Bangkok 54 restaurant (2919 Columbia Pike) was open for lunch and is now open for dinner today (Thursday) as usual, despite a fire that ripped through the business’ next-door market early this morning.
We’re told the Thai restaurant only suffered minor smoke damage as a result of the fire, which caused significant damage to the market. The heaviest damage was in the ceiling of the market, according to Arlington County Fire Department spokesman Capt. Bill Shelton.
Fire investigators are still on the scene, trying to determine the cause of the fire. So far, there’s no estimate of the cost of the damage.
(Updated at 4:00 p.m.) A “Holiday Bazaar and Crafts Fair” will be held at the new Wakefield High School (1325 S. Dinwiddie Street) this weekend.
The event is being held from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 14. More than 50 vendors, many of them local and regional artisans, will be selling their wares at the fair. International food and delicacies will be served.
The free event will also feature live music from the Wakefield High School Chorus and Orchestra and from jazz musician Charles Wood, as well as a traditional Mexican dance performance and a jewelry making demonstration.
The fair is being organized by the Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization.
Photo via CPRO
Vihstadt , a former Planning Commissioner, announced his decision Thursday morning with a press release declaring his opposition to the Columbia Pike Streetcar and the planned Long Bridge Aquatics Center as two of his chief campaign positions.
A Republican, Vihstadt is hoping to secure endorsements from both the Arlington County Republican Committee and Green Party. He has behind him a bipartisan array of supporters, including prominent Arlington Democrats in County Board member Libby Garvey, Commonwealth’s Attorney Theo Stamos and former Arlington County Democratic Committee Chair (and ARLnow.com opinion columnist) Peter Rousselot.
“It is rare for a candidate to have the breadth and depth of experience John brings to the table,” Garvey said of Vihstadt. “I welcome John’s willingness to re-examine County priorities at a time we are having trouble finding money to maintain essential services.”
Other notable supporters of Vihstadt include former Arlington School Board chair David Foster, former Arlington County Civic Federation president Jim Pebley and local fiscal watchdog Wayne Kubicki.
Vihstadt also opposes the rollout of more SuperStop bus stops – the first of which cost $1 million – and wants to accelerate the “phase-out of county taxpayer subsidies for the Rosslyn Artisphere.” He wants to use the savings from halting these projects to address Arlington Public Schools’ budget and facilities issues.
“Something is seriously wrong when schools across Arlington are over capacity and fighting for funding,” he said, “while county leaders continue to plow millions into high profile projects beyond the scope of core community needs like education and public safety.”
Vihstadt is the first non-Democrat to announce his candidacy for the seat that will be vacated by board member Chris Zimmerman at the end of January. Alan Howze, Peter Fallon and Cord Thomas are vying for the Democratic nomination.
Vihstadt has served on the Housing Commission, the Commission on Aging and on the board of Community Residences. A father of two, Vihstadt lives in the Tara-Leeway Heights neighborhood with his wife, Mary, and works as a partner at D.C. law firm Krooth & Altman.Vihstadt says he commutes to work via Metro, ART and carpool.
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.
When the Arlington County Board convenes this Saturday, one person will be conspicuous in his absence. By all accounts, Robert Atkins has been at every County Board meeting, save one, since 1995.
By my rough, back of the envelope estimate, Atkins made over 1,000 speeches before the Board. That is far and away more speaking time during County Board meetings over that span than anyone else who was not elected to serve on the Board.
The tradition began, so the story goes, after a disagreement Atkins had over an issue in his neighborhood. Upon getting an unsatisfactory answer from new Board Member Chris Zimmerman, Atkins pledged to be at every County Board meeting in the future — and he was.
While Atkins did not live long enough to see Zimmerman’s farewell speech, he did get to see Zimmerman announce he was stepping down. The pair’s nearly two-decades-long journey of monthly meetups in the County Board hearing room was drawing to a close; though I suspect Bob had no plans to stop attending in Zimmerman’s absence.
If you ever heard Atkins speak during the public comment period or on agenda items, it was almost always the most unique speech of the day. Atkins made Board Members smile, cringe, scowl, and sometimes get up and leave the room altogether.
As the “board watcher-in-chief” for Arlington County for the past two decades, there was virtually no issue for which Bob did not know the history. If you needed background information, Bob knew it because he had read the staff report as well as listened to, and participated in, the debate. And, he would probably be able to recite for you the zinger from the speech he gave that day, usually with a wry smile.
One saying goes, in life, half the battle is showing up. While many Arlingtonians long ago gave up on influencing County Board decisions, Bob did not. He showed up every month to do his part to hold the Board accountable to Arlingtonians.
Atkins did not just show up at County Board meetings. Bob was active in the Arlington Civic Federation. He worked as a volunteer for many years at the county fair to increase voter registration in Arlington. He was a regular attendee or member of various political organizations, like the Arlington GOP, Log Cabin Republicans, the Arlington Gay and Lesbian Alliance and even attended Green Party events from time to time.
While Bob did not always agree with the GOP or its candidates on every issue, he was loyal to the party. Bob served as treasurer for the Arlington GOP for 12 years, including both times I served as Chairman. He donated to Republican candidates generously from his own personal funds. He also went out and knocked on doors on behalf of Republican candidates. And, every Election Day, you could find him at his polling place distributing Republican sample ballots.
In all of his civic and political activism, Bob Atkins certainly was one of a kind. He will be missed.
Mark Kelly is a former Arlington GOP Chairman and two-time Republican candidate for Arlington County Board.
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.
The Aquatics Center hasn’t been built yet, and it shouldn’t be built. The County Board should scrap its Olympian pretensions and its desire to build King’s Dominion North at the expense of Arlington taxpayers. The board should explain its decision as follows: “We have made a mistake, and we are going to fix it. We have new information, and we are going to act on it.”
The board immediately should direct the County Manager to halt all further work on the Aquatics Center. The board should notify the manager that the board no longer wishes to build this facility. The board should direct the manager to develop a new, cost-effective design for a sensible recreation center at Long Bridge Park (including a swimming pool).
The latest chapter in this problem-plagued project began when the Sun Gazette posted a story stating that “what had been an expected annual operating deficit of $1 million to $1.3 million has now ballooned to more than $4 million.” It’s not clear at the moment whether the ballooning deficit is due to lower than projected revenues or higher than projected expenses or a combination of both.
More than 80 percent of respondents to a recent ARLnow.com poll said that the Aquatics Center should not be built if this latest $4 million annual operating deficit projection turns out to be accurate. As I have written previously, this is just the latest in a string of warnings about the countless flaws in this project.
Commenting on the ARLnow.com Aquatics Center story that accompanied the latest poll, James Breiling nailed it:
“Office building occupancy has dived,” he writes. “The county is close to the set limit on bond borrowing. Taxpayers are rightly concerned about tax increases. So, funds are constrained. Accordingly, I suggest that THE question is the relative priority of the aquatics center via other things, in particular, providing facilities and staff needed to educate the surge in ACPS enrollment.”
That is, indeed, THE question.
THE answer: the Aquatics Center has far too low a priority and should be cancelled.
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.
There’s an immediate need for people to help this week with sorting and distributing donated coats, or next week with distributing donated children’s holiday gifts. In the coming months, people are asked to help out with tasks like income tax preparation.
Numerous opportunities can be found on the Volunteer Arlington website, such as the following:
- Children’s Gift Distribution — Volunteers have already sorted most of the donated children’s gifts for the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree holiday program, but help is needed for distributing the items. Distribution takes place next Wednesday, December 18. Volunteers must be at least 13 years old, and those between the ages of 13 and 16 must be accompanied by an adult. Contact Luisa Slay at 703-979-3380 or online.
- Coat Drive Distribution — Nauck Community Services Center has collected hundreds of coats and had them cleaned, and now volunteers are needed from 7:00-9:00 p.m. this Friday, December 13, to help sort the items. Volunteers are also needed from 8:00-10:00 a.m. this Saturday, November 14, to help neighbors in need pick out the perfect coat for themselves and family members. Contact Bri Sheffey at 703-229-5650 or online.
- Ship Bicycles to Africa — Bikes for the World is looking for people to help load hundreds of donated bikes and bike parts into 40 foot shipping containers. The items are used for health, education and jobs programs in Africa. Training will be provided. A number of dates are available over the next few months. Contact Yvette Hess at 703-740-7856 or online.
- Income Tax Assistance — Volunteers are requested by the DC EITC Campaign for helping people with income tax preparation early next year. A number of positions exist, including tax preparer, client coordinator, greeter and savings promoter. Training will take place in January and helpers must pass an IRS volunteer test. Shifts vary throughout the 2014 tax season. Contact Elizabeth Rosenberg at 202-547-7773 or online.
- Tutor Young Adults — Helpers are needed for assisting students in trying to earn their high school diplomas. Communities in Schools of Northern Virginia requests tutors to work on-site at a local high school to assist students with English, reading, science or math. A commitment of 2-10 hours per week is required. All tutors must be 18 or older and have a high school diploma. Volunteers must also complete a background check. Contact Daphne Charles at 703-228-8694 or online.
The Washington Regional Alcohol Program is offering its SoberRide program starting on Dec. 13 at 10:00 p.m. Every night until New Year’s Day, from 10:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m., D.C.-area residents can call 1-800-200-TAXI (1-800-200-8294) for a cab ride that’s free up to a $30 fare. AT&T users can also dial #WRAP to call for a taxi.
“Last December, nearly 2,000 (1,927) Greater Washington residents did the right thing and availed themselves of this lifesaving service rather than possibly driving home impaired,” WRAP President Kurt Gregory Erickson said in a press release. “For SoberRide’s hours of operation during just last New Year’s Eve, such ridership (387) translated into the removal of a would-be drunk driver from our shared roadways every 74 seconds.”
Customers must be 21 or older “who otherwise may have attempted to drive home after drinking” to call SoberRide, according to WRAP.
Image courtesy of WRAP
The inaugural Clarendon’s Finest Holiday Bar Crawl will run this Saturday, Dec. 14, from 3:00 to 9:00 p.m., with tickets selling for $10 and all proceeds going to benefit the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.
Clarendon Grill, Mad Rose Tavern, Mister Days, Mexicali Blues, Hunan Number One, Bracket Room and SoBe Bar & Bistro will all be participating with drink specials throughout the evening. Registration for the crawl will be at Sobe (3100 Clarendon Blvd) from 3:00 to 4:00 p.m.
Prizes will be given out for the best costume, dynamic duo and best group costume at the bar crawl ending party from 8:00 to 9:00 p.m. at Mister Days, at the corner of N. Highland Street and Washington Blvd.
Last Wednesday, an armed man robbed a woman at gunpoint in her room at the Sheraton hotel on Columbia Pike.
From this week’s crime report:
ROBBERY, 900 block of S. Orme Street. At 10:17 am on December 4, an unknown suspect allegedly robbed a female at gunpoint in her hotel room. The suspect is described as a black male in his late 20’s with short hair. The suspect was wearing a black shirt, blue jeans, a gray sweater, and black and gold shoes at the time of the incident.
The rest of this week’s crime report, after the jump. All names suspects are considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
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