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by Ethan Rothstein — January 27, 2015 at 1:30 pm 0

2229 Shirlington Road, the site of the alleged AFAC burglary(Updated at 1:55 p.m.) The night before the Arlington Food Assistance Center was set to give out its weekly meals to families in Nauck on Saturday, a burglar allegedly struck.

AFAC dropped off its usual delivery on Friday night at at 2229 Shirlington Road, at the Bonder and Amanda Johnson Community Development Corporation, to be distributed to families on Saturday, AFAC Executive Director Charles Meng told ARLnow.com. At some point overnight, according to Meng and police reports, a burglar entered the building and stole about 200 pounds of meat. There is no suspect description.

“Chicken, fish, hot dogs and dried beans were stolen,” Meng said this morning. “We quickly replaced that so that the distribution could go on the next morning. It’s unfortunate, but it’s more of a case where somebody saw an opportunity and saw some food and took it. I suspect it was someone who was more in need of food than anything else.”

Meng said the food was being held in an office with computers and other electronic equipment, none of which was stolen. Considering AFAC delivers more than 80,000 pounds of food a week, Meng did not seem concerned with the theft.

“Two hundred pounds is going to cost us $200 or so,” Meng said. “We have the backup supplies to replace it. In our mind, the thing we want to do is make sure our clients get served. That’s our first objective. We deal with other matters after that.”

AFAC’s objective continues to be strained as the group struggles to meet the ever-increasing demand of Arlington’s hungry families. Meng said AFAC served a record 2,230 families last month and he’s projecting AFAC will exceed its food budget by $150,000 for the second straight year.

AFAC is serving 100 new families each month, Meng said, and he doesn’t anticipated the trend reversing itself anytime soon.

“We put in a request to the county for additional funding,” he said. “Right now their funding amounts to 6.8 percent of what it takes to operate AFAC. They’re getting a fantastic deal, they’re getting an 1,100 percent return on their dollar in one year. I hope they understand to keep this organization running and helping this community, some additional support is needed.”

by ARLnow.com — January 27, 2015 at 10:00 am 1,334 0

Snow in Arlington (Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman)

Encouraging Residency for Top County Staff — Top Arlington County officials should be encouraged to live in Arlington, County Board members said over the weekend, but they stopped short of saying that it should be a requirement. The Board responded to a resident’s concern about non-county residents on staff. County Manager Barbara Donnellan, County Attorney Stephen MacIsaac and outgoing Police Chief Doug Scott all live outside the county. [InsideNova]

For Rent: Tiny Two-Story Cottage — A 450 square foot, 1 BR / 1 BA cottage is for rent just off of Lee Highway, near District Taco, and one blogger thinks it’s the “coolest rental in Arlington.” The tiny, standalone house features a living area and kitchenette on the first floor, and a second floor loft bedroom. It’s listed at $1,200 per month. [Real House Life of Arlington]

Millennial Complains About Housing Costs — A member of the millennial generation has written an op-ed in the Washington Post complaining that while his mom was able to buy a house in Arlington as a young photographer in 1976, he is unable to afford one today, as are many other so-called millennials. Nonetheless, millennials currently make up 39 percent of the county’s population. [Washington Post]

Arlington Flag Team Makes National Finals — The Arlington 13-14 girls NFL Flag football team has made the national final game in Arizona, set to be played tonight. The game will be live-streamed on the internet. [Twitter, NFL Flag]

Snow Cancellation Map — How much snow does it take to cancel school in Arlington? About three inches, according to a map created by a Reddit user, which shows cancellation stats by county across the U.S. The map indicates that just a couple hours to the northwest, it takes a foot of snow to cancel school, while a couple of hours to the south “any snow” will result in a cancellation. [Imgur, Reddit]

Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman

by ARLnow.com — January 26, 2015 at 6:45 pm 3,939 0

Richard Hilliard (photo courtesy ACPD)A drunk Arlington resident tried to kiss the driver of his Uber ride then stole her phone when his unwanted advances were rebuffed, according to Arlington County police.

The incident happened just after 6:00 p.m. Saturday evening, on the 2200 block of S. Garfield Street in Nauck. Police say 31-year-old Richard Hilliard, who was intoxicated, became belligerent after trying to kiss the Uber driver.

“When she resisted the subject assaulted her and prevented her from calling police,” according to a crime report. “The subject stole her phone and left it on the front steps of his residence.”

The woman’s phone was “recovered by a witness.” Police arrested Hilliard at his home shortly thereafter. While being hauled off to jail he allegedly tried to kick out the rear window of the police cruiser.

Hilliard has been charged with robbery, preventing a 911 call and attempted destruction of property. He was held without bond.

Update at 11:15 a.m. — An Uber spokeswoman has issued the following statement about the incident to ARLnow.com:

“This is an appalling and serious crime. We are in contact with our valued driver partner and will continue to provide support. Upon learning of the incident we immediately and permanently removed the rider from our platform, and stand ready to assist authorities.”

by Ethan Rothstein — January 26, 2015 at 2:30 pm 3,724 0

Arlington's residential assessment map, divided by "trend area"Arlington’s residential real estate assessments rose by 4.9 percent on average for 2015, but some of Arlington’s lowest-income neighborhoods, which can least afford the corresponding rise in property taxes, are experiencing the biggest spikes.

According to the trend map (left) provided by the county’s Department of Finance, the area hit hardest by the assessment rise was the southwestern-most part of the county, from Columbia Pike to the border with Alexandria (area 10).

The average assessment for this area rose 11 percent, from $362,527 to $402,404. Homes in this area were the least valuable on average in the county last year and, despite the $40,000 jump, are the least valuable this year. If the tax rate remains at around one dollar per $100 of assessed value, the owners of houses in this area will pay about $400 more on average this year than last year.

The area with the second-least valuable homes in the county is area 8, which includes the Columbia Heights West, Barcroft and Glencarlyn neighborhoods. The average assessment rose 9 percent in this area, from $388,215 to $423,115, or an average increase of about $350 in property taxes this year over last.

By contrast, the wealthiest area in Arlington — area 3 in the northernmost part of the county — experienced almost no rise in assessments. The average home was valued at $1,011,423 last year and $1,014,566 this year, a 0.3 percent increase.

The full list of changes, with area numbers corresponding to the above map:

  • Area 1: $713,202 in 2014; $748,523 in 2015; 5.1 percent increase
  • Area 2: $810,380 in 2014; $853,100 in 2015; 5.3 percent increase
  • Area 3: $1,011,423 in 2014; $1,014,566 in 2015; 0.3 percent increase
  • Area 4: $646,590 in 2014; $683,000 in 2015; 5.6 percent increase
  • Area 5: $698,305 in 2014; $710,175 in 2015; 1.7 percent increase
  • Area 6: $514,552 in 2014; $551,594 in 2015; 7.2 percent increase
  • Area 7: $554,480 in 2014; $598,880 in 2015; 8.0 percent increase
  • Area 8: $388,215 in 2014; $423,115 in 2015; 9.0 percent increase
  • Area 9: $410,274 in 2014; $438,993 in 2015; 7.0 percent increase
  • Area 10: $362,527 in 2014; $402,404 in 2015; 11.0 percent increase
  • Area 11: $524,082 in 2014; $553,954 in 2015; 5.7 percent increase

by Ethan Rothstein — January 26, 2015 at 1:35 pm 693 0

Old Dominion Drive (photo via Google Maps)Old Dominion Drive and the park outside Gunston Community Center are getting upgrades.

On Saturday, The Arlington County Board unanimously approved $7.3 million worth of contracts to construct sidewalks on both sides of the arterial road from 38th Street N. to west of N. Glebe Road. The improvements will also install as well as curbs and gutters, traffic and pedestrian signals and stormwater upgrades.

Of the contract, $2.34 million will be coming from the Virginia Department of Transportation, and the rest will be coming from local bond funding and money from the HB 2313 transportation funding law.

“Old Dominion Drive is one of the last arterials located within a County neighborhood without sidewalks on either side,” the county said in a press release. The improvements are expected to be finished by fall 2016

The county also approved a nearly $600,000 contract for improvements around Gunston Community Center in the Long Branch Creek neighborhood. The money will go toward renovating the parking lot, outdoor basketball court and lighting. The parking lot and courts will be closed starting in March and are expected to reopen in the summer. People using the community center’s turf fields and indoor facilities will be directed to park at the adjacent Gunston Middle School parking lot.

“These two projects are prudent, timely investments in maintaining and upgrading our existing infrastructure,” said Arlington County Board Chair Mary Hynes.

Photo via Google Maps

by ARLnow.com — January 26, 2015 at 11:00 am 3,162 0

A dusting of snow in January (Flickr pool photo by Brendan)

School Boundary ‘Refinements’ Approved, Parents Peeved — The Arlington School Board on Thursday approved a series of small “refinements” to elementary school boundaries in North Arlington by a 3-1 vote. The changes will impact a few dozen current McKinley and Tuckahoe elementary students over the next two school years, transferring those students to other nearby schools. Several parents whose kids are affected have contacted ARLnow.com, calling the process and subsequent decision “short sighted,” “pointless” and “a sham.” [Arlington Public Schools, InsideNova]

Big, Tire-Eating Pothole on Wilson Blvd — An Arlington resident says he got a flat tire after driving over a monster pothole in the left-hand lane of westbound Wilson Blvd at N. Patrick Henry Drive. Arlington’s Dept. of Environmental Services responded to the man’s tweet, saying repair crews have been notified. [Twitter]

ACPD Assists with Bust of Diner Owner — The owner of a popular Baltimore diner has been arrested in a cocaine sting that Arlington County police helped to arrange. Prosecutors say Anthony Vasiliades, owner of the Sip & Bite diner, which was featured on the TV show “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives,” tried to buy $50,000 worth of cocaine from an undercover Arlington detective. [Baltimore Sun]

Casting Call for Arlington Cyclists — More than 50 people have signed up for a casting call for a promotional campaign that will highlight “everyday Arlington citizens who use a bicycle as means of commuting and/or recreation.” The casting call for the county-sponsored campaign, which will feature six short documentary films, ends today. [Modacity, Twitter]

County Planning Effort Launches — The Arlington County and School Boards have jointly appointed a 24-member “Facilities Study Committee” that is tasked with building “a consensus framework regarding the community’s future funding and facility needs.” The launch of the committee comes as Arlington Public Schools faces push back from residents as it tries to find county-owned land on which to build badly-needed new schools. [Arlington County]

Flickr pool photo by Brendan

by ARLnow.com — January 25, 2015 at 1:50 pm 2,021 0

Residents in various parts of South Arlington have reported low or no water pressure following a significant water main break.

The water pressure problems appear to stem from a large water main break on S. Dinwiddie Street at 9th Street, near Columbia Pike and the Arlington Mill Community Center.

Via Twitter, Arlington County reports that emergency repairs are underway, but may take until midnight tonight to complete.

Residents in the Fairlington, Shirlington, Barcroft, Columbia Forest and Claremont neighborhoods all reported water pressure problems this morning.

by ARLnow.com — January 23, 2015 at 6:45 pm 6,299 0

(Updated at 7:05 p.m.) Arlington County firefighters are on the scene of a two-alarm in South Arlington.

The fire was reported in the basement and first floor of condominium on the 2800 block of S. Wakefield Street. As of 7:00 p.m., firefighters on the scene reported that the fire had been extinguished, although they’re still looking for hot spots.

Two people were reportedly transported to the hospital. Several paramedic units have responded to the scene

A large plume of smoke from the fire could be seen from apartments in nearby Shirlington.

by ARLnow.com — January 23, 2015 at 3:45 pm 2,939 0

Police car (file photo)A Maryland man died in a single-vehicle crash in Pentagon City Thursday night.

The incident happened around 10:15 p.m. Police say 60-year-old John Dawson, of Clinton, Md., was turning left onto 15th Street S. from S. Eads Street when he struck a pole.

Dawson was transported to George Washington University hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

The Arlington County Police Department’s critical accident team responded to the scene. Investigators are still trying to determine if Dawson’s death was caused by the crash or was the result of a medical emergency that occurred just before the crash, according to ACPD spokesman Dustin Sternbeck.

by Ethan Rothstein — January 23, 2015 at 1:30 pm 443 0

State Sen. Janet Howell at Arlington Democrats 2011 election victory partyThe Virginia General Assembly concludes the second week of its annual session today, and soon eyes will begin to turn toward passing the state budget.

State Sen. Janet Howell (D), who represents the westernmost part of Arlington as well as a large chunk of Fairfax County, called the state’s budget outlook “bleak” while praising Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s proposed budget, which closes the projected shortfall through a series of tax changes and spending cuts. However, Howell and other Democrats say the budget doesn’t go far enough in improving the state’s K-12 education system.

Fortunately, the Governor’s budget closes the budget gap. His budget is balanced,” Howell said in a newsletter to her constituents. “What we do not have, however, is any real ability to make investments in public education, higher education, human services, or workforce development.

“Direct aid to public education has been spared additional state cuts,” she continued. “However, unless we have a sudden, unexpected upswing in our economy, we will have to jettison a proposed and deserved salary increase. For context, in terms of per pupil general funds for public education, by FY 2016 we will be just back to FY 2008 levels on a statewide basis.”

This past summer, McAuliffe announced Virginia was projected to have a $2.4 billion budget shortfall over the next two years. Much of that deficit, Howell said at a recent Arlington Democrats meeting, can be traced back to cuts from the federal budget sequestration and the layoffs at government contractors it prompted.

Additional revenue growth has since reduced the deficit, and cuts to the state prison system and elsewhere have saved millions. Del. Patrick Hope (D) says the closing of tax loopholes for some corporations — most notably coal producers — are necessary to even preserve the current level of education funding.

“There are a lot of companies in Virgina that don’t pay any taxes,” Hope told ARLnow.com yesterday. “We’ve got hundreds of millions of dollars that Virginia gives out every year to companies for job creation, and research is coming out that that’s not happening today. We need to take a hard look at what those tax credits are, and if they’re not doing what the intended purposes are, we need to pull it back.”

Hope said a state yacht tax credit should also be stripped — “I can’t look my voters in the eye if I vote for a budget” that includes that tax credit, he said — but said that the budget should become more ambitious in terms of education spending. Funding K-12 education millions of dollars less than before the recession, without accounting for inflation, isn’t enough, he said.

“There’s no reason why spending shouldn’t go in the opposite direction,” he said. “We are out of the recession now, it’s time to fill those holes back up.”

Although some form of a balanced budget is expected to pass — which may include cuts to education, according to Hope, if the Republican-controlled General Assembly balks at the loophole cuts — Howell said the realities of the budget situation don’t figure to change anytime soon, especially after the sequester’s cuts to federal defense spending.

“Growth has halted or declined in the good-paying ($77k+/year) jobs in the ‘business and professional services’ categories. Instead, we are seeing more growth in lower-paying jobs, such as health, leisure and hospitality ($45k/year on average),” Howell wrote. “Unfortunately, no one believes this situation is a temporary one.”

File photo

by Ethan Rothstein — January 23, 2015 at 10:00 am 4,338 0

From left, Cpl. Joseph Ferguson, Judge Thomas Kelley Jr., Cpl. Phyllis Henderson and Cpl. Edwin Hill (photo courtesy Maj. Susie Doyel)(Updated at 11:55 a.m.) An Arlington General District Court judge saved a man’s life in his courtroom Thursday morning, performing CPR after the victim suffered a heart attack.

The victim was testifying at the trial of an alleged trespasser when he started “gasping for air,” his friend George told ARLnow.com. George, who declined to give his last name or his friend’s name, alerted Judge Thomas J. Kelley Jr., who cleared out the courtroom and came down from the bench to render aid.

When it became apparent that the victim was having a heart attack, Kelley laid him on the floor and started performing chest compressions, George said. Sheriff’s deputies Edwin Hill and Phyllis Henderson assisted Kelley and performed mouth-to-mouth, according to Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Maj. Susie Doyel.

“It was a flash, [Kelley] was down off that bench in a hurry,” George said. “When I got to the hospital, the EMTs stabilized him and said whoever performed CPR on him probably saved his life.”

George and the heart attack victim are childhood friends and Arlington natives, and the victim’s house was allegedly broken into recently, which is why they were in court.

Between the time Kelley began administering CPR and paramedics arrived, George said the victim began breathing and regained his pulse — but then his heart stopped again, prompting the hero judge and deputies to begin CPR again.

“The judge had control of everything. He didn’t blink,” George said. Later Thursday afternoon, after ensuring his friend was in stable condition, George went back to the court house to thank Kelley. “He was telling me he had [performed CPR] years back and he was glad he still had the skill set.”

Photo courtesy Maj. Susie Doyel

by ARLnow.com — January 23, 2015 at 9:00 am 2,042 0

Driving over the Roosevelt Bridge on I-66 (Flickr pool photo by Brian Allen)

Fire Victim Identified — The victim of Thursday’s fatal house fire on S. Randolph Street has been identified. Family and friends said 73-year-old Dennis Lee was a retired contractor, a longtime Dallas Cowboys fan and a member of the local American Legion post. He died from smoke inhalation. In the wake of his death, firefighters plan to canvass Lee’s neighborhood to test and distribute smoke detectors. [NBC Washington - Warning: Auto-play video]

Preserving H-B’s Walls — The walls of the H-B Woodlawn secondary program are covered with more than 2,000 inscriptions from past graduating classes. School officials are considering ways to digitally preserve the painted walls when the program moves to Rosslyn in five years. [Falls Church News-Press]

Historic Designation for Wilson School? — Despite opposition from school officials, the county’s Historic Affairs and Landmark Review Board voted unanimously on Wednesday to recommend a local historic district designation for the Wilson School in Rosslyn. The Wilson School is the second-oldest school in Arlington and preservationists are trying to save it from being razed to make way for a larger building that will house the H-B Woodlawn program. [InsideNova]

Alexandria Has School Issues, Too — Like Arlington, neighboring Alexandria is also facing a school budget deficit and rising enrollment. Another issue facing Alexandria: competing with Arlington for teachers. Arlington’s average teacher salary is $76,892, compared to $73,612 in Alexandria. [Alexandria Times]

Arlington Named Top ‘Intelligent Community’ — For the third time, Arlington has been named one of the Top 7 Intelligent Communities in the world. “It is gratifying to have the Intelligent Community Forum recognize Arlington’s commitment to economic sustainability,” County Board Chair Mary Hynes said, in a statement. [Arlington Economic Development]

Destroyed N.J. Apartment Has Arlington Connection — The New Jersey apartment complex that burned to the ground, leaving hundreds homeless, is owned by Arlington-based AvalonBay Communities. The $80 million apartment complex was made from wood construction, which caused it to burn too quickly for firefighters to get it under control. [Bloomberg]

Flickr pool photo by Brian Allen

by ARLnow.com — January 22, 2015 at 5:10 pm 5,479 0

The steep S. Walter Reed Drive hill (photo via Google Maps)A teenage girl has suffered serious injuries in a bike accident on a steep downhill portion of S. Walter Reed Drive.

Police believe the girl ran into the back of a stopped SUV near the intersection of Walter Reed and S. Randolph Street, at the bottom of a steep hill. The girl suffered a serious head and facial injuries and was rushed to the trauma center at Inova Fairfax Hospital.

The girl was reportedly wearing a helmet. The driver of the SUV remained on scene, according to Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck.

The accident happened around 3:30 p.m. As of 4:45 p.m., investigators were still taking photos and measurements at the scene.

Photo via Google Maps

by Ethan Rothstein — January 22, 2015 at 3:30 pm 3,998 0

The man who was rescued from this morning’s house fire near Shirlington has died from smoke inhalation, according to the Arlington County Fire Department.

The victim has not yet been identified, pending notification of his family, ACFD spokeswoman Lt. Sarah Marchegiani told ARLnow.com.

The fire, on the 2100 block of S. Randolph Street, began around 4:30 a.m. and drew about 70 firefighters to the scene. It was knocked down within 30 minutes, the fire department said. Damage to the house is estimated at $90,000.

The victim was trapped on the first floor when firefighters found him, Marchegiani said. He was transported to Virginia Hospital Center, where he later succumbed to his injuries. There were smoke alarms in the house, but investigators don’t yet know if they were working.

The fire was the second in two days. Firefighters successfully rescued two people from the roof of a burning house in the Old Glebe neighborhood early Wednesday morning.

This was the first fire fatality of 2015. Four people died in house fires in 2014, Marchegiani said. In 2013, there were no deaths from fires in Arlington.

The fire department is reminding residents that it supplies free smoke detector installations. From a press release:

The Arlington County Fire Department reminds you to:

  • Install smoke alarms on every floor and in every bedroom.
  • Test your smoke alarms every month by pressing the “test” button.
  • Change the batteries in all alarms twice a year with daylight savings time, unless you alarm is equipped with a 10 year lithium battery.
  • Ensure every person in your home understands and practices your home fire escape plantwice a year. Your plan should include two ways out of every room, getting low, closing the door behind, going directly to your predetermined family meeting place, and then calling 9-1-1.

If you do not have a working smoke alarm, the fire department provides free smoke alarm installations for Arlington County residents.

by ARLnow.com — January 22, 2015 at 3:05 pm 1,943 0

ACPD Chief Doug Scott at the WCA meeting 3/13/14Arlington County Police Chief Doug Scott is retiring, County Manager Barbara Donnellan told county staff members today.

Scott has been police chief in Arlington for 12 years. He began his law enforcement career in 1975 as a Fairfax County police cadet. He served as Fairfax County’s police chief from 1995-1998.

Arlington is planning to begin a “national recruitment” for its next police chief. Scott will officially retire on March 20.

Donnellan’s memo to county staff:

Colleagues – It seems that all good things must come to an end. Doug Scott is retiring from Arlington County after serving as our outstanding Police Chief for 12 years.

Doug is retiring after a 40-year career in law enforcement. He has done an excellent job of serving our community and our organization – not only as our police chief, but also as a stalwart member of my Executive Leadership Team. Doug is always thoughtful, measured, and focused on the bigger strategic picture. He is results-oriented and focused on solutions and I very much value his contributions to the big questions we wrestle with. He is a tremendous supporter of his officers and staff.

Doug will be with us until March 20. Over the next couple of months, I will name an Acting Police Chief and begin a national recruitment.

We will miss Doug and his wise counsel. I am grateful to Doug for his service to our community and our organization. I know you will all join me in wishing Doug all the best as he and his family enter this new chapter in their lives.

Best,
Barbara

Scott’s biography from the county website:

Chief Douglas Scott has served as Arlington’s Chief of Police since 2003. Chief Scott began his law enforcement career as a police cadet with the Fairfax County Police Department in 1975 and became the department’s Chief of Police in 1995. In 1998, he retired from Fairfax County and was named Chief of Police in the City of Fairfax Police Department. He left local law enforcement briefly in 2000 when he accepted an Assistant Inspector General position for the U.S. Department of the Interior.

Chief Scott holds an associate’s degree in police science, a bachelor’s degree in applied behavioral science and a master’s degree in public administration from George Mason University. He is also a graduate of the FBI’s National Academy and National Executive Institute as well as the Executive Leaders Program at the Center for Homeland Defense & Security. From 2009-2010, Chief Scott served as the president of the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police (VACP). Currently, Chief Scott serves as an Executive Board Member for the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), after having served for many years on its Highway Safety, Environmental Crimes, Terrorism and Resolutions Committees.

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