(Updated at 1:15 p.m.) The National Weather Service issued a Tornado Warning for Arlington this afternoon as a dangerous storm system rolled through the area.
The tornado warning has since been canceled, but a flood watch remains in effect through 8:00 p.m. (See below.)
Medics in Arlington responded to at least one report of a person struck by lightning during the storms.
Police reported significant flooding along Four Mile Run in the area of I-395. Flooding was also reported on S. Scott Street near the Wellington apartments, and on Route 50 near Glebe Road.
As of 1:15 p.m., 212 Dominion customers in Arlington County were said to be without power. According to a reader, the Harris Teeter at Lee Highway and N. Harrison Street was among those that had lost power.
…FLOOD WATCH REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 8 PM EDT THIS EVENING…
THE FLOOD WATCH CONTINUES FOR
* PORTIONS OF MARYLAND…THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA AND VIRGINIA…
* UNTIL 8 PM EDT THIS EVENING
* A STRONG COLD FRONT WILL IMPACT THE REGION TODAY. A PLUME OF HEAVY RAINFALL IS MOVING SLOWLY ACROSS THE REGION FROM WEST TO EAST THROUGH THIS EVENING. RAINFALL AMOUNTS OF ONE TO THREE INCHES CAN BE EXPECTED WITH LOCALLY HIGHER AMOUNTS POSSIBLE.
* THE HEAVY RAINFALL MAY CAUSE FLOODING OF LOW LYING AREAS… ESPECIALLY IN URBAN AREAS AND LOCATIONS ESPECIALLY PRONE TO FRESHWATER FLOODING. NEVER CROSS ROADS THAT ARE FLOODED. TURN AROUND DON`T DROWN.
A FLOOD WATCH MEANS THERE IS A POTENTIAL FOR FLOODING BASED ON CURRENT FORECASTS.
YOU SHOULD MONITOR LATER FORECASTS AND BE ALERT FOR POSSIBLE FLOOD WARNINGS. THOSE LIVING IN AREAS PRONE TO FLOODING SHOULD BE PREPARED TO TAKE ACTION SHOULD FLOODING DEVELOP.
(Updated at 4:15 p.m.) Following a surprise U.S. Supreme Court decision this morning, a same-sex couple became the first to legally receive a marriage license and get married in Arlington.
Arlington Clerk of the Circuit Court Paul Ferguson quickly approved the couple’s application for a marriage license, and the women then took part in a wedding ceremony outside the Arlington County Courthouse.
“It’s wonderful to be able to stand here today and perform this ceremony,” said Rev. Dr. Linda Olson Peebles, a minister at Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington, who has been performing same-sex unions for more than 20 years. “The Commonwealth of Virginia agrees with us that every person has worth and dignity and that love matters no matter what your sexual orientation is. We all have the right to be married to the person we love.”
Newlyweds Erika Turner and Jennifer Melsop both are 26 years old and live in Centreville. They have been together for four years and planned on getting married in the District next year. They traveled to Arlington immediately upon learning of the court decision this morning because they heard an officiant may be available to perform a ceremony. They had no idea they were the first same-sex couple to request a marriage license in Arlington until they arrived.
“Not everyone in the United States has this opportunity,” said Turner, referencing the states where same-sex couples can still not legally wed.
Ferguson noted some changes to the state-approved marriage application.
“Now, instead of saying ‘bride’ and ‘groom,’ it says ‘spouse’ and ‘spouse,’” Ferguson said. “When we got the word this morning, we were not prepared for this. But we’re doing our best to prepare now and welcome anybody that would like a marriage license to please come to Arlington. At this point, we can process it in the next 15 minutes or so. But if we get big crowds there could be a little bit of a wait.”
Ferguson explained that same-sex couples now will go through the same process to request marriage licenses as all other couples. They can go to the sixth floor of the county courthouse, pay $30, fill out an application, take an oath and then get married within the next 60 days. No appointments are necessary and applicants are attended to on a first-come, first-served basis. The Commonwealth also will recognize same-sex marriages legally performed in other states.
Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring spent part of the afternoon in Arlington to speak about the Supreme Court’s decision to allow same-sex marriages in Virginia and four other states.
“This is the outcome that we have hoped for. It is the outcome we have fought for. And it is the outcome the Constitution requires,” said Herring to a crowd in front of the Arlington County Courthouse. “The rights and privileges of marriage, which are guaranteed to us by the United States Constitution, are now available to all loving, committed couples in Virginia.”
Herring explained that the court’s action would allow same-sex couples to adopt children, file joint tax returns, share employer benefits and make medical decisions for each other.
“Simply put, this ruling allows all Virginians to be full members of our society, with all the rights and responsibilities that come with marriage,” he said. “A new day has dawned, and the rights guaranteed by our Constitution are shining through. All Virginians have a constitutional right to be treated fairly and to have loving, committed relationships recognized and respected, and to enjoy the blessings of married life. We should all be proud that our fellow Virginians helped lead us forward. This is a tremendous moment in Virginia history.”
Michael Gardner, the Falls Church resident whose 2012 sexual battery conviction was overturned by the Virginia Supreme Court earlier this year, has been indicted in another molestation case.
Gardner was arrested and charged with two counts of aggravated sexual battery of a child after an Arlington Circuit Court grand jury returned two indictments on Monday. He’s being held without bond at the Arlington County jail.
The indictment charges Gardner with the molestation of a female family member who was under 13 years of age at the time. The two alleged offenses took place in 2009.
“The allegations came to light only after Gardner was released from prison after his conviction was overturned by the Virginia Supreme Court,” Falls Church authorities said in a press release this morning. “The victim in the most recent case related the incident to an individual who, by law, is a mandated reporter of child abuse allegations.”
Gardner’s next court appearance is scheduled for Monday, Oct. 6. He is also facing a new trial in the previous molestation case. That trial is scheduled to begin on Feb. 2, 2015.
Gardner was originally convicted in May 2012 of molesting two girls during a sleepover birthday party for his daughter in 2011. Gardner is a former chairman of the Falls Church City Democratic Committee and his wife, Robin Gardner, was formerly mayor of Falls Church.
Gardner’s attorney could not be immediately reached for comment.
Photo courtesy Arlington County Sheriff’s Office
A teen boy has been severely injured in a two-story story fall at the Arlington Mill Community Center.
A witness said the teenager had climbed on the other side of a railing two stories off the ground to do “pull-ups showing off for his girlfriend” when he lost his grip and “fell hard on his back.”
He was transported to the trauma center at Inova Fairfax Hospital with life-threatening injuries. Another witness at the scene, who did not see the fall but saw the aftermath, said the teen was conscious but “in shock” after the fall.
Police are investigating the incident. One of the teen’s friends caught the fall on video and accompanied him to the hospital, police told ARLnow.com at the scene.
(Updated at 4:35 p.m.) Arlington County firefighters and paramedics responded to a serious multi-vehicle accident on the GW Parkway this afternoon.
The accident happened just after 2:00 p.m. near the Windy Run overpass, northwest of Spout Run. Three vehicles collided in the northbound lanes, sending one of the cars off the roadway and down an embankment, nearly to the Potomac below.
Two people were in that car; at least one was trapped following the accident and had to be extricated by a rescue team.
One of the victims was flown to MedStar Washington Hospital Center, via a U.S. Park Police helicopter, with serious, potentially life-threatening injuries, according to Arlington County Fire Department spokesman Lt. Sean O’Connell. The other victim in the car was transported via ambulance to George Washington University Hospital with serious but non-life-threatening injuries.
A third person was injured in one of the other cars involved in the accident. That individual was transported to Virginia Hospital Center with moderate, non-life-threatening injuries, O’Connell said.
All lanes of the GW Parkway were closed between Spout Run and Route 123 following the accident, according to WTOP. Closures remain in place as police investigate the wreck.
Photo courtesy @CAPT258
(Updated at 10:30 a.m.) The Arlington County Fire Department responded to an apartment fire on Columbia Pike this morning.
The fire was reported around 9:30 a.m. in the rear mechanical room of an apartment building at 2008 Columbia Pike. Firefighters were able to quickly bring the fire under control and douse the flames.
No injuries were reported. It’s unclear if any residents will be displaced as a result of the fire.
(Updated at 3:25 p.m.) Same-sex marriages could begin next week in Arlington and the rest of Virginia, following this afternoon’s decision by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond not to delay its ruling striking down the state’s same-sex marriage ban.
The court denied a request to stay the decision while it is appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. That means unless the U.S. Supreme Court intervenes in the next few days, same-sex couples may begin marrying in Virginia next week. State Attorney General Mark Herring’s office tells ARLnow.com licenses can start being issued next Wednesday (August 20), unless the Supreme Court issues a stay.
“Throughout this process, we have fought for the principle of equality, moving the case forward in a swift and orderly way. That is why I have asked the Supreme Court to review the case to quickly and definitively resolve the issue for the Commonwealth and all the states,” said Herring in a written statement. “No one anticipated we would be this close this quickly to the day when all Virginians have the right to marry the person they love. That will be a historic day for our Commonwealth and a joyous day for thousands of loving couples.”
Arlington’s Clerk of the Circuit Court is prepared to issue licenses starting on Wednesday.
“If the Supreme Court of the United States does not intervene, the 4th Circuit decision stands and Arlington would issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples,” Arlington County Clerk of the Circuit Court Paul Ferguson told ARLnow.com today.
When asked last month how his office would handle a possible influx of same-sex marriage applications, Ferguson said he and his staff “will do our best to accommodate applicants in a timely manner.”
Last month, the court ruled that Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriages is unconstitutional.
Update at 4:50 p.m. — All lanes have reopened.
Update at 4:00 p.m. — The trapped victims have been extricated from the van. Rescuers are starting to clear the scene and police are planning on reopening at least one right-hand lane shorty.
Earlier: Police and firefighters are on the scene of an overturned minivan on I-395.
The incident happened just before 3:15 p.m., on the mainline northbound lanes under Shirlington Circle. As of 3:20 p.m., the northbound lanes were completely blocked and traffic was being diverted onto the circle.
Rescuers are reporting three people injured, with two people still trapped inside the van. Firefighters are currently trying to extricate the two trapped victims from the vehicle.
Photos courtesy @gogogaryo as noted
(Updated at 5:50 p.m.) A strong thunderstorm ripped through Arlington during Monday’s evening rush hour, knocking down trees, knocking out power and injuring two soldiers on Fort Myer.
The soldiers were reportedly struck by lightning on or around Whipple Field on Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall. They were reported to be conscious and alert — with non-life-threatening injuries — and were being tended to by Arlington firefighters and paramedics.
On N. Glebe Road just south of Ballston, a large tree was uprooted by the storm, bringing down power lines and crushing two parked cars. The power lines were live and one witness said the sparking wires “burned a hole through the pavement” below. No injuries were reported, but emergency crews have closed the southbound lanes of Glebe Road in the area of 4th Street N. as a result.
The lane closures on Glebe will stretch well into the night as repairs take place. The repair work and power pole replacement is expected to take 6-8 hours.
As of 5:50 p.m., Dominion was reporting 5,629 customers without power in Arlington County. The power outages have also impacted numerous traffic signals around the county. Dark traffic signals should be treated as a four-way stop.
(Updated at 9:30 a.m.) The W&OD and Bluemont Junction trails were closed in the area of Bluemont Park this morning due to a suspicious device reportedly found near the trail.
Police and firefighters responded to the incident and established a mobile command center at Wilson Blvd and N. Manchester Street. The county’s bomb squad brought a robot to inspect the device, which was said to be located near the park’s tennis courts.
As of 9:00 a.m., the bomb squad determined the device to be safe and the trail was being reopened.
According to Arlington County Police Department spokesman Dustin Sternbeck, a parks maintenance worker found a package in the grass near the intersection of the two trails, and immediately contacted police. It took police about an hour to clear the scene.
An Arlington Alert message this morning said the Bluemont trail was closed, though scanner traffic indicated that the W&OD trail was closed.
Simon announced his resignation, effective Aug. 1, at this morning’s school board meeting. He said he was resigning to spend more time with his two children, following the death of his wife, Kedron, on Dec. 30.
“Simply put, I’m doing this because the board work has made me a part-time father,” a visibly sad Simon said in a statement at the end of the meeting. “The last 6 months have been particularly difficult. I’m a broken man emotionally and physically.”
Simon said he hopes the timing of his resignation will allow the special election to replace him to take place on the same day as the general election this fall, thus saving taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars. Simon was elected to the school board in 2012 as a Democrat-endorsed candidate, and is serving a term that was set to expire on Dec. 31, 2016.
“I feel badly that I cannot fulfill my entire commitment to those voters,” he said. “I want to thank the Arlington parents and the Arlington community at large for teaching me as much as I can learn about Arlington. This is not a decision I wanted to make. It’s a decision I needed to make.”
A former Capitol Hill staffer, Simon has a son and daughter who attend Arlington Science Focus School, according to his official APS bio.
In May, Simon decried the state of civil discourse on school issues in Arlington, after parents upset at a budget proposal said that school board members “don’t care about children with special needs.”
The Jamestown Elementary School PTA issued the following statement about Simon’s resignation:
Noah Simon has been an exceptional public servant. He has listened and he has led. He has learned and taught, We have been very fortunate to have his time and ideas and tremendous devotion to all our children while he served on the School Board. He has helped make Arlington schools better today, and set good things in motion for the future. We will miss him greatly.
Nancy Van Doren, who was unsuccessful in her attempt to win the Democratic endorsement this spring to replace retiring school board member Sally Baird, hailed Simon’s service and announced that she will seek his seat.
“Noah is a well-respected, well-loved member of the School Board and Arlington community. He has set a very high mark for effective, thoughtful, and compassionate service on behalf of Arlington’s children, families, and educators,” Van Doren said in a press release.
“It is a critical time in our community as we work to manage our growing school system,” she continued. “I am prepared to meet the challenges facing our schools and therefore am announcing today that I will seek election to the seat that Noah is leaving.”
Greg Greeley, who ran against Van Doren this spring and also lost to now-Democratic endorsee Barbara Kanninen, released a statement Tuesday afternoon thanking Simon for his service and supporting Van Doren’s bid to replace him.
“Nancy has my wholehearted support and endorsement,” Greeley said.
Earlier in this morning’s meeting, James Lander was elected chair of the school board from 2014-2015 and Dr. Emma Violand-Sanchez was elected vice chair.
“On behalf of the entire School Board, we want to thank Noah for his tireless and exceptional commitment to the school community, especially in the midst of the grief he and his family have experienced during the past few months,” Lander said following Simon’s announcement. “We understand and support his difficult decision to resign, and were fortunate to have such a passionate and committed colleague on this Board during the time he served.”
Also at the meeting, Superintendent Patrick Murphy’s contract was renewed for four years, in a 4-1 vote. The contract renewal was not on the board’s published agenda.
Photo via Facebook
Those who park in Arlington will soon be able to skip the parking meters and pay directly with their smartphone, Arlington County will announce this afternoon.
Arlington will utilize Parkmobile, the same smartphone parking system currently in use by the District of Columbia, allowing smartphone users to use a single app to park in Arlington and the District. Parkmobile is available for iPhone, Android, Windows 7 and Blackberry devices. It utilizes a stored credit card number to pay for parking.
Arlington will offer Parkmobile at all 5,329 metered spaces in the county, though the system will be rolled out in phases. Drivers will be able to use Parkmobile in Shirlington and Crystal City by late July, officials say. It is scheduled to be expanded to Pentagon City in the fall, Ballston and Clarendon in the winter, and all remaining areas — including Courthouse, Rosslyn and Columbia Pike — by spring 2015.
“Whether you use public transportation, bike, walk, or drive in and around Arlington County, we are committed to providing the best commuter experience possible,” County Manager Barbara Donnellan said in a statement. “This technology will make it easier for our residents and visitors to pay for parking.”
Separately, Arlington County Treasurer Frank O’Leary told ARLnow.com Tuesday evening that his office recently signed a 5-year contract to bring the EasyPark parking payment system to Arlington. EasyPark is a battery-operated device that allows drivers to pay for parking without using a parking meter or a phone. It will replace the legacy iPark system; new iParks are no longer available because the company behind the technology went out of business.
Nathan Norton, Deputy of Operations for the Treasurer’s Office, says the county is hoping to have EasyPark systems available for purchase online or at the Treasurer’s Office by mid-July. The devices will cost $30 but will come with $10 worth of parking. EasyPark devices can be refilled online or at the Treasurer’s Office. Unlike the iPark, which hangs from a vehicle’s rear view mirror, the Easypark will hang from the driver’s side window, making enforcement easier, Norton said.
The county says it will continue to accept payment for parking at meters (both mechanical coin-operated meters and credit card-enabled multispace meters) and via existing iParks, even after the new systems are rolled out.
(Updated at 4:20 p.m.) Kate Roche has been promoted to president of the Arlington Chamber of Commerce.
Roche, 29, will succeed retiring president Rich Doud, 71. She began her career with the chamber in 2007 and most recently served as the organization’s vice president.
“To me, working for the Chamber has always been much more than just a job,” said Roche said in a statement. “The business community continues to evolve and so do the needs of our members. As President and CEO, I will work to keep the Chamber progressing, growing and improving to become the essential partner for business success.”
The chamber issued the following press release about the leadership change.
The Arlington Chamber of Commerce is pleased to announce that Katharine (Kate) Roche has been selected as the Chamber’s new President & CEO. On June 20, 2014, the Chamber’s Board of Directors voted to approve Roche for the position after the Chamber engaged in an extensive nationwide search through retained search firm, Sterling Martin. Roche began with the Arlington Chamber of Commerce in 2007 and most recently served as Vice President.
“I’m honored to have the opportunity to serve the Arlington Chamber of Commerce in this capacity,” said Roche. She added, “To me, working for the Chamber has always been much more than just a job. This is truly my community. The Chamber has an incredibly solid organizational foundation, and I look forward to building upon that. The business community continues to evolve and so do the needs of our members. As President and CEO, I will work to keep the Chamber progressing, growing and improving to become the essential partner for business success.”
2014 Chair of the Chamber’s Board Tim Hughes, of Bean, Kinney & Korman, P.C., said, “As Vice President, Kate Roche has already given tremendous energy, enthusiasm and engagement to the community of our Chamber. She brings to the table a unique ability to build on our existing success and culture while dynamically leading our Chamber into the future. We are excited to continue our mission to strengthen businesses and the economic environment in Arlington with Kate Roche at the helm as President and CEO.”
Roche is a graduate of The George Washington University with a B.A. in Political Science and International Affairs. Prior to joining the Chamber, Roche worked for Women In Government, a national nonpartisan association of women state legislators based in Washington, DC.
A proud Arlington resident, she currently serves on several boards in the community including her Condo Association Board of Directors. She is also an active volunteer with several groups including the Junior League of Washington and the Arlington Community Foundation Scholarship Review Committee.
Photo via Arlington Chamber of Commerce
Initial reports suggest a man shot himself in the head with a shotgun around 10:20 a.m. Paramedics determined the man to be dead on the scene.
The shooting was reported to have happened near the Pentagon Monument in Section 64, within view of the Pentagon at the southeastern corner of the cemetery. The Pentagon Monument is where remains of the victims of the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon were buried.
After the man was pronounced dead by medics, the scene was turned over law enforcement for an investigation.
Arlington National Cemetery issued the following press release about the incident Friday afternoon:
At approximately 10:00 a.m. today, first responders to include Military Police from Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, Special Agents from the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command and Arlington County Police Department Officers, responded to reports of a single gunshot at Arlington National Cemetery in Section 64, near the Columbarium Courts. Upon arrival, a deceased male was discovered with a single gunshot wound.
“Although we have not completely ruled it out in order to conduct a complete and thorough investigation, we do not suspect foul play at this point in the investigation,” said Chris Grey, the spokesman for the Army’s Criminal Investigation Command, the lead agency investigating the death.
All indications are this is a tragic and isolated incident and there is no threat to the public or those visiting Arlington National Cemetery. The cemetery remains open to visitors and families and graveside services are continuing as planned.
No further information will be released at this time to protect the integrity of the investigative process and until the deceased is positively identified and next of kin is officially notified.
If you or someone you know is experiencing thoughts of suicide, help is a phone call away. Call CrisisLink at 703-527-4077.
(Updated at 4:35 p.m.) A construction worker has died after a large excavator tipped over and fell on him at a construction site on George Mason Drive.
Rescue crews were called to a construction site on the 400 block of N. George Mason Drive around 3:30 p.m. for a report of a large piece of construction equipment that fell on a person. The victim, believed to be the equipment’s operator, was pronounced dead on the scene by medics at 3:40 p.m.
Firefighters are also reporting a large diesel fuel leak at the accident site. Investigators from the Arlington County Police Department and from Virginia’s occupational safety agency are en route to the scene.
This is the second serious construction accident in a month and a half at the construction site for the Ballston Row townhouse project. On March 31, a worker fell four stories and suffered serious injuries while working on a different building on the other side of 4th Street N.
Police and fire crews remain on scene and they have closed one lane of southbound N. George Mason Drive as of 4:30 p.m.