The winter holiday season is approaching, and while the usual fun festivities will likely be altered to protect humans during the COVID-19 pandemic, dog owners should also be aware of hazards that may threaten their furry friends as the temperature drops and house decor increases. 

Luckily for Falls Church residents, the local Dogtopia has seen major success since its opening at the end of the summer. The store sold higher than average pre-sales, hitting about 25% above the company’s threshold to determine success, according to Dogtopia Falls Church owner Jim Hannesschlager. 

“We’re really, really excited and a little bit bullish on the potential here for this location, but also the brand in Northern Virginia,” Hannesschlager said. The store is one of two new businesses that have opened in Falls Church since the pandemic. 

Hannesschlegar explained that, during the cold winter months, dogs are especially in need of extra exercise and socialization to compensate for the extra food at Thanksgiving dinner, weather that inspires a slower pace of life, and the general feelings of excitement from the holidays. 

“It heightens our senses,” Hannesschlegar said. “When a dog has heightened senses…just like a human, those heightened senses and that potential anxiety and energy needs to be let out.” 

Luckily, socialization and exercise are two top services that Dogtopia provides to dogs, with education close behind. The dog daycare provider has resources for dogs who need a space for open play during the cold seasons.

When taking dogs on walks outside in the cold weather, however, owners should be cognizant of their dogs’ fur, Hannesschlegar says. Dogs with thicker hides like huskies should be fine to go on cold-weather walks, while dogs with thinner hides, such as greyhounds, may need a coat to wear. 

Hannesschlegar also advised buying dog-friendly snow-melting agents for driveways and sidewalks once it starts snowing.

“First thing a dog does, just like a baby, anything that’s weird, new, or painful goes right into their mouth,” Hannesschlegar said. 

When it comes to hazards around the house, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) recommends keeping wires and ornaments out of reach, making sure candles are never left unattended, and avoiding mistletoe and holly as well as noisy toys such as poppers. Even creating a quiet room or space for pets can ease their anxiety in high-energy settings.

Photo via Jim Kalligas/Unsplash

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Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeffrey McKay was elected to serve as the 2021 president of the Virginia Association of Counties (VACo) yesterday.

The statewide group advocates with the state’s legislature for the interests of the Commonwealth’s 95 counties, according to a press release from McKay.

“I’m honored to serve as the next president of the Virginia Association of Counties. Throughout my many years with VACo, I have always considered us to be a large family,” McKay said in a speech delivered to members Wednesday (Nov. 11) morning.

“I treasure the many relationships I have built with my colleagues throughout Virginia. VACo is a great way to bring us all together to advance our communities,” said McKay.

Chairman McKay had led efforts with VACo over the last several years to drastically increase state funding for education and transportation, and to ensure the perspective of counties is heard statewide, according to the press release.

This upcoming year, Chairman McKay wants to lead VACo with the same level of attention to equity as Fairfax County.

“As a kid riding my bike with friends, I didn’t realize what this meant, but I saw firsthand that where you come from was an important factor for your future success and livelihood,” McKay said. “When I got older, I understood that this was wrong.”

“This was a driving force behind my decision to begin a career in local government and an inspiration behind the One Fairfax equity policy that I introduced in 2017. This policy has become central to all decision-making in Fairfax County by requiring us to look at all policies.”

McKay started his tenure yesterday.

Photo via Jeff McKay/Facebook

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Tomorrow is Veteran’s Day, and the holiday means it’s time to take a look at which community sites will be open, and which will be closed. 

City of Falls Church government offices will be closed, along with City Hall and the Mary Riles Styles Public Library. 

The city will air a pre-recorded Veteran’s Day Ceremony on Falls Church Community Television Channels and Youtube starting at 11 a.m.

All Fairfax County government offices will be closed. Libraries and courts will be closed as well.

The Fairfax Connector will be operating on its Holiday Weekday Service, with several routes altered. 

Fairfax County Public Schools will hold an all-virtual, two hour early release day for all students. 

All parks in Fairfax County will be closed with the exception of Frying Pan Park, which will be open from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m.

The county’s nine RECenters will be open, offering free service to all veterans, active-duty military personnel, and their families for the day. A military identification is needed to receive the complimentary access. Due to COVID-19, reservations will be required. 

The McLean Community Center and the Vienna Community Center will both be closed for the day.

Photo by Aaron Burden/Unsplash

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In anticipation of the upcoming holiday season, the Fairfax County Health Department released a set of guidelines with information on how to celebrate Thanksgiving safely. 

The county emphasized that it’s still vital to work to slow the spread of COVID-19 and that, despite the cold months and inevitable pandemic fatigue, community members should not let their guards down now. 

According to the guidelines, high-risk activities include:

  • Going shopping in crowded stores just before, on, or after Thanksgiving
  • Participating in or watching a crowded race
  • Attending crowded parades
  • Attending large indoor gatherings with people from outside your household 

Moderate-risk activities include:

  • Having a small outdoor dinner with family and friends in your community
  • Visiting pumpkin patches or orchards where people use hand sanitizer before touching produce, wearing masks is encouraged or enforced, and people can maintain social distancing
  • Attending small outdoor sports events with safety precautions in place

Lower risk activities include:

  • Having a small dinner with people who live in your household
  • Having virtual dinner and sharing recipes with friends and family
  • Preparing recipes for family and neighbors and delivering them in a way that doesn’t involve contact with others
  • Shopping online the day after Thanksgiving, as opposed to in-person
  • Watching sports events, parades, and movies from home

The county advised against participating in any in-person activities if you or anyone in your household has, or are showing, symptoms of COVID-19 and reiterated that traveling increases the chance of getting and spreading COVID-19.

The health department suggests following the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendations on holiday gatherings to further lower risk. 

Photo via Fairfax County Emergency Information

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More than 30 companies in the D.C. metro area are looking to hire women for open positions in STEM-based fields at a Women in Technology Virtual Career Fair tomorrow (Thursday). Some of the companies include Amazon, Capital One, and Hewlett Packard Enterprise. 

The career fair is sponsored by the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority and Capital One as part of an ongoing series of virtual career fairs that the FCEDA has supported in response to the COVID-19 crisis, according to a press release from the FCEDA.

The first three virtual fairs in the series attracted more than 2,100 attendees, the release says.

“More girls and women need to be exposed to the high-paying jobs in the technology sectors that are a major part of the economy of Fairfax County,” Mason District Supervisor Penny Gross said.

Gross, who serves as vice chair of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, added that “efforts such as this career fair open up a wider talent pipeline for the companies that have so many job openings even during the pandemic.” 

According to the release, only 26% of the jobs held by women in the workforce are computing-related jobs. The career fair on Nov. 5 will help connect technology professionals with top organizations in the D.C. metro area, seeking to help increase access to opportunity “in a field where women have been historically underrepresented.” 

Participants will be able to browse companies through a virtual lobby, enter their booths, view open positions, engage in video conferencing, and talk with human resources representatives at the virtual fair.

“In Northern Virginia, we have more than 15,000 tech firms constantly hiring. In fact, tech job postings are growing more in Virginia than in California and New York,” FCEDA President and CEO Victor Hoskins said. “We are a region that not just embraces, but pioneers diversity: women are twice as likely to work in tech in Northern Virginia than in Silicon Valley.” 

Participation in the career fair is free of charge. Employers interested in promoting their job openings can contact Mike Batt, the FCEDA Director of Talent Initiative Programs at [email protected] or visit the Employer Resources page. 

Photo via the FCEDA/Instagram

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As Election Day approaches, public facilities in Fairfax County are announcing what will be closed and what will remain open on the state holiday.

Since the county opted to give most employees the day off, most Fairfax County government facilities will be closed, including the government center. However, the Office of Elections will be open, and polls will be open from 6 a.m. until 7 p.m.

“The right to vote is a very important, very important part of our American process,” Fairfax County Executive Bryan Hill said on the “Connect with County Leaders” podcast. “The Board of Supervisors on the FYI 22 calendar added Election Day as a day off, so it made most sense on a presidential election cycle to also add it.”

“Once they added it on…the calendar year ’22, I spoke to the supervisors and asked them if they would like it also to be on November 3, 2020,” Hill added.

The City of Falls Church will be operating as normal, according to Susan Finarelli, the director of communications for the city.

The Town of Vienna will also stay open, Vienna marketing and communications manager Lynn Coan says.

Students within Fairfax County Public Schools will have both Nov. 2 and Nov. 3 off of school, with today marking the end of the first quarter. Additionally, FCPS will be distributing double breakfast and lunch meals on Nov. 2 to cover both days off as a food resource for students, according to FCPS.

Virginia designated Election Day as a state holiday for the first time this year when the General Assembly passed legislation to substitute it for Lee-Jackson Day, which the Commonwealth had observed on the Friday preceding Martin Luther King Jr. Day in January since 1904.

“Voting is a fundamental right, and these new laws strengthen our democracy by making it easier to cast a ballot, not harder,” Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam said upon signing the bill into law. “No matter who you are or where you live in Virginia, your voice deserves to be heard.”

Photo by Element5 Digital/Unsplash

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Fairfax County has requested approval to change the Tysons Corner Metro Station’s name, dropping the word “corner” so it becomes “Tysons Station.” 

According to a press release from the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, the name would be changed on all system maps, digital signs, the WMATA website, SmarTrip app, in-system directional signage, and more. 

Prince George’s County is also looking to change Prince George’s Plaza Station to “Hyattsville Crossing.” 

Under Metro’s policy, requests to rename a station are considered by the Metro Board of Directors, who will approve or deny the request. 

The board of directors has released an online survey to gauge what riders think of changing the station  names as part of the process, welcoming feedback. 

According to the release, the jurisdiction making the name change request must commit to funding the full cost of the change, including reprinting maps, making new signs, and reprogramming systems that provide customers information. 

Additionally, according to the release, the policy has three major guidelines for any new station name:

  • Names should identify the station locations by geographic features such as landmarks or centers of activity.
  • Names should be distinctive and evoke imagery in the mind of the patron.
  • Names should be no longer than 19 characters, except for transfer station names, which should be non longer than 13 characters. 

Survey responses will be accepted through Nov. 2 at 5 p.m.

Photo via Tysons Reporter

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Young readers now have virtual access to the Fairfax County Public Library through a new program created in partnership with Fairfax County Public Schools

LEAP, or Library Equity Access Pass, started on Oct. 1. The program was initially piloted in 2019 and was created to ensure student access to library materials, even without a library card or an account with the library, according to the program website. 

Now, the program has been adapted to a virtual platform, making access even easier in the midst of the pandemic. 

Through LEAP, students grades PreK-12 only need their name to check out materials. Additionally, the program will never charge fines or fees. Each account will allow students to check out up to three items at a time for six weeks each.

The program has been running for about three weeks and has already served students at each of the county’s branches. While the program hasn’t run long enough to collect specific usage data, LEAP customers and staff have reported questions about the program from across the community.

“Word is spreading, our marketing efforts are reaching people, and the community seems enthusiastic about LEAP,” said Ted Kavich, the administrative services division director of the FCPL. 

In particular, on Oct. 20, the staff at Reston Regional Library worked with staff from Dogwood Elementary School to check out books to local families using the LEAP accounts, according to Kavich. According to the school, more than 15 families were provided with books.  

For more information, students and parents can ask a teacher or librarian at their school, or call any FCPL location. 

Photo via Dogwood Elementary School/Twitter

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Editor’s Note — Tysons Reporter is running Q&As with the candidates running for the open Falls Church City Council seat. The stories have been condensed and edited for clarity.

Debora Schantz-Hiscott is one of three candidates — along with Joshua Shokoor and Simone Pass Tucker — running for the open Falls Church City Council seat on the Nov. 3 election. 

Tysons Reporter: Why did you decide to run?

Schantz-Hiscott: I have lived in Falls Church City for 24 years. I have raised three children here. I’ve been extensively involved in the community with the women’s commission, with the schools, with athletics, with all kinds of organizations, and I have been thinking about running for city council for many years.

However, I decided I would do it once my youngest child graduated from high school, which is next June. I was thinking about running for [the] November 2021 city council to kind of build upon the 24 years of volunteerism and working, and raising a family and building a community here. With the very unfortunate passing of Councilman Dan Sze, this special election is being held. I decided I would shorten that timeline and run for this year’s special election on November 3.

Tysons Reporter: How are you connected to the Falls Church community?

Schantz-Hiscott: For the past eight years, I’ve served with the Falls Church Education Foundation’s executive director. I’ve been for almost all of that time a sole employee and have taken a standalone 501(c)(3) foundation at the Falls Church City Public Schools into a thriving organization with a volunteer board of 16 people that has raised almost $2 million for supporting programs and grants and scholarships within Falls Church City Public Schools. 

I’ve worked extensively for the past eight years with businesses to collaborate with them to see how supporting the foundation benefits their businesses…which work extensively with the school, the superintendent, and the school administration to see what current needs are in our city. 

I’ve worked with city staff across a dozen different departments to put together events…and then with school staff to create these events, to create fundraisers and to create support for the school. Support for the schools includes creating a grant program. Last year, we gave about $260,000 out for innovation grants, and those can be anything from additional programs at the preschool all the way through. 

We have also supported teacher training. So, above and beyond what our school board can and city can afford to do within professional development, we’ve supported staff on everything from…leadership courses to reading, math, science — you name it — for the teachers and the community. 

And then lastly, and probably most importantly, supporting equity of access for our community: equity to educational resources, equity to food security, technology, clothing, emergency services, etc. I work really closely with the social workers. There’s one assigned to each school to identify what needs we have, and in the past year, since the pandemic, we — just in the spring alone — gave about $120,000 out in food support, in addition to clothing and everything. You can kind of see that my job and my life are kind of intertwined.  Read More

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Fairfax County’s Neighborhood and Community Services (NCS) community centers are scheduled to reopen beginning today (Tuesday). The nine community centers that are reopening include three in the Falls Church area:

The other reopening community centers are Gum Springs and Huntington in Alexandria; Mott, David R. Pinn, and Providence in Fairfax; and Southgate in Reston.

Because of space limitations, community members must make reservations and sign a waiver in advance to visit a community center, according to a press release from the NCS.

The centers will be open from 9 a.m. until 8 p.m., offering self-directed activities, technical support and the Parent Connect program only. Organized sports and activities will not be permitted, according to the release.

Children who are under 9 years old must be accompanied by an adult.

The community centers will be holding temperature checks and health screenings upon arrival. They will also be requiring masks and social distancing, and they will be frequently cleaning high touch surfaces.

To make a reservation, participants can call their local NCS community center. More information is available on the reopening website.

Image via NCS

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