(Updated at 10:45 a.m.) Fairfax County police have arrested two men who allegedly broke into a house in the McLean area earlier this week and robbed and assaulted its residents at gunpoint.
Officers were called to the 1300 block of Spring Hill Road — just north of Tysons and the Dulles Toll Road — at 5:45 a.m. on Monday (Nov. 27) when a 911 caller reported that at least one stranger was in her house “screaming about money,” according to the dispatch on Open MHz.
An investigation found that three people “forcibly entered” the residence and “demanded money” while brandishing a gun, the Fairfax County Police Department said today (Friday).
“The men assaulted two victims inside the home then ran from the residence,” the police department said in a news release. “One victim was taken to the hospital for injuries considered not life-threatening.”
Officers located one of the suspects — identified as 32-year-old Lorton resident Jaquan Ross — that day with help from a helicopter and K9 unit. Ross was spotted by the chopper “attempting to conceal himself by laying on the ground,” according to the FCPD.
Ross has been charged with three counts each of abduction and robbery, burglary, malicious wounding, and use of a firearm while committing a felony.
The subsequent investigation led detectives to identify Elijah Thomas, 24, of Dumfries as one of the other men involved in the robbery, the FCPD says. He was arrested yesterday (Thursday) and faces the same charges as Ross, with the addition of one count of being a felon in possession of a gun.
Police say the third person involved in the incident was also a man, but they’re still working to identify him.
Though the 911 caller described the intruders as strangers, the FCPD says detectives don’t believe the robbery was committed at random.
“During the investigation, certain facts and circumstances led investigators to believe this was not a random act,” the police department said in a statement to FFXnow. “The case is still currently under investigation and detectives are actively following leads.”
Ross and Thomas are both in custody without bond at the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center. After an arraignment on Tuesday (Nov. 28), Ross will get a preliminary hearing on Feb. 28, 2024, while Thomas was arraigned today and scheduled for a preliminary hearing on March 4, according to court records.
A proposal to ease overcrowding at Kent Gardens Elementary School will require adjustments at four other elementary schools in McLean, but local middle and high schools have been spared.
The Fairfax County School Board will hold a public hearing at 6 p.m. this Thursday (Nov. 30) to get community feedback on the recommended boundary changes, which will affect an estimated 380 students, according to Fairfax County Public Schools.
A presentation on the proposal was expected on Nov. 20, but the school board’s meeting that day got canceled. Elaine Tholen, who represents the Dranesville District on the board, confirmed that the public hearing and a final vote on Dec. 4 will proceed as scheduled.
As of October, there were 1,006 students enrolled in Kent Gardens (1717 Melbourne Drive) — a decline from the 1,023 students enrolled during the 2022-2023 school year, according to FCPS. However, the school remains well above capacity in terms of both its design (896 students) and its programming (848 students).
After years of complaints about overstuffed schools from the McLean community, the school board designated a boundary adjustment for Kent Gardens as a priority in the fiscal year 2024-2028 capital improvement plan adopted earlier this year.
Chosen out of five options presented to the community in September, the change recommended by FCPS staff would reassign 190 students from Kent Gardens to Franklin Sherman Elementary School, which is currently utilizing just 77% of its program capacity. Another 38 students would move to Haycock Elementary.
The proposal would also shift 112 Franklin Sherman students to Chesterbrook Elementary School and 40 students to Churchill Road Elementary.
On its webpage for the boundary adjustment, FCPS says this scenario “balances student population and capacity of schools in the area,” while considering potential development in McLean that could have a future impact on local elementary schools. Read More
A 21-year-old from McLean will help give young Virginians a say in how the U.S. government addresses climate change and other environmental issues.
Sophia Kianni, who founded the nonprofit Climate Cardinals, is one of 16 people appointed to the Environmental Protection Agency’s first-ever youth advisory council, which will provide independent guidance and recommendations on policies related to greenhouse gas emissions, clean air and water, and more.
Announced last week in a press release and a Teen Vogue interview, the National Environmental Youth Advisory Council (NEYAC) consists of people aged 16 to 29 who will serve two-year terms. It will report directly to EPA Administrator Michael Regan, who visited Flint Hill Elementary School in Vienna last year to highlight Fairfax County Public Schools’ new electric school buses.
“Young people have been at the forefront of every movement for political and social change in American history, and the environmental movement is no different,” Regan said in the press release. “Today we are cementing seats for young leaders at EPA’s table as we tackle the greatest environmental challenges of our time.”
This isn’t the first time Kianni has gotten a prominent platform for her environmental advocacy. Currently studying at Stanford University, she previously served on a Youth Advisory Group on Climate Change to the United Nations secretary-general, and a TED Talk she gave in 2021 has drawn over 2 million views.
The talk centered on the same topic at the heart of Climate Cardinals: the need for climate research an educational resources to be available in different languages.
Inspired by a visit to Iran when she was in middle school, Kianni founded Climate Cardinals in 2020 — the same year she graduated from Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, according to a Northern Virginia Magazine profile. The nonprofit’s reach is now international, with 10,000 volunteers in over 80 countries who can translate 100 languages.
I look forward to your contributions to the fight against climate change, Sophia. You make VA-11 proud!
— Rep. Gerry Connolly (@GerryConnolly) November 16, 2023
“I am immensely proud to congratulate my constituent Sophia Kianni on her selection for the @EPA National Environmental Youth Advisory Council,” Connolly said in a tweet. “Sophia will serve our community and our nation as she provides advice and recommendations on climate concerns affecting America’s youth.”
In a graphic shared by Warner, Kianni said she was “excited to work alongside Administrator Regan and his incredible team to leverage intergenerational insights and innovation to work together for a more sustainable and equitable future.”
Glad to see the launch of this program to mobilize young people against one of the most pressing issues of our time – climate change. I’m particularly glad that Virginia will be represented by Sophia Kianni, a Vienna, Virginia native! https://t.co/zv3dYc6Ujq pic.twitter.com/esKaMrf9XO
— Mark Warner (@MarkWarner) November 16, 2023
The EPA announced in June that it would establish a youth advisory council, inviting older teens and young adults from around the country to apply for the 16 spots. At least half the seats were reserved for people from communities considered disadvantaged due to flood and wildfire risks, pollution, housing and transportation barriers, and other obstacles.
According to the EPA, the inaugural members were chosen from 1,000 applicants “to represent a variety of interests, lived experiences, partisan affiliation, and geographic locations.” They come from 13 different states and have backgrounds in issues from climate change and conservation to food security and workforce development.
NEYAC will meet at least two times every year, starting in 2024.
A Thai restaurant is on its way to Chesterbrook Shopping Center (6224 Old Dominion Drive) in McLean, though it will be some time before its doors open.
Expected to open in late 2024, Sorn Thai was inspired by owner Supisa “Boom” Teabut’s grandmother, Sorn. Based on her recipes, the menu will feature southern Thai dishes, like pad Thai and pad see ew, while aiming for “affordability and family-friendly appeal,” according to a press release.
“With its central location, welcoming neighborhood and diverse residents, Chesterbrook is a community that truly has it all,” Teawbut said. “Recognizing the limited presence of Thai restaurants in the area, we see this as an exciting opportunity to not only share our culture but also become a cherished part of such a vibrant community.”
While announcing Sorn Thai, Federal Realty also confirmed that Call Your Mother will move into a brick-and-mortar location at Chesterbrook by late 2024.
The popular D.C. bagel shop opened a mobile “Lil Deli” truck in the shopping center’s parking lot in May, but with customers lining up even on overcast and drizzly days, it’s little surprise that a more permanent space is in the works.
Call Your Mother will occupy 1,405 square feet next to Le Village Marché, a French home decor store that opened on June 9. Sorn Thai will be located in a 3,055-square-foot suite three doors down from Small Door Veterinary, which is on track for a spring 2024 opening.
Federal Realty has been refilling Chesterbrook with tenants after launching an extensive renovation in September 2022. Hoping to bring more visibility to its retailers, the developer anticipates finishing new facades for the property this year and outdoor amenity spaces sometime in 2024.
Not even a last-minute scramble to replace stolen jerseys could derail McLean High School’s boys’ volleyball team from its path to a championship.
The 10-player team won the Northern Virginia High School Boys Volleyball League playoffs with two 25-point sets on Oct. 28, beating a Lake Braddock Secondary School team to cap off a perfect 17-0 season.
John Tamashiro, head coach for the McLean team, attributes its success to a combination of luck, skill, team chemistry and sheer perseverance, as players battled through tough competitors, injuries and other obstacles, including the theft of required jerseys the night before a match.
“I personally have been playing the sport a long time, and you can always have that cocky guy on the team that brings down the team,” Tamashiro told FFXnow. “We didn’t have any of that this year, and I think that was the main thing that all these boys had good personalities and were very talented, and so I think we need that combination to do what we did.”
Even as the McLean team celebrates its championship, the Northern Virginia High School Boys Volleyball League (NVHSVL) has its sights set on an even bigger prize: inclusion in Fairfax County Public Schools as an official varsity sport.
Though the Virginia High School League supports varsity boys’ volleyball, FCPS dropped the sport as a student activity in the early 2000s, according to NVHSBVL organizers.
“Fairfax County Public Schools started an eight-team, club-level program [around 2004], hoping that it would grow in popularity and become a varsity sport,” Michael Markovic said. “Unfortunately, it didn’t grow and the club-level league was canceled by FCPS.”
Supporters instead launched the Northern Virginia High School Boys’ Volleyball League, which offer programs for high school and middle and elementary school students in Fairfax County, Arlington, Loudoun and Alexandria.
The teams are coached by volunteers and take the names of specific schools, though not all players have to attend that school. The McLean team, for example, includes a private school student and two players from the Springfield area, along with several McLean High School students, according to Tamashiro.
The league had tried to regain club status for boys’ volleyball in Northern Virginia about 10 years ago, but the region’s student activities directors failed to get enough high schools to sign on, NVHSBVL director Rob Baily says.
A decade later, momentum for volleyball — which is already available in FCPS for girls — has grown nationwide to the point where league leaders believe that official, school-sanctioned teams for boys would now be successful.
The number of male students participating in high school volleyball has grown by 40% since 2017, making it the fastest growing high school sport in the U.S., according to USA Volleyball CEO Jamie Davis.
Interest has grown locally as well, according to the NVHSBVL, which says participation has more than doubled since 2012. The league’s 2023 fall season involved a record 49 teams totaling more than 500 players, compared to just 12 teams when Markovic joined in 2012.
“Forty-nine teams is a lot of schools that would potentially have volleyball programs now that they don’t have right now,” Tamashiro said. “So, basically…this league is really the equivalent of the high school boys volleyball league in school sports.”
Gaining varsity status would give players consistent access to school gyms and equipment, including poles and nets, Baily says. The league currently reserves space through FCPS’ community use program, which lets outside groups use school facilities when they’re available.
He says a school-sanctioned program would also boost participation by “less advantaged boys,” since they won’t face as many out-of-pocket fees or need to arrange their own transportation to matches.
“It provides a great non-contact alternative to football and as a varsity sport it will create more student-athletes with better time management and healthier lifestyles,” Baily said.
FCPS didn’t comment by press time, but according to Baily, Superintendent Michelle Reid has asked to see data showing current registration and future interest by the end of November so varsity boys’ volleyball could be considered for her next budget proposal, which will be released on Jan. 25.
Regardless of what happens with the sport’s status in FCPS, Tamashiro anticipates 2024 will be another strong season for the McLean High team, which only had two seniors who will graduate this school year.
“It was a crazy, crazy season,” Tamashiro said. “But again, we got a lot of talented boys. A lot of them are going to play at the next level. A lot of them will end up playing in college.”
State Sen. Jennifer Boysko has joined the race to replace Rep. Jennifer Wexton as Virginia’s 10th Congressional District representative.
Boysko announced her candidacy today (Thursday), just two days after winning reelection as senator for the 38th District, which encompasses Reston, Herndon, McLean and Great Falls. The district includes portions of the former 32nd District represented by State Sen. Janet Howell, who opted not to seek reelection after redistricting paired her with Boysko.
“From the PTA to the state Senate, I’ve always brought people together to find common ground and work towards common sense solutions,” Boysko said in her campaign announcement. “In Washington, I’ll continue to build on the work of Congresswoman Wexton to bring a better future for our kids and make life better for Virginia’s workers and families. This grassroots campaign to fight for what’s right starts right here, right now. I ask for your vote.”
Boysko’s new campaign website highlights access to abortion, gun violence prevention and “economic policies that work for everyone and lift people up” as the issues central to her platform.
Boysko previously served in the House of Delegates, representing the 86th District from 2016 to 2019, when she got elected to the Senate to replace Wexton, who had just been elected to Congress in 2018.
Wexton said on Sept. 18 that she won’t seek reelection next year after getting a rare neurological disorder called Progressive Supra-nuclear Palsy. Initially diagnosed as Parkinson’s disease, the condition affects “body movements, walking and balance, and eye movements” and has no treatment, she said in her announcement.
Boysko’s competition for the 10th Congressional District — which covers Loudoun and Prince William counties — includes former House of Delegates speaker Eileen Filler-Corn and Mike Clancy, a Loudoun County resident, lawyer and business executive, per his campaign site.
Currently representing Fairfax County from Mantua to Burke as the 41st House District delegate, Filler-Corn announced this spring that she wouldn’t seek reelection, a move that prompted speculation of a potential run for governor. She launched her bid for Wexton’s seat on Oct. 18.
Clancy previously sought a Republican nomination for the 10th District in 2022.
With the Congressional election not coming until 2024, Boysko said in a statement to FFXnow that she remains committed to serving in the state legislature for the upcoming session, citing paid family medical leave as one of her top priorities:
I’ve had a lot of my constituents that have called and asked me if I would run for Congress. They believe that I’m the right person for the job, having represented half of Loudoun County over the past five years, having been in this community for 20 years, helping solve problems. I think my constituents want to see me work at a higher level as an asset and an ally in the Commonwealth of Virginia to make sure we’re getting stuff done.
As for the state Senate, the election’s not until next year, and I look forward to serving in this 2024 General Assembly Session. There’s a lot that I want to get done. Thanks to the hard work of our candidates, we just won the majority in the House and the Senate. I want to get paid family medical leave done at the state level, and I believe that I’ll be able to do that during this session. I’m looking forward to this next year.
Boysko filed a bill during the 2023 General Assembly session that would’ve established a statewide paid family and medical leave program, starting in 2026, but the legislation was left in committee.
The McLean Project for the Arts is going downtown, at least for a weekend, though it hopes to stay longer.
The nonprofit will launch an inaugural “MPA Inspires” celebration of art and jazz on Nov. 18-19 that will also serve as its introduction to a new space at The Signet (6910 Fleetwood Road), a seven-story condominium building with some ground-floor retail space.
Known for now as “MPA Downtown,” the facility is envisioned as a supplement to MPA’s main galleries and offices in the McLean Community Center at 1234 Ingleside Avenue, according to MPA communications director Deb Bissen.
“MPA has been looking for a way to have additional space to provide more arts education opportunities for our community as well as an expanded exhibition and events space,” Bissen told FFXnow.
While the organization isn’t ready to discuss details yet, Bissen confirmed it’s pursuing a space in downtown McLean in place of the arts center that the Fairfax County Park Authority board approved last year last year as an option for future development at Clemyjontri Park.
That proposal — the crux of a revised master plan for the 6317 Georgetown Pike park best known for its disability-inclusive playground — “has now been set aside,” she said.
In addition to being more accessible than Clemyjontri for pedestrians in McLean’s redeveloping downtown, The Signet has a courtyard and Elm Street Park across the street that could support outdoor exhibitions and events, according to Bissen.
“We’re excited about the potential of this idea, and hoping our community of supporters will embrace it as well during this weekend of celebrating MPA’s artistic legacy and our exciting plans to expand our presence within the vibrant D.C. arts community,” she said.
MPA Inspires will kick off at 2 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 18 with an Art Insights panel and reception featuring art collectors Michael Abrams and Sandra Stewart, art advocate Nancy Hirshbein, and University of Maryland University College Arts Program Director Eric Key.
Following the panel, attendees can get a gallery tour and meet the artists showcased in a new alumni exhibition that will be open for viewing from 2-4 p.m. this Thursday (Nov. 9), Sunday (Nov. 12), Nov. 14 and Nov. 17.
Sunday, Nov. 19 will bring an Art + Soul Jazz Brunch from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. to raise funds for MPA’s new space. It will feature live music by saxophonist Langston Hughes II, bass player Chris Hon and guitarist Jan Knutson, along with a Collectors’ Drawing for the more than 60 works donated to the alumni exhibition.
While the panel event is free, the brunch will cost $150 per person, and the 60 tickets available for the drawing are an additional $600, covering the purchase of the artwork. Sponsorships are also being offered, starting at $1,000 for four brunch tickets.
Proceeds will go to “the development of a new MPA Art and Education Center,” the event website says.
“We are thrilled this weekend will bring such a group of dynamic artists, each esteemed alumni of MPA’s exhibition program, together with our warm and engaged community of supporters,” MPA Executive Director Lori Carbonneau said. “…This moment stands as one of the most remarkable milestones in MPA’s 61-year history, and a celebration of our continued leadership in McLean and the wider regional arts scene.”
Image via Google Maps
A nonprofit that has been serving free meals made at Lewinsville Senior Center throughout the COVID-19 pandemic hopes to establish a permanent presence at the McLean facility.
Fairfax County Neighborhood and Community Services (NCS), which operates the senior center at 1613 Great Falls Street, applied in late 2022 for a special exception amendment that would let SevaTruck Foundation keep using the center’s kitchen to cook, store and package food.
NCS is now seeking public input on its partnership with SevaTruck. It will host four information sessions on the application, starting with a virtual meeting on Thursday, Nov. 16 at 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
“SevaTruck serves a crucial role in addressing hunger and food insecurity and has a deep understanding of the communities it serves,” NCS said in a press release announcing the meetings.
SevaTruck provides “free, fresh, nutritious warm meals to children attending Title 1 Schools and…living in historically low-income, marginalized communities across Fairfax County and the Washington DC, metropolitan area,” according to a statement of justification for the application.
Areas served so far include McLean, Tysons, Reston, Herndon, Fairfax, Annandale, Falls Church and Alexandria. The nonprofit also has chapters in Richmond, Michigan and the San Francisco Bay Area.
The D.C. area chapter began operating out of Lewinsville Senior Center early in the pandemic after the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors declared a local emergency, which suspended zoning requirements that would “preclude a temporary modification to an activity, use, or structure where the Zoning Administrator determines the modification is needed to respond to the COVID-19 emergency and its impacts.”
However, the county’s official state of emergency for Covid ended on March 1, giving SevaTruck and other organizations or businesses operating under an emergency waiver 12 months to obtain the approvals and permits necessary to continue.
In the application, NCS regional manager Karen De Mijango says two SevaTruck employees work out of the senior center Monday through Friday, preparing 1,800 meals a week that are delivered to around 1,400 Fairfax County residents both on-site and off by an 18-foot-long food truck.
“Meals are either picked-up from the senior center by partners, delivered in either a personal car, or in the food-truck,” De Mijango wrote in the statement to the county’s zoning division. “Partners picking up from the center does not cause disruptions to the senior programs. SevaTruck uses the backdoor of the kitchen to load/unload with a cart-roller.”
She noted that SevaTruck is seeking to expand by boosting its base of volunteers to assist with off-site food distributions, but no increase in staff is planned.
The application is currently scheduled to go to the Fairfax County Planning Commission for a public hearing on Jan. 24, 2024. Two more virtual information sessions will be held on Dec. 12 and Jan. 11, and an in-person meeting is planned at the senior center on Jan. 9.
A hearing before the Board of Supervisors, which is responsible for approving the application, hasn’t been scheduled yet.
On their own, the first developments approved by Fairfax County since it overhauled its plan to revitalize downtown McLean seem modest.
One is a corporate headquarters expansion, while the other is a seven-story, mostly residential building, promising 130 new units of housing but not exactly rivaling the scale of the high-rises going up in Tysons.
However, the developers and county leaders anticipate that, when considered together, the Mars and Astoria projects will be transformative, a first step in the McLean Community Business Center’s evolution from car-centric strip malls and “superblocks” to a walkable, mixed-use neighborhood village.
“This has been a long process. It’s not just this application. It’s the whole CBC plan, the design guidelines, really reshaping McLean in a way that’s going to be amazing and permanent,” Holland & Knight partner Michelle Rosati told the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors at an Oct. 24 public hearing, where she represented Astoria developer JAG Partners LLC.
Approved by the board with back-to-back unanimous votes, the Astoria and Mars projects will redevelop adjacent commercial lots bounded by Old Dominion Drive and Elm Street. Those two streets will get a much-needed connection along the shared property line in the form of a linear park with an 8-foot-wide pedestrian walkway provided by JAG Partners.
The Mars expansion
Based in McLean since 1984, Mars filed a proposal in April 2022 that would double the size of its headquarters building at 6860 Old Dominion Drive to 126,974 square feet — the first rezoning application in downtown McLean since the Board of Supervisors adopted the new comprehensive plan in June 2021.
Under the development plan, the candy manufacturer will demolish a second office building on the site at 6867 Elm Street and shift parking to a 205-space underground garage. The existing surface parking will mostly be replaced by a 1,850-square-foot, publicly accessible park with seating and a pergola along Old Dominion Drive.
Mars has also agreed to upgrade a Metrobus stop on Old Dominion with a new bus shelter. A private amenity space for employees at the property’s rear will be renovated with walking paths and terraces for entertainment.
Cozen O’Connor land use attorney Evan Pritchard, representing Mars, noted that the new headquarters will add a loading dock with a mechanical turntable to avoid creating traffic issues on Moyer Place.
“The truck will be able to come front-end into the loading dock and be rotated 180 degrees,” Pritchard said. “It can do its unloading and drive right back out, which is not something I’ve seen before, so I want to toot Mars’ horn and the architects’ efforts.”
He also highlighted a relocation of exterior backup generators inside the two-story building as “a big improvement for the community” and architectural changes that will let in more natural light. Read More
McLean got a step closer this week to realizing its wish for a new, improved and more inclusive playground at McLean Central Park (1468 Dolley Madison Blvd).
The Fairfax County Park Authority Board approved a $20,000 Mastenbrook Grant Wednesday (Oct. 25) to help fund the project, which has significantly expanded in scope thanks to the advocacy and fundraising efforts of local parents.
The grant brings the total budget up to $442,609 when combined with $246,670 in community donations and $175,939 in previously allocated FCPA funds.
While supportive of this particular renovation, some board members worried that relying on community fundraising to enhance capital projects might create disparities in the quality of park facilities in different parts of the county.
“I fully expect and hope we do approve this tonight, but we still have the question of equity for this kind of thing and this community’s ability to raise this kind of money to build this world-class facility where that’s just not possible in some other places,” Mount Vernon District board member Linwood Gorham said, referencing the $1.5 million conversion of Holladay Field that utilized $725,000 in private contributions.
FCPA staff said they will look at potential policy changes as part of the Parks, Recreation, Open Space and Access (PROSA) Strategy that the board endorsed on Sept. 27. The plan’s goals include consideration of racial and socioeconomic equity when prioritizing projects and services.
Board members emphasized that “nobody did anything wrong with this one,” but they want every community to have access to the level of facilities found in McLean.
“That really should be the standard,” FCPA Director Jai Cole said. “Instead of saying, ‘Why do they get more,’ how do we make sure this is the standard everywhere that we’re going, that we have the means and opportunity to put in a $400,000 playground in parks that are so centrally located like this? It’s a big conversation.”
Ron Kendall, who represents the Mason District, noted that more elaborate facilities also tend to require more extensive and costly maintenance.
“The bigger we build it, the more it’s going to cost for us to keep it in the condition they expect it to be in in that community,” he said. “That is another hurdle that we haven’t discussed much.”
Following a master plan approved in 2013, the park authority acquired $2.2 million from a 2020 parks bond to redevelop the 28-acre McLean Central Park, but that budget only had enough funds to upgrade the school-aged playground, which was installed in 1988 and scheduled to be replaced.
When the FCPA revisited the master plan in 2021, a group of moms urged staff to also renovate the tot lot and relocate the school-aged playground so the two facilites are combined, making it easier for families with kids of different ages to keep an eye on them at the same time. Read More