Tysons, VA

After a year off due to COVID-19, ViVa Vienna is coming back — but planners warned that it will still be a little different than past years as pandemic precautions linger.

ViVa Vienna, a festival hosted by the Rotary Club of Vienna, is still scheduled to host around 550 visitors and 160 vendors. But planner AJ Oskuie said at a Vienna Town Council meeting last night (Monday) that the Rotary Club is trying to keep awareness of the festival fairly low-key.

“We’re not advertising beyond Vienna,” Oskuie said. “We want it to be Vienna-centric.”

There was previously some discussion about postponing the festival, which is typically held on Memorial Day weekend, depending on the state of the pandemic and Virginia’s COVID-19 rules on crowd sizes, but the event now appears to be scheduled for May 29-31, according to its website.

Given that the pandemic has left some folks a little stir crazy and hungry for public events, Oskuie told the town council on Monday that the Rotary Club is trying to prevent folks from swarming the event.

“Information is key to this,” Oskuie said. “Trying to get in front of this to create awareness so we don’t have issues, particularly on the safety end. We don’t want people showing up, bottlenecking, trying to get into the rides. That’s probably our biggest point of concern right now.”

This year, Oskuie said most of the acts lined up will be children and family-friendly. Vendors will also be set up with social distancing in mind, providing at least 10 feet of space between tents to give folks space to pass each other. The food court that’s accompanied the festival in the past will also be absent this year.

“We’re pleased with where Rotary has gone with this,” Vienna Parks and Recreation Director Leslie Herman said. “We’re confident this event can be held safely.”

Photo via ViVa Vienna/Facebook

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(Updated at 2:10 p.m.) Fairfax County will not be administering any Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccines “until further notice,” following the advice by Virginia and the federal government.

“While this action limits the amount of available vaccine, its impact on the Fairfax Health District is minimal since the Fairfax County Health Department and its partners have primarily been using Pfizer vaccine for the past several months,” the county health department wrote in a blog post.

The county health department says this latest setback does not affect any of its clinics or appointments, and the “small amount” of the J&J vaccine that was being used will be substituted with the other vaccines.

“Fairfax County did not receive any J&J vaccine this week, and we were not expecting any next week. A small amount of J&J vaccine remaining from last week and allocated for this week will be substituted with Pfizer and Moderna vaccines to avoid any cancellations at our Health Department sites,” the county said.

They also advise those who did receive the J&J vaccine to contact their health provider if they develop a severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain or shortness of breath within three weeks after vaccination.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration recommended this morning (Tuesday) that use of the J&J vaccine be paused while they review reports that six recipients, all women, developed a rare disorder involving blood clots after taking the vaccine.

In total, more than 6.8 million doses of the vaccine has been administered across the country, and the FDA is classifying the adverse, though dangerous, reactions as “extremely rare.”

The CDC and FDA say their recommendation comes “out of abundance of caution” so that further review and study can be done.

Gov. Ralph Northam announced just before 9 a.m. that Virginia would follow the federal government’s guidance and temporarily pause its use of the J&J vaccine until an investigation is complete.

“This pause is reassuring in that it demonstrates that the systems that are in place to monitor vaccine safety are working,” Virginia Vaccination Coordinator Dr. Danny Avula said in a statement. “We look forward to a thorough review by federal health officials.”

Neighboring jurisdictions in the D.C. area, including Arlington, Alexandria, D.C., and counties in Maryland, have all also paused their use of the J&J vaccine.

This is the second snag that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine has hit in the past two weeks after a production mess-up at a Baltimore manufacturing plant contaminated as many as 15 million doses.

As a result, many states, including Virginia, have had their vaccine orders significantly cut. Virginia was expected to receive only about one-tenth of the number of doses of the J&J vaccine this coming week than the previous week.

Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay told Tysons Reporter that the county did not anticipate getting any of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine this week or next week due to that supply shortage.

“The possible side effects of the vaccine are concerning for our national vaccination efforts because they [are] significantly dependent on the Johnson and Johnson vaccine,” McKay said. “At the end of the day however, safety and efficacy is most important and we are lucky we have two great vaccine options still available.

Earlier this month, Fairfax County committed to the same goal as the Commonwealth in having everyone over the age of 16 be eligible for the vaccine starting April 18. However, that was contingent on there being a sufficient supply.

Northam reiterated during a press conference outside Metz Middle School in Manassas, which hosted a vaccination clinic today, that Virginia still hopes that all adults who want to get vaccinated will receive their first dose by the end of May.

“Hopefully, this is just a small setback that we’ll overcome,” Northam said.

Angela Woolsey contributed to this report.

Photo by Karen Bolt/Fairfax County Public Schools

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Pet of the Week: Beau

Tysons’ Pet of the Week is Beau, an energetic pup who loves hiking and playing fetch but also cuddling up on the couch.

Here’s what his friends at Lost Dog and Cat Rescue Foundation have to say about him:

Beau is a 1-year-old Aussie-mix, who had a bit of a rough start to his life and is ready for his loving forever home!

While initially skeptical of some people, Beau opens up quickly over a game of fetch and shows his goofy, playful self. You’re sure to win him over if you can throw the tennis ball for hours! If you’re looking for a high-energy dog to play with and take on hikes that also likes to cuddle with you, this is the one. Beau loves to run and play with you and/or other dogs for hours, but at the end (or the middle) of the day, there’s nothing he wants more than to curl up and cuddle with you!

Beau gets along wonderfully with his foster brother and would be happy to play all day with a resident dog or be your one and only that gets all the love and attention. Beau is looking for an active, adults-only home with a fenced yard and dog experience. He is great with other friendly, playful dogs, but he doesn’t like those pesky smaller creatures like cats or bunnies!

If you’re looking for a smart, active pup that learns quickly and knows basic commands, is house-trained and loves to play (with humans and canines), then Beau would like you to apply to be his best friend!

Are you and Beau the perfect match?

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The ShowPlace ICON Theatre at The Boro is set to reopen on Friday, April 23.

The Tysons theater had its grand opening in February 2020 but closed shortly after due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It reopened in August 2020 with new safety protocols to keep patrons safe, but movie release dates kept getting pushed back.

“That, coupled with mandated operating restrictions, did not make it financially viable to stay open,” ShowPlace ICON Marketing Director Jim Nowicki said.

The theater closed again in September. Now, with the population of vaccinated people increasing and box office numbers growing again, ShowPlace ICON is reopening its doors to the public.

To celebrate the reopening, the theater will be having a “Welcome Back” promotion. Matinees will be $8 per person, and evening shows will be $11 for adults and $8 for seniors, military, students, and children. All food and drinks (excluding alcohol) will be 20% off.

Like last time it reopened, ShowPlace says it is participating in the National Association of Theatre Owners’ CinemaSafe program, which commits theaters to adhering to federal, state, and local health guidelines and implementing “enhanced safety measures,” such as mask requirements, regular cleaning, and staggered showtimes.

ShowPlace will require customers to wear face masks except when in the act of eating or drinking, and guests are encouraged to order tickets and concessions by using the theater’s lobby kiosks or the company’s ICON Extras mobile app.

“We truly believe we have the best moviegoing experience in the market, and now we made it even better for you to come out and enjoy a movie back on the big screen,” Nowicki said.

In addition to starting regular screenings, ShowPlace will have a private screening and gaming program where customers can rent out an auditorium, a concept that has proven popular at other local independent theaters as they adapt to capacity limits.

At ShowPlace, private screenings start at $99 and can accommodate up to 20 people. Customers can screen a movie chosen from a list of current films or plug in a gaming console for up to two-and-a-half hours.

For regular screenings, tickets for Mortal Kombat are already on sale ahead of next week’s reopening. More information on tickets and COVID-19 guidelines can be found on the ShowPlace ICON website.

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The Falls Church City School Board will hear suggested new monikers for two schools during its meeting tonight (Tuesday).

Two committees tasked with renaming George Mason High School and Thomas Jefferson Elementary School have narrowed down hundreds of names to their top five, which were submitted to the school board on Friday (April 9).

The school board voted last December to move forward with a renaming process after hearing from members of the public on both sides of the issue.

“I’m in support of changing the names of our elementary and high schools, because if one student feels uncomfortable walking into a building named for a person who did not respect the dignity of another human being, that’s one too many,” School Board Member Lawrence Webb said in December.

According to the committee’s final report, the top five contenders for the high school are:

  • Meridian High School
  • Metropolitan High School
  • Metro View High School
  • Tinner Hill High School
  • West End High School

Committee members said they considered names that reference places, ideas, or values, as well as “M” names and those with local connections or historical significance. It started with nearly 280 suggested names.

One name with some support that did not make the cut was Falls Church City High School. Falls Church High School already exists in the Fairfax County Public Schools system, though some recent letters to Falls Church News-Press indicate people hold a variety of opinions on which jurisdiction has a real claim to the name.

Meanwhile, Thomas Jefferson Elementary School could be renamed:

  • Mattie Gundry Elementary School
  • Oak Street Elementary Schoo
  • The Little City Elementary School
  • Tripps Run Elementary School
  • Truth and Justice Elementary School

The elementary school was originally a Fairfax County school named Oak Street School. When FCCPS became an independent school division, the name stayed, but when the city’s Jefferson Institute was demolished, the school board voted to adopt Thomas Jefferson’s name.

Tinner Hill and Mattie Gundry are the only suggestions with ties to people, which the committees flagged. FCCPS policy allows facilities to bear the names of people who have been dead at least 10 years, but some committee members say that they — or the people they represent — want to avoid possibly opening the school community up to controversy in the future.

Tinner Hill refers to Charles and Mary Tinner, who established a quarry in the area, and their descendent Joseph, who fought for civil rights and helped found the first rural branch of the NAACP.

“The committee raised concerns that selecting this name may be performative if not coupled with earnest work towards building equity in our schools and our community,” the report said. “Given the historical mistreatment of the Tinner Hill community, it is imperative that this name be considered as one part of a plan that will emphasize the value and respect due to the city’s African-American residents.”

The committee said it has spoken with members of the Tinner family who support the name for consideration.

“The Tinner Family expressed their gratitude and said that it is an honor that the Falls Church City community suggested the name of their family and their historic community represent the FCCPS high school,” the report said.

Gundry, meanwhile, was an educator who opened The Virginia Training School in 1899, making it the only school that served students with disabilities in the South. Some committee members expressed concern that future generations could determine that her school’s treatment of people with disabilities may not rise to modern standards.

Input on the monicker was also mixed because of a general disinterest in renaming the school after a different person.

“Feedback on this name was that we should avoid naming the school after a person,” the report said. “This name did not rank highly when students from three classrooms were polled.”

Full justifications and concerns for each name can be found in the reports.

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Morning Notes

Transportation Group Urges Support for 495 NEXT — The Northern Virginia Transportation Alliance reiterated its support for extending toll lanes on the Capital Beltway in a letter to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors ahead of its vote today. The organization argues that the project “will unequivocally improve the quality of life in Northern Virginia, spur further economic development, and meet the transportation needs of future generations.” [NVTA]

McLean Resident Urges Board to Delay 495 NEXT — A McLean resident argues in a letter to the editor that there has been insufficient community outreach about the project, which she says will result in increased congestion on the highway and in local neighborhoods. [Patch]

Madison High School Sets Graduation Ceremony Date — “IN PERSON GRADUATION! June 1 at Jiffy Lube Live. We have many details and logistics to figure out, but we are just excited to announce our graduates will be walking across an actual stage! Be sure to keep up with JMHS emails for details.” [James Madison High School/Twitter]

Fortune Names McLean Companies Among Top 10 Best Places to Work — “Fortune’s annual 100 Best Companies to Work For…puts two large companies with headquarters in the D.C. region in the top 10. Hilton Worldwide ranks No. 3, while Capital One Financial ranks ninth. Both are headquartered in McLean, Virginia.” [WTOP]

Falls Church City Highlights Reopened ParkBig Chimneys Park on Gibson Street reopened in January after undergoing an extensive renovation that included updating the playground equipment, addressing stormwater issues, and adding a new accessible trail to the Winter Hill neighborhood to the west. [City of Falls Church/Twitter]

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(Updated at 10:10 a.m. on 4/13/2021) The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors will take an official position on the Virginia Department of Transportation’s much-debated Interstate 495 Express Lanes Northern Extension (495 NEXT) project when it meets on Tuesday (April 13).

A prepared letter to Virginia Secretary of Transportation Shannon Valentine suggests the board plans to endorse the project, which will extend the I-495 Express Lanes about three miles from the Dulles Toll Road interchange in Tysons to the American Legion Memorial Bridge.

However, whether the board will actually approve the letter as it currently stands remains to be seen.

Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust told Tysons Reporter on Friday (April 9) that he hopes to revise the letter with firmer language calling for closer coordination with Maryland’s plans to widen the American Legion Bridge and I-270 and objecting to the design of the Capital Beltway/Dulles Toll Road interchange.

“If I can’t get those revisions made, I won’t be able to support it,” Foust said.

The letter says the 495 NEXT “will improve mobility” in the D.C. region by connecting the existing 495 Express Lanes to toll lanes that Maryland is considering constructing on its side of the Potomac River.

It indicates that Fairfax County and VDOT have made progress on addressing transit, pedestrian and bicycle facilities, and stormwater management concerns that have been raised throughout the project’s development.

According to the letter, VDOT will fund the capital and operating costs of one of the Tysons-Montgomery County bus routes proposed by the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation’s transit demand management study.

The state has also now committed to continuing its planned regional trail toward Tysons instead of stopping it at Lewinsville Road, and the county is working with VDOT to secure an agreement that would require the 495 NEXT builder to contribute funds to Scotts Run stream restoration efforts.

At the same time, county officials say they “remain concerned” about the possibility that Maryland will further delay its express lanes project. Without a widened American Legion Bridge, the 495 NEXT project would simply move the congestion that currently plagues drivers on the Beltway further north.

“The continuation of an express lanes system into Maryland over the ALMB remains a critical priority to realize the maximum benefit of the I-495 NEXT project,” the Board of Supervisors letter says. “The Board continues to strongly encourage VDOT to coordinate with Maryland to minimize the time between the opening of the I-495 NEXT express lanes and Maryland’s managed lanes.”

Foust says he hopes to revise the letter to tell the Commonwealth Transportation Board “to wait until we are certain that Maryland is going to move forward with their project before we authorize [express lanes operator] Transurban to begin construction of 495 NEXT.”

He also wants to make clear his opposition to the proposed design of the Dulles Toll Road interchange.

“I suspect that it is designed to move cars very effectively, but it is just outrageously huge and visually unacceptable for that location adjacent to Tysons,” he said.

Virginia and Maryland’s Beltway plans have also drawn criticism from environmental advocates.

The Coalition for Smarter Growth, Audubon Society, National Parks Conservation Association, and Sierra Club chapters from both states released a “Best Smart Growth Plan” on Friday, urging officials to pause the projects and conduct a comprehensive analysis to find “a less destructive and more sustainable and equitable solution.”

Foust says he is “sensitive” to the groups’ environmental concerns, noting that some impact on parks, trees, streams, and open space is unavoidable with an infrastructure project of this size.

However, he believes Virginia and Maryland have already waited too long to address the traffic issues at the American Legion Bridge, and postponing action for another 15 years, when the bridge is expected to need a replacement, would be “absolutely unacceptable.”

“We’ll have to mitigate those impacts, but there’s no reason to incur them if Maryland doesn’t move forward with their project to connect to 495,” Foust said.

VDOT acknowledged that there have been persistent concerns about 495 NEXT in a statement to Tysons Reporter:

VDOT continues to collaborate with the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors and staff to listen to and address their concerns on VDOT’s I-495 Northern Extension Express Lanes Project. The issues identified by Fairfax County remain important to VDOT and to our efforts to develop and deliver the best possible multimodal transportation solution for the I-495 corridor, and make a positive impact on our Commonwealth.

Photo via Google Maps

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More than one-fifth of Virginia’s population has now been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

The Virginia Department of Health’s vaccine dashboard indicates that 1.8 million residents — or 21.3% of the state’s population — have now received both doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines or the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

That puts the Commonwealth in line with the U.S. as a whole, which has fully vaccinated 21.9% of its population, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Virginia is slightly ahead of the country overall when it comes to first-dose vaccinations. According to the VDH, 3.1 million people — or 36.6% of the state’s population — have gotten at least one vaccine dose, compared to 35.9% of the total U.S. population.

Fairfax County, however, seems to be a beat behind the overall state. 223,113 residents have been fully vaccinated, which is about 19% of the county’s total population of 1.1 million people. 402,129 residents have received at least one dose.

Still, the county has been delivering vaccinations at a steadier pace in recent weeks as the availability of supplies has increased.

In the initial weeks of the vaccine rollout, residents had to wait more than a month between when they signed up to get the vaccine and when they could actually schedule an appointment. That gap between registration and scheduling is now closer to a week, based on the Fairfax County Health Department’s dashboard, which says that the department is currently making appointments for people who registered on April 5.

The county received 65,710 first and second vaccine doses from the state during the week of April 5-11. There are just under 32,000 people on the health department’s waitlist, about 8% of the 418,023 people who have registered so far.

With Fairfax County aiming to join the rest of the state in opening registration for all adults on April 18, the faster pace of vaccinations has been countered by a rise in COVID-19 cases and concerns about variants that are believed to spread more quickly than the original virus.

With 196 new cases reported today (Monday), the Fairfax Health District has now recorded 74,259 total COVID-19 cases, 3,859 hospitalizations, and 1,080 deaths.

The county’s weekly average went up from 150.1 cases over the past seven days on April 5 to 181.4 cases today, and has been generally trending upward since hitting a low for 2021 of 133.6 cases on March 15.

According to CDC data, as of today, Virginia has reported 349 cases of the B.1.1.7. variant that orginated in the United Kingdom and has been associated with an increased risk of severe illness or death. There have also been 37 reported cases involving the B.1.351 variant, which was first detected in South Africa.

There is no evidence yet that the B.1.351 varient causes increased risks of severe illlness or death, but there is a “moderate reduction” in the immune protection offered by a vaccination or natural infection, according to the VDH.

The CDC estimates that the U.K. variant now constitutes about 11.5% of all COVID-19 cases in Virginia, though surveillance efforts to track the variants’ spread have been slow to ramp up.

Image via Virginia Department of Health

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Laura Schwartz is a licensed Realtor in VA, D.C. and MD with McEnearney Associates in Vienna. You can follow Laura on Instagram at @LauraSchwartzRealtor or her Facebook page. Laura can be reached at 703-283-6120 or [email protected].

This past weekend was the opening day for Vienna Little League. It’s a reminder of some normalcy,
some fun for the kids, and it was just a really beautiful weekend to enjoy it… until I got home Saturday evening after watching two games (both of my kids play).

My 6-year-old had eyes swollen to the size of the baseballs he just threw. Lucky for all of us, there’s Dr. Karen Kaufman. I see her as well because my son inherited his affliction from me.

Dr. Kaufman is a local Vienna mom, a veteran, female entrepreneur and all-around very kind human. She’s also a fantastic doctor.

My first consult with her lasted two hours because we talked about everything so she had a full picture of what kind of care I needed. Since when does a doctor do that?

If it’s time you stopped ignoring your allergies — or to stop suffering from them year after year — go see her. She’s located in Vienna at 8320 Old Courthouse Road, Suite 310.

You’ll probably see me there with a swollen-eyed child this week.

Learn more about Dr. Kaufman on her website.

(Photo via Karen Kaufman DO, Allergist Immunologist/Facebook)
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The Weekly Planner is a roundup of interesting events coming up over the next week in the Tysons area.

We’ve searched the web for events of note in Tysons, Vienna, Merrifield, McLean, and Falls Church. Know of any we’ve missed? Tell us!

Tuesday (Apr. 13)

  • Coffee with a Cop — 10 a.m.-12 p.m. at Mom & Pop (2909 District Ave) — The Fairfax County Police Department will be at Mom & Pop in the Mosaic District to chat over a cup of coffee. This is an opportunity to meet the police officers in the community and get to know them. Adherance to social distancing guidelines and masks are required.

Wednesday (Apr. 14)

Thursday (Apr. 15)

  • ’80s Music Drag Bingo with Miss Fluffy Soufflé (Online) — 7 p.m. — The McLean Community Center mixes bingo with a drag show that is sure to send you back to the ’80s. Instead of calling out numbers, host Fluffy Soufflé will play music clips of songs from the ’80s. Tickets are available now through 9 p.m. on Wednesday, April 14. A Zoom link and bingo cards will be emailed after tickets have been purchased.

Friday (Apr. 16)

  • Trivia Night (Online) — 7-9 p.m. — The McLean Community Center is hosting a family-friendly, virtual trivia night. Registration is required, and the price is $5 per team. There will be prizes for the winning teams.
  • Musical Road Trip (Online) — 2-3 p.m. — Join Ben Pernick, board-certified music therapist, on a journey through classic songs from across the country. There will also be trivia from the different stops. This event is aimed at adults, and registration is required.
  • Mayor’s Walk — 9:30 a.m. at Vienna Town Hall (127 Center Street South) — Meet Vienna Mayor Linda Colbert in front of Town Hall and take a walk through town. This is an opportunity to chat with Mayor Colbert or voice questions and concerns.

Saturday (Apr. 17)

  • McLean Earth Day Event — 9 a.m.-12 p.m. at McLean Community Center (1234 Ingleside Ave) — McLean residents can celebrate Earth Day early by stopping by MCC’s disposal site, which will have paper shredders, paint recycling, bulk/household item collection, composting and more. Visitors can also pick up limited supplies of tree saplings and pollinator seed packets and see an art installation made of recycled materials from the Brooksfield School. See the McLean Community Center posting for more information on activities and what items can be brought for disposal.

Sunday (Apr. 18)

  • John McCutcheon: The Old Home Place (Online) — 7 p.m. — Called “Folk Music’s rustic renaissance man” by The Washington Post, John McCutcheon is returning for his annual performance at his most frequented venue, The Barns at Wolf Trap. Live-stream tickets range from $5 to $50 and can be purchased through the Wolf Trap website.

Photo via Wolf Trap/Facebook

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