County Board Race is Anyone’s Guess – The outcome of the Arlington County Board race between incumbent John Vihstadt and Democratic challenger Alan Howze is far from certain. While Vihstadt is winning the fundraising battle, Howze is expected to benefit from far greater turnout than the 16 percent who voted in the special election this year. The last general election with a Senate race on the ballot saw a 55 percent turnout in Arlington. [Washington Post]
Vihstadt Peeved at ‘Pro-Streetcar Narrative’ — At yesterday’s County Board meeting, John Vihstadt complained about the county government’s pro-streetcar PR efforts. He suggested that he and fellow streetcar critic Libby Garvey, who make up 40 percent of the Board, should have their views heard through county government channels. Board Chair Jay Fisette slammed that idea, saying “it doesn’t make sense” for the county government to expend resources arguing against its own official policy. [InsideNova]
Cyclist Struck on Lynn Street — A bicyclist was struck by a vehicle on Lynn Street in Rosslyn, between Wilson Blvd and 19th Street N., just before 9:00 this morning. The cyclist was transported to Virginia Hospital Center with an apparent dislocated collarbone.
Bank Robbery in Falls Church — The FBI is looking for a man who robbed a BB&T Bank on West Broad Street in Falls Church yesterday morning. [Federal Bureau of Investigation]
Zac Hanson’s Birthday — On this day 29 years ago, “MMMBop” singer Zac Hanson was born in Arlington. [Hello!]
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
Candidates Push for Streetcar Referendum — Both Democrat Richard “Rip” Sullivan and Republican David Foster promise to introduce legislation in Richmond to allow Arlington residents to vote on the Columbia Pike streetcar. Last month, Arlington County Board members said they do not have the authority to put such a referendum on the ballot. Even if the measure would pass through the General Assembly and were approved by Gov. McAuliffe, it likely wouldn’t take effect until July 2015. [InsideNova]
Politico Moving in Rosslyn — Politico is leaving the space it shared with WJLA and NewsChannel 8 at 1100 Wilson Blvd in Rosslyn, but it’s not moving far. The publication has signed a long term lease at 1000 Wilson Blvd. [Washington Business Journal]
McCoskrie Lands Falls Church City Attorney Position — Carol McCoskrie, Arlington’s former Assistant County Attorney, has been approved as the new City Attorney for the City of Falls Church. McCoskrie spent 24 years working for Arlington County, mostly focusing on land use and development. [City of Falls Church]
Last Days for APAH School Supply Drive — There are only two days left to help the Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing with its backpack and school supply drive, which benefits Arlington children in need. APAH will accept donations of new supplies like pencils, glue, backpacks, scissors and erasers at its office at 2704 N. Pershing Drive until Friday (August 15). [APAH]
Dems Back Special Election Candidates – At its meeting last night, the Arlington County Democratic Committee formally nominated Carla de la Pava for treasurer and endorsed Nancy Van Doren for School Board. Both candidates are running in special elections to take place at the same time as the November 4 general election. [InsideNova]
Possible Attempt to Resurrect Arlington’s Tourism Tax — Two candidates looking to fill the seat of Del. Bob Brink both said at a recent debate that they would introduce legislation to bring back Arlington’s tourism surtax on hotel bills. Democrat Richard “Rip” Sullivan and Republican David Foster both favor the tax, which had been in place for 21 years until it lapsed in 2011, due to anger over the County Board suing the state and federal governments over high occupancy toll lanes. [InsideNova]
Arlington Man Wins Axe Throwing Competition — Arlington resident Christopher R. Miller won the 2014 Lizzie Borden Axe Throwing competition in Falls Church. He is the brother-in-law of last year’s winner. [Falls Church News-Press]
(Updated at 12:35 p.m.) The Arlington County Board has agreed to help fund a new fire engine, ambulance, ladder truck and three additional firefighters at the Falls Church Fire Station (6950 N. Little Falls Road in Arlington).
The station is located in Arlington but the land and building are owned by the City of Falls Church. According to the county staff report, half of the station’s coverage area is in Falls Church, while the other half is in Arlington. The partnership contract between the two jurisdictions had not been updated since it was passed in 1989; the new agreement the Board approved on Saturday would replace the former contract.
The Arlington County Fire Department staffs and operates the station alongside the Falls Church Volunteer Fire Department.
“The new Fire and Emergency Medical Services Agreement between Arlington County and the City of Falls Church is a much-needed update to an agreement that dates back to 1989,” County Manager Barbara Donnellan said in an email. “This new agreement better serves both communities, by more clearly defining operations and cost-sharing, and taking into account how service delivery has changed since 1989.”
The new agreement calls for three more full-time equivalent positions, for which the county and city will split expenditures. Despite the new purchases and new positions, county staff doesn’t anticipate any additional “net tax support.”
“While the County has additional expenses under the new agreement, such as Fall Church Fire Station maintenance,” the staff report states, “these additional expenses will be offset by additional reimbursements from the City.”
The old agreement, staff writes, did not clearly define how costs for maintenance and replacement of outdated equipment would be split between the two jurisdictions. In the first year of the new agreement, Falls Church has agreed to pay for capital improvements to the station to “bring the facility to an acceptable operating baseline.” The county has agreed to be responsible for maintenance and the city will fund all capital improvements going forward.
The city will pay the county $150,000 a year for capital investments, which the county will manage, and $738,000 for the initial improvements, which include replacing windows, overhead doors, and HVAC design.
Photo via Falls Church Volunteer Fire Department
(Updated at 3:10 p.m.) Firefighters from Arlington and Fairfax counties battled a two-alarm fire in the central business district of Falls Church.
Units on scene reported flames coming from a 5-story office building at 150 S. Washington Street. Falls Church Police Department spokeswoman Amy Betor said it took firefighters “about 30 minutes to extinguish.” Scanner traffic reported there were initial problems with water pressure at the scene.
There were no injuries reported, despite the office building being occupied at the time.
The fire appears to have started from an electrical room on the second floor, Betor said. A web search revealed real estate company Redfin has an office in Suite 200 of the building, but those on scene couldn’t confirm which company’s office the fire started in.
Randy Karn works on the third floor of the building, and said he started smelling “something electrical burning” about 10 minutes before the fire alarm went off.
“I went out into the office and after about 60 seconds it was filled with smoke,” Karn told ARLnow.com as he was standing outside the building. “It was time to go. I left my wallet, I left my keys, I left my laptop and got out of there.”
Arlington County provides firefighting services to the City of Falls Church under contract. Karn said he estimated the firefighters took between 10 and 15 minutes to arrive. The fire “had a hell of a time getting going,” building slowly, but flames were already showing out of the window by the time firefighters arrived on scene.
A man was shot overnight in Falls Church, a city spokeswoman said in a press release Saturday morning.
The shooting occurred on the 900 block of W. Broad Street, about a mile away from the Arlington border.
At 4:30 a.m. on Saturday, December 28, City of Falls Church Police responded to a call for shots fired in the 900 block of W. Broad St. An adult male was transported to Fairfax Hospital for gunshot wounds; last report received is that he was in surgery. Police are on the scene investigating. More details will be released as they become available.
WUSA9 reports that the man was shot multiple times in the parking lot of a Taco Bell restaurant.
The Arlington County Fire Department battled at least three fires over the long holiday weekend.
On Saturday, firefighters extinguished a fire in a detached shed behind a home on the 2900 block of 7th Street N. in Lyon Park. The smoky fire spread to an adjacent fence and caused minor damage to adjacent sheds, but otherwise did not damage any houses, according to ACFD spokesman Gregg Karl.
On Monday, Arlington firefighters battled a two-alarm fire at a house on Shadow Walk in Falls Church, just off Little Falls Road near the Arlington border. Karl was unable to provide additional information about that blaze. ACFD was also called to a small fire on an apartment balcony at 901 N. Monroe Street in Virginia Square. The fire was contained to the balcony, Karl said.
Photo (left) courtesy @CAPT258. Photo (right) courtesy Peter Roof.
Falls Church police say the man in the surveillance images (left) stole more than $2,000 from a “money transfer store” on the 6000 block of Wilson Boulevard.
“At approximately 3:28 p.m. on Friday, January 4, an unknown male entered a store unnoticed and removed $2,324 cash from a locked drawer behind a counter,” police said. “He appeared to leave in a black Ford Fusion.”
Anyone with information about is asked to contact Detective J.M. Elliott at 703-248-5068 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo courtesy City of Falls Church Police Department
FCVFD Donating Ambulance to Sandy-Stricken Community — The Falls Church Volunteer Fire Department is donating its reserve ambulance to the community of Island Park, New York, which was hard-hit by Hurricane Sandy. Today, volunteer firefighters will be driving the 2002 Freightliner ambulance up to Island Park, where it will replace an ambulance lost by the Island Park Volunteer Fire Department during the storm.
County Kicks Off Rosslyn Planning Process — Arlington County has begun an effort to create a comprehensive new long-range plan for Rosslyn. Dubbed “Realize Rosslyn,” the plan will seek to “transform this 1960s car-centric area to one of our region’s great urban centers.” Through a civic engagement process, the county will create “an enhanced urban design framework,” refine and improve transportation options, recommend a new “building heights strategy” and develop “a more cohesive, functional parks and open space network.” [Arlington County]
Officials: No Plan to Sell Reeves Farm — County officials say there’s no plan to sell the historic Reeves farm, despite reports on WAMU and in the Arlington Connection newspaper suggesting it might be heading to the auction block. “The board is not interested in selling the farmhouse at this point in time,” said County Board Chair Mary Hynes. [Sun Gazette]
Board Updates Special Events Policy — The Arlington County Board on Saturday voted unanimously to update the county’s special events and demonstrations policy. The new policy “encourages such events while ensuring that the County recovers its support costs,” the county said. [Arlington County]
Dog Paws ‘n Cat Claws dog daycare (940 S. George Mason Drive) is moving out of Arlington.
The move, to a bigger space at 5818 Seminary Road in Falls Church, will allow the five-year-old business to serve as a dedicated pet adoption center, says owner Ryan Folcher.
The current space, just off of Columbia Pike, allows only for standalone pet adoption events, said Folcher, who also cited concerns about Arlington County’s move away from the type of light industrial zoning his business uses.
“We want to kind of reconstruct the building. But I don’t have the money or time to do that and risk that Arlington just says, ‘No, we’re not going to approve it,’” Folcher said. “The only thing that is zoned for Arlington is high-rise apartments and condos. I was interested in staying but my business model really can’t adopt. Financially, I just need to let the business evolve and that’s not where it’s going to happen.”
Daycare manager Lisa Niel said the current space holds between 50 and 60 dogs a day. Folcher and another employee showed off the new 7,400-square-foot daycare and retail store to clients in an open house on Sunday.
“We’ve already heard feedback from clients dropping off dogs that they love the new space,” Niel said. “We think it will broaden our client base into Alexandria, Bailey’s Crossroads and Fairfax.”
Folcher also cited Arlington County signage restrictions as an issue. Last year, the county told him he could not post temporary signage advertising holiday sales.
He hopes to have the new location ready to open by late August.
(Updated at 5:40 a.m.) Falls Church police are investigating a shooting at the Eden Center.
We’re told the shooting happened around 10:00 p.m. According to Falls Church police spokeswoman Susan Finarelli, one male was shot and was pronounced dead on the scene. Another male died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Eden Center is located at 6751 Wilson Boulevard.
Crews had been assisting police and fire units from Falls Church, after a resident called about a suspicious device this morning. According to City of Falls Church Communications Director Susan Finarelli, the resident had been digging in his yard in the 200 block of N. Virginia Ave., when he found a potentially hazardous device. Arlington’s bomb squad was called in to assist.
The item in question was found to be an antique military device, and was deemed safe. The military will dispose of the item.
“Nobody was hurt, and now with the bomb squad here, nobody should be hurt,” Finarelli said earlier.
The park and streets around Cherry Hill Park were closed down for more than two hours during the investigation, and several homes were also evacuated. Everything in the area has been re-opened.
Update at 7:45 p.m. — Adding to the misery on the roads: more than 2,600 Dominion customers are without power in Arlington. Many of the outages are concentrated in the area of Route 50 and Carlin Springs Road. Several traffic lights are reported to be dark as a result.
Thanks to today’s heavy rain, and the resulting flooding in Alexandria, Fairfax County and the City of Falls Church, tonight’s commute can only be described as nightmarish.
Southbound I-395, westbound I-66 and westbound Columbia Pike are all still slow through Arlington, as of 7:00 tonight. Meanwhile, WTOP just reported that the Capital Beltway has been closed at Cameron Run in Alexandria, due to flooding across the roadway.
Due to the continued threat of flooding, local residents are being encouraged to stay off the roads if at all possible.
The man reportedly robbed the Sun Trust bank at 603 W. Broad Street in Falls Church. According to initial reports, he displayed a large handgun and demanded money, then made a getaway on a red bicycle.
The man is described as a six-foot tall black male — which does not fit the description of the man who robbed a Wachovia bank in Clarendon yesterday morning.
This is the eighth reported bank robbery in the Arlington and Falls Church areas since the beginning of June.