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by ARLnow.com — July 24, 2013 at 4:30 pm 879 0

Selection of beer and wine (file photo)This article was written by Audrey Batcheller

Alcohol use among Arlington teens is down, and a recent trip for a group of high school students was organized to help continue that trend.

Data from the Arlington Partnership for Children, Youth, and Families shows that the percentage of Arlington high school students that reported recently drinking alcohol decreased by eight percent from 2004 to 2010. In an effort to keep that number declining, Arlington’s READY Coalition sponsored a trip for Arlington students and their School Resource Officers — Arlington County police officers assigned to schools — to attend the 29th Annual Youth Alcohol & Drug Abuse Prevention Project (YADAPP) conference last week.

Ten students were selected by their SRO, and two additional students were chosen by the READY Coalition, which paid the registration fee to send the group to Longwood University, in Farmville, Va., for the week.

“Each high school resource officer picked the people they thought would be good leaders in trying to get their peers to get on board with an anti-drinking and anti-drug club and to help spread the message,” said Corporal Jim Tuomey, who accompanied the students to the conference.

APS students have attended this conference before, but last week was their first appearance in over ten years.

“We decided to take a group of teens to the conference for the purpose of trying to find better ways to outreach to the high school community,” said Phillip Leverett, the Youth Outreach Coordinator for the READY Coalition.

The 2013 results of the Youth Risk Behavior Survey are still pending, but the 2011 YRBS shows that two thirds of Arlington teens do not consume alcohol on any given weekend, a surprising number considering that a decade ago teen drinking appeared to be on the rise.

Hundreds of students attend the YADAPP conference — which is presented by the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control – every year to listen to speakers and participate in workshops. Students work in teams of four and create a Strategies To Act Now (STAN) prevention plan specific to their community that they will implement upon their arrival home.

Kateri Gajadhar, a student at the conference and chair of the Teen Network Board’s Drug and Alcohol Committee, is laying the ground work for an “Above the Influence” club at Washington-Lee.

“It helped me see ideas that have worked and things that didn’t work,” said Gajadhar about YADAPP. “It was good to interact with people who are doing the same things in different places to see what we can do here to effectively expand to older age groups.”

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by ARLnow.com — July 24, 2013 at 3:40 pm 679 0

Our latest Arlington Pet of the Week is Napoleon, a former stray cat who now is living it up in Lyon Village.

Here’s what Stephanie and her fiance, Sean, had to say about Napoleon and his curious organizational habits.

Meet Napoleon! A former stray, he wandered into our lives last summer as an underweight, flea-ridden kitten when he began making frequent appearances in my family’s backyard. After he was taken to a veterinarian for treatment and given some TLC, he relocated permanently to his home in Lyon Village.

Since Napoleon was a stray when he was adopted, we don’t know much about his background. We do know that his birthday is around April 20th, and we suspect that he’s part Maine Coon. His name is now ironic; he’s currently over 36-inches long, and he weighs almost 20 pounds! Napoleon is fascinated with water, and he likes to play fetch, steal wine corks and socks, and gaze out of our apartment window. He has a quirky habit of putting his belongings in one pile.

As an expert traveler, Napoleon doesn’t mind taking frequent trips to Pennsylvania to visit his rescuers. He especially enjoys playing with his cousin cats on his visits there.

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 office@arlnow.com with a 2-3 paragraph bio and 3-4 photos of your pet. Each week’s winner receives a $25 Dogma gift card.

by Ethan Rothstein — July 24, 2013 at 2:10 pm 2,090 0

Exterior of Virginia Hospital Center's maternity wardNeed evidence that more and more young families are putting down roots in Arlington, beyond the rapid growth in school enrollment? Just look to Virginia Hospital Center.

The hospital, at 1701 N. George Mason Drive, completed a four-year-long renovation of its maternity ward earlier this year, adding beds and capacity to keep up with rising demand. But the number of births at the hospital continues to grow.

In the last five years, the hospital has gone from delivering 3,700 infants in 2008 to a projected 5,000-plus in 2013. In that time, the hospital’s Women & Infant Health Center has added 10 beds, formed a partnership with National Children’s Hospital to expand its Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, and reorganized the Labor and Delivery unit to add additional capacity.

The growth in birth rate “has been pretty substantial for our size,” Adrian Stanton, Virginia Hospital Center’s vice president of public affairs, said. To accommodate the expansion, some administrative offices were moved to the hospital’s Carlin Springs Road campus.

“Years ago, this was [considered to be] a mature market,” Stanton said. But that has changed, and hospital leaders still aren’t sure how much bigger the Arlington baby boom will get.

“There isn’t a desire to move west or south as there had been. There’s more of an appeal to the Arlington area for young families,” he said. “I think we are struggling with the question, how much will Arlington continue to grow? Where is the growth going to be? I’m looking at the schools’ numbers, the planning departments numbers to try to figure it out.”

Stanton said there is still some room to grow for the maternity unit, but any expansion has to be done “in place,” since there are no plans for major construction projects on the horizon. The hospital’s unsolved problem is akin to Arlington’s high schools, which have all completed renovations in the last couple of years but remain overcrowded.

Stanton has identified one possible source of the upward trend in births, noting anecdotally that many families seem to want three children, as opposed to last generation’s average of two and a quarter children per household.

In addition to childbirth, another area of significant growth for Virginia Hospital Center has been joint replacement. The bulk of the joint replacement patients: active baby boomers in their 50s and 60s. Could the growth in joint replacements and childbirths be linked?

Asked whether it was perhaps the “echo boom” generation — the children of post-World War II baby boomers — who were accounting for the growth in births locally, Stanton wasn’t sure. But he did say that the baby boom generation in general has impacted hospital planning.

“As the baby boomers move through the system, they dictate a lot of what happens in society,” he said.

by ARLnow.com — July 24, 2013 at 12:30 pm 3,764 0

Joseph Rivera (photo via Farifax County Police)A former Alexandria resident and DJ is accused of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman in Clarendon and videotaping the encounter.

Joseph Rivera, 34, has been charged with aggravated sexual battery in connection with the incident, which police say took place between 2:00 and 2:33 a.m. on December 26, 2010. According to police, Rivera sexually assaulted an unconscious 26-year-old woman in a vehicle in a parking lot somewhere in Clarendon.

The victim came forward after seeing news reports about Rivera, who last week was charged with numerous sex offenses by Fairfax County Police. Those charges include rape, aggravated sexual battery, animate object sexual penetration and two counts of unlawful filming; police say Rivera sexually assaulted several unconscious women and made videos of some of the assaults.

Rivera, formerly of 724 Four Mile Road in the Arlandria section of Alexandria near the Arlington border, was arrested in Las Vegas and is awaiting extradition.

The Arlington victim saw Rivera’s mug shot on the news and contacted police, Arlington Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck said. Detectives showed her one of the videos he made to establish positive identification.

“The victim saw the news coverage and called police,” he said. “She was able to identify herself in one of the videos the suspect had taken.”

Rivera worked as a DJ at several D.C. area bars under the name Joey Flash. According to the Washington Post, one of the bars he worked at was A-Town Bar and Grill, in the Ballston area.

The bar was operated under a different name in 2010 and Sternbeck was unable to say whether Rivera had been working as a DJ the night of the alleged Dec. 26, 2010 incident.

by ARLnow.com — July 24, 2013 at 11:00 am 1,017 0

A dog can’t judge your reading skills or correct your pronunciation of words.

That’s the concept behind Paws to Read, a popular program at Arlington public libraries that allows children to read outloud to a non-judgemental canine companion.

The program began in 2011 after Ashlawn Elementary School teacher Cynthia Power pitched it to library staff as a way to encourage kids to read. It has since expanded to six library locations and has earned Power (and her dog, Humphrey) an Outstanding Volunteer Award.

The county’s Arlington TV channel produced the video, above, about the Paws to Read program.

by Ethan Rothstein — July 24, 2013 at 10:00 am 453 0

Rosslyn Jazz Festival (photo via Rosslyn BID)Renowned percussionist Poncho Sanchez is the headliner for this year’s Rosslyn Jazz Festival.

The Rosslyn Business Improvement District, which puts on the annual event — now in its 23rd year — announced its Sept. 7 lineup this week. It includes Sanchez, a Grammy award winner,  joined by saxophonist and clarinetist James Carter, performing a tribute to John Coltrane.

Before Sanchez goes on stage as the headliner at 5:30 p.m., Soul Rebels, featured in the HBO show “Treme,” will perform at 4:00 p.m. Soul Rebels, made up of New Orleans jazz scene veterans Lumar LeBlanc and Derrick Moss, fuse a jazz foundation with principles of hip-hop in their music.

Opening the show will be a local band, the Kenny Rittenhouse Septet. Rittenhouse is a professor of jazz trumpet at George Mason University and performs in the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra.

Following Rittenhouse on the stage will be Naomi Shelton and the Gospel Queens, a female gospel quartet that has played, among other places, New York City’s famed Lincoln Center.

The Rosslyn Jazz Festival will be held at Arlington Gateway Park on Sept. 7, starting at 1:00 p.m. and running until 7:00. The concert is free and open to the public, and it will be emceed by on-air personalities from jazz station WPFW 89.3.

Photo courtesy of the Rosslyn BID. Disclosure: Rosslyn BID is an ARLnow.com advertiser.

by Ethan Rothstein — July 24, 2013 at 8:30 am 3,254 0

Chicken (file photo)The rise of backyard chickens in Northern Virginia has sparked a heated policy debate in Arlington, but it has also led to an increase in abandoned chickens showing up at shelters.

In 2011, Prince William County approved a measure that allowed raising birds on some residential properties. Since then, the number of chickens that the Prince William County Animal Shelter has taken in has risen.

In 2011, the shelter — which also accepts chickens from Arlington, since the Animal Welfare League of Arlington does not house poultry — saw 23 chickens. After Prince William passed its new ordinance, the number of chickens at the PWCAS jumped to 33 in 2012 and 29 already in 2013.

According to Laurie Thompson, an administrator with the PWCAS, the first 16 chickens the shelter took in this year were strays, a number she noted was both unusual and likely attributable to abandoned chickens.

“If somebody knows how to handle a chicken and they keep their numbers down low and don’t have roosters that are going to crow, then it’s probably okay having one or two hens for eggs,” Thompson told ARLnow.com. “But sometimes, people can get excessive with these things, keep bringing them in, and then it becomes a health hazard with chicken feces. It’s not really good for an urban area to have all those feces to deal with, because those can bring in rats.”

Arlington residents are allowed to raise poultry in an enclosure 100 feet or more from property lines, but a debate has grown in the past year around reducing the limit. Last month a majority of the county’s Urban Agriculture Task Force, created in 2012, recommended reducing the enclosure limit to 20 feet from a property line, but allowing no more than four hens, no roosters and requiring permission from neighbors.

The recommendation is being considered by county staff, which will then make its own recommendation to the County Board. The Board is not expected to take action on the subject until the fall.

Animal Welfare League of Arlington spokeswoman Kerry McKeel said the organization participated in a discussion about backyard chickens with the task force, but hasn’t otherwise offered any opinions about the implications of additional urban hen raising.

“At this point a decision has not been reached on how the ordinance will be changed, so at this time AWLA does not have a position on the issue,” she said. In the past year, McKeel said the AWLA has picked up four roaming chickens and sent them either to Prince William or farm sanctuaries in rural Virginia or Maryland.

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