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A food donation drive is set for tomorrow at a Reston church (via Aaron Doucett/Unsplash)

A team of nonprofit organizations and a major, Reston-based company are partnering to bring food and other essentials to 400 families tomorrow (Thursday).

The tuna manufacturer StarKist Co., which recently relocated its headquarters to Reston Town Center, is working with Feed the Children and Cornerstones on a food drive from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at St. John Neumann Catholic Community (11900 Lawyers Road) in Reston.

Families will receive a 25-pound box of food, a 15-pound box of hygiene essentials, a box of Avon products, Disney storybooks and other items.

Starkist president Andrew Choo said the company looks forward to beginning an alliance with Cornerstones, which he called an “extraordinary organization” that has been serving Northern Virginia for more than 50 years.

“There will be more empty plates this summer season than ever before, and it is estimated that one in four children will be food insecure,” Choo said in a news release. “We believe that no child should go hungry in this country, and we are aware that the need is great.”

Cornerstones CEO Kerrie Wilson said that the lingering impacts of the pandemic, including the rising cost of groceries and gas, have lead to more insecurity for families.

“For our June Food Pantry Distribution event, we are proud to partner with StarKist and Feed the Children to help stabilize people living in crisis today,” Wilson said in a statement. “Their commitment to community engagement and volunteerism plays an essential role in helping Cornerstones ensure the economic and health stability, equity, and resiliency of Northern Virginia.”

Cornerstones’ food pantry has already seen a growing number of people in need of services.

“Having served 1,347 households with 10,480 bags of food/toiletries, benefiting close to 5,000 people in FY21 (an average of 450+ households per month), Cornerstones anticipates even more people — particularly low to moderate-income families with children and seniors — will seek food pantry assistance,” wrote Margaret Anne Lara, the organization’s vice president of marketing and communications.

During the pandemic, the number of food-insecure residents has doubled in Fairfax County, which houses the largest number of food-insecure residents in Virginia.

Tomorrow’s event will include remarks by local elected officials and community representatives, including Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn and Victor Hoskins, president and CEO of the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority.

Photo via Aaron Doucett/Unsplash

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A kid gets their first COVID-19 vaccine shot at the Fairfax County Government Center’s clinic (courtesy Fairfax County Health Department)

(Updated at 3:05 p.m.) The Fairfax County Government Center’s COVID-19 vaccine site has reached capacity for the day, as families across Northern Virginia rush to get their youngest kids inoculated.

The Fairfax County Health Department announced just before noon that it’s no longer accepting new appointments at the government center today (Wednesday), citing the high demand.

The county was among just a handful of places in Northern Virginia to make the newly authorized vaccines for kids under 5 available as soon as yesterday (Tuesday), according to FCHD spokesperson Lucy Caldwell.

Neighboring Arlington County, for example, only made them available today and is requiring scheduled appointments.

“We are delighted with the demand we’ve seen so far,” Caldwell told FFXnow, noting that the government center has been “very popular” over the past two days. “Our county health department staff have planned for this for months.”

With the health department’s current staffing levels, the government center has the capacity to administer 500 to 600 shots per day.

The county is also offering both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines for young kids at its South County Government Center clinic (8350 Richmond Highway). Walk-ins at both sites are welcome, but FCHD warns that it is seeing long wait times for walk-in service.

In general, COVID-19 vaccine appointments can be scheduled through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Vaccine Administration Management System, but federal staff have run into some issues with updating the system to reflect the latest expansion of eligibility, according to FCHD.

“We are waiting for those updates to be made and have been told they will be in place this evening,” Caldwell said.

The Food and Drug Administration and CDC gave their support to Moderna and Pfizer’s Covid vaccines for kids as young as 6 months of age last week, opening eligibility for vaccination up to nearly 69,000 more Fairfax Health District residents.

The Moderna vaccine is for kids up to 6 years old and requires two doses spaced four to eight weeks apart. Pfizer’s three-dose regimen is targeted toward kids up to 5 years old.

While the shots are also being delivered to pediatric offices, private medical providers, and some retail pharmacies, Caldwell says the county health department clinics have seen many people who got put on their pediatrician’s waitlist “but tell us they do not want to wait.”

Anecdotally, the government center has also gotten visitors from across Northern Virginia, not just the Fairfax Health District, which covers the county and the cities of Fairfax and Falls Church.

“They are telling us that they are eager and ready to vaccinate their little ones now and they’ve been waiting long enough,” Caldwell said.

According to FCHD data updated at 10:30 a.m., 996,500 Fairfax Health District residents, or 84.2% of the population, have gotten at least one COVID-19 vaccine shot, including 92.9% of adults.

While the dashboard doesn’t yet include data for kids under 5, the county health department says its two sites delivered shots to 338 children between 6 months and 5 years of age yesterday. The clinics also administered primary or booster doses to 99 adults.

“Today, as of 2:45, we have done 323 children between 6 months and 5 years already,” Caldwell told FFXnow, noting that an additional 80 adults received primary series and booster shots.

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A vacant bank at Reston’s South Lakes Village Shopping Center could become a new fast food restaurant (via Google Maps)

A new future could be in store for a drive-in bank at South Lakes Village Center in Reston.

The owner of the nearly 10-acre retail center is seeking the county’s permission to convert a drive-thru bank on the property into a drive-thru fast food restaurant, according to a June 15 application.

“By converting this site into a fast-food restaurant, the applicant seeks to maintain the structure of the building and ensure that the building remains a vital component of the South Lakes Village Center,” the application says.

But the application does not disclose the future tenant, which would be located at 11120 South Lakes Drive. Materials simply note that the existing building will “support a new restaurant tenant while carefully fitting into the surrounding context of the existing South Lakes Village Center.”

The 1,675-square-foot-space was previously occupied by a drive-thru bank. The interior of the space will be repurposed for restaurant use, but the tenant will use most of the previous bank’s sidewalks, landscaping, utilities, drive-thru and parking areas.

South Lakes Village Center and the Chevy Chase Land Company did not return a request for comment from FFXnow. The center is anchored by Safeway and includes tenants like Starbucks, Chipotle, Red’s Table, Custom Ink and Truist.

Photo via Google Maps

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A Fairfax Connector bus leaves the Dunn Loring Metro station (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Fairfax Connector is set to start its electric bus pilot program by the end of the year.

The county-run bus service plans to introduce eight electric buses by December, according to a presentation to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors’ transportation committee last week.

Phase one of the pilot program will run out of the West Ox bus division, which serves routes in the western and central portion of the county. Initially, electric buses will be tested on four routes. Phase two is expected to begin in 2023 and will include four additional buses on routes in the southern portion of the county.

No exact timetable was given for how long the pilot program is anticipated to last, but it will likely follow other neighboring localities and run about two years.

Planned routes for the Fairfax Connector electric bus pilot (via Fairfax County)

The hope is to transition the entire Fairfax Connector fleet to 100% zero emission buses by 2035. This deadline is based on the county’s established goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2040.

Staff identified several challenges that they will closely monitor, including ensuring there’s no reduction in service as a result of the transition. Several supervisors noted during the meeting that slower service, a reduction of routes, or constant maintenance taking buses offline could lead to fewer riders.

There are also technology limits to consider and whether the electrical grid will meet the energy requirements needed for large bus fleets.

According to the county’s Chief of Transit Dwayne Pelfrey, two thirds of current Fairfax Connector routes exceed the battery capability of electric buses. Coupled with potential issues with cold weather and hills, like Alexandria experienced late last year, electric buses may not completely meet the needs of the Fairfax Connector just yet.

That, in turn, could push potential riders back to single-occupancy vehicles, negating the emission reductions that many hope electric buses will provide.

Pelfrey also noted that obtaining buses has been increasingly difficult between supply chain issues and manufacturers not being ready to “pivot” to producing electric vehicles.

The used bus market is difficult to navigate as well, though the county did purchase 10 used buses out of North Carolina that will be transitioning to electric and 12 hybrid buses from WMATA.

A rendering of what a Fairfax Connector electric bus might look like (via Fairfax County)

Considering the county’s goals and the current price of gasoline, though, staff and board members believe the issues are worth navigating. While capital and infrastructure costs may be higher for electric buses, fuel and maintenance costs would be significantly lower over a 12-year period, according to a graph presented by staff.

The county is also exploring using hydrogen as fuel, but that technology remains expensive and more costly than electricity.

The county has already started creating infrastructure in preparation for the pilot to begin in about six months. Electric chargers arrived in April and are currently being installed, a process expected to be completed within the month.

“We are just doing simply plug-in chargers,” Pelfrey said. “When we transition full garages…we will have to do something much, much more complicated from a construction and power standpoint.”

The county’s electric buses are expected to start being manufactured late next month, received by October, and put on the road by December.

Fairfax Connector is the largest bus system in Virginia with a fleet of more than 300 buses providing nearly 18,000 rides a day.

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Morning Notes

Relaxing in Penny Lane Park at the Mosaic District (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

County Police and Fire Training Exercise Today — “#FCFRD is conducting a joint training exercise with Fairfax County Police Department at Fairfax County Government Government Center on Wednesday, June 22, between 9 a.m. -3 p.m. There will be a large fire and police presence in the area during this time. #FCPD Helicopter Fairfax 1 will land/take off during the exercise.” [FCFRD/Facebook]

Rep. Beyer Wins Democratic Primary — Rep. Don Beyer’s bid for reelection remains alive after he won the Democratic nomination for the 8th Congressional District yesterday (Tuesday). Per the Office of Elections, Fairfax County’s turnout reached an estimated 2.5%, as of 3:30 p.m., not including early and absentee voters. [WTOP, Twitter]

Health Aide Under Investigation for Stealing Student Meds — Fairfax County police are investigating a health aide who allegedly took student medications and replaced them with allergy medicine while employed at Greenbriar East Elementary School. The Fairfax County Health Department worker has been placed on administrative leave and could be terminated. [FOX5]

New FCPS Cell Phone Policy Approved — “The policy taking effect in the 2022-2023 school year says students in kindergarten through eighth grade must silence cell phones and put them away for the entire school day. Students in grades nine to 12 must only silence and put away cell phones during classes.” [Patch]

Reduced Charges Possible for Former Freedom Hill ES Workers — “A former teacher and teacher’s aide in Fairfax County, Virginia, accused of abusing non-verbal disabled children entered plea agreements on [June 13] that would result in reduced charges and no jail time.” [NBC4]

Alexandria Man Charged in Springfield Shooting — A 24-year-old Alexandria man got into an argument with the acquaintance in the 2600 block of Redcoat Drive on Sunday (June 19) night around 11 p.m. inside an apartment before police say he shot the person in the upper body and fled. Fairfax County police told FFXnow the victim was taken to a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. Officers located the suspect, who they identified of Antwan Pratt, and arrested him nearby, charging him with aggravated malicious wounding and the use of a firearm in the commission of a felony.

Kingstowne House Fire Started by Rags — Two people were displaced on Friday (June 17) by a house fire in the 7800 block of Kincardine Court that caused approximately $90,000 in damages. Investigators determined the blaze started in a first-floor laundry/utility room due to “the improper disposal of rags used for staining wood.” [FCFRD]

Retired Police Dog Dies — “We’re saddened to announce the passing of retired K9 Comak on Saturday. Comak served the Fairfax County community as a patrol dog from 2010 until he retired in 2019. Upon completion of his service, Comak was a beloved member of his handler’s family.” [FCPD/Facebook]

Shared-Use Path Proposed in Centreville — “The Virginia Department of Transportation will hold a virtual design public hearing Monday, June 27 on plans to build a shared-use path along Compton Road (Route 658) to improve bicyclist and pedestrian safety, accessibility and connectivity to the Cub Run Trail system…The project also includes widening the Compton Road bridge over Cub Run to accommodate the new shared-use path.” [VDOT]

McLean HS Runner Wins State Title — “By finishing first in the girls 1,600-meter race in 4:54.92, McLean High School distance runner Thais Rolly was the lone local winner from schools in the Sun Gazette’s coverage area at the recent Virginia High School League’s Class 6 girls and boys outdoor state championship meets.” [Sun Gazette/Inside NoVA]

It’s Wednesday — Rain in the evening and overnight. High of 85 and low of 70. Sunrise at 5:45 am and sunset at 8:39 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Artist Hamilton Glass created the mural at Dogwood Elementary School in late May (via Reston Association/YouTube)

Richmond-based artist Hamilton Glass has brought a lively display of his mission for community change and social justice to the external walls of Dogwood Elementary School.

The bright outdoor mural depicts the school’s motto — Peace, Equity, Access and Connection (PEACE) — in colorful letters and designs next to the school’s kiss and ride lane.

The project was born out of an activity during the pandemic two years ago when students worked on a collaborative artwork designed by Glass during distance learning.

“Students each received a small section of the design by snail mail at home and after it was colored in, it was pieced together into a cohesive image,” Andy Siegel, the school’s family and community liaison, wrote in a statement to FFXnow. “The students so connected with the project that in 2022, we commissioned the artist to re-work the design to fit an exterior brick wall so the entire Reston community could enjoy the artwork — and the message.”

Glass, a mural artist, worked in the architecture field for seven years, after which he moved into a career as an artist. His work is inspired by messages related to the community in which the artwork lives. It’s characterized by bright vivid colors and sharp lines. He graduated from Hampton University  in 2005.

He created the mural at the school’s first multicultural festival on May 25. Reston Association recently featured his work in a Reston Today video.

The project was developed with support from Reston Community Center and Public Art Reston.

Photo via Reston Association/YouTube

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Fairfax County nurse holds a dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Roughly 18 months after COVID-19 vaccines first rolled out to Fairfax County, toddlers and infants can finally get in on the action.

As of noon today (Tuesday), vaccines from both Moderna and Pfizer are available for kids under 5 at the Fairfax County Government Center (12000 Government Center Parkway) and South County Hyland Center (8350 Richmond Highway), no appointment necessary, the Fairfax County Health Department announced.

The long-awaited vaccines were authorized by the Food and Drug Administration on Friday (June 17) and got the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s support a day later.

The recommendation expanded eligibility for vaccination to about 68,984 kids in the Fairfax Health District, which includes the cities of Fairfax and Falls Church, the county health department told FFXnow last week.

“This is an important milestone in the pandemic as it is the first time that everyone in our community, ages 6 months and older, is eligible to be protected with life-saving vaccines,” Fairfax County Health Director Dr. Gloria Addo-Ayensu said in a statement. “Vaccinating babies, toddlers and young children will provide protection from the most severe outcomes of COVID-19.”

The new pediatric vaccines are administered in smaller doses than those given to adults.

Targeted at kids under 5, the Pfizer vaccine is about a tenth of an adult dose and requires three shots, with the second coming three to eight weeks after the first one and a two-month gap before the third shot. The Moderna vaccine is for kids under 6, about a quarter the size of an adult dose, and only needs two shots delivered four to eight weeks apart.

In addition to the county health department sites, the vaccines may be available from private pediatricians and medical providers as well as retail pharmacies, though state law prohibits the latter from administering shots to people younger than 3.

Fairfax Health District COVID-19 cases over the past 26 weeks, as of June 21, 2022 (via VDH)

Vaccine Finder doesn’t list any sites in Northern Virginia with the new vaccines, but Walgreens announced on Saturday (June 18) that it will have vaccines for kids 3 and older at select locations around the country. The company encourages parents and guardians to make appointments in advance.

CVS says the Pfizer vaccine is available for kids 18 months and older at all of its more than 1,100 Minute Clinic locations in the U.S. Read More

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Supporting autistic adults

Holding hands

We are a nonprofit devoted to assisting independent autistic adults with various forms of support. With the benefit of donations and corporate sponsors, we are offering socialization training to a select group of ASD adults.

Guidance Resources for Independent People — GRIP is certified by UCLA to provide this special socialization education (PEERS). ASD adults frequently struggle with social deficits such as; social isolation, cultivating friendships, communication, work related interaction, romance, and over-dependence on caregivers.

We are here to help!

If you or someone you know would benefit from this training, please contact us using the post form!

Based on the your response, we will determine the amount of interest, number of selected candidates, an appropriate location venue, dates, times and options for virtual participation. GRIP also offers private training to those who find that more facilitating.

Explore www.GRIP.charity for more information.

Please visit our YouTube channel to watch and listen to our amazing videos. Take a moment and experience the first autism song.

GRIP is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit incorporated in Virginia. Email support@GRIP.charity or call 703-375-9930. 

Clyde’s of Reston closed in May (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

The now-vacant shell of Clyde’s of Reston — which closed last month after more than three decades of business in Reston’s urban heart — will soon be filled by a new wine-focused restaurant.

According to a report by the Washington Business Journal, the Dallas-based restaurant Sixty Vines has signed a deal with Boston Properties for roughly 10,000 square feet of space at 11905 Market Street.

Other restaurants that are planned in Reston Town Center include Fogo de Chão and Open Road Distillery.

WBJ reports that the restaurant will have indoor and outdoor seating that overlooks the Fountain Square Pavilion, which is currently undergoing a major makeover.

Here’s more from the report:

Sixty Vines emerged as the best fit for the prominent Reston Town Center space through a larger, nationwide search, according to Jake Stroman, executive vice president and co-head of the D.C. region for Boston Properties. The restaurant will have indoor and outdoor seating looking out toward the Fountain Square Pavilion, which is part of a larger makeover of the town center’s common areas. The restaurant’s concept, which features small plates, great wines and communal seating, was part of the appeal, he said.

“Sixty Vines is kind of integral to that placemaking effort,” Stroman said. “We view that space as the best restaurant space in all of Northern Virginia, so we wanted to come up with a really great concept that was new to market and just brought a lot of energy to the area.”

Sixty Vines is housed under the FB Society, a hospitality group that rebranded in December 2020. It plans to promote its Whiskey Cake and Sixty Vines concepts to new markets, including Reston.

A spokesperson for Clyde’s of Reston told FFXnow that a lease for a new space in Reston will be announced soon, but no information was immediately available for publication. One of the town center’s first tenants, the restaurant closed on May 21 after 31 years of business.

Sixty Vines currently only has locations in Tennessee, Texas and Florida. Its menu — which is centered around wines — includes pizza, pasta, shared plates, cocktails, desserts and wines. Other locations serve breakfast, lunch and dinner.

The concept is broadly marketed as cuisine with a focus on “wine culture,” according to its website.

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Morning Notes

Gum Springs celebrates Juneteenth with a Community Day on June 18 (staff photo by Matt Blitz)

Fairfax County Holds Primary Today — It’s primary day for voters in the 8th Congressional District, which now includes McLean, Bailey’s Crossroads, Annandale, and the Route 1 corridor in Fairfax County. With the Republican nominee already set, there is only a Democratic contest between incumbent Rep. Don Beyer and challenger Victoria Virasingh. [Fairfax County Office of Elections]

Man Dies in Oakton Crash — An 18-year-old driver died on Sunday (June 19) after losing control of his car while driving south on Fox Mill Road and hitting a tree near Bronzedale Drive. A juvenile passenger was taken to the hospital with injuries not considered life-threatening. Detectives believe speed was a factor in the crash, which resulted in the fifth non-pedestrian fatality of the year. [FCPD]

Drowned Man Remains Hospitalized — A 29-year-old man who drowned while swimming in Difficult Run Stream in McLean on Sunday is still in life-threatening condition. According to police, the man became submerged and was pulled out of the water by friends when he didn’t resurface. Fire and Rescue personnel found him about a quarter mile away from Georgetown Pike on a nearby trail. [FCPD]

Report Finds Discrimination by Housing Providers — “A fair housing test conducted by The Fairfax County Office of Human Rights, in partnership with The Equal Rights Center, showed ‘discernable differences’ between housing providers’ treatment of white and minority testers. The results also showed that ‘certain housing providers lack the training to provide the same level of treatment to Deaf individuals as they do to hearing individuals.'” [Inside NoVA]

Tysons West Vehicle Pursuit Leads to Arrest — A male juvenile allegedly “verbally threatened the victim” in the 1500 block of Cornerside Blvd on Jun 12. The juvenile attempted to drive away, striking two vehicles, before an officer stopped him using the controversial precision immobilization technique. The juvenile was arrested, and two people were treated for non-life-threatening injuries. [FCPD]

Springfield Trader Joe’s Looking to Move — Trader Joe’s is in talks to take over the roughly 24,000-square-foot Whole Foods Market at Old Keene Mill Shopping Center, suggesting that the new Whole Foods under construction at Springfield Plaza will be a relocation. The space would be larger than Trader Joe’s current 10,673-square-foot store next to the new Giant in Springfield Plaza. [Washington Business Journal]

Bank Plans Relocation From Herndon to Tysons — Part of a larger branding overhaul, Forbright Bank is moving its Herndon branch at 150 Elden Street to 1600 Tysons Blvd., a 13-story office building adjacent to Tysons Galleria. The Herndon location is the company’s only Virginia location among five branches in the region. [Washington Business Journal]

Fairfax County Police Helicopter Appears at Smithsonian Event — “Saturday, our helicopter was on display at the National Air & Space Museum’s Annual Innovations in Flight Event. 50+ aircraft fly in from around the region for this special day. Pilots Mountjoy & Edgerton greeted community members as they got a glimpse into Fairfax 1.” [FCPD/Twitter]

County Partners on Older Adult Activities — “Arlington County, Fairfax County, Prince William County, the Town of Vienna, and ServiceSource Inc. host live virtual programming on Zoom five days a week. The events range from fitness classes to special presentations to interactive games. This resource is free and all older adults and adults with disabilities who live in Northern Virginia are welcome to use it.” [Neighborhood and Community Services]

It’s Tuesday — Mostly cloudy throughout the day. High of 81 and low of 68. Sunrise at 5:45 am and sunset at 8:39 pm. [Weather.gov]

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