County Official: I-66 Doesn’t Need More Lanes — Arlington County officials have repeatedly expressed opposition to widening I-66 inside the Beltway. Now one county official is even decrying a proposal to add lanes to I-66 outside of the Beltway. Arlington County Commuter Services chief Chris Hamilton says the plans “are not only maddening, but they fly in the face of everything we’ve learned about induced demand… it’s impossible to build ourselves out of congestion because the roads themselves cause traffic.” [Mobility Lab]
ACPD to Hold ‘Chief-for-the-Day’ Contest — The Arlington County Police Department is holding an essay contest for children ages 8-12. The kid who submits the best answer to the question “what does it mean to be a police officer?” will be named “chief-for-the-day.” The winner will be “picked up at his or her house on August 5, 2014 by a patrol car and driven to the ACPD to spend the day involved in fun filled activities.” [Arlington County]
Arlington Beauty Queen Almost Married Dean Martin — Beauty queen and Washington-Lee High School grad Gail Renshaw, who was named Miss USA-World in 1969, nearly married the late Rat Pack crooner Dean Martin. In the end, Renshaw turned down Martin’s marriage proposal, moved to Prince George’s County, worked as a dialysis nurse and married a banker. [Falls Church News-Press]
Arlington Native Goes to China, Voices TV Show — Yorktown High School grad Emily Jeffers wasn’t sure about what exactly she wanted to do for work when she traveled to China on a one-way ticket and a tourist visa. Eventually, she found employment dubbing a state-produced Chinese sitcom into English for syndication on South African TV. [InsideNova]
Potomac Yard Metro Station Progress — Federal transit authorities have narrowed down the list of potential locations for a Potomac Yard Metro station from four to two. The two remaining locations are also the two least expensive options studied — one is relatively close to the existing Potomac Yard shopping center while the other is close to the Potomac Greens neighborhood. [Washington Business Journal]
Flickr pool photo by Joseph Gruber
Washington Wizards swingman Martell Webster has a new position: serving ice cream at new Clarendon shop Nicecream Factory (2831 Clarendon Blvd).
Webster, who lives in McLean, had started cycling to Clarendon some afternoons to taste some of Nicecream’s treats after his childhood friend from Seattle, Wash., James Conti, started working as Nicecream’s marketing coordinator a month ago.
“Actually, that’s my little brother,” Webster is quick to point out. Webster played basketball with Conti’s older brother and said their family “took me in and pretty much raised me. It was my home away from home.”
The Washington Post reported earlier this week that Webster was doing some promotional work for Nicecream, but Friday afternoon he was behind the counter and in front of the store, making batches of homemade, on-demand ice cream like the two small half-mango, half-pistachio cups he served to a young family. He was also passing out samples to passers-by on the sidewalk, encouraging them to come inside.
“He usually comes in and sits in the corner eating and kind of crouches down,” Nicecream owner Sandra Tran told ARLnow.com while Webster was entertaining a toddler, asking her if he should dye his goatee pink. “When there’s a customer who comes in to check it out, he’ll kind of pop up and tell them ‘it’s really good.’”
Webster, who is listed at 6-foot-7, averaged 9.7 points and 2.8 rebounds in 27.7 minutes per game for the Wizards this year, his second in Washington. He’s moving back to Portland, Ore., for the summer in late June — the Portland Trail Blazers is where he spent the first five years of his career after being chosen with the No. 6 overall pick in the 2005 draft, directly out of high school.
Until he leaves for Portland, however, he said he plans on stopping by Nicecream “periodically” to help serve. He calls himself the “unofficial intern,” and he gets all the scoops of dark chocolate and sea salt — his favorite flavor — he wants.
He said it took him “about 156,000 tries” before he was able to make his first batch of ice cream worthy of serving to customers.
“It was pretty rough, but like with anything, practice makes you stronger,” he said. “Now I’m up to par, but there’s always a head over my shoulder, so to speak.”
Conti graduated from college a year ago and had been in discussions to join the Nicecream team for “a while” before he moved from Tacoma, Wash., to Arlington. Now, he’s living in Webster’s guest house and has his “big brother” working for him.
“I knew I wanted to use him somehow,” he said. “I think was the best way to do it. Knowing Martell, he might actually work at an ice cream shop. It’s still great to see him interact and engage with the customers. Not a lot of professional athletes would do that.”
JetBlue Adding Service from DCA — JetBlue Airlines will begin direct service from Reagan National Airport to Charleston, S.C.; Hartford, Conn.; and Nassau, Bahamas on June 19. On July 2 the airline will add a second daily flight between DCA and Tampa. [InsideNova]
Beyer Accused of Using Car Dealership Ads to Boost Campaign — Del. Patrick Hope is accusing fellow Democratic congressional candidate Don Beyer of trying to “buy an election” and increase his name recognition by increasing ad buys for his eponymous Don Beyer Volvo dealership. Hope’s campaign says radio station WAMU has pulled ads for Don Beyer Volvo until after the June 10 primary. [Blue Virginia]
Celebrity Spotting in Shirlington — Actor and director Beau Bridges was reportedly spotted having dinner at Busboys and Poets in Shirlington this past Friday night. [Shirlington Village Blog Spot]
Flickr pool photo by Joseph Gruber
The True Lies sidekick and Best Damn Sports Show Period host, who rose to fame as a writer on Roseanne, will be in Arlington for four standup performances: Friday, April 11 and Saturday, April 12 at 7:30 and 10:00 p.m.
Tickets to the show are $25.
Entertainment icon Oprah Winfrey will attend a fundraiser in Arlington for congressional candidate Lavern Chatman (D) next month, Chatman’s campaign announced this morning.
Winfrey will headline Chatman’s fundraiser, which will be held somewhere in Arlington on Saturday, April 5, according to the campaign. The event will also “feature several prominent leaders speaking on women’s issues, globally, nationally, and in the 8th District of Virginia.”
“Oprah is a good friend and we both share a passion for empowering women and girls for leadership,” Chatman said in a statement. “I’m delighted she is coming to town to help with my congressional campaign.”
Chatman is the former President and CEO of the Northern Virginia Urban League. She held her campaign kickoff event at Arlington’s Army Navy Country Club on Feb. 12.
So far, the Chatman campaign says it has raised $200,000 in the race to replace Rep. Jim Moran in Congress. The race includes nearly a dozen candidates vying for the Democratic nomination.
Photo courtesy Alan Light via Wikipedia
(Updated at 12:30 p.m.) Comedian Bill Cosby joined Arlington County Board Chairman Jay Fisette and other local notables in helping to open the new Ben’s Chili Bowl in Rosslyn this morning.
Cosby’s jokes and antics drew laughs from the large crowd of media and spectators that gathered to see the ribbon cutting for the iconic U Street eatery’s first stand-alone, brick-and-mortar expansion. Other attendees and speakers included the Ali family, which owns the restaurant; the ambassador of Trinidad and Tobago, late founder Ben Ali’s home country; WPGC DJ Shack Nd Pack; and Rosslyn BID President Mary-Claire Burick.
Cosby joked that as an aging Navy veteran, he was glad to have a Ben’s Chili Bowl near Arlington National Cemetery.
“The reason why this establishment has decided to open here is for me,” he said. “I’m 76-and-a-half years old. I’m going to have my 77th birthday in July… I spent four years in the Navy, which means I am eligible for a military funeral. Now, my can ghost make the trip here instead of flying over to U Street.”
“Over in that cemetery there is no cholesterol,” he continued. “There are no triglycerides. Eat as many as you like. Double down on the cheese and fries. A lot of people may not go to heaven, because this is heaven.”
Arlington County Board Chairman Jay Fisette presented Cosby and Virginia Ali, Ben’s widow, with keys to Arlington. Cosby quipped that he would use it to get out of parking tickets.
“Whoa, who put me on stage after Bill Cosby?” Fisette said, to which Cosby shot back: “your mother did.”
“Thanks for choosing Arlington… for your second spot,” Fisette said. “As I’ve always said, chili for breakfast, chili for lunch, chili for dinner and a half smoke for dessert.”
Customers flooded into the the restaurant following the ribbon cutting, leaving a large crowd outside the doors, waiting to get in. Hundreds showed up to the Colonial Village Shopping Center parking lot to see Cosby speak and get some of the first tastes of chili, half smokes, hamburgers and milkshakes after standing outside in near-freezing temperatures.
The restaurant is located at 1725 Wilson Blvd, in the former Ray’s Hell Burger space. It’s owned and operated by three sons, Nizam, Kamal and Sage, and one daughter, Vida. The family said during the ribbon cutting that the restaurant plans to stay open until 4:30 a.m.
“The chili will sober you up,” Cosby said of Ben’s likely late night customers.
A grand opening celebration is scheduled for the new location, at 1725 Wilson Blvd, at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, March 6. Cosby is “100 percent confirmed” for the event, the Rosslyn Business Improvement District was told today by the restaurant’s owners.
Cosby is arguably the biggest celebrity fan of the landmark U Street eatery, and counts the owners, the Ali family, as friends. The comedian is expected to give a few remarks with the family before the store’s opening.
Arlington County Board members are also expected to be in attendance.
Photo via Facebook
Bracket Room, a new upscale sports bar in Clarendon, is planning to open its doors on Thursday, Sept. 5.
The restaurant received its liquor license this week and will be wrapping up interior construction over the next week. Co-owner and reality television star Chris Bukowski says the Bracket Room will distinguish itself from other sports bars in the area by offering a higher-end, “female-friendly” experience, complete with a wide variety of cocktails and shooters and higher-quality food.
“What’s going to separate us any every other sports bar is our food,” Bukowski told ARLnow.com. “We have put in the most effort into our food. It’s not going to be your typical bar food… that’s what’s going to bring people back.”
Bracket Room chef Roland Kator, a personal friend of Bukowski who formerly worked at restaurants in Las Vegas and Chicago, including celebrity chef Bobby Flay’s Mesa Grill, has helped design a menu that includes both bar favorites and slightly more adventurous fare. Pizza, burgers and tacos are available, as is ceviche, Maine lobster and a “superfoods salad.”
Lined with flat screen TVs and wood paneling, the bar’s modern interior suggests a lounge more akin to Las Vegas than Arlington, which is what Bukowski was aiming for. Adding to the high-end vibe: a private, 20-person VIP area with a customized iPad to control the TVs and the volume.
Bukowski first came up with the idea for the Bracket Room 5 years ago. His TV fame, through roles on ABC reality shows “The Bachelorette” and “Bachelor Pad,” gave him a “marketable name” that helped to make the restaurant a reality, he said. Already, fans have been coming into the under-construction restaurant seeking photos.
While many celebrity chefs are content to put their name on a restaurant with which they have little on-going personal involvement, Bukowski, as a celebrity owner, says he will be more hands-on. He has put his TV work on hold until at least the spring, so he can focus on running the restaurant.
“We have to have everything perfect, from our construction to our staff,” he said. “I will be here every day — interacting with people, making sure everybody’s having a good time.”
Bukowski noted that he “lives literally right above the bar” — in the Lyon Place apartment building. He moved in about 7 months ago.
“I love Clarendon… it’s a perfect location,” he said, when asked about why he chose Arlington and not his native Chicago as the place to open the bar. “The demographic is right up my alley… a lot of young professionals, people that are right out of college that are hungry to make a career for themselves, but still like to go out and enjoy the nightlife.”
Growth at Arlington Pediatric Center –The number of newborns treated at the Arlington Pediatric Center (601 S. Carlin Springs Road) last year jumped by 270 percent compared to one year prior. The increase was credited to the fact that infants born at Virginia Hospital Center without a designated pediatrician are automatically provided care at the nonprofit center. VHC, meanwhile, has seen an increase in birth rates in recent years. [Sun Gazette]
National Night Out Tomorrow — Arlington County Police will participate in National Night Out tomorrow. “Arlington County residents will join their neighbors, police officers and other community leaders” at six events across the county. National Night Out is intended to raise crime awareness, strengthen neighborhood ties and enhance community partnerships with law enforcement. [Arlington County]
Bluemont to Vote on Safeway Development — Members of the Bluemont Civic Association will vote tonight on a proposed mix-use development on the current Safeway site. The development includes a new Safeway store and a 160-unit apartment complex. Many residents have expressed concerns about the height of the development, but Bluemont resident Ryan Arnold writes that “the character of a neighborhood is not defined by the height of its buildings, but by the spirit of its people.” [Greater Greater Washington]
Arlington Runner Raises Money for Boston Victims — Frank Fumich, a local runner, ran a 19 hour 38 minute triple marathon along the Mt. Vernon Trail over the weekend in order to raise money for victims of the Boston Marathon bombing. Fumich raised more than $33,000 with the 78.6 mile run. [Washington Post]
Bill Thomas Awards Presented — The annual Bill Thomas Outstanding Park Service Volunteer Awards were presented at last night’s County Board meeting. This year’s winners are Steve Young, a “well-known figure for invasive plant removal at Long Branch Park,” and the Friend of the Gulf Branch Nature Center, a group that has fought the center’s closure and raised money for its operation. [Arlington County]
Chamber to Debut Business Blog — The Arlington Chamber of Commerce “is set to start an Internet blog” written by and about local business. The Sun Gazette reports: “All comments in response to specific articles will be moderated for content, so the Chamber blog does not spiral into the chaos of some online-news sites where anonymous cranks spew venom to little discernible purpose.” [Sun Gazette]
Katherine Heigl Tweets in Support of Moran — Actress Katherine Heigl has used her star power on Twitter to help promote a bill proposed by Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.). The bill would ban the use of gas chambers to euthanize shelter animals. “Please, please, please support Congressman Moran’s resolution,” the acress tweeted. [Twitter]
Flickr pool photo by Ddimick
Batman dropped by the Arlington YMCA (3422 13th Street N.) on Friday to warn kids about the danger of poison and toxic household items.
The Caped Crusader, also known as Maryland millionaire Lenny B. Robinson, arrived in style in his 1966 replica Batmobile. He was also spotted cruising the streets of Arlington and hanging out in Clarendon after the event.
The event was organized by the Alliance for Consumer Education, along with the American Association of Poison Control Centers, the YMCA and Robinson’s Superheroes for Kids organization. During the event, kids were encouraged “to be a superhero in their home by reading labels, asking permission before using an unknown product, and other poison prevention tips.”
Another superhero, Ace Clean, was also on hand to “teach kids about good health through cleanliness and proper hygiene practices.”
Photos courtesy Eddie Paylor Photography
The Caped Crusader will be at the ‘Y’ from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. on Friday, March 22, hosting an event called “Be a Superhero in Your Home.” The event, which is sponsored by the YMCA, the Alliance for Consumer Education and the American Association of Poison Control Centers, will teach kids “to be a superhero in their home by reading labels, asking permission before using an unknown product, and other poison prevention tips.”
The highlight of the event will be a visit by the Dark Knight — also known as Maryland millionaire Lenny B. Robinson — who will be arriving in style in his $300,000 1966 replica Batmobile. Robinson, 49, has been visiting sick kids in children’s hospitals across the county in the vintage Batmobile, as part of his Baltimore-based Superheroes for Kids organization.
Robinson made international news last year when his $250,000 Lamborghini Batmobile was pulled over by Montgomery County Police. The dashcam video of the traffic stop went viral and Robinson became a minor celebrity in his own right.
Arlington families interested in participating in Friday’s poison prevention event are asked to RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org. Only 100 tickets are available for the event.
Photo via Facebook
Liukin is scheduled to meet with fans at the Barcroft Sports and Fitness Center (4200 S. Four Mile Run Drive) at 3:00 p.m. She will answer questions about her gymnastic career and then hold an autograph session. The event is free and hosted by Arlington Gymnastics, a local youth gymnastics organization.
Liukin is in town for the Kellog’s Tour of Gymnastics Champions, which is being held at the Verizon Center in D.C. tomorrow, Nov. 15, at 7:30 p.m. Sixteen youth gymnasts from Arlington have been chosen to perform at the event’s opening ceremony, according to Arlington Gymnastics coach Sonja Clark.
In addition, “three local athletes will be chosen from the group to demo skills on horizontal bar with Jonathan Horton, uneven bars with Gabby Douglas and beam with Nastia Liukin,” Clark said. “This is awesome for the kids.”
Photo via nastialiukin.com
Arlington has been home to a number of notable figures through the years. A new website called Bigwig Digs, which lets you see the D.C. area homes stars and political figures live in or once lived in, has tracked down the residences of four notable Arlingtonians.
According to the site:
Actress Sandra Bullock grew up in a home (pictured) in the affluent Woodmont neighborhood.
The Doors front man Jim Morrison spent his nomadic childhood in at least two Arlington houses, including a house on a cul-de-sac in the Yorktown neighborhood.
Actor Warren Beatty (and his sister, actress Shirley MacLaine) spent their teenage years in a red brick home in Dominion Hills.
Former Vice President Al Gore has owned a Tudor-style home in the Arlington Ridge neighborhood since 1977.
Photo courtesy Bigwig Digs
Strawberry — who struggled with drugs, prostitution and other vices before he found God in 2006 – will host a sermon at 11:00 a.m. on Sunday, Sept. 23, 2012, at the Church at Clarendon (1201 N. Highland Street).
The church issued the following press release about the event.
On Sunday, September 23, 2012 at 11am, the Church at Clarendon, located at 1201 N. Highland Street in Arlington, welcomes 8-time All Star and 4-time World Series champion Darryl Strawberry to address the question, “What does God have against sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll?”
Strawberry’s sermon is the third in a five week series the Church has titled “Blunt Questions” in which the Church challenges believers and non-believers to honestly wrestle with tough questions of faith. All are welcome to participate in the discussion.
An athlete perhaps known as much for his controversial behavior as for his legendary baseball, Strawberry will speak from a unique and personal perspective. “I was once very lost and tormented but now I am found and free in Christ Jesus. I want everyone to experience the saving and transforming power of Jesus Christ,” notes Strawberry in discussing his current life purpose.
Prior to Strawberry’s sermon, the Church will open its doors on Saturday, September 22 from 11am to 5:30pm to offer water and a cool place of rest for those visiting the Clarendon Day neighborhood festival. This year’s festival is the first since the church re-opened its doors at the Highland Street location in the heart of Clarendon after more than 2 years in exile while the building was torn down and rebuilt.
“As a church, we exist in large part for those that are not yet part of us—to connect with those outside our church and offer them something of the goodness of God,” Pastor David Perdue said. “We’re excited to be hosting Darryl Strawberry because he is a well-known star who can also address a question that many people struggle with.”
The public engagement continues on Monday, September 24, when the John Leland Theological Seminary, a ministry partner of the church, hosts the 40th Annual Faculties’ Convocation of the Washington Theological Consortium on the topic of Theology in the Public Square. Events run from 3:30pm to 7:30pm.