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by ARLnow.com Sponsor — June 29, 2015 at 2:45 pm 0

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This is a sponsored column by attorneys John Berry and Kimberly Berry of Berry & Berry, PLLC, an employment and labor law firm located in Reston that specializes in federal employee, security clearance, retirement, and private sector employee matters.

by John Berry

Employees are entitled to all of their previously earned wages, even if they are terminated. However, for various reasons employers sometimes attempt to avoid paying the last paycheck to a former employee. The nonpayment of wages can cause significant hardship for an employee and can be a costly mistake for an employer. Fortunately, there are several laws and regulations that govern issues related to the nonpayment of wages.

An employer generally should pay an employee’s paycheck by the next pay period. Some states’ laws vary on this issue, but failure to make prompt payment can violate a number of wage and overtime laws (i.e., the Fair Labor Standards Act or FLSA). The Virginia Code § 40.1-29 provides that final payments to a terminated employee should be made on or before the employee would have normally been paid had the employee not been terminated. The Virginia Code imposes civil and criminal penalties for nonpayment of wages by an employer. The Code further prohibits employers from deducting portions of a final payment without the former employee’s consent (except for taxes and regular withholding).

States vary on the issue of whether or not an employee is entitled to receive accrued vacation or sick leave upon an employee’s departure. Virginia has taken the approach that fringe benefits such as vacation/annual/holiday leave, sick leave or severance pay are not required to be paid out by a former employer under the law. In addition, employers may establish any policy or no policy regarding fringe benefits at the termination of an employee.

If an employee in Virginia is confronted with nonpayment of final wage issues, the employee can contact the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry. The Virginia Department of Labor and Industry may assist an employee in obtaining payment of final wages after the employee files a complaint, but it does not handle claims for wages over the amount of $15,000. If the payment of lost wages also involves unpaid overtime, the United States Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division may be contacted and an investigation may be initiated for FLSA overtime violations by the former employer. Additionally, the failure to pay both wages and overtime can be pursued in court.

We represent employees in federal employment matters nationwide, and private and public sector employees in employment matters in the Commonwealth of Virginia, Washington, D.C., and Maryland.  If you need assistance with an employment law issue, please contact our office at (703) 668-0070 or at www.berrylegal.com to schedule a consultation. Please also visit and like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/BerryBerryPllc.

by Heather Mongilio — June 29, 2015 at 11:30 am 0

Startup Monday header

Editor’s Note: Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

Arlington County might have a tech-driven answer for commuters looking to save money and help the environment.

Arlington County Commuter Services (ACCS) and D.C.-based tech firm Conveyal have developed CarFreeAtoZ, a new website that help commuters plan their trip to areas around Northern Virginia and the D.C. area by looking at the different transit options available including Metro, buses, driving, Capital Bikeshare and personal cycling.

CarFreeAtoZ screen shot“Arlington is really thought of as the leader in public transportation in the country,” said Paul Mackie, the communications director at Mobility Lab, the research arm of ACCS.

CarFreeAtoZ plans trips in a manner similar to Google Maps or Mapquest, but it combines different transit options, such as walking, using the Metro and biking. The website is mobile friendly, so users can pull it up on their phones while on the go.

“It’s got more modes than any brand of app,” Mackie said.

Users plug in their current location’s address, the address of where they want to go and the time they’re planning to leave, and then the website calculates the different travel methods. At the moment, the users need to have the exact address as the website cannot find places such as the U.S. Capitol or a specific Metro station.

Commuters can sort the different travel methods by total time, total cost, calories and walking distance. They can also see the cumulative estimated benefits of making the trip via a non-car method on a yearly basis.

For instance, CarFreeAtoZ recommends biking from Fairlington to Rosslyn, estimating that it would save $3,242 plus result in 21 lbs of potential weight loss and a gain of 138 hours of “productive time.” The bike trip takes 36 minutes during the morning rush hour, compared to 18 minutes via car or 43 minutes via transit.

“It actually ranks what would be best for you,” Mackie said.

(more…)

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — June 26, 2015 at 3:35 pm 0

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Editor’s Note: This biweekly column is sponsored by Dominion Wine and Beer (107 Rowell Court, Falls Church). This column is written by Dominion owner Arash Tafakor.

In part one of our red wine blend write up I wrote about the history of the red wine blend market in the United States. Even though winemakers have been making red wine blends for centuries, a new trend of wines that market themselves as just red blends has emerged.

Old World (France, Spain, Italy, Germany) wines such as Bordeaux, Cotes Du Rhone and Rioja are blends, but are under strict regulation as to which grapes winemakers may blend with. New World (United States, Argentina, Chile, South Africa, New Zealand) wines do not have such strict regulation and allow winemakers to use any grape they please. This allows New World winemakers to make delicious red wine blends at a great value. Here are some outstanding red wine blends available at Dominion Wine and Beer.

ApolloOrin Swift Cellars Papillon 2012 Napa, California

Napa Valley’s 2012 growing season saw near perfect conditions. This incredible growing season made it easy for talented winemakers like David Swift Phinney, who founded Orin Swift Cellars, to make outstanding blends. Orin Swift Cellars is best known for the wine “The Prisoner” (which is no longer made by Orin Swift) a high-end blend you can find anywhere. Now Orin Swift Cellars makes a variety of blends sourced from all over the world.  The 2012 Papillon is definitely a step up from the original Prisoner.  A Bordeaux-style blend of Cabernet, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Malbec and Cabernet Franc, the 2012 Papillon delivers a delicious full-bodied blend.  Scoring 93 points from Robert Parker, you should grab this bottle while it lasts.

Coup de GraceCoup de Grâce Red Blend 2012 Lodi, California

Coup de Grâce has been a winner for us ever since we introduced it to our customers. A Zinfandel dominated blend, Coup de Grâce is made in a truly original California Red Blend style (Zinfandel driven). Other grapes used for Coup de Grâce blend are Petite Sirah, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc. Coup de Grâce is rich and full of character with blackberry, licorice, spice and earth notes intertwined with soft oak flavors.*

 

Wrangler redShannon Ridge Wrangler Red 2012 Lake County, California

Wrangler Red is perfect for wine lovers who enjoy wines such as Apothic Red and Ménage à Trois.
This value blend is silky smooth and tastes like a wine twice the price. A blend of mostly Zinfandel and Syrah, Wrangler Red is deep in color and consists of flavors of blackberry, cinnamon spice and sweet vanilla. A rich wine that finishes with soft silky tannins. Grapes used to produce Wrangler Red came from higher elevation vineyards of the up and coming appellation of Lake County California.

*winemaker’s notes

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

Just Listed in Arlington

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — June 26, 2015 at 8:30 am 884 0

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Just Listed highlights Arlington properties that just came on the market within the past week. This feature is written and sponsored by Team Cathell, “Your Orange Line Specialists.”

Buyers outpaced sellers this week in the Arlington real estate market with 72 ratified contracts and only 66 fresh new listings.

Buyer activity remains strong spurred by media reports of impending mortgage rate increases. But rates this week held steady at 4.125% for 30-yr fixed rate jumbo.

There were reports this week that the Fed would start raising rates later this year. But Fed rates do not directly influence mortgage rates. Rather, mortgage rates are influenced primarily by the yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury and other bond markets.

The average list price for those ratified contracts was $680,000 and average days on market jumped to 42 due to several sales of homes that had been on the market a year. Prices ranged from $135,000 to a $2.8 million luxury condo in Rosslyn.

Nationally, sales of existing homes are up by 11.4 percent.

You can access all active listings in Arlington on the Cathell Team website.

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — June 25, 2015 at 2:30 pm 335 0

Rental Report header

Editor’s Note: This biweekly sponsored column is written by Rick Gersten, founder and CEO of Urban Igloo, a rental real estate firm that matches up renters with their ideal apartments, condos or houses. Please submit any questions in the comments section or via email.

So you’ve searched and interviewed potential roommates, and you’ve finally found someone you think fits the bill. There are still a few things to work out.

The Lease – In Virginia, anyone over the age of 18 will need to apply and qualify for any rental, and all roommates will be named on the lease. This makes you jointly and severally liable, meaning no matter what, all parties named on the lease are financially responsible. Regardless of whether or not you both live there for the full term. So if your roommate bails, you are still 100% responsible for the apartment. Likewise, if you take off, you are absolutely still responsible for the remainder of the rent payments.

Roommate Agreement – It is a good idea to draft some sort of roommate agreement. While you certainly don’t need to be as detailed as Sheldon, it might be good to know if your roommate does expect a ride to work every day, or if they expect to split their bi-weekly Costco expenses with you. Hammer out the important details as to how you will split utilities, and who is responsible for making the payments. Does the other party want proof of payment?

The last thing that you want is to come home to no lights, or an eviction notice on the door when you paid your portion of the bills. Is rent split evenly, or did one of you say they will pay more for the bigger bedroom? Get that in writing. What about buying essential supplies like toilet paper and cleaning supplies? What about chores? You don’t necessarily have to have full details here, but note some general expectations on cleanliness. You may also want to cover expectations on pets and guests.

Useful Tools – Luckily, the daily business of roommate life is pretty simple these days. A few apps can make your arrangement a smooth operation. Check out Homeslice, which is basically a project management tool for roommates. There is a Whiteboard that is basically the app dashboard showing all the messages, chores, supplies and bills due. Once your roommate posts that you owe $27.05 for the electric, you can head over to Venmo to pay them your portion.

Be sure to not to get clever on your payment description, save your emojis for happy hour and late night pizza, and actually post what you are paying for so you have a record. Lastly, you can use something like Cozy for your rent payment. It is free, everyone can submit their portion of the payment and send over one payment to your landlord.

While some of this might seem a bit dry, it is important to treat a roommate relationship as a business, as that is exactly what it is. You are making a financial commitment to someone, and you want to make sure the business side is handled, so you can then move forward to enjoying life, and perhaps making a lifelong friend.

Have a rental-related question you’d like Rental Report to answer? Email it to [email protected].

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — June 24, 2015 at 3:30 pm 419 0

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The following weekly column is written and sponsored by Virginia Hospital Center, a proud member of the Mayo Clinic Care Network and one of America’s 100 Top Hospitals for the third year in a row.

Passport? Check. Plane ticket? Check. Hotel reservation? Check. Ready to go? Not quite. There’s one more item for your travel checklist: Visit the Virginia Hospital Center Physician Group Travel Clinic for your vaccinations.

Before you plan your next vacation, consider this: some types of international travel carry health risks. Many serious illnesses, including typhoid and yellow fever, are widespread in developing countries. Diseases that are rare in the United States, such as polio, can still be found in other parts of the world. Measles occurs in many countries, including common travel destinations in Europe and Asia. Even domestic travel may put you at risk for certain infections depending on your planned activities.

Immunization is one of the best ways to protect yourself. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends you schedule an appointment with a healthcare provider before your trip to ensure you are ready to travel. Discuss your itinerary and determine if any special immunizations are required. In addition, make sure you are current on all your routine vaccines, such as polio, tetanus and MMR (measles).

Immunizations are most effective when given four to six weeks before traveling. A good rule of thumb: book your shots when you book your flight. If your departure date is sooner, have the shots anyway. The protection will still be beneficial.

Typical travel vaccines include:

  • Hepatitis A and B
  • Influenza
  • MMR (measles)
  • Pneumonia
  • Polio
  • Rabies
  • Tetanus/Diphtheria/Pertussis
  • Typhoid
  • Yellow Fever

When you get your vaccines, ask about medications, preventive care and other recommendations to keep your travels healthy. Depending on your destination, for example, you may want to bring along remedies for diarrhea, allergies or altitude sickness. In some areas, it’s wise to only eat food that is cooked or drink bottled water that is sealed. Your needs will be different if you are camping versus staying in a resort. To read more, click here.

The Virginia Hospital Center Physician Group Travel Clinic has the vaccines and expertise you need for a safe and healthful vacation. We follow CDC guidelines and can accommodate next-day appointments if necessary. Located on the Virginia Hospital Center campus at 1715 George Mason Drive, Suite 305, the clinic is open Monday through Friday, 1-4 p.m. Make your appointment today: 703.717.7851.

Bon voyage!

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — June 24, 2015 at 1:00 pm 618 0

This week’s Arlington Pet of the Week is Simon, aka Bushnamumu, a tabby cat whose greatest skill is “being super duper cute.”

Here’s what Simon had to say about himself, as relayed by owner Alicia:

Hello, my name is Simon but I prefer to go by Bushnamumu (my owners call me that). I am a shorthair tabby cat with white fur and little stripes on my head! I love to play with my laser pointer and my various toys. But, my favorite activity is being super duper cute.

I was adopted fairly recently. When I was adopted from the shelter I was so small and underfed. It was so tragic. My life at the shelter was not ideal. But then one day i found my family. They took care of me and still do. They fed me and gave me love so slowly but surely I gained some weight and learned how to play! I even started to meow.

I prefer being indoors but lately I have taken the time to explore outside. I am a friendly and lovely cat! Thank you so much for considering me for Arlington’s Pet of the Week.

Want your pet to be considered for the Arlington Pet of the Week? Email [email protected] with a 2-3 paragraph bio and at least 3-4 horizontally-oriented photos of your pet.

Each week’s winner receives a sample of dog or cat treats from our sponsor, Becky’s Pet Care, along with $100 in Becky’s Bucks. Becky’s Pet Care, the winner of three Angie’s List Super Service Awards and the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters’ 2013 Business of the Year, provides professional dog walking and pet sitting services in Arlington and Northern Virginia.

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — June 23, 2015 at 3:30 pm 873 0

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This regularly-scheduled sponsored Q&A  column is written by Will Wiard, Arlington-based real estate broker, voted one of Washington’s Best Realtors of 2015 by Washingtonian. Please submit your questions via email.

Q: I’m in the process of buying a home and have submitted a few offers that have been out bid. Is there anything I can do to improve my chances?

A: Buying a home in the Arlington can be highly competitive, particularly is there is limited inventory in your price range. You are not alone if you are having trouble navigating the bidding process. It can be tricky, but there are ways to improve your chances. Here are a few tips:

If possible, try to match the seller’s timeframe to close. While your offer may be competitive, your bid may not be selected because your timeframe to close does not match the sellers. If you have some flexibility on a closing date, ask your agent to speak with the listing agent to determine the seller’s motivations and if a shorter time frame would help improve your chances of having your bid selected.

Submit an offer at a competitive price. If you submit an offer lower than the listing price in an area where the comparable home sales support the listing price your chances of being out bid are higher. However, if you match the listing price and are still out bid your only option is often to offer more.

When buyers find themselves in this situation, they may want to consider offering more than the listing price, but ensure the offer is contingent on appraisal so in the end they don’t pay more than market value. This strategy could help you win in a bidding war and keep you from paying more than the house is worth.

Take a close look at your loan and lender. In some cases the amount of your down payment or loan terms can give you a competitive edge. Some sellers like to see a buyer with a higher down payment or a lender they are familiar with. When it comes down to these nuances, the seller is often looking for the deal that appears more likely to close within the ideal timeframe and less likely to fall through due to lender not meeting the closing date or approving the loan.

Be willing to discuss the removal of contract addendums. The selling agent may ask to waive some or all of the contract contingencies, which may occur when there are multiple offers on the home. Make sure to discuss each contingency with your agent and your options before removing them from the contract.

For example, the seller may ask to have the home inspection addendum removed. Instead of removing this addendum, you may want to replace it with a home inspection for informational purposes or a shorter home inspection timeframe. Removing the home inspection might not be a good idea, however – make sure to talk through the pros and cons with your agent.

Stand out with a personalized cover letter. If you’re competing with other buyers, including a cover letter personalizes the offer and illustrates for the seller why you want purchase the property. It can make all the difference for some buyers.

I’m hoping readers can share any additional advice in the comment section below.

Thank you for this week’s question. Please keep them coming to [email protected]. This is also a great place to reach me if you’re looking to buy or sell a home in the Arlington area.

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

 

by Heather Mongilio — June 22, 2015 at 12:45 pm 935 0

Startup Monday header

Editor’s Note: Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

Snagajob motto and new "snagger"Arlington residents looking for a new job need to look no further than down the street or at their phones.

Snagajob, a national business that helps connect hourly workers with employers, recently opened up an Arlington location at 1110 N. Glebe Road.

The company is all technology-based. Job seekers can go to snagajob.com or download the Snagajob app available on the Apple Store and on Android stores. From there job seekers, can browse jobs based on location, position, time commitment and more.

And while the Richmond-based, venture-funded company is all online, opening up a new Arlington location allowed to company to reach the workforce pool in the area as well as more employers, said Viyas Sundaram, the senior vice president of sales for the company.

“It really was a connector for us for a pool that expands from Leesburg, Richmond to Baltimore,” Sundaram said.

The company has been in Arlington since last August, he said, but is planning an official opening on July 22. At the opening, the company will be sharing stories of people who have found jobs through Snagajob and celebrating the employers that used Snagajob to post job listings.

Snagajob employeesWhile the company is reaching out to employers and job seekers across the country, Sundaram said Arlington residents are using the service. The biggest employers in Arlington posting openings are Macy’s, Chipotle, Jimmy Johns, Wendys and “any franchise you can imagine,” he said.

Snagajob is also looking for new “snaggers,” the term the company uses for its own employers. Interested candidates have to look no further than the Snagajob website for these openings.

“We are actively looking for good talent and happy to speak to anyone who’s interested,” Sundaram said.

While Snagajob came to Arlington for the location, its office model fits in with the new trend of coworking and work-life balance found in the county.

“We view ourselves as sort of the next generation of the corporate experience,” Sundaram said.

The Snagajob office is large with plenty of open space for employees to move around. Each chair has a bright orange Snagjob jersey on it. The kitchen area is part of the work space with a bar and in the middle of the room is a large flatscreen with a game console and bean bag chairs.

Snagajob kitchen and lounge area

The work-life balance is important to Snagajob, Sundaram said. The company is looking for “someone who’s interested in a fulfilling experience instead of an actual job,” he said.

Part of working for Snagajob is giving back to the community. The company encourages its employees to volunteer by offering paid time off in exchange for hours spent volunteering.

Wellness is also important to the company. Some employees work at standing desks and the company also promotes it through activities like massages.

“We’re very, very focused on that balance of working hard but also taking care of each other,” Sundaram said.

Snagajob standing desk and jerseys

The company strives on its teamwork and competition model, he said.

“The competition and teamwork combined with communication make our team more of a family than a workplace,” Sundaram said.

While the competition is part of the actual work of an employee, it is also heavily featured in team building activities.

Employees all participate in Office Olympics, which includes activities like chair dancing and chair soccer.

“It’s fun,” Sundaram said of working for Snagajob. “That’s probably the word that describes is best.”

Just Listed in Arlington

by ARLnow.com — June 19, 2015 at 8:00 am 958 0

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Just Listed highlights Arlington properties that just came on the market within the past week. This feature is written and sponsored by Team Cathell, “Your Orange Line Specialists.”

The season of graduations and weddings hasn’t slowed Arlington’s real estate market.

It continues at a strong pace with 88 new listings this week and 88 properties sold. That is better than would normally be expected as we slide into the summer.

The prices for both new listings and ratified contracts ranged from $145,000 to about $2 million. The average days on market has held steady at 32.

Mortgage interest rates this week dipped a few basis points to about 4.125% for 30-yr fixed rate. This week’s fresh inventory brought so many great properties it was difficult selecting only eight.

Click on the link below to see all active listings in Arlington.

You can access all active listings in Arlington on the Cathell Team website.

by ARLnow.com — June 18, 2015 at 3:00 pm 491 0

Healthy Paws

Editor’s Note: Healthy Paws is a new column sponsored and written by the owners of Clarendon Animal Care, a full-service, general practice veterinary clinic. The clinic is located 3000 10th Street N., Suite B. and can be reached at 703-997-9776.

Ticks are one of the most common ectoparasites (on the skin) found on pets.

They are of particular concern because they can transmit potentially serious diseases to both humans and their pets. While it is fortunately very unlikely for a tick to transmit a particular disease directly from a dog to a human, or vice versa, our pets can act as important sentinels of disease in our environment — i.e. if a dog has tested positive for exposure to the causative organism of Lyme disease, it indicates an environmental risk to the human parents as well.

The four most common ticks found in this part of the U.S. and the diseases they can carry and transmit are:

(Side-by-side pictures of the ticks described above can be found here)

According to the Companion Animal Parasite Council, 1 in 35 dogs in Arlington County has tested positive for exposure to Ehrlichia species, 1 in 18 has tested positive for exposure to the organism that causes Lyme disease (Borrelia burdgorferi), and 1 in 458 has tested positive for exposure to Anaplasma.

Many of the tick-borne diseases, including Lyme, Ehrlichiosis, Anaplasmosis, and RMSF, can cause abnormalities in the white blood cells, red blood cells, and/or platelets, as well as fever, enlarged lymph nodes, enlarged spleen, joint pain, and/or general malaise.

Tick paralysis is a potentially serious condition caused by a neurotoxin from the saliva of certain ticks, typically after they have been attached for at least several days. Symptoms start with weakness and can progress to paralysis and even death if the dog is unable to breath. Removal or death/detachment of the tick will result in a quick improvement of symptoms, often within hours.

(more…)

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — June 17, 2015 at 2:10 pm 1,873 0

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The following weekly column is written and sponsored by Virginia Hospital Center, a proud member of the Mayo Clinic Care Network and one of America’s 100 Top Hospitals for the third year in a row.

Thwack-thwack, thwack-thwack.

Hear that sound? It’s flip flop season. The summertime staple with the distinctive soundtrack may be synonymous with laid-back fun, but the flimsy footwear is actually putting your body at risk. The more you wear the sandals, the greater those risks grow.

Flip-flops offer no ankle or arch support, heel cushioning or shock absorption – all of which cause problems in both the short and long term. Issues range from sore or injured feet to more serious health concerns such as stress fractures, joint pain and spinal injuries.

Feeble Footwear

With your feet unprotected and exposed, you’re susceptible to a host of trouble including stubbed or broken toes, blisters, cuts and scrapes, even bacterial infections. Poor arch support puts stress on your feet and ankles, which can lead to misalignment in other parts of the body. Lack of ankle support means one false step off the curb and you could find yourself with a painful sprain. Likewise, if you step on something sharp, it will easily puncture the thin piece of rubber between you and the ground.

Heel cushioning is critical to protect your feet. Without it, you risk pain when the ligaments are stretched too far or too tight. Severe overstretching can cause plantar fasciitis – painful inflammation of tissues on the bottom of the foot. Shock absorption protects more than just your feet. If the shock is not absorbed appropriately from the ground it gets transmitted to other parts of the body such as the legs, hips, knees and back. Over time, the simple act of wearing flip-flops could turn into painful spinal injuries.

Flip flops can even change the way you walk. Studies show you take shorter strides when wearing the sandals which causes your toes to curl too tightly. Long-term arch and heel pain can lead to bone spurs and even stress fractures of the metatarsals, the five long bones that reach out to the toes. 

Highway Hazards

You don’t have to be walking to be at risk. There’s growing evidence that flip flops make driving more dangerous. Every year, thousands of motorists report getting one stuck under a pedal, and research shows that they may be even more hazardous than high heels when it comes to braking effectively.

Prevention Tips

How do you prevent problems and still enjoy your summer friends? “You must support the arch to have a pain free foot so wear flip flops on a minimal basis during the summer season,” recommends Rudolph Anderson, Jr., DPM. Wear your flip flops for short periods of time and replace them frequently. If you want longer wear, shop for brands that offer arch support. Never wear flip flops while driving.

If you’re experiencing foot or ankle pain, don’t ignore it! Foot bone alignment guides body alignment, so pain that begins in the feet can move to other areas such as your legs, hips, knees and spine. Rudolph C. Anderson, Jr., DPM with the Virginia Hospital Center Physician Group – Podiatry can identify and correct small problems before they become big ones. Schedule an appointment today: 703.940.3810.

For more information about Foot & Ankle conditions and treatment options, please visit VirginiaHospitalCenter.com.

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

by Heather Mongilio — June 17, 2015 at 11:15 am 1,003 0

This week’s Arlington Pet of the Week is Dog, a two-year-old male miniature poodle who likes to hike and jog.

Here is what Dog’s owner said about his pooch’s adventures:

This is Dog. Almost a year ago through Lucky Dog Animal Rescue I picked him up outside of Dogma in Shirlington. Originally, from a high kill shelter in South Carolina the rescue and vet believe him to be a puppy mill dog who outgrew his stay and was abandoned. When I first got him he was very timid and shy and preferred to hang out in the back of his crate. He didn’t like being handled and approached people tentatively.  His paws were still pink from never being allowed to walk and play. Today he’s an active, playful, and cuddly monster.

Through training him he acquired his name, “Dog.” “Dog, sit!” “Dog, stay!” “Lie down, Dog,” etc. Dog was a quick learner and is eager to please…especially if there are treats. Dog is estimated to be around two years old and a miniature poodle. Depending on the human, he’s also claimed to be a Bischon, Terrier, or King Charles Cavilier. I don’t care much about his breeding. I just know he’s an amazing pet.

Dog clocks in at a whopping 13.5 lbs. But, don’t let his size fool you he isn’t the typical small dog! He loves challenging hikes and coming with me on jogs around the neighborhood. He’s gone biking, hiking, wine tasting, jetskiing, kayaking, and stand-up paddle boarding.  e’s also pretty content napping in your lap, chilling in the living to watch tv, or hanging out under chairs while the humans brunch.

Want your pet to be considered for the Arlington Pet of the Week? Email [email protected] with a 2-3 paragraph bio and at least 3-4 horizontally-oriented photos of your pet.

Each week’s winner receives a sample of dog or cat treats from our sponsor, Becky’s Pet Care, along with $100 in Becky’s Bucks. Becky’s Pet Care, the winner of three Angie’s List Super Service Awards and the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters’ 2013 Business of the Year, provides professional dog walking and pet sitting services in Arlington and Northern Virginia.

Ask Will: Renting Vs. Owning

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — June 16, 2015 at 2:30 pm 1,397 0

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This regularly-scheduled sponsored Q&A column is written by Will Wiard, an Arlington-based real estate broker. Please submit your questions via email.

Q: My partner and I have been renting an apartment in Arlington for the last few years and are considering taking the next step to purchase a home. Many of our friends are new homeowners, and while some say the process was seamless, others say the exact opposite. Do you have any advice on renting vs. owning?

A: For some people buying a home makes the most sense, but for others renting may be the best option (at least for now). Here are some things to consider:

Are you staying in the area? If so, for how long? Purchasing a home often makes more sense if you are planning to stay in the area for the next three to five years, or longer. However, renting is typically a better option if you can’t see yourself sticking around for more than a few years. Maybe you have a career that will take you to another city, or you are planning to attend grad school – regardless, it might not make sense to sell or even rent a home within a few years of purchase if you’re planning to move.

Is now a good time for a property investment? If you have a steady income, and feel financially comfortable, it may be a good time to invest in your own home. Another sign you may be there – if your current rental rate is more than what you would pay for a mortgage, buying may be a good option. You can find out more about potential mortgage rates by talking with a local lender, and explore pricing of nearby homes by connecting with a realtor.

How much $$ do you have saved for a down payment? How much you need really depends on your price point and ideal monthly mortgage rate. One thing many first-time home buyers may not know, is that you can secure the loan and make the purchase with what some may consider a relatively small down payment. Keep in mind, financing a home goes beyond securing funding for a down payment and loan. Many transactions also include fees to cover closing costs, the home inspection, an appraisal, moving expenses, and more. While few zero percent down loans may exist, there are loans available that allow you to put much less than 20% down.

Do you want to save on taxes? Who doesn’t?! As a homeowner, property taxes and mortgage interest are deductible, and can be particularly beneficial for individuals in higher tax brackets. There are certainly costs associated with homeownership, including upkeep, which means some of these deductions will offset, but the tax savings can still offer a nice return come April.

Do you think your ready to take the next step? Read more about the home-buying process in my post from last week.

I’m hoping readers can share any additional advice in the comment section below.

Thank you for this week’s question. Please keep them coming to [email protected]. This is also a great place to reach me for anyone looking to buy or sell a home in the Arlington area.

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — June 15, 2015 at 3:45 pm 746 0

Berry&Berry2

This is a sponsored column by attorneys John Berry and Kimberly Berry of Berry & Berry, PLLC, an employment and labor law firm located in Reston Town Center that specializes in federal employee, security clearance, retirement, and private sector employee matters.

The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) is the federal agency that processes court orders that properly articulate awards of federal retirement-related benefits to the former spouses of federal employees. The rules governing court-ordered retirement benefits for divorced federal employees and their former spouses are detailed and complex. Therefore, federal employees and their spouses should consider the following general advice if they are facing a divorce involving the division of federal retirement benefits.

  • Be proactive. Federal employees and their spouses should be aware of the special rules governing federal retirement benefits while negotiating the terms of their divorce. We recommend utilizing a family law attorney who is familiar with these specialized regulations and consulting with a federal retirement attorney who can advise on these complex regulations. Far too often, OPM will deny court orders due to the court order’s failure to meet the regulatory requirements. In such case, the parties will most likely need to seek an amendment to their court order in family court and submit the amended court order to OPM for processing.
  • Cover your bases. Federal employees have a variety of different retirement benefits, many of which can be shared or assigned to former spouses after divorce by court order. The family law attorney should be aware of the types of benefits available, including:  a monthly marital share apportionment (i.e., a portion of the federal retiree’s annuity); a survivor annuity benefit; a portion of the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP); and coverage under the Federal Employees Health Benefit (FEHB) and the Federal Employees Group Life Insurance (FEGLI) benefits plans. The parties to a divorce can decide the fairest division of these potential assets by familiarizing themselves with each of these types of federal benefits.
  • Pre-retirement check. We recommend that federal employees meet with a federal agency benefits specialist well in advance of their desired retirement date to discuss their retirement. The federal agency benefits specialist should be able to provide guidance and instructions on how to properly complete retirement paperwork and provide a retirement benefits estimate for the federal employee.

In addition, if the federal employee and his/her former spouse wish to create a survivor annuity benefit, this should be done before the federal employee’s date of retirement. It is incredibly difficult, and often times prohibited, to make modifications post-retirement to a survivor annuity benefit. Therefore, we recommend that all potential issues with survivor annuity benefits be confirmed and corrected in advance of the official retirement date.

Given the unique rules that govern federal retirement benefits, it is highly recommended that federal employees utilize an attorney who is familiar with the proper division of federal retirement benefits in court orders.

Our law firm represents and advises federal employees in federal retirement and other employment matters. If you need legal assistance, please contact our office at (703) 668-0070 or at www.berrylegal.com to schedule a consultation. Please also visit and like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/BerryBerryPllc.

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