Tysons, VA

Latest Unemployment News — “The Virginia Employment Commission reported Thursday that 5,279 Northern Virginia residents filed initial claims for unemployment benefits in the week ending June 20. That was down 9.2% from the preceding week and marks the 11th straight week of declines since a high of 47,708 claims filed in the week ending April 4. However, it is still 10 times pre-pandemic levels.” [Inside NoVa]

Finding the Funding — “McLean’s ID.me Inc. is raising new capital while riding a wave of momentum fueled by the pandemic. The digital identity management company has nabbed about $8.3 million out of a $12.5 million equity offering that began June 9, it reported in Securities and Exchange Commission filings.” [Washington Business Journal]

Sights Set on Space — “Los Angeles-based aerospace manufacturer Relativity Space announced Wednesday that McLean-based Iridium Communications Inc. has signed a contract to deliver up to six of Irdium’s satellites into orbit.” [Virginia Business]

New Merrifield Park — “The Fairfax County Park Authority Board on June 24 approved initial scoping work to develop a new park on the eastern edge of Merrifield.” [Inside NoVa]

https://twitter.com/TheBoroTysons/status/1276170836903370752?s=20

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CVS announced dozens of new drive-thru testing sites for COVID-19 in Virginia with a few near Tysons.

Of the 39 pharmacies offering the tests, two locations are near Merrifield and one is in Great Falls, according to the company’s website.

The locations near Merrifield can be found at 3921 Prosperity Avenue and 10090 Fairfax Blvd, while the address for the Great Falls location is 1020 Seneca Road.

These locations are a part of a nationwide initiative offering 986 total testing locations, the website said.

Patients must register in advance at CVS.com and take a brief survey before making an appointment, according to the website.

The locations will accept most major insurance providers so people may be able to get a free test, the site said.

Respondents are asked for information including birthdate, symptoms, if they have a reference from a doctor or official and if they have preexisting health conditions that might put them at a higher risk.

CVS joins the growing list of places where people can get tested. Tysons Reporter recently compiled a list of places where people can get COVID-19 tests around Tysons.

Image via Google Maps

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(Updated 3 p.m.) Fairfax County police arrested a 51-year-old D.C. man and charged him with aggravated malicious wounding for allegedly stabbing a man.

Police tweeted that they responded to the stabbing in the 2700 block of Dorr Avenue, which is near the Prosperity Flats Apartments and the Dunn Loring-Merrifield Metro station, last night (Tuesday) around 9 p.m.

“Two men known to each other were arguing in a parking lot when one man stabbed the other man,” police said.

The victim was taken the hospital with life-threatening injuries,” police said.

“There is no threat to public safety,” police tweeted.

Map via Google Maps

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Black Dog Beer Shop has been open for less than three months in Merrifield, but already its owner has seen a recent uptick in sales — partly thanks to a federal loan.

As craft brewers face coronavirus challenges and many breweries pivot to making hand sanitizer, Tyler Cohen says he thinks his new local craft beer store is faring well, all things considered.

While he doesn’t have months and months of data to compare, he said sales grew 10% from March to April: “That’s a good thing, I guess.”

Cohen, who lives in the Mosaic District, opened the store in February at 2672M Avenir Place near the Dunn Loring-Merrifield Metro station.

Before the coronavirus pandemic prompted the governor to enforce restrictions on businesses, Cohen said 10-15 people would be at the store “at all times” on Fridays and Saturdays.

When businesses started to close or switched to delivery, take-out and curbside pickup services, Cohen said most of his customers initially ordered online, but now he’s starting to see more and more people trickle into the store.

“This last weekend we had to stop people from coming in,” he said.

What the Federal Loan Process Was Like

Receiving a loan during the first round of funding for the federal government’s Paycheck Protection Program made a big difference to the store’s finances and ability to keep growing, Cohen said.

“We were getting close where we could probably survive another month and then need to pay payroll out of my own pocket, but as soon as we got that [loan], we were able to breathe a sigh of relief,” he said.

Cohen said M&T Bank was “awesome” with telling him what he would need to submit before the application became available and then communicating with him — even on weekends — about the process.

“It was a pretty quick process,” Cohen said, adding that it took about a week after he submitted the application to hear that he was approved for the loan and then another week to receive it.

Cohen said he’s been able to keep all of his staff employed. One employee, who used to work part-time, now has longer shifts and is covering for another employee, who is over the age of 65 and decided to stay home, he said.

As for rent, the store’s landlord offered delayed rent payments for a few months, but Cohen declined. “I think we can afford rent now.”

COVID-19 Changes 

The store already had a stockpile of personal protective equipment, but Cohen still teamed up with a friend to make homemade hand sanitizer when his supply got low.

“We went from cleaning a couple of times to cleaning all of the surfaces constantly,” he said.

Another change has been allowing people to buy single cans and bottles of beer.

“Instead of buying a four-pack on something they haven’t had, people will try one or two,” he said.

And the store’s growler fill-ups are less popular too now that customers “want to avoid the touching and contact,” he said.

Speeding up some of his longer-term plans has been one of the biggest challenges Cohen’s faced due to the pandemic.

“The online store was something I was planning on rolling out later,” Cohen said. “[The pandemic] forced my hand.”

But, the pandemic did cause one positive thing Cohen’s black dog, Ash, who inspired the shop’s name — there’s now more time for hour-long walks.

“It’s been an interesting time with him because we’ll both get stir crazy,” he said.

Local Community Support 

To get ideas for how to manage the store during the pandemic, Cohen said he and his team talked to local businesses including nearby Inca Social and listened to podcasts about the beer industry.

“The store manager is constantly trying to come up with new ideas,” Cohen said.

Local businesses in the community are trying to show support, he noted.

“I probably buy more beer and take out food to support local businesses,” he said. “We’re trying to help each other.”

Photos via Black Dog Beer Shop/Facebook

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Detectives with the Fairfax County Police Department are seeking the public’s help to solve a sexual assault case from 1995 in Merrifield.

“This case is about seeking justice for the victim,” Major Ed O’Carroll of the Major Crimes Bureau said. “Victims of horrendous attacks like this one, no matter how long ago, should not and will not be forgotten.”

Police provided this summary of the incident:

In August of 1995, a 24-year-old woman was sexually assaulted in the 8100 block of Prescott Drive in Merrifield. The suspect entered her apartment while she was sleeping, produced a weapon and sexually assaulted her. During the assault, a struggle ensued, and blood evidence collected revealed that the suspect likely sustained an injury to his upper body. The suspect was last seen fleeing out the patio door.

Evidence and DNA had been collected and previously submitted to a state forensics lab. During that process, DNA was isolated from a blood sample from the victim and from the DNA left at the scene. A DNA profile identified as belonging to the suspect was searched against the Virginia DNA Data Bank. There was no identified DNA match and the suspect’s identity remains unknown.

To engage the public in cracking the case, the police department released a composite sketch of the suspect that was done in 1995, a digital enhancement of the sketch and a third image showing an age progression for what the suspect would likely look like today between the ages of 45-55.

“The original release described the suspect as a black male, however a more accurate description would have been a man with a medium complexion,” police said.

“Working on solving these types of cold cases takes tremendous teamwork,” O’Carroll said. “I have great admiration for our detectives, victim advocates and extremely thankful for our strong partnership with experts from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children for getting us to this point.”

Anyone with information on this case can contact the Major Crimes Bureau at 703-246-7800, option 8 or submit an anonymous tip by calling 1-866-411-TIPS.

Image (2) via FCPD

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Drivers and pedestrians who traverse the Cedar Lane Bridge over I-66 between Vienna and Merrifield will soon have to use a detour.

The bridge is set to close around May 15 for demolition and construction on a new bridge, according to the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT).

“The bridge will be rebuilt to accommodate the widening of I-66 and will include a shared-use path and wider sidewalk,” VDOT said in an email update.

More from VDOT:

Closing the bridge for this planned six-month period will reduce the duration and impacts of construction activities on travelers and surrounding neighborhoods. Other options were considered, including partial closure approaches that would have taken more than two years to complete. The full bridge closure also maximizes construction activity over Metrorail tracks during the planned Metro Orange Line shutdown between Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day.

The bridge will be closed for roughly six months. People who normally use the bridge will have marked detours to use Gallows Road to cross the interstate, according VDOT.

The bridge work is a part of VDOT’s multi-year Transform 66 project. The new bridge is expected to open in late November of this year, followed by the I-66 Express Lanes in December 2022, according to the project’s webpage.

Image via Virginia Department of Transportation

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For people looking to pick up a few new culinary skills while staying home, Inca Social is offering free digital cooking classes.

Every week, the Merrifield-based eatery plans to release a new video on its Facebook page that walks viewers through the steps to prepare a specialty Peruvian dish or drink.

“We wanted to provide something for our guests and for everyone to be able to do at home,” a spokesperson said. “During these times we need to do more positive things.”

Yesterday, a bartender demonstrated how to make a “Passion Chilcano,” which contains pisco Peruvian liquor, limes, passionfruit syrup and ginger ale.

In another video, the eatery’s chefs tossed up a few servings of chaufa mixto, which is a type of fried rice.

The eatery said that the next video will likely be released either next Tuesday or Saturday.

For guests who don’t feel like cooking themselves, the restaurant is also offering free delivery and curbside pickup, according to the website.

To encourage takeout orders, the restaurant is offering 25% off its entire menu, the Facebook page said, adding that any meal can be customized. A menu can be found online.

Photo via Inca Social/Facebook

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This op-ed was submitted by Rikki Epstein, the executive director of The Arc of Northern Virginia in Merrifield. It does not reflect the opinions of Tysons Reporter. We publish op-eds and letters to the editor of specific interest to the Tysons community. Contributions may be edited for length or content. 

Since Gov. Ralph Northam issued the COVID-19 stay-at-home order for Virginia, I’ve been reaching out to families and individuals we serve. I wanted to check in, ask how they’re doing, and reassure them that The Arc of Northern Virginia’s services would continue.

Many wrote back, sharing what this “new normal” is like for their household. Some even asked about other families. With every note I read, I am reminded of the genuine honor it is to serve those with intellectual and developmental disabilities on behalf of our amazing organization.

I lay awake in bed at night thinking (because that’s what we all do now) about two sentiments that are common among many of the notes I’ve received. Nearly every family is struggling to find alternatives to necessary, often critical, support services. With a loved-one with an intellectual or developmental disability, life in normal times is a precarious balance. The disability alone robs one of the stability many of us take for granted.

It’s like a game of Jenga, with many of the pieces missing to begin with. But this is no game. Life depends on that tower not falling over, and each wooden piece represents a critical support service. As long as the supports are in place, there’s fragile stability. Now, start removing those supports.

Take away the piece that represents personal care attendants in the home, and you leave the work of caring for a family member with serious needs solely with the parents, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Parents are literally sleeping in shifts through the night.

Take away the piece that represents stable housing, and you have a family moving out of their apartment to protect their immuno-compromised child, saying “Elevators are terrifying repositories for anything picked up by the 896 other residents.”

Take away the piece that represents structured education and you have distance learning plans from some school districts that have been delayed or — worse yet — non-existent for students with disabilities.

Take away the piece that represents physical therapy.

Take away the piece that represents job coaching.

Take away the piece that represents speech therapy.

Take away the piece that represents occupational therapy.

Get the picture?

For many of these families, The Arc of Northern Virginia can help them put back some of those pieces. We can locate the resources that help restore a feeling of balance for families in need. It may be precarious. It may be temporary, but it keeps the house from falling down.

The second sentiment I heard in those notes is what finally allows me to sleep at night. It’s a sense of hope. A sense of optimism borne out of the experience of facing previous tragedies and coming through them stronger and more resilient.

“We’ll get through this” was said over and over again. And in my heart, I know we will. Because we’re in this together, and we draw strength from each other.

In this time of crisis, in this time of heightened anxiety, in this time of hardships for everyone, please don’t forget those who live with hardship and anxiety nearly every day, and yet persevere. It is essential that we keep families together, programs running, and critically-needed services in place for our most vulnerable population.

We need to make sure EVERY MEMBER of our community makes it through this crisis.

Photo via Arc of Northern Virginia/Facebook

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Flood Warning, Wind Advisory in Effect — The National Weather Service has issued a Flood Warning for small streams in central Fairfax County that is in effect until 9:30 a.m. A Wind Advisory is in effect until 6 p.m. [National Weather Service]

McLean Assisted Living Resident, Employees Have COVID-19 — “An Arleigh Burke Pavilion Assisted Living resident at McLean’s Vinson Hall Retirement Community tested positive for the new coronavirus, which causes COVID-19 illness, the community announced Saturday. Three employees also tested positive, and an additional employee is under investigation as a potential case.” [Patch]

Governor Signs New Election Laws — “New laws signed by Gov. Ralph Northam over the weekend will end Virginia’s voter ID law, make Election Day a state holiday and allow no-excuse absentee voting.” [Inside NoVa]

Merrifield Apartment Fire — On Saturday, Fairfax County firefighters extinguished a fire reportedly in the laundry room of an apartment in the 2700 block of Keystone Lane. [Fairfax County Fire and Rescue/Twitter]

Local Daycare Face COVID-19 Challenges — “The state’s new rules for in-home daycare put both parents and providers in a bind, but some local in-home providers are striving to work within the guidelines and stay in business.” [Falls Church News-Press]

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The owner of two local Popeyes locations recently donated meals to help combat food insecurity.

During digital learning supply pickup at Timber Lane Elementary School earlier this week, students who came with their families to grab a laptop and other supplies were also handed a meal courtesy of Nader Saleh, who owns both the Merrifield and Fairfax Popeyes locations.

Across Fairfax County, many students and families rely on school lunches. While Fairfax County Public Schools is offering free meals to students during the closure, Saleh said that their are kids who might fall through the cracks.

“There are a lot of kids and families who are depending on the school lunches and then when the schools close, they have been left out,” Saleh said, adding that he is willing to do whatever it takes to help those in his community.

Benjamin Chiet, the principal of Timber Lane Elementary School, gave a shoutout on Twitter to Popeyes, thanking them for the donation.

Timber Lane Elementary School is just one of the many local schools to receive meal donations, according to Saleh.

“We would like to build the bridge between our restaurant and the community,” he said, adding that he is happy to combat food insecurity however he can.

Nationally, Popeyes is part of the No Kid Hungary Campaign, which helps families supply healthy meal options year-round, according to the website.

Though Popeyes (2835 Gallows Road) in Merrifield is still open for takeout and delivery, Saleh said business has been slower than usual. Anyone interested in supporting the restaurant can order online.

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