The Board Corner: Perspectives from Penny – As we move into fall, plans for many popular outdoor activities are underway. Green Spring Gardens’ Golden Anniversary celebration (actually 51st because of the pandemic) will be on Saturday, October 2, and will feature information about the special Moon Gate project. After a year’s hiatus, the Friends of George Mason Regional Library is sponsoring its book sale later this month. More information about the sale is included in this newsletter. Hidden Oaks Nature Center is undergoing long-awaited renovations, but their Fear-less Fest will be held on Saturday, October 30, beginning at 6:30 p.m. Meet costumed forest characters along a woodland trail, and kids, accompanied by an adult, can wear their costumes, too. Cost is $8 per person, and registration is required. Log on to www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/hidden-oaks/events for more information and to register.
Food insecurity has become a critical issue for many Fairfax County families. Later in this issue is information about how you can help stock local food pantries that help. Too often, donations are popular during Thanksgiving and Christmas, but food is needed year-round at our local food pantries, usually operated by volunteers in the faith community. Monetary donations also are needed, to provide fresh produce, milk, and other perishable food. Please be generous; our neighbors need you.
Homeowners in Sanitary Service Districts who receive trash collection service from Fairfax County are keenly aware of recent gaps in yard waste collection. The issues are many – staffing vacancies, injuries, equipment failures, heavy amounts of debris set out for collection – but clearly the level of service has been dismal since at least mid-summer. I’ve asked County Executive Bryan Hill and Public Works Director Christopher Herrington to find solutions that work NOW. It is unacceptable for homeowners to have yard debris sitting uncollected for weeks. I expect to have a plan from Messrs. Hill and Herrington soon. Nationally, the waste industry is changing, and faces many challenges as a result, but that is no excuse for our county.
In September, the Board of Supervisors approved a five-cent tax on single-use plastic bags, effective Saturday, January 1, 2022. Retailers will retain two cents of the tax; proceeds from the tax would be used to support environmental programs and clean-ups in our community. In 2020, the Virginia General Assembly granted localities the authority to impose the bag tax, which will be collected by the state at the point of sale. The plastic bag tax does not apply to bags used to wrap meat, fish, and other food items to protect from contamination, pharmacy or dry cleaning bags, or bags sold in bulk, such as garbage bags. You can avoid the plastic bag tax by using your own recyclable bags when shopping, asking the clerk for paper bags, or simply not using a bag for very small purchases. Eliminating plastic bag use is an environmental approach to cleaning up our roadsides and streams, and everyone can help.
Land Use News – Land use items of interest include:
- At its September 14, 2021 meeting, the Board of Supervisors accepted Fairfax County’s first-ever Community-wide Energy and Climate Action Plan (CECAP), which sets a goal of achieving carbon neutrality within our community by 2050. CECAP was developed by a working group of community members and representatives from area businesses and non-profit organizations, who developed 12 ways to achieve reductions in greenhouse gas emissions from buildings, transportation, waste, and much more. Information about CECAP and how everyone can take action is available at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/environment-energy-coordination/cecap.
- The Board of Supervisors approved the Fairfax Water Sleepy Hollow Road Pump Station project at its September 14, 2021 meeting. The pump station, which is designed to resemble a residential structure, will be located at 2959 Sleepy Hollow Road in Falls Church, and will improve water pressure, fire flow and resiliency throughout the Seven Corners area.
- Also on September 14, 2021, the Board of Supervisors approved the acquisition of certain land rights necessary for the construction of the Sleepy Hollow Road Sidewalk Project. The project consists of building 4,789 linear feet of concrete sidewalk to provide a continuous pedestrian walkway along Sleepy Hollow Road, between Columbia Pike and Leesburg Pike. The project also includes upgraded CG-12 curb ramps, new curb and gutter, a retaining wall, and would address drainage concerns within the project limits.
- Fairfax County business owners in the hospitality industry (restaurants, hotels, gyms, etc.) may be eligible for a reduction in certain zoning and development fees, which were approved by the Board of Supervisors this summer. For information about fees reductions, eligibility requirements, or to apply, visit the www.fairfaxcounty.gov/plan2build/project-management-program/hospitality-industry-covid-19-assistance, send an e-mail to LDSHospitalityFees@fairfaxcounty.gov, or call 703-324-1780; TTY 711.
Green Spring Celebrates Golden Anniversary with a Golden Garden Tour – Though Green Spring Gardens officially turned 50 last year, the delayed celebration continues this year with events, such as a “Golden Garden” tour on Saturday, October 2, 2021, from 10:30-11:30 a.m. Enjoy all the gold tones in the gardens and learn how to use this neutral color to balance your garden color palette through all four seasons. Join the celebration with a visit to the anniversary website www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/green-spring/50th-anniversary, register for the Golden Garden Tour, and learn about the Moon Gate Garden Project. Green Spring Gardens is located at 4603 Green Spring Road in Alexandria (Fairfax County). For more information, call 703-642-5173; or visit www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/green-spring/.
Vietnamese and Korean Speakers Needed as Election Officers for the November General Election – The Fairfax County Office of Elections needs additional bilingual election officers to assist voters for the General Election to be held on Tuesday, November 2, 2021, and in future elections. Specifically, individuals who speak Vietnamese and English fluently, or Korean and English fluently, are needed to serve in Annandale, Centreville, Chantilly, and Falls Church, and are urged to apply before Friday, October 1, 2021, at https://www.vote4fairfax.com/apply/, and please indicate whether Vietnamese or Korean is the language spoken. To serve as a designated bilingual election officer, applicants must be a registered Virginia voter and also complete a short oral language skills assessment. Bilingual election officers will perform all regular election officer duties, including assisting most voters in English, but will be assigned to precincts with a significant number of voters who primarily may speak Vietnamese or Korean. Compensation begins at $175, and training is provided online for new officers. Additional information is available at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/elections/officers/new-officers. Questions? Call 703-324-4735; or send an e-mail to email@example.com.
Eviction Moratorium Extension Ends October 3, 2021 – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) extended a limited eviction moratorium through October 3, 2021, for localities, including Fairfax County, with “high” or “substantial” levels of transmission of COVID-19. The moratorium provides residents, who may be facing eviction, with time to access rent, mortgage, and utility payment assistance for which they may be eligible. Fairfax County is administering relief for renters through the new Emergency Rental and Utility Assistance (ERA) program. Residents can apply to receive funds to pay delinquent rent or utility payments back to March 13, 2020, and up to three months of future payments to maintain housing stability. Information about eligibility requirements is available at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/health-humanservices/eviction-prevention/emergency-rent-assistance-program-eligibility. Residents experiencing financial hardship are urged to contact Coordinated Services Planning (www.fairfaxcounty.gov/neighborhood-community-services/coordinated-services-planning) at 703-222-0880; TTY 711, Monday-Friday, from 8 a.m.- 4:30 p.m. Assistance is available for housing payments, and other resources, beyond ERA.
CAC Welcomes You and the SWAT Team – The Community Advisory Committee (CAC) will meet in person on Tuesday, October 5, 2021 at 7 p.m. in the Main Community Room of the Mason District Governmental Center, 6507 Columbia Pike in Annandale. The CAC welcomes the SWAT Team, who will present information about this elite team of officers. CAC is open to ALL residents in the Mason Police District, and meetings help to enhance communication between the police department and the public by offering community members the chance to speak directly with their local officers at the Mason District Station.
Early Absentee In-Person Voting in Progress for the November 2, 2021 Election – Registered voters interested in casting their ballots early absentee in-person may do so through October 30, 2021 at three Fairfax County locations: Fairfax County Government Center, 12000 Government Center Parkway. Conference Rooms 2/3, Fairfax 22035; Mount Vernon Governmental Center, 2511 Parkers Lane in Alexandria; and at the North County Governmental Center, 1801 Cameron Glen Drive in Reston. From October 21-30, 2021, 13 additional early voting locations will be available daily for early absentee in-person voting, including the Mason District Governmental Center, 6507 Columbia Pike in Annandale, and the Thomas Jefferson Library, 7415 Arlington, Boulevard in Falls Church. For hours and locations, visit www.fairfaxcounty.gov/elections/early-voting. The deadline to apply for a ballot by mail, fax, or e-mail is Friday, October 22 at 5 p.m. Ballot applications are available in several languages at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/elections/voter-forms. Send completed ballot applications by mail: Office of Elections, Box 10161, Fairfax, VA 22038; by e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; or fax: 703-324-3725. Please Note: COVID-19 protocols at satellite locations will be the current CDC and Fairfax County Health Guidelines. Absentee voters who received a ballot by mail and choose instead to vote in person at a satellite location, should bring and surrender the ballot they received in the mail. Questions? Contact the Office of Elections at 703-222-0776; TTY 711, or by e-mail email@example.com.
Deadline for New Voter Registration/Update Address Changes is October 12, 2021 – First-time voters must register by Tuesday, October 12 at 5 p.m.; online at 11:59 p.m. to be eligible to vote in the November 2, 2021 Election. First-time voters residing in Fairfax County, who may have questions or need language or other assistance, are urged to contact the Office of Elections by calling 703-222-0776; TTY 711, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Similarly, registered voters who moved since they last voted must update their addresses by October 12. To register to vote, or check registration status, visit https://vote.elections.virginia.gov/VoterInformation. Additional information about the November 2 Election is available at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/elections/.
FCPD/NARFE Food Drive Benefits ACCA Food Pantry – To help families in need in our community, the Mason District Police Station and the National Active and Retired Federal Employees (NARFE), Chapter 1159 are collecting non-perishable food for the ACCA Food Pantry on Thursdays, October 7 and November 4, 2021, from 10 a.m.-12 p.m. The collection team will accept your non-perishable, personal care, and cash donations at the drop-off site in the lower parking lot of the Mason District Governmental Center, 6507 Columbia Pike in Annandale (beyond the purple glass recycling container). Most-needed items are: canned soup, meat stew, canned chicken and tuna, uncooked pasta, spaghetti sauce, canned ravioli, mac and cheese cups, and canned fruit. Cash donations may be made payable to ACCA, include on the memo line Food Pantry, under the memo line write NARFE, Chapter 1159, and deliver it to the collection team or mail it to: Annandale Christian Community for Action (ACCA) Food Pantry, 7200 Columbia Pike, Annandale, VA 22003. With your help, the team aims to surpass last year’s collection of 3,313 pounds of food and $400 cash donations.
“Stuff the Bus” in Mason District Benefits ACCA Food Pantry – Buses will be accepting non-perishable food donations on Saturday, October 9, 2021, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., at Belvedere Elementary School, 6540 Columbia Pike in Falls Church. Fairfax County operates “Stuff the Bus,” a food pantry giving program that partners with nonprofit organizations to restock food pantry shelves to assist individuals and families in need. For updates, including donation locations, most requested food items and more, visit the Fairfax County Neighborhood and Community Services website at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/neighborhood-community-services/stuff-the-bus. Questions? Contact Gwen Jones at 703-324-7137; TTY 711. Can’t “Stuff the Bus” in person? Do it virtually! Visit www.volunteerfairfax.org/home/stuff-the-bus-virtual-food-drive/ to donate.
Child Car Seat Inspections Continue this Fall – The Fairfax County Police Department is hosting a Child Car Seat Inspection on Saturday, October 16, 2021 at the Mason District Station, 6507 Columbia Pike in Annandale; no appointment is necessary. The child car seats are inspected on a first-come, first-served basis, beginning at 9 a.m., and the last child car seat inspection will begin at 11:30 a.m. For information about inspections, contact the Mason District Station at 703-256-8035, press zero for the front desk. Information about car seat safety, and how to find the right car seat for your child, visit the NHTSA website at www.nhtsa.gov/equipment/car-seats-and-booster-seats.
Low-Cost Rabies Vaccination Clinic Set for October 17 – Get a low-cost rabies vaccination for your pets on Sunday, October 17, 2021, from 9-11 a.m. for dogs, and 12-2 p.m. for cats and ferrets, at the Mason District Governmental Center, 6507 Columbia Pike in Annandale. Timed pre-registration for this drive-through event is required by signing up for dog appointments at www.signupgenius.com/go/20f0845adaf2aa3f49-october, and cat appointments at www.signupgenius.com/go/20f0845adaf2aa3f49-october1. A registration form will be sent by e-mail to be completed and returned in advance of the clinic. Detailed information about cost, pre-registration, and handling your pet, is available at the Animal Shelter website www.fairfaxcounty.gov/animalshelter/communityassistance/rabiesclinics. Questions? Call 703-830-1100, or send an e-mail to email@example.com.
George Mason Friends Book Sale Returns! – The George Mason Friends are back to host the ever-popular book sale for 10 days at the George Mason Regional Library, 7001 Little River Turnpike in Annandale, beginning Friday, October 22 through Sunday, October 31, 2021. Hours are: 11 a.m. - 5 p.m. on Sunday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday; and 2 p.m. - 8 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday (October 25, 26, and 27). While this sale will be smaller than previous semi-annual sales, a wide variety of high-quality books and other genre in various categories will be available. Fairfax County COVID-19 restrictions are in effect: masks required regardless of vaccination status and limited room capacity. Dates and times are subject to change in the event of new public health concerns. For more information, visit https://georgemasonfriends.blogspot.com/.
Clean Out Medicine Cabinets this Fall – The DEA National Prescription Drug Take Back Day is set for Saturday, October 23, 2021, from 10 a.m.- 2 p.m., to collect unused, unwanted, or expired prescription medicines at all Fairfax County Police Stations. For patrol station locations near you, visit www.fairfaxcounty.gov/police/fairfax-county-police-department. Information about year-round disposal of over the counter and prescription medicines is available at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/health/drug-disposal.
FCPD Safety Series Focuses on Practical Situational Awareness – On Monday, October 25, 2021 at 6 p.m., the Fairfax County Police Department, Mason District Police Station, will feature Crime Prevention Specialist MPO Eduardo (Eddy) J. Azcarate, who will lead a practical situational awareness class that will include exercises to help participants understand their abilities and limitations. Masks are required for this in-person class. Registration is required at https://masoncpoevents.eventbrite.com.
Acrylic Paintings Capture Local Scenes – Lincolnia artist James Albright’s artwork is featured at the Mason District Governmental Center, 6507 Columbia Pike in Annandale, through October 31, 2021. Enjoy colorful local scenes that include classic storefronts of Edward Hopper, Annandale scenes, and unusual subjects with a bright interplay of colors. Albright, a Mason District resident since 1988, has been an educator, school leader, consultant, television producer, urban planner, community organizer and, most recently, a painter.
Mason E-Newsletter and Updates – To receive the monthly E-Newsletter and periodic updates about Fairfax County services and events in Mason District, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org to subscribe. If you wish to unsubscribe, send an e-mail, and include unsubscribe in the subject line to remove your e-mail address from the subscription list.
Mason Matters! The Television Show – Domestic violence or abuse is recognized as one of the most serious health risks to women, and it is a crime in the United States. Violence against women is predominantly inflicted by an intimate partner and, sadly, their children also risk physical abuse or severe neglect because of violence in the home. When the decision is made to seek help, having a safe place to go is essential. Making the decision to leave behind what is familiar is part of the hardship when escaping domestic violence. Fortunately, Fairfax County has a variety of partnerships that can help victims of domestic violence find refuge and resources to become resilient. The October edition of Mason Matters!, the television show that brings you news and information about our Mason District community, hosted by Supervisor Penny Gross, features Kristyn Burr, executive director and CEO of HomeAid NOVA, and Brad Womble, president of Bethany House of Northern Virginia. Mason Matters! airs on Cable Channel 16 every Thursday at 7 p.m., and every Friday and Sunday at 6:30 p.m., and daily online at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/mason.
The Quick 411 – Is food insecurity affecting residents in Fairfax County? Yes. Hunger is not a new problem in our community or nation, but in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, unemployment, and food insecurity have soared. More than 42 million people may face hunger because of coronavirus and the Capital Area Food Bank estimates that we have 74,000 food insecure residents in Fairfax County. There are several ways you can help support those with food insecurity in Fairfax County, or if you are in need, there are many resources available to support individuals and families who need food assistance. For more information about how to donate, or how to get help, visit www.fairfaxcounty.gov/news/ways-you-can-help-fight-hunger-fairfax-county.