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Week in Reston

'Sickout' Disrupts Bus Service

<bt>Thirty-six Fairfax Connector drivers called in sick Tuesday, forcing the cancellation of 10 Reston/Herndon morning routes and to curtail afternoon and evening routes. The drivers, members of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1708, held the “sickout” because of stalled contract negotiations. They are employed by Yellow Transportation, Inc., which is contracted by Fairfax County to operate the Fairfax Connector bus system. Representatives from the union could not be reached Tuesday because they were still in negotiations as of presstime. Andy Szakos, the chief of the transit services division for Fairfax County, said work stoppages with the Fairfax Connector have historically been fairly brief. “We do understand this adversely affects our customers and we’re sorry about that,” Szakos said. “We do not like days like today, but they happen.”

<sh>$30,000 Embezzled from Store

<bt> A 20-year-old Sterling area man was arrested after police charged him for stealing more than $30,000 from his employer, the Reston Sutton Place Gourmet. On Feb. 7, around 9 a.m., police were called to the store, located at 11860 Spectrum Center, because store security had noticed several refunds being made by Ian Servera, of Ingomar Terrace. They discovered Servera, a store supervisor, had allegedly embezzled over $30,000 in the past 18 months by completing fraudulent refunds. Servera was arrested, transported to the Adult Detention Center and charged with embezzlement, Fairfax County Police said. He has since been released on his own recognizance.

<sh>Deadline Friday for RA Elections

<bt>The filing deadline for Reston Association Board of Directors candidates is Friday, Feb. 13 by 5 p.m. Three seats are open this year, each for a three-year term. The districts are: Lake Anne/Tall Oaks, North Point, and the at-large seat. Candidates must be a resident of Reston by the eligibility date of Jan. 23, 2004, and must gather at least 25 signatures of fellow residents. Candidates are also required to provide an electronic photograph of themselves by the deadline and are encouraged to provide a statement of candidacy as well. For questions, call Jeanne Calvi at 703-435-6578.

<sh>Community Center Solicits Ideas

<bt>The Reston Community Center Governing Board and staff held a meeting Monday night to gather ideas from residents about new programs the center should offer. RCC’s staff will research these proposals for the next month and will present them at the following regular RCC board meeting. Some of the recommendations suggested Monday night included:

* More independent film screenings

* Home maintenance classes

* Courses for adult and teenage job seekers, including job and internship fairs

* Setting up a forum for amateur musicians to get together for jam sessions

* Holding a scavenger hunt for charity, in which teams raise money through pledges and then follow clues around Reston on the hunt. At the end of the scavenger hunt, the teams would attend a party at Reston Town Center. The team that raises the most money and the team that wins the scavenger hunt would split the winnings between their charities.

* Establishing a travel club, in which the RCC would contract with a travel agency, allowing residents to travel to such places as Las Vegas and New Orleans with a group in the same age group.

<sh>Gang Task Force Issues Update

<bt>The 10th Congressional District Gang Task Force began operating in July 2003 to address violent gang activity in Northern Virginia. In the first 6 months of operation, the work of the multi-jurisdictional task force has resulted in 65 felony arrests and 137 misdemeanor arrests. Additionally, Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (BICE) has detained 47 individuals on immigration violations.

“The inter-jurisdictional approach to investigations, information-sharing, and proactive enforcement has increased our ability to crack down on gang activity,” said Gang Task Force Chairman and Herndon Police Chief Toussaint Summers, Jr.

During investigations and enforcement activities the task force has also seized the following items over the last six months: 46 weapons, 208 grams of cocaine, 31 grams of heroin and 20 grams of marijuana.

Working under a grant from the U.S. Justice Department, the task force is comprised of several Northern Virginia law enforcement agencies, including: Fairfax County Police, Herndon Police, Leesburg Police, Manassas Police, Manassas Park Police, Prince William County Police, FBI, DEA, ATF and BICE.

In addition to law enforcement, the task force provides training on gang issues. To date a total of 30 sessions have been provided to over 500 school staff Members, 200 law enforcement personnel, and 200 citizens.