Tysons Corner, VA

Mothers Out Front Fairfax, the local climate change branch of a national movement, is advocating for electric school buses in Fairfax County.

More than 40 people gathered at a room in the Patrick Henry Library (101 E. Maple Avenue) in the Town of Vienna for the “Clean Buses for Kids” campaign launch last evening (Tuesday).

Bobby Monacella, the co-leader of Mothers Out Front Fairfax and the mother of two kids attending the county’s public schools, told the attendees that electric buses seem like a “no brainer.”

“They are safer. They’re healthier. They are less expensive to expensive to operate. The maintenance is much less. The cost of electricity versus diesel is much less,” Monacella said.

She added that the push for electric school buses needs to start now because of the life cycle of diesel school buses.

“It made us realize we simply can’t buy one more diesel school bus because it lasts us 15 years and with the cost of fuel emissions, our kids’ future can’t wait for that,” she said.

Since electric school buses don’t have an engine, muffler or alternator that requires tune-ups, the lifetime fuel and maintenance savings over diesel buses total $170,000, according to a Mothers Out Front Fairfax press release.

Some places around the country have already made the switch from diesel to electric school fleets, including schools in California and New York.

Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) runs one of the largest school bus fleets in the U.S. with more than 1,600 buses.

Karl Frisch, the Democratic candidate for the Providence District seat on the FCPS School Board, said that a switch to electric buses would attract companies, further diversifying businesses in the county.

Pat Hynes, who represents the Hunter Mill District on the school board, told Tysons Reporter that the cost of switching to electric buses is the main challenge facing the school board.

“I think it really comes down to the upfront cost not only for the buses, which are three times more expensive than the diesel buses, there’s also an investment that has to made in the infrastructure,” Hynes said, adding that the buses would need chargers.

Hynes said that “it’s a win, win, win” if the local government partners with the state government and also the local utility company to help defray the upfront costs.

Overall, Hynes said she thinks the school board will support the campaign as long as the electric buses aren’t more expensive than diesel-fueled ones in the long term.

“Every statement that the board has made in the last couple years in favor of taking some leadership on climate change has been supported almost unanimously,” Hynes said.

The school board and the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors also jointly formed the Joint Environmental Task Force to lead on climate action, Hynes said, adding that the task force will hold its inaugural meeting on Sept. 3 at the Mason District Government Center (6507 Columbia Pike).

“That is where policy will begin for both boards — the school board and the county board,” she said.

Del. Mark Keam (D-35th District) said that the conversation about electric buses should be broadened beyond talking about the environment.

“This isn’t about Julie taking care of her daughter or me taking care of my kids… It’s about Mother Earth suffering,” Keam said. “That’s why I think this conversation should start and end with the bigger picture of climate change and where we are with this crisis.”

At the end of the campaign launch, the group urged attendees to sign a petition urging the school board to buy a test bus in 2020 and request a small number of electric buses by 2021.

The group aims to replace FCPS buses with electric ones by 2024.

“When moms get involved, things happen,” Keam said to cheers.

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As the Town of Vienna awaits Fairfax County’s renovation of the Patrick Henry Library, the Town Council continues to drive forward a proposed public parking garage.

The Town Council is set to hear a presentation tonight (Monday) from Grimm and Parker about several ideas that could incorporate public parking in the project.

Opened in 1971, Patrick Henry Library (101 E. Maple Avenue) is set to be rebuilt as part of a $91 million bond referendum to upgrade the county’s aging libraries. Mayor Laurie DiRocco previously said that the library got moved up in the county’s renovation schedule from 2026 to 2022.

Ultimately, the town wants cost-effective public parking that will create a synergy between the library and the surrounding commercial area, according to a report from Grimm and Parker.

“Parking is critical to the success of the Patrick Henry Library. The current parking supply often does not meet the demand,” the report said. “Additionally, the Town of Vienna is experiencing a parking shortfall for the Maple Avenue Corridor.”

According to the report, the three designs concepts for the library and parking are:

  • a stand-alone, two-story building with surface parking for 90 cars;
  • a single-level library with an integrated parking garage with 125 spots for the library and 84 for the town;
  • or a single-level library with an integrated parking garage with 125 spaces for the library and 188 for the town

Prior to the meeting, the Town Council will hold a work session about the final phase of the scope of work for the multimodal transportation study of the Maple Avenue Corridor that is being done by Kimley-Horn.

“Based on the future land use scenario results, Kimley-Horn will present potential multimodal transportation improvements for discussion with Town citizens in a workshop format,” according to the town’s website.

The final community workshop for the study will be held on Wednesday, Sept. 4, at 7 p.m.

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Starting today, residents and business owners can head to the Tysons-Pimmit Regional Library to seek low-interest loans to help pay for flood damage repairs.

Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust shared in a newsletter to constituents Monday (Aug. 12) information about two loan centers — Tysons-Pimmit Regional Library (7584 Leesburg Pike) and the Arlington County Trades Center (2700 S. Taylor Street).

Gov. Ralph Northam announced last Thursday (Aug. 8) that the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) will offer low-interest federal loans to people affected by the July 8 flooding in the City of Falls Church, along with Fairfax and Arlington counties and the City of Alexandria.

Businesses and private nonprofit organizations may borrow up to $2 million, while homeowners may borrow up to $200,000 for damaged or destroyed real estate and up to $40,000 for personal property.

“In addition, the County has waived any permit fees that might apply to reconstruction efforts,” Foust wrote.

More from the newsletter:

The SBA may increase loans by up to 20 percent if officials verify the extent of physical damages. Agency officials also may support efforts by applicants to build storm shelters or safe rooms to protect against damage from a similar natural disaster in the future.

SBA officials will set the loans’ terms and amounts based on applicants’ financial conditions. The agency will offer loans with terms of up to 30 years and interest rates as low as 1.938 percent for renters and homeowners, 2.75 percent for non-profits, and 4 percent for businesses.

The loan center at the Tysons-Pimmit library will be open:

  • Tuesday-Thursday, Aug. 13-15: 11 a.m.-8 p.m.
  • Friday, Aug. 16: 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
  • Saturday, Aug. 17: 1-5 p.m.
  • Monday, Aug. 19: 11 a.m.-8 p.m.

The loan center in Arlington will be open the same days and times, except for different hours on Saturday, Aug. 17, from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Both centers will be closed on Sunday, Aug. 18.

“SBA officials will be available to answer questions about the agency’s disaster-loan programs and help applicants fill out the necessary forms,” Foust wrote in the newsletter.

Residents have until Oct. 7 to request a loan to cover physical property damage, while businesses have until May 7, 2020, to request a loan for economic injury.

Photo via Fairfax County

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The history room at the Mary Riley Styles Public Library in the City of Falls Church will temporarily close beginning Sunday, Aug. 18.

The closure comes after the city’s decision to revamp the room, which officials said is not in a position to meet the growing demand, into a “larger, more prominent” space at the aging library (120 N. Virginia Avenue).

The renovation includes adding 3,174 square feet, along with new features that will ensure a quieter and more comfortable experience for visitors.

“The new room will also again have regular weekly hours to encourage drop-ins and generally increase access,” the website said.

While the renovations are taking place, the files and documentation will be placed in storage and won’t be available for public access until the renovation is completed in late 2020 or early 2021. However, people can still search for photos, death notices and obituaries online.

By 2033, the library’s website said it expects more than 35,000 people to take advantage of the sources available in the history room.

Image via City of Falls Church

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Fairfax County Public Library is trying something new this year — a county-wide, adult summer reading challenge.

In years past, various branches held individual challenges for adults, but after demand rose, the county designed a unified program, according to Mary Mulrenan, a spokesperson for FCPL.

“A small committee worked together to create a system-wide program that would provide a way for all library customers to participate,” she said.

So far, participants have turned in 1,534 logs to the library — significantly more than they originally anticipated, according to Mulrenan. “We are surveying customers and to date, 73 people have completed our survey. Out of this number, 92% have rated it excellent or very good and 95% will participate again next summer.”

Anyone interested in participating can pick up reading logs at any local FCPL branch or print them out on the website. The nearest location is the Tysons-Pimmit Regional Library (7584 Leesburg Pike).

To complete the challenge, participants must complete two reading logs, each consisting of a challenge to read or listen to four books and complete one other task, like trying out the library’s research database or following FCPL’s social media accounts.

Participants who return one log will be given goodies such as free snacks, discounts, fine forgiveness at the library or free entry to a Fairfax County recreation center.

Upon completion of a second log, participants will receive a drawstring bag and be entered into a drawing at the end of the summer for a canvas bag filled with a Barnes and Noble gift card, a journal and a portable beach blanket. Individual branches may offer additional prizes, according to the county library website.

Anyone interested in participating can still turn in reading logs until Aug. 31.

The library plans to offer more incentives next summer, due to this year’s high demand.

“It’s wonderful that we have exceeded that number and we still have time (one month) to gain more finishers. We also hope to encourage more businesses to sponsor coupons,” Mulrenan said.

Image via Fairfax County

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Vienna police arrested a 29-year-old man who allegedly hit a boy at Foster’s Grille.

The incident occurred at noon on Sunday (July 7) at the restaurant’s Vienna location (138 W. Maple Avenue).

From the police report:

A citizen was in Foster’s Grill with her juvenile son. A man was seated at the bar, randomly yelling and making the other customers uncomfortable. At one point, the man got up, went behind the juvenile, and struck him on the back. The man then left the restaurant.

Officers located the man in the area and found him to be incoherent. The man became irate with the officers, and it was determined that he may be a danger to himself or others.

Police arrested the man, who is a resident of Cornflower Court in Vienna, on an Emergency Custody Order and took him to a nearby medical facility for an evaluation.

Police told the mom about the warrant process if she wants to pursue charges against the man for misdemeanor assault on her son.

Around 12:40 p.m. while police were investigating the alleged assault, a different man came up to the boy and asked about the police activity, according to the report.

“The man was advised by officers to continue on his way,” police said, adding that the man walked through the middle of the investigation. “At one point, the man approached the juvenile and made a statement that concerned the juvenile.”

Police said that the man eventually left the area.

In a separate incident, Vienna police are looking for the man who allegedly exposed himself in Patrick Henry Library last month.

The incident occurred around 4:30 p.m. on June 27. Police said a woman reported that “she was in the library when an unknown man exposed himself in front of her.”

The man then left the library (101 E. Maple Avenue), and police were not able to find him, according to the police report.

Photo via Facebook

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As the Tysons-Pimmit Library continues its quarterly book sales, the library might get a new place to help store some of its books.

Fairfax County is looking to lease a property it owns to the Friends of Tysons-Pimmit Library, the non-profit that provides funding for the library.

“One of the primary methods for the Friends to raise this funding is to hold ongoing book sales at the library as well as much larger book marketplaces on a quarterly basis,” according to county documents.

The nonprofit plans to construct a 199-square-foot brick-faced building next to the library “to assist in their preparations for the book sales,” according to the county. The shed would store books and materials needed for the book sales.

The county’s Board of Supervisors OK’d today (Tuesday) to let residents know about a public hearing on the matter, which is set to be held on July 30 at 4 p.m.

Photo via Friends of the Tysons-Pimmit Library

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The City of Falls Church’s aging library will begin its makeover in a few months.

After nearly two years of planning, construction to expand and renovate Mary Riley Styles Public Library (120 N. Virginia Avenue) is set to start in September.

“The building is aged and its systems are outdated, having been constructed in 1957 and expanded in 1968 and 1992,” according to the city’s website, adding that the library needs more space to meet the needs of its growing number of registered borrowers.

Planning for the project began in 2017. Most recently, Falls Church’s City Council received updated designs for the project in January.

The two-story expansion will add roughly 6,600 square feet to the side of the library facing N. Virginia Avenue and create a new entrance on the corner of Park and N. Virginia avenues.

Once the work is complete, the library will become ADA compliant, have more meeting space and offer additional programming.

The project also plans to make the Local History Room more prominent by moving it from the lower level to the upper level and to nearly triple the size of the kids’ area.

While construction is underway, the library will temporarily relocate near the Thomas Jefferson Elementary School (601 S. Oak Street).

Construction is expected to last through December 2020.

Images via City of Falls Church

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(Updated at 11:40 a.m.) A reported power outage that hit downtown Falls Church this morning (June 18) is now resolved.

As of 9:05 a.m., Dominion reported that the power outage was affecting 224 customers on the northwestern side of the intersection of Route 7  and N. Washington Street (Route 29). By 11:40 a.m., the power outage was no longer listed on the company’s map of reported power outages.

The City of Falls Church tweeted earlier this morning that the power outage affected City Hall and the community center, which are both open, and the Mary Riley Styles Public Library, which had power restored around 10:15 a.m.

The cause of the power outage is unknown at this time.

Map via Dominion Energy 

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Laura Schwartz is a licensed Realtor in VA, D.C. and MD with McEnearney Associates in McLean. Reach the office at 703-790-9090.

We are so close to the end of the school year and that beloved and sacred summer time!

Avoiding the “summer slide” as experts call it, means getting kids to keep reading over the summer to keep their skills sharp. Our wonderful local Fairfax County Library can help avoid the slide.

Starting on June 13, the last day of school for Fairfax County, you can sign kids up for the Summer Reading Adventure. I’ll detail the rules below, but the idea is the kids sign up and commit to reading a certain number of books before August 31 and in the end they get rewarded with a free coupon book to local places.

Basics:

  • Babies through rising 3rd graders: read 15 books (including being read to)
  • Rising 4th & 5th graders: read 10 books
  • Teens in rising grades 6-12: read 5 books

Prize:

Over 20 businesses have provided coupons for free and discounted items. See a full list here. Examples include free Rita’s, Free Potomac Nationals tickets, Free Comic Book, free laser tag game from Shadowland and more.

In addition to reading, there are events and contests all summer.

  • Chris Michael Magic
  • Interact Story Theatre
  • Groovy Nate
  • Henna Harmony

Contests for teens:

  • Essay/poetry contest for rising 7th, 8th and 9th graders
  • Teen Film Festival
  • Teen Cover Art Contest

Download the reading log for babies — 5th graders.

Download the teen reading log.

Read more on the Summer Reading Adventure or find your nearest library.

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