Update on 8/28/12 at 1:00 p.m. — Police confirm they have arrested two men in connection with the suspected meth lab.
Update at 1:05 a.m. — Residents of the second and fourth floors are being allowed back in the building. The bomb squad is packing up its gear, but police and the hazmat teams are remaining on the scene, according to Fire Department spokesman Capt. Gregg Karl.
An apartment building just a block away from the Virginia Square Metro station has been partially evacuated as police and firefighters investigate a possible meth lab discovered in an apartment.
The area around the Virginia Square Apartments, a 225-unit high rise at 801 N. Monroe Street, has been cordoned off by authorities. Police, firefighters, the bomb squad and a hazmat team are all on the scene, and a decontamination area has been set up. Numerous evacuated residents have gathered outside the Metro station.
So far police are not officially confirming that they’re investigating a meth lab, only officially confirming that they found a “hazmat situation” while responding to a domestic incident on the third floor of the building. Police and the fire department chose to evacuate the second, third and fourth floors of the building, according to Arlington County Police spokesman Lt. Michael Watson.
The homemade production of methamphetamine is dangerous and meth lab explosions happen on a regular basis across the country.
In a letter to parents and in an online video (above), Arlington Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Patrick Murphy is trying to answer questions and quell outrage among some parents in response to changes to the school system’s busing policies.
Just weeks before the start of school, APS sent letters to parents notifying them that the school system would begin enforcing rules, already in place, that reserve bus transportation for students a mile or more away from their elementary school and 1.5 miles or more away from their middle or high school. Students outside the so-called “walk zones” have been issued passes that allow them to board a bus at a specific bus stop; those inside the walk zones must walk, bike or otherwise find their own transportation to school.
The goal was to increase the efficiency, on-time performance and safety of the bus system by knowing which students will board the bus at which time and place. The changes also made it possible for Arlington to absorb nearly 1,000 new students this year without having to buy additional buses or hire additional drivers.
But hundreds of parents have protested against the changes by signing an online petition or joining a Facebook group called “Arlington Parents for Safe Transportation.” Many of those parents say their children were previously eligible for bus transportation, but were not issued passes this year. They argue that forcing their children to walk to school — sometimes over busy roads — risks their safety.
In his letter, Dr. Murphy said the changes actually improve student safety.
“The primary focus of this transition has been to ensure the safety of our students,” he said. “This means we need to know who is on the bus, and to ensure that our buses are not overcrowded, especially in the face of our growing enrollment needs. We also need to focus on improving on-time service to and from schools. This new system will also ensure that we avoid having too many or too few students assigned to a bus.”
Dr. Murphy struck an apologetic tone when responding to complaints that the changes were made too close to the new school year, which starts on Tuesday, Sept. 4.
“I regret the confusion some families have experienced and want to assure you that we are working to address and respond quickly to the many questions and concerns that have been raised,” Dr. Murphy wrote. “I recognize that notifying you recently of specific changes for your child’s eligibility for the bus service has been disruptive to some families.”
Approximately 14,000 students are eligible for bus transportation this year, while about 9,000 are within their school’s walk zone, according to APS. The letter revealed that a recalculation of distances to schools has prompted APS to eliminate 12 bus stops, affecting about 250 students. (There are 1,783 bus stops across the county.)
Dr. Murphy said some mistakes were made, resulting in bus passes not being issued to some students outside the walk zones. Those mistakes are being corrected, he said, via an ongoing appeals process.
New Orleans is on the minds of many in the country, as Tropical Storm Isaac strengthens and barrels down on the city, which was devastated by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
But if Katrina proved anything, it’s this: regardless of Isaac’s impact, New Orleans’ unique culture will remain as vibrant as ever. And part of that culture will be coming to Arlington next week.
Bayou Bakery in Courthouse (1515 N. Courthouse Road) will be hosting a “one night only” concert by a lineup of notable New Orleans jazz artists from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 8.
Among those set to perform are Derrick Tabb and Stafford Agee of the Grammy award-winning Rebirth Brass Band, Jeffrey Hills and William Smith of the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, eight members of the Roots of Music Crusaders marching band, along with drummer Terrance Andrews and saxophonist Allen Dejan.
Tickets for the event, described by Bayou Bakery as “a once in a lifetime jam session of continuous live music,” start at a minimum donation of $60. Proceeds from the event will benefit The Roots of Music, a New Orleans-based program that helps develop the musical talents of 9-14 year olds. Tabb, a drummer, was named a “CNN Hero” in 2009 for his work with The Roots of Music.
Tickets are not yet available for purchase, but will include food (a choice of three Cajun entrees and dessert) plus drinks (three Abita draft beers for a $75 minimum donation, non-alcoholic beverages for $60). Seating will be limited, but the restaurant will provide standing space for those without seats.
In a press release, Bayou Bakery said it was chosen to host the concert due to owner David Guas’ Louisiana heritage.
“Being a native of New Orleans, Guas was hand-picked to host this intimate gathering and serve up some of his award-winning southern fare,” the restaurant said.
Photo courtesy Bayou Bakery
Planned Parenthood’s “Women are Watching” bus tour stopped at Virginia Highlands Park near Pentagon City on Sunday morning. With a bright pink bus as a backdrop, Kaine told the crowd that he was committed to pro-choice policies and against efforts to place restrictions on birth control.
“Often, these issues are pushed by the other side as wedge issues. They want to use wedge issues that divide us,” Kaine said. “Women’s lives are not political issues, women’s lives are not wedge issues. Women have the ability to make their own health care decisions and their own moral decisions.”
Kaine was joined at the rally by several local Democratic elected officials, including County Board member Walter Tejada, state Senator Janet Howell, Del. Charniele Herring, and Arlington Commissioner of Revenue Ingrid Morroy.
Howell and Herring spoke of some of the bills pushed by Republicans during the latest legislative session in Richmond, including a bill that originally would have required women seeking an abortion to receive a transvaginal ultrasound. (The bill was amended to only require an external ultrasound after it made national headlines.) Also discussed was the more recent controversy over remarks by Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.). Akin falsely suggested that the female body “has ways to shut… down” and prevent a pregnancy during a “legitimate rape.”
Charniele told the crowd of more than 100 Planned Parenthood supporters that politicians should be required to have a basic understanding of biology before they try to legislate on it.
While politics dominated the rally, not everything discussed was of a political nature.
One of the speakers was a young female immigrant who was diagnosed with breast cancer during a Planned Parenthood screening. She spoke of how, though she lacked health insurance, the organization provided the support and financial assistance she needed to get a mastectomy and emerge from treatment cancer-free.
Kaine will face Republican George Allen on the Nov. 6 ballot in Virginia.
Photos courtesy Kaine for Virginia and Cliffords Photography, as labeled
Arlington’s administrative offices, public libraries, courts, schools and nature centers will be closed on Monday, Sept. 3. Community centers will be closed, with the exception of Barcroft, which will be open from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
County pools will be open under a modified schedule. The Wakefield High School pool will be open from 12:00 to 6:00 p.m. on Labor Day. The Yorktown pool will also be open from 12:00 to 6:00 p.m., and the Washington-Lee pool will be open from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
ART buses will operate under a holiday schedule. Trash and recycling collection will continue as normal.
One county office that will remain open is the Arlington voting office, at 2100 Clarendon Blvd. The office will be open on Saturday, Sept. 1 from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. for absentee voting in the 45th District House of Delegates special election. The office will also be open from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Labor Day for “legal requirements.”
The election — 45th District voters will have the choice of candidates Tim McGhee (R), Rob Krupicka (D) and Justin R. Malkin (L) — is taking place on Tuesday, Sept. 4.
Also on this year’s list were Alexandria, at #12, and Towson, Md., at #8. Newton, Mass. ranked #1 on the list, which takes into consideration a place’s percentage of single people and the median family income.
According to figures cited by CNN Money, Arlington’s population is 41.5 percent single and has a median family income of $132,580. In writing about Arlington’s well-to-do single scene, the publication observed:
When the sun goes down, it’s time to turn the BlackBerry off and move and shake to a different groove. With its namesake Ballroom, the Clarendon neighborhood is the area’s hub for singles-spotting. Still, Arlington’s other “urban villages” are catching up. Head to Restaurant Row in Crystal City or Shirlington’s burgeoning nightlife scene to engage in a little bipartisan congress.
Streetcar Video Came at a Cost — An Arlington County-produced video that makes the case for the planned Columbia Pike and Crystal City streetcar lines cost the county $3,400. Arlington officials greenlit the video because they “felt there was a general ‘lack of public awareness and education’” about the streetcar. [Washington Examiner]
Beef ‘O’ Brady Eyes Arlington — The Florida-based Beef ‘O’ Brady chain of sports bars/restaurants is apparently looking to open in Arlington. Arlington is a “key component to the company’s growth strategy in Virginia,” according to a press release. “While there’s definitely a market for Beef ‘O’ Brady’s in the Arlington market, we’re taking a careful approach to finding a franchise partner with business savvy, tenacity and a readiness to reinvest in the communities they serve,” said James Walker, Chief Development Officer of Beef ‘O’ Brady’s, in a statement. “ [Restaurant News Release]
Donations Sought for USS Arlington Commissioning — The commissioning of the USS Arlington, a new Navy transport ship, is six months away. The USS Arlington Commissioning Committee is now seeking donations to help support the commissioning ceremony and to build a “tribute room” within the new ship. [Sun Gazette]
Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann