Tysons, VA

Friday Morning Notes

McLean Project for the Arts Proposes New Single-Building Art Center — “The McLean Project for the Arts (MPA) is advancing a revised, single-building concept for its proposed art center at McLean’s Clemyjontri Park that would be more efficient, accessible and secure than the initial multiple-building design.” [Inside Nova] 

Falls Church High School Student Recognized by Governor for Black History Awareness Efforts — “A group of 52 students from Laurel Ridge Elementary School and one student from Falls Church High School have been recognized by Governor Ralph Northam for nominating Black Virginians to be recognized on highway markers throughout the state.” [FCPS]

Upcoming Virtual Open House for Plan to Revitalize Downtown McLean — “Curious about a draft plan to revitalize downtown McLean over the next 20 years? We want your feedback at the Nov. 7 virtual open house!” [Twitter]

Staff photo by Jay Westcott

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A Capital One Bank in McLean was robbed Tuesday afternoon, Fairfax County police reported at 2:20 p.m.

Officers from the Fairfax County Police Department are currently on the scene at 6890 Elm St.

The department says the suspect is believed to be a white man who was last seen on foot. He is reportedly 5’9″ and wearing white ballcap and dark clothing.

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The McLean Governmental Center and Providence Community Center are among the most popular sites for early voting in Fairfax County after the county expanded early voting to 13 satellite locations on Oct. 14.

While voters have shown up in droves throughout the county, turnout has been especially high at those two Tysons-area sites, Mount Vernon Government Center in Alexandria, and Reston’s North County Governmental Center, according to county officials.

The Fairfax County Government Center, which has been open for early voting since Sept. 18, also remains popular, but the addition of the satellite locations has eased some of the pressure there after weeks of unusually long lines and wait times.

The wait time for voting in-person now generally ranges from 20 to 40 minutes, though it varies depending on the time of day and day of the week, Fairfax County public information officer Brian Worthy says, noting that mornings tend to be busier.

Sen. Mark Warner (D), who visited the McLean Governmental Center and other early voting sites in Northern Virginia on Saturday (Oct. 17), called the strong turnout “a great sign.”

“This is the first year we’ve had early voting, so I think maybe in future years, [we could think about] opening up additional sites earlier,” Warner said. “But I also think it’s a great sign of how healthy our democracy is if this many people are coming out to vote.”

Saturday represented the biggest turnout yet for Fairfax County. The nearly 11,000 early votes cast on Oct. 17 exceeded the biggest day for early voting in 2016, which came on the final day for early voting in that election, according to the county elections office.

Election workers at the McLean Governmental Center on Saturday told Tysons Reporter that the number of people arriving to cast ballots grew throughout the week, starting around 500 people and peaking at 800 people that Friday (Oct. 16).

Turnout continued to be brisk on Saturday, but the lines were shorter and moved more quickly, because some people instead went to Great Falls Library, which opened on Oct. 17 and is only available for early voting on Saturdays. Read More

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An active investigation is ongoing into the death of an 11-year-old boy, but Fairfax Police say death appears to have been accidental.

The incident occurred in the 1700 block of Maxwell Court in McLean yesterday afternoon. The child was found critically injured and was taken to the hospital where the child died.

The Washington Post reported the incident occurred around 5:30 p.m. as the boy was playing with his friends.

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With COVID-19 on the upswing again in Fairfax, many traditional Halloween events are cancelled, but the Old Firehouse Center (1440 Chain Bridge Road) in McLean is planning a pair of events this Saturday to help keep the holiday alive.

The first will be House of Terror, the Old Firehouse Center’s first haunted house experience.

“OFC’s House of Terror will transform the teen center into the best Halloween experience in McLean,” the group said in a Facebook event listing. “Please note: OFC’s House of Terror is recommended for participants 10 years of age and older.”

As an alternative for younger — or less spooky-inclined — attendees, the Trunk or Treat will help recreate the trick-or-treat experience at a series of vehicles.

“The OFC’s Trunk or Treat will have themed vehicles with Halloween candy at each location to share (while supplies last),” the center said. “Trunk or Treat is a great safe alternative to trick or treating. We would love to see you dressed in your Halloween best. We look forward to seeing you there to give you the scare of your life.”

The program is scheduled to run from 6-9 p.m. and admission is $2. Preregistration is required and all attendees are required to wear a mask and will have a temperature screening prior to entry.

Photo via Google Maps

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Monday Morning Notes

Ketamine and Wellness Facility Opening in McLean — “Avesta Ketamine and Wellness is excited to announce the opening of their second location in McLean Virginia November 2020.” [Benzinga]

Cloud Networking Service in McLean Wins $2.15 Billion Sale — “McLean, Virginia-based telecommunications, internet and cloud services provider GTT Communications has signed an agreement to sell its infrastructure business to I Squared Capital, a Miami-based infrastructure investment company, for $2.15 billion.” [WTOP]

Vienna Community Center Selling Halloween Goodie Bags — “Those interested may come to the community center 8 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 8 am-6 pm Saturdays. Each bag is $20 and comes with two pie-sized pumpkins.” [Vienna Happenings]

OmniRide Cancels Woodbridge-Tysons Route — “Last week, the Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission, which operates the bus service, announced a host of changes to reduce expenses that will take effect Nov. 2. Three commuter routes – Dale City to Mark Center, Lake Ridge to Mark Center and Woodbridge VRE to Tysons Corner – will be suspended until further notice.” [WTOP]

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Two U.S. Park Police officers have been indicted in the fatal shooting of McLean resident Bijan Ghaisar in 2017, Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney Steve Descano announced on Thursday (Oct. 15).

A grand jury handed down indictments with one charge of manslaughter and one for reckless discharge of a firearm against Officers Alejandro Amaya and Lucas W. Vinyard, who remain on paid administrative duty following the shooting, according to The Washington Post.

The indictments represent one of the first significant steps toward legal action against the officers involved in Ghaisar’s killing, a saga that has now spanned three years as his family, the McLean community, and elected officials have criticized the Park Police and FBI for the pace and lack of transparency of their investigations.

“Justice has not yet come for the Ghaisar family, but today is a major step forward in that journey,” Descano said in a statement announcing the indictments. “That journey has a number of steps to go.”

A 25-year-old Langley High School who lived in Tysons and worked as an accountant in McLean, Ghaisar was reportedly involved in a hit-and-run crash in Alexandria on Nov. 17, 2017 that drew the attention of nearby Park Police officers, resulting in an extended car chase on George Washington Memorial Parkway.

An in-car camera video taken by Fairfax County police officers who joined the pursuit as backup showed two Park Police officers, who have since been identified as Amaya and Vinyard, firing into Ghaisar’s vehicle multiple times after he stopped at the intersection of Fort Hunt Road and Alexandria Avenue.

Ghaisar died at Inova Fairfax Hospital on Nov. 28, 2017 after spending 10 days in a coma.

While the main investigation of the shooting was handled by the FBI, the Fairfax County Police Department conducted an internal investigation that determined none of its officers had fired their weapons. Chief Ed Roessler released the video footage of the incident in January 2018.

Federal prosecutors with the U.S. Department of Justice ultimately announced in November 2019 that they would not pursue charges against Amaya and Vinyard.

Descano announced on Jan. 30 that the Fairfax County Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney would investigate Ghaisar’s shooting, and he eventually convened a special grand jury in September.

The Justice Department’s refusal to produce witnesses for the grand jury and a potential trial has complicated Fairfax County’s investigation, according to Descano, who thanks Roessler and the FCPD for providing evidence and assisting with the case.

“I wish this could have been done in a faster fashion,” Descano said. “However, there is no shortcut to justice. This is a very complex and nuanced case. The pursuit of these indictments involved the careful review of over 11,000 pieces of documentary evidence, the chasing down of additional evidence, and the conducting of in-person interviews and discussions in the midst of a global pandemic.”

Because the defendants are federal officers, Descano says he anticipates that they will file motions to move the case to federal court within the next 30 days.

He also expects the federal government to seek a dismissal on the basis of the U.S. Constitution’s Supremacy Clause, which gives federal laws and powers precedence over those of a state.

According to The Washington Post, a civil wrongful death lawsuit against the Park Police that Ghaisar’s family filed with the U.S. District Court in Alexandria in August 2018 is scheduled to go to trial on Nov. 16.

Image via Fairfax County Police Department

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Friday Morning Notes

School Board Votes Unanimously to Rename Mosby Woods Elementary School — The Fairfax County School Board unanimously approved a name change for Mosby Woods Elementary School during its regular meeting on Thursday (Oct. 8). Fairfax County Public Schools Superintendent Scott Brabrand will present recommendations for possible new names to the board on Oct. 22. [Fairfax County Public Schools]

IT Company Paradyme Management Opens Tysons Office — “To support this growth and also serve as a hub for its growing IT lab, the company opened a new Tysons office at 8255 Greensboro Drive in McLean, Virginia, with close to 4,000 square feet of space.” [Herald-Mail Media]

McLean Area Pumpkin Patch Guide — “If your family has a visit planned to a local pumpkin patch in McLean or Fairfax County, we have a list of stands open in the area.” [Patch]

Staff photo by Michelle Goldchain

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Former Dranesville District Supervisor Ernest Joseph Berger has died at age 88 in Johns Island, South Carolina.

During his time in McLean, Berger did not shy away from controversy. The former Dranesville District Supervisor and Army veteran came into office in 1994 with an array of conservative positions that put Berger at odds with many of his colleagues.

Friends and family of Berger praised his fiscal conervatism.

“Mr. Berger was an example of a true leader,” said Ann Green Baise. “He had a great business background, and he put that background to work for the citizens of Dranesville in a first rate way. An example of his foresight for the community was his appointment of Stu Mendelsohn to the School Board. He was a fiscal conservative and applied common sense to questions that arose in the community.”

A Washington Post article from 1994 said Berger worked to make financial reforms to Fairfax and run the county like a business, pushing for measures like converting the school bus system to a private company and easing restrictions on developers. Berger described himself as a bulldog when it came to watching the budget.

Despite the emphasis on fiscal policy, Berger also harbored a share of socially conservative positions that put him in hot water. According to the Washington Post article, Berger aggressively pushed for a Christian activist to be appointed to the Library Board in an effort to ban a gay newspaper from Fairfax County libraries.

The Sun Gazette noted that Berger died just three days after Lilla Richards, whom Berger defeated in his 1994 election.

“Ernie Berger was known to all as a strong Republican and a great man,” Fairfax GOP Chairman Steve Knotts said on the Fairfax GOP website. “We are thankful for Ernie’s service to Fairfax County; and we extend our sincere condolences to his many friends and loved ones.”

Photo via Fairfax County Government/Facebook

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The Metro Transit Police are looking to identify a suspect in a report of an attempted rape on a Silver Line train yesterday (Tuesday) in Northern Virginia. 

The incident took place at approximately 11:35 a.m. between the McLean and East Falls Church stations, according to a statement from the WMATA. The statement says the suspect boarded the train at the Wiehle-Reston East station and physically assaulted an adult female, exposing himself and attempting to remove her clothing. 

According to the statement, the female was able to escape the train at the East Falls Church station, where Metro Transit Police detectives were able to respond. The victim’s child was apparently the only other individual on the train at the time of the incident. 

The suspect was apparently wearing a dark-colored shirt with the words “Piranha Joe” on the left sleeve, a logo of a circle and a fish on both the rear and left breast of the shirt, according to the statement. 

Tysons Reporter contacted Metro Transit Police this morning for updates but was told police could not discuss the case further.

Anyone with more information can contact the Metro Transit Police detectives at 301-955-5000. 

Photo via the WMATA

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