Tysons Corner, VA

The Vienna Police Department is looking for the three women who reportedly stole merchandise from a cosmetics store along Maple Avenue.

An employee at Sally Beauty (329 E. Maple Avenue) reported to the police that three women concealed multiple items of merchandise before fleeing the store, according to a police report.

The incident occurred shortly before 6 p.m. last Tuesday (Sept. 10).

In a separate incident, a Vienna resident in the 900 block of Frederick Street SW reported to the police that “someone intentionally damaged a tree she recently planted” between Friday, Sept. 6, and Saturday, Sept. 7, police said.

The police department also received nine recent reports from people who said their cars had been rummaged through.

Photo via Facebook

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The red oak trees in the City of Falls Church are dying — and no one knows why yet.

At a recent Falls Church Tree Commission meeting, members said they noticed sick trees on city property and are confused about what is threatening the red oak population. Members brought up a theory, saying that a disease called leaf scorch may be to blame.

Kate Reich, the city’s arborist, said that the red oaks are showing signs of browning leaves and dying branches — both common signs of leaf scorch.

Leaf scorch can affect all shade trees and commission members at the meeting said they were unsure why the disease is just affecting red oaks.

If leaf scorch is to blame though, “At least half of our native trees are susceptible,” a commissioner said at the meeting.

The Tree Commission is unsure how many trees are affected by the illness because they are unable to account for sick trees on private property. Reich said she wants homeowners to be aware of the issue so they can eventually take steps to save their trees.

The commission is waiting to see if their theory is confirmed from samples of the dying tree sent to Virginia Tech for laboratory testing. Reich said that once they know the root of the problem, they will decide on a course of action.

“We don’t normally control tree diseases. Focusing on just a few trees takes scarce resources away from managing the whole tree population,” Reich said. “But enough red oaks are affected now that we decided this year to see if it will be practical to manage the problem.”

If leaf scorch is the cause of the problem, the commission said that they can give affected trees antibiotics to fight the bacteria and also relieve tree stressors such as crowding and drought.

Reich said the treatment is expensive though, and they don’t know how much it will cost until they decide how many trees to save.

“There is no treatment that is long term,” Reich said, adding that antibiotics only last up to three years.

Commission members said that they would want to focus on saving older trees with a strong branch structure.

Untreated trees will likely die according to Reich.

Photo via Dominik Scythe on Unsplash

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Self-proclaimed naturalists in the City of Falls Church may soon have a new volunteer opportunity.

The city’s Tree Commission wants to create a volunteer program where people can assist in counting, categorizing and measuring over 10,000 trees within the city limits. Though the program is still in the works, commissioners said at a meeting Wednesday (Aug. 21) that they want the it to be inclusive of all age groups and time availabilities.

“We are hoping this will be a popular program because you can choose your own hours. You don’t have to come to an event, and you can do it when you find it convenient,” Kate Reich, the staff liaison and city arborist, said.

The commission currently contracts with a pruning company that charges based on tree size, and is hoping to sort tree circumferences into categories, so that the commission can get a more reliable cost estimate for tree care.

While they are still standardizing training and finding a user-friendly way to collect data, Reich said the program should begin in September. The volunteers will be given special measuring tapes that show circumference size so they won’t need to do any extra math.

Amy Crumpton, who is certified by the Arlington Master Naturalist program, will lead the volunteer group.

“The USDA Forest Service has programs they call i-Tree, where they can assess environmental benefits of an urban forest when you plug in great wads of data,” Reich said.

The commission said the new program will work to fill in this database and help the city government calculate the cost of tree care.

Though the database is live now with information gathered from a few years ago, the commission is working to fix some bugs.

Each volunteer will have a login to the system so organizers can keep track of hours and ensure that the user’s data is accurate. Users will also be able to report areas that could use some extra greenery, the commissioners said.

“It would be nice if we could expand it, to say the Boy Scouts or something,” Reich said, adding that this would be a great service opportunity for them.

When the program is finalized, Crumpton will create a SignUpGenius for volunteers. Though they will limit the number of volunteers for beta testing, they hope to eventually expand the network.

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Funding for two positions to help alleviate two very different crises in Vienna was salvaged by last-minute savings.

Digging around the proverbial sofa to find extra funds for previously unfunded priorities is a time-honored local budget tradition. In Vienna, that took the form of $400,000 recovered from transferring repaving to a cheaper system and changes in the town’s health insurance structure.

In response, Town Manager Mercury Payton proposed $383,000 worth of items that were not funded in the budget that could be financed by the found-funds in the final budget.

The largest item among the unfunded priorities was $144,600 for an economic development manager — a long-discussed idea in Vienna.

Despite more businesses opening than closing in the town, Vienna is still struggling with rampant closures from small businesses. The manager would help assess problems facing local business and develop strategies to help keep businesses in town. Vienna is currently the only locality in Northern Virginia without a person working specifically in an economic development role.

The list of unfunded priorities also includes $50,000 for an economic development and market study.

The other crisis addressed in the list of priorities is handling the town’s massive wave of tree deaths. Over the last few years, every ash tree in Vienna has been killed by the Emerald Ash Borer, an invasive parasite that’s devastated North America’s ash tree population.

But the town is also dealing with the still-unsolved mystery of what is killing the town’s Norway maples. The death tally reached 30 earlier this year, and Town Arborist Gary Lawrence said the killings were so similar to the Emerald Ash Borer deaths that at first the deaths were mistaken for that infestation.

The list of unfunded priorities includes $69,364 for an assistant arborist and $20,000 to help handle tree maintenance.

A public hearing on the tax rate is planned for April 29 and adoption of the budget is scheduled for May 13.

File photo

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Morning Notes

Free Rides to Tysons — The new Fairfax Connector Route 467, which runs from Tysons to Vienna to Dunn Loring, is now operating and is free for the month of April. [Twitter]

Law Firm Finishes Move to The Boro — “Womble Bond Dickinson is excited to announce that it has completed its move to the new Boro Tower effective April 1… [The law firm] will occupy the entire 15th floor of the Boro Tower, consisting of approximately 24,000 square feet of office space.” [CityBizList]

New Falls Church Ice Cream Shop — “Falls Church just got a little sweeter with the opening of Kiln & Custard at Lincoln at Tinner Hill, 455 South Maple Avenue. The business will celebrate its grand opening Sunday, April 7 from 11 a.m.-3 p.m.” [Patch]

Vienna Named ‘Tree City’ Again — “Vienna has been certified as a ‘Tree City USA’ by the Arbor Day Foundation for the 18th time, and will host a special event on Friday, April 26 at 5 p.m. at the Vienna Community Center.” [InsideNova]

Mamma Mia! in McLean — “Langley High School concludes its 2018-2019 theater season with an international hit sensation: Mamma Mia!. It will play on April 25-27 at 7 p.m., April 28 at 2 p.m. and May 2-4 at 7 p.m. and May 5 at 2 p.m., 2019 at Saxon Stage Theater at Langley High School.” [McLean Connection]

Falls Church Van Break-ins — “Falls Church Police are seeking two suspects for breaking into the same van three times. Video from the latest break-in shows one suspect inside the van.” [Patch]

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The emerald ash borer has wiped out Vienna’s ash tree population, but Fairfax County has a new guide to help locals fight back against the bug where the trees are still standing.

“While the trees are waking up from dormancy in the spring, the tiny emerald ash borer (EAB) beetles are beginning to emerge, primed to create a new generation of tree-killers,” the guide says. “Spring is the perfect time, right after the trees have leafed out, to protect any ash trees that are of value while the beetles are out and flying.”

EABs strike fear in the hearts of arborists nationwide, with sightings putting entire towns under emergency quarantines. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates the EAB is responsible for the destruction of tens of millions of ash trees across 30 states.

Signs of EAB infestation include winding “galleries” — maze-like patterns on the surface of the tree where the larvae burrow. An increased presence of woodpeckers at the tree can also be a warning sign.

The Fairfax County guide recommends pesticide use in yards with 30-50 percent of their canopy intact. Pesticides may need to be applied every year or every three years, depending on the brand.

The Virginia Department of Forestry adopted an EAB cost-share program that allows residents to apply for 50 percent assistance for pesticide costs.

Photo via Flickr/Chesapeake Bay Program

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Morning Notes

Dense Fog Advisory for Fairfax Co. — “A Dense Fog Advisory has been issued until Noon today for portions of the region. If driving, slow down, use your headlights, and leave plenty of distance ahead of you.” [Twitter, Twitter]

State Offices, Courts Closed Today — Courts and DMV offices are closed today across Virginia for the state holiday known as Lee-Jackson Day. More closures are planned Monday for Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Vienna Ash Trees Devastated by Insect — A “Vienna Town Council agenda item on Jan. 7 revealed a harsh truth: An invasive insect called the emerald ash borer utterly has laid waste to the town’s ash trees. The insects have killed every ash tree in town, Vienna Parks and Recreation Director Leslie Herman told the Council.” [InsideNova, Tysons Reporter]

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A killer is stalking Vienna’s streets, leaving at least 30 of the town’s Norway maples dead at an alarming rate.

“We’ve noticed a lot of dead and dying Norway maples,” said Town Arborist Gary Lawrence. “These deaths are not slow. They’re sudden and in groups.”

Leslie Herman, director of the Department of Parks and Recreation, said the mysterious deaths of Norway maples comes on the heels of the emerald ash borer completely wiping out the town’s supply of ash trees.

Lawrence said the Norway maple deaths aren’t anywhere near the magnitude of the ash tree deaths — that became a nationwide epidemic that started in Detroit and has since spread nationwide, killing millions of ash trees. But Lawrence said the spate of ash tree deaths did initially obscure the impact on the local maples.

At first, Lawrence said he made the assumption that the clumps of dead foliage were ash trees. The two share some visual similarities. While most trees have alternating branches, like steps up the tree, ash trees and maple trees are among the few trees with opposite branches. But on closer look, Lawrence realized the trees were maples and didn’t have the telltale signs of ash borer infestation — holes where the bugs emerged from the trees and stripped bark from woodpeckers in a feeding frenzy.

After realizing the dead trees were maples, Lawrence said he began to see more of them around the town. So far, whatever is killing the trees has targeted only the Norway maples, leaving others — like the town’s red maples — untouched. There was a group of six Norway maples that were healthy and strong last year, but Lawrence said when he returned to them this year they were all dead.

“There’s still plenty of healthy Norway maples, but I’m concerned by how quickly [this is happening],” said Lawrence. “There’s a pattern here. It’s not random.”

One of the most confusing aspects is that the phenomena seems isolated to Vienna so far. Lawrence said he’s been keeping his ear to the ground for buzz about Norway maples being killed in other parts of the country, but hasn’t heard anything.

So far, Lawrence said his suspicions about what’s causing the deaths are still a hypothesis.

“I have no answer for the maples,” said Lawrence. “A wild guess is that it’s some kind of soil-borne disease. I’m guessing it’s soil-borne because it seems to affect the root system, because of the quickness of death. Usually insects, other than the ash borer, are a secondary problem.”

The topic came up during last night’s Vienna Town Council meeting during a request to increase funding for tree removal as a result of the ash tree epidemic. Lawrence said the ash trees were scattered in small batches throughout the town and native, rather than town-planted.

“It’s a substantial amount of trees,” said Lawrence. “It is a major impact to the budget. The trees die quickly, and because of the quickness of their death they become brittle and fall apart quickly.”

In addition to the beetles and mysterious maple killer, Lawrence said the record-high rainfall has also made it a difficult year for local trees.

Photo via Flickr/F.D. Richards

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Morning Notes

What to Do With Your Christmas Tree — “Residents can leave out trees for regular trash collections after removing decorations… Fairfax County collectors will be taking Christmas trees left out at homes on Jan. 1-11. Trees should be put out separately and be less than 8 feet tall. ” [Patch]

Local Malls Still Busy — “Christmas may have passed but shoppers are still swarming the malls to spend gift cards and return unwanted gifts.” [Fox 5]

Vienna Man Wins Big in Md. Lottery — “A man from Vienna is getting some help to open a restaurant with a lucky lottery win. The scratch ticket won the restaurateur $50,000, according to the Maryland Lottery… He plans to use the winnings for finishing touches on the restaurant.” [Patch]

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In contrast to the hustle and bustle of Tysons, Vienna is known for its small town, closer-to-nature feel.

Tomorrow (Wednesday), the Hunter Mill Tree Forum will help educate Vienna residents on how to care for and maintain that greenery.

The event will start at 7 p.m. in the Vienna Town Hall (127 Center St S). The forum is free and open to the public.

Representatives from the Town of Vienna, the Vienna Community Enhancement Commission, Virginia Department of Forestry, and Fairfax County are all scheduled to speak about the benefits of trees and how they are impacted by increasing development.

The forum will also look at pests and diseases affecting trees in the area.

Photo via Visit Fairfax

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