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A local chainsaw artist made his buzzy debut on a new reality TV show last night.

Ashton Heights native Andrew Mallon is a contestant on the Discovery competition show “A Cut Above,” in which some of the best chainsaw wood carvers in the world compete against one another.

“The competition will test contestants’ artistry, stamina, and carving skills. Each week, the carvers will compete in Quick and Master Carve challenges while racing against the clock in hopes of avoiding elimination,” reads a description of the show. “At the end of the grueling twelve-week competition, the artist who out-carves the rest will win a cash prize and be named ‘A Cut Above.'”

The show debuted last night at 10 p.m. on the Discovery Channel and, yes, Mallon did make it to the next round, so he will continue to carve in the weeks ahead.

Mallon was contacted to be on the show a few years ago, pre-Covid, by the show’s producers, he told ARLnow. They shot the show earlier this year.

Mallon is known locally for his playful tree carving in Oak Grove Park near Washington-Liberty High School as well as carvings at a number of private residences in Arlington. That includes a bear, an owl, a dragon, and a scene from Greek mythology. He first started carving about a decade ago while working as a carpenter and remodeling houses in Arlington.

“And I just started whittling on pencils. From there, I learned [how] to do it,” Mallon told ARLnow. “Then, I started whittling on some pieces of wood. But I thought that it took too long and… really wanted to do it faster. And I saw some people on tv doing it with a chainsaw and thought ‘Hey, I could do that.'”

A majority of his work is commissioned by private citizens, including many Arlington residents, who have trees that may have fallen or died in their yards. He calls these “stump jobs” and they typically take about four days to complete.

Like a lot of wood carvers, Mallon often finds himself creating “critters” that live in the area like foxes, raccoons, owls, and hawks.

“You’d be surprised by how much detail I can get with a chainsaw,” he said. “I can put hair on a horse and fur on a bear.”

Recently, he’s been doing more “abstract” carvings — a style that has been more in vogue locally.

“I take it to another level where I carve it really far with a chainsaw and then I come back with a sander and sand it really smooth. It makes a lot of my pieces really elegant,” he said. “Most of what I use are large trees… it just lends itself to a beautiful product.”

For those who want to see the newly-minted television star in action, Mallon is currently working on a carving at a private residence near the intersection of N. Pershing Drive and N. Monroe Street in his home neighborhood of Ashton Heights. He says folks are welcome to stop by to watch him work. Mallon is also in the midst of planning a potential new sculpture in Lyon Park.

For those who may want to take up the art of chainsaw wood carving, Mallon’s advice is to “just go for it.”

“Chainsaw is just another tool in the hand,” he said. “Just learn the rules of the tool and… give it a shot.”

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Arlington police car at night (file photo courtesy Kevin Wolf)

Police are investigating a pair of so-called “mob” assaults by groups of teens.

Both occurred Friday evening along separate sections of Langston Blvd. It’s unclear whether there’s any connection between the two.

The first happened inside a business along the 4800 block of Langston Blvd and involved 10 juvenile suspects, according to police.

The name of the business was not listed, but the block includes a McDonald’s, tattoo and piercing shops, and an Indian grocery store.

From an Arlington County Police Department crime report:

ASSAULT BY MOB (Late), 2022-09300231, 4800 block of Langston Boulevard. At approximately 11:23 p.m. on September 30, police were dispatched to the late report of an assault. Upon arrival, it was determined that earlier in the evening, the juvenile victim was inside a business when he was approached by Suspect One who unsuccessfully attempted to remove his hat. When the victim refused to give his hat, Suspect One struck him in the head. Approximately nine other juvenile suspects then began to physically assault the victim with Suspects Two and Three being the primary aggressors. The victim was able to safely leave the area on foot. He sustained minor injuries and declined the treatment of medics. Suspect One is described as an Asian male with short black hair, approximately 5’8″-6’0″ tall, 16-18 years old, wearing a black hoodie and gray pants. Suspect Two is described as a White male with brown hair and a beard, approximately 5’8″-6’0″ tall, 16-18 years old, wearing a gray sweater, light-wash black jeans and gray sneakers. Suspect Three is described as an Asian male, approximately 5’8″ – 6’0″ tall, approximately 16-18 years old with short brown hair wearing a navy blue hoodie and black shorts. The investigation is ongoing.

The second incident happened on the same block as the Lee-Harrison Shopping Center. It reportedly involved a juvenile suspect who was known to the victim saying that the victim wasn’t allowed to walk along the sidewalk near then, then striking the victim.

From ACPD:

ASSAULT BY MOB (Late), 2022-10010041, 2400 block of N. Harrison Street. At approximately 4:11 a.m. on October 1, police were dispatched to the police station for the late report of an assault. The investigation determined that at approximately 10:00 p.m. on September 30, the juvenile victim was walking in the area when he approached the known juvenile suspect who was standing on the sidewalk with two friends. The suspect allegedly told the victim he couldn’t be there before striking him. The two friends then also assaulted the victim before fleeing the scene on foot. The victim sustained non-life threatening injuries and later self-reported to an area hospital for medical treatment. The investigation is ongoing.

(This Community Post was written by 9th Street Chamber Music and underwritten by Embracing Arlington Arts .)

9th Street Chamber Music is back in business for its second season! 9SCM is disrupting the stereotypes of classical music as stuffy, dry, and elite through dynamic yet accessible performances and its one-of-a-kind String Quartet Intensive for young musicians in the DC Metro area.

9th Street Quartet’s first concert is on Sunday, October 16 at 4:00 PM. The group will offer, for the first time, a ‘Playlist Shuffle’ themed concert featuring single movements of string quartet favorites. Tickets for this concert can be found here, and are $20 for adults and FREE for all students under 18.

Rehearsals began Monday, September 27 for the String Quartet Intensive, welcoming 32 new and returning members to the program. These talented musicians in grades 7 through 12 represent over fifteen area schools throughout Northern Virginia, DC and Maryland, and are an integral part of the growing 9SCM community. Their first performance will take place on Monday, November 28 at 7:30 PM.

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Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow, Startup Monday is a weekly column that highlights Arlington-based startups, founders, and local tech news. Monday Properties is proudly featuring 1515 Wilson Blvd in Rosslyn. 

(Updated at 2:55 p.m.) A conference highlighting innovations in how people talk to their technology is returning to Crystal City next Monday.

VOICE22 will feature speakers from national and international companies and has backing from big-name tech companies, including Amazon, Google and Salesforce.

The conference is “the world’s largest voice-tech trade event and conference” said Pete Erickson, who founded the Ballston-based startup Modev, which is hosting the event.

“This market is being made before our eyes as people, machines and algorithms are increasingly working in tandem, making Conversational AI a must-have for most consumer-facing organizations,” said Erickson.

Scheduled speakers represent JPMorgan Chase, Walmart, Instacart, Nat Geo, Intuit, Capital One and NPR. The conference will feature panels on customer service, retail, entertainment and publishing, transportation, healthcare, and financial technology.

“Modev is bringing the top brands in the world together to accelerate Conversational AI with our clients, and VOICE22 is the perfect showcase for high-profile key decision-makers, partners and influencers to shape this global market,” Erickson said.

Erickson founded Modev, a Ballston-based startup that also produces the VOICE Global event, presented by Google Assistant, and the award-winning VOICE Talks internet talk show.

North of 600 attendees are expected to attend, but Modev is shooting for 1,000. Attendees represent companies around the world, but a few in attendance hail are regional, including McLean-based Witlingo and Centreville-based XAPP.AI.

The local startup’s conference, now in its fifth year, was held in Arlington for the first time in 2021. The 2018 and 2019 conferences were both held in Newark, New Jersey and together attracted some 7,000 attendees. The conference was held virtually in 2020 due to the pandemic.

This was the first major tech event to relocate to the area since Amazon announced it would build its second headquarters in Pentagon City in 2018, Arlington Economic Development previously said.

VOICE22 kicks off on Monday, Oct. 10 at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City (2799 Richmond Hwy) and will run through Wednesday, Oct. 12.

Promotional graphic for the VOICE22 conference in Crystal City (courtesy photo)
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Homebuying 101: Steps to Getting Pre-Approved

Are you ready to jump into homeownership or started considering it but don’t know where to start? Financial preparation is key when thinking about purchasing your first home and the first step to getting pre-approved. Join ACFCU for our Homebuying 101 to learn more about the pre-approval process and what lenders are looking at, including your:

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A new Laotian restaurant has moved into Cherrydale.

Tuna Restaurant opened in early September at 3813 Langston Blvd, two doors down from historic Cherrydale Hardware. It’s taking over the former space of Maneki Neko Express.

This is the owner Sak Vong’s first restaurant, he told ARLnow via email, and he believes it’s the only Laotian eatery in Arlington. A quick internet search backs up this claim, with the closest other Laotian restaurant being in Falls Church.

Vong said the aim is to serve modern versions of traditional Laotian cuisine like “flying Lao noodles” and Laotian sushi. He also said he envisioned a “revitalization” of that section of Cherrydale.

Laotian cuisine, similar in some ways to its neighbors Thailand and Vietnam, is gaining popularity here in America. Meals typically revolve around sticky rice, larb, and papaya salad.

Sushi restaurant Maneki Neko Express opened in 2015, as a companion to its original location in Falls Church. The Falls Church restaurant remains open.

ARLnow has reached out to Maneki Neko about when and why it closed its Cherrydale location but has yet to hear back.

There have been several relatively recent openings and closings in Cherrydale.

Across the street from Tuna, Gaijin Ramen Shop closed several weeks ago after seven years of business citing the reason as “irrecoverable business losses” due to the pandemic. Around the corner is long-time local Italian restaurant Pines of Florence, which reopened in that location about ten months ago. A half block away is an Uyghur restaurant Bostan, which opened about a year ago.

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The family of Darryl Becton with Arlington NAACP President Julius “JD” Spain, Sr. (staff photo)

A man who was charged in connection to the death of Darryl Becton in Arlington County jail in 2020 has been found not guilty.

Antoine Smith was charged in September 2021 with the misdemeanor of falsifying a patient record.

Smith worked for Corizon Correctional Health, the jail-based medical provider at the time of Becton’s death, which has been sued multiple times across the nation for inmate deaths allegedly connected to inadequate care.

When reached by phone, Smith’s attorney declined to comment on the outcome of the case.

The charge was levied against Smith as part of a year-long investigation into the circumstances surrounding Becton’s death at the Arlington County Detention Facility.

In the wake of his death, the Arlington branch of the NAACP called for an independent investigation. The jail, meanwhile, cut ties with Corizon and updated its protocols.

One month later, Becton’s family filed a $10-million wrongful death lawsuit against Arlington County Sheriff Beth Arthur, the elected official who oversees the jail and the Sheriff’s Office, as well as Corizon and four medical staffers, including Smith.

The suit alleges that medical staff did not treat and properly monitor Becton’s drug withdrawal symptoms or high blood pressure, despite being aware of his condition and the risks associated with it.

The lawyer for the case did not return a request for comment on how the not-guilty verdict for Smith impacts the lawsuit.

Becton was the fifth person — and the fourth Black man — to die in the facility while in custody in five years, according to the Arlington branch of the NAACP. Since then, the number of people who have died in the detention facility has risen to seven, prompting the Arlington County Board to pledge greater oversight over how the jail is managed.

For the NAACP, the charges against Smith were never its focus.

“Even had Mr. Smith been found guilty of that charge, it would not have answered the central question: why did Mr. Becton die?” Arlington NAACP President Julius “JD” Spain told ARLnow. “The NAACP remains committed to helping our entire community understand how this avoidable tragedy happened, so we can work together to ensure it never happens again.

“We will continue to advocate for a better public safety system that reduces the reliance on prisons as means of solving social problems, and advances effective law enforcement,” Spain continued.

The verdict does raise a host of questions about who supervises jail-based healthcare providers and their employees, and where was that supervisor when Becton died, Spain said.

“So, finally, why did it take this unnecessary and tragic death, seven in seven years, to ultimately cause the Sheriff’s office to find a new contractor?” Spain said. “To date, no one has been held accountable. Is it a toxic work environment, fear of retaliation, or improper management of personnel? Every day that passes without an answer, trust and confidence in leaders and the justice system erode.”

The jail has taken some corrective steps to improve its treatment of inmates, including hiring a quality assurance manager, planning to buy a new medical tracking device and updating health check protocols.

These actions led Virginia’s Jail Review Committee, part of the Board of Local and Regional Jails, to conclude that “no further measures are necessary” and close its investigation into the Arlington jail last month. Its investigation found evidence suggesting the jail had broken state regulations in Becton’s death, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

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Ping pong + cornhole at The Plaza at Westpost (Pentagon Row)!

Westpost and DC Fray would like to invite you and your doubles partner to test your ping pong and cornhole reflexes at this year’s Showdown Series.

We have food and beverage co hosts to welcome you each week with specials at Sparrow Room, Bun’d Up and Kusshi.

We only have room for up to 16 teams, so get your tickets today — register for free!

The Showdown Series is now taking place on Wednesdays until October 19.

#FrayLife 

E-CARE event in 2021 at Yorktown High School (photo courtesy of Arlington County)

The Arlington Environmental Collection and Recycling Event (E-CARE) is back this weekend, providing residents the chance to get rid of unwanted paint, pesticides, and printer ink lying around the house.

The biannual E-CARE’s fall rendition is set to take place this Saturday (Oct. 8) at Wakefield High School from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Arlington residents will be able to drop off for safe disposal a host of household hazardous materials, outdated electronics (including old-school cathode ray televisions), and items containing mercury.

However, small metal items and bikes will not be accepted this time around in order to “streamline traffic flow.”

Below is the list of accepted items:

  • Automotive fluids
  • Batteries
  • Car care products
  • Compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs)
  • Corrosives (acids/caustics)
  • Fire extinguishers
  • Flammable solvents
  • Fluorescent tubes
  • Fuels/petroleum products
  • Household cleaners
  • Lawn and garden chemicals
  • Mercury
  • Paint products (25-can limit)
  • Photographic chemicals
  • Poisons (pesticides)
  • Printer ink/toner cartridges
  • Propane gas cylinders (small hand-held or larger)
  • Swimming pool chemicals

Electronics like computers, printers, keyboards, scanners, copiers, cellphones, and televisions can also be dropped off, though those can also be picked up curbside with an online request.

Old-school tube televisions and computer monitors containing a cathode ray will be accepted but come with a $15 or $20 fee.

Items containing mercury like thermostats, thermometers, and barometers will be collected as well.

Things that will not be accepted include:

  • Asbestos
  • Explosives and ammunition
  • Freon
  • Medical wastes
  • Prescription medications
  • Radioactive materials
  • Smoke detectors

This will be the first time this event is being held at Wakefield. The county is asking residents to enter via S. Columbus Street at George Mason Drive and drive around the school to the E-CARE site on S. Dinwiddie Street.

The county provided a few other tips including reminding locals that the event is only open to county residents so bring identification or a utility bill and pack cars in reverse order of drop off with electronics going in first and hazardous materials after.

The last E-CARE was held in April at Yorktown High School. At the two events in 2021, a combined 170,000 pounds of household hazardous materials were collected.

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Morning Notes

Walking around The View of D.C. observation deck in Rosslyn (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

No GOP Endorsement — “They thought about it. They talked about it. But in the end, for a variety of reasons, members of the Arlington County Republican Committee opted against endorsing either of the independents on the Nov. 8 County Board ballot. ‘The committee does not want to take a position,’ GOP communications chair Matthew Hurtt said after discussions held during the committee’s Sept. 27 meeting.” [Sun Gazette]

Crash on GW Parkway — From Alan Henney: “Just before 5:30 p.m. on n/b George Washington Memorial Pky on curve prior to Key Bridge. Single-vehicle crash with one patient with minor cut to the head. US Park Police have responded to several similar crashes today on area parkways.” [Twitter]

More Guns at Airport — “Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) prevented two Alexandria, Va., residents from carrying their handguns onto their flights yesterday, Thursday, Sept. 29. These gun catches came on the heels of another gun that was caught a day earlier, which resulted in three guns caught in a two-day span.” [Press Release]

Incubator Open in Crystal City — “The company took a step toward accomplishing its goal by moving from Herndon into Arlington-based Zebox America, a technology startup incubator and accelerator that launched in late April. ElectroTempo is one of three startups that have moved into the Zebox accelerator. With room for as many as 20 companies, the incubator also is intended as a space to bring participants together, says Zebox Vice President Charley Dehoney.” [Virginia Business]

Metro Projects Delayed — “Metro is extending the closure of six stations south of Reagan National Airport due to unexpected site conditions and remediation efforts for the future Potomac Yard Station… Track construction and integration has now resumed on the site; however, due to the delays the shutdown will be extended for two additional weeks. Regretfully, Metro announces that the new Potomac Yard Station will not open this calendar year.” [WMATA, ALXnow]

It’s Monday — Light rain possible throughout the day. High of 56 and low of 47. Sunrise at 7:08 am, sunset at 6:50 pm. [Weather.gov]

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INF Care Virtual Concierge is a new and inviting option to remote assistance that leverages the best of what technology should encompass with quality interaction.

For the busy individual that needs a way to reduce stress and tackle caring for an older family member that lives alone.

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For the maturing adult that just needs help with everyday tedious tasks, connectivity, and access to data on their everyday habits to pinpoint areas that need more attention.

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