Child killed in driveway accident - West Springfield townhouse fire caused by unattended stove

Board approves $360M bond for school renovations, including Wakefield Forest - FCPS highlights Woodson vegetable garden

Welcome to Braddock Buzz, your source for news about the Braddock District of Fairfax County. Send news, tips, feedback, and more to braddockbuzz@gmail.com

Thank you to our sponsors:

  • Realtor Jennifer Mack, who’s hosting a free virtual seller’s seminar on June 28 at 7 p.m. Among other things, you’ll learn simple home improvements that get you the most bang for your buck. Register here.

  • WorkAway Solutions, your neighborhood coworking space in Ravensworth. WorkAway offers long-term and short-term coworking space for individuals and teams—along with meeting rooms, business mail service, and more. Book a tour today!

Schools

Happening tomorrow: At 1 p.m., FCPS Superintendent Scott Brabrand will present his latest plans to the School Board for returning to full-time in-person learning. The session will include an update on “testing and vaccination efforts, summer school programs, and planning for five days of in-person learning in the fall.”

Following the meeting, Braddock District School Board Member Megan McLaughlin will host a 7 p.m. town hall on a variety of topics. Details on how to attend will be sent to McLaughlin’s email list.

Board approves $360M bond for school renovations, including Wakefield Forest: The Board of Supervisors last week approved a $360 million school bond referendum that will be on the ballot this November. If passed, the measure would fund renovation projects at 14 schools across Fairfax County, including two elementary schools in the Braddock District: Wakefield Forest and Bonnie Brae.

FCPS officials unveiled plans for the Wakefield Forest renovation last fall, as we covered in our Sept. 8 edition. Construction will cost $30 million from FY22 to FY24 and will increase the size of the school from 60,000 square feet to 100,000, boosting capacity from 560 students to 800.

Meanwhile, Bonnie Brae is slated to get $38 million for construction to add 13,000 square feet and bring “modern amenities” to the building, according to the school system’s latest Capital Improvement Program. Construction is set to wrap up in FY25.

FCPS highlights Woodson vegetable garden: FCPS published an article last week highlighting the garden at Woodson High School that produces vegetables for the local food bank Food for Others, which has seen a huge spike in demand during the pandemic. Woodson is one of several FCPS schools with a vegetable garden producing food for those in need through a partnership with the Fairfax Food Council.

At Woodson, students designed and planted the garden in March and have already harvested six pounds of spinach, rainbow chard, and lettuce. “I thought it was a good chance for me to get outside and do something to help," said junior Victoria Caswell.

School Briefs

  • At-large School Board Member Abrar Omeish is facing a backlash for a Tweet decrying Israel’s treatment of Palestinians as “apartheid and colonization.” Tysons Reporter has a full run-down of the controversy.

  • Lake Braddock Secondary School’s longtime track coach, Mike Mangan, is heading to Florida to be the men’s and women’s head cross country coach at Webber International University, InsideNOVA reports. At Lake Braddock, Mangan’s teams had a combined 11 state championships.

  • The group Open FCPS, which campaigned against COVID-19 school closures and is now working to recall three School Board members, has created a new organization called the Fairfax County Parents Association to continue its advocacy efforts post-pandemic, WDMV reports.


Development

Planning Commission to take up Annandale United Methodist Church rezoning proposal: On Wednesday, the Fairfax County Planning Commission will consider an application from Annandale United Methodist Church to rezone a 1.77-acre property owned by the church on the west side of Heritage Drive near Annandale High School. The church has long operated a food pantry from the site, but it’s now trying to formalize the operation into a community resource center that will provide food, clothing, and medical and dental care. For this to happen, the entire site would have to be rezoned as a C-5 (neighborhood retail commercial) district.

A county staff report recommends approval of the application. “The continued operation of the community resource center will provide much needed benefits and services to the surrounding community,” the report says.


Sponsor Message

WorkAway Solutions offers flexible coworking space in Ravensworth

WorkAway Solutions is offering your first day free and half-day and full-day passes. Book a tour today, or contact owner Susan King Glosby with any questions you might have about coworking at susan@workawaysolutions.com


Public Safety

Child killed in driveway accident: Some tragic news near the eastern edge of the Braddock District, close to George Mason University: A 2-year-old boy was killed last week after being struck by his father’s truck while he was backing out of the driveway. The incident occurred at the 10900 block of Roma Street. Detectives are continuing to investigate but do not suspect foul play, nor do they believe alcohol was a factor, according to a police statement.

The father did a tearful interview with Telemundo 44 that was translated from Spanish by NBC4 Washington.

"I put him inside and told him to stay inside, and he said, 'OK, Daddy.’ But I didn't realize when he came out again,” the father said. “When the truck accident happened it was too late.”

According to the advocacy group KidsandCars.org, about two children are killed each week and 48 are injured in backover incidents in the U.S. The average age of the victims is 12 to 23 months. In 70% of incidents, a parent or close relative is behind the wheel. The group encourages everyone to install rear-view cameras in their vehicles and to walk around their vehicle to examine the blindspot before backing out of a driveway.

West Springfield townhouse fire caused by unattended stove: A two-story townhouse fire in West Springfield was caused by “the ignition of cooking oil from an unattended pot left on the stovetop,” the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department said in a statement. The fire occurred around noon last Tuesday at the 8700 block of Ridge Hollow Court. There were no injuries, but six occupants have been displaced because of damages estimated at $62,500.


News In Brief

  • As it welcomes back riders from the pandemic, WMATA is increasing service and decreasing fares for both Metrobus and Metrorail. "This package of service and fare changes makes it easier for riders to return to Metro and give transit a try," said Metro Board Chair Paul Smedberg. 

  • The county is pursuing a trademark for a “Made in Fairfax” logo that businesses could use to indicate their products were produced locally, Reston Now reports.

  • It’s a great year for fishing at Burke Lake, according to the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources, which conducted a recent survey. The lake “produced one of the highest catch rates we’ve seen in any lake this year,” predominantly largemouth bass, said John Odenkirk, a state fisheries biologist.


Real Estate

Sponsored Content

Jennifer Mack column: The benefits of VA loans

Home loans backed by the Department of Veterans Affairs, known as VA loans, are gaining in popularity nationwide—and I would encourage local sellers to take a close look at these offers and not discard them out of hand.

In some cases, especially when sellers receive a high number of offers, bids with a VA loan pre-qualification are placed at the bottom of the stack in favor of conventional loans or cash offers. The only loan type sellers typically look at as less favorable is FHA. Not all sellers intentionally discriminate against VA loans, but they can be enticed by buyers with more cash on hand who can cover appraisal shortfalls or repair items the seller doesn't want to address. Also, VA appraisals have a reputation for "coming in low," although I have seen evidence firsthand over the last year that this is certainly not always the case. Just last week, I had a buyer's VA appraisal come in several percentage points above our contract price.

The allure of VA loans for buyers is strong. No down payment is required and the interest rates are typically very competitive (currently around 2.5%). VA loans once comprised just 2% of overall loan volume. They now make up about 10% of the mortgage market. The volume of mortgages backed by the VA has drastically increased: VA loan volume nearly doubled from 2019 to 2020. This also marks the first time that the VA has issued more than 1 million loans in one year. Younger veterans are driving the demand. 

My husband and I used our VA loan eligibility to purchase our first home near Ft. Bragg, N.C., when we were in our mid-20s. At that time, we were most likely competing for our homes (if there even was any competition) with all other VA buyers. In the DC market, VA buyers are more likely to be competing against buyers who have hefty down payments and in some cases cash. This can make it difficult to get offers accepted. Of course, some VA buyers are in a strong cash position but choose to use the VA loan benefit anyways. I think all sellers should take a close look at VA offers and not automatically discard them. These loans can be very easy to close, and the buyers are exceedingly well qualified. Most local lenders can close VA loans within three weeks or so, which makes the closing quick and easy for the seller.

If you’re looking to purchase a home (must be a primary home, not an investment property) and you aren't sure about your VA eligibility, I can put you in touch with great VA loan specialists to research your eligibility. You can use this perk more than once, too, so it's worth checking out what you qualify for and working with an agent who is well versed in getting VA offers accepted in this challenging market. I am a strong proponent of VA loans and think it is important for all veterans to be well informed on what this benefit entails.

Jennifer Mack has more than 16 years of experience in the real estate industry, with her team servicing Virginia, Maryland, and D.C. Contact her at jennifer@jennifermackproperties.com or by calling 703-672-0038.

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