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by ARLnow.com — November 27, 2012 at 3:45 pm 6,546 103 Comments

The 2012 winners of the annual Arlington’s Best Business Awards (ABBIES) were announced at this afternoon’s Arlington County Board meeting.

The contest organizer, Arlington Economic Development, said residents cast more than 5,000 online votes for their favorite local businesses. The nominees in each of the 17 categories can be found here.

The big winner today was Mark Fedorchak, co-owner of Liberty Tavern and Northside Social, who walked away with three awards. ARLnow.com also won an award.

The winners are as follows:

  • Best Place for Arts & Culture: Signature Theatre
  • Best Bargain Restaurant: Lost Dog Café
  • Best Boutique: Artisan Confections
  • Best Brunch: The Liberty Tavern
  • Best Business Lunch: The Liberty Tavern
  • Best Coffee: Northside Social
  • Best Community Non-Profit: Animal Welfare League of Arlington
  • Best Customer Service: Arlington Public Library
  • Best Dessert: Heidelberg Pastry Shoppe
  • Best Family-Friendly Spot: Arlington Public Library
  • Best Happy Hour: Westover Beer Garden & Haus
  • Best New Business: Trader Joe’s
  • Best Online/Social Media Presence: ARLnow.com
  • Best Place to Pamper Yourself: Elizabeth Arden Red Door Spa
  • Best Pizza: Pupatella
  • Best Place to take a Date: Arlington Cinema & Draft House
  • Best Place to Work Out: Thomas Jefferson Community Center

by ARLnow.com — November 27, 2012 at 3:10 pm 2,973 11 Comments

The 10th annual “Light Up The Village” Christmas tree lighting event is still scheduled tonight in Shirlington despite the cold, wet weather.

Shirlington Village said the event will go on despite the inclement conditions via its Twitter account. The light-up ceremony is expected to feature live holiday music from The Lovejoy Group, photos with Santa, face painting, balloon twisting, strolling entertainment and horse and carriage rides (with a non-perishable donation to the Arlington Food Assistance Center).

There will also be specials and promotions at Shirlington Village merchants, including free coffee or apple cider at Busboys and Poets, and free kids meals (with an adult entrée) at Capitol City Brewing Company.

The festivities are scheduled from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. The tree lighting will take place at 6:30, and photos with Santa will begin at the UPS Store at 6:45. The event is free and open to the public.

by ARLnow.com — November 27, 2012 at 1:55 pm 11,774 71 Comments

A man is lucky to be alive after a dump truck ran over his head in the Ballston area over the weekend.

The incident happened around 2:15 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 24. According to police, the cyclist was stopped at a temporary red light next to a construction site on Quincy Street near Wilson Boulevard, when an unoccupied dump truck started rolling south on Quincy and struck him.

The man was knocked to the ground and one of the truck’s tires ran over his head, said Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck. The man was wearing a helmet at the time and the helmet likely saved his life. He was taken to Inova Fairfax Hospital’s trauma center with non-life-threatening injuries, Sternbeck said.

Immediately after the incident the driver of the dump truck, who had left it running and unattended next to the construction site, ran it down and managed to stop it from rolling further, according to Sternbeck. Occupational safety officials responded to the scene, inspected the truck and found multiple safety violations, he said.

Citations were issued and the truck was “taken out of service.” No word on whether any other charges are pending.

by ARLnow.com — November 27, 2012 at 12:45 pm 8,604 110 Comments

This periodic sponsored Q&A column is written by Adam Gallegos of Arlington-based real estate firm Arbour Realty. Please submit follow-up questions in the comments section or via email.

Question: A certain politician has been using $250,000 in income as the benchmark for rich families in America.  In an expensive area like Arlington, I’m wondering how much home an income like this can afford you? 

That’s an interesting question. I don’t want to touch the political aspect of it with a 10 foot pole, but I’ll do my best to describe what a typical family could purchase with that income.

It is a good idea to start with a debt-to-income ratio. In an area like Arlington where the cost of living is nearly 50% higher than the national average, I think we should use a conservative debt-to-income ratio of 28%. Meaning that your total debt will not exceed 28% of your gross income.

(In this case, “debt” refers to obligations including mortgage, car loans, child support and alimony, credit card bills, student loans and association fees.)

In order to calculate how much house they can afford, we need to make some assumptions:

  • They have $1,750 a month in car loans, credit card bills and student loans.
  • They want a house and many houses in Arlington are not part of a home owners association (HOA). It is safe to assume they will not have any HOA fees.
  • They have saved up enough money for a 20% down-payment so we don’t need to worry about private mortgage insurance (PMI).
  • Their interest rate is 4% on a 30 year fixed rate mortgage.

According to the online calculator I used, they will qualify for a mortgage of $705,258. If they are putting 20% down, they should be able to purchase a home up to $846,310.

At the time I am writing this, there are 15 houses available in Arlington with at least 3 bedrooms and 2 baths, within the $750,000 to $850,000 price range.

Again, this is a conservative example for a fictitious loan program. There are financing alternatives that offer different interest rates, terms and down payment options that could allow such a family to purchase a more expensive home. If you have questions about what you could qualify for, it’s best to discuss your specific situation and preferences with someone who can address your individual situation.

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

by ARLnow.com — November 27, 2012 at 11:55 am 3,066 12 Comments

Tom and Jo Straub have prided themselves on their elaborate Christmas light display for years. Only recently have they started using it to raise money for a good cause.

The couple has transformed the front yard of their Leeway Overlee area house, located at 5612 24th Street N., into a “dancing” light show synchronized to 15 of their favorite Christmas songs.

The display contains some 10,000 LED lights, which blink and “dance” with the music. The tunes can be heard from speakers outside the house and via a low-power radio station they set up for people who’d rather stay in their cars with the windows up. The station can be found at 98.1 on the FM dial.

The lights have been on display since Thanksgiving night and will be on every night through New Years Day. The show runs from 6:00 to 10:00 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 6:00 to 11:00 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Santa Claus (as played by Mr. Straub) is on hand from 6:00 to 8:00 on most nights.

Not only are the lights fun to watch, but they’re also helping to raise money for the Animal Welfare League of Arlington. A small mailbox near the street collects cash donations for the AWLA, as well as donations of pet food, pet beds, toys and other pet supplies. Once a donation is made, the donor can reward themselves by hitting a button near the mailbox for a small bonus light show.

Last year was the couple’s first year collecting for the AWLA. Tom Straub said they collected $1,100 for the organization, and hopes to raise even more this year.

Straub said the display requires about 2,000 feet of extension cords and takes all year to plan. He said the outdoor speakers turn off at 8:00 and he hasn’t heard any serious complaints from neighbors this year. He has, however, received a complaint about his Santa-like beard, which he started growing in June 2011.

“The wife is fed up with it, so it’s coming off on the 24th,” he said.

by ARLnow.com — November 27, 2012 at 10:20 am 4,494 22 Comments

Thieves struck again at the Pentagon City mall parking garage yesterday.

About 15 vehicles in the garage were broken in to Monday afternoon, according to Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck. The cars each had their door lock “punched,” allowing a thief to gain access to the inside of the vehicle. Valuables like wallets, purses, credit cards, cash, phones and GPS units were taken.

Sternbeck said the suspect or suspects moved from car to car, sometimes leaving items stolen from one vehicle in another vehicle. The thefts all took place between 12:30 and 1:30 p.m., Sternbeck said.

Thefts are fairly common in the Pentagon City mall parking garage, though a large series of thefts such as this doesn’t happen very often. In July, thieves struck at least 10 vehicles, including two police vehicles, in one afternoon.

“That’s one of the known hot spots for thieves due the the number of vehicles,” Sternbeck said of the parking garage. “[The mall is] typically a place where you leave valuables inside your vehicle. It’s easy pickins for these criminals.”

Police advise shoppers to keep valuables out of plain sight — perhaps locked in a trunk or a glove compartment — when parking one’s car in a public area.

by ARLnow.com — November 27, 2012 at 9:10 am 2,363 126 Comments

Arlington Gets Largest Share of Transit Growth — Over the past 11 years, the rate of growth of those who use public transit in Arlington has been higher than any other D.C. area jurisdiction. Chris Hamilton, chief of Arlington Commuter Services, attributes that growth to the county’s transit outreach efforts. [Mobility Lab]

Homebuyer Assistance Available — The Arlington County Board recently approved $500,000 to help qualified first time homebuyers purchase a new home in the county. The funds are available for down payment and closing cost assistance for about 10-15 low- to moderate-income households. Applications will be accepted started Dec. 3. [Arlington County]

Talk: ‘Books that Shaped America’ — Tomorrow, Nov. 28, Arlington Central Library (1015 N. Quincy Street) will host a talk about “88 remarkable books” that “shaped America.” Mark Dimunation, head of the Rare Book and Special Collections Division at the Library of Congress, will talk about how he and a group of historians, scientists and literary experts helped to select the books — from Thomas Paine’s “Common Sense” to Dr. Seuss’ “The Cat in the Hat.” [Arlington Public Library]

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