‘Mussel Bar’ to Open in Ballston — Mussel Bar & Grille, from restauranteur Robert Wiedmaier, is set to open at 800 N. Glebe Road in Ballston this summer. The small gastropub chain has existing locations in Bethesda and Atlantic City. Wiedmaier is also known for BRABO in Old Town Alexandria and Marcel’s and Brasserie Beck in D.C. [Washington City Paper]
Deputy County Manager to Retire — Deputy County Manager Marsha Allgeier is planning to retire, and the county is now searching for her successor. Allgeier has worked for Arlington County since 1998. [Sun Gazette]
Arlington Mom Survives Flesh-Eating Bacteria — An Arlington mom has survived a case of necrotizing fasciitis, the flesh-eating bacteria. Erin Smythers, a mother of three, developed the infection after getting a small cut on her finger. [WJLA]
Wakefield in State Semis Tonight — The Wakefield Warriors boys basketball team will face John Marshall in the state semifinals tonight. Tipoff is scheduled for 8:45 p.m. at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond. Update at 2:00 p.m.: The video will be streamed live online, via the Wakefield High School website. [Northern Va. Sports]
Flickr pool photo by Sunday Money
Clarence Stukes, the Assistant Superintendent for Facilities and Operations at Arlington Public Schools, is retiring at the end of January, an APS spokesman confirmed Monday evening.
Stukes has announced his retirement and his last day at the school system will be at some point later this month, APS spokesman Frank Bellavia told ARLnow.com. Bellavia said he did not know whether Stukes was taking a job with another school system.
As the top administrator in the Department of Facilities and Operations, Stukes is responsible for overseeing facilities planning, capital improvement programs, aquatics, building and grounds maintenance, custodial services, energy management, and transportation. In August, Stukes was caught up in a wave of parent anger over changes to enforcement of the school system’s busing policy.
Stukes defended the busing policy, but also pointed out that this was the first time in his tenure that the school system did not add buses to make up for growth in enrollment.
Stukes joins a long list of principals and senior administrators who have left Arlington Public Schools since 2010. While the departures have concerned some school watchers, APS officials attribute the phenomenon to the fact that a “senior corps” of school staffers have been approaching retirement.
“It is something we have been watching for a number of years now,” APS spokeswoman Linda Erdos said in September.
After he leaves, Stukes will likely be replaced with an interim Assistant Superintendent for Facilities and Operations while APS advertises to full the position on a permanent basis, Bellavia said.
Arlington Small Business Saturday – This holiday weekend, in addition to today’s traditional Black Friday shopping bonanza, Arlington residents will be able to participate in “Arlington Small Business Saturday.” The day encourages Arlingtonians to shop and dine at small, local businesses this weekend. ”Your favorite retail, dining and online small businesses are participating and providing discounts or incentives on a variety of products and services,” according to organizers.
Retirement Ceremony for Therapy Dog – Bailey, a therapy dog at the Capital Hospice Halquist Center near Virginia Hospital Center, is retiring after 10 years of service to those who have life-limiting illnesses. A private retirement ceremony will be held for Bailey, a golden retriever, at the hospice center on Monday night. “Cider, special Goldrush brownies and dog treats will be served,” according to an online invitation.
Library Recovers from Database Crash — The electronic catalog and accounts system for Arlington Public Library and Arlington Public Schools is back up and running after crashing last Friday. “We are very pleased to report that our system is back online, along with research databases, and that most if not all data feared lost has been recovered and restored,” the library said on its web site. “Your privacy was never compromised. We are taking steps to prevent such an outage from happening again.” [Arlington Public Library]
Homeless Navy Vet Gets Apartment — Ernest Maas, a 61-year-old Navy veteran, is giving thanks this Thanksgiving weekend for the roof over his head. Maas got the keys to a new apartment in Arlington on Wednesday after spending the past three years homeless and living in the woods around Four Mile Run. The new apartment was coordinated by the Arlington Street People’s Assistance Network. [WJLA]
Arlington Hotels: Tax Us, Please — The Hotel General Managers’ Committee of the Arlington Chamber of Commerce and the Arlington Tourism Coalition are hoping to lobby the Virginia General Assembly to reinstate the county’s hotel tax surcharge. The 0.25 percent tax on hotel rooms in Arlington generated nearly $1 million per year that went to tourism promotion efforts. State lawmakers declined to renew the tax last year in retaliation for Arlington’s fight against HOT lanes on I-395. [Sun Gazette]
Dark Star Park Day Tomorrow — Tomorrow morning Rosslyn will celebrate “Dark Star Park Day.” At precisely 9:32 a.m. on August 1 of each year, the shadows cast by the stone spheres and iron poles in Dark Star Park (1655 N. Ft. Myer Drive) line up with the permanently-installed artistic images of shadows on the ground. Tomorrow’s event will begin at 8:30 a.m. and will include a photo contest. [Rosslyn BID]
Record Contributions to Affordable Housing Fund — Arlington County’s Affordable Housing Investment Fund (AHIF) saw a record $10.4 million in loan repayments and developer contributions in Fiscal Year 2012. The AHIF, which is used to help fund affordable housing projects, is set to receive $9.5 million in tax dollars in FY 2013, in addition to any repayments and contributions. [Arlington County]
County Looks for Investment Consultant — Arlington is looking for an investment professional to consult on private investments for its $1.5 billion Arlington County Employees’ Retirement System. The retirement fund is reportedly looking to invest $100 to $200 million in private equity. [Pensions & Investments]
Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann
(Updated at 12:25 p.m.) Dinesh Tiwari, who has served as director of the Arlington County Department of Parks and Recreation since Sept. 2005, is retiring from his post in Arlington. His last day on the job will be tomorrow, June 30.
We’re told Tiwari, 61, is leaving for Alexandria’s Department of Recreation, Parks & Cultural Activities.
Tiwari came to Arlington from Richmond, where he served as the city’s director of Parks, Recreation and Community Facilities. He has also worked for the governments of Suffolk and Roanoke, Va.
During his tenure in Arlington, Tiwari helped the department become one of only 60 agencies to earn national accreditation from the Commission for Accreditation of Park and Recreation Agencies. He has also overseen significant initiatives at Ethan Allen Park, the Walter Reed Community Center, Greenbrier Park, Artisphere and Long Bridge Park.
In announcing his retirement to county staff, County Manager Barbara Donnellan lauded Tiwari’s “many accomplishments and contributions” to Arlington. She also credited Tiwari with helping to “sustain core County programs and services during the recent economic downturn.”
A search is now underway for Tiwari’s replacement.
“The County has launched a national search for his replacement, whom they hope to hire in the next six months,” according to the Department of Parks and Recreation. “In the interim, Shannon Flanagan-Watson, currently an assistant County Manager, will be the acting director.”
One parks and rec employee told ARLnow.com that Tiwari was a “super great guy.”
“He was the best boss I’ve had,” the employee said. “Surely will be missed.”
The large number of nearly simultaneous retirements is the result of changes to Arlington County’s retirement health benefits that, according to a fire official, prompted some 200 county employees to retire at the same time.
The fire personnel honored this morning had a combined 477 years of experience. It’s a loss that’s being felt across the department, despite the recent addition of large new recruit classes.
“Never before have so many of our leaders and mentors transitioned into retirement at the same time,” a video honoring the retirees said. “We will continue to hold the traditions you have set forth.”
With 30 to 38 years of experience, some of today’s retirees count both the Sept. 11 attack on the Pentagon and the Air Florida Flight 90 crash among the major incidents they’ve responded to as Arlington firefighters.
“This group of people has contributed so much, they have left such a legacy, that the organization is extremely strong and will survive without them being here every day,” said Fire Chief James Schwartz. “Their spirit will remain, their contributions — what they have shared with us over the course of their career — will remain… Thank you very much for everything you’ve done for us and this county.”
More photos, after the jump.
A retirement ceremony is being held on the morning of Tuesday, Jan. 24 for about 20 Arlington County Fire Department retirees. The firefighters have all retired over the past month or so after 25 to 37 years of service, according to department spokesman Lt. Gregg Karl.
“This is the largest number of retirees the ACFD has seen at one time and we want to honor them for their service,” Karl said.
Over the past 1-2 years the fire department has been in “heavy recruitment mode” as it anticipated the retirements. Fire Chief Jim Schwartz said in 2010 that the timing of at least some of the retirements was driven by changes to Arlington County’s retirement benefits. Older firefighters who might otherwise have stuck around for a bit longer were planning to retire by January 2012 in order to take advantage of better retirement health coverage.
First Day of Fall, Flash Flood Watch — Today is officially the first day of fall, but it’s not going to feel like it. A storm system bringing tropical moisture to the area will provide warm temperatures and heavy rains that may produce flash flooding. [Capital Weather Gang]
Reminder: DUI Checkpoint Tonight — As part of a national DUI crackdown, Arlington County Police will be conducting a sobriety checkpoint somewhere in the county tonight.
What If Arlington Was Part of D.C.? — The Washington City Paper wonders aloud: What would the District look like had Arlington and Alexandria not been retroceded back to Virginia? The move, which would place part of North Arlington in Northwest D.C. and the rest in Southwest D.C., would add 252,000 registered voters, 56 public and charter schools, and 44 Starbucks locations to the District. [Washington City Paper]
Fisette to Be Honored for HIV Outreach — County Board member Jay Fisette will be honored by the Northern Virginia AIDS Ministry as its 2011 Honoree at the organization’s Red Ribbon Gala next month. “NOVAM is proud to honor a well-known community leader who is a strong community advocate for HIV prevention and care for nearly 25 years,” the group said. [Northern Virginia AIDS Ministry]
ACFD Captain Retiring — Arlington County Fire Department Captain Ed Hannon is retiring after 28 years. As he was recounting his years of experience during a TV interview, Hannon’s colleagues decided to pull a prank: they sneaked up from behind and smeared his face with whipped cream as cameras rolled. [MyFoxDC]
During his seven years in the position, Johnston has overseen an increase in test scores and a decrease in the achievement gap between white and minority students. He also worked to create the school system’s career advancement program for teachers, which rewarded high-quality teaching.
Johnston will officially retire on Sept. 1. No successor has been chosen, and a national search process is being planned.
In addition to Johnston, the school system is seeking a replacement for Mary Beth Chambers, who is retiring in September as the Assistant Superintendent of Finance.
Photo via AGI
Police Search for Suspects Near Shirlington — While you were (probably) sleeping, Arlington police were trying to track down two suspects who fled on foot near Shirlington. Just before 1:30 a.m., an officer spotted a car that had been reported stolen out of Prince George’s County, Md. traveling on I-395. Due to department regulations, they did not pursue the car after it refused to stop. A short time later, the car was found crashed into the Four Mile Run creek bed at Shirlington Road. Police K-9 units and the U.S. Park Police helicopter were brought in to search for the suspects. As of 2:30 a.m., they were still on the loose.
Four Mile Run Trail Detour — The Four Mile Run trail will be detoured near 3rd and Harrison Streets in Glencarlyn Park due to storm/sewer system relining in the area. [Bike Arlington]
Woman Celebrates 30 Years at Retirement Community — Helen Crossley first moved into Arlington’s Culpepper Garden retirement community in 1981. Now at age 102, she’s being honored for her 30 year tenure at the facility. [Sun Gazette]
Forum Changes — We listened to your suggestions and made some changes to our discussion forums overnight. Unfortunately, the changes resulted in the deletion of some posts. We apologize for the inconvenience.
Susan Bell, director of the county’s Community Planning, Housing and Development department, will be leaving her post in June, county spokeswoman Mary Curtius said. Her departure comes as the county is in the midst of revamping its zoning ordinance.
Bell has worked for Arlington since 1983.
Whipple has represented Virginia’s 31st Senate district since 1996. Before being elected to the state Senate, Whipple served on the Arlington School Board, the Arlington County Board and the Metro Transit Board.
News of Whipple’s retirement seemingly came as a surprise to some.
“Wow – another one!” Del. David Englin said on Twitter. “[Sen. Whipple has] been a champion for Arlington, good government, and progress.”
Others had press releases ready for the announcement.
“Senator Mary Margaret Whipple’s retirement from the Virginia Senate will leave behind a void that will be difficult to fill,” said Del. Adam Ebbin, who is running for the state Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Patsy Ticer. Ticer announced her retirement last week.
Del. Patrick Hope had more praise for Whipple.
“Today, we honor the service of one of Arlington’s most dedicated and admired public servants,” he said in a statement. “I know I join Arlingtonians in thanking Senator Mary Margaret Whipple for over three decades of hard work, dedication, and service. She will surely be missed but her legacy will be long-lasting, not only to her constituents but to our entire great Commonwealth.”
As state political blogger Ben Tribbett points out on Twitter, Hope is thought to be considering a run for Whipple’s seat. Via an aide, Hope neither confirmed nor denied the rumors.
“Today is Mary Margaret’s day and we should honor her outstanding service,” Hope said.
Other names being floated as possible candidates for the seat are Tribbett, former lieutenant governor candidate Mike Signer, Arlington County Democratic Committee Chair Mike Lieberman and county board member Barbara Favola.
“I applaud Sen. Whipple for her incredible insightful and thoughtful service,” Favola told ARLnow.com. “She has always been a wonderful role model and friend to me.”
“I think this is her day,” Favola said when asked whether she might run for Whipple’s seat. “I suspect over the weekend I’ll think about the next steps.”
(Updated at 3:00 p.m.) Sen. Patsy Ticer, a Democrat who represents parts of Arlington, Alexandria and Fairfax, announced her retirement on the floor of the Virginia state Senate today. Her announcement will kick off a contested Democratic primary for the seat Ticer has held since 1995.
“I finally have come to the end of the line,” she told fellow Senators. “I do not intend to run again this year. I have been in public service for a long time… it’s hard to contemplate what life will be like without it.”
“I will always miss my home away from home in Richmond,” she said, fighting back tears. “It has been the privilege of a lifetime for me to know you and an honor to be of service with you in support of this beloved state. As a member of the Senate of Virginia, I will truly miss you. Thank you.”
The Senate chamber applauded Ticer as she received hugs and flowers from colleagues. Senators from both parties then took turns sharing their memories of working with Ticer, who turned 76 in January.
“I can think of no one else, in my lifetime, who epitomizes the term ‘Southern Lady,’” said Sen. R. Edward Houck (D-Spotsylvania).
“We will remember your grace and lady-like charms,” said Sen. Toddy Puller (D-Fairfax). “I know there are people lining up to run for the seat, but they won’t be Patsy… I’m going to miss you, friend.”
Three Democrats — Del. Adam Ebbin, Arlington School Board Chair Libby Garvey, and Alexandria City Council member Rob Krupicka — have all said they would seek Ticer’s seat if she declined to run for another term.
A Republican, Alexandria businessman Michael Maibach, told ARLnow.com that he’s thinking about pursuing the GOP nomination for the seat.
Dr. James Bundschuh has served as Marymount’s president since July 2001. He oversaw the recently-completed 26th Street Project, which added several new buildings to the school’s main North Arlington campus.
Marymount is a Catholic university with approximately 3,600 students enrolled in a variety of undergraduate and graduate programs. The school has about 450 full-time employees and 300 part-time employees.
Marymount’s press release about Dr. Bundschuh’s retirement, after the jump.
On Friday, about 15 recruits are expected to graduate from Arlington’s fire academy and enter service as probationary firefighters. Next year, the department expects another 40 recruits to make their way through the academy.
The new recruits will help to make up for retirements and a wave of attrition that occurred during better economic times, when a number of Arlington firefighters were lured to departments in the outer suburbs.
The timing of some of the retirements is being driven by changes to Arlington County’s retirement benefits, according to Fire Chief Jim Schwartz. Older firefighters who might otherwise have stuck around for a bit longer are planning to retire by January 2012, in order to take advantage of better retirement health coverage. To help control costs and comply with a federal funding requirement, the county government is lowering a cap on family retirement health benefits after that time.
The fire department is especially vulnerable to retirements because there are currently a high percentage of older firefighters in the department. Plus, public safety personnel are eligible to retire at a younger age: 55.
“It’s an aging organization,” said Arlington County Human Resources Director Marcy Foster. “There will be a lot of retirements across the board.”
Among those planning to retire are a significant portion of the department’s senior leadership. About five battalion chiefs and a number of captains will be retiring, according to Schwartz.
Another concern that has cropped up over the past few weeks is overtime.
In addition to the fire recruits, about 10 firefighters are currently training as paramedics. The need to detail operations personnel to the fire-EMS academy has put the department in an “overtime jam,” Schwartz acknowledged, confirming reports we had heard from the rank and file. That, however, should clear up soon, we’re told.
Photo via Facebook/ACFD