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Morning Notes

(Updated at 9 a.m.) Bill Ending School Mask Mandates Signed — Gov. Glenn Youngkin signed legislation yesterday (Wednesday) letting parents opt their children out of mask requirements, adding an emergency clause that sets a deadline of March 1. Fairfax County Public Schools said in a statement to Tysons Reporter that it’s reviewing what this means for the district, which sued to keep its mandate. [Patch]

Wind Advisory Takes Effect Tonight — The National Weather Service has issued a Wind Advisory for Northern Virginia, including Fairfax County, that will be in effect from 10 p.m. today (Thursday) to 10 a.m. tomorrow. The alert warns that winds could reach 20 to 30 miles per hour with gusts of up to 50 miles per hour, potentially blowing down tree limbs and creating power outages. [NWS]

Tysons Area Schools to Hold Graduations in D.C. — Langley, Madison, Marshall, and McLean high schools will have graduation ceremonies at DAR Constitution Hall on May 31 and June 1 after the events were previously moved due to D.C.’s COVID-19 vaccine requirement, which ended Tuesday (Feb. 15). FCPS said the rule “would have prevented a number of students and families from attending.” [WTOP]

Seven Corners to Get New Fire Station — Fire Station 28 personnel moved to temporary quarters yesterday as Fairfax County prepares to tear the existing station down and build a new one in its place. The new building will have two levels and 13,500 square feet of space, and the current estimated occupancy is mid-2024. [FCFRD/Twitter]

Vienna Inn Named Top 10 “Lovable” Dive Bar — DC Eater ranked the longtime Town of Vienna staple as the 10th most lovable dive bar in the D.C. area: “Around since 1960, this Northern Virginia neighborhood institution is famous for its chili dogs and its convivial vibe. During the pandemic, the chill bar debuted curbside takeout, delivery, and heated outdoor seating.” [DC Eater]

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Emergency responders from Fairfax and Arlington counties worked together to put out a house fire in McLean this morning (Thursday).

The Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department reported just before 10:30 a.m. that units were on the scene at 1512 Spring Vale Avenue, just north of Chain Bridge Road.

Smoke was visible from the back of the single-family house, but the blaze was extinguished shortly after it was publicly reported. The department says there have been no reported injuries, and the fire did not extend to any other properties.

Most units are now returning to service.

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Morning Notes

Westpark Drive outside Park Crest during Jan. 16 snow (photo by ERTRIPP9)

Petersen Asks Youngkin to Support Dominion Bill — Chap Petersen, who represents Vienna as the state senator for the 34th District, called on new Gov. Glenn Youngkin to join an effort to limit Dominion Energy’s influence in the General Assembly. He has introduced a bill that would prohibit political candidates and committees from accepting campaign contributions from public utilities. [Richmond Times-Dispatch]

Fire Department Sees Uptick in Calls — “It was a busy year for your Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department (FCFRD) firefighters and paramedics! An increase of over 11,000 calls from the 96,934 total calls in 2020. 298 responses to medical calls, fires, rescues, car crashes, etc., on average each day during 2021!” [FCFRD]

Route 7 Traffic Changes Start Today — “Drivers on eastbound Route 7 will experience a lane shift to the north (towards the median) between Lyons Street and Lewinsville Road. Temporary traffic changes on side streets will be in place while crews continue the construction along Route 7.” [VDOT]

MCC Calls for New Board Candidates — The McLean Community Center is seeking candidates for three adult and two youth positions that will open up on its board of governors for the June 2022 to May 2023 term. Candidate petition packets will be available at 1234 Ingleside Avenue starting at 9 a.m. on Wednesday (Jan. 19), and early voting will begin in March. [MCC]

Fairfax County Redistricting Plan Certified — “The Virginia attorney general recently certified that there is no objection to Fairfax County’s redistricting plan that the Board of Supervisors adopted on Dec. 7, 2021. The attorney general’s ‘certification of no objection’ means that the county may now implement its new local election districts as adopted.” [Fairfax County Government]

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A rendering of the proposed new Tysons Fire Station #29 from the southeast (via Fairfax County)

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors has submitted plans for its Tysons Fire Station and Bus Transit Facility project.

As shared at a public meeting in November, the project will relocate Fire Station 29 from Spring Hill Road to the 8300 Jones Branch Drive site now occupied by Fairfax Connector’s West*Park Transit Station, which will be replaced with a smaller, one-story building with offices and a commuter waiting area.

The new two-story, 20,000 square-foot fire station will have a garage with five engine bays as well as storage and administrative space, including offices, a kitchen, an exercise room, and bunk rooms for workers.

With Tysons becoming more populous and developed, county leaders say the station is needed to meet anticipated future demand for emergency services.

“The existing station is 3-bay only, outdated and having limited room on site for expansion,” a statement of justification said. “This project provides the opportunity to serve the Tysons area with a 5-bay fire station, replacement transit station and a new access to the [Dulles Toll Road].”

To build the facilities, the county board wants to remove the 4.2-acre parcel from a proffer agreement with a developer that limited its use to a bus station, kiss-and-ride lot, or mass transit facility, according to the application submitted on Jan. 4.

In response to traffic circulation concerns raised by some county staff, project manager Jun Li said that maintaining a clear separation between vehicles and pedestrians has been a design priority.

The conceptual plan for traffic circulation at the Tysons Fire Station and Bus Transit Facility (via Fairfax County)

The overhauled site is expected to produce fewer trips during peak hours than it does now, because the number of bus bays for passenger loading will be reduced from seven to five, and shift changes for fire station personnel will occur outside of peak hours.

A traffic study approved by the county and state transportation departments estimated that the fire station will see a total of four trips per hour, based on projections of how many calls the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department will receive in the area.

The proposed plan allocates 46 parking spaces to the fire station and eight spaces for the bus facility, including two spaces each designated for people with disabilities. The transit station currently has 40 parking spaces total.

According to Li, the new bus facility is envisioned more as a transfer station, rather than a park-and-ride lot, so the county doesn’t anticipate a lot of cars or bicycles at the site.

However, the county is considering adding a shared bicycle and pedestrian lane along Jones Branch Drive and has committed to providing 8-foot-wide sidewalks on Jones Branch and Spring Hill Road.

The facility will feature electric charging stations for both buses and cars. The county hopes to reduce energy and carbon emissions by at least 30%.

“We are also in process of studying net zero,” Li wrote.

The application notes, though, that the project as proposed would eliminate all existing tree cover.

“As the project moves along, more effort will be investigated for preserving the tree canopies as much as possible when getting into design details,” the statement of justification says. “Given the lack of tree preservation, the balance of the tree canopy cover requirement would need to be met with new on-site tree planting.”

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Morning Notes

Fairfax County Police Bust International Burglary Ring — “The pattern was quickly becoming familiar to Fairfax County police: an expensive home; Asian or Middle Eastern residents; a rear door or window smashed; and jewelry and luxury goods taken but expensive electronics left untouched.” [The Washington Post]

I-66 Lane Closures in Vienna Start Tomorrow — I-66 East will be reduced to a single travel lane approaching Cedar Lane in Vienna during overnight hours, starting at 10:30 p.m. tomorrow (Friday). Lasting until 5 a.m. Thursday (Jan. 20), the closures will allow workers to install bridge beams for a new access ramp to the future I-66 Express Lanes. [VDOT]

FCPS Turns to College Students for Substitute Teachers — Fairfax County Public Schools has opened substitute teaching positions to college students in a response to high vacancy rates. The school system’s substitute teacher fill rate is typically about 80%, but it has hovered around 70% during the pandemic, dropping to 55-60% during the current COVID-19 surge. [WTOP]

Original Fairfax County Chief Fire Marshal Dies — “It is with great sadness that the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department announce the passing of retired Fire Administrator, and first Chief Fire Marshal, Willis H. “Bill” Burton, Jr. Chief Burton passed away peacefully of natural causes, surrounded by family, on Sunday, January 9 at the age of 91.” [FCFRD]

Electoral Board Gets New Member — “Christopher P. Henzel was recently appointed and sworn in by the Fairfax Circuit Court as a member of the Fairfax County Electoral Board for a three-year term. He replaces Steve Hunt, whose term ended after serving eight years on the board.” [Fairfax County Government]

McLean Central Park Revision Meeting Set — “The public is invited to attend an information meeting on the McLean Central Park Development Concept plan on Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2022 at 7 p.m. The meeting will be held online so that members of the public can participate safely and conveniently from their homes.” [FCPA]

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Morning Notes

Inova Launches COVID-19 Testing Site — “Experiencing COVID-19 symptoms? An Inova COVID-19 Vehicle-Side Testing Clinic will open Dec 30. Open M-F, 8am-5pm. PCR testing only, no rapid antigen testing. Appointments are required, please contact call ctr: 571-472-6843. Open M-F, 8am-6pm.” [Inova Health/Twitter]

Fairfax County Public Schools Commits to In-Person Classes on Return — “We recognize that a lot has changed over the past two weeks, with the omicron variant causing an increase in COVID-19 cases nationwide. As we continue to live through this ever-changing pandemic, we are committed to keeping our schools safe and open for in-person instruction.” [FCPS]

Men Arrested for Local 7-Eleven Robberies — Fairfax County police have arrested two men who are allegedly connected to robberies of a 7-Eleven at 9511 Blake Lane in Fairfax on Dec. 6 and a 7-Eleven at 8110 Old Dominion Drive in McLean on Dec. 11. Police believe the suspects were also involved in other robberies in neighboring jurisdictions. [FCPD]

Fire Department Further Adjust Staffing Due to COVID-19 Cases — The Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department detailed additional staffing changes yesterday (Wednesday) on top of ones reported earlier that day by Tysons Reporter’s sister site FFXnow. The department now has 66 employees infected by COVID-19, with another 12 staff members required to quarantine. [FCFRD]

Langley Student Gets Perfect ACT Score — “Kaavya Radhakrishnan, a junior at Langley High School in McLean, scored a perfect 36 on her ACT exam this year…Only about a third of 1% of students who take the ACT earn the top score – or just 5,579 out of 1.67 million students who took the ACT in the United States in 2020, according to the nonprofit that administers the test.” [Inside NoVA]

Highline Office Buildings Refinanced — “Westbrook Partners and American Real Estate Partners (AREP) have landed a $148 million refinance from CIM Group for Highline at Greensboro District, a 460,851-square-foot, Class A office campus in Tysons Corner…Westbrook and AREP purchased the two-building Highline complex — at 8401 and 8405 Greensboro Drive in McLean, Va. — in 2017 for $132 million, and have invested a further $31 million to renovate and reposition it since.” [Commercial Observer]

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A fire burns down former Virginia governor Chuck Robb’s mansion in the 600 block of Chain Bridge Road in McLean (via FCFRD)

(Updated at 10:25 a.m.) A large fire burned down a house in McLean last night (Tuesday) that property records indicate belongs to former Virginia governor and senator Chuck Robb.

Units from the Fairfax County Department of Fire and Rescue responded to the 600 block of Chain Bridge Road before midnight and remained on the scene at least through 2:20 a.m.

When firefighters arrived, the two-alarm house fire was visible throughout the house’s first floor, the FCFRD said. It required assistance from the Arlington and Montgomery county fire departments.

Around 2:10 a.m., the fire was under control, and investigators were on the scene to determine the cause of the blaze. Two people were transported to a hospital with injuries considered non-life-threatening, but there were no reported firefighter injuries.

Fairfax County police closed all lanes on Chain Bridge Road (Route 123) from Merrie Ridge Road to North Glebe Road due to the fire department activity, eventually reopening the road around 9:30 a.m.

FCFRD spokesperson Bill Delaney told Tysons Reporter the cause of the fire has not been determined yet. The severity of the damage means the investigation could take weeks to complete.

Outgoing Gov. Ralph Northam expressed condolences to Robb and his wife, Lynda Johnson Robb, the daughter of former president Lyndon B. Johnson, for the fire.

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Five people were displaced yesterday (Tuesday) after a cooking-related fire partially destroyed their home in West Falls Church.

Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department units responded to a reported house fire in the 3200 block of Nealon Drive around 9:20 a.m. The Arlington County and City of Fairfax fire departments also got involved in the response.

In a blog post released this morning (Wednesday), the FCFRD says it determined that the fire was started by cooking oil in an unattended pan on the house’s stovetop:

Units arrived on the scene of a one-story, single-family home with fire showing from the roof. Crews quickly located the fire and extinguished it. There were no reported civilian or firefighter injuries.

Two occupants were home at the time of the fire. Both occupants were alerted to the fire by a neighbor who saw smoke coming from the attic. Both occupants self-evacuated and called 9-1-1. Smoke alarms were present but were not working due to a lack of batteries.

Fire Investigators determined that the fire was accidental in nature and started in the kitchen. The cause of the fire was the ignition of cooking oil from an unattended pan left on the stovetop.

The fire resulted in approximately $162,500 in property damages, according to FCFRD.

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Morning Notes

Customers peruse the book store Bards Alley during Vienna’s Church Street Holiday Stroll (photo by Amy Woolsey)

(Updated at 9:05 a.m.) Inova Comes to McLean for Blood Drive — The McLean Volunteer Fire Department has teamed up with Inova Blood Donor Services for a blood drive in its lower parking lot at 1455 Laughlin Avenue. Staff will set up the bloodmobile before noon, and the drive will officially run from 1-5:30 p.m. [McLean VFD/Facebook]

FCPS Leads Public School Student Exodus — “For the second straight year, enrollment in Virginia public schools has dropped, with 46,000 fewer students enrolled since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to data from the Virginia Department of Education, the largest school district in the commonwealth, Fairfax County, saw the largest enrollment dip — more than 10,000 students, or a 5.4% difference between fall 2019 and fall 2021.” [WTOP]

Merrifield Wendy’s to Give Away Free Food — “The first 100 customers at the newly remodeled Wendy’s restaurant in Gate House Plaza in Merrifield on Dec. 4 will get a chance to win free food for a year. Wend American Group…is in the final stages of completing the remodeling of its Wendy’s restaurant at 3040 Gate House Plaza, near the intersection of Gallows Road and Route 50.” [Patch]

FCPS Appoints New Chief Equity Officer — Dr. Nardos King will take over as Fairfax County Public Schools’ interim chief equity officer on Dec. 6, replacing Dr. Lisa Williams until a new superintendent makes a permanent hire. Williams, who has overseen the division’s equity and diversity work since July 2019, is leaving for personal reasons not related to work, FCPS told Tysons Reporter. [FCPS]

Vienna Police Doubles Fundraising Goal for Prostate Cancer Awareness — “The last picture of the no shave November! 30 days ago our officers put down their razors until we reach our $3K goal. Today we can happily report that their efforts generated $6,594 in donations for @ZEROCancer THANK YOU to everyone that donate! Time to shave!” [Vienna Police Department/Twitter]

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Morning Notes

Last week’s lunar eclipse from Park Crest area of Tysons (photo by Luke Schwenke)

Man Dies in Forklift Accident in Merrifield — “Officers are on scene of a workplace accident at Home Depot, 2815 Merrilee Dr, Fairfax. Preliminarily, a man was fatally injured by a forklift he was operating & pronounced dead on scene.” [FCPD/Twitter]

Reduced Metro Service Sticks Around — “The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority said Monday that rail service will continue at reduced levels through December 31. In a news release, WMATA said there is a delay getting parts for 6000-series rail cars because of global supply chain challenges. The 7000-series rail cars are still offline due to safety issues.” [Patch]

County Adjusts COVID-19 Hospitalization Numbers — “During a recent review process, the Health Department identified approximately 200 reported COVID-19 cases, primarily from 2020, that were incorrectly marked as ‘hospitalized.’ While these patients were seen at emergency departments for COVID-19 illness, they were not admitted to the hospital.” [FCHD]

Fire Department to Engage Frontline Personnel With Upcoming Strategic Plan — “The Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department is preparing for the future by bolstering recruitment, building community partnerships and enhancing service in Tysons, Fire Chief John Butler told the McLean Citizens Association (MCA) in an online discussion Nov. 17 with Fairfax County Police Chief Kevin Davis.” [Sun Gazette/Inside NoVA]

The Boro Is Centerpiece of Transforming Tysons — “Change has indeed come to the north side of Leesburg Pike along Westpark and Greensboro drives in Tysons since the arrival of the Silver Line in 2014. Once dominated by office structures and the landmark West Park Hotel — which has been demolished and serves as a parking area while awaiting redevelopment — the area is quickly becoming a strong example of transit-oriented development.” [Viva Tysons]

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