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by Katie Pyzyk — May 21, 2013 at 3:50 pm 1,185 0

House fire in Lyon ParkSome Lyon Park residents have expressed concern about Arlington’s 911 system after waiting on hold while calling in last Wednesday’s house fire on N. Highland Street. Arlington’s Office of Emergency Management, however, says everything worked just as it was supposed to.

Some callers reported hearing a recorded message while they were put on hold for several minutes, according to an ARLnow.com tipster. OEM Director Jack Brown confirmed that there were callers who heard a message asking them to stay on the line while the system was flooded with calls. Anyone who hung up was then called back to verify that they were safe and to check if they still needed emergency assistance, exactly like any other 911 hang up.

“It’s not an overburden for us, it’s just very busy in the initial stages of an emergency,” said Emergency Communications Center Commander John Crawford. “The system was working and the people were working. The only issue we get is when lots of people call all at once.”

Crawford explained that Arlington’s 911 call center has a minimum of 10 people staffing it at all times. Typically, calls immediately go through to a staffer. But when an emergency occurs, such as during the Lyon Park fire, there are so many calls that each one cannot be answered immediately.

“The phones just literally lit up. We knew it was something significant,” Crawford said. “If 10 people call 911, the eleventh person is going to get a pre-recorded message asking them to hold. We purposely put that recording in there because in years past the phone would just ring and ring, and people would question if they called the right number.”

The automatic call distribution system immediately sends holding callers to the first available staff member as soon as a line frees up. Once information is gathered from the first couple of callers, the rest of the calls typically move more quickly. Staffers make every effort to gather information from each caller as rapidly as possible to avoid missing an emergency.

“You never know, that eleventh call or twelfth call might be someone in a horrific accident on G.W. Parkway not related to the fire, so we have to go through every call as quickly as possible,” said Crawford. “I have to talk to you but I don’t have to talk to you long. To some people it may sound rude, but I need to cut to the chase and get the info I need and then hang up the phone.”

Arlington County 911 dispatch centerCrawford noted that Arlington’s 911 call center received significant upgrades five years ago, including expanding the number of phone lines from 16 to 48. Improvements have been made to prevent the system from “locking up” as it did during the terrorist attack on September 11, 2001.

“On 9/11, the phones rang and lit up so quick that it locked the system up. Literally hundreds. We couldn’t even get to them,” said Crawford.

9/11 also put into play the rare “code red” alert that gets sent out to staff pagers and phones, ordering them back to work to help with a large emergency. With the additional lines that have been added since that time, the center could now have 48 call takers working at the same time — one for each phone line.

“Thank God, other than a couple of disasters I know of, we haven’t had need to upstaff to that degree,” said Crawford.

Arlington’s 911 center does add extra staff members during anticipated busy times, such as weekend nights and planned events like races. However, on the average day, the 10 or so call takers need to deal with any incidents that arise.

Crawford noted that it’s important for people to continue to call when they see or hear something occur because you never know if another person will call or not. He asks residents to be patient if they’re put on hold during a flood of calls, and promises the call takers are doing the best they can.

“We work for the citizens, those are our customers,” Crawford said. “We try to provide the best possible customer service to them.”

by ARLnow.com — May 20, 2013 at 6:00 pm 0

Neighbors of the Lyon Park mother and son whose house was destroyed by fire last week are collecting money for the family’s needs and for their cat’s medical bills.

Three people –  Liz Tefera, her son, and a tenant who was renting a room in the home — were displaced after fire consumed the home on Wednesday, May 15. Tefera and her son, a 7th grade student, are now staying in a local hotel, having “lost everything” in the fire. The blaze also injured Baby, one of Tefera’s two cats, according to neighbor Donna Seabold and her husband, John.

“Two cats were trapped in the house during the fire,” Seabold said. “One cat was found immediately after the fire was extinguished, and suffered only minor injuries. The second cat, named Baby, was not found until the following day in the flooded basement of the boarded up house. Baby has suffered minor burns, respiratory issues, and carbon monoxide poisoning.”

Baby was brought to VCA SouthPaws animal hospital in Fairfax, where she received three days of oxygen treatment. The treatment has improved Baby’s condition to the point where this afternoon she was able to be transferred to the Nova Cat Clinic in Virginia Square, according to Seabold.

Though we’re told that Tefera’s house was insured, neighbors are collecting money to help pay for the family’s expenses, including some $2,000 in medical bills for Baby.

Those interested in helping the family with Baby’s medical bills or with their other expenses can email babyfiremedicalfund@gmail.com for more information. PayPal donations can also be sent to the address.

by ARLnow.com — May 15, 2013 at 6:00 pm 3,478 0

(Updated on 5/20/13) Arlington County, Falls Church and Ft. Myer firefighters responded to a house fire in Lyon Park tonight.

This fire was reported around 5:45 p.m., at the corner of N. Highland Street and 7th Street. Firefighters arrived on scene, made their way into the burning home and attacked heavy flames throughout the structure. The fire was eventually brought under control around 6:10 p.m., but not before causing significant damage to the home.

Smoke could be seen and smelled from the Clarendon area, readers told ARLnow.com via Twitter.

Nobody was injured in the blaze, according to Arlington County Fire Department spokesman Capt. Gregg Karl. The Red Cross is on scene, assisting the two adults and one child who lived in the house.

A 12-year-old boy was at home the time of the fire and managed to escape unscathed, Karl said. Two cats were also inside the house. One escaped unharmed and the other was later found injured inside the house, we’re told.

by ARLnow.com — May 3, 2013 at 9:05 am 902 0

A tree in Barcroft by ddimick

Politico May Leave Rosslyn — The offices of the Capitol Hill publication Politico will likely move from Rosslyn to some place closer to the Hill. The expected move was announced at a staff meeting, which also discussed the pending sale of TV station ABC 7, also located in Rosslyn. [DCRTV]

Crime Solvers Awards — A Sheriff’s Office narcotics K-9 officer and a second-generation Arlington Police detective were the winners of the 2013 Law Enforcement Officer of the Year awards. The awards were presented yesterday at a luncheon sponsored by Arlington County Crime Solvers. [Sun Gazette]

Police 50/50 Raffle — Arlington police officers are holding a 50/50 raffle to benefit and police sergeant and an officer’s wife who were recently diagnosed with cancer. The raffle drawing will be held on May 14. Tickets are available for $20 at Hard Times Cafe (3028 Wilson Blvd) and Crystal City Sports Pub (529 23rd Street S.) [PDF]

Miss Gay Arlington Pageant — The annual Miss Gay Arlington pageant will be held tonight at 8:00 p.m. at Freddie’s Beach Bar in Crystal City (555 23rd Street S.). The pageant, which is sponsored by the Arlington Gay and Lesbian Aliance, will judge drag performers in four categories: self-expression, talent, evening gown and on-stage question. [Facebook]

Lyon Park Home & Garden Tour — The Lyon Park neighborhood will hold its annual home and garden tour on Sunday. The self-guided tour runs from 12:30 to 4:00 p.m. [PDF]

Flickr pool photo by ddimick

by ARLnow.com — March 25, 2013 at 4:42 pm 4,108 19 Comments

traffic-cam(Updated at 5:25 p.m.) A vehicle pursuit has ended on I-395 near the 14th Street Bridge.

The pursuit began when the suspect vehicle rammed an Arlington County Police cruiser near N. Barton and Pershing Drive, in Lyon Park, according to Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck.

The vehicle, a late model Honda Accord, slammed into the front passenger side of the cruiser after the officer attempted to pull it over for a traffic stop, Sternbeck said. No injuries were reported as a result of the crash, though Sternbeck described the damage as “significant.”

Arlington County officers then chased the vehicle to I-395. The chase ended after officers set up a “rolling roadblock” in the northbound lanes, just before the suspects crossed into D.C.’s jurisdiction.

Police activity is currently blocking all but one northbound HOV lane just before the 14th Street Bridge. Police have two suspects in custody, both District of Columbia residents, Sternbeck said. The men are expected to be charged with felony hit and run.

It is normally Arlington County Police policy to not pursue fleeing vehicles except in special circumstances.

by ARLnow.com — February 19, 2013 at 9:45 am 1,192 10 Comments

House fire on Shadow Lane in Falls Church (photo courtesy @CAPT258) Garage burns in Lyon Park (photo courtesy Peter Roof)

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.

by ARLnow.com — January 25, 2013 at 6:00 pm 2,108 28 Comments

A new Indian restaurant recently opened in the Lyon Park neighborhood.

Masala Express, at 2622-A Pershing Drive, just celebrated its first month in business. The restaurant, which offers carry out service and a small section of cafe seating, has enjoyed favorable reviews on Yelp since it opened on Christmas Day (Dec. 25).

The restaurant is owned by Vinita Chawla, a veteran of the hotel industry. Also helping out is her husband, Naresh, who has run a catering business focusing on Indian cuisine for the past 20 years. Both Vinita and Naresh are natives of India.

One restaurant patron told ARLnow.com that Masala Express offers Indian cuisine that’s spicier and “more authentic” than several of the other Indian restaurants in the Clarendon and Courthouse areas.

Masala Express opened in what used to be a portion of Gala Futons and Furniture. The furniture store remains open, albeit with a smaller storefront.

The restaurant is open from 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and from 11:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. on Sunday.

by ARLnow.com — January 4, 2013 at 2:10 pm 2,116 29 Comments

The Old Bike Shop in Lyon ParkA new used bicycle shop has opened in Lyon Park.

The Old Bike Shop, located at 2647 N. Pershing Drive, specializes in vintage and refurbished bikes and bike parts. Owner Larry Behery, a former car mechanic and carpenter, says there was an unmet need for a used bike store in Arlington.

“There are a lot of shops in the area, but they serve a higher-end clientele — someone who’s already into bikes, already into racing, someone who’s into spending a couple of thousand dollars on a bike,” he said. “But there was nobody really just being a liaison for the beginner,” for people who “need something inexpensive to ride to the Metro… something solid and something that’s not stolen or broken off of Craigslist. ”

Behery and a business partner have been selling used bikes at the Courthouse flea market on Saturdays and at the Georgetown flea market on Sundays. Behrey, who started out collecting old bikes and bike paraphernalia before deciding to sell them as a side business, said he buys his bikes at auctions and from charities that receive bike donations. Before the shop opened, he fixed them up in a garage outside his Springfield home.

Business was good enough at the flea markets that at one point last year Behery decided to go all-in and open a stand-alone store.

“It ended up kinda snowballing and increasing in demand… and finally it got to the point where there were enough [customers] to justify doing something like this and actually having a shop,” he said. “I couldn’t not take advantage of that opportunity.”

Behery says he still plans to sell bikes at the Courthouse market but is planning to discontinue his visits to the Georgetown market. He says he thinks the quality of the bikes at his small shop will help him compete against nearby higher-end bike stores and the Wal-Marts of the world that sell cheaply-made budget bikes.

“We made a lot of really good stuff back in the day that can’t be produced any more — recognizing that there was a need for good quality bikes that were inexpensive,” he said.

The Old Bike Shop is open from 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday and 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on Sunday. The store is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.

In addition to bikes and bike parts like locks and tires, the Old Bike Shop will offer bike repair services.

 

by ARLnow.com — September 20, 2012 at 12:05 pm 4,360 143 Comments

An SUV flipped on its side on N. Fillmore Street in Lyon Park last night.

The accident happened around 9:30 p.m., in the middle of the block, approaching the intersection with 2nd Road N. According to police on the scene, the adult female driver was likely distracted when she ran into a parked vehicle, causing her SUV to flip on its side.

The driver was not hurt and remained on scene. Nobody else was in her vehicle or the other damaged vehicle. No word on any changes against the driver.

 

by ARLnow.com — August 31, 2012 at 9:46 am 5,401 27 Comments

Arlington County Police are investigating a serious accident involving a motorcycle on Washington Boulevard in Lyon Park.

The call for an accident involving a motorcycle and a vehicle near the intersection of Washington Blvd and Pershing Drive came in around 8:25 a.m. Washington Boulevard has been shut down for at least an hour while police took photos and investigated the accident. Those lane closures are expected to be lifted shortly.

No word yet on the condition of any of the victims.

Photo courtesy @jghazi

by ARLnow.com — August 24, 2012 at 3:30 pm 4,270 20 Comments

A new used bike store is coming to a small storefront at the corner of N. Pershing Drive and Washington Blvd in Lyon Park, just south of Clarendon.

The Old Bike Shop (2647 N. Pershing Drive) will sell “refurbished” and vintage bicycles, according to the store’s Facebook page. The store will also perform repairs and sell spare parts.

According to a Facebook post, the store has completed most of its build out, and plans to open soon, after obtaining final permits from Arlington County.

Photos via Facebook

by ARLnow.com — August 21, 2012 at 10:55 am 3,690 42 Comments

 

An out-of-control car crashed into the deck/patio area of a house in Lyon Park last night.

The incident happened around 6:30 p.m. The driver of the hatchback Subaru somehow lost control of the vehicle on a quiet, residential portion of 5th Street N., near the intersection with Pershing Drive. The car hopped a low curb and crashed into a wooden fence, damaging it.

Initial reports suggest the driver of the vehicle was transported to the hospital for non-life-threatening injuries.

by ARLnow.com — May 29, 2012 at 5:28 pm 6,212 76 Comments

A Lyon Park resident has been arrested and accused of firing a bullet that whizzed by a man’s head.

Police say Laselle Booker, 57, was armed when he was arrested at his home on the 700 block of N. Edgewood Street. Booker is charged with attempted malicious wounding and reckless discharge of a firearm in public following a bizarre alleged incident that ended in the early morning hours of Friday, May 25.

According to Arlington County police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck, Booker had earlier approached a man at a gas station in D.C. and wrote him a check for $500, claiming he was on a mission to help less fortunate people and had been told by God to write the check.

The man then drove Booker to his Lyon Park home, and Booker subsequently offered to let him stay in his guestroom, according to Sternbeck. The men had a four hour conversation at the house, which investigators say eventually escalated into an argument in the home’s front yard. Booker is alleged to have asked for the check back, writing a $50 check instead after the victim asked for money for a hotel.

The victim became “agitated” at that point, Sternbeck said, and eventually Booker took out a .40 caliber handgun and pulled the trigger several times, without actually firing the gun, investigators say. He then racked the gun’s slide and fired a round that whizzed by the victim’s head, according to Sternbeck. The victim fled the scene and called police.

Booker had the weapon in his possession when he was arrested just after 4:30 a.m., according to Sternbeck. As of this afternoon he remains in custody.

by ARLnow.com — May 23, 2012 at 1:55 pm 4,878 59 Comments

 

An Arlington woman woke up this morning to find a .45 caliber bullet in her living room.

This incident happened on N. Bedford Street in the Lyon Park neighborhood. A resident of a townhouse called police around 9:00 a.m. after finding that a bullet — likely a stray bullet — had punched through the front of her house and had come to rest on the living room floor. Only the woman and her husband were at home at the time, according to Arlington County police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck.

Detectives were called in and were able to determine the trajectory of the bullet, but have so far been unable to figure out where exactly it came from.

“It could have come from numerous places in a pretty large radius,” Sternbeck said.

A search of the neighborhood this morning did not turn up any clues, but police are looking into a report of a gunshot heard near the 2700 block of Washington Boulevard around 1:00 this morning. The man who called in the gunshot was reportedly intoxicated, and at the time officers were unable to locate anybody else who had heard the shot.

Police are asking anybody with information about the incident to call the Arlington non-emergency line at 703-558-2222.

by ARLnow.com — May 4, 2012 at 9:35 am 2,268 34 Comments

(Updated at 9:55 a.m.) A grocery store and as many as four restaurants could be coming to Pershing Drive in Lyon Park over the next year or so.

Construction on the new $62 million apartment project at 2201 Pershing Drive, at the intersection with Route 50, is nearing completion. One of the two buildings is expected to open in mid-July, with the other expected to open in September. The apartments in each feature sound-resistant windows, hardwood floors, stainless steel appliances, and in-unit washer/dryers.

The 188-unit complex is currently leasing for both residents and for retail tenants.

The buildings together have 31,000 square feet of retail space on the ground floor. Developers envision up to four restaurants, with outdoor sidewalk seating, and a 12,000 square foot specialty grocery store, like Yes! Organic Market or Balducci’s. One of the retail bays is pre-built for a wood burning oven, with the hopes of attracting a Matchbox-type restaurant.

Though the complex is about a 15 minute walk from Clarendon, most retail customers who do not live in the immediate area are expected to drive. To accommodate them, a 125-space at-grade retail parking lot has been built behind the buildings. That’s in addition to the 270 underground spaces for residents. Both the residential and retail parking areas will have electric car chargers.

While attempting to bring a revamped retail district to Pershing Drive (the apartment complex replaced a former strip mall), developer Equity Residential is also paying for improvements to the streetscape. Company officials expect the road construction currently in progress will be complete by the time the first apartments open in July. Improvements include a complete repaving, planted center medians, trees, brick planters, overhead utility relocations.

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