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Arlington Under Tornado Watch

by ARLnow.com | January 30, 2013 at 7:15 pm | 603 views | 2 Comments

Arlington and the surrounding D.C. region is now under a Tornado Watch.

The warning of possible tornadic activity comes as a strong storm front approaches the area. We’re also under a Flash Flood Watch and a Wind Advisory. From the National Weather Service:

… WIND ADVISORY IN EFFECT UNTIL 6 AM EST THURSDAY…

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN BALTIMORE MD/WASHINGTON HAS ISSUED A WIND ADVISORY… WHICH IS IN EFFECT UNTIL 6 AM EST THURSDAY.

* TIMING… THE STRONGEST WINDS ARE EXPECTED AHEAD OF A COLD FRONT LATE THIS AFTERNOON AND EVENING.

* WINDS… SOUTH 25 TO 35 MPH WITH GUSTS 45 TO 50 MPH. WINDS WILL SHIFT TO THE WEST BEHIND THE COLD FRONT OVERNIGHT.

* IMPACTS… THE STRONG WINDS COULD BRING DOWN TREE LIMBS AND CAUSE SCATTERED POWER OUTAGES. UNSECURED OBJECTS MAY BE BLOWN ABOUT… AND HIGH PROFILE VEHICLES MAY BECOME DIFFICULT TO MANEUVER.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS…

A WIND ADVISORY MEANS THAT WIND GUSTS OF 45 TO 55 MPH ARE EXPECTED. WINDS THIS STRONG CAN MAKE DRIVING DIFFICULT… ESPECIALLY FOR HIGH PROFILE VEHICLES

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Crime Report: Taxis Stolen

by ARLnow.com | January 30, 2013 at 5:00 pm | 1,690 views | 21 Comments

Yellow taxi cab in Pentagon CityHard-driven, high-mileage taxicabs might not seem like a very attractive target for car thieves, but in the past week three have been stolen from the same block of Columbia Pike.

Arlington County auto crimes detectives are “actively engaged in” an investigation into the thefts, said ACPD spokesman Dustin Sternbeck, who couldn’t recall any other taxi thefts in Arlington in the past year. The cabs all had D.C. tags and ranged in model year from 1998 to 2004.

From the stolen vehicle portion of this week’s crime report:

01/23/13, DC 01232H, 2004 Ford Crown Victoria (Taxi), White/Yellow, 5500 block of S. Columbia Pike
01/23/13, DC H95014, 2002 Ford Crown Victoria (Taxi), Blue, 5500 block of S. Columbia Pike
01/28/13, DC H87744, 1998 Ford Crown Victoria (Taxi), Blue and Gray, 5500 block of S. Columbia Pike

Also in this week’s crime report, a woman was grabbed from behind while walking home from the Ballston Metro station. Her purse was stolen but she was otherwise physically uninjured.

ROBBERY, 01/24/13, 4400 block of N. 4th Street. At 11:53 pm on January 23, as a female victim was walking home from the Ballston Metro station alone, she was approached from behind by a male subject who placed his hand over her face and grabbed her purse. The subject fled the scene on foot and was not located. He is described as a black male, approximately 5’7” tall and 160 lbs. He was wearing a black wool coat, dark jeans, knit hat, light colored scarf and dark gloves at the time of the incident.

The rest of the crime report, after the jump.

File photo

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Board Bashes Governor’s Transportation Plan

by Katie Pyzyk | January 30, 2013 at 3:50 pm | 772 views | 96 Comments

Screen grab of County Board discussing Gov. McDonnell's tranportation plan(Updated at 4:45 p.m.) County Board members spent a portion of Tuesday’s meeting expressing distaste with Governor McDonnell’s proposed transportation plan, namely the idea of eliminating Virginia’s gas tax.

The proposal would do away with the 17.5 cents per gallon gas tax, but would increase the state’s sales tax from five percent to 5.8 percent. The plan also would increase vehicle registration fees and add a yearly $100 charge for drivers with alternative fuel cars. McDonnell said that would raise about $3.1 billion over five years to fund road, transit and rail projects across the state.

County Board member Jay Fisette said that while it’s good to have some sort of proposal on the table in order to start a conversation about transportation funding, this plan is not the answer. He further stated that the plan was offered to the General Assembly at the last minute, without adequate time to review and understand it.

“Many people see this as a vehicle on which to find a better compromise or a more functional proposal,” he said. “This is hugely important to Arlington, to Northern Virginia and to the future of this state. I’m willing to give kudos for starting a conversation, but if this passed it would be a big mistake in the form it was proposed by the governor.”

Fisette believes eliminating the gas tax would incentivize driving and reduce the use of public transit.

“While it sounds good to eliminate a tax, they would be adding others. This is a user fee. There is a gas tax in every state in the United States. We would be the first to decouple the incentive to drive with the cost of driving,” said Fisette. “You’re still looking at a fee to ride transit, but you’re going to remove the gas fee for driving and spread that cost among everyone who buys something in Virginia. That doesn’t seem fair to people who choose to use transit.”

Several Board members worried that the proposal wouldn’t actually raise the additional money McDonnell says it will, but simply moves it over from a different area.

Screen grab of County Board member Jay Fisette discussing Gov. McDonnell's transporation plan“It shifts money from the general fund, which has been the basic source of funds for education, human services and public safety, and shifts those to transportation,” said Fisette. “So it’s robbing the basic source of funds for the rest of our needs to pay for transportation.”

Board member Mary Hynes echoed Fisette’s concern.

“We can talk about how poorly they’ve spent the money they have, but the reality of what the governor has proposed is it’s mostly smoke and mirrors,” she said. “It’s taking away with one hand and putting it in another place. The actual new money that’s involved in any near term frame is very small.”

Both Fisette and Hynes pointed out that nearly one-third of the proposed funds ($1 billion) would not be immediately available because it’s tied to pending legislation in Congress regarding internet sales tax revenue.

The transportation plan’s perceived dilution of local government’s authority and an increased role for state government proved to be another recurring topic of discussion. Board member Chris Zimmerman called it a “blatant power grab.”

“This is getting very frustrating to a lot of people in local government, that the administration has been not only not helpful in providing more funding, but essentially is continually distracting the conversation with these efforts to shift power away from people who have to pay the bills,” said Zimmerman.

A legislative committee approved the governor’s proposal today, and it’s expected to go before the full House and Senate in the Virginia General Assembly next week. The General Assembly is currently about halfway through its short 45 day session.

Independent’s Day: Local Banks and the Dodo Bird

by Jason Howell | January 30, 2013 at 2:45 pm | 940 views | 33 Comments

Independent’s Day is a weekly opinion column by published on Wednesdays. The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

Independent Congressional candidate Jason Howell(Updated at 3:50 p.m.) The “Dodo bird” has become an international symbol for all that was but never will be again. It left us sometime in the 17th century and if we are not careful, small banks may leave us early in the 21st century.

Today, the Washington Business Journal reported that Arlington-based Virginia Commerce Bank (VCB) is beingn sold to Charleston, W.Va.-based United Bankshares. At about $3 billion in assets, VCB is tiny. Compared to the largest banks – like JP Morgan Chase & Co. with over $2 trillion in assets — it is infinitesimal. So why does it matter? It matters because the small banks have done the majority of the business lending in our communities for a very long time. As banks consolidate, some of that power of personal, relationship lending disappears.

Just recently First Virginia Community Bank acquired Arlington’s First Commonwealth Bank of Virginia. Small local banks like John Marshall Bank, headquartered in Falls Church, and Burke & Herbert, based in Alexandria, need to be preserved somehow. We need to preserve them because what’s bad for small banks is bad for small business, and what’s bad for small business is bad for our local economy.

Last year I had an opportunity to talk with one of the GM’s of our many pizzerias in the Clarendon/Courthouse corridor. He shared with me how helpful it’s been to have a relationship with John Marshall Bank, and we know he’s fed thousands of our neighbors with that help (including me)!

Private merchant banks helped build the family farm and gave birth to the industrial revolution of the 19th century. Local bank relationships financed the business-startups-turned-Fortune-500s of the 20th century. We celebrate the “relationship bank” every year with the holiday classic, “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Do we root for Mr. Potter or George Bailey and the neighbors of Bedford Falls? Few of us live in small towns but many of us still have relationships with small banks. They finance our education, new businesses, cars and homes. Credit unions are great examples of relationship banks.

The 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act was passed to stop big banks from doing bad things — like failing. Unfortunately, what it’s been better at is stopping small banks from doing good things — like lending.

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Cherrydale Safeway to Get Makeover

by Katie Pyzyk | January 30, 2013 at 1:30 pm | 2,147 views | 94 Comments

Cherrydale SafewayThe Safeway store in Cherrydale (3713 Lee Highway) will soon undergo a revamp.

A Safeway representative attended the Cherrydale Civic Association (CCA) meeting earlier this month to discuss the remodeling plan with residents. According to information presented at the meeting, the building footprint would remain the same and the remodeling would occur within the store.

“We’ve asked them for a better deli, fresh produce, a bakery. A lot of food was too close to expiration,” said CCA President Maureen Ross. “It’s just in need of renovations.”

Ross noted that Safeway has thus far been receptive to the idea of adding a Capital Bikeshare station on the grounds.

”We’re very excited and we’re praising them,” Ross said. “We’ve also asked them to see if they’d be willing to adopt the street trees because Arlington County has not been able to maintain the trees and they look terrible.”

There’s the possibility that the final plan will involve changes to the store facade and landscaping, but that will not be determined until Safeway gives final approval and the design is revealed. Final approval is also necessary in order to name an official start date for the makeover, although the CAA hopes it can begin in March. We’re told the renovation should take around 90 days to complete.

Today’s Featured Events

by ARLnow.com | January 30, 2013 at 12:00 pm | No Comments

Story Contest: Story of Song w/ Justin Trawick
Today (January 30) from 8:00 pm – 9:30 pm
Busboys and Poets Shirlington (4251 S. Campbell Ave.)

storyleague_storyofsong_l3Come out to support the art of bringing true personal stories to the stage OR throw your name in to win $100 for the best story of the night on the theme “Story of Song: Stories About Making Music or Experiencing It.”

The winner will be announced at the end of the night and will receive $100 cash as a prize. The audience will also select its favorite! The winners of our monthly contests go on to compete in Tournaments where the prize jumps to $250. Submit your 100-word story synopsis at storyleague.org or fill out a card at the show.

Beer and Bundle Bash!
Thursday, January 31 from 5:30 pm – 7:30 pm
Whole Foods Market (2700 Wilson Blvd)

Whole Foods by Erin JohnsonBig Games call for Big Tastes!

Join us this Thursday, January, 31st for a “Beer and Bundle Bash” featuring Baltimore and San Francisco beer as well as our Prepared Foods Super Bundle.

5 plates of food, 5 sips of beer for only $5.

Get our Game Grub on!

Be sure to check out the full Arlington event calendar. Submit your event to the calendar here.

Very Heavy Rain, Thunderstorms Possible Tonight

by ARLnow.com | January 30, 2013 at 11:20 am | 1,518 views | 13 Comments

A cold front will bring high winds, heavy rain and possible thunderstorms tonight.

A Flash Flood Watch is in effect for Arlington and the D.C. region and Arlington County just issued the following alert.

The National Weather Service (NWS) reports they are monitoring 3 weather related threats to the metropolitan DC area starting this afternoon and into the night; high winds, a line of thunderstorms, and rainfall accumulations.

The NWS predicts wind gusts around 35-40 MPH starting in the early afternoon hours. The NWS is also monitoring threats of a line of thunderstorms approaching from the west which is expected to reach the area between 7 and 10 PM. The storms have the potential to produce heavy rainfall and wind gusts up to 70 MPH. The National Weather Service reports this line of thunderstorms is fast moving and will last around 15 to 20 minutes with residual rainfall immediately following. The area should expect up to 2 inches of rainfall.

Eighteen Local Nonprofits Receive Grants

by Katie Pyzyk | January 30, 2013 at 10:45 am | 410 views | No Comments

United Way presents grant money to Arlington CountyEighteen Arlington nonprofits will receive part of the more than $200,000 in grants the United Way of the National Capital Area presented to the county on Tuesday (January 29).

The 20 grants total $202,000 and come from designations to the Arlington Community Impact Fund during the annual workplace giving campaign.

Each year, United Way NCA solicits funding proposals from its member nonprofit organizations for specific programs and work in the community. This year, organizations from Arlington submitted 51 proposals totaling $895,500. A citizen-led task force made up of volunteers determined the grant recipients by examining where there may be gaps in services and where the funds would do the most good.

“One of the reasons why I continue to make donations to the Community Impact Fund and now also participate in the grant selection process myself is that there are certain areas I want to impact and I don’t necessarily know all the charities involved in that pursuit,” said Afua Bruce, a member of the grant selection committee. “I’m confident that the money I and so many others entrust to United Way NCA is going to organizations that will have the most impact creating the changes I want to see in our community.”

The following 18 organizations will share the grant money:

  • Arlington Food Assistance Center
  • Arlington Free Clinic
  • Arlington Pediatric Center
  • Arlingtonians Meeting Emergency Needs
  • A-SPAN (Arlington Street People’s Assistance Network, Inc.)
  • Ayuda
  • Borromeo Housing
  • CrisisLink
  • Doorways for Women and Families
  • Friends of Guest House
  • Goodwill of Greater Washington
  • Just Neighbors
  • Northern Virginia AIDS Ministry (NOVAM)
  • Northern Virginia Family Service
  • ReSET
  • SCAN of Northern Virginia
  • The Child and Family Network Centers
  • The Reading Connection

Homeless Census Today, Shelter Use Increases

by Katie Pyzyk | January 30, 2013 at 9:50 am | 1,325 views | 45 Comments

Homeless man on a bench outside Arlington Central LibraryVolunteers and staff from Arlington Street People’s Assistance Network (A-SPAN) are canvassing the county today for the annual census of homeless people.

The local Point-in-Time Count is part of a nationwide count that occurs during the last 10 days in January each year. The census helps to highlight trends, justify requests for federal funding and measure community progress towards preventing and ending homelessness.

Last year, the Point-in-Time count of both sheltered and unsheltered homeless people dropped to 451. That’s down two percent from 461 in 2011.

“In this ‘great recession,’ the number of homeless people in Arlington has actually been trending downward for the last three years,” said A-SPAN Executive Director Kathleen Sibert. “Arlington non-profits and the county have done a great job of connecting people with housing; and we hope this year’s count will be even lower now that the 100 Homes Campaign has already housed 47 homeless adults.”

From 6:00 a.m.-11:00 p.m. todady, census teams will visit areas frequented by homeless individuals such as Metro stations, parks, malls and meal serving sites. Additionally, there are six indoor meeting places used for the count, and meals are served to encourage participation. Staff members will also distribute hygiene kits and socks donated by Marymount Women’s Basketball team.

“Survey questions go beyond headcounts and ask about instances of domestic abuse, veteran status, and disabilities in order to learn more about the specific homeless population in Arlington and what resources are needed,” said Sibert.

The annual report for Arlington’s 10 Year Plan to End Homelessness was presented to the County Board yesterday (Tuesday). It showed that 708 individuals used Arlington homeless shelters at some time in 2012, which is a six percent increase over 2011. However, the average length of time a person stayed in shelter decreased by 28 percent. The average stay for homeless families showed the most significant improvement, dropping from an average stay of 5.4 months to three months.

“The goal of the 10 Year Plan to End Homelessness is that no individual or family lack access to decent, affordable housing,” said County Board Chairman Walter Tejada. “That is a tall order in these troubled economic times, but this report, the progress we are making in housing Arlington’s most-at-risk homeless persons who were identified last year, and the County’s many programs aimed at getting those in need into housing shows that we intend to meet that goal.”

Morning Notes

by Katie Pyzyk | January 30, 2013 at 8:55 am | 867 views | 2 Comments

Lee Heights Shops at night

Javon Martin Trial Underway — The trial for Javon Martin, one of the men accused of killing Arlington resident Carl Diener in 2009, began on Monday. Attorneys for the Commonwealth spent much of Tuesday (January 29) presenting evidence against Martin. The other man accused of the crime, Martin’s cousin Roger Clark III, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder last year and is awaiting sentencing. [Washington Post]

Man Arrested for Attempted Rental Car Theft — Police arrested a man who caused a scene at Reagan National Airport on Tuesday morning. He was spotted running around the grounds of DCA and along the George Washington Parkway after allegedly trying to steal a rental car. Airport Police found 28-year-old Robert Cooper of Washington, DC in Crystal City a short time later and arrested him. Cooper has been charged with Attempted Grand Larceny.

Green Valley Pharmacy Receives Historic Designation — The Green Valley Pharmacy in the Nauck neighborhood has been approved by the County Board for designation as the 33rd Arlington Historic District. It is the first historically African American commercial building to be honored as an Arlington Historic District. The designation was granted not for the site’s architectural significance, but for the historical and cultural significance, as well as recognition for Dr. Leonard Muse’s lifetime of contributions to his community. [Arlington County]

New Recruits Sought for Civic Leadership Program — Arlington County is looking new recruits for its Neighborhood College program, which is a free, eight-session course to encourage civic engagement and help residents build leadership skills. Participants will learn how to become neighborhood advocates and how to bring about change for issues affecting the community. The sessions will be held each Thursday evening from April 4 to May 23. Applications for the 2013 Civic Leadership Development Program are due March 4, 2013. [Arlington County]

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