Man Shot By Arlington Sheriff Worked for TV Show — Julian Dawkins, the 22-year-old man shot and killed by an off-duty Arlington deputy sheriff in Alexandria early Wednesday, worked as a shuttle bus driver for the PBS Newshour in Shirlington. He was also the cousin of Washington Mystics player Tierra Ruffin-Pratt. [NBC Washington]
Chamber’s ‘Best Business’ Awards — The Arlington Chamber of Commerce has handed out its 2013 Arlington’s Best Business awards. The winners were: John Marshall Bank (Business of the Year), Dante Consulting (Business of the Year), InfoLock Technologies (Technology Small Business of the Year), Minuteman Press Crystal City (Service Small Business of the Year), House of Steep (Retail Small Business of the Year), AHC Inc. (Non-Profit Small Business of the Year), BbG Fitness (Home-Based Business of the Year Award). [Sun Gazette]
Arlington Sells $77 Million in Bonds — Arlington County issued $77 million worth of bonds at an average interest rate of 3.6 percent on Tuesday. The bonds will help fund the acquisition of the office building at 2020 14th Street N, for use as a year-round homeless shelter and for county offices, and for the affordable housing redevelopment of Buckingham Village 3. [Arlington County]
Photo courtesy CG Liacouras
The Board discussed the matter in a closed session before unanimously approving it. According to County Attorney Stephen MacIsaac, it is standard procedure for the Board to discuss a grant behind closed doors. The grant agreement will be made public once the county attorney finalizes it.
County Manager Barbara Donnellan said the grant will help bring the theater current with real estate taxes owed to the county. Funding for the grant was provided from budget savings identified at the end of Fiscal Year 2012.
The Arlington County Department of Management and Finance indicates the grant includes around $85,000 for past due real estate and business tangible taxes, $99,000 for the next two payments of real estate taxes and around $30,000 for the next business tangible tax payment. The remaining $35,000 will either help fund a financial consultant study or go to future tax payments.
Signature Theatre has sole access rights and branding capability in its current space within a county owned building. It is responsible for the full costs of operating that facility, including real estate and business tangible taxes. Other county supported arts groups performing in county subsidized spaces are not required to pay taxes.
“Signature is thriving, and has a great future ahead of it,” Donnellan said. “This grant addresses an immediate, short-term need by providing temporary relief from a tax burden that is not shared by other supported arts groups.”
The county emphasizes that the theater is a cultural anchor for Shirlington and provides financial benefits to the community. It estimates that more than $150,000 in annual sales and meals taxes can be directly attributed to Signature’s presence in Shirlington.
Signature faced several debt-related lawsuits in Arlington General District Court last year, including claims from Waste Management, Conde Nast Publications and the Delancey at Shirlington Village apartment building. The Waste Management and Conde Nast claims were eventually dismissed. The court ruled in favor of Delancey at Shirlington Village.
County Treasurer Frank O’Leary told the Sun Gazette that Signature was delinquent on its real estate and business taxes.
Construction issues will delay the anticipated “late spring” reopening of Clarendon’s James Hunter Park until summer.
According to Arlington County Department of Parks and Recreation spokeswoman Susan Kalish, a number of unforeseen conditions turned up during construction at the dog park site on the corner of N. Herndon Street and N. 13th Street. Some of the problems include difficult soils, grading issues and the discovery of “buried structures.” Kalish said although such issues are not unheard of, they will push the expected park completion date into July.
“This is not unusual at an urban site and we were able to make adjustments to ensure the park will be a great place for the community to gather,” she said.
Workers will spend the next several weeks installing site furnishings and landscaping.
“This space should look more and more like a park by the middle of June,” said Kalish.
Despite the delay, the $1.6 million renovation project remains on budget.
Ground Floor Retail Exemption Granted — At its meeting yesterday (May 21), the County Board granted an exemption to the policy of requiring ground floor retail space, for the office building at 3701 N. Fairfax Drive. The building formerly housed the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), which had received a retail exemption due to security concerns. The Board granted the exemption this time due to the space’s lack of access and visibility from the street. [Sun Gazette]
AIRE Goal Exceeded — Arlington County has exceeded its 2007 Arlington Initiative to Rethink Energy (AIRE) goal of a 10 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from government operations by 2012. The county has reduced its emissions by 11.7 percent since 2000. “This is an important milestone in Arlington’s efforts to build a more sustainable future for all our residents and businesses,” said Arlington County Board Chairman Walter Tejada. “The County has made great strides in improving the energy efficiency of our buildings and of our fleet and services, and we will continue to look for ways to reduce emissions and reduce spending on energy.” [Arlington County]
Sales Tax Holiday Begins Saturday — Virginia’s annual Hurricane Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday begins on Saturday, May 25, and runs through Friday, May 31. The tax holiday allows residents to prepare for hurricane season, which begins on June 1, by eliminating sales tax on purchases of emergency supplies. Items such as batteries, generators, bottled water, duct tape, cell phone chargers and radios are included. [Virginia Emergency Management]
Around 12:45 a.m., Alexandria Police responded to reports of a person being shot in the 100 block of Lynhaven Drive, just south of Arlington and a block away from Potomac Yard.
Officers found the victim unresponsive. He was transported to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Detectives on the case are interviewing Arlington County Deputy Sheriff Craig Patterson, a 17-year veteran of the Sheriff’s Office and an Alexandria resident, who was involved in the shooting. The Arlington County Sheriff’s Office says it is cooperating with the investigation and is also doing its own internal investigation. Patterson, 44, has been placed on administrative leave while the case is ongoing.
Police have not said how Patterson, was involved, but according to scanner traffic the off-duty deputy said he shot a man who pulled a knife on him.
The victim has been identified as 22-year-old Alexandria resident Julian Dawkins. The medical examiner’s office will determine the cause of death during an autopsy.
Anyone with information about the incident is asked to call the Criminal Investigations Section of the Alexandria Police Department at 703-746-6711.
Hat tip to John Antonelli
Some Lyon Park residents have expressed concern about Arlington’s 911 system after waiting on hold while calling in last Wednesday’s house fire on N. Highland Street. Arlington’s Office of Emergency Management, however, says everything worked just as it was supposed to.
Some callers reported hearing a recorded message while they were put on hold for several minutes, according to an ARLnow.com tipster. OEM Director Jack Brown confirmed that there were callers who heard a message asking them to stay on the line while the system was flooded with calls. Anyone who hung up was then called back to verify that they were safe and to check if they still needed emergency assistance, exactly like any other 911 hang up.
“It’s not an overburden for us, it’s just very busy in the initial stages of an emergency,” said Emergency Communications Center Commander John Crawford. “The system was working and the people were working. The only issue we get is when lots of people call all at once.”
Crawford explained that Arlington’s 911 call center has a minimum of 10 people staffing it at all times. Typically, calls immediately go through to a staffer. But when an emergency occurs, such as during the Lyon Park fire, there are so many calls that each one cannot be answered immediately.
“The phones just literally lit up. We knew it was something significant,” Crawford said. “If 10 people call 911, the eleventh person is going to get a pre-recorded message asking them to hold. We purposely put that recording in there because in years past the phone would just ring and ring, and people would question if they called the right number.”
The automatic call distribution system immediately sends holding callers to the first available staff member as soon as a line frees up. Once information is gathered from the first couple of callers, the rest of the calls typically move more quickly. Staffers make every effort to gather information from each caller as rapidly as possible to avoid missing an emergency.
“You never know, that eleventh call or twelfth call might be someone in a horrific accident on G.W. Parkway not related to the fire, so we have to go through every call as quickly as possible,” said Crawford. “I have to talk to you but I don’t have to talk to you long. To some people it may sound rude, but I need to cut to the chase and get the info I need and then hang up the phone.”
Crawford noted that Arlington’s 911 call center received significant upgrades five years ago, including expanding the number of phone lines from 16 to 48. Improvements have been made to prevent the system from “locking up” as it did during the terrorist attack on September 11, 2001.
“On 9/11, the phones rang and lit up so quick that it locked the system up. Literally hundreds. We couldn’t even get to them,” said Crawford.
9/11 also put into play the rare “code red” alert that gets sent out to staff pagers and phones, ordering them back to work to help with a large emergency. With the additional lines that have been added since that time, the center could now have 48 call takers working at the same time — one for each phone line.
“Thank God, other than a couple of disasters I know of, we haven’t had need to upstaff to that degree,” said Crawford.
Arlington’s 911 center does add extra staff members during anticipated busy times, such as weekend nights and planned events like races. However, on the average day, the 10 or so call takers need to deal with any incidents that arise.
Crawford noted that it’s important for people to continue to call when they see or hear something occur because you never know if another person will call or not. He asks residents to be patient if they’re put on hold during a flood of calls, and promises the call takers are doing the best they can.
“We work for the citizens, those are our customers,” Crawford said. “We try to provide the best possible customer service to them.”
(Updated at 2:15 p.m.) Police have begun their annual crackdown on passengers who aren’t wearing seat belts. The Click It or Ticket enforcement period began yesterday (May 20) and runs through Sunday, June 2.
The Arlington County Police Department says motorists should always wear seat belts, and those who refuse to will be targeted. ACPD is joining other local and state law enforcement officers, as well as those across the country, who are focusing on seat belt laws during this time period.
According to the Department of Motor Vehicles’ Safety Office, preliminary statistics show that last year 305 of Virginia’s 774 fatalities were not wearing seat belts at the time of the crash. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration statistics from 2011 indicate 272 Virginians lived through accidents due to wearing a seat belt.
Per state law, everyone in a vehicle must be wearing a seat belt. Drivers are encouraged to tell all people riding with them to buckle up. If there are passengers under the age of 18 violating the law, the driver can receive tickets for each unrestrained minor. Passengers over the age of 18 can receive their own tickets if unrestrained while riding in a car.
ACPD recorded 630 seat belt violations during traffic stops from May 2012 through April 2013.
A mother saw the man sitting in a van near the school’s bus stop on N. 31st Street around 8:20 yesterday morning. When she noticed that he was naked from the waist down, she called police.
The person is described as a white male with dark hair, in his mid to late 40s. At the time of the incident he was in a white Chevrolet Astro van that had ladders on the roof.
Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck said the mother did exactly what she should have in this type of incident.
“If something doesn’t feel right, it’s better to alert police and let them investigate,” Sternbeck said. “The ACPD is following up on the incident and will have an increased presence in the area.”
If found, the man could be charged with indecent exposure.
Pierce Queen Apartments Too Costly for Tax Credits? — The Virginia Housing Development Authority has flagged the Pierce Queen Apartments project in Ft. Myer Heights as being too expensive for Low Income Housing Tax Credits. The units must remain at $350,000 each to receive credit, but the Pierce Queen units come in at $402,000. The project developers asked for a little more than $2 million in tax credits. VHDA is still examining the request and will make its final decision on June 5. [Arlington Mercury]
DOD Renews Lease in Crystal City – The Department of Defense decided to renew its lease at 2530 Crystal Drive in Crystal City. The agency was expected to stay in the more than 550,000 square foot space due to money being tight within the federal government. [GlobeSt]
High School Tournament Roundup — In high school sports, the Washington-Lee boys tennis team defeated the Robinson Rams in a quarterfinal match, but lost to Langley in the region semifinals. Yorktown boys and girls lacrosse teams lost in their second rounds of tournaments. Yorktown sophomore Luke Maxwell finished his season undefeated and won the National District singles tennis tournament without dropping a set. [Northern Virginia Sports]
Flickr pool photo by ddimick
Neighbors of the Lyon Park mother and son whose house was destroyed by fire last week are collecting money for the family’s needs and for their cat’s medical bills.
Three people – Liz Tefera, her son, and a tenant who was renting a room in the home — were displaced after fire consumed the home on Wednesday, May 15. Tefera and her son, a 7th grade student, are now staying in a local hotel, having “lost everything” in the fire. The blaze also injured Baby, one of Tefera’s two cats, according to neighbor Donna Seabold and her husband, John.
“Two cats were trapped in the house during the fire,” Seabold said. “One cat was found immediately after the fire was extinguished, and suffered only minor injuries. The second cat, named Baby, was not found until the following day in the flooded basement of the boarded up house. Baby has suffered minor burns, respiratory issues, and carbon monoxide poisoning.”
Baby was brought to VCA SouthPaws animal hospital in Fairfax, where she received three days of oxygen treatment. The treatment has improved Baby’s condition to the point where this afternoon she was able to be transferred to the Nova Cat Clinic in Virginia Square, according to Seabold.
Though we’re told that Tefera’s house was insured, neighbors are collecting money to help pay for the family’s expenses, including some $2,000 in medical bills for Baby.
Those interested in helping the family with Baby’s medical bills or with their other expenses can email email@example.com for more information. PayPal donations can also be sent to the address.
Police say the suspect, 19-year-old Chauncey Myers of D.C., grabbed a victim’s iPhone on N. Glebe Road in the Buckingham neighborhood, then took off in the direction of Ballston. The alleged crime happened around 12:30 p.m. on Sunday, and the 22 officers who were providing security at the Taste of Arlington festival in Ballston were notified that the suspect was heading their way.
Numerous officers fanned out from the festival, and the suspect was arrested at the intersection of Fairfax Drive and N. Vermont Street, three blocks from the Ballston Metro station.
Myers was shirtless, out of breath and cursing at officers at the time of his apprehension, according to Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck. He was charged with robbery and “failure to ID.”
The officers working at Taste of Arlington were paid by festival organizers, Sternbeck said.
A new columbarium has opened at Arlington National Cemetery, just in time for Memorial Day.
Columbarium Court No. 9, as it’s called, has more than 20,000 niches for U.S. military veterans and their families. Each niche in the two-acre columbarium has space for 3-4 urns. The project cost $15.6 million and began in January 2012.
A dedication ceremony was held for the columbarium earlier this month. The ceremony included the burial of the unclaimed remains of six war veterans from the Civil War, the Vietnam War and World Wars I and II.
Columbarium Court No. 9 is 2.5 times bigger than the cemetery’s next-largest columbarium. Rockville-based contractor Forrester Construction, which built the new facility, described its construction in a press release.
This project, awarded to Forrester by the US Army Corps of Engineers, required near perfect quality and pristine finishes ensuring longevity and suitability in the greenscape of Arlington National Cemetery. It involved significant grading, landscaping, environmental management and installation of decorative and commemorative stonework, including flagstone walkways.
Columbarium Court No. 9 is nearly the length of two football fields at 116-feet wide, 11-feet tall and 540-feet long. The foundation of the structure is auger cast piles ranging in depth from 15 to 25 feet. More than 6,000 cubic yards of poured-in-place concrete clad with limestone and granite was used to build the structure. The project features interior and exterior landscaping with a central water fountain, new irrigation and underground electrical systems and storm water management.
The project was completed three months ahead of schedule and, according to Forrester, under budget.
The columbarium will help extend Arlington National Cemetery’s effective life as a final resting place for the country’s war dead. While the cemetery will always remain open to the public, it will eventually run out of space for new burials.
“Without the Columbarium Court No. 9 expansion, Arlington National Cemetery would have run out of niche space in 2016,” said Kathryn A. Condon, executive director of Army National Military Cemeteries. “By adding more than 20,000 niche spaces for our veterans and their families, Columbarium Court No. 9 is extending the life of the cemetery for years to come.”
Some local residents are fighting another effort to add new burial spaces at the cemetery. Arlington National Cemetery’s Millennium Project will include a new columbarium and additional in-ground burial spaces — for up to 30,000 military veterans and their families — but will also result in the loss of about 800 older trees.
Photos courtesy Forrester Construction and U.S. Army
The work will take place throughout Arlington, and is intended to extend the life of the county’s water infrastructure while forgoing the expense of a complete replacement.
From a county press release:
The Arlington County Board today authorized $1.8 million for the rehabilitation of water mains, many of which have been in service for more than 60 years. The work will take place in neighborhoods across the County and includes the cleaning and relining of aging distribution pipes using a process called Mechanical Cleaning and Cement-Mortar Lining.
“These rehabilitation projects help the County extend the life of water mains and lines, stretch tax dollars, and prevent expensive and disruptive main breaks,” said Arlington County Board Chairman J. Walter Tejada.
Rehabilitation at fraction of replacement cost
Instead of replacing an aging water main, it is possible to rehabilitate the pipe if it is still in good enough condition. Every year, the County selects water mains based on age, frequency of main breaks, and reduction in flow capacity for rehabilitation at a fraction of the cost of new construction and with minimal disruption to the community.
Trenchless rehabilitation means less disruption
Corrosion deposits, known as tubercles, build up naturally over time in older unlined, water main pipes made of iron. The build-up does not normally affect the quality of the water, but it does decrease the capacity of the pipes and can affect water pressure. The trenchless pipe rehabilitation method that Arlington uses involves opening the road at the ends of the pipe segment, instead of cutting the road open along the entire length of the water main, making it less disruptive to traffic near the work area.
Arlington County runs many maintenance programs, such as the water main lining project, to prolong the life and productivity of our infrastructure and facilities. Some other maintenance programs include a distribution valve maintenance program, large valve maintenance program, fire hydrant maintenance program, fire hydrant painting, and annual water main flushing.
The project the Board acted on is part of the Water Main Rehabilitation and Replacement program, which is included in Utilities portion of the FY 2013 – FY 2022 CIP, (Capital Investment Program). D.H.C. Corporation has been selected for the cleaning and cement-mortar lining of Arlington water mains.
When crews work in your neighborhood, you will receive a notice in advance of the project. Temporary service lines are put in service during the work, and flushing is performed to make sure that all water lines are free from any debris that may have entered the system. If you have any questions about your water service in general or as related to one of our maintenance programs, please call 703-228-6555.
The Ashlawn addition proved controversial thanks to opposition to a plan to create a loop road for student drop-off. In the end, the Board approved the addition with the loop road plan, but not before considerable debate and abstentions from Board members Chris Zimmerman and Mary Hynes, according to the Sun Gazette.
Separately, the Board also approved a technical update to reorganize the county’s Zoning Ordinance, as well as an amendment to the ordinance to allow outdoor cafes on private property to operate year-round.
The 1960s-era “Blue Goose” building in Ballston has been named one of the most “endangered historic places” in Arlington.
The nonprofit group Preservation Arlington (the new name of the Arlington Heritage Alliance) released the Most Endangered Historic Places list this morning. Included on the list is the Blue Goose building at 1000 N. Glebe Road, which is currently home to Marymount University’s Ballston campus but is set to be torn down to make way for a new office building and apartment building.
Also on the “endangered” list are Arlington’s National Register of Historic Places neighborhoods, like Lyon Village, Cherrydale, Ashton Heights and Penrose. “The social and architectural fabric of these older neighborhoods is being threatened by over-sized and incompatible in-fill development,” Preservation Arlington says.
Other endangered places in Arlington include the Arlington House woods and Seneca Quarry boundary wall at Arlington National Cemetery, which are also on the Preservation Virginia endangered places list; remaining pieces of track from the Washington & Old Dominion Railway; low-rise commercial buildings from the 1930s-1950s; the Wilson School; and garden apartments on Columbia Pike and in Rosslyn.
Preservation Arlington, which says it is “dedicated to protecting and improving the quality of Arlington’s distinct architectural heritage,” will work to preserve historic places like those on the list through “education and advocacy.”
“Preservation Arlington hopes to influence the future of Arlington’s historic buildings, landscapes and communities,” the group says. It will also organize tours, events and lectures .
See the full Most Endangered Historic Places list, after the jump.
Photos courtesy Preservation Arlington
Norovirus Outbreak at Nottingham Elementary — Dozens of students at Nottingham Elementary School have been sickened in what is believed to be an outbreak of norovirus. The contagious stomach illness causes serious nausea and vomiting. So far, Arlington Public Schools officials have not responded to a request for more information from ARLnow.com. [WJLA]
County Board Not Interested in Meals Tax Changes — In response to a speaker at Saturday’s Arlington County Board meeting who was critical of the county’s 4 percent meals tax, County Board members said they’re not inclined to make any changes to the tax. The meals tax is levied on restaurant bills and on the purchase of prepared meals from grocery stores, on top of the state’s 5 percent sales tax. [Sun Gazette]
Arlington Org Targeted By IRS — The Clarendon-based Leadership Institute, a conservative training organization, says it was among the conservative groups targeted for audits and extra scrutiny by the Internal Revenue Service. [Washington Free Beacon]
Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann