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by ARLnow.com — March 21, 2013 at 4:45 pm 4,727 50 Comments

A car flipped its roof near Bishop O’Connell High School this afternoon.

The accident occurred at the four-way intersection of N. Van Buren Street, 28th Street N. and N. Little Falls Road, one block away from Bishop O’Connell in the East Falls Church neighborhood. The one-vehicle wreck ended with the four-door Saab on its roof and a street sign ripped from the ground.

There appeared to be at least two male occupants of the car, both of whom were high school students. No injuries were reported.

by Katie Pyzyk — March 21, 2013 at 3:45 pm 792 38 Comments

Flier for "The River and the Mountain"A play that sent shockwaves throughout Uganda with the utterance of the phrase “I’m gay” is making its way to Artisphere (1101 Wilson Blvd) this weekend.

A staged reading of “The River and the Mountain” will take place at Artisphere’s Dome Theatre this Saturday, March 23, at 7:30 p.m. The dramatic comedy revolves around the life of a gay factory manager in Uganda who encounters violent reactions from family members and colleagues when he comes out at a party. The free event includes a talk back with playwright Beau Hopkins and U.S. producer/director Sarah Imes Borden.

The play made news in August 2012 when it became the first Ugandan play to have an openly gay character. Homosexuality is illegal in Uganda, as well as 36 other African nations, and punished with lengthy jail terms.

The producer of the play, David Cecil, was arrested last September for offending the Ministry of Ethics in Uganda. The charges were dropped in October due to lack of evidence that the play promoted homosexuality. Last month, however, Cecil was detained again and deported from Uganda. The next day, Uganda’s Parliament began debating a new draft of a national anti-homosexuality bill, often known around the world as the “Kill the Gays Bill.”

The original form of the bill sought the death penalty as punishment for those who are gay. Although Uganda’s Parliament has said that there’s a recommendation to drop the death penalty and instead require life imprisonment for gay individuals, the revised bill with the reported changes has not yet been made available to the public.

One of the original actors in the play when it was first staged in Uganda, Okuyo Joel Atiku Prince, was supposed to join in this weekend’s event at Artisphere, but his travel to the U.S. has been denied by the Ugandan government, according to Artisphere spokeswoman Annalisa Meyer.

by Mark Kelly — March 21, 2013 at 3:00 pm 1,108 127 Comments

The Right Note is a weekly opinion column by 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.

Mark KellyNext Wednesday evening, March 27, our County Board will tell us how they plan to move the Columbia Pike streetcar plan forward. The Board is refusing to allow for a full vetting of opposing views, and it remains to be seen if they will take unscripted questions. If you can get the microphone, here are some things you should question:

1) Will there be a dedicated lane for the trolley?

The answer, of course, is no. So, if a trolley breaks down during rush hour it will block traffic and cannot simply be moved onto a side street. Conversely, if a car breaks down in the trolley lane, the trolley cannot move around it.

2) Will buses still run on Columbia Pike?

Yes. The trolley will not replace buses altogether. In fact, if you want to go directly to the Pentagon, a bus will likely be your better choice. And, during rush hour, trolleys will likely be slowed by buses in front of them.

3) Are trolleys safe?

This is an open question. There are reports of these vehicles being knocked 25 feet off its rails by a vehicle the size of a small SUV.

4) Why did the county quickly move to consider a public-private partnership approach?

Most likely to avoid a public vote on a bond. The Board has indicated zero willingness to put this $250 million (a low estimate) project before the voters in any way, shape, or form. Under the public-private partnership model, the Board can allow private entities to put together the financing and avoid a public vote on a bond altogether. In exchange, Arlington would contribute a hefty down payment and sign a long-term contract to pay for the rest.

5) Why did the County Board never debate the merits of using bigger buses that have multiple entry doors and the ability to have curb level entry?

These buses could be done at approximately one-fifth the cost. In fact, if you look at the 2012 study on this very question, the buses would cost $193.2 million less up front, and $2.19 million less per year less for an ongoing annual subsidy. The same study estimates that just four percent more people would ride the trolley versus the bus. If you do a quick estimate, that means each additional rider costs the taxpayers about $175,000 up front, and $2,000 more per year.

There are many other questions that could be asked, from the likelihood of cost overruns, to the impact on existing businesses on the Pike, to playing hide the ball on a recent FOIA request, to bicycle safety, to the impact of Alexandria’s decision to scrap its light rail plans.

Even if the Board does not intend to take public input, those with an interest in the outcome should come to Kenmore Middle School and make their presence known.

Mark Kelly is a former Arlington GOP Chairman and two-time Republican candidate for Arlington County Board.

by Katie Pyzyk — March 21, 2013 at 2:00 pm 1,398 25 Comments

APS Superintendent Dr. Patrick Murphy's proposed boundary changesArlington Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Patrick Murphy will present his boundary change recommendation at tonight’s School Board meeting.

The recommended changes are detailed in a memo that also lists two alternative plans. The intent is to ease school overcrowding and to assign students to a new elementary school on the Williamsburg Middle School campus. The shuffle will affect students at seven elementary schools in North Arlington — Ashlawn, Glebe, Jamestown, McKinley, Nottingham, Taylor and Tuckahoe.

The major changes will involve moving around 900 students in the following ways:

  • Reassign 67 students from McKinley to Ashlawn
  • Reassign 56 students from Glebe to McKinley
  • Reassign 164 students from Jamestown to the new school at Williamsburg
  • Reassign 71 students from Taylor to Jamestown
  • Reassign 347 students from Nottigham to the new school at Williamsburg
  • Reassign 146 students from Tuckahoe to Nottingham
  • Reassign 49 students from Taylor to the new school at Williamsburg

“We went through a process of community meetings starting this past fall. There was lots of input and lots of options,” said APS Transition Facilities Planning Consultant Meg Tuccillo. “The superintendent examined the input he received, and the need to address capacity, and determined that this recommendation met that need.”

The plan also includes recommendations for grandfathering that would also need to be approved by the School Board. The ideas especially apply to fifth graders so they don’t have to move for their final year of elementary school. Siblings of fifth graders also would not have to move immediately. The grandfathering recommendations are as follows:

  • Rising fifth graders and concurrently enrolled younger siblings (grades K-4 as of June 2015) may choose to remain at their current school for the 2015-16 school year only. Transportation will continue for current bus riders for that year.
  • A student attending either Immersion School, in grades K-4 as of June 2015, who resides in a planning unit being moved from one Immersion School group to another Immersion School group, may remain at their current Immersion School through fifth grade with transportation provided by APS.
  • A student attending Arlington Science Focus in grades K-4 as of June 2015, who resides in a planning unit being moved to the New Elementary School #1, may remain at ASFS through fifth grade with transportation provided by APS.

APS reports that its staff has participated in more than 40 community meetings since the beginning of the boundary changing process. Two additional public meetings will take place in April, and the School Board is scheduled to give a final vote on May 16. If approved at that time, the changes will go into effect for the 2015-2016 school year. An exception would be made for students reassigned to McKinley. Those students would be delayed a year and instead would switch schools in time for the 2016-2017 school year, when McKinley’s expansion is expected to be completed.

by ARLnow.com — March 21, 2013 at 1:15 pm 686 1 Comment

Meet Ellie, an inspiring 11-year-old lab and pit bull mix who survived living on the streets and now gives back to her Clarendon/Courthouse community by working as a therapy dog.

Here is what Ellie’s rescuer and owner had to say about her:

I adopted Ellie from a rescue after from college. She is an incredible, well behaved dog. She has gotten to know the location of any local store that provides her with free treats and often attempts to direct me there on walks. She was a real hit at the recent Clarendon Mardi Gras Parade and got more beads than she knew what to do with!

Ellie is a joy and I cannot imagine not having her. She is a therapy dog and we volunteer with a local organization called People Animals Love (PAL). We often frequent the Central Library where children actually read to dogs like Ellie. She has brought a lot of joy to various local nursing home residents where we also volunteer.

Ellie loves to play and has remained active in her old age. She used to be the best running partner I had, but now she settles for long walks. She loves catching Frisbees and has been known to run up and down park slides. She adores toys and often takes them with her outside. At my prior condo she was known as the dog with the big fish in her mouth and brought a smile to anyone that saw her.

Ellie is the perfect example of the joy that a rescue dog can bring to a household. I have often had many people comment that before Ellie they did not like dogs, but that they would gladly adopt any dog that has her disposition. The rescue found her as a stray roaming the highway extremely underweight. Whomever her prior owner was had no idea on what an amazing dog they missed out on! She is without a doubt my best friend.

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 steph@arlnow.com. Each week’s winner receives a $25 Dogma gift card.

by ARLnow.com — March 21, 2013 at 12:30 pm 3,508 22 Comments

Police are looking for a man who was allegedly masturbating while following a woman with his car.

The incident happened last Friday night in the Douglas Park neighborhood. From this week’s Arlington County crime report:

INDECENT EXPOSURE, 03/15/13, 1300 block of S. Monroe Street. At 7:30 pm on March 15, a victim observed an unknown subject masturbating while seated inside a vehicle with the door open. As the victim walked away, she noticed the subject following her in his car. The subject then parked and proceeded to exit the car and follow the victim by foot. The victim then ran into a Post Office to escape the subject, and the subject fled the scene. The subject is described as a 40-year-old black male, approximately 5’8” tall and 200 lbs. He had dark skin, short black hair, no facial hair and a muscular build. At the time of the incident, he was wearing a beige long sleeved shirt and dark pants.

Last Thursday, police say a man was arrested for exposing himself to a woman at Arlington Central Library.

INDECENT EXPOSURE, 03/14/13, 1000 block of N. Quincy Street. At 5:30 pm on March 14, a subject exposed himself to a female victim inside the Central Library. The suspect was located a couple hours later in the area. Patrick Robert Rooney, 67, of no fixed address, was arrested and charged with indecent exposure. He was held with no bond.

The rest of this week’s crime report, after the jump.

(more…)

by Katie Pyzyk — March 21, 2013 at 11:00 am 738 11 Comments

Tropical Smoothie Cafe in Virginia Square(Updated at 12:40 p.m.) Tropical Smoothie Cafe in Virginia Square (3811 Fairfax Drive) only has been open for about seven months, but owner Marcus Barnett is already expanding. He will soon open a new location in the Ballston Common Mall.

“We wanted to branch off and we were tipped off about the upcoming mall renovations,” said Barnett. “An opportunity presented itself and we wanted to be a part of that.”

The mall location will be in the food court and won’t yet feature the full menu offered at the Virginia Square location. The focus will be on smoothies, salads, breakfast and energy bars, but wraps and sandwiches will not yet be offered. Barnett said the plan is to eventually expand to a full menu, probably after the mall renovations are completed.

Although the two locations will be close in proximity, Barnett anticipates a totally different clientele.

“All those businesses in the area [Ballston], they don’t really come down to us. Even though it’s so close, just five minutes away, they don’t really come over here,” he said. “There’s a lot of new people and businesses in that area and we want to give them a healthier option.”

Tropical Smoothie Cafe should open sometime in May in the space previously occupied by Crêpe Paris.

by Katie Pyzyk — March 21, 2013 at 10:15 am 1,424 10 Comments

The Arlington County Police Department has released surveillance video of Tuesday’s smash and grab robbery at Pentagon City mall in the hopes the public can help identify the suspects.

The video shows four subjects entering the Tourneau retail store at 10:37 a.m. on Tuesday (March 19). Police say they headed directly to the Rolex watch display case. One of the subjects used a hammer to break the front side of the glass display case to gain access to the merchandise. Before fleeing, the four subjects managed to grab 23 Rolex watches, worth approximately $609,000. Police say the four suspects were in the store for less than 30 seconds.

All four subjects are described as being black males wearing ski masks and hooded jackets. Three were wearing all dark clothing and suspect four was wearing a red hooded jacket and dark pants. A fifth person was reportedly waiting in a getaway vehicle on the S. Hayes Street side of the mall. The vehicle is described as a charcoal gray four-door sedan.

If anyone has information on the identities and/or whereabouts of these individuals, please contact Detective Paula Brockenborough of the Arlington County Police Department’s Homicide/Robbery Unit at 703-228-4241 or at pbrockenborough@arlingtonva.us. To report information anonymously, contact the Arlington County Crime Solvers at 866-411-TIPS (8477).

by Katie Pyzyk — March 21, 2013 at 9:10 am 712 8 Comments

Green lights in Clarendon

911 Outage Report Released — A report regarding Northern Virginia’s 911 outage following last summer’s derecho storm calls on Verizon to provide an audit of its entire 911 infrastructure. The Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (MWCOG) Board of Directors approved the report, which found that the outage was caused by the loss of commercial power and the subsequent failure of one of the two backup generators in each of Verizon’s Arlington and Fairfax central offices. Improper maintenance and incident response also reportedly contributed to the outage. [MWCOG]

Arlington Third Healthiest County in Virginia — A study by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and University of Wisconsin researchers indicates that Arlington is the third healthiest county in the state. Coming in first is Fairfax County, followed by Loudoun County. The study examined data from nearly every county in the nation. Overall, Northern Virginia counties fared better than those in the southern parts of the state. [WTOP]

Key Elementary School Educator Chosen as Teacher of the Year — The 2013 Arlington Public Schools Teacher of the Year is a fourth grade educator at Key Elementary School. Erica Russell has been teaching at the school since 2006. She will be honored by the School Board on May 15, and is the county’s nominee for the 2013 Virginia Teacher of the Year Competition. [Sun Gazette]

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