The USS Arlington, which was commissioned last year in Norfolk, has opened a tribute room in honor of the victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
The room was funded in part by donations from Arlington County and local residents and organizations. It includes a quilt with the names of the 184 victims of the attack on the Pentagon, sewn by 8th grade students at Arlington’s Thomas Jefferson Middle School.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony for the tribute room was held late last week.
Arlington Two-Year-Old Has ‘Read’ 1,000+ Books — A two-year-old Arlington girl has read — or, at least, had her parents read — 1,000 books so far. The girl is the poster child for Arlington Public Library’s new “1,000 Books Before Kindergarten” program, which encourages parents to help children build language skills by reading what amounts to about one book a day. [Washington Post]
Jose Andres Products Coming to Whole Foods — A new line of Spanish oils, vinegars, olives and “easy-to-make paella kits” from Chef Jose Andres, of Jaleo fame, will be coming to Whole Foods stores around the Washington area next month. [Washington Business Journal]
Road Closures for 9/11 Heroes Race — A number of roads in the Crystal City and Arlington Ridge areas will be closed Saturday morning for the 9/11 Heroes 5K Race. Parking restrictions will also be in place. [Arlington County]
Arlington County held a brief ceremony at Courthouse Plaza Wednesday morning to commemorate the 12th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
Dozens of police officers, sheriff’s deputies and civilian observers gathered to partake in a moment of silence at 9:37 a.m., the moment when, 12 years ago, a plane hit the Pentagon, killing 184 people inside.
Following the moment of silence, a member of the Arlington County Police Department honor guard performed “Taps” on the trumpet while officers lowered the American flag and the flag of the Commonwealth of Virginia to half-staff for the day.
The event still start at 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 11, outsize the Courthouse Plaza county government building at 2100 Clarendon Blvd.
A moment of silence will be observed at 9:37 a.m., marking the time that American Airlines Flight 77 flew into the Pentagon. The silence will be followed by a playing of “Taps” and a lowering of the flag to half-staff.
Arlington County’s combined police, fire and sheriff color guard will be on hand, as will Sheriff Beth Arthur, Chief of Police Doug Scott and Fire Chief James Schwartz.
The event is open to the public.
On Saturday, Sept. 7 at 6:00 p.m., the Police, Fire & Sheriff 9/11 Memorial 5K will run for the 11th year. The race starts and ends at the Double Tree Hotel in Pentagon City at 300 Army Navy Drive.
Since its first running in 2002, the 5K has raised more than $400,000 for charities affiliated with 9/11. This year, proceeds will go to Segs4Vets and Project Enduring Pride. Registration is $35 until Sept. 1, and $40 until race day. The race is limited to 4,000 participants.
The following week will be the 9/11 Heroes Run, Saturday, Sept. 14 at 8:30 a.m. The 5K will begin on 23rd Street S. between Fern and Eads Streets, in Crystal City. Registration is $30, but only those who register before Sept. 1 are guaranteed a race shirt and finishers dogtag.
Proceeds from the Heroes Run will go to the Travis Manion Foundation, set up to help Travis Mills, a quadruple-amputee who was wounded in Afghanistan by an Improvised Explosive Device.
SmartTrip Card for Students — Arlington Transit is rolling out a new SmarTrip card specifically for middle and high school students. The card will entitle students to discounted, $0.75 ART bus rides. The card can be purchased for $3.00 starting on Sept. 3 at Arlington Commuter Stores. [Arlington Transit]
Nauck Profiled by Post — The Washington Post’s Real Estate section has profiled Arlington’s Nauck neighborhood, also known as Green Valley. Properties currently on the market in Nauck range from a $109,000 efficiency condo to a $1.2 million six-bedroom house. [Washington Post]
Arlington to Hold 9/11 Commemoration — Arlington County will hold a public event to remember the 184 victims of the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon. The event will be held at 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 11, on the plaza in front of the county office building in Courthouse (2100 Clarendon Blvd). [Arlington County]
Jack Melnick Dies — Lifelong Arlington resident and former General Assembly member John “Jack” Melnick died on Wednesday at the age of 78. A funeral service will be held next week. In addition to representing Arlington County in Richmond, one of Melnick’s claims to fame was being the owner of an impeccably restored 1931 Ford Model A. [Sun Gazette]
Town Hall for 9/11 Responders — Two town hall-style meetings will be held next week in Arlington for responders to the Pentagon on (and, in some cases, after) Sept. 11, 2001. Firefighters, police officers, cleanup and construction crews and Red Cross volunteers who responded to the Pentagon in the aftermath of the terrorist attack are now eligible for a federal health care program specifically for 9/11 survivors and responders. [Patch]
Preservation Arlington Lauds ‘Three Sisters’ Development — Preservation Arlington is lauding a residential development in Cherrydale. The group says a project to build two new houses on a half acre site on the 1800 block of N. Randolph Street properly took into account the history of the site and the architectural style of the original house on the property. [Preservation Arlington]
Photo courtesy @LemurFestival
The annual America’s 9/11 Ride is passing through Arlington this afternoon.
The riders are expected to head eastbound on I-66 around 2:45 p.m., before motoring southbound on Route 110 and arriving at the Double Tree hotel in Pentagon City (300 Army Navy Drive) by 3:15 p.m. In past years, Arlington County police have set up rolling road closures to ensure safe passage of the convoy.
The bikers started the day at the Flight 93 crash site in Shanksville, Pa. They will spend the night in Pentagon City and will hold an event in the Pentagon parking lot early tomorrow morning, before departing for New York City around 7:00 a.m.
Photo courtesy edobson22207
Funeral for Arlington Firefighter Injured on 9/11 — A funeral will be held today for an Arlington firefighter who was a first responder on 9/11. Phillip McKee III suffered a severe leg injury while battling fires at the Pentagon following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attack. He also inhaled toxic dust and later suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder. His family says McKee, 41, died from complications from those injuries. McKee, who held degrees from Yale and Harvard, was openly gay and is survived by his husband and partner of 15 years. [Washington Blade]
County Officials: No Subsidies for Gov’t Agencies — With the county still reeling from the impending loss of the National Science Foundation, Arlington officials are sticking to their guns and saying that offering tax breaks and other financial incentives to lure federal agencies is bad policy. Arlington Economic Development Director Terry Holzheimer is pushing for the General Services Administration to disclose additional information related to the decision to move the NSF to Alexandria by 2017. “None of it makes any sense,” Holzheimer said of the decision and its impact to other government tenants in Ballston. [Washington Business Journal]
Bluemont Trail Improvements – Arlington County crews will be widening a section of the Bluemont Trail between Buchanan Street and the Ballston Holiday Inn this month. Crews will also be removing obstructions and landscaping around the trail. [Bike Arlington]
SUPERNOVA Photos — Dozens of artists invaded public spaces in Rosslyn over the weekend for the SUPERNOVA Performance Art Festival. Some of the artists and their performances can be seen in a series of photos published the the Ode Street Tribune blog.
Democratic Primary Today — Democrats will go to the polls today in Virginia to vote in the primary for lieutenant governor and attorney general. Among the candidates is Arlington resident Aneesh Chopra, who’s running for lieutenant governor. Polls will remain open in Arlington from 6:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. [Arlington County]
The Arlington, which will carry an expeditionary force of Marines and vehicles to hot spots around the world, arrived in port to the sound of sirens. Arlington and Pentagon first responders were on hand for the event, and sounded their sirens in tribute to the 184 people who lost their lives in the Sept. 11, 2001 attack on the Pentagon.
Three new San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ships — the USS Arlington, USS New York and USS Somerset — were named in honor of the victims of 9/11.
“The newest addition to the fleet, Arlington and its crew are a tangible tribute to honor the victims, heroes, and survivors,” the Navy said in a press release. “Her strength and fortitude are not only reflected in the ship’s crest and motto, but in the fact that her crew of 400 Sailors and Marines have worked diligently to ensure she is ready to execute the mission of the Navy, representing America, and Arlington County, around the world.”
The Arlington is “designed to be the most survivable amphibious vessel ever put to sea,” the Navy said.
“The ship combines 21st century amphibious shipbuilding and warfighting technologies to support current and future Marine Corps aircraft and landing craft, and will be capable of taking nearly 1,200 Sailors and Marines into harm’s way,” the Navy said.
Numerous Arlington first responders and elected officials are expected to attend the ship’s commissioning on April 6.
Photos courtesy U.S. Navy and Frank O’Leary. Video courtesy U.S. Navy.
The matter of keeping up with current technology is prompting county workers to investigate whether Arlington’s 911 system can soon upgrade and add a texting option. While it appears texting eventually will be added to the mix, it isn’t imminent.
“Certainly texting is something we want to get to, especially when someone is in a compromised position where they can’t talk on the phone,” said Arlington County Office of Emergency Management Director Jack Brown. “It’s something I believe is in the future.”
A few communities across the country — such as parts of Tennessee, Iowa, North Carolina and Vermont — have implemented or are experimenting with “Next Generation 911.” The Federal Communications Commission — which in 2010 held a press conference at Arlington’s Emergency Communication Center touting Next Gen 911 technology — announced in December that the top four cell phone carriers in America agreed to speed up the availability of the service, ensuring that 90 percent of the country’s cell phone users would have the capability by May 2014.
Although cell phones will be enabled for emergency texting, few 911 dispatch centers have the ability to receive texts. The Next Gen 911 systems are largely in their infancy and gaps exist to such a degree that officials in Arlington prefer to wait until the technology becomes further perfected.
“We want to put our money and time into the right place the first time,” said Emergency Communications Center (ECC) Deputy Commander Jeff Horwitz. “Prematurely, a resource could be more harmful than waiting to release it. So we’re really nervous about people sending texts to 911 before it’s ready.”
The current programs do not have provisions to allow 911 dispatchers to immediately determine a text sender’s location like they can with a phone call. Some communities moved forward with the texting system even without the ability to pinpoint where an emergency occurred, but Arlington is not willing to take that risk. Additionally, the texting system doesn’t allow dispatchers to determine if a person is quietly awaiting more instructions or if the emergency has resolved itself.
“When you hang up, our system knows you dropped a call. When you text, I don’t know when you’re done. Are you there? Are you being attacked? Are you unconscious? I don’t have any info telling me your call is dropped,” Horwitz said.
Perhaps the most pressing concern surrounding emergency texting is the inability to communicate immediately with callers. Although situations arise in which callers cannot speak to dispatchers, such instances are relatively rare. Typically, dispatchers are able to get more information from callers, soothe them and even offer potentially life saving assistance. It would prove far more difficult for dispatchers to help someone administer CPR, for example, if the person attempted to text while doing chest compressions.
“We really like to be able to talk to the people,” Brown said. “I can just envision someone texting 911 and someone trying to text back instructions. We haven’t worked that out yet.”
Both Horwitz and Brown stressed that implementing a flawed system could prove disastrous. Arlington had a glimpse into the seriousness of a failed 911 system during last year’s derecho, and nobody is interested in repeating that type of scenario.
Art from 9/11 Children Displayed at Pentagon — Art created by the children of those who lost their life on Sept. 11, 2001 is now on display at the Pentagon. It’s the first large-scale exhibit of the art, which was created by more than 500 children at a summer camp for the children of 9/11 victims. [WJLA]
Long-Form Article Examines Torrez Case — The Washington Examiner’s Harry Jaffe takes a close look at the case of former Marine Jorge Torrez, who is currently serving five consecutive life sentences for the abduction of two Arlington women and the abduction and brutal rape of another in February 2010. Torrez will face a death penalty trial next year for the murder of Navy petty officer Amanda Jean Snell. [Washingtonian]
Book Dating Returns to Shirlington Library — The Shirlington Branch Library (4200 Campbell Avenue) is calling all single bookworms for a “speed book dating” event. Participants are encouraged to bring a couple books they found interesting, and will then be given 3 minutes to discuss them with each potential date. [Shirlington Village Blog Spot]
Affordable Housing Complex Reopens — The Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing has reopened the 111-unit Buchanan Gardens apartment complex on Columbia Pike following major renovations. [Washington Post]
Arlington Foundation Raises Millions — The Arlington Community Foudnation has so far raised $4 million on its way to a goal of raising $15 million. The foundation “raises capital for grants and scholarships to address community needs now and in the future.” [Sun Gazette]
Flickr pool photo by Jeff Gamble
Remembering 9/11 at the Pentagon — President Obama is expected to speak at a private ceremony at the Pentagon today commemorating the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. A moment of silence will be observed at 9:37 a.m., the exact moment that five hijackers flew American Airlines Flight 77 into the Pentagon, killing 59 crew members and passengers and 125 people in the building. The “modest” ceremony, for survivors and family members of the victims, will include a wreath-laying and additional remarks by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta. [USA Today]
Pentagon Memorial to Reopen After Ceremony — Public access to the Pentagon Memorial will be restricted during this morning’s ceremony, but the memorial (pictured above) is expected to reopen at noon.
9/11 Day of Service Events in Arlington — There are several 9/11 Day of Service events planned in Arlington this week. Today, Capitals Hall-of-Famer Rod Langway and Bullets alumnus Bob Dandridge will join Arlington first responders and employees from Monumental Sports & Entertainment in helping to prepare the Arlington County Emergency Winter Shelter for its scheduled opening on Nov. 1. On Friday, AmeriCorps and Arlington County will host an invasive plant pull at James W. Haley Park (2400 S. Meade Street) “in honor of 9/11.”
Arlington Businesses Give Back — Several Arlington businesses have announced ways they’re remembering 9/11 today. The Bada Bing food truck is offering free sandwiches to all uniform firefighters and police officers, despite its recent run-ins with ordinance enforcement. Red Top Cab, meanwhile, announced that it will be donating $1 to a 9/11 memorial fund for each cab dispatched today.
Flickr pool photo by BrianMKA
In the days following the storm, which left 1 million customers without power in Virginia, Arlington and Fairfax counties experienced numerous problems with its 911 service, which made 911 unreachable for many emergency callers; some callers got a busy signal after calling 911, others heard nothing.
The problems were traced back to Verizon’s local communications backbone. In a report released last week, Verizon said the 911 problems started as a result of power outages.
Verizon’s central phone facility in Arlington lost power after the storm. It operated for a few hours on battery power, but a generator at the location failed to start (due to fuel line problems) and the facility lost power at 5:00 a.m. on June 30, after the batteries drained. Although Dominion restored power to the facility at 12:45 p.m., it took time for Verizon to recover its “telemetry” systems, which allow it to see and diagnose problems in its phone network, which had been been damaged by falling trees pulling down phone lines.
In Arlington, 911 service was spotty for days, but was deemed restored and stable by July 4.
In its report, Verizon said it has learned lessons from its 911 failure and will be improving its generator maintenance and redesigning some of its network systems to improve redundancy and reliability. Arlington County says it, too, has learned lessons from the experience.
Jack Brown, Arlington’s director of emergency management, said he’s hopeful that a 911 failure will never happen again. Should it happen, however, he said the county will have a more defined playbook of how to handle the situation.
During the days after the storm, Arlington advised those with emergencies to call the county’s non-emergency line at 703-558-2222. If all else failed, the county also staffed its fire stations so that residents could walk in and report an emergency. A “couple of people” did end up resorting to walking to fire stations, according to Brown.
Through the county’s efforts and somef luck, Brown said no one in Arlington was seriously harmed as a result of the 911 failure.
“We are very lucky that we didn’t have any life-threatening emergencies that couldn’t get through during that time,” said Brown. “We were very vulnerable during that period.”
In Virginia, a state panel is currently investigating the 911 failures, Brown said. Northern Virginia congressmen also called for the FCC to investigate the problems.
Flickr pool photo by ddimick
Update at 3:30 p.m. — The ride has concluded, with the motorcylcists arriving in Pentagon City. Few residual delays remain on eastbound I-66 as a result of the rolling road closures, according to traffic cameras. One motorcyclist who fell on the ramp from Route 110 to Army Navy Drive is receiving medial attention for non-life-threatening injuries.
About a thousand motorcyclists will be coming to Arlington tonight for the annual America’s 9/11 Ride.
The bikers are scheduled to leave the Flight 93 Memorial in Shanskville, Pa. this morning en route to Arlington, where they will be staying overnight. The motorcycle ride will enter Arlington via eastbound I-66 around 3:00 this afternoon. The ride will continue to southbound Route 110, and will end up at the Doubletree Hotel at 300 Army Navy Drive in Pentagon City.
Arlington County Police will be escorting the ride through Arlington. Officers will temporarily close on-ramps to “avoid mixing vehicles with the ride,” according to police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck.
The bikers will leave for New York City from the Pentagon North Parking Lot, via northbound I-395, on Saturday morning.