Cherry Trees Planted at Library — As part of its Neighborhood Tree Planting Program, the National Cherry Blossom Festival and the Japan-America Society of Washington planted three cherry trees in front of Arlington Central Library yesterday. The program “is an effort to celebrate and share the gift of cherry blossom trees throughout the DC-metro region… and helps create new National Cherry Blossom Festival traditions beyond the Tidal Basin,” festival organizers said in a statement. [Facebook]
Whole Foods Deli, Chicken Counter Stay Closed — The main grocery store and much of the prepared foods sections at the Clarendon Whole Foods (2700 Wilson Blvd) are open following Tuesday’s fire, but county officials say the market deli and chicken counter will stay closed until the health inspector approves its reopening.
County to Consider Privatizing Volunteer Agency — Changes may be coming to Volunteer Arlington, the county’s volunteer agency. Arlington County Manager Barbara Donnellan is establishing a new advisory task force “to look into whether Arlington’s volunteer office is the right business model to meet community needs.” The task force will consider whether outsourcing Volunteer Arlington “would enhance volunteer activity in the community.” [Arlington County]
Restaurant Exceeds Kickstarter Goal — SER, the winner of Ballston’s Restaurant Challenge, has exceeded its $15,000 Kickstarter goal. The Spanish comfort food restaurant, coming to 1110 N. Glebe Road in Ballston, has so far raised $17,145. It also received a $245,000 interest-free loan as the prize for winning the Restaurant Challenge. [Kickstarter]
Arlington GOP Blasts Olympic Bid — Arlington Republicans do not share Democratic officials’ enthusiasm for the regional bid to host the 2024 Summer Olympics. “It’s not a great idea,” said local GOP chairman Matt Wavro, citing costs and security concerns. [InsideNova]
Flickr pool photo by Rob Cannon
Metro Work This Weekend — Arlington’s Metro lines will be impacted by significant maintenance work this weekend. Riders on the Orange Line should expect trains to run every 24 minutes, while trains on the Blue Line will run every 20 minutes. The Yellow Line, meanwhile, will only run between Huntington and Mt. Vernon Square. [WMATA]
Bracket Room Expanding to DCA — Bracket Room, the upscale sports bar in Clarendon that opened last summer, is expanding with locations in Reagan National Airport and Dulles International Airport. “The two new restaurants will mirror the Arlington location’s upscale, stylish environment complete with infinity-edge televisions making it the ideal spot to grab a meal and watch a game while waiting for a flight,” according to a press release. No word on an opening date. [PRWeb]
Library Lit Ball Will Have 007 Theme — Library boosters Friends of the Arlington Public Library are planning a James Bond theme for the group’s second annual “Lit Up Ball” fundraiser. The event will take place Saturday, Oct. 18 at Artisphere and will benefit the library’s early literacy initiatives. Tickets are $30. [Friends of the Arlington Public Library]
Clarendon Apple Store Camper — Someone is already camping in front of the Clarendon Apple Store, in anticipation of tomorrow morning’s launch of the iPhone 6. [Twitter]
Residents can sign up to compete against neighbors in the library’s “Dewey Decimators League.” Participants must attend a Fantasy Football 101 class at Central Library on Monday, August 18. From 6:00-7:00 p.m. class attendees will learn how to use the free Yahoo! Fantasy Football program to create a team.
That Saturday (August 23) is the big draft day. From 1:00-2:00 p.m., registered participants will draft their players either in person at Central Library or online.
League participants can build a team on their own or co-own a team with others. Individual participants must be at least 13 years old.
Those who attend the August 18 introductory class will hear more about the smaller prizes to be awarded throughout the season, from places like Bayou Bakery, Corner Bakery, Dunkin Donuts, Sweet Leaf and Starbucks. The league runs through December 22 and the winner will get a grand prize that has not yet been announced.
APS Still Looking for Teachers — Officials with Arlington Public Schools are still searching for teachers for the 2014-2015 school year, which is only about three weeks away. APS would like about 75 more new teachers in addition to the 225 it already hired. [InsideNova]
Att’y Gen. Asks Supreme Court to Hear Gay Marriage Case — Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring has, as expected, asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review the state’s gay marriage case. Herring agrees with the gay marriage ban being struck down, but believes the Supreme Court should look at the case because it could set a nationwide precedent. Last month, Arlington County Clerk of the Circuit Court Paul Ferguson told ARLnow.com he was waiting for guidance from Herring and would begin performing gay marriages as soon as he received word they would be valid. [Daily Press]
Cemetery to Change Dates on Monument — Arlington National Cemetery has agreed to change the date on a monument to a World War II bomber crew lost in 1944. The stone monument currently shows the year 1946 — which is the year the Army officially classified the crew members as dead — but the plane went missing in 1944. Family members of the crew have been trying to get the date changed for about 12 years. [Stars and Stripes]
Central Library to Loan Garden Tools — Residents soon will be able to borrow garden tools from Central Library. A start date hasn’t yet been set because the library is still gathering gently used tool donations and signing up volunteers to assist with the program. Those interested in helping out or donating tools can get more information online. [Arlington Public Library]
A place to convene with neighbors, donate those dusty spy novels and show children the merits of community service comes in a package the size of an old cranberry crate.
These Little Free Libraries, neighborhood-sponsored curbside libraries with a free, “take a book, return a book,” policy, have sprouted up in Arlington since Robert Walter installed one in his neighborhood off Glebe Road and Walter Reed Drive in 2012.
“It’s better than donating to Goodwill, who will sell [the books], and it’s a way to give back to the neighborhood,” said Walter, who heard about The Little Free Library organization on Facebook.
Little Free Libraries encourage communities to contribute any books — from children’s books to novels to cookbooks — as well as to enjoy the contributions made by other neighbors.
There are now seven Little Free Libraries in Arlington, located at 3900 7th Street S., 1060 N. Liberty Street, 4706 32nd Street N., 5117 N. 27th Street, 1700 S. Edgewood Street, 6328 22nd Street N. along a section of the Four Mile Run trail, and on the grounds of Washington-Lee High School.
Last week, each library was stocked with books, including comedian David Cross’ memoir and an installment of the “Berenstain Bears” children’s series.
Much like ordinary libraries, Little Free Libraries are meant to be a community hub. However, they don’t charge late fees or require library cards, just an interest in reading and paying-it-forward.
“It’s good for poor people and the [undocumented] population who might have been intimidated by the registration process at a library, or who want to avoid potential late fees,” Walter said of his Little Free Library. “It’s also more social.”
After his proposal for a Little Free Library was approved by the homeowners’ association of his eight-residence community, Walter requested a box from Little Free Library.
Walter said his homeowners’ association paid approximately $350 for their recycled cranberry crate, its post and installation, but many communities make their own libraries rather than buying them from the organization.
“I’ve seen some really elaborate, cool designs that people have done,” Walter said. The Little Free Library website includes pictures of library “stewards” like Walter, who built their libraries to look like covered bridges or old-fashioned school houses.
More than 2,000 Little Free Libraries exist across the world. Since the organization’s beginning in Wisconsin in 2009, Little Free Library owners in Vietnam, Germany and Australia have registered their libraries on the official map.
For residents interested in installing their own, all that’s needed is the approval of the neighborhood association, access to building materials or the means to purchase a library box, and registration with Little Free Library’s map. A steward to sponsor and maintain the library is also essential.
“When I was a resident, I would just keep a box of books in the house and it was like a constant reserve,” Walter said.
Although Walter has relocated to Fairfax, and will soon transfer stewardship of his library to someone in his old neighborhood, he knows his library still gets frequent business.
“I went back there to pick up some mail, and there were books there, different ones from the last time I saw it,” Walter said.
Tomorrow (August 9) marks the 40th anniversary of President Richard Nixon’s resignation from office in light of the Watergate scandal, and Central Library is marking the historic anniversary with a display of memorabilia and an author visit.
The library has a temporary display of Nixon-related items that visitors can check out through the end of the month. A private, local collector allowed the library to borrow the pieces of memorabilia covering the decades from Nixon’s 1950s vice-presidential campaign through his death in 1994. The display includes a couple dozen items including newspapers, masks and even a section of carpet from the Democratic National Committee offices at the Watergate — the target of the 1972 break-in that sparked a larger investigation.
The collector is particularly proud of a t-shirt from the late 1970s prompting readers to “Don’t Buy Books By Crooks.” It was part of a national campaign, started in Arlington, to encourage people not to buy Nixon’s memoirs. The headquarters for that campaign was located close to where the Ballston Metro station currently exists.
“We live in this incredibly fascinating capital area, and our national history often is also our local Arlington history in a lot of ways,” said library spokesman Peter Golkin.
On Tuesday (August 12), author Elizabeth Drew will visit the library to talk about covering the events surrounding the Watergate scandal, and about the reissue of her book “Washington Journal: Reporting Watergate and Richard Nixon’s Downfall.” She will reflect on Nixon’s ability to make a comeback and discuss what the scandal means in the 21st century. Copies of Drew’s book will be available for sale and signing during the event, which runs from 7:00-9:00 p.m.
“It’s a rare opportunity to hear one of the major journalists to cover Watergate speak,” said Golkin. He notes that although many Americans were focused on newspaper coverage of the scandal, Drew’s reporting was a major contribution because “her coverage in The New Yorker gave it a context you can only get from that kind of long-form journalism.”
Early last month, Arlington Public Library rolled out seven STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) kits — one for each branch — to encourage children to get hands-on experience with science in conjunction with its science-themed “Fizz, Boom, Read” summer reading program.
“The kids can come in, they can play with the kits, they can read books that correspond with the themes,” Anne Womack, the library’s youth collections librarian, said. “We saw other libraries doing this, and STEM is really important, so we thought we should do it, too. The kits are something to make kids see that science can be fun and hands on.”
The kits are for engineering (as pictured above), earth science, the human body, insects, plants, a “snap circuit” for basic electronics and weather. Each one is designed so children can play independently.
“The girl who built the bridge in that picture, she did it on her own,” Womack said. “She read the instructions and just did it. It’s just hands-on science activities for the kids, not something that has to be parent or teacher-led.”
Each kit has components for young children and late-elementary schoolers. They were paid for and partly designed by Dan Cross-Cole, a retired engineer. Womack was sitting in her office early this spring when she was told “there is a guy in the lobby looking for you.”
It was Cross-Cole, who told her he “wanted to design some science projects for kids,” Womack said. Library staff had already been discussing building the kits because they had seen them at other library systems, so Womack instantly agreed. Cross-Cole arranged to have the project paid for by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).
“[Cross-Cole] was a miracle,” Womack said. “He just came to us out of the blue… [IEEE] paid for everything, and they’ve been really helpful in this process.”
The kits will rotate throughout the library system for the rest of the summer. After the summer reading program is finished, Womack said they plan to circulate them among the different branches of the library.
Photo (top) courtesy Arlington Public Library. Bottom photo courtesy Anne Womack
Dark Star Park Day in Rosslyn — It’s Dark Star Park Day in Rosslyn. Today commemorates the 30th anniversary of the park, which is designed to cast shadows that align with the art installation once a year, on Aug. 1. Arlington County Board Chair Jay Fisette is expected to speak at a celebration at the park, at 1655 Fort Myer Drive, starting at 9:00 a.m. [Rosslyn BID, Ode Street Tribune]
Roads to Close for Signature Open House — Part of Campbell Avenue in Shirlington will be closed from 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. Saturday for the annual Signature Theatre open house. The event runs from noon to 10:00 p.m. and features numerous singing and theater performances, including a “Signature Idol competition.” [Signature Theatre, Arlington County]
Finding Love on Metro — Metro is D.C.’s most popular location for missed romantic connections. “There seems to be quite a lot of flirting, or at least furtive glancing, taking place on public transportation,” states the county’s Mobility Lab blog. As evidence of that, the blog interviewed Mary Rouleau, executive director of the Arlington-based Alliance for Housing Solutions, who met her husband while waiting for an Orange Line train. [Mobility Lab]
Library Seeks LEGO Creations — Arlington Public Library is seeking original creations for its 2nd annual LEGO exhibit. The exhibit is open to LEGO builders age 18 and under, and teams featuring at least one under 18 member. [Arlington Public Library]
Arlington Parkmobile Video — Arlington County has created a video showcasing its new partnership with Parkmobile, the smartphone app that allows you to pay for parking without feeding a meter. The service is currently available in Crystal City and Shirlington, and will be expanding to other parts of the county over the next 9 months or so. [YouTube]
Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick
State Dept. Office Consolidation — The GSA is working with the State Department on a plan for consolidating its two offices in Rosslyn into one office in either Rosslyn, Ballston, Pentagon City or Crystal City. [Washington Business Journal]
Ohio Woman Charged in Arlington Boy’s Death — A 62-year-old woman has been charged in the death of 8-year-old Ashlawn Elementary student Eli Sachar. Police in Chagrin Falls, Ohio, have charged Christine Gregory with aggravated vehicular homicide, reckless operation and failure to yield to pedestrians in the crosswalk, after she struck Eli and his family with her car as they were crossing a street while visiting the town. [WKYC]
ACFD Training for Active Shooter at the Pentagon — The Arlington County Fire Department is training with the Pentagon Force Protection Agency on active shooter scenarios at the Pentagon. During an actual active shooter situation, under newly-updated plans, armed Pentagon Force Protection officers would escort unarmed Arlington medics into the area where the shooting was happening so they can begin medically treating the victims. [Washington Times]
Library Sends Erroneous Overdue Emails — Arlington Public Library sent erroneous emails yesterday incorrectly stating that patrons had overdue books. “We apologize for the inconvenience, and are working to resolve the issue as quickly as possible,” the library said on its website. “If you have any questions about what materials are actually checked out to you, you can check by logging in to your account online or at any Library location.” [Arlington Public Library]
Metro: Eight-Car Trains More Effective Than I-66 Widening — Metro says adding all-eight-car trains to the Orange Line is the capacity equivalent of widening I-66 by two lanes. “Plus, it’d likely be cheaper and faster for commuters, too,” Metro planners say. [PlanItMetro]
Fireball Seen Across Mid-Atlantic — Arlington residents and those across the mid-Atlantic saw a fireball streak across the sky last night around 10:15 p.m. Wrote one reader to ARLnow.com: “Was out on my back porch [in Lyon Park] looking west and at exactly 10:15 p.m. I saw a crazy, bright shooting star fall from North Arlington over Columbia Pike and towards the ground near Shirlington. Totally time from sighting to out of sight behind the trees was 4 seconds tops.” [Capital Weather Gang]
Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann
A new event, “Late Night Recess,” will give Arlington residents in their 20s and 30s a free opportunity to romp around Arlington Central Library (1015 N. Quincy Street) in “play clothes” after closing time later this month.
The event will take place on Thursday, July 31, starting at 9:00 p.m. Attendees are encouraged to “bring their friends and inner child” to the event, which will include Nerf tag, capture the flag, Twister and homemade cookies and milk from gourmet cookie bakery Noshy.
Following the event, participants can continue to O’Sullivan’s Irish Pub in Clarendon, where Late Night Recess ticket-holders will get a free appetizer with a $10 purchase. The event is intended to help the library engage with the young professional set.
“The library in the 21st century goes well beyond a stack of books on the shelves,” said library spokesman Peter Golkin. “If people are looking for something that’s built around a social gathering as opposed to a book-centered gathering, then that’s what we do.”
As one of the events in the Arlington Public Library’s “Lit Up” series, Late Night Recess is aimed at young adults who want to socialize and have fun in a unique setting. However, there is no age limit for the event. Attendees should use “common sense,” and respect the library in this unique after-hours setting, Golkin said.
Current, ongoing events in the Lit Up series include the Commuter Book Club, a book club for short books that make “Metro stops or miles fly by,” and Shut Up and Write, a discussion series with a panel of authors.
Registration for Late Night Recess is currently open, and the first 50 registrants will receive a “special prize.”
Library to Host World Cup Viewing — For most of those going out in Arlington to watch this afternoon’s USA-Belgium World Cup match, a bar (or a movie theater) is the preferred venue. But if you don’t need a beer to watch the game, Arlington Central Library (1015 N. Quincy Street) has a free option for soccer viewing. The game, which starts at 4:00 p.m., will be projected on the big screen on the library’s first floor. Cheering and non-alcoholic drinks will be allowed in the library during the game. [Arlington Public Library]
List of 48th District Candidates Grows — More than a half dozen candidates have now tossed their hat in the ring to replace the retiring Del. Bob Brink (D-48). Local Democrats are holding firehouse primaries in the race this weekend in Arlington and McLean. [Blue Virginia]
Arlington’s Traffic Paradox — Despite large gains in population and density, traffic on Arlington roads has actually decreased over the past couple of decades. How is that possible? “Virtually all the growth has happened in Arlington’s Metrorail corridors, where using transit, biking, and walking are the norm.” [Greater Greater Washington]
Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann
Another Flash Flood Watch — It’s Friday the 13th and Arlington is under another Flash Flood Watch today. The watch is in effect from noon through 10:00 p.m. Forecasters say an approaching cold front will spawn scattered showers and thunderstorms, some of which will be strong and result in very heavy rain. [National Weather Service]
Library to Launch Tool Lending — Arlington residents will soon be able to use their library cards to borrow garden tools from Arlington Central Library. The library is currently looking for volunteers to run and maintain its new “tool library,” which was established after being set as a priority by the county’s Urban Agriculture Task Force last year. [Arlington Public Library]
Va. Lawmakers Pass Budget After Impasse — Republicans in the Virginia Senate passed a budget Thursday night that thwarts an expansion of Medicaid, which had been sought by Democrats. Republicans were able to pass the budget after a Democratic lawmaker resigned and shifted the balance of power in the Senate to the GOP. [Richmond Times-Dispatch]
‘KidicalMass’ Bike Ride Sunday — For Father’s Day, a group of parents and their kids will be taking part in a “KidicalMass” bike ride from Hayes Park to Larry’s Homemade Ice Cream in Clarendon Sunday evening. [Blogspot]
Blues Fest Road Closures — The annual Columbia Pike Blues Festival will be held Saturday and several road closures, including the closure of Walter Reed Drive north of Columbia Pike, are planned as a result. The road closures will be in effect from about 7:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. [Arlington County]
Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman
Police Locate Autistic Man With Lojack — The Arlington County Police Department’s Lojack-powered Project Lifesaver has helped locate another missing man. A 29-year-old autistic man who wandered away from his group home was located by police Wednesday morning, less than an hour after he was reported missing. [Arlington County]
APS Receives Award — Arlington Public Schools has received “the prestigious Medallion of Excellence Award presented by the U.S. Senate Productivity and Quality Awards for Virginia and the District of Columbia (SPQA).” APS is the ninth Virginia school division to be recognized since the award was established in 1983. [Arlington Public Schools]
W-L Advances to State Tourney — Washington-Lee High School’s boys soccer team defeated West Potomac 4-2 Tuesday night to advance to the 6A North Region title game and to the Virginia High School League state tournament. [InsideNova]
Library Digitizing Local Newspapers — Arlington Public Library is digitizing its microfilm archive of the Northern Virginia Sun newspaper, originally named the Arlington Sun. The new digital archives will be text searchable, “a boon for researchers, history buffs and anyone searching for specific moments in Arlington’s 20th century story.” The archives cover 1935 to 1978. [Arlington Public Library]
County Bureau Runs ‘Like a Startup’ — Arlington County Commuter Services, which is charged with getting more Arlington residents and workers to bike, walk or take transit rather than drive, “looks and operates more like a start-up tech company than a government agency.” [Mobility Lab]
Flickr pool photo by Brian Allen
County Releases Development Report — Arlington County has issued its Development Tracking Report for the first quarter of 2014. In Q1, the County Board approved 170,834 square feet of office space, 4,280 square feet of retail, 387 apartment units, and 161 hotel rooms. [Arlington County]
Library Honors Outstanding Volunteers — Arlington Public Library has presented its annual Outstanding Volunteer of the Year awards. The awards went to Deborah Jones, who helps to manage nine book clubs, and to the Talking Books and Homebound Services team. [Arlington Public Library]
Pot Group Releases Video for Ebbin — NORML PAC, which is working to legalize marijuana in the U.S., has released a video in support of state Sen. Adam Ebbin’s run for Congress. Ebbin is one of seven candidates campaigning for the Democratic primary on June 10. In addition to marijuana advocates, Ebbin has received endorsements from County Board Chair Jay Fisette, three Arlington School Board members, and the local chapters of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and Laborers’ International Union of North America. [YouTube]
Today’s National Security Agency is housed in a sprawling complex in Fort Meade, Md., but, according to a recent lecturer at Arlington Public Library, domestic surveillance by the NSA was perhaps born in Arlington.
Arlington Hall — located off Route 50 between S. Glebe Road and George Mason Drive — was the site of the U.S. Army Signal Intelligence Service (SIS), which became part of the newly-formed National Security Agency in the early 1950s, Robarge said. The Army bought Arlington Hall, which was formerly the site of the Arlington Hall Junior College for Women, in 1943.
Arlington Hall was where the SIS launched a top-secret project called VENONA (which was declassified in the mid-1990s), helmed by Col. Carter Clark.
Clark realized “after World War II was over and we were done fighting the Germans, the Japanese, the Italians and others, we’d eventually be fighting the Russians,” Robarge said. “So he said ‘let’s start watching them very closely, looking at their intelligence communications to see what they’re up to inside the United States.'”
Robarge said Clark assembled a team of linguists and mathematicians in Arlington Hall to break Russian codes. In total, VENONA uncovered more than 300 operatives of the Soviet Union in the federal government, working in the White House, Justice Department and the Manhattan Project.
“If it was involved in national security and the war effort,” Robarge said, “the Soviets had some kind of penetration inside there.”
VENONA uncovered the spying of alleged traitors Julius and Ethel Rosenberg and several others, none of whom could be convicted of treason because VENONA evidence was classified and “couldn’t be used to arrest anyone,” Robarge said.
VENONA was infiltrated by Soviet spies in the late 1940s and officially went dark in 1949, Robarge said. By then, however, the Army’s intelligence service was firmly established at Arlington Hall, which would one day also launch the Defense Intelligence Agency, which departed the facility in 1984 and for Bolling Air Force Base.
The Department of Defense transferred a portion of the facility to the Department of State, and in 1993 the National Foreign Affairs Training Center opened at Arlington Hall.
Photo (bottom) courtesy Arlington Public Library