Fairfax County Leader Criticizes Senate Vote on Masks — Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay said he’s “deeply disappointed” in the Virginia Senate for passing a bill that would let parents opt out of school mask requirements, arguing that it usurps local school boards’ authority. He says local officials have asked the governor to work with them on “an offramp” for when to stop using masks but “have not received any response to that suggestion.” [Jeff McKay/Twitter]
I-66 West Ramp to Vienna Metro Reopens — The ramp from westbound I-66 to the Vienna Metro Station, via an exit to Country Creek Road and Virginia Center Boulevard, has reopened to traffic after an extended closure that began on Jan. 21. The closure was needed for utility work related to the project to extend the I-66 Express Lanes from I-495 in Dunn Loring. [VDOT Northern Virginia/Twitter]
Park Authority Highlights History of Freedom Hill — “Drive through busy Tysons, Virginia, and the traffic, buildings and construction make it hard to imagine the place as anything but a busy urban center. But did you know that it was once a rural community made up of free Black Fairfax County citizens?” [FCPA]
Tysons Company Faces Facial Recognition Concerns — “Two days after the Internal Revenue Service said it would transition away from using facial recognition for taxpayers to access certain IRS documents online after a wave of privacy complaints, Tysons, Virginia-based ID.me said it would make the use of ‘selfies’ optional for all of its government clients.” [WTOP]
Farmers’ Market Managers Sought — The Fairfax County Park Authority is currently recruiting volunteers to manage its 10 farmers markets, including a McLean market that will operate from May 6 to Nov. 11 at Lewinsville Park (1659 Chain Bridge Road). The market managers provide on-site support by setting up supplies, enforcing rules, answering questions, and helping with vendor selection and community outreach. [FCPA]
Photo courtesy novafoto.co
ACLU of Virginia Sues Over Optional Mask Order — The civil rights organization filed a lawsuit against Gov. Glenn Youngkin yesterday (Tuesday), saying that his executive order making face masks optional in schools “shows a reckless disregard for students with disabilities.” The move comes as Fairfax County Public Schools prepares for a hearing in its joint lawsuit in Arlington County Circuit Court at 1 p.m. today (Wednesday). [WUSA9]
County Launches Black History Project — The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors and public school system are collaborating on a Black/African American Experience Project to capture, share, and preserve those aspects of the county’s history. The effort includes collecting oral histories, supporting student activities and research, and identifying options for new historical markers. [Fairfax County Government]
Tysons Software Company Expands — “Tysons’ Appian Corp. has been on a fierce hiring spree, and now it’s adding more space to accommodate those new employees. The low-code software company, which has seen demand for its products grow during the pandemic, is taking on two additional floors at its headquarters in the former Gannett building at 7950 Jones Branch Drive.” [Washington Business Journal]
Funding Approved for Vienna Stream Restoration — “The second phase of the Bear Branch stream-restoration project in Vienna will move forward, following unanimous approval Jan. 25 by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. The project…is designed to reduce nutrients and bolster water quality in the Accotink Creek watershed.” [Sun Gazette]
Metro Offers Hiring Bonus to Bus Drivers — “Metro is offering up to a $2,500 pay incentive as part of a new campaign to hire more bus drivers. Metro, like transit agencies and other industries nationwide, is facing a staffing shortage due to the pandemic and is looking to hire nearly 70 bus drivers needed to meet the current bus service schedule.” [WMATA]
The McLean Community Center has some notable names lined up for an upcoming panel to celebrate Black History Month, which has been recognized every February since 1976.
Announced in a news release yesterday (Thursday), MCC’s panel discussion on Feb. 4 will tie into its “Traveling While Black” virtual reality exhibit that has been available to visitors at the 1234 Ingleside Avenue facility since Dec. 15.
Open until Feb. 12, the film explores how both racism and the past 60 years of civil rights activism have shaped African American communities through a conversation in the D.C. restaurant Ben’s Chili Bowl.
The “Talk Back, Look Forward” panel will feature several key figures from the movie:
- Director Roger Ross Williams, who became the first Black director to win an Academy Award in 2010 with the short film “Music by Prudence”
- Ben’s Chili Bowl founder and owner Virginia Ali
- Civil rights activist Courtland Cox, who helped organize student protests in D.C. during the 1960s
- Rev. Dr. Sandra Butler-Truesdale, a D.C. music historian and minister
- Tamir Rice Foundation founder and CEO Samaria Rice, whose son was killed by Cleveland police in 2014
Moderated by interactive media marketer Joshua Henry Jenkins, the discussion will begin at 7:30 p.m. and include boxed meals from Ben’s Chili Bowl that participants can pick up starting at 6:30 p.m.
“Ben’s Chili Bowl has modeled what it means to be a community center by being a leader in creating a safe space for the African American community,” MCC Executive Director Daniel Singh said in a statement. “We are honored to have legendary civil rights leaders such as Mrs. Ali, Mr. Cox, and Ms. Rice join us, with the artistic vision of Mr. Williams connecting all of them.”
MCC says Williams and Rice will be participating remotely.
Admission is free for all, but advance registration is required, and the number of patrons will be limited to encourage social distancing and prevent crowding due to COVID-19.
As a Fairfax County government facility, MCC requires face masks for all visitors and staff. Hand-sanitizing stations have also been set up throughout the building.
MCC spokesperson Sabrina Anwah notes that the organization decided to go with boxed meals for this event so that participants can “carry them to locations throughout the building or take them home.”
As Fairfax County moves to rename two major highways, efforts to reexamine the names of landmarks referencing the country’s racist past are making their way to the Town of Vienna.
The Vienna Town Council is slated to vote Monday (Jan. 24) to schedule a public hearing on possibly renaming Wade Hampton Drive, a small neighborhood street southwest of Maple Avenue.
The council was scheduled to vote on Jan. 3, but the meeting got canceled by snow. Town public information officer Karen Thayer told Tysons Reporter that the public hearing will likely be set for Feb. 7.
The town adopted the name in the 1960s in reference to Wade Hampton III, a lieutenant general for the Confederacy who later worked against Reconstruction efforts and raised money for the Ku Klux Klan. He served as governor of South Carolina for two years after a notoriously corrupt election.
If the council eventually approves a name change, it’s unclear what the replacement will be. The small street contains just four residences, a dentist’s office, and the Sunrise assisted living facility that’s now under construction.
Vienna Mayor Linda Colbert formed an ad hoc committee last year to study the issue and propose a new name. The committee consisted of two property owners on the street and two members of the nonprofit Historic Vienna, which operates the Freeman Store and Museum and the Little Library Museum.
After meeting in March, April, and May, the group recommended changing Wade Hampton Drive’s name but couldn’t reach a consensus on what it should be called instead.
One proposal was to use Roland Street, which would extend an existing road that links Wade Hampton to Nutley Street. Other suggestions included Carter Lane or Drive, Mildred Lane (or variants of Mildred Drive or Loving Drive), Liberty Lane, and Minor Drive.
According to documents from the committee, at least one member expressed opposition to Roland Street in a June 1 letter to the mayor and council:
Many of my Great Aunts and Uncles spoke about J.B. Roland was a Confederate sympathizer and a racist. As I have learned from my Grandparents and father that ‘Old Man Roland’ supported the Confederacy and he was a Confederate soldier.
Roland Street was not listed in the Fairfax County History Commission’s Confederate names inventory.
The committee’s two Historic Vienna members — DeArmond Carter and Gloria Runyon — advocated for Carter Drive or Lane in recognition of their ancestors, the Carter family, who have lived in Vienna since 1859 and counted a Union spy and major landowners among their members.
Alex Gallegos, a resident on the affected street, raised concerns that committee members proposing a street name to highlight their own family could create conflicts of interest.
The four families on the affected street said that, if Roland Street is ruled out, they would favor a reference to Mildred Jeter and Richard Loving, the couple behind the Supreme Court case that legalized interracial marriages nationwide.
Photo via Google Maps
Tysons Corner Center is getting an up-close-and-personal look at reproductions of Michelangelo’s famous ceiling paintings from the Vatican’s Sistine Chapel.
An art exhibit that’s made its way through cities across the globe is coming to the mall on Jan. 28 for a month-long showing. Called “The Sistine Chapel: The Exhibition,” it features high-definition photos and printings that emulate the brushstrokes of the 16th century artwork.
“This exhibition gives visitors a chance to engage with Rome’s most iconic treasures in ways that were never possible,” said Martin Biallas, CEO of the Los Angeles-based event planning company group SEE Global Entertainment, producer of the exhibit.
The show will occur from Wednesdays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., taking place in a 10,000 square-foot space on the mall’s lower level across from H&M.
A timed ticketing system is in place to limit capacity and allow for social distancing, according to a press release.
Visitors have already snatched up all of the dates in January for the first three days of the show.
While visitors to the historic Sistine Chapel can view the artwork from around 66 feet away, that’s reduced to around 13 feet with the show, the company says on its website.
“This exhibition is like a sanctuary; you’re transformed into a completely different world,” said Biallas, who produced the exhibit after seeing the ceiling frescoes in person.
“When I visited the Sistine Chapel in Rome, there were long lines and we were rushed through,” he said. “This exhibit at Tysons Corner Center allows everyone an opportunity to see the amazing art at their pace and up-close, at an affordable price, and enjoy an inspiring and unforgettable experience.”
Tickets generally range from $19 to $23 per adult plus fees, but family bundles and other discounts are available for seniors, students and the military. Visitors can also purchase audio guides.
If you meet a dancer who grew up in Vienna within the past half-century, chances are good that they trained at Cuppett Performing Arts Center.
Commonly known as Cuppett’s, the family-owned dance studio is in the midst of its 60th season, and despite the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, its leaders hope to celebrate the milestone with the same enthusiasm and sense of community that has made it a beloved town institution.
“You might think this is silly, but several people over the years have told me that Cuppett’s has its own soul,” owner and co-artistic director Amy Cuppett told Tysons Reporter. “…It’s like the studio is a foundation right there, but what happens within those walls, it’s almost magical, and…a lot of our students, they’re friends for life.”
Cuppett’s has come a long way since Amy’s mother, founder Alzine Cuppett, started the studio in the basement of her Vienna home in 1962.
A professional dancer during the 1940s, Alzine trained under multi-hyphenate icon Gene Kelly through the school that his family ran in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. She performed at the Roxy Theatre in New York City, in the Broadway musical “Marinka,” and as a Radio City Rockette.
After World War II, she moved to the D.C. area with her new husband and was raising five children when the principal of Our Lady of Good Counsel asked her to teach dance to the Vienna Catholic school’s kindergarten students.
The classes proved so popular that Alzine’s husband built a dance studio into their house, and Cuppett Performing Arts Center was born, eventually outgrowing the basement and moving to its current location at 135 Park Street in 1980.
Born 10 years after her five siblings, Amy Cuppett recalls literally sleeping under a record player while growing up.
“She was a single mom at this point. If I wanted to be with her, I’d go downstairs and kind of curl up and listen to her teach,” she said.
Though she took ballet, jazz, tap, and other dance classes, Amy initially veered away from the arts as an adult, pursuing a college degree in finance and a career in real estate and mortgage banking. The stress of those industries wore her down, though.
She returned to Cuppett’s in 1996 with a child of her own and an unexpected desire to teach, despite her mother’s reservations about the high-reward, low-pay profession.
“Teachers don’t get paid what they should, in my opinion,” Amy said. “But it’s definitely something that you have to love, and at the time, that’s what I was feeling: this huge passion and very ambitious about my ideas that I had.” Read More
How to Dispose of Your Christmas Tree — The Town of Vienna will provide curbside collections of Christmas trees to all customers through Jan. 31. Fairfax County collections will be from Jan. 3-14. All lights, decorations, and stands should be removed prior to pickup. [Patch]
Virginia Time Capsule Possibly Found — “Workers removing chunks of granite that had once supported this city’s Robert E. Lee monument finally found what appears to be an elusive 1887 time capsule shortly before noon on Monday…This is the second time a capsule was discovered under the monument; a small lead box opened last week contained mementos of several men who designed the memorial.” [The Washington Post]
Churchill Student Makes Food Network Debut — The Food Network kicked off the 10th season of its reality show Kids Baking Champion yesterday (Monday). Among the 13 young contestants competing to win $25,000 is Churchill Road Elementary School fourth-grade student Finley Sheers, who started making cupcakes as a hobby during the pandemic. [Inside NoVA]
Vienna Rotary Club Hosts Unhoused Youth for Holidays — “Our youth had a fun-filled event hosted by Vienna Rotary Club to celebrate the holidays. They created pillows, decorated wooden arts and crafts, made jewelry, decorated cookies, took pictures at the photo booth and with Santa, and ate a lot of pizza and snacks!” [Second Story/Twitter]
Updated at 6:35 p.m. on 12/16/2021 — All performances of “A Child’s Christmas in Wales” have been canceled due to illness, per the Town of Vienna.
The Weekly Planner is a roundup of interesting events coming up over the next week in the Tysons area.
We’ve searched the web for events of note in Tysons, Vienna, Merrifield, McLean, and Falls Church. Know of any we’ve missed? Tell us!
Monday, Dec. 13
- Sweet Yonder and guests — 7:30 p.m. at Jammin Java (227 Maple Ave. East) — An all-women bluegrass band brings Southern sounds with speed and flare. Doors open at 6 p.m. Tickets are $20.
Tuesday, Dec. 14
- Simple Lines — 11 a.m.-4 p.m. at The McLean Textile Gallery (6819 Elm St.) — A new exhibit tied to the nonprofit Studio Art Quilt Associates features fiber art. It runs through Jan. 14.
Wednesday, Dec. 15
- Falls Church Santamobile — 6:30-9:30 p.m. throughout December (Dec. 15-19, with weather rescheduling if necessary from Dec. 20-23) — Track the Santamobile each night on the Falls Church Volunteer Fire Department’s Facebook page. Elves will distribute candy canes.
- Street Corner Symphony — 7:30 p.m. at Jammin Java (227 Maple Ave. East) — An acapella group brings the holiday spirit following its NBC debut on the second season of “The Sing-Off” in 2010. Doors open at 6 p.m. Tickets are $22.
Thursday, Dec. 16
- “Traveling While Black” — noon-8 p.m. at the McLean Community Center (1234 Ingleside Ave.) — A virtual reality movie shows participants’ part in the struggle for racial justice. One-hour appointments are available for the exhibit, which runs through Feb. 12.
Friday, Dec. 17
- Red Cross Blood Drive — 9 a.m.-3 p.m. at the McLean Community Center — The American Red Cross Heart of Gold Foundation is seeking donors of all ethnicities to give blood. All donors will receive a $10 Amazon gift card.
- “A Child’s Christmas in Wales” — 7 p.m. at the Vienna Community Center (120 Cherry St. SE) — Performances continue throughout December for this holiday musical from the Vienna Theatre Company, based on a story by Welsh poet Dylan Thomas. Cost is $15, but shortened, kid-friendly matinees on Saturdays and Sundays are $10.
- Family Trivia Night — 7-9 p.m. at the Old Firehouse (1440 Chain Bridge Road) — Enjoy unlimited popcorn and test your trivia skills. Preregistration is recommended. Cost is $5 for a family of four.
Saturday, Dec. 18
- Holiday Movie Pajama Party — 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at ShowPlace ICON Theatre (1667 Silver Hill Drive) — Grab your pajamas and enjoyed holiday-themed music, goodie bags, a photo booth, and more, part of a movie marathon at The Boro’s movie theater. Cost is $8.
- Winter Village — noon to 5 p.m. at The PARC at Tysons (8508 Leesburg Pike) — A new community space is transformed into a winter wonderland, featuring a local holiday market and activities. Free.
- NVMR Holiday Open House — 1-5 p.m. at the Historic Vienna Depot (231 Dominion Rd. NE) — Take a look around Vienna’s historic train depot at the Northern Virginia Model Railroaders’ last open house of the year. Masks are required for everyone 2 and older, but social distancing can’t be guaranteed due to the building’s size.
Sunday, Dec. 19
- Santa at Neiman Marcus — noon to 7 p.m. at Neiman Marcus Tysons Corner (1961 Chain Bridge Road) — After featuring white Santas since its opening in 1988, the Tysons Corner Center department store will have its first Black Santa this weekend. A second event was added from 2-8 p.m. Saturday (Dec. 18), but photo reservations have been filling up fast.
A volunteer group that describes itself as the “unofficial town council” for the McLean community is getting an encore for its 100-plus years of service.
The McLean Citizens Association celebrated the milestone during a meeting yesterday (Wednesday), highlighting ways the organization has helped make the area what it is today, such as by contributing to the founding of the McLean Community Center.
The organization’s first meeting was on Nov. 2, 1914 as the School and Civic League of McLean, and the group celebrated a century of work in 2014.
But MCA was incorporated on June 25, 1921, giving it another chance to recognize its past.
“It’s been over a 100 years since we’ve been incorporated, and there aren’t a lot of corporations…that last 100 years,” MCA President Rob Jackson said, crediting the organization’s historians, Merrily Pierce and Paul Kohlenberger, for bringing the date to the group’s attention.
MCA has sought to give residents a local voice and minimize the effects of rapid urbanization on the community’s identity, according to a 100-year anniversary booklet, “The Voice of McLean: One Hundred Years of the McLean Citizens Association,” available in the Fairfax County Public Library’s Virginia Room.
The group was reincorporated in 1953 as the McLean Citizens Association with the tagline “the Voice of McLean.” Today, it continues to advocate for various civil, educational, and social interests, from hosting forums with public officials to weighing in on development in the greater McLean area.
According to Kohlenberger, MCA’s founding was driven by school needs.
When the Franklin Sherman School, which consolidated one-room schools in the area, opened in 1914, it lacked basic supplies. The League rallied to raise money to furnish a school auditorium, buy library books, help pave local roads, and further aid the community.
“The school was delivered, but there were no chalkboards, no books, nothing else for the students’ use,” Kohlenberger said. “That led to a tradition that we continue to this day: McLean Day.”
In 1922, the group’s civic leaders also helped launch the McLean Volunteer Fire Department and negotiated with Alexandria Power Co. to bring electricity to McLean, the booklet notes.
The power company brought a line from Falls Church and created a distribution center around a decade later. The station has undergone upgrades since then and can be seen at Chain Bridge Road and Westmoreland Street.
Other notable work by MCA, as detailed in the booklet, include:
- Opposing a 1957 interim Fairfax County plan eyeing McLean for a 60-acre shopping mall and apartment development, instead calling for such proposals to be located in Tysons
- Helping launch the McLean Community Center as the founding benefactor. It provided funding and part of its land to create it, notably in the ’60s and prior to a 1970 bond referendum.
- Helping steer county funds to create McLean Central Park and a former space there called the McLean Green at the apex of Route 123 and Old Dominion Drive
- Advocating for the county to focus on creating a park — instead of facilitating a 1969 residential development — that became the Scotts Run Nature Preserve
- Creating a committee in 1970 to preserve trees that later turned into the nonprofit McLean Trees Foundation in 2004
- Forming the nonprofit McLean Community Foundation in 1978 to provide philanthropic grants for community projects
I-495 South Lane Closures Tonight — “Weather permitting, the three left lanes of the southbound I-495 (Capital Beltway Outer Loop) general purpose lanes will be closed over the Dulles Toll Road (Route 267) for bridge work…The three left lanes of the southbound I-495 general purpose lanes are scheduled to be closed between 11 p.m. Friday and 7 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 20.” [VDOT]
Falls Church Civil Rights Icon Gets Historical Marker — “An unveiling ceremony will convene this Saturday, Nov. 20, at 1 p.m. for a state historical marker that highlights the career of Dr. Edwin Bancroft Henderson, known as the ‘Father of Black Basketball’…The dedication will be held at the marker’s location alongside Henderson’s former residence at 307 South Maple Ave, Falls Church.” [Virginia Department of Historic Resources]
Fatal Drug Overdoses to Surpass Last Year — “Preliminary numbers show the number of overdose deaths in Fairfax County in 2021 are on pace to exceed 2020 numbers, according to data from the Office of the Medical Examiner. Data provided to Patch shows there were 56 overdose deaths reported to the county in the first two quarters of 2021. Of these, 52 (93 percent) were related to fentanyl.” [Patch]
D.C. Area Gets $19.3 Billion from Federal Infrastructure Bill — “So far, no jurisdiction has highlighted which major road projects they’d like to tackle, but bets could be on the replacement of the American Legion Bridge, the Maryland toll lane project if it gets approved, and improvements to I-81 in western Virginia.” [DCist]
Virginia Tribes Get Say in Development Projects — “Gov. Ralph Northam (D) on Thursday signed an order requiring state agencies to consult with Virginia Indian tribes before making decisions that impact land, waterways and other natural sites important to Indigenous peoples.” [The Washington Post]