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Police are searching for a missing, and endangered, 21-year-old McLean man.

According to a press release, Brandon White was last seen getting into an older, dark Mercedes Benz around 11 p.m. on Jan. 31.

Video has been released of two men in a gas station driving the car White was last seen getting into. Police say these could be the last known people to have contacted White and may have information on his whereabouts.

The video was taken in an Exxon gas station (7269 Arlington Blvd.) in Falls Church.

Police are asking anyone with information on the men or White’s disappearance to contact Det. Brian Byerson at [email protected] or the department’s Major Crimes Bureau at 703-246-7800.

Photo via Fairfax County Police

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(Updated 3:15 p.m.) Fairfax is the second richest county in the nation — yet at Second Story, just south of Tysons at 2100 Gallows Rd, there’s a desperate need for bed space for homeless teens.

Second Story CEO Judith Dittman says the organization provides a temporary shelter for teenagers in a crisis, but there is a waitlist of 35 people still waiting for a space to open up.

The waitlist averages 50 people for the homeless youth and young mothers programs. Dittman said those on waitlists are forced to either stay on couches or in the street, where they could become caught up in human trafficking.

“Too many times, people look at me and say ‘that doesn’t happen in Fairfax,'” Dittman said.

But, in 2017, Fairfax County Public Schools reported that 1,200 young people in the county had no support from a parent or legal guardian. A report by Fairfax County’s Department of Health and Human Services found that 18,857 children, or 7 percent of all local children, were in poverty.

The shelter takes in young people who have run away from home, or have no home to go back to, and offers a three-week refuge. The program functions as a shelter for people between ages 13-17, offering counseling, meals, and guidance.

Lauren Witherspoon, the development coordinator for Second Story, said the goal is family reunification and about 95 percent of the teens are reunited with their family at the end of the program. After they return to their family, there are periodic check-ins to see how the child is handling the situation.

From its founding in 1972 through just two years ago, Second Story was known as “Alternative House.” Dittman said that as the organization started branching out, leaders found the original name was no longer reflective of the scope of the work done there.

“Your first story is the one written for you in your early years,” said Dittman, “but in your teen years, you start to write your own story. As a teen you make mistakes. Most young people have a support network to help them through, but many don’t.”

In addition to the youth shelter, the organization also offers after-school activities, programs for young mothers and other programs aimed at preventing homelessness and crises in the first place.

Witherspoon said the organization targets children as early as fourth grade. That may sound young, but Witherspoon said they are competing with gangs that typically recruit at around eight or nine years old or human traffickers, who can grab children as young as 11 or 12.

Another program takes homeless teens and focuses on making them self-sufficient over an 18-month period. Counselors at the program help teach participants skills from how to load a dishwasher to how to manage finances.

The charity was recently the subject of fundraising and toy donation drives at the Tysons Biergarten and the Tysons Partnership. Roughly one-third of the organization’s funding, or $1,209,510, comes from community support. Another third comes from federal, state and local grants, but Witherspoon said the organization has been struggling as costs continue to rise, but federal funding remains stagnant.

“We haven’t had an increase in federal funding for 15 years,” said Witherspoon. “We don’t have any billboards or ads, so we rely on word of mouth.”

Over 85 percent of the organization’s funding, or $2,832,169, goes to program services. The remaining funding is split between development, management, and general funds.

The organization hosts tours on the second Tuesday of each month. Second Story also hosts volunteer and community service opportunities. Volunteers help do things like cook and answer the door to allow counselors to focus on helping teens.

Photo via Facebook

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Morning Notes

Local Startup Raises $30 Million — “Fairfax-based real estate data and analytics company Remine,” which has offices in Tysons and Dunn Loring, “has closed a $30 million Series A funding round, bringing its total amount raised to $48 million.” [Washington Business Journal]

Officials Hold Meeting on E-Bikes — “The recent popularity [of] e-bikes and the fact they are not allowed on trails in Fairfax County and NOVA Parks prompted NOVA Parks and Fairfax County Park Authority to take steps to understand the issues and then share facts with the public and listen to their comments.” [McLean Connection]

Fairfax Home Market Flat to Start Year — “A modest increase in sales was offset by slightly lower average sales price in the January home-sales report for Fairfax County. And as a result, the total sales volume for the month stood relatively unchanged as the local market began to segue from winter to spring.” [InsideNova]

Falls Church Seeking BZA Member — The Falls Church Board of Zoning Appeals is looking to fill a vacancy for the position of Alternate Member. [City of Falls Church]

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A meeting about taxes ended in violence and an arrest on Sunday.

Fairfax County Police say a woman was meeting with a man in Tysons to get her taxes done, but an argument ensued and the man then assaulted her, causing facial lacerations. It’s not clear how the victim knew the suspect nor how the argument started.

The suspect, 28-year-old Steven Sweet, was arrested and charged with malicious wounding.

More from FCPD:

ASSAULT: 1600 block of International Drive, 02/10/19, 7:23 p.m. Officers responded to the location for an altercation between a man and a woman. Officers located the victim in the lobby with cuts to her face. The victim stated she was at the location to have her taxes done when she got into an argument with the man she was meeting. He assaulted her and she was transported to the hospital with minor injuries. Steven Sweet, 28, of McLean was arrested for malicious wounding.

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Vienna tends to flood. Recent heavy rainfall has not only impacted local streams, but locals may have seen high water in Vienna’s downtown area near the Town Green.

It’s an issue that town staff have been working for years to address, and solutions have been identified, but year after year have remained unfunded.

A report presented to the Vienna Town Council in December 2016 examined the state of Vienna’s sewer infrastructure, particularly at the intersection of Maple Avenue and Center Street N. in the center of the town.

The study found that there were places that experienced significant flooding where existing sewer infrastructure was unable to handle storm volume. Town staff confirmed that improvements suggested in the study were included in the CIP, but have yet to receive funding.

The report indicates that there are three major locations for flooding in three different areas. According to the report:

  • In moderate storms, flooding first occurs along Center Street at the location of the N Condos building and Starbucks parking lot.
  • In more intense storm events, flooding occurs in the area of the Freeman House Museum, at Church Street NW and Dominion Road NE.
  • Flooding also occurs near the intersection of Mill Street NE and Ayr Hill Avenue.

The report notes that flooding at the Starbucks is generally seen as the first sign of storm sewer capacity issues. The report noted that the ponding at these issues is more indicative of capacity problems than issues with draining.

“The ponding in all three areas of concern is a result of storm sewer surcharge, rather than surface drainage issues,” the study said. “This is evidenced by the ponding that occurs during a storm event and the rapid dissipation of ponded water immediately after the rain intensity subsides.”

The study assessed every outfall and junction in downtown Vienna and found that the system is unprepared for handling severe storms.

“The flow capacity of portions of the existing storm sewer system is insufficient to carry the stormwater calculated for a 10-year frequency storm,” the study said.

Ten-year floods are floods that have a 10 percent chance of happening in any given year, though there is some concern that this type of descriptor can lead to a false sense of security for those in areas prone to flooding.

Crucial to any fix to the local sewers, the study said, would be preventing flooding at the Freeman House and Starbucks, which are most prone to flooding.

The report recommended clearing debris and obstructions to sewer flow but that more substantial improvements will be needed over time.

“Even with clean sewers, the flow capacity in the piped portion of the system is lacking in two general areas,” the study said. “Sewer system improvements will be needed if the system is expected to move the flows resulting from a ten-year frequency storm, without undue flooding.”

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For Valentine’s Day, you could take your partner to one of the several restaurants and bars offering special deals, but there’s another outside-the-box option: a Vienna singing quartet.

On Thursday (Feb. 14), the Vienna-Falls Chorus will be traveling the Northern Virginia area delivering singing valentines. The in-person deliveries include two songs, a box of chocolates and a personalized card for $50.

The quartet can be sent to an office, restaurant, home or any other location.

Singing valentines can also be sent by phone for $10.

Four songs are available for selection and audio samples are available online.

Photo via Facebook

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This regularly-scheduled sponsored Q&A column is written by Val Sotillo, Northern Virginia-based Realtor and Falls Church resident. Please submit your questions to her via email for response in future columns. Enjoy!

Question: I’m looking to purchase a home that’s less than a 10 minute walk to a Metro Station. What are the options around Dunn Loring?

Answer: The Dunn Loring neighborhood is one of the fastest changing areas in Fairfax County in a few short years. It is now a vibrant and walkable community with many different housing options to offer just a few steps from the metro.

Here’s what I love about the location:

Easy Commute

The Dunn Loring/Merrifield Metro is located between Interstate 66 at Gallows Road and it services the Orange Line which gets you to D.C. in about 25 minutes.

There’s also easy access to the Capital Beltway, I-66 and Route 50, making it convenient for public transportation and driving. And let’s not forget about cyclists! The W&OD Trail is in your backyard and it goes all the way from Shirlington to Purceville. The W&OD Trail has a maze of paths for hiking, biking, running and walking.

Everything Is Just Steps Away

You can walk to almost everything. From Home Depot, to Harris Teeter (this one has a wine bar, cheers), to a doggie day care, spa services, to the Merrifield Garden Center. You can also take a bit longer of a walk to the Mosaic District but I’ll cover that neighborhood in a separate column.

Here are some of my favorite food spots: Blackfinn Ameripub (great trivia, many tv’s for watching sports and live music), District Taco and the newest Peruvian restaurant Inca Social.

They also have a small dog park.

Bonus: There is free retail parking.

Read More

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Nature is at a premium in Tysons.

The area is surrounded by beautiful natural preserves, for example at Wolf Trap, Raglan Road Park and all along the banks of the Potomac River. Within Tysons itself, though, there is more concrete and asphalt than grass and trees.

Where there is grass, it’s often in the form of a manicured but empty lawn. These lawns represent space that has been ecologically, socially and environmentally wasted, but they could easily be repurposed.

Fairfax County has an ambitious plan for the future of the area’s parks, calling for a network of parks and urban oases connected by a recreational trail. This plan is long-term, looking forward to 2050, hoping to bring 1.5 acres of green space for every 1,000 residents. It won’t be completed easily, although at least one new park has opened recently.

Though nature might be rare in Tysons, that doesn’t mean that green space is.  In fact, Tysons boasts a large number of lawns and fields of varying sizes. The problem is that these spaces are green in color only. They don’t contribute anything to the Tysons community: lawns are neither parks nor plazas nor natural preserve.

Environmental scientists find that lawns of this kind aren’t at all ‘green’ in the ecological sense. Because of the fertilizers and pesticides used to maintain them they produce more chemical runoff than they absorb.  They also consume an enormous amount of water and gasoline for the mowers that keep them trim.

Socially, these lawns don’t satisfy a community’s need for open space.

Though they are literally open, they don’t provide space for recreation, gathering, or even peaceful contemplation of nature. Often, the property owner forbids play or dog-walking on the lawns. They don’t contribute to property values or provide any economically productive resource. Urban economics commentator Andrew Price calls such lawns “dead greenspace, consuming labor, money, and oil to keep manicured.”

Take a closer look at two spaces along the north side of Westpark Drive, near Route 7. These sites are only about two blocks from a Metro station and are directly across from The Boro development expected to bring many new residents and new street-level pedestrian and retail activity.

These lawns are associated with buildings that are 20 and 45 years old, and are likely the result of zoning regulations that called for deep setbacks between the streets and the buildings, but didn’t dictate what the developer should do with the space in those setbacks. As Price writes, “When we force a private owner to use their land in a very unproductive manner, they do a mediocre job of it.”

But, recently, Fairfax County has been embracing more effective regulation.

In 2010, Fairfax adopted a Zoning Ordinance Amendment that enables a more urban and denser form for new construction in Tysons.  This amendment is governing the development taking place across the street from these two lawns, and will hopefully result in a much more economically and ecologically efficient use of space.

The Park System Concept Plan emphasizes the specific advantages to be gained from well-designed green space, rather than simply encouraging open space without regard for its design.  It focuses on “a need for gathering spaces, off-leash dog parks, garden plots, ornamental gardens, water features, tot lots and playgrounds, skate parks, open lawns for picnicking and unstructured play, shade structures, fitness courses and trails, multi-use courts, athletic fields, amphitheaters and space for public art.”

Green lawns are on that list — but only as one item, and only because of their use to the community.

D. Taylor Reich is a freelance journalist who writes about urbanism and development. They are a Fulbright scholar, a 2017 graduate of Brown University and a proud alum of Arlington Public Schools.

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Police say a bomb threat last Friday (Feb. 8) came from a man working at the Westin Hotel next door.

Police swarmed the Provident Bank at 7799 Leesburg Pike, in the southeast corner of the Leesburg Pike-Beltway interchange near Tysons, after they say a man called the front desk of the bank saying there was a bomb in the building.

Police say the threat was vague with little credible information offered. A search of the building turned up no suspicious objects and the bank quickly resumed normal operations.

Police stayed on the scene and moved to the Westin Hotel as they investigated the source of the call.

“With assistance from hotel security, Jonathan Ramos, 30, of Lorton was identified and charged with making a bomb threat,” police said in a crime report.

Photo via Fairfax County Police

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Morning Notes

School Board Advertises $3 Billion Budget — “The Fairfax County School Board has adopted the FY 2020 Advertised Budget of $3.0 billion, an increase of 4.1 percent, or $117.4 million, over the FY 2019 Approved Budget. The FY 2020 budget prioritizes employee compensation with a $55.2 million investment in teacher salary scales that includes a 1.0 percent market scale adjustment.” [Connection Newspapers]

Auditions for Vienna Theater — The Vienna Theatre Company is holding auditions tonight for its upcoming production of “Ripcord.” [Facebook]

Author Talk at Tysons Book Store — Bestselling fantasy novelist Larry Correia will be holding a book discussion and signing tonight at the Barnes & Noble store in Tysons. [Instagram]

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