The Board discussed the matter in a closed session before unanimously approving it. According to County Attorney Stephen MacIsaac, it is standard procedure for the Board to discuss a grant behind closed doors. The grant agreement will be made public once the county attorney finalizes it.
County Manager Barbara Donnellan said the grant will help bring the theater current with real estate taxes owed to the county. Funding for the grant was provided from budget savings identified at the end of Fiscal Year 2012.
The Arlington County Department of Management and Finance indicates the grant includes around $85,000 for past due real estate and business tangible taxes, $99,000 for the next two payments of real estate taxes and around $30,000 for the next business tangible tax payment. The remaining $35,000 will either help fund a financial consultant study or go to future tax payments.
Signature Theatre has sole access rights and branding capability in its current space within a county owned building. It is responsible for the full costs of operating that facility, including real estate and business tangible taxes. Other county supported arts groups performing in county subsidized spaces are not required to pay taxes.
“Signature is thriving, and has a great future ahead of it,” Donnellan said. “This grant addresses an immediate, short-term need by providing temporary relief from a tax burden that is not shared by other supported arts groups.”
The county emphasizes that the theater is a cultural anchor for Shirlington and provides financial benefits to the community. It estimates that more than $150,000 in annual sales and meals taxes can be directly attributed to Signature’s presence in Shirlington.
Signature faced several debt-related lawsuits in Arlington General District Court last year, including claims from Waste Management, Conde Nast Publications and the Delancey at Shirlington Village apartment building. The Waste Management and Conde Nast claims were eventually dismissed. The court ruled in favor of Delancey at Shirlington Village.
County Treasurer Frank O’Leary told the Sun Gazette that Signature was delinquent on its real estate and business taxes.
Meet Zoe, a lovable but sometimes mischievousness rescue dog, and this week’s Arlington Pet of the Week.
Here’s what Zoe’s owners had to say about her:
This is our dog Zoe, a 1.5 year-old mix who lives in Arlington. We adopted her when she was 3 months old from Lost Dog & Cat Rescue Foundation right here in Arlington — she was found on the side of the road with her brothers and sisters, all very malnourished.
She was a little timid when we first got her, but she has long since forgotten her tough past and is now quite the pampered pup. She enjoys strolling through Clarendon and has learned which stores give out free dog treats. When Lululemon has their doors open, she strolls right on in and sits in front of the treat jar until someone gives her a treat (and then her owner is FORCED to go shopping for new Lululemon clothes!).
She also rules the roost at home. Her owners have come home to various destructions, including chewed kitchen cabinets and hardwood floors, a digested Kindle charger, and feathers covering the entire living room from ripped-apart pillows. Despite this, her owners are obsessively in love with her and can’t imagine life without her!
She would also like to know when James Hunter Dog Park in Clarendon is reopening (July -ed.), because she misses her playtime with all of her neighborhood friends! And her owners miss how tired and calm she gets after a long day playing at the dog park.
The Arlington Pet of the Week is sponsored by Dogma Bakery, which has locations at The Village at Shirlington (2772 S. Arlington Mill Drive) and the Lee Harrison Shopping Center (2445 N. Harrison Street).
Want your pet to be considered to be the Arlington Pet of the Week? Email email@example.com with a 2-3 paragraph bio and 3-4 photos of your pet. Each week’s winner receives a $25 Dogma gift card.
Construction issues will delay the anticipated “late spring” reopening of Clarendon’s James Hunter Park until summer.
According to Arlington County Department of Parks and Recreation spokeswoman Susan Kalish, a number of unforeseen conditions turned up during construction at the dog park site on the corner of N. Herndon Street and N. 13th Street. Some of the problems include difficult soils, grading issues and the discovery of “buried structures.” Kalish said although such issues are not unheard of, they will push the expected park completion date into July.
“This is not unusual at an urban site and we were able to make adjustments to ensure the park will be a great place for the community to gather,” she said.
Workers will spend the next several weeks installing site furnishings and landscaping.
“This space should look more and more like a park by the middle of June,” said Kalish.
Despite the delay, the $1.6 million renovation project remains on budget.
The Office Depot at 1515 N. Courthouse Road is closing next month.
Signs and flyers inside the Courthouse store say it will close its doors on June 29. Customers are being encouraged to instead shop at the Alexandria store at 6211 N. Kings Highway or the Falls Church store at 3536 S. Jefferson Drive.
Flyers being handed out by employees offer a $10 discount on purchases of $50 or more at the Alexandria or Falls Church stores. Those who need office supplies in Arlington also have the option of going to the Staples store at 3804 Wilson Blvd in Virginia Square.
Employees told us they’re not sure what will be replacing Office Depot once it closes.
Hat tip to Rob Stern
Ground Floor Retail Exemption Granted — At its meeting yesterday (May 21), the County Board granted an exemption to the policy of requiring ground floor retail space, for the office building at 3701 N. Fairfax Drive. The building formerly housed the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), which had received a retail exemption due to security concerns. The Board granted the exemption this time due to the space’s lack of access and visibility from the street. [Sun Gazette]
AIRE Goal Exceeded — Arlington County has exceeded its 2007 Arlington Initiative to Rethink Energy (AIRE) goal of a 10 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from government operations by 2012. The county has reduced its emissions by 11.7 percent since 2000. “This is an important milestone in Arlington’s efforts to build a more sustainable future for all our residents and businesses,” said Arlington County Board Chairman Walter Tejada. “The County has made great strides in improving the energy efficiency of our buildings and of our fleet and services, and we will continue to look for ways to reduce emissions and reduce spending on energy.” [Arlington County]
Sales Tax Holiday Begins Saturday — Virginia’s annual Hurricane Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday begins on Saturday, May 25, and runs through Friday, May 31. The tax holiday allows residents to prepare for hurricane season, which begins on June 1, by eliminating sales tax on purchases of emergency supplies. Items such as batteries, generators, bottled water, duct tape, cell phone chargers and radios are included. [Virginia Emergency Management]
Around 12:45 a.m., Alexandria Police responded to reports of a person being shot in the 100 block of Lynhaven Drive, just south of Arlington and a block away from Potomac Yard.
Officers found the victim unresponsive. He was transported to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Detectives on the case are interviewing Arlington County Deputy Sheriff Craig Patterson, a 17 year veteran, who was involved in the shooting. The Arlington County Sheriff’s Office says it is cooperating with the investigation and is also doing its own internal investigation. Patterson has been placed on administrative leave while the case is ongoing.
Police have not said how Patterson was involved, but according to scanner traffic the off-duty deputy said he shot a man who pulled a knife on him.
Police are not yet releasing the identity of the victim pending notification of next of kin. The medical examiner’s office will determine the cause of death during an autopsy.
Anyone with information about the incident is asked to call the Criminal Investigations Section of the Alexandria Police Department at 703-746-6711.
Hat tip to John Antonelli
Some Lyon Park residents have expressed concern about Arlington’s 911 system after waiting on hold while calling in last Wednesday’s house fire on N. Highland Street. Arlington’s Office of Emergency Management, however, says everything worked just as it was supposed to.
Some callers reported hearing a recorded message while they were put on hold for several minutes, according to an ARLnow.com tipster. OEM Director Jack Brown confirmed that there were callers who heard a message asking them to stay on the line while the system was flooded with calls. Anyone who hung up was then called back to verify that they were safe and to check if they still needed emergency assistance, exactly like any other 911 hang up.
“It’s not an overburden for us, it’s just very busy in the initial stages of an emergency,” said Emergency Communications Center Commander John Crawford. “The system was working and the people were working. The only issue we get is when lots of people call all at once.”
Crawford explained that Arlington’s 911 call center has a minimum of 10 people staffing it at all times. Typically, calls immediately go through to a staffer. But when an emergency occurs, such as during the Lyon Park fire, there are so many calls that each one cannot be answered immediately.
“The phones just literally lit up. We knew it was something significant,” Crawford said. “If 10 people call 911, the eleventh person is going to get a pre-recorded message asking them to hold. We purposely put that recording in there because in years past the phone would just ring and ring, and people would question if they called the right number.”
The automatic call distribution system immediately sends holding callers to the first available staff member as soon as a line frees up. Once information is gathered from the first couple of callers, the rest of the calls typically move more quickly. Staffers make every effort to gather information from each caller as rapidly as possible to avoid missing an emergency.
“You never know, that eleventh call or twelfth call might be someone in a horrific accident on G.W. Parkway not related to the fire, so we have to go through every call as quickly as possible,” said Crawford. “I have to talk to you but I don’t have to talk to you long. To some people it may sound rude, but I need to cut to the chase and get the info I need and then hang up the phone.”
Crawford noted that Arlington’s 911 call center received significant upgrades five years ago, including expanding the number of phone lines from 16 to 48. Improvements have been made to prevent the system from “locking up” as it did during the terrorist attack on September 11, 2001.
“On 9/11, the phones rang and lit up so quick that it locked the system up. Literally hundreds. We couldn’t even get to them,” said Crawford.
9/11 also put into play the rare “code red” alert that gets sent out to staff pagers and phones, ordering them back to work to help with a large emergency. With the additional lines that have been added since that time, the center could now have 48 call takers working at the same time — one for each phone line.
“Thank God, other than a couple of disasters I know of, we haven’t had need to upstaff to that degree,” said Crawford.
Arlington’s 911 center does add extra staff members during anticipated busy times, such as weekend nights and planned events like races. However, on the average day, the 10 or so call takers need to deal with any incidents that arise.
Crawford noted that it’s important for people to continue to call when they see or hear something occur because you never know if another person will call or not. He asks residents to be patient if they’re put on hold during a flood of calls, and promises the call takers are doing the best they can.
“We work for the citizens, those are our customers,” Crawford said. “We try to provide the best possible customer service to them.”
Editor’s Note: This new sponsored Q&A column is written by Mathew B. Tully of Tully Rinckey PLLC.
Question: My soon-to-be-ex-husband makes less than I do. Does that mean I have to pay spousal support after we divorce?
The short answer here is probably; however, it can sometimes be impossible to predict what a court is going to do when it comes to spousal support.
In assessing whether you would owe spousal support, the court would look at a number of factors such as your respective incomes, the duration of your marriage, standard of living during the marriage, how property was distributed, and the decisions made during the marriage as they affect your earning potential. So if the difference between incomes is slight and it was a short marriage, it is unlikely that you will pay support. In contrast, if there was a sizable difference in income and you were married a long time, you will most likely pay support.
Even after you owe spousal support, the next step is to figure out how much and for how long you will pay it. Unlike child support which has a set duration and guidelines, there are no statewide guidelines for determining either the amount or duration of spousal support. For duration, the general rule of thumb is half the length of the marriage, but exceptions often occur for exceptionally short or long marriages. If you have been married for a long time, you may owe permanent spousal support. In terms of the amount, some courts have adopted their own guidelines for determining support, even on a temporary basis, as is the case in Fairfax. But most courts, including Arlington, base the amount on each spouse’s financial needs and the totality of the circumstances.
On other side of the coin, if you are the one filing for spousal support before filing for divorce (during the separation period), you can seek temporary support from the Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court.
As you can see, there are many different factors to consider when it comes to spousal support – it is a complicated area of law that you should not take on without seeking the advice of an attorney.
(Updated at 2:15 p.m.) Police have begun their annual crackdown on passengers who aren’t wearing seat belts. The Click It or Ticket enforcement period began yesterday (May 20) and runs through Sunday, June 2.
The Arlington County Police Department says motorists should always wear seat belts, and those who refuse to will be targeted. ACPD is joining other local and state law enforcement officers, as well as those across the country, who are focusing on seat belt laws during this time period.
According to the Department of Motor Vehicles’ Safety Office, preliminary statistics show that last year 305 of Virginia’s 774 fatalities were not wearing seat belts at the time of the crash. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration statistics from 2011 indicate 272 Virginians lived through accidents due to wearing a seat belt.
Per state law, everyone in a vehicle must be wearing a seat belt. Drivers are encouraged to tell all people riding with them to buckle up. If there are passengers under the age of 18 violating the law, the driver can receive tickets for each unrestrained minor. Passengers over the age of 18 can receive their own tickets if unrestrained while riding in a car.
ACPD recorded 630 seat belt violations during traffic stops from May 2012 through April 2013.
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