Westbound I-66 to Close Overnight Starting Tomorrow — “Work at the Interstate 66 and Capital Beltway interchange will require a full I-66 closure in the westbound direction over several upcoming days. The Virginia Department of Transportation said westbound I-66 will be closed at I-495 nightly from Tuesday, June 15 to Saturday, June 19. Closure hours are 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. nightly and until 6 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday.” [Patch]

Vienna Reaffirms Commitment to Library Parking Project — “Vienna officials still can back out of an agreement with Fairfax County to build a new Patrick Henry Library with a parking structure, but now the town financially has something to lose. Vienna Town Council members on June 7 reconfirmed the town’s participation in the agreement and agreed to support the project’s design phase.” [Sun Gazette]

Falls Church Chamber of Commerce Supports Amendment — “The board of directors of the Falls Church Chamber of Commerce formally signed off on a letter to the Fairfax County Planning Commission in advance of its meeting next Tuesday. The letter, sent over the signature of Falls Church Executive Director Sally Cole, expressed the Chamber’s strong support for an amendment to the Fairfax County Comprehensive Plan to permit mixed use development at WMATA’s West Falls Church Metro station site.” [Falls Church News-Press]

McLean Home of Retired Football Quarterback for Sale — “In April, the veteran quarterback Alex Smith announced his retirement from the NFL. Now Smith is leaving the Washington, DC, metro behind. He’s listed his gorgeous mansion in McLean, VA, for $6.7 million.” [Sun Sentinel]

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Capital One Hall (courtesy of HGA)

The weekend is almost here. Before you head out to the mall or hit the hay for some much-needed sleep, let’s revisit recent news from the Tysons area that you might’ve missed.

These were the most-read stories on Tysons Reporter this week:

  1. Pet of the Week: Annie
  2. Man dies in fatal car crash on I-495, Virginia State Police reports
  3. NEW: Tysons’ new Capital One Hall gets first confirmed performer
  4. McLean Italian restaurant relocates after 20 years
  5. McLean company has high hopes for Fairfax Peak indoor snow slope project

Ideas for stories we should cover can be sent to [email protected] or submitted as an anonymous tip. Photos of scenes from around the community are welcome too, with credit always given to the photographer.

You can find previous rundowns of top stories on the site.

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Fairfax County School Board Member-at-Large Abrar Omeish comments on the reaction to her tweet criticizing Israel at the board’s May 20 meeting (via FCPS/YouTube)

Abrar Omeish doesn’t regret taking a stand on the ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestine, but if she could go back, she might have expressed her opinion a little differently.

The at-large Fairfax County School Board member sparked a heated local debate about one of the most contentious subjects in global politics last month when she recognized Eid al-Fitr, the Muslim holiday that concludes a month of fasting, with a tweet decrying Israel’s treatment of Palestinians as “apartheid and colonization.”

As the board’s only Muslim member and the first Muslim woman elected to a school board anywhere in Virginia, Omeish says she felt a responsibility to speak up about the escalating violence that, at that time, had killed 10 people in Israel, including two children, and 192 people in Gaza, including 58 children.

Her May 13 tweet was part of the larger #EidwithPalestine hashtag that went emerged after Israeli security forces stormed the al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem amid tensions over Palestinians being evicted from the city’s Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood.

“The idea was [Muslims] celebrate [Eid], but it’s bittersweet because we can celebrate while mourning and knowing that our Holy Land is being disrespected and people are being killed in their efforts to defend it,” Omeish told Tysons Reporter. “…Being, like you said, the only Muslim voice, I felt tremendous pressure, and it’s not like I didn’t anticipate, you know, backlash.”

That backlash came from expected sources, given the school board’s decidedly Democratic makeup, as the Fairfax County Republican Committee chair called for Omeish’s resignation or removal and endorsed a parent-led campaign to recall her and other school board members that originally stemmed from frustrations with pandemic-related school closures in the fall.

However, the tweet also drew criticism from some colleagues and allies.

Hunter Mill District School Board Representative Melanie Meren said in a tweet on May 14 that she was “aghast” and “appalled,” calling Omeish’s sentiments alienating to members of the community, including herself, and a setback to Fairfax County Public Schools’ equity-related efforts.

“Rebuilding of relationships will need to happen,” Meren said.

The Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington nixed plans to honor Omeish for supporting the recognition of additional religious holidays in the FCPS calendar. Four other school board members were still honored at the advocacy group’s annual membership meeting on May 20.

“The language Ms. Omeish used in this Tweet is deeply offensive and inflammatory to all who support Israel,” JCRC President Ronald Paul and Executive Director Ron Halber said in a joint statement on the decision. “It is irresponsible of her to use her public platform to publicly advance controversial political views that target and marginalize Jewish students and their families and divide our community.”

The letter went on to say that conversations about why JCRC found Omeish’s comment offensive were unproductive as she “continued to stoke the flames of division and acrimony” by not removing the tweet or taking “affirmative steps to try to stem the vitriolic, hateful rhetoric on social media triggered by her remarks.”

For her part, Omeish says JCRC’s statement was “a complete mischaracterization” of how she approached their interactions, saying that she “got yelled at on the phone aggressively” and has “been threatened by JCRC multiple times” about her stance on Israel.

“They told me, like, if you don’t take this down, we will post a statement about you and it’s not going to be pretty,” she said. “They would say things like that to me, and for me, I’m like, look, I respectfully reject the threat. I’m not going to change my position because you’re scaring me.”

Halber and JCRC Associate Director Guila Franklin Siegel disputed Omeish’s characterization of their interactions in a statement to Tysons Reporter:

“We took no pleasure in having to rescind Ms. Omeish’s award. But there is no place for the divisive and offensive language she used in her May 13th Tweet or for her insulting insinuations about the JCRC. We never have and never would threaten anyone. Ms. Omeish stands out among the thousands of elected officials and interfaith leaders from every background who have successfully partnered with the JCRC in nearly a century of community-building. We hope Ms. Omeish undertakes the hard work necessary to understand how her hurtful language impacted members of the Jewish community, including our children in FCPS schools. For the benefit of the entire FCPS community, we hope to be able to work with Ms. Omeish in the future to pursue unity, equity, and mutual respect in Fairfax County.”

Omeish got another opportunity to engage with Jewish leaders, as she promised in a follow-up tweet, at a roundtable convened on May 23. Read More

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The rain just keeps coming.

While a Flash Flood Warning issued yesterday (Thursday) for the D.C. region, including Fairfax County, was canceled ahead of schedule at 7:15 p.m., the National Weather Service has extended the Flash Flood Watch that was set to end at midnight through today (Friday).

Issued at 3:03 a.m., the new alert will be in effect through this evening, as showers and thunderstorms are expected to bring two to four additional inches of rain to the area.

Here is the full alert:

…FLASH FLOOD WATCH IN EFFECT THROUGH THIS EVENING…

The National Weather Service in Sterling Virginia has expanded the

* Flash Flood Watch to include portions of Virginia and West Virginia, including the following areas: in Virginia, Clarke, Eastern Loudoun, Fairfax, Frederick VA, Page, Shenandoah, Warren and Western Loudoun. In West Virginia, Berkeley, Eastern Grant, Eastern Mineral, Eastern Pendleton, Hampshire, Hardy, Jefferson, Western Grant, Western Mineral and Western Pendleton.

* Through this evening

* Additional showers and thunderstorms capable of producing heavy rainfall amounts of 2 to 4 additional inches are expected to re-develop early this morning and persist into this afternoon.

* More heavy rainfall may cause additional flash flooding.

“A Flash Flood Watch means that conditions may develop that lead to Flash Flooding,” the NWS says. “Flash Flooding is a very dangerous situation. You should monitor later forecasts and be prepared to take action should Flash Flood Warnings be issued.”

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Morning Notes

Two People Displaced by Vienna Townhouse Fire — A townhouse fire in Vienna that closed part of Church Street for about two hours on Wednesday (June 9) displaced two people and resulted in about $148,750 in damages. Investigators say the fire was accidental, started in a wall between a bedroom closet and second-floor bathroom by an “open flame device (torch) that ignited nearby combustibles.” [FCFRD]

Police Hold Town Hall on Vehicle Pursuit Policy — Community members raised concerns about drunk driving and car thefts at a town hall that the Fairfax County Police Department held yesterday (Thursday) to discuss proposed revisions to its policy for vehicle pursuits. Among other changes, the new policy eliminates traffic violations, misdemeanors, and non-violent felonies as situations that can justify a pursuit. [WTOP]

School Bus Crashes in Annandale — A school bus and car collided at the intersection of Gallows Road and Surrey Lane in Annandale yesterday afternoon. The Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department said “several” kids on the bus were transported to hospital “as a pre-caution for a check-up” and the car driver was transported with non-life-threatening injuries. [FCFRD/Twitter]

Classroom Modular Coming to Kilmer MS — Kilmer Middle School will get 10 new classroom spaces with the construction on a modular facility that will also have a staff workroom and restrooms. The Fairfax County School Board is scheduled to award a contract for the project on June 17 with on-site work expected to begin in July and finish by the end of this calendar year. [Hunter Mill District School Board Community Update]

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The Flash Flood Watch that took effect at noon today (Thursday) has now been upgraded to a Flash Flood Warning for Fairfax County.

The National Weather Service says an additional one to two inches of rain could fall in the affected areas, including Vienna, Falls Church, and Pimmit Hills, until 8:15 p.m.

Here is the full alert, which was issued at 5:05 p.m.:

* Flash Flood Warning for…
Central Fairfax County in northern Virginia…
Southeastern Loudoun County in northern Virginia…
The Western City of Alexandria in northern Virginia…
The City of Fairfax in northern Virginia…
The City of Falls Church in northern Virginia…

* Until 815 PM EDT.

* At 505 PM EDT, Doppler radar indicated thunderstorms producing heavy rain across the warned area. Between 1 and 3 inches of rain have fallen. Flash flooding is ongoing or expected to begin shortly.

HAZARD…Life threatening flash flooding. Thunderstorms producing flash flooding.

SOURCE…Doppler radar.

IMPACT…Life threatening flash flooding of creeks and streams, urban areas, highways, streets and underpasses.

The NWS advises against traveling, noting that the majority of flood deaths occur in vehicles.

“A Flash Flood Warning means that flooding is imminent or occurring,” the NWS said. “If you are in the warned area move to higher ground immediately. Residents living along streams and creeks should take immediate precautions to protect life and property.”

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Vienna Police Department car (Photo via Vienna Police Department/Facebook)
Vienna Police Department car (Photo via Vienna Police Department/Facebook)

Vienna police are currently investigating a shooting that occurred earlier today (Thursday) in a local neighborhood off of Cedar Lane, the department says.

According to a news release issued at 1:54 p.m., officers were dispatched to “an unknown situation” in the 100 block of Patrick St. SE in the early morning hours.

“Upon arrival, officers discovered that a male victim inside an apartment was suffering from a gunshot wound to the head,” the Vienna Police Department said. “The victim was transported to the hospital in a life-threatening condition.”

Detectives interviewed “several” witnesses who were on the scene, and the Fairfax County Police Department’s Crime Scene Section is helping process the scene as well as providing any needed additional resources, according to the VPD.

“There is no further threat to public safety at this time,” Vienna police say. “This information is preliminary and subject to change as the investigation continues.”

Vienna police advise anyone with additional information that could help in the investigation to contact the department at 703-255-6366.

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As Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on a Prayer” blasted through the ballroom, Terry McAuliffe, former and potentially future governor of Virginia, took the stage at the Hilton hotel in Tysons shortly before 9 p.m. on Tuesday (June 8) to celebrate his victory in the 2021 Democratic gubernatorial primary.

McAuliffe easily surged past four other candidates to clinch his party’s nomination, winning 62% of the vote in a race that the Associated Press called just 44 minutes after polls closed across the state.

Unofficial returns show that Fairfax County joined the rest of the Commonwealth in backing McAuliffe’s bid for a third term as governor. 64.4% of primary voters cast a ballot for him, followed by 19.3% supporting former delegate Jennifer Carroll Foy, who also came in second statewide.

“We launched this campaign about six months ago on a simple idea: that Virginia has some very big challenges ahead,” McAuliffe said in his victory speech. “And I’ve said we’ve got to go big, we gotta be bold, and we need seasoned leadership to move us forward and lift up all Virginians.”

Pledging to “build back a better, stronger Virginia,” McAuliffe quickly pivoted to the general election looming on Nov. 2, when he will compete with Republican nominee Glenn Youngkin, who he aligned with former President Donald Trump.

He will be joined on the Democratic ticket by Prince William Del. Hala Ayala, who will face Republican Winsome Sears in a lieutenant governor race that will put a woman of color in a statewide office for the first time in Virginia history.

The Virginia Department of Elections’ unofficial results show Ayala winning by more than 13 percentage points statewide in a race that featured six candidates, but her margin of victory was closer in Fairfax County. She only won by about 5% over runner-up Del. Sam Rasoul, who became the legislature’s first Muslim member in 2014.

Mark Herring won the Democratic nomination for attorney general in his attempt for a third term. He won by about 13% state-wide over Del. Jay Jones, but was overwhelmingly favored by Fairfax County voters. Herring won by more than 40 percentage points in the county.

In the General Assembly races, incumbent Del. Kathleen Murphy prevailed over challenger Jennifer Adeli in the contest for the 34th House District seat, which represents northern McLean and the Great Falls area.

“It was a great win and I am delighted to have received such strong support across the district,” Murphy said in a statement to Tysons Reporter. “I look forward to continuing to work on  behalf of my constituents and represent the issues that are important to them. I am especially focused on getting our kids safely back in school, increasing teacher pay, re-opening our businesses and continuing to support our veterans and stand up for gun safety measures.”

Republican Gary Pan is seeking to unseat Murphy in November, when Tysons area voters will also get contests between incumbent Del. Mark Keam and Republican challenger Kevin McGrath for the 35th District (Vienna), Del. Rip Sullivan (D) and Edward Monroe for the 48th District (McLean), and Del. Marcus Simon (D) and Sarah White for the 53rd District (Falls Church). Read More

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The National Weather Service has issued a Flash Flood Watch for the D.C. region, including Fairfax County, that will take effect at noon today (Thursday).

Set to expire at midnight, the advisory warns of the potential for two to four inches of rain to fall within a short period of time:

* From Noon EDT today through this evening

* A cold front will drop southward into the area today. This front will become the focus for slow moving thunderstorms this afternoon and evening. Because of the slow motion and ample moisture in the atmosphere, storms may drop 2 to 4 inches of rain a short period of time, resulting in flash flooding.

* Heavy rainfall in a short amount of time can result in rapid rises of water in streams, creeks, and urban areas.

The Baltimore-Washington NWS says the Flash Flood Watch is primarily in effect for the the northern and central parts of the region, but flooding could occur almost anywhere, and the risk could extend to tomorrow (Friday).

“A Flash Flood Watch means that conditions may develop that lead to Flash Flooding. Flash Flooding is a very dangerous situation,” the NWS said. “You should monitor later forecasts and be prepared to take action should Flash Flood Warnings be issued.”

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Morning Notes

County Board Approves PIVOT Grant Program — The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors voted on Tuesday (June 8) to create a new grant program that will use $25 million in federal COVID-19 relief funds to support businesses hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. The program will focus on the hotel, food service, retail, and arts and culture industries with applications scheduled to open from June 23 through July 9. [Fairfax County Government]

Armed Robberies Reported in Falls Church — Fairfax County police are investigating a series of armed robberies that have occurred in the 3300 block of Glenmore Drive since Saturday (June 5). In all four cases, a masked man described as white and between 17 to 25 years of age approached victims with a knife and demanded cash or property before running away. [FCPD]

Reckless Driving in Tysons Subject of Capitol Complaint — Architect of the Capitol J. Brett Blanton is under investigation by the agency’s inspector general after a woman “recklessly” drove his work-issued vehicle around Tysons on March 6. A complaint says the vehicle was traveling at a high speed and made an unauthorized stop at Walmart, and the driver “made obscene gestures at the person who reported the incident.” [Roll Call]

Developer Starts Selection Process for Maryland Beltway Project — The development group selected to carry out Maryland’s plan to widen the Capital Beltway at the American Legion Bridge will launch a competitive procurement process on June 16 to identify design and construction contractors. The process will be watched by Virginia, particularly in McLean, as the Commonwealth moves forward with its 495 NEXT project. [Accelerate Maryland Partners]

Reminder: Idylwood Substation Public Hearing Tonight — The State Corporation Commission will hold a public hearing at 7 p.m. today (Thursday) on Dominion Energy’s plans to rebuild a substation in Idylwood. The project has been repeatedly delayed, and the utility company has proposed pushing the timeline for completion back even further to 2026. [SCC]

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