The Rev. Horace “Tuck” Grinnell, who has served as the pastor for St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church in Virginia Square since 2010, has been transferred out of Arlington in the aftermath of the church’s impending school closing.
Grinnell sent a letter to his parishioners in the church’s June newsletter announcing he would be transferring to a church in Rappahannock County, Va., but he said the decision was made by Arlington Diocese Bishop Paul Loverde without his consent.
“The alleged reason the Bishop gave for my transfer — against my will — was that I was not a sufficient supporter of Catholic education,” Grinnell wrote. “This is untrue, as I demonstrated to him and his advisors. I have been pastor of Parishes with Catholic schools for the past 28 years and in every parish I have been in I have worked to support and increase the enrollment of each school… Both the Bishop and the Superintendent of Catholic schools not only signed off on, but were in agreement to, the closing of the school.”
The school announced it would be closing its K-8 school in January due to a lack of enrollment. In the school’s announcement, Grinnell said a private school needed to operate at 90 percent capacity to remain viable, but the 117 students this school year only brought the school to 57 percent capacity. “No Catholic school can survive with such low numbers,” he wrote at the time.
The church announced it would restructure the school as an early childhood center, in a letter to parents given to children in their backpacks. Some parents said the closure was announced too abruptly, without allowing its community to have any input.
“[F]or things to end this way is unacceptable and disrespectful,” A parent, Kayleen Fitzgerald, wrote in a letter to ARLnow.com in January. “We were never afforded the respect and dignity to be invited into the process. We were never given financial information or analyses. We were never notified of the warnings that were apparently delivered from the Diocese to the school. We were never rallied and given a goal to try to attain. We were never given a chance to go down swinging.”
The Catholic Diocese of Arlington declined to comment on why Grinnell was transferred, saying “Bishop Loverde is attending the USCCB Spring General Assembly, and it is the policy of the Diocese of Arlington not to discuss personnel matters,” through its spokesman, Michael Donohue.
Grinnell went on to say he believed the decision to transfer him to a church more than 80 miles away was not justified based on how he handled church operations.
“They wanted me out of the parish,” he said. “In the end, I truly believe that this transfer was ‘personal’ and not ‘business’… I love you, the people of St. Charles, and I will miss you! I had hoped to continue to minister here until I turned 75 in eight years. It is not to be. As one of my uncles used to say, ‘paybacks are hell!’”
Frigid temperatures have officials worried about a potential refreeze and hazardous road conditions following today’s snow storm.
It’s at least the 6th day off for Arlington students this school year. All meetings, extracurricular activities, events and adult education classes are also canceled.
There will be no classes Tuesday, but school offices will be open, on a two-hour delay. Essential employees should report to work as scheduled, the school system said Monday evening.
Arlington Public Schools will be closed Friday due to the winter weather.
APS made the announcement just after 5:00 p.m. School offices will open on a two-hour delay. From APS Director of Communications Jennifer Harris:
Essential personnel are to report to work at their scheduled time. Unscheduled leave is available for 12-month employees. Extracurricular activities, interscholastic contests, team practices, field trips, adult and community education classes, and programs in schools and on school grounds are canceled. For updates about Pool Operations, go to www.apsva.us/aquatics. For information about Arlington County programs and operations go to www.arlingtonva.us.
All school extracurricular activities, adult education classes and Dept. of Parks and Recreation classes are canceled.
Most ART bus service in the morning has been canceled, although Arlington Transit will try to keep ART 51 service running between Ballston Metro station and Virginia Hospital Center. “ART will restore other service tomorrow as street conditions permit,” the agency said.
Metro says it will try to run trains every 6-10 minutes during the morning, as conditions allow. Metrobus service will be limited to major arteries only.
Last week, St. Charles Borromeo Church, near Clarendon, announced that it will be closing its private K-8 school after this school year.
Administrators say the decision is due to low enrollment — only 117 students are currently enrolled at the school, about half of its capacity. Still, parents are upset with the decision, and wondering whether anything could have been done to save the school.
Here’s a letter from one such parent.
My daughter’s school, St. Charles Borromeo in Clarendon, announced suddenly January 13 that it was closing the K-8 portion this June and “restructuring” as an Early Childhood Center.
“So what?” you must be thinking; Catholic schools have been closing at an alarming rate all over the country.
But it’s not that St. Charles Elementary is closing — it’s the process by which it is closing.
We received an email the morning of the 13th that there was an important letter in our child’s backpack for us. I didn’t give the email another thought until I went to pick up my daughter from extended day, when I saw the stricken faces of other parents. I thought maybe that someone in the school community was very ill or had died. Little did I know it was the news of the school closure.
A letter like that should come at the end of a long fight to save your school — after you have done everything you could think of to raise both enrollment and necessary operating funds. Why were parents not even given the opportunity to try?
We were never afforded the respect and dignity to be invited into the process. We were never given financial information or analyses. We were never notified of the warnings that were apparently delivered from the Diocese to the school. We were never rallied and given a goal to try to attain. We were never given a chance to go down swinging.
We were led to believe that everything was fine. We have an active PTO. We have an active enrollment management committee. We have a brand new, engaging, motivated principal who this school year alone brought in 10 new students.
Look — we are not naïve. We understand the economics of private education in this area and the struggles in trying to compete with the fabulous public schools in the region. Maybe in the end, after fighting the good fight, we would not have succeeded. Then we would have been sad to receive the letter, would have licked our wounds, and at least known we did all we could.
But for things to end this way is unacceptable and disrespectful.
In his letter Father Horace H. “Tuck” Grinnell stated “What defeated us in the end was our low enrollment.” I beg to differ. I believe it was a lack of leadership.
So now St. Charles Elementary — the most diverse Catholic elementary school in the diocese and a shining example of Dr. Martin Luther King’s hopes and dreams — is closing. There is no written transition plan, only vague assurances that families will be welcomed with open arms, and current teachers and staff will be given priority for jobs, at other Catholic schools in the area. I only hope this is the case.
I hope the new St. Charles Early Childhood Center will be a success. Those of you in Arlington looking for a preschool would have the joy of working with Principal Angela Rowley and her staff. She is the finest example of Christian love and charity and will educate and care for your children like they were her own. If she can’t make this new center a success, then no one can.
But learn from our situation — demand transparency and participation at all times. Demand accountability from the parish, the superintendent of Catholic schools at the diocese, and from the bishop himself. Maybe then something good will come out of St. Charles Elementary’s untimely and unnecessary death.
In the fall my daughter’s third grade teacher read the class the children’s version of Greg Mortenson’s “Three Cups of Tea.” On their own the class decided to raise funds for Pennies for Peace, the charity supporting schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan. They set a goal of $400, and to be honest, I didn’t think there was any way they could raise that amount of money. I thought it would be a great learning experience that sometimes you can’t meet a goal you set.
The kids raised almost $900. Just imagine what their parents could have done for St. Charles Elementary if only we were given the chance.
To submit a letter to the editor, please email it to firstname.lastname@example.org. Letters to the editor may be lightly edited for content and brevity.
- All Enjoy Arlington classes and nature center programs are cancelled in County and school buildings.
- All sports activities, leagues and instructional programs in County and school buildings are cancelled.
- All Preschool programs are cancelled.
- All senior programs (including Walter Reed, Langston Brown and Arlington Mill nutrition sites) are cancelled.
- Arlington Mill Community Center will open at 10:00 a.m.
- All other community centers, including the joint use facilities located at Drew, Carver, Gunston, Langston and Thomas Jefferson will open at Noon or as scheduled later in the day.
- All synthetic fields remain closed on Wednesday.
- The Powhatan Springs skate park remains closed on Wednesday.
Update at 8:15 a.m. — County government offices and courts will open at 10:00 a.m. From Arlington Alert: “County plows are working around the clock, but road conditions remain slippery. If you must drive, please exercise caution.”
Arlington Public Schools will be closed Wednesday.
All classes, meetings and events at Arlington’s public schools have been cancelled. School offices will open at noon and essential employees are being asked to report to work as scheduled.
The federal government will open on a two hour delay on Wednesday.
“Employees should plan to arrive for work no more than 2 hours later than they would be expected to arrive,” said the Office of Personnel Management. “Emergency Employees are expected to report to their worksite on time unless otherwise directed by their agencies.”
ART bus service will be limited Wednesday morning “due to icy street conditions.” Arlington Transit said in an email. Only ART routes 41, 51 and 77 will be operating, and those routes are subject to the transit agency’s severe weather policy.
“More routes will be added later in the day as conditions permit,” ART said.
A wind chill advisory is in effect through noon on Wednesday. Forecasters are warning of dangerous sub-zero wind chills.
… WIND CHILL ADVISORY REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL NOON EST WEDNESDAY… … WINTER STORM WARNING IS CANCELLED…
* WIND CHILL… BETWEEN 5 AND 15 DEGREES BELOW ZERO TONIGHT THROUGH WEDNESDAY MORNING.
* TEMPERATURES… FALLING INTO THE SINGLE DIGITS TONIGHT. HIGH TEMPERATURES WEDNESDAY WILL BE IN THE TEENS.
* WINDS… NORTH 10 TO 20 MPH… BECOMING NORTHWEST 15 TO 25 MPH WITH GUSTS UP TO 40 MPH AFTER MIDNIGHT THROUGH WEDNESDAY MORNING.
* IMPACTS… DANGEROUSLY LOW WIND CHILLS TONIGHT THROUGH WEDNESDAY MORNING MAY LEAD TO HYPOTHERMIA OR FROST BITE ON EXPOSED SKIN.
A WIND CHILL ADVISORY MEANS THAT VERY COLD AIR AND STRONG WINDS WILL COMBINE TO GENERATE LOW WIND CHILLS. THIS WILL RESULT IN FROST BITE AND LEAD TO HYPOTHERMIA IF PRECAUTIONS ARE NOT TAKEN. IF YOU MUST VENTURE OUTDOORS… MAKE SURE YOU WEAR A HAT AND GLOVES.
Photo courtesy @maddogrow
Arlington Public Schools announced a plan to make up the days lost so far during the 2013-2014 school year.
Although technically there were three days off due to inclement weather — December 9 and 10 and January 3 — only January 3 needs to be made up. December 9 and 10 do not have to be made up because additional instructional hours were already built into the calendar.
The altered schedule only applies to elementary schools with Early Release, which includes Arlington Science Focus, Arlington Traditional, Long Branch, Nottingham, Oakridge, Taylor and Tuckahoe. Because additional instructional hours had already been built in for middle schools, high schools and elementary schools with Limited Early Release, those schools do not have to make up the time. Limited Early Release elementary schools include Abingdon, Ashlawn, Barcroft, Barrett, Campbell, Carlin Springs, Claremont, Drew, Glebe, Henry, Hoffman-Boston, Jamestown, Key, McKinley and Randolph.
The following early release days will become full attendance days as part of the make-up:
Elementary Schools With Early Release
- Wednesday, February 19
- Wednesday, April 9
- Wednesday, April 30
The Stratford Program
- Tuesday, February 18
- Tuesday, April 8
- Tuesday, April 29
APS will adjust its schedule as necessary should any more days be lost this year.
The Arlington County government will still open on time. Federal government employees have the option for unscheduled leave or unscheduled telework today.
The Arlington County Office of Emergency Management reports that trees and wires came down around the county during the overnight hours. Crews are currently on the scene of a large tree and wires down in the roadway at S. 23rd Street between S. Kent Street and S. Lynn Street. The road will be closed until the obstruction is safely removed. The incident has knocked out power to more than 500 homes, according to Dominion Power.
A number of roads, including some main arteries such as Washington Blvd. (pictured above), are covered in a layer of frozen slush because of the frigid temperatures following the storm. The Department of Environmental Services reports the county’s roads were not pre-treated yesterday because the forecast called for rain, to be followed by some snow.
“If we pre-treated the streets, the salt or brine would have been washed away and ineffective. Of course, the weather changed on us and snow came earlier and the temperature dropped sooner,” said DES Spokeswoman Jennifer Heilman. “Despite the change, WSS (Water, Sewer, Streets Bureau) has had 21 trucks out spreading salt since midnight. We were able to get some trucks on the roads treating high elevations and bridges around 9 p.m. (Thursday) when the snow started earlier than expected. They have been on primary (red) and secondary (blue) streets as well as the school routes (green). Many residential streets were also treated.”
More resources about the county’s snow response and any alerts can be found on the Arlington Snow & Ice Central website.
Update at 4:00 p.m. — The Department of Environmental Services says all of its trucks are back out this afternoon to spread salt and make sure snow and ice are melting on residential streets. A small team will remain on standby overnight to address any possible areas that may re-freeze.
Earlier — All of the weather advisories for Arlington County have been cancelled and the snow has stopped falling, but the storm’s effects still linger around the county.
VDOT reports having more than 1,900 trucks clearing state roads throughout Northern Virginia. Arlington County sent out crews on its streets beginning at 4:00 a.m. to treat primary and secondary roads. Traffic cameras show most major roads are clear and traffic is largely moving smoothly throughout the county as of 2:00 p.m. Drivers are encouraged to exercise extra caution through tomorrow because temperatures will drop and slush on the roads could freeze.
The Arlington County government remained open but the following services have been affected:
- Trash/Recycling/Brush collection crews are performing collection services. If they are unable to get to certain streets because of the street conditions, they will go back and complete collection tomorrow.
- Vacuum leaf collection has been canceled for today. Collection will resume in zone three tomorrow.
- Bag leaf collection crews are out collecting leaves today. If crews are unable to get to certain streets because of the conditions, they will also go back and complete the collections tomorrow.
- Mulch deliveries for today have been rescheduled for tomorrow. Customers have been notified.
ART buses had been operating on a limited schedule earlier today and they returned to normal by late morning.
According to the Arlington County Police Department, Public Service Aides still will enforce parking regulations. Parking enforcement is in place every day the county government is open for business. However, Public Service Aides only will be used for parking enforcement duties today when they are not busy assisting police with necessary functions related to winter weather.
Although officers and emergency responders are out in full force to assist with emergencies, residents are asked to remain off the roads for safety reasons.
“Residents are encouraged to stay off the roads today and minimize their traveling if possible,” said ACPD spokesman Dustin Sternbeck. “If they need to go out then they are encouraged to use public transportation in an attempt to minimize accidents, road congestion and so that county staff and road crews can perform their jobs as safely as possible.”
Arlington Public Schools closed today and so far no decision has been made about Wednesday. From APS:
“APS will continue to monitor the road conditions in collaboration with Arlington County and our regional partners throughout the remainder of the day, tonight and early tomorrow morning. If APS opens on time on Wed, Dec. 11, we will go forward with the previously-announced school calendar, including the scheduled countywide elementary early release. If schools have a two-hour delayed opening tomorrow, the elementary early release will be cancelled and school will end at the normal dismissal time, in accordance with our normal procedures.”
APS announced the decision just after 5:00 this morning. Classes are canceled but school offices are to remain open, with essential employees still expected to report to work.
The federal government, meanwhile, is closed this morning, as are Arlington County courts. But Arlington County government will be open, with an unscheduled leave and telework policy for employees. ART buses will operate on a limited schedule.
Snow in Arlington began later than areas west and north, owing to temperatures just above freezing, but all parts of the county appear to have switched from rain to snow by 7:15 a.m.
Update at 9:30 a.m. – Glebe Road is shut down between Military Road and Chain Bridge Road due to a downed tree.
Update at 9:15 a.m. — The number of Dominion customers without power in Arlington has climbed to nearly 1,700. Meanwhile, Washington Boulevard is closed at Powhatan Street due to a downed tree and live power lines.
Arlington Public Schools are closed today due to icy conditions on the roads.
School administrative offices are open for APS employees, but with a liberal leave policy. Arlington joins Alexandria, Fairfax and Loudoun counties in closing for the day due to the ice storm.
The federal government, meanwhile, is open under a two hour delay. Federal employees also have the option for unscheduled leave or telework.
Arlington County government offices and courts are open, with an unscheduled leave and telework option. ART buses are operating normally, as are Metro buses and Metrorail.
“Please use caution while traveling through the Metrorail system as wet platforms and escalators can be slippery,” said WMATA, in a tweet.
Local roads are reported to be slick, but main arteries have been treated with salt and are simply wet.
“Arlington County roads are passable, but drivers are urged to use caution,” according to an Arlington Alert email.
The ice coating has brought down tree branches, which have in turn knocked down some power lines. As of 7:15 a.m. about 1,100 Dominion customers in Arlington were without power.
Flickr photo by fcreativ
Arlington was one of the only local school systems to not close early on Friday due to the threat of snow. It’s now the only school system inside the Beltway to close today; D.C., Montgomery County, Prince George’s County and Alexandria are all on a two-hour delay.
Meanwhile, with the federal government on a delayed opening, traffic volume on local roads and highways is very light.
No major accidents have been reported so far in Arlington.
Schools, Gov’t Offices Closed Today — Arlington Public Schools are closed today for all classes and activities. All Arlington County offices, libraries, courts, schools, community centers and nature centers are closed. Federal government offices are also closed. ART bus service has been suspended for the day and Metro bus and rail service has been suspended for at least the morning.
Candidates Night Canceled — A local candidates debate scheduled for tonight at 7:00 has been cancelled. The debate was to be held at Resurrection Lutheran Church (6201 Washington Blvd) and was sponsored by a number of north Arlington civic association. In lieu of the debate, an informal candidate meet and greet may be held, weather permitting, at the Westover Beer Garden (5863 Washington Blvd) at 7:00 p.m. [Facebook]
Hurricane Hotline Set Up — Arlington County has set up a hotline for “frequent updates on Hurricane Sandy’s impact on Arlington.” The phone number is 415-655-0811 and the updates are given in English and Spanish. [Arlington County]
Sandy Impacts Weaken, But Linger — After dumping some 4 inches of rain on our area on Monday, Sandy is only expected to drop another 1 inch or so today. Winds won’t be quite as bad, forecasters say: 20-30 miles per hour with higher gusts possible. [Capital Weather Gang]
Photo via Arlington National Cemetery/Facebook
All classes and activities have been canceled Monday at Arlington Public Schools in advance of the storm, which is now expected to drop 5 to 10 inches of rain and pack wind gusts up to 70 miles per hour between tonight and Tuesday.
Metro has suspended all rail, bus and MetroAccess service starting Monday. Service will remain suspended “until further notice.” ART bus service has also been suspended Monday.
Many flights departing out of and arriving at Reagan National Airport on Monday have been canceled, according to the airport’s Twitter account, although the airport itself will remain open.
Federal government offices will be closed Monday, and non-emergency employees are being granted excused absences.
Arlington courts, libraries, community centers and government offices will be closed Monday. Trash and recycling collection in Arlington has been suspended on Monday and Tuesday. Arlington County Manager Barbara Donnellan, meanwhile, has declared a state of emergency.
From a county press release:
County Manager Barbara Donnellan today signed a Declaration of Local Emergency for Arlington County in response to Hurricane Sandy. The County is activating its Emergency Operations Center (EOC) to manage storm response. The hurricane is projected to impact the Arlington area with heavy rain and damaging winds from late Sunday night through Tuesday night.
This storm is expected to produce rainfall of between 5 and 10 inches in our area, which could cause localized flooding on area streets, low-lying areas, creeks and streams. The County expects significant tree damage, and residents, businesses and visitors should plan for widespread power outages as a result.
What Residents Can Do to Prepare
- Have flashlights and extra batteries, a battery-powered and/or hand-crank radio in case power goes out. Ensure mobile phones are fully charged. (And consider plugging in your old-fashioned land-line phone.)
- Have food that does not need refrigeration and one gallon of water per person per day. Other important items are a first aid kit, medication, and other supplies.
- Don’t forget your pets and others who may need special assistance, including elderly neighbors.
- With heavy winds expected, ensure outside items in yards and on decks and patios are secure.
- Clean out gutters, storm drains, etc. (keeping drains clear of trash, leaves and branches) so rainwaters can easily flow, reducing possible flooding and ponding. Also rake leaves to cut down on flying debris and prevent clogged storm drains.
- Have a communications plan. Make sure all family members understand who to call if you get separated.
- If you live in an area prone to flooding, be prepared to relocate your family and vehicle before flood waters have an impact. If you are driving and see a street that is flooded, turn around.
More details on the County website , including who to call after the storm, clean-up tips, handling home damage, and more. We will continue to update this page throughout the storm response; check back for updates or sign up for an RSS feed.
Emergency Winter Shelter Opening
The Emergency Winter Shelter (EWS) at Courthouse will open today, Sunday, Oct. 28, at 3pm and will stay open as long as needed (it normally opens Nov. 1). A-SPAN is conducting outreach to let the homeless population know this resource is available.
Key Phone Numbers
Write these down or print them out so you have then handy in case you lose power.
- Power Outages: Dominion Virginia Power, 1-866-DOM-HELP (1-866-366-4357)
- Natural Gas Emergencies: Washington Gas 703-750-1400 or 800-752-7520. If you smell gas, leave and call 9-1-1. Washington Gas Safety Page
- Trees Down : 703-228-6525
- Street Flooding, Water, Sewer and Storm-sewer: 703-228-6555 (emergency hotline)
(Note: During high rains, call volume is often greater than normal. Operators will respond to your call as soon as they can.)
- Traffic Signal Outages: 703-228-6511
Dominion Power Update
Dominion is currently expecting significant impact from the effects of Hurricane Sandy for much of their service territory. Their Northwest Regional Storm Center is regularly providing updates to government Emergency Operation Center (EOCs) in the region. Other news from Dominion:
- Dominion will open its Northwest Regional Storm Center at 6AM Monday October 29.
- 8,800 medical condition customers have been contacted via automated calling feature, in preparation of Hurricane Sandy, with the following message: This is an important message from Dominion. In advance of Hurricane Sandy, customers with medical needs should make preparations for extended outages. Participation in the medical needs program does not mean that you will be the first to have power restored. Please make an emergency plan for backup power or arrangements to relocate until power can be restored to your home. Thank you.
- They are working to secure additional resources to complement line, patrol and support teams.
- Additional tree crews are on hand to assist with restoration efforts.
Gov. Bob McDonnell declared a state of emergency in Virginia on Friday.
Utilities and transit agencies are also preparing for the storm. Dominion says its crews, and mutual aid crews called in from out of state, are standing by to restore power following the storm. The company is warning of the potential for “prolonged power outages,” however.
“When customers lose their electric service during a major storm, their primary question is when their electricity will be restored,” said Dominion rep Rodney Blevins. “They expect our bucket trucks and line crews to be in the field as soon as the storm ends, or sooner, but strong winds may make working conditions too risky to proceed while the storm lingers.”
Although service will be suspended after Sunday night, WMATA says it has been testing drainage pumping stations and has been placing sandbags at Metro entrances in preparation for heavy rains.
“Customers are strongly encouraged to check wmata.com before traveling and to sign up for MetroAlerts to receive service information via email or text message,” the agency said via its web site. “During severe weather, customers are advised to travel only if absolutely necessary.”
Arlington County has compiled a list of phone numbers and storm clean-up tips residents can use to check on power outages, to report downed trees and wires, and to deal with water damage. Those seeking critical assistance — like food, shelter or other aid — can also call 2-1-1, a central hotline for human service agencies in the D.C. area. Tips for keeping pets safe in a storm are available online from FEMA.
Photo (top) courtesy @JoePraino
Campbell Elementary School (737 South Carlin Springs Road) is closed today due to a sewage backup in the area, school administrators said this morning.
“Because of the backup there are no bathroom facilities for students to use,” administrators wrote in an email to parents.