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Made-to-Order Ice Cream Shop Coming to Clarendon

by Ethan Rothstein | April 17, 2014 at 3:30 pm | 1,708 views | No Comments

An ice cream shop that takes customers orders, then literally makes the ice cream as the customer watches, is preparing to open in Market Common Clarendon next month.

Nicecream Factory was founded last year by Sandra Tran and her boyfriend, Gil Welsford, as a Kickstarter-funded pop-up shop. The 24-year-old Tran, a JMU grad, makes the ice cream using liquid nitrogren and fresh, locally-sourced ingredients. They’ve operated so far as a pop-up shop in farmers markets and restaurants around the D.C. area, including at the Diner in Adams Morgan.

Last week, Nicecream Factory signed the lease to take over the former Red Mango space at 2831 Clarendon Blvd and Tran, who worked at Living Social in the District for a year before starting her own business, told ARLnow.com she hopes to open the store in the second week of May. In addition to the ice cream, which she takes about as long to prepare “as a Starbucks drink does.”

“When you think of an ice cream, you think mom and pop shop,” Tran said. “We value a lot of the pieces of that, being a small business and entrepreneurs and working with our community. We want to modernize those ideas, spice up the ice cream factor. When you’re paying to get desserts, you want the experience. Scooping out of an ice cream cabinet isn’t so much of an experience.”

The shop will also offer coffee, locally sourced pastries and, Tran said, will be designed to accommodate business meetings much like a coffee shop; she said they’ll even wheel a chalkboard to a table if need be. Tran said she also plans on inviting local artists to use the space to display their work.

“That’s something I think Clarendon can use a little more of,” said Tran, a Falls Church resident. “It’s a huge bar scene, but it needs a place to take a date.”

Tran sources many of her ingredients, like apples for one of her favorite recipes, apple pie, from local farmers she’s met working her pop-up shop at farmers markets. She said because of the fresh ingredients and the fact that the ice cream isn’t sitting in the freezer, she can make a thick, smooth treat without the high-fat creams most premium ice cream has.

“You don’t have to use coloring, preservatives or chemicals to make your ice cream delicious and beautiful,” she said. “A lot of people like the concept, but it’s not until they eat it when they realize it tastes more delicious than any ice cream they’ve had before.”

Video via Washingtonian

Rental Report: Tips for Apartment Hunting With a Roommate

by ARLnow.com | April 17, 2014 at 2:30 pm | 428 views | No Comments

Rental Report header

Editor’s Note: This biweekly sponsored column is written by Rick Gersten, founder and CEO of Urban Igloo, a rental real estate firm that matches up renters with their ideal apartments, condos or houses. Please submit any questions in the comments section or via email.

Now that spring is finally here, the rental business is ramping up as well. This time of year, we get a lot of renters looking for units with one or more roommates. Looking for a place to rent can be tough whether it is for just you, or for you and 3 others. Here are a few tips to help you get through the apartment search and into a great home with your group.

Discuss the basics before you start looking. Make sure you are on the same page with what you want. Knowing what you all collectively want will save everyone wasted efforts. Be sure to discuss: what areas work best for all parties, what type of unit you are hoping to find, and what you can each afford.

Discover any pitfalls. The last thing you want to happen is to find the perfect place, take the time to apply and pay the application fees, only to find out the landlord denied the applications because your roommate has terrible credit. It isn’t the easiest discussion to have, as it is deeply personal. Just remember, you are entering in to a legal agreement with this person, so you need to know that you won’t be stuck either homeless because you can’t qualify, or in a place you can’t afford because your roommate can’t or won’t pay.

Know the legal ramifications. That brings us to these four little words: jointly and severally liable. This means that all parties on the lease are responsible for the entire lease. If someone leaves, the remaining renters are responsible for that portion of the lease as well. Co-signers, too, are not just responsible for one person, but for all those on the lease. And this isn’t just the financial issue — does your roommate have a pet? Guess what? That baseboard the dog just chewed up is your responsibility, too.

Now that we have the legal stuff out of the way, what about the actual search?

Coordination is key. Work out a time where you can both view apartments together. It isn’t always easy, but this way, if there is a great place out there, you don’t risk losing it because someone can’t get there for a few days. Also, remember it isn’t just your time that is valuable, but the time of the property manager, on-site leasing agent, or real estate agent as well.

Sometimes looking together isn’t always possible. If everyone is on board with needs and wants, assign one person the ability to make a decision quickly if necessary.

Have one contact person. This is especially helpful with groups working with agents. This person can coordinate with the other roommates, the agent, and the property manager/landlord.

Be ready to apply. This is particularly important with larger groups. Make sure everyone is ready with application fees, security deposit (in Virginia can be up to two months’ rent) and the first month’s rent. Most likely, the payments will need to be in certified funds.  Everyone will need to fill out an application and provide proof of income which can be two most recent pay stubs, an offer letter from a new employer, or tax documents.  That reasonably-priced four bedroom house with Metro access won’t be on the market long. Having all your ducks in a row will ensure you will get the place and will be ready for a much-deserved housewarming party in July. (more…)

Peter’s Take: Virginia Flunks Ethics Reform

by Peter Rousselot | April 17, 2014 at 2:00 pm | 326 views | No Comments

Peter’s Take is a weekly opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

Peter RousselotOne of the five most revealing stories of 2013 was the ethics scandal that engulfed the administration of former Gov. Bob McDonnell and his wannabe successor Ken Cuccinelli. In the wake of that scandal, there were high hopes that Virginia would pass meaningful ethics reform in 2014. Sadly, Virginia flunked this opportunity.

Virginia legislators from both parties are responsible for the toothless “ethics reform” legislation that did pass in 2014. Their legislation “tightens conflict of interest rules on themselves just enough to say they did something to clean up Virginia’s soiled reputation.”

What did they do? Why did it do nothing to clean up Virginia’s soiled reputation?

The ethics legislation that passed this year imposes a $250 cap on gifts to Virginia legislators. Sounds good, right? Wrong. The $250 cap applies only to gifts made by registered lobbyists. It does not apply to gifts made directly by any individual or business that is not a registered lobbyist. Thus, the kinds of gifts made to McDonnell and Cuccinelli by disgraced businessman Jonnie Williams (e.g., shopping sprees to New York, Rolex watches, reimbursement for weddings of legislators’ children) are all permitted under the new ethics legislation just as they were before.

In fact, an early analysis of this legislation by ProgressVA showed that if it had been in effect in 2012, it would have prohibited NONE of the 756 gifts made to Virginia’s legislators in that year.

This legislation also “substitutes window-dressing for muscular enforcement by establishing an ‘advisory’ state ethics panel — with no staff or budget — instead of a commission with the resources and authority to investigate alleged violations.”

What role did Gov. Terry McAuliffe play regarding ethics reform this session? Where he had the unilateral power to do it, he put in place a strong ethics reform package for himself, his staff, and state agencies. This executive branch reform package establishes a $100 gift cap without the ridiculous loopholes in the bill passed by the legislature.

Some have criticized Gov. McAuliffe for failing to exercise his power to propose substantive amendments to the ethics bill passed by the legislature. That criticism is unfair. Given the huge bi-partisan support for this legislation, there was no reasonable prospect that the governor could have obtained any significant substantive changes in it.

Conclusion

The legislature thoroughly humiliated itself by what it did. The governor could serve no constructive purpose by heaping further humiliation on top of that.

For this “reform,” the Virginia legislature deserves a bi-partisan grade of “F.”

Give Terry McAuliffe a “B+.”

Peter Rousselot is a former member of the Central Committee of the Democratic Party of Virginia and former chair of the Arlington County Democratic Committee.

The Right Note: This Lesson Had to be Learned?

by Mark Kelly | April 17, 2014 at 1:30 pm | 947 views | No Comments

The Right Note is a weekly opinion column published on Thursdays. The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

Mark Kelly“Live and learn.” That was the end of County Board Chairman Jay Fisette’s apology for attributing Walter Tejada’s tardiness to the Vihstadt swearing-in ceremony last Friday to “running on Latino time.”

Fisette was apparently shocked that people would find such a stereotype offered up in a public forum by an elected official as insensitive, offensive or insulting?

It would be one thing if Fisette wasn’t a Democrat. Democrats have spent the past five years telling the American people that those opposing policies from President Obama were doing so because they were racially motivated. The day before Fisette inserted foot in mouth, U.S. Rep. Charlie Rangel was doing just that.

Imagine for a moment that John Vihstadt had uttered the same words during his remarks on Friday. The Arlington County Democrats would most certainly have fired off a pointed press release – possibly even calling for Vihstadt to resign. Twitter, Facebook and the ARLnow.com comments section would have exploded with activity.

Does anyone really think Jay Fisette is racist or that he was in any way intentionally trying to offend? No. But, to essentially throw up your hands and say “live and learn” was a disappointing response from someone who should have known better.

Since there seems to be no risk in stating the obvious this week, here are three other lessons to learn from recent events:

Alan Howze’s campaign was built around a central theme of “I am a Democrat, and my opponent is a Republican.” That strategy may have gotten Mr. Howze across the finish line in year’s past. This year, it was destined for failure. The voters who most care about local issues saw right through it.

The election last week also clearly demonstrated that these same voters do not want the trolley to be built, and probably at a higher percentage than the Vihstadt vote. Some die hard Democrats voted for Howze despite not being fans of the project. The County Board may ultimately move forward. However, there are two Board members who are in cycle in another low turnout election in the fall of 2015 who may regret it.

Finally, rumors are swirling that higher than anticipated revenues have Board Members considering a tax rate cut — a move that is long overdue (Ed. note: This column was submitted before the County Board approved a one-cent tax rate cut). However, a one, two or even three-cent rate cut is not a tax cut. It is simply a smaller than anticipated tax increase for most, if not all, Arlingtonians. If your assessment went up by 10 percent or more this year, you may not even call a three-cent rate cut a good start. But, it would beat the alternative.

Mark Kelly is a former Arlington GOP Chairman and two-time Republican candidate for Arlington County Board.

Beyer, Chatman Lead Fundraising in Congressional Race

by Ethan Rothstein | April 17, 2014 at 12:15 pm | 462 views | No Comments

Don Beyer (photo via Friends of Don Beyer)  Lavern Chatman (photo via Facebook

Don Beyer and Lavern Chatman are the early leaders in fundraising in the June 10 Democratic primary to replace retiring Rep. Jim Moran (D).

Beyer, the former Virginia lieutenant governor, has a sizable lead over the rest of the field. Beyer has raised $668,497 in contributions so far, spending $218,617 and holding onto $449,636 cash on hand, according to Federal Election Commission filing records. Separately, Beyer said he plans to follow fellow Democratic candidate Del. Patrick Hope’s lead in releasing his most recent tax return, on May 15.

Chatman, the former director of the Northern Virginia Urban League, has raised $278,197 in contributions — thanks in part to a fundraiser with talk show mogul Oprah Winfrey — and spent $84,729, leaving her with $213,467 cash on hand. Another Alexandria-based candidate, Mayor Bill Euille, is in third place in fundraising, with $214,571 in contributions, $41,062 spent and $173,509 cash on hand.

The Arlington-based candidates are led by Sen. Adam Ebbin, whose district includes parts of Arlington and Alexandria, with $178,591 in donations and $62,943 in expenditures. He has $114,878 on hand.

“The funds we have raised will enable us to wage the kind of grassroots, neighbor-to-neighbor campaign that has won Adam multi-candidate Democratic primaries before,” said Michael Beckendorf, Ebbin’s campaign manager, in a statement.

Hope is fifth in fundraising, having raised $176,534, spent $47,800, and has $138,733 on hand.

Among the other five candidates — Charniele Herring, Mark Levine, Derek Hyra, Bruce Shuttleworth and Satish Korpe — only Levine and Shuttleworth have more than $100,000 cash on hand, thanks to loans of $250,000 and $275,000 respectively.

“This is a people powered campaign,” Levine, a liberal talk radio host, said in a press release. “People from across the district and across the country are excited about my candidacy. Voters want an aggressive progressive voice that will stand up for progressive principles in the House.”

Korpe, the last Democrat to enter the race, has not filed any campaign finance reports with the FEC.

Photos via Friends of Don Beyer and Facebook

Police, Firefighters Honored For Saving Lives

by Ethan Rothstein | April 17, 2014 at 10:55 am | 495 views | No Comments

Arlington’s emergency responders were recognized for their acts of bravery and public service yesterday during the annual Valor Awards.

The Lifesaving Awards for the Office of Emergency Management and the Arlington County Fire Department were given to dispatchers and firefighters who responded to a kitchen fire in the Dominion Hills neighborhood on April 1 last year.

Two emergency communications technicians, Rachel Moreno and Heather Horan, were honored for their work dealing with the caller, the woman who was rescued from the scene of the fire. Moreno, who wasn’t a fully trained ECT at the time, and Horan, who was training her, took the woman’s call, dispatched a fire response in 50 seconds, told the victim to get to a window and punch through the screen so she could lean out to get air.

“ECT I Moreno was not fully qualified as a call taker but she showed tremendous poise,” OEM Director Jack Brown wrote of the dispatchers. “Her ability to stay calm and maintain control of the call was outstanding and showed experience beyond her years. Together, ECT I Moreno and ECT III Horan were able to obtain critical information and provide life-saving guidance that kept this incident from ending in tragedy.”

The victim eventually fell unconscious, but Moreno and Horan were able to give firefighters the victim’s exact location on the second story of the house. Soon after the victim fell unconscious, firefighters Nicolas Calderone and Jamie Jill entered the house, located the victim, carried her outside and extinguished the fire.

When Calderone and Jill set the victim down, firefighter Joseph Marr noticed she didn’t have a pulse and conducted a minute of CPR. When her pulse returned but her consciousness didn’t, Marr had to carry the victim up the street, since it was too narrow and there were too many firetrucks for the ambulance to get through. The victim made a full recovery.

“Often, this is the only public recognition these officers receive,” Chamber of Comerce President Rich Doud said. The chamber presented the awards. “It is unique to hear the stories of their heroic acts and to meet the officers involved. We are fortunate that they work in Arlington and perform so selflessly in the service of our businesses and citizens.”

Four Arlington police officers and one sheriff’s deputy were honored with lifesaving awards for preventing suicide attempts in three separate incidents.

Officers Stephanie Rodriguez and Kenneth Kernicky were honored after saving a man trying to hang himself from a tree in Douglas Park. Rodriguez caught the man while Kernicky cut the noose from the tree. Days later, according to the Sheriff’s Office, the man thanked the officers for saving his life. Deputy Andrew Woodrow found himself in a similar situation when he rescued an inmate at the Arlington County Jail tried to hang herself with a shoelace from her cell bed.

ACPD First Sgt. Latasha Chamberlain and Det. Paula Brockenborough were given the award after they prevented a woman from jumping off her apartment balcony after she learned of the death of her husband. Through background investigation on the way to the hospital, they discovered the woman was suffering from a mental illness.

Two police lieutenants, two firefighters and a sergeant in the Sheriff’s Office were given Meritorious Service awards, the valor awards’ equivalent of a lifetime achievement award. Police Auxiliary Lt. Heather Hurlock was given the award after volunteering for 1,724 hours in Arlington in 2013 and, since 1997, she has volunteered more than 30,000 hours.

Other recipients of the Meritorious Service Awards were: Lt. Mark Belanger, Sgt. Kevin Pope, Firefighter/EMT Clare Burley and Fire/EMS Capt. Brandon Jones.

County Tax Rate to Drop By a Penny

by ARLnow.com | April 17, 2014 at 9:50 am | 2,338 views | No Comments

County Board members Jay Fisette and Walter Tejada at a budget presentation on Feb. 20, 2013(Updated at 10:10 a.m.) Arlington’s property tax rate will drop by a one cent in the next fiscal year.

The County Board last night directed the County Manager to reduce the tax rate in its Fiscal Year 2015 budget from $1.006 per every $100 in assessed value to $0.996.

That penny corresponds to about $6.6 million in reduced revenue for the county. However, the tax and fee burden on the average Arlington taxpayer will still rise about 4.6 percent, thanks to an increase in property assessments and increases in solid waste and water-sewer fees.

The county plans to use the additional tax revenue on a variety of projects, but much of it will go to Arlington Public Schools and to a “modest” 1 percent cost-of-living adjustment and $500 bonus for county employees.

“The Board’s action provides $432.2 million to the Schools, an increase in base funding of $19.6 million, or 4.7% more than FY 2014, the county said in a press release. “With this budget, Arlington’s support of our students now exceeds $19,000 per pupil — more than any other school district in the region.”

The Board also funded three new School Resource Officers and $8 million for school construction. Other non-school projects the Board committed to funding yesterday include $200,000 in tourism marketing, $1.6 million for the county’s high-speed fiber optic network for businesses, $52,000 for a new sexual assault hotline, $72,606 for a mental health coordinator, $700,000 for costs associated with the opening of the new year-round homeless shelter early next year, and $300,000 for plowing snow from bike trails.

“The Board had to make some tough decisions,” County Board Chair Jay Fisette said in a statement. “In order to give some break to homeowners who have seen their assessments rise, we limited the growth of the County budget, launched no new major initiatives and focused on funding schools and maintaining our core services and existing infrastructure.”

The $200,00 for tourism came at the request of the county’s hotel businesses, which were doubly hurt by a quarter-cent drop in the Transient Occupancy Tax and the lack of business in the fall during the government shutdown.

“I’ve got to thank you for this,” County Manager Barbara Donnellan told the Board. “With the vacancies in the fall, I met with people in the hospitality industry and they were telling me, ‘It’s terrible, we’re going to have to lay people off.’”

At the end of the meeting, new Board member John Vihstadt made a motion to halt all funding that would directly or indirectly go to funding the planned streetcar network along Columbia Pike and in Crystal City for 2014 and 2015. The measure failed 2-3, with Vihstadt joined by Libby Garvey in voting for the motion.

The County Board will officially vote on the budget on Tuesday. The county’s press release on the budget decisions, after the jump.

(more…)

Arlington County Board to Explore Curbing Pub Crawls

by Ethan Rothstein | April 16, 2014 at 5:45 pm | 4,122 views | No Comments

Shamrock crawl (photo via Groupon)The number and popularity of bar crawls in Arlington has increased, and it’s caught the attention of the Arlington County Police Department and county government.

At the Arlington County Board’s budget mark-up meeting this afternoon, the County Board approved an addition $42,000 to the police specifically for “pub crawl support.” Pub crawls in Clarendon, Courthouse and Ballston have drawn crowds close to 5,000-6,000 people, County Board Chair Jay Fisette said.

“I’m becoming a pub crawl expert, not by choice,” Arlington Police Chief Doug Scott told the Board Wednesday. “We are receiving crawl requests at a very escalated pace because they’ve been very popular. We thought we were going to have three, that went to nine, and it’s growing.”

Scott said he’s planning a meeting with the Clarendon-Courthouse Civic Association on April 30, but told ARLnow.com a time and a location have not been finalized yet. He and the Board discussed the potential for regulatory measures for potentially reining in the crawls, or requesting the restaurants and/or organizers provide the funds for the police support.

“There are a lot of legal issues around some of the choices the manager and board will have in terms of how we address these crawls in the future,” Scott said.

Board Member Libby Garvey asked Scott if the crawls were “a little like Mardi Gras except all year long.” Board Member Mary Hynes, who lives near Clarendon, said she has had a hard time wading through the revelers when she wants “to go to the grocery store.”

Lines for bars extend far down the sidewalk for many of the bar crawls, which include crawls on St. Patrick’s Day, Halloween and other holidays. A bar crawl in late June last year led to 13 alcohol-related arrests, and one reveler during this year’s Shamrock Crawl showed up naked to the Arlington County Jail while trying to visit her husband, who was arrested during the crawl.

“Our level of disorderliness really escalates on days where we have pub crawls,” said Scott, who told the Board he’s reached out to law enforcement in cities around the country to ask how they’ve handled bar crawls. “I just signed off today on a comprehensive ground response. I think there’s no aspect of the community, especially around some of these bar locations, that are not impacted.”

The April 30 meeting appears to be the first step toward the Board possibly setting new policies regarding pub crawls. Board member Walter Tejada, however, cautioned against taking too harsh a stance against the events.

“I want to be careful not to be the hardheaded government keeping people from having fun,” he said. “I want to strike that balance, but it’s an issue of safety. If you have data that it could be leading to bad things, then we can’t ignore it.”

Photo via Groupon

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