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Morning Notes

Sunlight shines through trees in Reston (photo by Terry Baranski)

D.C. Area Sees Rise in Teacher Resignations –“Resignations spiked enormously at the end of the 2021-2022 academic year in D.C. Public Schools and in several Northern Virginia districts, including Fairfax County…Educators say the reasons for resigning vary. But some cite the difficulty teachers faced readjusting students, many of whom had grown accustomed to pandemic-era remote education, to in-classroom learning this past year.” [The Washington Post]

Police Chief Addresses Gun-Pointing Incident — The Fairfax County Police Department released body camera footage on Friday (July 15) of officers pointing their guns at a person who was filming them outside a West Falls Church IHOP. Chief Kevin Davis said he understands “the anxiety that folks in the community have after seeing this video go viral” but defended the officers’ actions. [WTOP]

Fairfax County Among Wealthiest Counties in U.S. — “A five-year survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau looked at median household income to determine the wealthiest counties in the country…With a median household income of $127,866, Fairfax County arrives on the list at number five.” [Northern Virginia Magazine]

Staffing Challenges Affect County Trash Pickups — “Fairfax County residents have been experiencing trash pickup delays for several months, but Dave Lyons, director of the Fairfax Workers Coalition, said he wants them to know that’s not only because of the pandemic or the strained labor market.” [Fairfax County Times]

Vienna Resident Says No to Leaf Blowers — “Vienna could be more pleasant, family friendly and healthier if the town banned the use of cosmetic lawn chemicals and noisy gas-powered leaf blowers, resident Avril Garland told the Town Council July 11. Both of those policies already have been implemented in Montgomery County, Md., said Garland” [Sun Gazette]

Vienna Considers Removing Church Spire — “Church steeples add interest and variety to Vienna’s skyline, but the one at the former Faith Baptist Church likely will be coming down. The Vienna Town Council at its Aug. 29 meeting will consider a proposal to remove the spire at the former church.” [Sun Gazette]

Reston Woman Made Disguises for CIA — “A 27-year veteran of the U.S. intelligence community, [Jonna] Mendez unmasks the secrets of how she helped transform the CIA in her new memoir, titled ‘In True Face,’ available early next year. Mendez, now 77, developed shockingly realistic methods for instantly changing appearances, carrying concealed cameras, and protecting operatives in the field.” [Northern Virginia Magazine]

School Board Selects New Chair — “The Fairfax County School Board has elected Rachna Sizemore Heizer (Member-at-Large) as chair and Tamara Derenak Kaufax (Franconia District Representative) as vice chair for a one-year term. The chair and vice chair assumed office at the July 14 School Board meeting” [FCPS]

Huntington Affordable Housing Apartments Now Leasing — “The Arden — a 126-unit affordable housing community developed, owned, and operated by Wesley Housing — is nearing completion and leasing activities have just begun! Apartment homes at The Arden will be available for applicants earning between 40 and 80 percent of the Area Median Income.” [Housing and Community Development]

See Fairfax County Police Officers Rescue Man From Smoke — “Our officers do amazing work every day. Watch as two officers from our Franconia District Station save a man trapped in a smoked-filled apartment.” [FCPD/Twitter]

It’s Monday — Rain in the evening. High of 85 and low of 74. Sunrise at 5:59 am and sunset at 8:33 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Closed sign (via Tim Mossholder/Unsplash)

(Updated at 5:30 p.m.) Juneteenth will be celebrated across Fairfax County and the nation Sunday and Monday this year.

Last year, President Joe Biden signed into law Juneteenth, June 19, as a federal holiday. This year, the holiday will be observed on Monday (June 20).

The date has been commemorated to mark the end of slavery, recognizing that on June 19, 1865, news that the Civil War was over and the enslaved were now free reached Galveston, Texas.

It has been celebrated since but only became a federal holiday last year. See a listing below of what will be open and closed in Fairfax County on Sunday and Monday.

Government

Fairfax County government offices will be closed Monday (June 20) in recognition of the Juneteenth holiday, but some facilities are open and schedules vary. Fairfax County Public Schools will also observe the holiday Monday for all personnel.

The library system’s branches will be closed on Sunday and Monday. Animal Control will still have its regular Sunday hours, and is closed, as it normally is, on Mondays.

The Circuit and District courts will be closed Monday.

The Town of Herndon offices will be closed Monday.

Parks Authority

All Parks Authority rec centers, nature centers, historic sites, visitor centers and the Green Spring Gardens Horticultural Center will be open Sunday. The Green Spring Gardens Historic House will be closed. But on Monday, the historic sites — Colvin Run Mill and Sully Historic Site — will be closed.

All Neighborhood and Community Service facilities will be closed Saturday (June 18) through Monday. Reston Community Center Hunter Woods and Lake Anne will be open Monday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Herndon Community Center will be closed Monday. But Herndon Centennial Golf Course will be open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m., weather permitting.

Transportation

Fairfax Connector will operate on a holiday weekday service schedule on Monday. Its stores and customer service center will be closed. Human Services Transportation (FASTRAN) will not operate on Monday.

On Monday, Metro will operate buses on a Saturday supplemental schedule, but trains will run from 5 a.m. to midnight, following a “normal” schedule aside from the ongoing closure of certain Orange Line stations due to platform work, according to a news release.

Trash

The county advises residents to contact their trash and recycling collector directly for service schedule changes due to the holiday.

The I-66 Transfer Station and I-95 Landfill Complex will be open for their normal hours.

Town of Herndon recycling will be collected Tuesday (June 21) since it is normally collected Monday.

Photo via Tim Mossholder/Unsplash

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A refuse truck picks up trash (via Fairfax County)

More trash service is being disrupted by staffing issues in the industry.

Starting April 18, American Disposal Services will reduce pickups from twice a week to once a week across Fairfax County amid ongoing labor issues that have hit the industry during the pandemic, a customer representative for the private hauler confirmed.

The company merged with Waste Connections in 2018, a Houston-headquartered publicly traded company that had revenue in 2021 of nearly $6.2 billion, an increase of around 13% from its total of nearly $5.5 billion in 2020. Revenue in 2019 was $5.4 billion.

Competition for workers with other delivery services, such as Amazon, have meant disruptions in service across the country.

American Disposal Services says on its website that it currently has openings for drivers, mechanics, customer service, and more.

A search with Waste Connections’ career section showed 21 openings in Virginia and 865 vacancies across the U.S. and Canada.

While American Disposal Services did not provide data on how many customers it has in Fairfax County, about 90% of residents and business get trash and recycling collection services through a private company, according to the county.

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Garbage along Electronic Drive on Feb. 21 in Springfield (photo by David Taube)

One Springfield resident so fed up with people dumping trash along streets has taken her concerns to not only public officials but TikTok.

Nicole Miller said she reached out to Fairfax County for problem areas after seeing bags of trash in one area and another spot with a TV and chair there. While the Virginia Department of Transportation has cleaned up areas, Miller suggests it’s a recurring issue.

Photos shared on social media by Miller and other residents show the matter goes beyond plastic bags and litter often seen along highways. One person posted photos of a mattress and box springs tossed out in Herndon’s Chandon Park where there’s a “no dumping” sign.

Miller has posted TikTok videos throughout 2021 and 2022 about the problems she’s seen.

“This has been happening for almost a year,” she told FFXnow by email.

@topgunkittys

♬ Thunderstruck – AC/DC

Virginia law prohibits dumping of trash along roads, making it an arrestable offense that can involve up to a year in jail and a $500-$2,500 fine. Perhaps fittingly, a court can order a defendant to perform 10 or more hours of community service in cleaning up litter.

While the county maintains resources about littering and Miller reached out to the local government for help, she was referred to VDOT.

“We do receive complaints via phone and Trashmail for illegally dumped debris,” Fairfax County spokesperson Sharon North said in a statement. “However, we are unable to resolve complaints when they are left roadside as VDOT maintains the public roads or VDOT maintained roads, and coordinates clean-up. When these complaints are received, they are referred to VDOT.”

Customers can report complaints for debris left roadside to VDOT by calling 800-367-7623 or filing the matter at my.vdot.virginia.gov, where there’s an online form.

However, Miller says that it can sometimes take weeks of begging VDOT to get issues addressed.

When asked about Miller’s concerns, VDOT explained the process for filing a complaint but did not answer questions about its customer service and response times.

At one location on Electronic Drive in Springfield, Miller says the spot keeps growing. “They clean it,” she wrote of VDOT, adding that “someone else dumps it.”

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A refuse truck responds to trash pick (via Fairfax County)

Yard waste is piling up in Fairfax County, as a nationwide labor shortage in the hauling services industry has triggered collection delays that could potentially last weeks.

The Fairfax County Department of Public Works and Environmental Services has made some temporary changes to its practices after recently warning customers, who make up about 10% of residents and businesses, to expect delays for the next several weeks.

“There is a tremendous amount of competition for drivers, which has an impact on our ability to recruit and retain,” DPWES spokesperson Sharon North said in an email. “Since COVID-19, the home delivery business has skyrocketed, often providing more attractive and lucrative trucking jobs in the private sector.”

Now, the county says it will allow solid waste service providers — both public and private — to collect trash and yard waste together if they are experiencing labor shortages that prevent them from completing routes in a timely manner.

“This temporary allowance can be used by both private haulers and county collective service providers if they choose based on their staff resources,” the county said in an announcement on Wednesday (Sept. 1).

The changes took effect last Tuesday (Aug. 31). The county also said it will review a requirement in mid-October that prevents combining recycling and yard waste hauling.

“[The] staffing shortages in the Solid Waste industry are happening in many municipalities across the country, not just in Fairfax County,” North wrote. “Even private solid waste/recycling haulers are struggling during these times.”

As of Friday (Sept. 3), the county had 13 vacancies for maintenance workers, heavy and motor equipment operators, and lead refuse operators. Hourly pay for positions with regular benefits ranges from $18.10 on average for regular maintenance workers to $29.95 on average for lead refuse operators.

North said in an Aug. 30 email that the county’s trash and recycling services have not been affected by the delays.

County collection customers are primarily located along the eastern border of Fairfax County. Most other residents and businesses receive hauling services from private companies.

Yard waste and trash will still end up in their same, separate downstream destinations.

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