2017 Year in Review

While reflecting on your personal highs and lows of 2017, take a look back on the year’s local headlines.

JANUARY

Richard Spencer, a leader of the “alt-right,” a white nationalist movement, moved into a residence on King Street in Alexandria, which had residents bringing their concerns of the new neighbor to the city mayor. In May, Old Town Sport & Health in Alexandria revoked his membership after a confrontation with a Georgetown University professor who called him a “neo-Nazi.”

Paid parking at Reston Town Center began at the beginning of the month, and was met with praise and opposition, which later in the year ended up with some 60 restaurants considering legal action against the property owner, who eventually adjusted the paid parking times.

After nearly a year and a half of $5 million renovations, Pohick Regional Library in Burke reopened.

Alexandria’s Landmark Mall closed Jan. 31. Future plans are to redevelop the space and turn it into an open-air, multi-use development.

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© sniper815 / stock.adobe.com

Prince William County Board Chairman Corey Stewart awarded a free AR-15 assault rifle to the winner of a giveaway contest in an attempt to boost his Virginia gubernatorial candidacy.

The Loudoun County School Board voted against giving LGBT employees added protections.

A Sterling contractor says it’s still owed $80,000 for its work on Donald Trump’s D.C. hotel.

Former Prince William County Sen. Charles J. Colgan, the longest-serving Virginia senator, died at age 90.

Nine days after being sworn into office, President Donald Trump signed an executive order temporarily blocking immigrants from seven countries with Muslim-majority populations from entering the country. The order was met with protests across the country, particularly at airports including Dulles International where travelers from the affected countries were detained for hours. Lawyers showed up at airports trying to offer representation to those detained. In a statement, Trump insisted the order was not the Muslim ban he proposed during his campaign. Virginia Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine sent a letter to Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly demanding the names of those detained at Virginia airports and describing the order as creating “widespread confusion and distress.”

Kelly Carter, a server at Anita’s New Mexico Style Cafe in Ashburn, received a racist note at the bottom of a bill. The note read: “Great service. Don’t tip black people.” National attention was drawn to the story, and weeks later attorney Daniel Heba of Simms and Showers law firm, said he was representing the people who left the bill claiming it was false.

FEBRUARY

WJLA anchor Maureen Bunyan parted ways with the station after 40 years of anchoring newscasts in the area. She was let go by Sinclair Broadcasting Group as part of cuts at the company.

Gov. Terry McAuliffe vetoed a bill that would have restricted funding to organizations that provide abortions, including Planned Parenthood.

Arlington County Board Chair Jay Fisette announced he would not seek re-election after 20 years on the board.

Locals campaigned to save the IOTA Club and Cafe in Clarendon after news broke of a redevelopment plan that would force the music venue to close or relocate. IOTA Club owners eventually decided to close.

Gov. Terry McAuliffe vetoed bills that would allow Virginians to carry concealed weapons such as switchblades, lower the concealed-carry age to 18 and allow home-schooled students to participate in public school athletics.

Attorneys for Burke man Haris Qamar, who was found guilty of working with ISIS, asked for a sentence of five to six years. His maximum possible sentence is 20 years. Qamar received 102 months in prison.

A federal judge in Alexandria issued an injunction against President Trump‘s immigration order, stating it might violate the First Amendment’s religious protections.

Students at seven Loudoun County high schools planned a walkout in protest of President Trump‘s immigration order and the confirmation of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.

The City of Fairfax elected Councilmember David L. Meyer as mayor, replacing R. Scott Silverthorne following his resignation last year. In June, Silverthorne was sentenced for his involvement in a sex-for-drugs sting operation.

The Virginia Senate voted in favor of a constitutional amendment that would allow a simple majority vote from the Senate and House of Delegates to veto regulations created by the governor and the executive branch.

The Virginia House of Delegates passed a bill that protects employees working for religious organizations from losing state benefits due to their belief that marriage should be between a man and a woman.

The five teen boys who pleaded guilty to defacing the Ashburn Colored School with racist graffiti were sentenced with reading books by black, Jewish and Afghan authors, writing a research paper on hate speech, visiting the U.S. Holocaust Museum and listening to an interview with a student who attended the historic school.

Nestlé announced it would move its U.S. corporate headquarters from California to Rosslyn.

MARCH

Brand Finance released its annual list of the country’s 500 Most Valuable Brands, and 14 of the companies are based in the greater D.C. region, including Tysons‘ Capital One; McLean‘s Hilton, Mars and DoubleTree; Falls Church‘s General Dynamics, CSC and Northrop Grumman; and Arlington‘s AES.

More than 300 people participated in Falls Church‘s first Women’s Herstory Month walk.

A new report ranks Loudoun as the healthiest county in Virginia.

Sens. Tim Kaine and Mark Warner reintroduced a bill that would grant federal recognition to six Virginia Indian tribes.

A report by federal auditors stated WMATA failed to adequately prepare and plan for the Metro‘s SafeTrack maintenance program.

The Day Without a Woman strike spurred mass time-off requests at local schools, causing Alexandria Public Schools to close, along with schools in Maryland and D.C.

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© MISHELA / stock.adobe.com

For the fourth time in the tradition’s 80-year history, a woman guarded the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery.

The Supreme Court sent a case addressing a transgender Virginia high school student’s right to use the boys’ bathroom back to a lower court.

Gov. Terry McAuliffe vetoed a bill that would require jails to hold people past their sentences if immigration officials asked they be detained.

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© Parilov / stock.adobe.com

President Trump signed a bill introduced by Rep. Barbara Comstock that encourages girls and women to enter careers in the sciences.

The Supreme Court asked a lower court to re-examine Virginia redistricting for gerrymandering intended to dilute African-American residents’ votes.

Virginia lawmakers approved a plan to extend Interstate 395 express lanes from Edsall Road in Alexandria to D.C.

Virginia lawmakers approved a bill that will require school boards to hire at least one reading specialist trained in working with students with dyslexia.

APRIL

Summit Church in Springfield asked a Dumfries parishioner to move to a private room when she began breast-feeding, saying it would make men, male teenagers and new churchgoers “uncomfortable.”

Arlington and Fairfax schools issued warnings to parents and students advising caution in watching Netflix series 13 Reasons Why, which depicts a teenage girl commit suicide.

Gov. Terry McAuliffe and Virginia lawmakers announce a push for self-driving cars and drones in the state, making it “the capital of automated vehicles.”

Lansdowne Resort sold for $133 million to a Hong Kong investor.

lansdowne
Photo courtesy of Landsdowne Resort

Principal John Brewer returned to his position at Dominion High School after a nearly four-month leave following the investigation of a former Dominion band director for alleged sexual misconduct toward a student.

The Virginia Senate approved a raise for a female clerk after it was discovered she was making $19,000 less than her male counterpart in the House despite having 20 more years of experience.

Virginia Tech planned several days of remembrance for the 10th anniversary of the shooting that killed 32.

The Alexandria Symphony Orchestra narrowed down the finalists for its next music director, and began a series of concerts over the course of the year as a finalist showcase before a new director is named.

Virginia lawmakers rejected Gov. McAuliffe‘s proposal to expand Medicaid.

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Photo by Jorge Carcamo

Carpool closes in Arlington, makes move to Fair Lakes.

A Virginia judge ruled in favor of maintaining 11 districts after an advocacy group filed a lawsuit that claimed 2011 redistricting didn’t follow requirements.

MAY

Arlington is named No. 6 in the Trust for Public Land’s 2017 list of cities with the best parks and access to parks.

Loudoun County police charged two Potomac Falls High School students with distributing a narcotic on school grounds after Riverbend Middle School students were discovered consuming a Xanax-laced drink.

Fairfax County celebrated its 275th birthday with multiple events.

Arlington was named the Best City for Millennials followed by Alexandria at No. 4.

The Minority Student Achievement Oversight Committee called for an outside investigator to explore whether Fairfax County Public Schools discriminated against hiring black teachers.

The Capitals lost 2-0 to the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinal. And the Wizards lost 123-101 to the Boston Celtics in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference semifinal.

Protesters gathered outside Catoctin Elementary in Leesburg during Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue’s visit to the school to announce rollbacks on health requirements for school lunches.

According to a report by the Environmental Integrity Project, waste from turkeys, chickens and cows is polluting the Shenandoah River with E. coli.

JUNE

Leesburg resident Kevin Patrick Mallory, who reportedly gave top-secret documents to China was charged with espionage.

17-year-old Nabra Hassanen was murdered while walking to a Sterling mosque. Later in the year Darwin Martinez-Torres was indicted on capital murder and rape charges in the death.

University of Virginia student Otto Warmbier, who was detained in North Korea for 17 months and was released to the U.S. in a coma, died.

The Supreme Court ruled against a law that prohibits offensive trademarks. The ruling marked a win for the Asian-American rock band the Slants but could also help the Washington Redskins maintain their name. Five Native Americans and the Justice Department dropped their case challenging the Redskins’ trademark.

James T. Hodgkinson, a 66-year-old man from Belleville, Illinois, shot and wounded four people, including House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, at an Alexandria baseball field.

Mohamad Khweis, a Fairfax resident and former Metro Access bus driver was found guilty of providing material support to the Islamic State. Upon joining ISIS, Khweis agreed to become a suicide bomber. In October, he was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

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© agphotos / stock.adobe.com

The Animal Welfare League of Arlington opened the D.C. area’s first neonatal kitten nursery.

JULY

Prince William County police announced former Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Lucky Whitehead, who’s originally from Manassas, was not the man arrested for a shoplifting incident last month. It was a case of another man giving police Whitehead’s date of birth and Social Security number.

The Sterling Chipotle had more than 135 cases of illness reported. Tests came back positive for norovirus.

Arlington County was named No. 1 of the top digital counties in the country with populations between 150,000 and 249,999. Fairfax County placed at No. 5 among counties with populations of 1 million or more, and Loudoun County ranked No. 7 among counties with populations between 250,000 and 499,999.

The Loudoun County Board of Supervisors opposed a one-cent regional sales tax that would have been applied toward the Metro system.

The organizers behind the Women’s March on Washington launched a two-day protest from the National Rifle Association headquarters in Fairfax to the Department of Justice in D.C. The protest was in response to a video created by the NRA that called the Women’s March “violence of lies.”

The owner of the Potomac Nationals withdrew the request to build a new stadium in Prince William County.

A man who once raised money for the Kim Jong Un regime in North Korea defected to South Korea in 2014 and currently lives in Northern Virginia, and he’s now sharing details about U.S. sanctions and North Korea’s relationship with China.

Arlington County Board member Jay Fisette said he believes Arlington should become a city.

Arlington announced a 64-percent decrease in homelessness stemming from its 10 Year Plan to End Homelessness project and the push to ensure everyone has access to affordable housing.

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Photo courtesy of NBC4

Jim Vance, the longest-serving news anchor in Washington, D.C., died on July 22, after a battle with cancer.

AUGUST

The Diocese of Arlington priest who wrote about his past affiliations with the Ku Klux Klan came forward after a journalist contacted his parish inquiring if he was the same man who was arrested in the 1970s for burning a cross in a black couple’s front yard. That couple said Fr. William Aitcheson never apologized or paid court-ordered restitution. He eventually stepped down from his post at St. Leo the Great in Fairfax City.

President Trump signed a resolution that makes way for a Metro Safety Commission.

The solar eclipse crossed the skies from coast to coast; the first time in the continental U.S. since 1979.

Loudoun County Public Schools got a lot of flak for an ad on its mobile app. The ad targeted moms and read, “Don’t let your yoga pants get tied in a knot this back-to-school season!”

Gov. Terry McAuliffe called for the Virginia General Assembly to grant localities the ability to remove and relocate monuments. McAuliffe was echoed by then-Democratic candidate for Virginia governor, Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam, and Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring.

A white nationalist-led protest against the removal of a Confederate statue in Charlottesville turned violent. Three died, including counter-protester Heather Heyer, who was struck when an Ohio man, James Alex Fields Jr., with Nazi sympathies drove his car into a crowd. Nineteen others were injured. Two Virginia state troopers died in a helicopter crash while doing surveillance of the protest. Commenting on the Charlottesville protest, Prince William Board of Supervisors Chairman Corey Stewart, who nearly won the Republican nomination for Virginia governor and is challenging Sen. Tim Kaine for his seat in 2018, said “half of the violence was committed by left-wingers” and called for an “end to the hypocrisy.”

Patsy Ticer, Alexandria’s first female mayor and a four-term state senator, died at the age of 82.

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Photo by Lynn Norusis

The Transportation Institute at Virginia Tech’s self-driving car took to Wilson and Clarendon boulevards in Arlington for test driving runs.

Virginia’s 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sent Gavin Grimm’s case against the Gloucester County School Board back to a lower court to decide whether the case is null now that Grimm has graduated. Grimm, a transgender boy, was denied use of the boy’s bathroom at his high school.

A Loudoun County man won his case against Board of Supervisors chairwoman Phyllis Randall after arguing she infringed on his right to free speech when she blocked him from her Facebook page. The outcome of that case could affect politicians around the country, including President Trump, who faces a lawsuit that claims he is silencing criticism by blocking other Twitter users.

SEPTEMBER

According to a summer 2017 study by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, air in the D.C. region is the best that it has been in the last 20 years. Since 2012, there have been no Code Red air quality days.

A study published by the traffic data firm Irnix named the southbound section of I-95 from the Fairfax County Parkway to Fredericksburg the worst traffic area in the country.

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© roza / stock.adobe.com

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors asked Gov. Terry McAuliffe to take a stance against a proposed state regulation that would require all child-care workers at facilities that receive state child-care subsidies to speak English.

An FBI news release revealed that violent crime has increased nationwide for the second year in a row. Statewide, Virginia has also seen an increase in violent crime, with Northern Virginia areas like Manassas, Stafford, Loudoun, Fairfax and Prince William counties also seeing growing numbers. Alexandria’s violent crime reports have decreased overall, but Alexandria did see an increase in the number of murders.

In response to President Trump saying that NFL players who “disrespect our flag” should be fired, NFL players from more than a dozen teams, including the Washington Redskins, took a knee or locked arms in protest. A few days later Chairman of the Prince William Board of County Supervisors, Corey Stewart, assembled a press conference outside of the NFL Players’ Association’s D.C. office, calling for Congress to revoke the NFL’s antitrust protections after players have been what Stewart calls “despicable” and “unpatriotic.”

Michelle Cottrell-Williams, a social studies teacher at Arlington’s Wakefield High School, was named teacher of the year for the state of Virginia.

Money magazine named Reston the 29th best place to live in America in their Top 100 list. Ashburn was ranked No. 30.

The Fredericksburg City Council voted to have the downtown’s slave auction block remain at the corner of Charles and William streets.

Alexandria’s City Manager Mark Jinks announced that the city council will drop its plan to create an Old Town business improvement district.

A high-tech security breach at Equifax exposed approximately 143 million Americans’ Social Security numbers and other private information.

A $3 million Mega Millions lottery ticket was purchased for the Sept. 5 drawing at the Giant Food store on 21000 Southbank St. in Sterling.

The involuntary manslaughter charge has been dropped against a man who didn’t give the right of way to pedestrians and killed an infant in a stroller in Lansdowne last year.

For the first time in 17 years, Fairfax County canceled its annual Civil War reenactment at the Sully Historic Site in Chantilly. The decision to cancel was influenced by the violence at the Charlottesville rally.

Photo by Lynn Norusis

Loudoun County officials agree with Attorney General Mark Herring’s decision that the Confederate monument at the Loudoun County Courthouse in Leesburg is protected under state law.

Doug Hill retires as WJLA’s chief meteorologist after more than 30 years.

OCTOBER

The Stafford County I-95 Express Lanes extension opens.

The Prince William County School Board unanimously voted to name the Independence Nontraditional School’s library after Renee H. Lacey, who led the county’s alternative-education programs.

After a four-hour meeting on Thursday, Oct. 26, the Fairfax County School Board voted to change the name of Falls Church’s J.E.B. Stuart High School to Justice High School.

Despite being a major player in Metro’s SafeTrack rehabilitation program, electrical arcing incidents, which occur when an electrical current makes its way to the ground, are on the rise. The events, which can lead to track fires, have doubled since last summer.

Muhammad Bayazid, a Reston filmmaker and human rights activist working on a film about Syria, was stabbed in an apparent assassination attempt in Instanbul.

An “Operation Will to Kill” group chat made up of students at Bealeton’s Liberty High School was discovered after screenshots of messages were posted to Facebook. The group chat’s minors said that one unnamed student had “one month to live” and that they were “planning a murder.” The six students involved will not face criminal charges.

Expedia.com named Manassas one of the country’s most “tourist-friendly” cities.

John and Jackie Kennedy’s Northern Fauquier Wexford retreat, built in 1963, sold for $2.85 million. The four-bedroom home, which sits on 166.6 acres, was originally listed four years ago at $10.99 million.

Purcellville’s Viking Division of the U.S. Naval Sea Cadet Corps beat out 394 other units to be named the best in the nation.

NOVEMBER

President Trump’s former campaign chair Paul Manafort, after being charged for tax fraud and money laundering, may have one of his properties, located in Clarendon, forfeited to the federal government as Manafort allegedly purchased the home using laundered money.

Democrat Ralph Northam is elected as Virginia’s 73rd governor.

Danica Roem, the first openly transgender person elected to an office won Virginia’s 13th District delegate seat. She ousted 13-year incumbent Bob Marshall.

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Photo courtesy of Danica Roem for Delegate

A musical, A Will to Survive, about Loudoun County’s Will Robinson, a 17-year-old who committed suicide in January 2016, received sponsorship from Mars Candy heiress Jacqueline Mars and will take to the Kennedy Center Terrace Theater stage Nov. 19.

The man who put together the August Charlottesville rally that resulted in the death of two Va. state troopers and one protester, Jason Kessler, has announced that he is in the process of obtaining a permit to hold an anniversary rally next summer.

At least 147 Stafford and Fredericksburg voters were assigned to vote in the wrong race, delaying the State Board of Elections from certifying the House of Delegates results.

Gov. Terry McAuliffe broke ground for the I-66 expansion that will create a total of 10 lanes (five in each direction) outside the Beltway. The project, which costs $3.7 billion, should be completed sometime in 2022.

Rose McGowan, the actress who played Paige Matthews on Charmed, was arrested in Loudoun County. McGowan left personal belongings behind on her Jan. 20 United 653 flight to Washington Dulles International Airport. The actress’ possessions reportedly “tested positive for narcotics.”

December 2017

Dynamic tolls along I-66 came into effect on Dec. 4 costing solo riders inside the beltway the peak toll price of $34.50.

For $70 million, Google purchased 148 acres of Loudoun County land with the intention of building two new data centers. Construction will begin some time in 2018.

The National Park Service announced that they have agreed to spend $227 million on making repairs to the 85-year-old Arlington Memorial Bridge. Construction, which should extend the bridge’s lifespan another 85-100 years, will begin in the fall of 2018.

Democrats filed an amended complaint to the lawsuit originally filed in Alexandria’s U.S. District Court on Nov. 21, this time asking that a federal judge order a new election in light of the mistakes made about district lines in the Virginia House of Delegates race.

Since August, James Alex Fields Jr. has been serving time in prison for killing one woman and injuring 35 others after driving his car into the Charlottesville “Unite the Right” rally crowd. Fields was charged with first-degree murder, an upgrade to the lesser homicide charge he was originally jailed for.

Route 28 closed between Old Ox Road and Frying Pan Road around 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 12 after a naked man believed to be involved in a car accident jumped on top of a passing vehicle, damaged it and then ran into a wooded area. The suspect was later arrested on Dulles International Airport property.

Maame Biney, a 17-year-old from Ghana who lives in Reston, becomes the first black female to qualify for the U.S. Olympic speedskating team.

A three-judge panel refused to certify Democrat Shelly Simonds as the winner of the 94th District race after ruling that one vote—which had both Simonds and Republican David Yancey checked but also had Simonds’ name crossed out—should be counted toward Yancey’s total. That voter had chosen every other Republican on the ballot, making it seem as though voting for Simonds was an error. Now a tie, the 94th District would be chosen by placing each name in its own film canister and then picking the winner out of a glass bowl; however, Simonds is challenging the ruling.

A 17-year-old teen from Lorton entered into one family’s Reston home the Friday before Christmas and shot and killed Scott Fricker and his wife, Buckley Kuhn-Fricker, before shooting himself. Four other families members, who were not harmed, were home at the time of the shooting.

(December 2017)

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