were stuck at home.
“It was a tough time and we had to make some adjustments to the new normal we are in today,” Aru said. “We added a mask policy, sanitizing in between games, and changed to an all-private model. Slowly we’ve climbed back to a place where I think we will be able to continue hosting guests in Herndon for years to come.”
Aru launched the business in June 2016 after his brother-in-law told him about a similar concept on a beach trip — Escape Room in Richmond — that he had started several years ago. Aru, a Herndon resident who previously hoped to get into selling 3D filaments online, was intrigued by the idea.
That year, he drove down for his first escape room experience with a group of strangers.
“After an hour of laughing, jump scares and mysteries, we escaped cheering and high-fiving each other. I was instantly hooked,” Aru told FFXnow.
The next month, he started filing paperwork to open a business in the county.
He set his sights on Herndon because he says it’s a family-oriented community with great schools and other small businesses.
“The Mayor’s Office was also very supportive from the beginning helping us get established,” Aru said. “Our shopping center also helped us in the beginning months of Covid to take some of the burdens off while sales were nonexistent. At the end of the day, we love it in Herndon and are proud to call it home, so much so that we put it in our name.”
FCPS Expands FOIA Staffing and Budget — “Fairfax County Public School added half a million dollars in this year’s budget to keep up with public records requests, which have more than tripled since 2016 and gotten broader in scope. The increase comes as the school system finds itself the subject of political vitriol over COVID precautions and racial equity programs, among other issues.” [DCist]
Vermont Senator Falls at McLean Home — “U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont was set to undergo surgery Thursday after he broke his hip in a fall at his home, according to his spokesman. The 82-year-old Democrat fell Wednesday night in McLean, Virginia, a statement Thursday morning said.” [Associated Press]
Dr. Scott Brabrand on Tenure as FCPS Superintendent — “Brabrand, who was hired as superintendent in 2017, concludes his five-year stint Thursday, when Michelle Reid is scheduled to take the oath of office and serve as his successor…His tenure, which aimed at improving diversity among school staff and working to improve student outcomes, was interrupted by a pandemic that Brabrand called — next to school integration — the biggest event to impact public education in its history.” [WTOP]
DOJ Sues to Stop Merger of Tysons and Reston Companies — “The Department of Justice has filed an antitrust lawsuit to block Booz Allen Hamilton Inc.’s proposed acquisition of EverWatch Corp., a Reston cybersecurity contractor…alleging the deal would drive up prices for the government and stifle competition for some work with the National Security Agency.” [Washington Business Journal]
Expansion of Metrobus Student Program Approved — “Students from Annandale High School, Falls Church High School, Marshall High School and the Davis Center will join students at Justice High School in participating in the free student bus pass program using Metrobus. These expanded options for Metrobus will be available for the 2022-2023 school year.” [Patch]
Mantua House Fire Started by Car Engine — Firefighters extinguished a fire that started in the garage of a two-story house in the 3200 block of Barbara Lane on Tuesday (June 28). Started accidentally in a vehicle engine compartment, the fire displaced two residents and caused approximately $182,500 in damages, including the loss of the vehicle. [FCFRD]
County Offers to Help Residents Keep Cool — “Do you need help avoiding the heat this summer? Cooling Assistance is a program designed to help keep vulnerable Fairfax County residents cool during the summer months Applications are now being accepted through August 15.” [Fairfax County Government/Twitter]
It’s Friday — Humid and partly cloudy throughout the day. High of 88 and low of 74. Sunrise at 5:49 am and sunset at 8:39 pm. [Weather.gov]
Workers for the federal contractor that runs call centers for Medicaid, Medicare, and other services took their fight for better wages, benefits and work conditions to the streets of Tysons last week, garnering some honks of support from passing drivers.
Over two dozen Maximus employees marched from Tysons Galleria to the company’s new corporate headquarters at 1600 Tysons Blvd on Friday (June 17) to deliver a petition calling for livable wages and affordable health care.
Garnering 11,853 signatures, the petition also expresses support for workers at call centers in Mississippi and Louisiana who organized strikes this spring as part of an ongoing campaign to unionize with the Communications Workers of America.
“A lot of these folks are just asking for living wages,” said Christian Ohuabunwa, who helps process disability benefits for veterans at a call center in Houston, Texas. “We’re asking for affordable health care benefits, that you don’t have to decide between eating and sending your kid to the hospital. We’re asking that they truly listen to us and try and make some changes.”
Previously based at Reston Station, Maximus employs 37,000 people and commands $4.25 billion in revenue, according to its website. In early May, the contractor reported $1.18 billion in revenue for the second quarter of fiscal year 2022, a 22.7% increase over the previous year.
Maximus told investors that growth in its federal services segment was driven by “expected contributions” from recent acquisitions, including a $1.4 billion deal for Veteran Evaluation Services Inc. (VES) that closed in June 2021.
Ohuabunwa started working for VES in 2018 and says he “felt a sense of camaraderie” in the company, which he notes was veteran-owned.
That changed when Maximus took over. On top of paying a $6,000 deductible under the company’s health care plan, Ohuabunwa says his frustrations include a lack of communication between leaders and employees and the elimination of incentives to process questionnaires that determine whether a veteran qualifies for benefits faster.
“Now that Maximus has taken over, there’s now a backlog of cases,” he told FFXnow. “Prior to this, we did not have that, because people were enthusiastic about what they did, so work got done. Now, there’s no encouragement for you to go that extra step.”
Maximus says it continues “to look for ways to improve health benefit coverage and affordability,” noting that the deductible for its free individual coverage plan dropped from $4,500 to $2,500 in April. Read More
Tysons’ newest eatery won’t be found in the usual malls and mixed-use developments. Instead, it has set up base in a cluster of corporate office buildings where Jones Branch Drive curves parallel to the Dulles Toll Road.
Welcomed with a ribbon cutting and prayer, the latter courtesy of Fort Foote Baptist Church Pastor Rev. Joseph Lyles, Mrs. Jo’s Petite Eats celebrated its grand opening Tuesday (June 7) on the ground floor of PenFed Credit Union’s headquarters at 7940 Jones Branch Drive.
Owned and run by U.S. Army veteran Erinn Roth, the roughly 2,800-square-foot cafe will serve as a cafeteria for the building, which also houses the consulting firm LMI, but it’s open to the general public, including other workers and residents in Tysons.
While the cafe is tucked away, integrating retail, restaurants, and other amenities with offices will help turn Tysons into a place where people can “live, work, play, and now, eat,” says David Kelley, director of national business investment for the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority.
“Tysons is becoming a place where people are actually living,” Kelley said. “So, if they can go some place and get something really good that’s walkable or close by, that helps the county out. That helps with the infrastructure of the county and for people wanting to be here.”
A native of Enterprise, Mississippi, Roth served in the Army for 24 years, including stints in Korea, Germany, and Afghanistan. She has been an avid baker for much of her life, but it wasn’t until after her mother died in 2015 that she committed to baking professionally.
Roth says she had been contemplating retiring from the military — which she eventually did in 2017 — and floated the idea of baking desserts as a way to stay busy.
“My mother was like, ‘Well, sweetie, whatever you decide to do, you’d be successful,’ and then, she passed, and…it just turned my world,” Roth told FFXnow.
Naming the business after her mother, Jo Bradford Hardaway, Roth launched Ms. Jo’s Petite Sweets out of Lorton’s Frontier Kitchen in 2016, offering cakes, cookies, and other desserts with Southern and French influences. Read More
Reston Kabob is getting a chance to uplift its immigrant-owned business through an accelerator program operated by DoorDash.
The Reston-based eatery is part of the first cohort for DoorDash’s Accelerator for Local Goods, an education program designed to support consumer-packed goods that are owned by entrepreneurs who are female, transgender, immigrants or people of color.
Through the program, Reston Kabob will get an extra boost to bottle its sauces, which are made from scratch.
Store manager Masoud Shoja says customers have been requesting the business, which opened in 2003, to bottle its sauces for years. He is an Afghan immigrant who came to the U.S. in the 1980s with his family as a baby. The family fled the Soviet invasion.
After reopening in January 2020, the business explored bottling its sauces, but the pandemic and associated supply chain issues derailed that opportunity.
“Earlier this year, we were finally able to source the bottles, make labels, etc and we started bottling the sauces to sell in store and potentially on 3rd party delivery apps or our website,” Shoja said. “Coincidentally, a week later we received an email to participate in the accelerator program and we saw it as a great fit. The accelerator program highlights packaged goods from local markets.”
Shoja said he opened up to the opportunity to sell beyond Reston Kabob’s platform because of the pandemic.
“The pandemic taught us to be versatile and adapt,” he said. “One way we adapted is to package our sauces where they can be shipped or sold to customers as opposed to customers coming into the physical brick and mortar restaurant location. The accelerator program essentially ‘accelerated’ this opportunity for us.”
The inaugural cohort includes a broad swatch of business owners from Chicago, New York City and the greater D.C. area.
In addition to a six-week education program, Reston Kabob will receive a $5,000 grant to support growth, access to marketing and sales support from DoorDash, and the chance to sell their items via DashMart, a DoorDash-owned and operated grocery and convenience store.
“We hope to gain new customers and grow from there,” Shoja told FFXnow. “If it’s successful, we can launch newer products and flavors and potentially rebrand it to have a more broad appeal as opposed to a localized one.”
What to Know About Monkeypox — “More monkeypox cases have been reported in the United States since the first illness was reported in Massachusetts last week. But there’s no need for Virginia residents to panic, health officials say as they learn more about how the viral disease is spread.” [Patch]
County to Talk About Youth Mental Health Issues and Drug Use — “As a parent, our kids’ wellbeing is my top priority. Today, the Board supported my motion to convene a roundtable with reps from [Department of Family Services], our Opioid Task Force, clinical pros, the BOS and school board to directly tackle youth mental health & substance use.” [Jeff McKay/Twitter]
McLean Woman Settles Fraud Case — A McLean resident has agreed to pay $107,347 to settle allegations that she falsified information to obtain two Paycheck Protection Program loans, totaling $42,601, federal prosecutors said yesterday (Tuesday). The Justice Department prosecuted the woman as part of its efforts to crack down on fraud related to COVID-19 relief funds. [DOJ]
Arlington Doughnut Shop Plans Tysons Kitchen — “Good Company Doughnuts & Café has inked a lease for roughly 5,000 square feet at 8524-G Tyco Road…for a kitchen commissary, where it will produce and assemble its products for off-site retail sale…Good Company hopes to have the commissary operating by the end of 2022, [co-owner Charles] Kachadoorian said.” [Washington Business Journal]
Metro Introduces Navigation App to Help Blind Riders — “Metro has partnered with Waymap, a new UK-based start-up, to bring the technology to the Brookland, Silver Spring, and Braddock Road Metro stations…The app will be available in at least 30 Metro train and nearly 1,000 bus stops by September; the entire system is scheduled to be brought online by early 2023.” [DCist]
Cybersecurity Company Moves Within Tysons — “Codehunter…relocated from 1660 International Drive to 1775 Greensboro Station Pl. and expanded their corporate headquarters. Codehunter, represented by Timothy Jacobs and Edward Saa, needed to expand their office footprint due to business growth while also needed to re-strategize their office footprint to support their hybrid work model.” [CityBiz]
New School Board Student Representative Chosen — “Michele Togbe, a junior at South County High School, has been elected by the countywide Student Advisory Council (SAC) to serve a one-year term as student representative to the Fairfax County School Board, beginning July 1…Togbe has three main focuses as student representative: transparency within students’ voices, furthering civic education, and maintaining an equitable lens.” [FCPS]
Local Students Relax with Yarn — “About a dozen third, fourth, fifth and sixth graders gather at lunch several times a week at Little Run ES to knit and loom together. The program was initially launched as an after-school effort paid for with Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief aid, or ESSER III funding.” [FCPS]
It’s Wednesday — Overcast throughout the day. High of 64 and low of 56. Sunrise at 5:50 am and sunset at 8:25 pm. [Weather.gov]
An eco-friendly alternative to lawn-mowing in the shape of teddy-bear-like four-legged creatures has arrived in Fairfax County.
The Fairfax-based LambMowers uses a flock of roughly 11 sheep to mow lawns in the county. Cory Suter, who graduated with a phD in economics, jump-started the company in order to allow sheep to eat weeds instead of poisoning the soil and ecosystem with herbicides.
“One of many things I learned through my studies is that modern society was treating the soil and clean water upon which all life depends like it was dirt,” Suter said. “Rotational grazing on Silvopasture land is one great way of building back dark carbon-rich soil, a rapidly depleting resource. Suburbs with their mix of trees and grass can be very effective at sequestering carbon when managed thoughtfully.”
He moved to Fairfax in 2014 and sold his green roofing company, which was based in Philadelphia, before he started the business.
Suter sections off a portion of his clients’ property to contain the sheep so they can do their work — which they do best in the morning.
The main challenge of this age-old lawn care method: the sheep like to eat shrubs, flowers and plants that clients actually want to keep. The sheep also don’t do a perfectly even mowing job.
But the environmental benefits and cuteness factor have attracted several clients in the county.
For one, the sheep’s poop — what Suter calls a “low odor biodegradable fertilizer” — and its pee is a nutrient-rich form of plant fertilizer.
“The poop dissipates into the soil after a good rain or is consumed by microscopic and insect life in a healthy ecosystem,” he said.
A county spokesperson tells FFXnow that lamb-mowing services are classified as landscape contractor services to mow grass and, as a result, do not require any type of special permit. The workers — the sheep — do need to be kept on a minimum of 2 acres to meet the county’s zoning ordinance.
Suter’s typical client has dogs or kids and doesn’t want them overexposed to toxins like pre-emergent herbicides. Others let their weeds grow out of control in their beds or have stopped mowing their backyards for a bird-friendly way to take care of landscapes.
Instead of charging by the hour, he requires a $150 minimum payment when he brings his trailer of sheep to a client’s yard. The cost is $275 on weekends and evenings.
Suter also offers other eco-friendly gardening services and advice so that his clients “feel they got more than their money’s worth of value.”
He says that most clients have scheduled a follow-up appointment after reviewing the results.
A workforce expansion is on the horizon for the business. Most of the sheep are expecting or have recently delivered babies.
“Bringing sheep to eat the weeds instead of poisoning the soil and ecosystem with herbicides is what sets LambMowers.com apart from other landscaping companies, whose employees have shorter lives on average due to exposure to broad-leaf toxins,” he said.
Austin Transit Leader Named New Metro General Manager — “Metro on Tuesday tapped the chief executive of a Texas transit agency to lead the system through safety and pandemic-related challenges that have frustrated riders and strained public transportation…Randy Clarke, 45, will replace Paul J. Wiedefeld, who announced in January that he would retire on June 30″ [The Washington Post]
Fairfax County Firefighter Gets Funeral Procession — “Tuesday marked the final farewell for Fairfax County Fire & Rescue Captain Kimberly Schoppa, who died last month from occupational cancer. Her line-of-duty funeral included a procession and escort to the church, with her flag-draped casket onboard a fire truck and then carried inside by the Honor Guard.” [ABC7]
Jury Awards Tysons Company $2B in Damages — A Fairfax County Circuit Court jury awarded Appian over $2 billion in damages after finding rival software company Pegasystems Inc. stole its trade secrets. Announced yesterday (Tuesday) after a seven-week trial, the damages are the largest ever awarded in Virginia court history, Appian says. [Appian]
County Board Approves New Budget — “On Tuesday morning, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors gave final approval to the fiscal year 2023 budget, which reduces the real estate tax rate by 3 cents. The approved budget did not change from the budget markup the board approved on April 26.” [Patch]
Teachers’ Union Calls for Continued Virtual Learning — The Fairfax Education Association sent a letter to Fairfax County Public Schools Superintendent Scott Brabrand and school board members last week urging them to “continue offering a limited virtual school program for vulnerable students and staff.” FCPS announced in March that it will discontinue the option in the next school year. [WTOP]
Former Reston Association Board President Dies at 84 — “In the words of one reporter, Mike [Freeman Jr.] had a case of chronic community activism for a myriad of Reston organizations, including St. Anne’s Episcopal Church, FISH, and soccer and swim teams. He was a volunteer driver for the first local RIBS bus, and an elected board member of the Reston Association, serving as Board President 1988-89.” [Patch]
County Opens West Falls Church Transportation Survey — “The Fairfax County Department of Transportation (FCDOT) will hold a second round of virtual community meetings to present updates on the West Falls Church (WFC) Active Transportation Study…The public will have the opportunity to ask questions and provide input as well as completing an online survey to provide feedback.” [FCDOT]
Fairfax County Honors Hockey Team and Teachers — The Board of Supervisors recognized the Langley High School ice hockey team yesterday for winning the Northern Virginia School Hockey League championship in February while also completing the season with the least amount of penalties among teams. The board also designated May as Teacher Appreciation Month. [Fairfax County]
Veteran and Military Spouse Career Fair Starts Today — “The free-to-attend event features two days of opportunities for candidates to connect with companies, with in-person sessions between 10:00 am-12:00 pm and 1:00-3:00 p.m. ET on May 11 at the National Museum of the United States Army at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, and a virtual fair taking place from 1:00-4:00 p.m. ET on May 12″ [Fairfax County Economic Development Authority]
It’s Wednesday — Partly cloudy throughout the day. High of 69 and low of 50. Sunrise at 6:01 am and sunset at 8:12 pm. [Weather.gov]