Newsletter

Morning Notes

Vice President Praises Local Candle Maker — 11-year-old entrepreneur Alejandro got a boost from Vice President Kamala Harris when she visited the stall that his company Smell of Love Candles had at the Downtown Holiday Market in D.C. last weekend. Based in Fairfax County, the company crafts and delivers soy candles, and it now offers the ones bought by Harris and second gentleman Doug Emhoff as a package. [WUSA9]

COVID-19 Diagnostic Testing Available to Students — Fairfax County Public Schools students and staff who have COVID-19 symptoms or have been in close contact with a COVID-positive person can now get diagnostic testing at six drive-through sites around the county. Appointments aren’t needed, but a parent or guardian must provide consent and their children’s information through the school system’s online portal. [FCPS]

County Recommends Getting COVID-19 Booster — “The Fairfax County Health Department joins the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in strengthening their recommendation on booster doses for individuals who are 18 years and older. Everyone aged 18 and older should get a booster shot either six months after their initial Pfizer or Moderna series or two months after their initial J&J vaccine.” [FCHD]

Four People Killed in Thanksgiving Weekend Traffic Crashes — “Four people died in traffic crashes in Virginia over the Thanksgiving weekend, the smallest number of traffic fatalities during the holiday weekend in the past 10 years, according to preliminary data released by the Virginia State Police. The fatal crashes occurred in the counties of Albemarle, Chesterfield, Fairfax and Spotsylvania.” [Patch]

Fairfax County Collects Record Taxes — “Fairfax County collected more than $4 billion in total taxes in fiscal 2021 for the first time ever, a staggering figure made possible not by rising tax rates, but soaring property assessments. Of the $4.05 billion collected in the fiscal year that ended June 30, $3.02 billion, or roughly 75%, came from real property tax levies, according to the county’s recently released Comprehensive Annual Financial Report.” [Washington Business Journal]

County Leaders Consider Staff Pay Increases — “Fairfax County supervisors and School Board members next year hope to give county and school employees large pay raises to make up for ones lost last year to the pandemic. But supervisors added quickly they did not want homeowners to feel the full brunt of skyrocketing property assessments.” [Sun Gazette]

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Home Depot in Merrifield (via Google Maps)

No criminal activity is suspected in the death of a forklift operator at the Home Depot in Merrifield, the Fairfax County Police Department says.

Police responded to the store at 2815 Merrilee Drive shortly after midnight today (Tuesday) after getting a call about a man trapped under a forklift.

According to the FCPD, detectives have determined that Paul Gato, 43, of Woodbridge was using the forklift to unload supplies from a delivery truck when the machine fell on its side, trapping him.

“The driver of the delivery truck heard the loud crash, noticed the deceased under the forklift and immediately summoned emergency medical services and police,” police said this afternoon in a news release.

The investigation remains active, and detectives are working with the Virginia Occupational Safety and Health Program, which enforces work-related safety and health laws and regulations.

The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner will conduct an autopsy to determine the cause of death, police say.

Results from the autopsy are not yet available, the medical examiner’s office told Tysons Reporter.

Photo via Google Maps

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James McKeever, former chair of the Fairfax Symphony Orchestra (via FSO)

The Merrifield-based Fairfax Symphony Orchestra has launched a new fundraising outreach in tribute to one of its leaders, James McKeever, who died on Oct. 30 at age 75.

The McKeever Legacy Fund will support the symphony itself and expand its existing education programs that work with local students.

“The Fund will support Jim’s vision to further the FSO’s high-level artistry and expand its innovative education programs, while strengthening the symphony’s role as an invaluable cultural resource and artistic ambassador for our region,” the orchestra said in a statement. “Contributions will help carry Jim’s legacy forward in support of the music, artists, and arts education initiatives he so enjoyed.”

Programs supported by the new fund will include:

  • FSO Link Up, a partnership with Carnegie Hall that uses music to teach math, literacy, and other skills to students at Title 1 schools in Fairfax County and the D.C. region
  • Fairfax County All-Stars Young Artist mentorship program serving high school student musicians
  • Fairfax Symphony Diversity Fellowship program serving underrepresented college-age students

McKeever was a prominent figure in Fairfax County’s arts scene, with a stint as chair of the Arts for Fairfax County (now known as ArtsFairfax) and, most recently, as chair of the Fairfax Symphony Orchestra.

“We are deeply saddened by the loss of our dear friend,” FSO Executive Director Jonathan Kerr said in a statement. “We are forever grateful for Jim’s leadership and support of the FSO…His unwavering commitment and dedication to excellence in the arts and music education helped the FSO expand its programs to better serve our community.”

Kerr praised McKeever for helping the FSO navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, which he calls “one of the most challenging times in the organization’s 64-year history.”

McKeever grew up in New Jersey, served in the Army during the Vietnam War era, and worked in the construction industry as president and CEO of McKeever Services Corp., which assisted with permit processing in the D.C. region.

His obituary highlights his love for the arts and leadership in the county and Commonwealth:

His love for music was influential throughout his life. His high school choir had the opportunity of touring in Europe. In college he performed as a folk singer and was a long-time member of the Sanctuary Choir at Providence Presbyterian Church in Fairfax, Virginia.

In addition, Jim served as the Chairman of the Arts for Fairfax County, Commissioner of the Arts for the Commonwealth of Virginia, Chairman of the International Children’s Festival at Wolf Trap, and Chairman of the Board for the Fairfax Symphony Orchestra. He was also a member for Fairfax Lions Club. At Providence Presbyterian Church, he spearheaded the project to design, fund and install a new Lively Fulcher Pipe Organ for the Sanctuary Choir. He was ordained as an Elder and taught Sunday School for many years.

FSO Vice Chair Jose Figueroa, who is taking over as the orchestra’s new chair, says McKeever’s impact lasted from his time as a board member in the mid-1980s through his return in 2014. He was elected chair in 2016.

“The Fairfax Symphony family lost a great leader with the passing of Jim McKeever,” Figueroa said in a statement. “We will continue to strive for excellence, creativity, and energy in our future performances…I invite everyone to help celebrate Jim McKeever’s life.”

The FSO says its upcoming concert of Ludwig van Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony — scheduled for May 14 at George Mason University’s Center for the Arts — will be dedicated to McKeever.

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People hold candles at night (via Robert Towell/Flickr)

A beloved 65-year-old security professional killed this week in a crash on Georgetown Pike will be honored with a candlelight vigil in McLean, along with funeral services at the D.C. school where he worked and in his hometown state of Texas.

The family-led candlelight vigil will be held tomorrow (Nov. 20) at 5 p.m. at Langley High School, honoring Fairfax resident Andre Newman, the son of Ray Charles saxophonist David “Fathead” Newman.

Newman was driving east on Georgetown Pike on Saturday (Nov. 13) when he collided with a Range Rover attempting to turn left near Langley High School, police reported. He was taken to the hospital, where he died on Sunday (Nov. 14).

“Andre Newman always seemed to have the light on his side,” said an obituary shared by his daughter. “Born the son of the world renowned Jazz legend, David ‘Fathead’ Newman, Andre knew the weight and gravity of cultivating your personal talents, exhibiting a great work ethic, community servitude and investing into family unity.”

Andre Newman’s family will hold candlelight vigil for him at Langley High School (courtesy Esther Newman)

Newman was born in Dallas on May 16, 1956 and earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from Bishop College in Marshall, Texas. He moved to the D.C. region to pursue a graduate education at American University, going on to serve as a partial owner of the now-defunct firm Aimats Security Agency.

Starting in August 2002, he worked as a security supervisor at Sidwell Friends, the D.C.-based private school attended by several presidents’ children, from Richard Nixon’s daughters, Julie and Tricia, to Sasha and Malia Obama.

Head of School Bryan Garman praised Newman as a “lifelong learner” who “lived with kindness” in a letter to the Sidwell Friends community.

“A former supervisor of the night shift, he more recently took on mid-day responsibilities, including dismissal,” Garman wrote. “He especially took pride in his meticulous documentation of security incidents and his keen investigative skills.”

Sidwell Friends will have a service at 10 a.m. on Nov. 28. Newman’s Dallas funeral service will be Dec. 5.

He is survived by his wife, Shirleen Newman; his children, Esther Newman, Arianna Newman, and Andre Newman II; and his brothers, Terry, Cadino, and Benji.

Photo via Robert Towell/Flickr

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(Updated at 10:30 a.m. on 11/19/2021) A 65-year-old Fairfax resident involved in a crash that closed Georgetown Pike in McLean over the weekend has died, the Fairfax County Police Department announced this afternoon (Monday).

According to police, Andre Newman was driving a 2012 Nissan Sentra east on Georgetown Pike around 11:37 p.m. on Saturday (Nov. 13) when he side-swiped a 2019 Range Rover that was attempting to turn left from westbound Georgetown Pike onto Langley Lane.

The Nissan drove off the roadway and into a ditch. Newman, the vehicle’s only occupant, sustained injuries considered life-threatening and was transported to a hospital, where he died Sunday morning (Nov. 14). (Correction: This article previously said Newman died Monday morning, rather than on Sunday, as reported by police.) 

The Range Rover contained four passengers: the driver and three juveniles. They remained at the scene of the crash during the FCPD’s preliminary investigation.

“Preliminarily, detectives from our Crash Reconstruction Unit do not believe that speed and alcohol are factors in the crash,” the police department said. “The investigation remains active, and details of the investigation will be presented to the Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney for review.”

Newman is the 17th person to die in a road incident that didn’t involve a pedestrian in Fairfax County this year. There were 10 non-pedestrian fatalities in all of 2020.

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Morning Notes

County Proposes Expanding Tax Relief Program — “Today, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved a public hearing on Dec. 7 to consider expanding the real estate tax relief program for seniors and people with disabilities…The expanded program would allow people with higher incomes and net worth to qualify, add a new 75% tax relief bracket and offer an option to defer tax payments.” [Fairfax County Government]

Man Sentenced in Falls Church Woman’s Drug-Related Death — “A former medical student from Ontario, Canada, was sentenced on Tuesday to one year in prison for distributing MDA — a psychedelic drug similar to MDMA, or “molly” — that resulted in the fatal overdose of a 21-year-old Falls Church woman in 2019, according to the U.S. attorney’s office.” [Patch]

MCA Takes Position on Tree Presevation Proposal — “McLean Citizens Association (MCA) board members on Nov. 3 commended the Fairfax County Tree Commission for crafting proposals to preserve the county’s tree canopy, but did not agree with all of the group’s recommendations…MCA’s resolution expressed concerns about the proposals regarding property setbacks and taller buildings.” [Sun Gazette]

Lewinsville Park Eyed for Pickleball Facilities — The Fairfax County Park Authority will present options to improve the park’s six existing tennis courts and introduce pickleball with a virtual public meeting at 7 p.m. on Dec. 1. The potential project aims to address growing demand for pickleball facilities in the greater McLean area. [FCPA]

Local Veterans’ Job Fair Is Big Draw — “One week before Veterans Day, representatives of 66 companies interviewed job-seekers at the first annual Veteran and Military Career Fair on Nov. 4, 2021…Geared toward assisting veterans, active-duty service members transitioning out of the military, and military spouses, the hybrid event was attended by 250 job-seekers at the museum, and 259 virtually attendees located around the world.” [Fairfax County Economic Development Authority]

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Morning Notes

Woman Dies After Seven Corners Crash — Alexandria resident Maria Pascoe died on Oct. 15 from injuries sustained in a two-vehicle crash that occurred in Seven Corners at 9:27 a.m. on Sept. 29. Fairfax County has seen 14 non-pedestrian deaths from traffic incidents so far this year, compared to 10 over the same time period in 2020. [FCPD]

How to Celebrate Diwali Safely — The Fairfax County Health Department encourages people who celebrate Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights, by gathering virtually, with members of their household, or outdoors. While festivities last for five days, Diwali itself takes place today (Thursday), with participants performing a Lakshmi Puja ritual to bring good health and fortune in the new year. [FCHD]

Spring Hill Apartment Building Sold — “Greystar sold the 404-unit Ascent apartment building in McLean for $150.5 million in a transaction that closed Oct. 1, according to Fairfax County records. An affiliate of Brookfield Properties was the buyer…Brookfield has begun marketing the property by its address, 8421 Broad, with rents that start at $1,900 a month.” [Washington Business Journal]

County to Hold Town Halls on Parking Changes — Fairfax County will hold four virtual town hall meetings starting on Monday (Nov. 8) to discuss its “Parking Reimagined” initiative, the first full review of the county’s rates and regulations for off-street parking in more than 30 years. The review will include an “extensive analysis” of parking supply and demand as well as local, regional, and even national trends. [Fairfax County Government]

Vienna Police Awarded for Saving Life — “About this time last year, George Hunt went into cardiac arrest and collapsed on Maple Ave. following a traffic accident, and these Vienna Police officers immediately provided CPR. With gratitude for their life-saving actions, Mr. Hunt presented certificates of appreciation to officers Kenny Smith and Chip McElhattan at last night’s Vienna Town Council meeting. Because of them, he says he was able to celebrate his 60th birthday.” [Town of Vienna/Facebook]

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Morning Notes

Scott’s Run Falls in autumn (photo by ERTRIPP9/Twitter)

Last Day of Early Voting Hits Turnout High for 2021 — “Today was an #earlyvoting record for this election; we had more than 14,400 people cast ballots in person. In total, there have been more than 109,000 in person early votes cast!” [Fairfax County Office of Elections/Twitter]

Vigil Held for Falls Church Shooting Victim — “Loved ones gathered on Saturday to remember Nelson Alexander who was fatally shot during an attempted robbery at an ATM in Falls Church. This huge turnout, a testament to how much Nelson Alexander was loved. ‘He was a great person, he was a kind person, and he was a loving person,’ Patricia Alexander, the victim’s niece, said.” [NBC4]

Tysons Corner Nordstrom Adds Hijab Collection — “Ibrahim, CEO and founder of Henna & Hijabs (H&H), started her company in 2017 and introduced her collection this summer at Nordstrom in Tysons Corner Center and other locations around the U.S. This is one of the first luxury hijab collections to be sold inside a U.S. retailer store.” [Patch]

Vandalism Reported at Vienna Elementary School — A security officer for the school at 128 Center Street South reported to the Town of Vienna Police Department “that he found a burnt trashcan by the playground and three broken windows.” The incident occurred between 8 p.m. on Oct. 24 and 6 a.m. on October 25, according to VPD’s weekly crime report. [Vienna Police]

Photo by ERTRIPP9/Twitter

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Morning Notes

Family of Man Killed in I-495 Crash Starts GoFundMe — “The family of a 24-year-old Washington, D.C., man who died last week in a crash on the Capital Beltway in Fairfax County is holding an online fundraiser to help pay for his funeral expenses. The man, Elson Turcios, died in an early morning crash last Thursday on I-495, according to the Virginia State Police.” [Patch]

Metro Works to Bring More Railcars into Service — Metro is still working to bring back some older trains as crowding and long wait times continue to plague the transit system two weeks after a railcar derailed in Arlington. Officials said they ran 31 trains yesterday (Monday) and hope to improve service next week, though a timeline for the return of the 7000-series cars removed for inspections is still unclear. [DCist]

County Reports Strong Turnout for Sunday Voting — “We had a huge turnout for #earlyvoting this weekend. More than 9,000 people voted on Sat (10/23). On the first ever Sunday (10/24) for early voting, 4,656 people cast ballots! This is the last week to #voteearly” [Fairfax County Office of Elections/Twitter]

Annual Coat Drive Helps Fairfax County Residents and Beyond — “Firefighters, police officers and others in Fairfax County, Virginia, teamed up Monday to bag up 3,000 new winter jackets so they can get them onto the backs and shoulders of kids who need them…Most of the coats went to Fairfax County residents, and in many cases, along the Route 1 corridor. But some were going to places like Prince William County, the city of Alexandria and even into Prince George’s County, Maryland.” [WTOP]

Police Collect Unused Prescription Drugs — Fairfax County police collected 1,406 pounds of unused and expired over-the-counter and prescription medication on Saturday (Oct. 23) as part of the 21st Annual National Prescription Drug Take Back Day. The McLean District Station received 220 pounds, behind West Springfield and Reston Hospital Center. [FCPD]

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One person has died after two vehicles crashed in the I-495 North access lanes to Route 50 in West Falls Church this morning (Thursday), Virginia State Police reported.

VSP responded to a crash on the Capital Beltway at 2:59 a.m. According to police, a Volkswagen and dump truck collided in the access lanes, resulting in one confirmed fatality and sending another person to the hospital with life-threatening injuries.

The crash completely blocked the I-495 Inner Loop service road and on ramp, and access to the Inner Loop from both Gallows Road and Route 50 (Arlington Boulevard) was cut off.

The incident was cleared and all travel lanes reopened around 9:12 a.m., but delays lingered with traffic backed up to the I-495 and I-395 interchange in Springfield.

The crash remains under investigation, VSP says.

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