A 27-year-old man from Maryland has been arrested following a police pursuit on Route 1 (Richmond Highway) that extended from Prince William County into Mount Vernon.
Based on a preliminary investigation, the man was driving a GMC Yukon that had been reported stolen from a Koons dealership on Richmond Highway at 10:30 a.m., a Prince William County Police Department spokesperson said.
When a Prince William County police officer approached the man and told him he was under arrest, the driver fled. Since the situation didn’t meet the department’s standards for pursuing a suspect, the officer instead alerted Virginia State Police and Fairfax County police to the fleeing vehicle.
A Virginia State trooper located the vehicle around 10:49 a.m.
“The GMC was on Route 1 in Prince William County heading north towards the Fairfax County line,” the VSP said. “The trooper activated his emergency lights and siren to initiate a traffic stop, but the GMC refused to stop and sped off.”
According to scanner traffic, the GMC drove the wrong way on Richmond Highway, heading north in the southbound lanes. During the chase, the driver “rammed” the pursuing trooper’s marked patrol SUV three different times, ultimately disabling the vehicle, the state police said.
Prince William County police officers, who were staying in sight of the chase to provide support, saw the GMC “make intentional contact” with the trooper’s cruiser, the Prince William police spokesperson said.
At 10:56 a.m., the driver bailed out of the GMC at Pole Road and Highland Lane in the Mount Vernon area, where he was taken into custody with the help of Prince William County police and a Fairfax County sheriff’s deputy.
The driver and the trooper were both taken to Inova Mount Vernon Hospital for medical evaluations “as a precautionary measure,” but no injuries were reported, state police said.
Charges from state police and Prince William County are pending, as an investigation into the case continues.
As roses, poppies and other May blooms flourish in Fairfax County, kids and adults can craft upcycled flowers at Mount Vernon Plaza in Hybla Valley next Saturday (May 20).
The Southeast Fairfax Development Corporation (SFDC) will facilitate the art project at a free event dubbed “Chalkful of Flowers.” It will run from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the shopping center’s parklet at 7698 Richmond Highway, located behind Capital Chicken.
Also featuring collaborative chalk murals, “Chalkful of Flowers” will be the first official community event in the parklet, according to a press release. The 3,200-square-foot space opened in October after about five months of construction.
“With the arrival of warmer weather, we are thrilled to start activating the new parklet space as a way to bring the community together,” SFDC Executive Director Evan Kaufman said in the press release.
Attendees will learn how to make the upcycled flowers from local artists, and the crafts will come together to make a flower wall. Materials involved include tissue paper, dog bags and other recyclable items.
Artists on-hand to teach will include Anila Angjeli, CEO of Alexandria-based A-Line Architecture, and local art teacher Jennifer Droblyen. Other local artists mostly from around the Richmond Highway corridor were also invited to participate.
Federal Realty, the owner of Mount Vernon Plaza, partnered with SFDC to create the parklet, which features green space, porch swing benches, cafe seating, lighting, soma stones, landscaping and a trellis. SFDC is a nonprofit that supports economic development in the Richmond Highway corridor.
”When we were first conceptualizing the potential for a parklet space at Mount Vernon Plaza, we imagined events exactly like this one,” Deirdre Johnson, senior vice president at Federal Realty, said in the press release.
The event will feature live electric violin from D.C.-based violinist Charles “Bliss the Violinist” Tolbert. Those in attendance can also take in new murals that span the facades of multiple buildings in the shopping center. Restaurants in the shopping center will be open as usual, and prospective attendees can RSVP on Facebook.
Fairfax County leaders will hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony and an inaugural bicycle ride and walk tomorrow (Friday) to celebrate the completion of the Mount Vernon Memorial Highway Trail.
Mount Vernon District Supervisor Dan Storck will join the Fairfax County Department of Transportation and the Department of Public Works and Environmental Services at George Washington’s Gristmill to mark the finishing of the trail.
The purpose of the project was to complete missing trail segments between Richmond Highway (Route 1) and Southwood Drive, a span of approximately two miles.
The project completes the missing links for the:
- East Coast Greenway Trail
- Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail
- NoVa Loop Trail
Storck told FFXnow he has been pushing to get the project completed to connect more of the county’s Potomac Banks tourism sites and to provide new transportation and recreation options for residents.
“This new shared-use path now provides a continuous pedestrian and bicycle way from Richmond Highway to George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate, then north to the City of Alexandria and the District of Columbia,” Storck said. “It will also provide connections to the future ‘The One’ Bus Rapid Transit System.”
The project constructed a 6,400-foot-long, 10-foot-wide shared-use path, which includes a pedestrian bridge adjacent to the Mount Vernon Memorial Highway bridge crossing Dogue Creek.
“The Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail will provide a continuous facility for pedestrians and cyclists along Mount Vernon Memorial Highway from Route 1 to the Mount Vernon Estates,” the county website states.
The project also provided marked crosswalks and curb ramps compliant with Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations and standards to improve pedestrian crossings.
The county incorporated comments from a 2018 pedestrian safety public information meeting into the design plans.
“As an avid runner and cyclist, one of my priorities as supervisor has been pedestrian and bicycle safety, and completing missing trail and sidewalk connections,” Storck said.
The locally funded project cost approximately $6.5 million. The ceremony will start at 10 a.m.
The Springfield United Methodist Church will open its doors at 7047 Old Keene Mill Road tomorrow (Friday) to anyone in need of a warm, free meal for St. Patrick’s Day.
While hosted by that church, the St. Patrick’s Day Supper and Community Conversation is being organized by the Provision Church, a new United Methodist Church dedicated to addressing food insecurity in southeastern Fairfax County.
Launched on Jan. 1, Provision Church aims to help people in need not just by handing out meals, but by encouraging entrepreneurship and teaching culinary skills through a planned job training program, its leader, the Rev. Alyssa Densham, told FFXnow.
“We go further up the river than offering someone just a free meal or a free bag of food,” Densham said. “We speak into the right that all people have for self-determination and hope to level the playing field so that all people have access to the resources and support to become the people they dream of becoming.”
A trained chef who graduated from the Culinary Institute of American in 2010, Densham worked at a food bank, the nonprofit National Farm to School Network, and faith-based charity programs before becoming associate pastor of food justice and access at Rising Hope Mission Church in Mount Vernon.
Provision Church grew out of conversations she had while working in communities along the Route 1 corridor, where she met people who aspired to have their own food-related businesses but struggle with a lack of financial or emotional support, health care access, literacy, and other barriers.
“I spoke to one woman who is a phenomenal cook, but because of [a] poorly supported learning challenge, she is functionally illiterate and can’t read recipes to work in the restaurants that she wants to work in,” she said. “Through these conversations, I heard communities cry out for programs that saw them as whole people with real dreams living real lives.”
Fairfax County residents with the greatest challenges accessing food are concentrated along the Route 1 or Richmond Highway corridor, according to the county’s 2022 Food Security Index, though there are also pockets of high need in Annandale, Seven Corners and the Herndon area.
A county economic needs assessment found that food costs in the region rose 8.4% from May 2021 to May 2022 and 25.6% over the past decade, straining households likely also struggling with other expenses.
Overall, about 24% of county residents are food-insecure, 8% of them severely, the Capital Area Food Bank’s 2022 Hunger Report found. Read More
Undeveloped land in Mount Vernon near Richmond Highway that had been eyed for an elementary school is now being considered for an early childhood education center instead.
As part of its approval of the latest Capital Improvements Program (CIP) on Feb. 9, the Fairfax County School Board voted unanimously to reallocate $500,000 in bond funding to the proposed center, which will take the place of a planned Route 1/Pinewood Lakes elementary school.
The money will help Fairfax County Public Schools start planning and designing the facility earlier than previously anticipated in the spending plan, according to School Board Vice Chair Tamara Derenak Kaufax, who represents the Franconia District and proposed the amendment.
“Based on the current budget, this project would have available approximately 15,000 to 20,000 square feet for dedicated classroom use,” Derenak Kaufax said during the board meeting (at the 5:17:33 mark). “The space would allow for up to 400 pre-K, Early Head Start or preschool special education students to gain that critical, strong educational start.”
The center will be located in the Woodlawn neighborhood on 10 acres of land owned by the school board next to Buckman Road near Lakepark Drive. The board also has a smaller, adjacent site at 4300 Keswick Road, but only the larger parcel will be used, Derenak Kaufax told FFXnow.
FCPS first proposed building an elementary school to serve the northern Route 1 corridor in 2013. Voters approved a school bond referendum that November that included nearly $21.2 million for the project — funds still listed in the newly approved CIP for fiscal years 2024-2028 as “projected future project spending.”
However, after the referendum passed, the Department of Defense moved over 11,000 jobs in the area to Fort Belvoir, and FCPS got federal grant funds to build an elementary school on the military base, “alleviating the immediate capacity need” for the Route 1 school, Derenak Kaufax told the school board.
FCPS administrators wrote a report last spring recommending the site be used for a standalone pre-kindergarten center, and Superintendent Michelle Reid brought the proposal to the school board on Sept. 12.
While Fairfax County has seen a general dip in child care options during the pandemic, the need for more early childhood education capacity, particularly in the Richmond Highway corridor, was “significant” even before Covid, Mount Vernon District School Board Representative Karen Corbett-Sanders said. Read More
Several Bed Bath & Beyond locations in Fairfax County will officially be put to bed before the summer.
The company’s locations in Mount Vernon, Fairfax, and Springfield are slated to close before the summer, according to store representatives.
Earlier this month, the company revealed a list of the 149 locations it plans close.
“We have been conducting a comprehensive, store-by-store analysis of our portfolio to ensure we can grow profitably while best serving our customers,” a company representative told FFXnow.
The locations in Mount Vernon (7690 Richmond Highway) and Fairfax (12100 Fairfax Towne Center) will close at the end of March, according to store representatives. Liquidation sales offering discounts of 10 to 30% off on all items in the stores are now underway.
A date for closing the Springfield location (6642 Loisdale Road) has not been determined yet.
The store in Bailey’s Crossroads will remain open. The home decor company also used to have a store in Tysons until it closed last February after just over a decade on Chain Bridge Road.
Overall, the company will slash the number of Bed Bath & Beyond stores by around 400. Other locations that are slated to close include Harrisonburg and Roanoke.
In an attempt to avert bankruptcy, Bed Bath and Beyond has reportedly raised $1 billion through offerings of preferred stocks and warrants to buy the company’s common stock, according to the Associated Press.
A famed comedian and actor won $250,000 for local charity Alice’s Kids by playing “Celebrity Jeopardy.”
At the finale of the annual “Celebrity Jeopardy” tournament that aired Sunday (Feb. 7), Patton Oswalt finished in second place and was awarded a quarter of a million dollars to donate to a charity of his choice.
As first reported by On the MoVe, the stand-up comedian/actor perhaps most known for voicing Remy in the Pixar movie “Ratatouille” chose Alice’s Kids, a Mount Vernon-based nonprofit that provides money to disadvantaged kids for small items like soccer cleats, school trips, and birthday parties.
Our friend and smart guy, @pattonoswalt, just won $250,000!!! He fell ONE DOLLAR short of winning the whole thing! I just spoke to him and he said he was thrilled to get us this money and ordered me to spend it on as many kids as possible. We will, Patton!!!
— Alice's Kids (@alicewillhelp) February 3, 2023
“It’s a huge boost to our budget,” co-founder Ron Fitzsimmons told FFXnow. “This is also now an excuse to go out and tell even more people about what we do.”
This isn’t the first time that Oswalt has contributed to the organization, but this large donation was recognized by Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay at the board’s meeting on Tuesday (Feb. 7).
Alice’s Kids was founded about 12 years ago by Fitzsimmons and his sister, Laura Fitzsimmons Peters. Naming the nonprofit after their mother, Alice Fitzsimmons, the siblings grew up in poverty in New York and knew what it meant not to have the money for the opportunities that other kids might.
When Fitzsimmons moved to the D.C. area for law school, he also began to substitute teach at Mount Vernon High School. Once, when he encountered a student who was crying because they couldn’t afford a prom ticket, he helped the student and realized there was a real need for an organization that helps kids with seemingly small items that can make a big difference.
That could mean money to throw a birthday party, a new pair of basketball shoes, or a costume for a part in a school play. Alice’s Kids provides the funds anonymously, often working through schools and social workers.
“We don’t pay for food. We don’t pay for medical assistance,” Fitzsimmons said. “So many other charities do that. We want to be totally unique.”
While Alice’s Kids initially focused on the Mount Vernon neighborhood and surrounding areas, it has expanded to become a national organization and now helps kids across the country.
With that growing reach came attention from some notable figures. It was perhaps 2016 when Fitzsimmons noticed a familiar name on a form for a very generous donation to Alice’s Kids. Read More
Updated at 10 a.m. on 2/8/2023 — Fairfax County police have identified the shooting suspect as 27-year-old Maryland resident Collins Agyei, who will be charged with aggravated malicious wounding and the use of a firearm in the commission of a felony.
The victim remains in critical condition, police say.
Earlier: A woman has been taken to the hospital with life-threatening injuries after being shot in the Mount Vernon area, police say.
The Fairfax County Police Department says its officers are currently at the scene in the 8400 block of Blankenship Street, a residential neighborhood with the Mallard Court Apartments.
A suspect has been apprehended by the Prince George’s County Police Department, police said at 10:16 a.m. The FCPD had described the suspect as a Black man dressed in a black sweater and jeans.
“Preliminarily, this incident appears to be domestic-related,” the FCPD said.
This is the second shooting reported along the Richmond Highway corridor within the past day.
One person was hospitalized with injuries not considered life-threatening after a shooting in Groveton yesterday afternoon (Monday). A search for the suspect remains ongoing.
Officers are in the 8400 blk of Blankenship St in Mt. Vernon for a shooting. Preliminarily, a woman was shot & taken to the hospital with injuries considered life threatening. The suspect is described as a tall Black man, black sweater & jeans. call 911 w/info. #FCPD pic.twitter.com/XqFbDAklMZ
— Fairfax County Police (@FairfaxCountyPD) February 7, 2023
Photo via FCPD/Facebook
A dog was chained up and shot this morning in the residential neighborhood behind the Woodlawn Shopping Center in Mount Vernon, police say.
Officers responded to the area of Bedford Terrace and Beekman Place at 3:35 a.m. after getting a call that there was a dog chained to a fence, according to the Fairfax County Police Department. Upon arriving, they discovered the animal had a gunshot wound.
“The chain was immediately removed, and the dog was taken to a nearby veterinarian’s office. The dog remains with the veterinarian receiving further care,” the FCPD said in a news release published this afternoon.
Police later determined that a community member had called earlier in the evening “after hearing a dog barking and a single gunshot,” the department said, adding that officers had searched the area but “did not find anything suspicious.”
The FCPD is now on the lookout for the owner of the dog, which is believed to be an adult, male Staffordshire terrier.
Police are asking residents in the neighborhood to review any surveillance footage they might have from last night. The department’s Animal Protection Police can be contacted at email@example.com.
The FCPD also accepts anonymous tips through Crime Solvers by phone (1-866-411-TIPS) and online.
The Mount Vernon RECenter is closing at the end of the month for a two-year, $74 million renovation project.
The nearly four-decade-old recreation center right off Belle View Blvd is set to close at 4 p.m. on Dec. 31 to allow for a massive expansion and renovation.
The plan is to add about 75,000 square feet to the rec center, which is set to include a two-story fitness center, building upgrades, an indoor track, a remodeled pool, and a second “NHL-sized” ice rink. The project is expected to take two years, with a reopening scheduled for the early part of 2025.
The Fairfax County Park Authority’s board officially approved the upgrades to its “oldest and most popular” facility back in March.
The recreation center, which opened in 1974, has had a myriad of problems in recent years, requiring workarounds and hundreds of thousands of dollars in short-term fixes. That includes renting ice chillers and dehumidification systems as well as fixing a failing roof.
While closing the entire facility for two years was a “tough” decision, it was the best option of several the county considered, FCPA director Jai Cole said in a press release:
The decision to close the entire facility for two years was a tough one; but it is the best option when it comes to delivering the most desirable outcome and limiting the impact of the closure on our customers. We have worked very hard to create a schedule that has enabled the facility to remain open for as long as possible prior to construction and to condense the closure period as much. While we understand that the temporary closing is challenging, we very much look forward to delivering a top-notch, state-of-the-art facility that will serve this community well into the future.
The total project is set to cost just over $74.4 million, an 83% increase over the proposed 2021 budget. Last year, county officials set the budget at $40.7 million, but it became clear that number was unrealistic.
According to a May 2022 presentation, bids came in much higher due to supply chain delays, building infrastructure challenges, and “complex construction phasing with market uncertainty.”
Even in the six months since then, the budget has risen again by another $7 million.
“The total project budget is $74,431,381 — an increase of $33.73 million over the original 2021 budget,” FCPA spokesperson Ben Boxer wrote FFXnow in an email. “The cost increase has been driven by ongoing supply chain challenges and inflation. The cost increase is consistent with construction cost increases across the board on all projects.”
The 24-month closing of the facility is also expected to cost the county $1.3 million in revenue.
The additional money needed for the project will come from a reallocation of other bond funds that had been marked for other projects as well as $25 million from American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) that was provided to the county, per Boxer.
Residents who have countywide rec center memberships will be able to use it to access the county’s eight other eight centers. The George Washington Rec Center near Mount Vernon High School will expand its hours on Jan. 2, 2023 to accommodate the closure of the Mount Vernon center.