Residents in Arlington’s Penrose neighborhood are claiming that recent trimming by Dominion Power contractors injured trees that line the streets.
They are especially concerned with a White Oak tree on the corner of 8th Street S. and S. Veitch Street, which dates back to before the Civil War, said Terri Armao, chair of the Penrose Neighborhood Association’s Environmental Committee.
“They brutally attacked it yesterday,” Armao said. “I can’t even tell you what they did to it.”
Limbs were cut from the middle where the power line ran though, leaving a gap and causing the tree to look like a giant “V.” Residents had previously asked Dominion not to touch the tree because of its old age.
“I mean it is ridiculous. For a tree they weren’t supposed to touch, they touch a V out of it,” Armao said.
Margaret Alvord, a Penrose resident, attempted to stop the contractors from cutting into the tree, after receiving a call from a neighbor. The tree had been pruned three weeks ago and was still recovering, Alvord said.
“So I jumped up and went up the street in my car,” Alvord said. “I parked my car and they had already begun… and I asked them to stop. I said, ‘this tree is a very old tree.'”
The workers told her to go talk to the supervisor, and when she talked to him, he told her it was the workers’ job to clear the trees from the lines.
“He basically said its our job to clear the lines. And they have to go 10 feet from lines,” Alvord said.
Dominion workers trim trees in order to keep them off of the power lines, said Chuck Penn, a media specialist with Dominion. The trimmings help to keep the power on during storms.
“Our mandate is to provide safe and reliable service to our customers,” he said.
The company respects the resident’s love for the trees and try to balance keeping the trees and providing service, Penn said.
“I cannot overemphasize enough the empathy we bring to our pruning,” he said. “People love their trees and we respect that.”
All Dominion foresters are certified arborists, Penn said. Trees are trimmed every three to four years to maintain the power lines.
“It’s a delicate balance we don’t take lightly,” Penn said. “We respect our customers and our trees.”
The White Oak is important to the neighborhood for its environmental impacts as well as its age, Armao said. For instance, the tree provides shade for the elderly resident that lives in the house next to it.
White Oaks are also known for their support of different species. A White Oak produces acorns, which can be used by 180 other species, according to the United States Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service.
“They’re one of those keystone trees,” Armao said.
Dominion does not have a policy for trees that have historic value, Penn said. The company does use the foresters when determining when a tree is a “danger” tree and needs to be trimmed.
Neighbors looked through the tree branches for squirrel and bird nests. They found squirrel nests but did not find any traces of live animals in the tree limbs.
Trees were also trimmed on S. Veitch Street and between S. Wayne and S. Adams, Alvord said.
“Our concern is that they are overly trimming trees we’d really like to save,” she said.
Residents Getting Dominion Scam Calls, Again — Some Arlington residents are again reporting getting phony phone calls claiming to be from Dominion Power. Just in time for this week’s extremely cold weather, the scammer threatens to shut the power off unless the homeowner pays a supposedly overdue bill over the phone.
Child Sex Trafficking Case Had Arlington Connection — A Nevada man pleaded guilty in Alexandria federal court yesterday to charges of prostituting women and underage girls in various states including Virginia. Arlington is one of the Northern Virginia jurisdictions named as a place where the man, Lenny Haskins, plied his trade as a pimp. [Reston Now]
Rosslyn Red Hot and Blue Tchotchkes Moved to N.C. — Various equipment and memorabilia from the now-closed Red Hot and Blue restaurant in Rosslyn are being moved to a new Red Hot and Blue location in Cary, N.C. The Arlington location was the barbecue chain’s first. [Triangle Business Journal]
BBC Mentions Weenie Beenie — The BBC takes a look at the mysterious D.C. food phenomenon known as the half-smoke. The broadcaster points out that the Weenie Beenie in Shirlington, which opened in 1954, may have been the first in the area to start slinging half-smokes. [BBC Travel]
Arlington 13-Year-Old is a Web Cartoonist — Arlington student Cole Goco, 13, is the cartoonist behind a surrealist web comic about a boy, a talking ice pop and a pet turtle. [Washington City Paper]
A group of environmental activists and Alexandria Mayor Bill Euille gathered in Crystal City this afternoon to ask Dominion Resources, the parent company of Dominion Power, to end its membership in a conservative think tank.
The think tank, the American Legislative Exchange Council, is a membership-based, nonprofit group of state legislators — Virginia House of Delegates Speaker Bill Howell sits on its board — and private sector businessmen and women focused on “free markets, limited government and constitutional division of powers between the federal and state governments.”
A few dozen activists, organized by the Sierra Club, held signs and pinwheels outside of ALEC’s office along Route 1 and asked Dominion to cancel its membership in the group. The protesters say ALEC’s lobbying efforts include derailing legislation aimed at preventing climate change, attempts at voter suppression and support for stand-your-ground gun laws.
“We must not permit our future well-being to be held hostage by fossil fuel companies and others with a vested interest in maintaining the dangerous, unsustainable status quo,” Bill Euille said, according to a press release. “That means we must push back hard against groups like the American Legislative Exchange Council, an organization which has expressly opposed the EPA’s effort to curb carbon pollution from power plants as well as fought renewable energy while promoting dirty fossil fuels.”
Photos courtesy Caroline Wood
The outages are centered around Rosslyn and parts of Columbia Pike, according to Dominion’s outage map. An “Arlington Alert” message suggested the Pike power outage is due to “equipment failure.”
The utility is hoping to have electricity restored no later than 11:00 p.m.
The current temperature at 7:00 p.m. was 92 degrees. Today (Tuesday) the high temperature at Reagan National Airport was 97 degrees, breaking the previous June 17 record high temperature of 95 degrees, set in 1991, according to the National Weather Service.
Photo by Tyler Zarfoss
Graffiti Closes Powhatan Skatepark — Powhatan Springs Skatepark is temporarily closed after “graffiti containing vulgar language” was found. The park will be temporarily closed until park staff can remove the graffiti. No word yet on a reopening date.
Tejada: Three Dems on County Board — At the Arlington County Democratic Committee’s annual Jefferson-Jackson dinner over the weekend, Walter Tejada said pointedly that he is “one of three Democratic county board members,” presumably excluding Libby Garvey. Garvey was also not listed as an “Arlington Democratic Elected Official” in the program. [Blue Virginia]
Dominion Planning New Underground Power Line — Dominion Virginia Power is planning on building an underground power transmission line from Arlington to Alexandria. The $160 million project is intended to address “a local reliability load issue… that could potentially impact neighbors by 2018.” Alexandria officials are expressing objections to the project. [Washington Post]
AYDs Eye South Arlington — Arlington Young Democrats are trying to increase their outreach to women, minorities and to residents of south Arlington. The organization has appointed a new “outreach chair and communications director” who will be in charge of recruiting individuals in targeted groups and “mak[ing] them feel welcome.” [InsideNova]
Flickr pool by Brian Allen
Streetcar Support Remains High in Fairfax County — The McLean edition of the Sun Gazette newspaper reports that Fairfax County officials are not nearly as divided over the Columbia Pike streetcar project as their Arlington counterparts. “While some Republicans on [the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors] have expressed concerns, support among Fairfax officials remains high,” the paper reported. “And with good reason: Fairfax will be responsible for only about 20 percent of the local cost of the project, but plans to use the streetcar’s arrival to spur the redevelopment of Baileys Crossroads.” [Sun Gazette]
Dominion Reports Record Power Demand — Dominion Virginia Power met record demand for electricity during Tuesday’s frigid temperatures. Use of heaters during this week’s “polar vortex” helped push energy demand to 19,730 megawatts during the day on Tuesday. That’s well above the previous peak winter demand record of 18,079 megawatts, set in February 2007, but below the company’s summertime record of 20,061 megawatts, set in July 2011. [Dominion]
Malinosky Elected ACDC Chair — Kip Malinosky, a middle school civics teacher and well-respected Democratic organizer, was elected chair of the Arlington County Democratic Committee last night. Malinosky, who succeeds outgoing chair Mike Lieberman, told the Democratic faithful that the local party will remain united despite contested primaries for County Board and School Board. “We’re all in this together,” he said. “When the caucus is over, we will rally behind our candidates.”
Bill Would Outlaw Sex Acts Among Minors — A new bill proposed in the Virginia General Assembly would make oral sex and other “consensual sodomy” legal for adults but illegal for minors. The bills was proposed several months after courts struck down Virginia’s “crimes against nature” law. [Think Progress]
Delegate Wants More I-66 Lanes Inside the Beltway — Del. Jim LeMunyon, a Republican representing part of Fairfax County, has introduced legislation requiring the state to plan a project that would “increase the lane capacity on Interstate 66 inside the Capital Beltway to include at least two-non-high-occupancy vehicle lanes in each direction.” That idea, suggests reporter Michael Neibauer, will likely not sit well here in Arlington. “Arlington officials would probably chain themselves to highway signs before letting it happen,” he wrote. [Washington Business Journal]
Flickr pool photo by J. Sonder
(Updated at 2:55 p.m.) The cold temperatures have a lot of people cranking up the heat, but that’s putting stress on the region’s power grid. Dominion Power is asking customers to reduce any unnecessary use of electricity and alter the hours for major appliance use.
Dominion is one of the power providers in the 13 states and District of Columbia that use the PJM Interconnect power grid. PJM informed all of its clients that the power grid is currently under stress because of the increase in electric heat use due to the frigid temperatures. It’s asking customers to help conserve energy.
“We are asking customers to consider altering their normal pattern of power usage to mitigate the draw that is on the electrical grid right now,” said Dominion Power spokesman Chuck Penn. “We are confident today, as we were yesterday, that we have sufficient power capacity to meet the demand, there are just some steps utilities are asking customers to take to ease the load. We are just responding to the request from PJM Interconnect.”
Customers are asked to avoid using major appliances — such as stoves, dishwashers and clothes dryers — during the peak morning hours of 6:00-9:00 a.m. and the peak evening hours of 3:00-7:00 p.m. Customers are asked to lower their thermostats to between 65 and 70 degrees during the day in order to conserve energy. Dominion has additional energy saving tips on its website.
Arlington’s Emergency Winter Shelter in Courthouse (2049 15th Street N.) opened for around-the-clock services on Monday and will stay open, as a wind chill advisory remains in effect until 6:00 p.m. The shelter has been used by 75 people during the cold snap, and another 10 were provided with cots and blankets in the lobby of the nearby Detention Center. On Tuesday afternoon, DHS made the decision to keep the shelter open continuously on Wednesday as well.
“The good thing about this cold snap is that we had plenty of advance warning so we were able to let people know they needed to get off the streets and come inside,” said Department of Human Services spokesman Kurt Larrick. “A-SPAN did a great job of letting unsheltered homeless people in the community know that it was going to get really, really cold, and that we would have a warm bed for them.”
Scam artists have been calling Arlington residents, claiming to be utility bill collectors, according to police. They often become aggressive on the phone and demand payment for outstanding bills. The scammers have also threatened to cut off service altogether if immediate payment is not provided over the phone. They ask the victim to set up a pre-paid debit card so funds can be loaded onto it and accessed over the phone.
In the past, many utility scams police came across involved minority or elderly residents. This one, however, appears to target small businesses. Since the beginning of the year, police have investigated 21 instances of this scam in Arlington, nine of which occurred just in the past month.
The scammers have been requesting various amounts of money ranging from a couple hundred dollars to several thousand, police say. Although most of the victims refused to pay and contacted police, a few did hand over money.
Police remind residents never to provide personal information to people over the phone, including bank account numbers, credit card info and social security numbers. If you receive a call from someone claiming to work for a utility or another business, attempt to verify the individual’s identity by calling the service number on your utility bill or on the company’s website. Do not attempt to call phone numbers a caller may offer, because the number will often ring to another scam artist.
Do not rely on your caller I.D. to verify suspicious calls, because scammers can alter phone numbers to appear like they belong to a utility company. Legitimate utility companies will not attempt to pressure customers into making a snap decision or an immediate payment.
If you receive a call you believe is a scam, hang up and call the Arlington County Police non-emergency number at 703-228-2222 to file a police report.
Update at 3:45 p.m. — Dominion reports that the cause of the outage was an underground equipment failure and power has been restored to all customers.
Dominion crews are at the scene of a power outage that has left part of Ballston dark.
Dominion Power spokeswoman Le-Ha Anderson confirms that around 250 customers are affected by the outage. Numerous ARLnow.com readers in the 4200 and 4300 blocks of N. Fairfax Drive report being without power since about 1:15 p.m.
Drivers and pedestrians should also be aware that the traffic light is out at the intersection of N. Fairfax Drive and N. Taylor Street.
A number of Dominion workers, apparently investigating and attempting to fix the problem, have been spotted along N. Utah Street near Fairfax Drive. So far, there is no confirmation of exactly what caused the outage or when customers should have power again.
This week, gay marriage has come to the forefront of American politics as the U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments regarding California’s Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). In light of the proceedings, Rep. Jim Moran (D) is reiterating his stance as an advocate of LGBT rights, including gay marriage and full marriage benefits.
DOMA overwhelmingly passed in Congress in 1996, but Moran notes he was one of the few who voted against the law. He released the following statement on Wednesday, following oral arguments in the case of United States v. Windsor, which challenges the constitutionality of DOMA:
“DOMA is unjust and un-American, contradicting long-standing legal principles and blatantly discriminating against specific legal marriages just because they involve gay and lesbian couples. DOMA flies in the face of our nation’s commitment to civil rights. I am proud to have been one of the 67 representatives who voted against this law’s passage in 1996.
“It’s also disturbing that House Republicans have wasted over $3 million defending DOMA in court over the past three years. I find it unconscionable that while budgets are being slashed by sequestration and many federal workers face furloughs, Republicans in the House voted to pay private lawyers $525 per hour to defend this discriminatory law.
“I strongly support the right of gay and lesbian couples to marry and have full access to the benefits and obligations of marriage. While churches should continue to be able to sanction marriages consistent with their faith, discrimination has no place in the laws that govern our country.
“In addition to being the truly ‘pro-family’ position, marriage equality is an issue that tests our nation’s fidelity to our fundamental values. The Declaration of Independence affirms that ‘all men are created equal’ and that every American has a right to ‘the pursuit of happiness.’ Surely these principles cannot be fulfilled without the ability to marry the person you love.”
Power has been restored to most of the customers affected by a power outage that occurred in the Clarendon, Courthouse and surrounding neighborhoods. However, there are pockets that may be dark for another hour or two.
At the height of the outage, more than 6,600 customers were without power. As of 10:20 a.m., Karl Neddenien with Dominion Power said less than 1,000 are still dark. Those customers are expected to have power restored by noon.
According to Neddenien, the outage occurred due to a problem in an underground equipment vault near Washington Blvd and N. 10th Street. Crews continue to work to figure out exactly what went wrong. There were reports of a flash and a couple of loud bangs just before the outage, but Neddenien isn’t able to confirm yet if that’s related to the outage.
“We need to get in there and determine just what happened,” Neddenien said. “But more importantly, we need to work on getting power back to everyone.”
Police have been assisting with directing traffic at busy intersections where the traffic lights went out, particularly at Lee Hwy and N. Veitch Street. Most of the affected traffic lights have come back on, but there are reports of some still out in Clarendon. Drivers who encounter dark lights without police directing traffic are reminded to treat the intersection as a four-way stop.
At about 9:15 a.m., a tree fell on power lines along Lorcom Lane, in the area of N. Jackson Street, causing several transformers to blow. That knocked out power to 3,827 customers, according to Dominion. Power was restored by noon, the company said.
Shortly after that outage was reported, another began.
“Around the same time we had another outage involving a tree on a power line in nearby northern Arlington,” Dominion spokeswoman Daisy Pridgen told ARLnow.com. “It affected 2,455 customers. Power was restored in two hours and 25 minutes.”
Traffic lights were reported dark on busy Lee Highway near I-66 as a result of the outages.
As of 10:15 this morning, only 997 Dominion customers were without power in Arlington, compared to more than 5,000 around the same time yesterday and more than 18,000 at the height of Superstorm Sandy.
Last night, Arlington officials reported that there were no dark traffic lights in the county. Six intersections were using generators to keep the signals functioning, however. There were about 20 non-functioning traffic signals the morning after the storm.
As of 5:30 last night, about 18 streets were still blocked or partially blocked by down trees, but county crews were working to clear the debris, according to a county media update.
Dominion says crews will be working on power lines and equipment at the following Arlington locations today:
- N. Henderson Rd & N. 3rd St
- S. 7th St & Buchanan
- Arlington Ridge Rd & S. 28th St
- Columbia Pike & S Buchanan St
- N 15th St & N Vermont St
- N Inglewood St & 17th St N
- 1st Rd & N Irving St
- N Quinn St & N 12th St
- N Stuart St & N 25th St
- N Underwood St & N 25th St
- N Nelson St & N 10th St
- S 5th St & S Aberdeen St
- S Chesterfield Rd south of Four Mile Run
- S. Glebe Rd. & S 9th St.
- Williamsburg Blvd & N Edison St
- Wilson Blvd & N Randolph St
Flickr pool photo by Afagen
The company plans to work on downed lines and blown transformers in more than 40 locations around the county.
As of 10:00 a.m., 5,264 Dominion customers are still without power in Arlington. That’s down from more than 18,000 at the storm’s peak. The company says it plans to have all Superstorm Sandy-related outages restored by Thursday night.
Arlington County crews are continuing to clean up debris-covered streets and assess damage. The county expects damages in Arlington from Sandy “will be in the millions of dollars.”
Dominion is planning to work at the following locations today:
- 10th St & N. Daniel St
- 14th St west of N Longfellow St
- 25th St east of Old Dominion Dr
- 29th St N & Sycamore St
- S. 12th St
- 40th St south of 41st St
- Carlyn Springs Rd & South 1st Pl
- Columbia Pk & Buchanan St
- Hayes St @ 23rd St
- Lee Hwy & N Calvert St
- Lee Hwy & N. Vermont St
- Little Falls Rd & 26th St
- 10th St & N Edgewood St
- North 17th St & North Hartford St
- N 19th St & Lexington
- N 23 Rd St & N Fillmore St
- N 25th St & N 26th Rd
- N 5th St east of N Monroe St
- N Barton St & 10th St
- Yorktown Blvd & N Brandywine St
- N Harrison St & 16th St
- N Kennsington St & 35th Rd
- N 25th Rd & N Kensington St
- N Pollard St btwn Wilson Blvd & 6th St
- N Quinn St & N 12th St
- N Stuart St & N 25th St
- N. Edison St & N. 38th St
- N. Quincy St. & N. 18th S
- N. Stafford St off Lee Hwy
- N. West St & Washington Blvd
- Patrick Henry Dr & Washington Blvd
- N. Oakland St north of Old Domonion Dr
- S 11th St & Frederick St
- S 16th St & S Ives St
- S 24th Rd
- S 4th St & Illinois
- S 4th St & Jefferson St
- S Eads St south of 12th St
- S Glebe Rd & S 3rd St
- S. Shirlington Rd. south of 25th St
- Washington Blvd & N Longfellow St
- Westmoreland St & Williamsburg Blvd
- Wilson Blvd & N Madison St
(Updated at 2:40 p.m.) — Power has been restored to nearly all of the 2,200 customers who were without power due to a vehicle accident in Cherrydale. The intersection of N. Quincy Street and Lee Highway, however, remains a mess.
According to an officer on the scene, just before 10:00 a.m., the driver of a large truck was attempting to make a right turn onto Lee Highway from northbound Quincy Street. Somehow he snagged a cable anchored into the sidewalk, which supports a utility pole. The top of the pole snapped and brought down wires, a transformer and part of another pole.
“This is all just because some guy couldn’t make a turn correctly,” the officer said.
The officer declined to comment on whether the driver received a ticket.
Traffic signals were dark in parts of Cherrydale, Ballston and Virginia Square in addition to the residential customers without power. Dominion was able to re-route power and all but 166 customers had electricity restored within an hour, according to Dominion spokeswoman Le-Ha Anderson. As of 2:40 p.m., there are only 9 remaining customers who don’t have power, and they are in the immediate vicinity of the accident.
Dominion crews are on the scene and have to replace the smashed transformer, one utility pole, the cross beam of another utility pole and will have to reconnect all the power lines. They also have to clean up the fluid that leaked from the smashed transformer, which Anderson said is harmless mineral oil. Crews had first hoped to have all the work finished sometime around 5:00 p.m., but due to the extent of the damage, the new estimate is in the 7:00-9:00 p.m. range.
Quincy Street remains closed between 20th Street and Lee Highway. Police are at the intersection to help with traffic control.