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Morning Notes

Why did the geese cross the park trail? (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

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]

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The company’s new facility includes a clean room (courtesy of HawkEye 360)

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.

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Morning Notes

A fawn in the woods (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

FCPS Students Rally in Support of Reproductive Health — “Students are calling on Fairfax County Public Schools to reform its sex education program — adding more information about contraception and increasing student access to contraceptives — in response to the fall of Roe v. Wade.” [The Washington Post]

Local Company Helped Built Groundbreaking Telescope — Earlier this week, NASA released the first images from its James Webb Space Telescope, built with a team of private companies led by West Falls Church-based Northrop Grumman. Offering “never-before-seen glimpses into the origins of our universe,” Webb is the “largest, most complex and powerful space telescope ever built.” [FCEDA]

Dozens Vaccinated Against Covid at Reston Clinic — “After months of planning and preparation, the clinic was held at Reston Community Center, located next to Hunters Woods Fellowship House, on June 15. While an initial survey conducted by the Hunters Woods program coordinator found only 50 people were interested in attending, thanks to community outreach, 72 adults and 14 children ended up getting vaccinated.” [Fairfax County Health Department]

Scotts Run Fire Station Gets New Engine — “A big day this Saturday at Station 44, Scotts Run! Engine 444 will be placed in service joining Rescue Squad and Ambulance 444 at the station. Crews working hard this week labelling fire hose to place on the engine. #FCFRD’s newest station opened on August 14, 2021.” [FCFRD/Twitter]

Vienna Considers Starting Budget Process Earlier — “Starting with its next fiscal-year budget cycle, Vienna government staff will give the Vienna Town Council information earlier in the process so they can set priorities to guide the rest of the discussions. The Council expressed support July 11 after Finance Director Marion Serfass outlined the revamped budget schedule.” [Sun Gazette]

Local Bus Drivers Train for Silver Line Phase II — “Fairfax Connector is gearing up for new bus routes coming with the Silver Line Phase II launch. Here’s a look at the most recent test of the bus bridge. As you can see Connector is joined by Metrobus @wmata and Loudoun County Transit” [Fairfax Connector/Twitter]

Northern Virginia Pounces on Cat Cafes — “Northern Virginia is no stranger to cat cafes, as there are 3 currently-open cafes that are all about 30 minutes away from interested Falls Church locals. Patriot Pawsabilities, Mount Purrnon Cat Cafe and Wine Bar and Meows Corner Cat Cafe and Lounge offer feline enthusiasts and/or the average animal lover a cuddly experience.” [Falls Church News-Press]

Former Fort Belvoir Leader Inspires in Alexandria — “Retired U.S. Army Colonel Gregory Gadson says that success happens by staying present, and letting go of the invisible anchors that hold you back. Gadson knows what he’s talking about. The war hero, actor, photographer, philanthropist and business owner is also the first-ever double amputee to command a major military installation — Fort Belvoir.” [ALXnow]

Young Lifeguards Train With FCPD — “Fairfax County police officers in the underwater search and recovery unit were at Lake Barcroft yesterday — but no one drowned. The Lake Barcroft Association had asked the unit to conduct a training class for junior lifeguards.” [Annandale Today]

Hawaiian Music Group Comes to Tysons — “Join us at our Tysons-Pimmit branch Saturday morning to participate in & enjoy the music performed by Ukulele Hui! This performance includes interactive elements. Ukulele Hui is part of the Hawai’i State Society of Washington, D.C.” [Fairfax County Public Library/Twitter]

It’s Friday — Clear throughout the day. High of 84 and low of 69. Sunrise at 5:57 am and sunset at 8:35 pm. [Weather.gov]

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The business won a TripAdvisor award in the category of fun and games. (via Escape Room Herndon)

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.”

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Morning Notes

The U.S. flag flies outside the Freeman Store and Museum in Vienna (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

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]

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Morning Notes

A bicyclist heads down Maple Avenue in Vienna (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Inova Plans New Recovery Hospital —  Inova Health System will open a Critical Illness Recovery Hospital at the Mount Vernon Hospital in Fort Hunt in the first half of 2023. Operated by the provider Select Medical, the 32-bed facility will provide specialized clinical support for patients who require an extended stay but no longer need intensive care — an option currently not available in Northern Virginia. [Inova]

Jollibee Opening in Lincolnia Area Sunday — “Filipino chicken chain Jollibee announced that, after some earlier delays, the Lincolnia location is scheduled to open this Sunday, June 26. The restaurant is opening at 4809 Beauregard Street in the Plaza at Landmark shopping center.” [ALXnow]

Fairfax City Mayoral Race Adds New Candidate — “Fairfax City Council member Sang Yi announced on Wednesday that he was running in the Nov. 8 general election to be city’s next mayor…Sang will be running against Catherine Read. Mayor Daniel Meyer previously announced that he wouldn’t be running for reelection.” [Patch]

Car Wheels Stolen in Newington — “Two car owners in Newington in Fairfax County woke up this morning to find their cars propped up on bricks and all the wheels stolen. One of the car owners…tells me he works hard to provide for his family and is very frustrated by this. It’s part of a troubling trend that’s been going on for years in the DC area.” [NBC4]

Fairfax County Is #1 in Country for Mental Health — Northern Virginia had a strong showing in a “Healthiest Communities” ranking from U.S. News & World Report and CVS Health, which graded 500 localities nationwide. At #17 overall, Fairfax County got its highest mark for mental health based on reports of mental distress, depression, and death rates related to suicide and substance issues. [U.S. News & World Report]

NOVA Parks Seeks Input on Five-Year Plan — The Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority has released a draft 2023-2027 strategic plan and is accepting feedback via an online survey until 5 p.m. on July 8. Priorities proposed by the plan include a $6 million investment in trails, a visitor center for the Washington & Old Dominion Trail, and a commitment to plant over 50,000 trees. [NOVA Parks]

Merger Gives Tysons Another Corporate HQ — “Defense contractor Vectrus Inc. and government services company Vertex Inc. are moving forward with a $2.1 billion merger that will move the rebranded company’s headquarters to Northern Virginia…V2X is expected to be based in McLean, where Vectrus already has an office at 7901 Jones Branch Drive.” [Washington Business Journal]

Vienna Cuts Ribbon on New Mural — “The new mural, a nod to the month-long Liberty Amendments Month celebration and painted by local artist, Teresa Ahmad, was unveiled today at the Patrick Henry Library! Everyone is encouraged to check out this beautiful addition to the Town!” [Town of Vienna/Twitter]

Celebrate Hummingbirds in Lincolnia — “For those who can’t get enough of the beauty of hummingbirds, a group of local photographers are mounting an exhibition this summer at Green Spring Gardens in Alexandria…The show runs from June 28 through Oct. 16, 2022, at the Historic House at Green Spring Gardens and is free to the public.” [Fairfax County Park Authority]

It’s Friday — Partly cloudy throughout the day. High of 82 and low of 64. Sunrise at 5:46 am and sunset at 8:40 pm. [Weather.gov]

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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

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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

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Reston Kabob was chosen for an accelerator program run by DoorDash (photo by Masoud Shoja)

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.”

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Morning Notes

Light peeks through the trees on a path in Franconia (staff photo by Brandi Bottalico)

Fairfax County Jury Sides with Johnny Depp — After a weeks-long trial, actor Johnny Depp was awarded more than $10 million in his defamation lawsuit against ex-wife Amber Heard, a verdict that has already taken a toll on domestic violence survivors. Heard was also awarded $2 million for a countersuit over comments by Depp’s lawyer. [Associated Press/WTOP]

Calm Returns to Fairfax County Courthouse After High-Profile Trial — “Two hours after the verdict in the Johnny Depp vs. Amber Heard defamation trial was announced, the grounds outside the Fairfax County Courthouse had the aura of a field where a circus had just packed up its tent and moved on.” [Patch]

Woodson HS Apologizes for Teacher’s Use of Slur — “An official at W.T. Woodson High School in Fairfax has apologized for a substitute teacher uttering a racial slur during an in-class reading of John Steinbeck’s ‘Of Mice and Men’ last month…A student notified [assistant principal Amanda] Burke that a classmate had recorded a video of the substitute saying the racial slur and shared it on social media.” [Patch]

Firefighters and Police Rescue Red-Tailed Hawk — “#FCFRD & @FairfaxCountyPD Animal Protection, rescued a Red-Tailed Hawk during special ops training. Crews worked together to disentangled it with special equipment. He appears healthy but will get a check-up. Retrieve kite strings & fishing line! Birds can’t see them.” [FCFRD/Twitter]

Popular Lincolnia Pet Store to Downsize — “Chico’s Natural Pet Market invites the community to a fun event Sunday, June 5, featuring an animal communicator and an auction…Owner Danielle Areco will update customers on the store’s pending move to a new location and will describe the store’s new focus on healthy pet food.” [Annandale Today]

Tysons Real Estate Company Plans Move — “Real estate giant CBRE Group Inc. (NYSE: CBRE) will move its Tysons office, which houses its Northern Virginia operation, a stone’s throw up the road in early 2023, having already inked a new lease. CBRE will occupy a little over 24,000 square feet, or the whole 11th floor, of Boro Tower, a 20-story office building located at 8350 Broad St.” [Washington Business Journal]

General Assembly Passes State Budget — “The Virginia General Assembly passed a two-year state budget Wednesday that both cuts taxes and increases spending, a rare combination that drew extensive bipartisan support in both the Democratic-controlled Senate and Republican-controlled House of Delegates.” [The Washington Post]

Former Vienna Town Manager Dies — “John Schoeberlein, who served as Vienna’s steady-as-you-go town manager for 26 years before retiring in May 2011, died May 30 at age 74…Schoeberlein was a respected leader and well-liked by town residents and staff, said Bill Murray, a retired master police officer with the Vienna Police Department.” [Sun Gazette/Inside NoVA]

Local Farmers Markets Accept Food Benefits — “Four Fairfax County Farmers Markets offer a [Supplemental Nutrition Assistance] Matching Program where you can double your SNAP Benefits…You can use your EBT card in the McCutcheon/Mount Vernon, Annandale, Reston and Lorton Farmers Markets.” [Fairfax County Park Authority]

Park Authority Supports Annandale Vandal — “A bit of mischief was celebrated at Hidden Oaks Nature Center as a clever vandal slipped into the Annandale Community Park playground area and switched a couple of letters on the fencing spelling ‘I [heart] Mom.’ This sweet sign is a salute to all the moms who take their kids to our parks!” [FCPA/Facebook]

It’s Thursday — Rain starting in the afternoon. High of 82 and low of 73. Sunrise at 5:46 am and sunset at 8:31 pm. [Weather.gov]

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