Thursday, February 17, 2022
Storck began with a moment of silence to commemorate Mount Vernon residents who died in the previous year. He then expressed gratitude to his predecessor, Supervisor Gerald W. "Gerry" Hyland (D-Mount Vernon), for initiating the town meeting tradition 35 years ago.
Storck honored the people who make "a huge difference" and "have a commitment and passion for the particular work they do," the Mount Vernon district appointees to over 50 different boards, authorities, and commissions.
He acknowledged Gina Lynch for receiving the Virginia Animal Control President's Award and Will Freeman for receiving the Fairfax County Tree Commission's 2021 Friends of Trees Award.
Storck welcomed leadership at the federal, state, and county levels, starting with two "special guests," speakers Congressmen Don Beyer (D-8) and Gerry Connolly (D-11), who addressed current events on Capitol Hill.
As Chairman of the Joint Economic Committee, Beyer said that the committee's members are those responsible for putting together the Payment Protection Plan and direct impact payments. "Much of the money that went to sustain America through COVID came out of the research we had done," Beyer said. His "little piece of making sure the vaccines are free" was incorporated in the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. Other significant successes of 2021 include legislation, if passed are, the Equality Act of 2021, which would prohibit discrimination against members of the LGBTQ community, and the Women's Health Protection Act of 2021, which codifies Roe and Wade.
Locally, Beyer said he was excited about reducing airplane noise, ensuring that flights departing National Airport fly straight to Fort Washington before turning left or right. He is also pleased with the National Park Service's release of its Southern George Washington Memorial Parkway Safety Study. There will be new signs, restriping, fewer lanes, and slower speeds.
Connolly emphasized the local government's openness to residents. He spoke about how the pandemic tested us in new ways. "But you know what, the world did not come to an end. We experienced tragedy; we experienced loss; we experienced fear, but we soldiered on. Government continued to function," Connolly said.
Connolly said the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 Relief legislation enacted last year halved child poverty in America. The $1.2 trillion "transformative infrastructure plan" included universal pre-kindergarten and broadband. "Let's remember we're all Americans, and we will be stronger and better," Connolly said.
STORCK OUTLINED investments of over $30 million in roads, walkways, and trails between 2021 and 2022 in the Mount Vernon District. "Things that really make our connectivity improve," he said. Additionally, more than $270 million paid for new and refurbished county buildings and $1 billion on stormwater, sewer, public health facilities, and other infrastructure.
"We have more than a billion dollars…for Richmond Highway," Storck added.
Chairman Jeff McKay highlighted how he saw the county at its finest as it negotiated COVID. He expressed gratitude to county employees, first responders, instructors, and public works personnel for keeping the county open "every single day of COVID, serving residents."
McKay said that 73 percent of the county's population is fully boosted with the COVID vaccine, safeguarding the community's residents. "I salute our health care workers but most importantly, our residents for taking advantage of those opportunities and caring enough," McKay said.
McKay outlined $90 million in grants and assistance for Fairfax County's small minority-, women- and veteran-owned companies. McKay highlighted the Fairfax Founders Fund, which was established to assist promising businesses and provide minority company owners with access to funding in ways that banks often did not. McKay detailed the $50 million in funds for help with food, housing, and utilities for those who have lost employment or are coping with income loss or sickness due to COVID.
McKay addressed affordable housing. "We are not just concentrating all of our affordable housing in the places that it is acceptable. We are going to force the issue and build affordable housing in all corners of the county because it is the right thing to do for our economy, and it's the right thing to do morally. Our board feels very strongly about that," McKay said.
COUNTY EXECUTIVE Bryan Hill discussed how the county transformed its business model. The county has a new strategic plan with ten objectives that prioritizes how business is done and implements the equity foundations of One Fairfax. "(In) the strategic plan moving forward, access and equity are in every intentional decision making that we do in Fairfax County today," Hill said.
Charles Cuvelier, superintendent of the George Washington Memorial Parkway, said that his responsibilities extend from Great Falls in northern Fairfax County to Mount Vernon. They put forward the Mount Vernon Trail Corridor Study and the traffic and safety context-sensitive solutions, particularly in South County. This is vital because, as resource stewards, they are accountable for both cultural and natural landscapes. These aid decision-making by directing priorities and expenditures to areas where they may compete for available funds within the National Park Service.
The NPS rehabilitated Arlington Memorial Bridge, a $277 million investment in the park finished on schedule and under budget. The $161 million GW Parkway Rehabilitation contract will reconstruct the parkway's northern segment between Sprout Run in Arlington and the I-495 junction in McLean.
Karen Corbet Sanders, the Mount Vernon District School Board member, focused on a trifecta of important events this month beginning with Black History. Sanders described how schools and the community ensure that people are aware of that history and that they embrace and celebrate the accomplishments of brilliant black scientists, innovators, medical professionals who helped invent the COVID vaccine, and others. "It is important because it is part of our history that we want to teach and tell the story about, the good and the bad. Because if we don't teach our history, we end up repeating history, and we know we don't want to do that," she said.
The second event is Public Schools Week, Feb. 21-25, 2022. "Many people don't realize that Virginia was the first state in the United States to actually incorporate into its constitution the promise of public education for every child in the Commonwealth," she said.
A third event commemorates 125 years of PTA Parent Teacher Organizations. According to Sanders, there has been much chatter about whether or not parents should be included in the educational process. "I am here to say that 125 years in, we are proud to continue that promise of partnering with parents and teachers to advance the needs of public education," she said.
Sanders described how Fairfax County Public Schools reinvented many aspects of education, including introducing the science of reading, focusing on early literacy; adapting the John Lewis program at John R. Lewis High School which emphasizes leadership and public service; expanding the curriculum on preventing gun violence and gun safety; and securing board support to introduce Title Nine curriculum for grades K through 12, which teaches children from an early age what is harassment and assault.
Storck closed the meeting saying, " Together we have accomplished much throughout this second challenging COVID year, and I know we will achieve far more in the future."
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