Good Friday evening, Arlington. Let’s take a look back at today’s stories and a look forward to tomorrow’s event calendar.
🕗 News recap
The following articles were published earlier today — Sep 29, 2023.
- 9:30 am: Morning Poll: Big snowstorm on tap this winter? | 🗣️ Comments
- 10:30 am: Metro 29 Diner reopening after sewer line repairs | 🗣️ Comments
- 11:30 am: Once-soaring vehicle tax delinquencies in Arlington are coming down | 🗣️ Comments
- 12:45 pm: UPDATED: Metro train derails near National Airport | 🗣️ Comments
- 2:00 pm: Fmr. journalist sentenced for child sexual abuse material | 🗣️ Comments
Since it’s Friday, we’ve also compiled a list of the most-read articles of the week, below.
- Wakefield High School sees second student death this year (33077 views)
- UPDATED: Large power outage after reported substation fire (21669 views)
- Revamped, food-centric Crystal City Water Park set to open next week (20186 views)
- Clarendon Day, Celtic Festival and Oktoberfest to prompt road closures this weekend (14071 views)
- JUST IN: Large police response at Yorktown HS after threatening phone call (13876 views)
- A $4 million renovation of Ballston Wetlands Park is officially complete — and beavers returned for the occasion (11939 views)
- More Arlington properties are now located within floodplains, county says (9264 views)
- New study sees surge of people living alone in Arlington (8617 views)
- Metro 29 Diner faces uncertain timeline for reopening due to faulty sewer line (6326 views)
- Here are ten local businesses listed for sale in Arlington (5976 views)
- NEW: Shooting threat outside Washington-Liberty HS leads to arrest (5910 views)
- UPDATED: Arrest made after shooting on Columbia Pike (5575 views)
- Clarendon’s Bar Ivy now open ‘morning, noon and night’ with new breakfast options (4446 views)
📅 Upcoming events
Here is what’s going on Saturday in Arlington, from our event calendar.
- 8:00 am: Yorktown High School Band Day
- 👉 10:00 am: Saint Ann Fall Festival
- 10:00 am: Yoga in the Galleries
- 11:00 am: Rosslyn Reads Book Festival
- 12:00 pm: Samuel Beckett’s Celtic Festival
- 1:00 pm: National Landing Oktoberfest
- 2:00 pm: Meditation in the Galleries – Free
- 2:00 pm: Westover Day
- 3:45 pm: Try Archery Introductory Lesson
- 6:00 pm: Music on the Plaza: Clarendon Day After Party
Here are the events planned for Sunday:
- 8:00 am: March for Marrow – Virginia
🌥️ Saturday’s forecast
The forecast for Saturday indicates mostly cloudy weather with a high temperature near 71°F and a north wind at around 9 mph. During Saturday night, expect patchy fog to develop after 5am and partly cloudy skies, with a low temperature around 58°F. The north wind will decrease to around 5 mph before becoming calm. See more from Weather.gov.
💡 Quote of the Day
“We can’t help everyone, but everyone can help someone.”
– Ronald Reagan
🌅 Tonight’s sunset
We hope you have a great weekend, Arlington! Feel free to discuss the most-read stories of the week, the upcoming weekend events or anything else of local interest in the comments. 👋
A former ABC News producer whose Columbia Pike apartment was raided by the FBI last year has been sentenced.
James Gordon Meek, 53, pleaded guilty in July to transportation and possession of child sexual abuse material. Today he was sentenced to six years in prison, just above the minimum five year sentence for the charges.
The FBI raided Meek’s apartment on Columbia Pike in April 2022, as photos first published by ARLnow — taken by local resident John Antonelli — showed. Speculation about the raid swirled in the ensuing months, in part due to Meek’s job as a prominent producer for ABC News and his former role in counter-terrorism for the House Committee on Homeland Security.
More on the sentencing, below, from a U.S. Dept. of Justice press release.
An Arlington man was sentenced today to 72 months in prison for transportation and possession of child sexual abuse material.
According to court documents, while visiting South Carolina in February 2020, James Gordon Meek, 53, used an online messaging platform on his iPhone to send and receive images and videos depicting minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct, and to discuss his sexual interest in children. Some of the images and videos depicted prepubescent minors and minors under the age of 12, including an infant being raped. Meek brought the iPhone containing the child sexual abuse material back with him when he returned to Virginia. Additionally, Meek possessed multiple electronic devices containing images and videos of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct.
Jessica D. Aber, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, and Wayne A. Jacobs, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Washington Field Office Criminal Division, made the announcement after sentencing by Senior U.S. District Judge Claude M. Hilton.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Zoe Bedell and Trial Attorney Whitney Kramer for the Department of Justice’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section prosecuted the case.
This case was investigated by the FBI Washington Field Office’s Child Exploitation and Human Trafficking Task Force. The task force is composed of FBI agents, along with other federal agents and detectives from northern Virginia and the District of Columbia. The task force is charged with investigating and bringing federal charges against individuals engaged in the exploitation of children and those engaged in human trafficking. Valuable assistance was provided by the Arlington County Police Department.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by U.S. Attorney’s Offices and the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to better locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.justice.gov/psc.
Arlington Travel Basketball (ATB) will be conducting tryouts for our 2023-24 teams beginning Tuesday 10/2.
There is no charge for these tryouts.
Interested players must pre-register and attend at least 2 tryouts to be considered for a team.
ATB will field teams in grades 5 – 8; 4th graders are eligible to attend.
(Updated at 4 p.m.) Metrorail service was suspended on the Blue and Yellow lines today after a train derailed.
Metro says no injuries were reported among the 50 people on the derailed train, adding that they have since been transferred via shuttle bus to another train.
The derailment happened around 10:45 a.m., south of the National Airport station, and involved the lead car of the train, according to scanner traffic. Arlington medics were dispatched to the scene but there were no reports of injuries.
Since the derailment, trains have been operating in two segments — Franconia/Huntington to Potomac Yard and Largo/Mt. Vernon Square to National Airport, according to Metro.
Shortly after 12:30 p.m., the transit agency said it was inspecting the track ahead of resuming service on a single track. As of 1:30 p.m., Blue and Yellow line trains were running every 24 minutes and single-tracking past the derailment.
A partial derailment near Rosslyn in October 2021 was found to have been caused by a wheel defect in newer, 7000-series trains. Earlier this year Metro unveiled a multi-year plan to change out wheelsets on hundreds of 7000-series trains.
Metro’s general manager said in a press conference this afternoon that it was a 7000-series train that derailed, but the agency believes a brake assembly came off of an older 3000-series train and caused the derailment.
Update: Due to a derailed train, service remains suspended between Potomac Yard and National Airport. There are no injuries. Shuttle buses are operating between the two stations to connect to additional service. #wmata
— Metro Forward (@wmata) September 29, 2023
— Metro Forward (@wmata) September 29, 2023
Single tracking from Potomac Yard to Pentagon City continues as we repair and inspect the tracks. #wmata
— Metro Forward (@wmata) September 29, 2023
Flickr pool photo by Bekah Richards
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Last year’s soaring car tax values resulted in more people behind on their vehicle taxes, according to Arlington’s Treasurer.
Despite the uptick, Arlington County ended the 2023 fiscal year with historically few people behind on their taxes, Treasurer Carla de la Pava told the Arlington County Board on Tuesday.
The county closed out the fiscal year on June with the lowest delinquency rate in its history: under 0.16%.
Car assessments are determined by the office of Commissioner of Revenue Ingrid Morroy, weighing several factors including oil prices and supply-chain issues.
Bucking a century-long “depreciation pattern,” vehicle values — especially for SUVs, trucks and hybrid and used vehicles — rose last year due to widespread pandemic-era car shortages, Susan Anderson, a spokeswoman for the Office of the Commissioner of Revenue, tells ARLnow.
“Covid-19 had the largest impact when vehicle production and supply lines collapsed,” she said. “New cars were in tight supply and the laws of supply and demand were in full effect. Production of less-new cars available at elevated prices from dealers had a cascade effect on the used car market driving up prices.”
In response, the County Board in 2022 adopted a one-year-only reduced assessment rate at 88% of the clean trade-in value of vehicles. Despite this, the Treasurer’s Office, which collects the vehicle taxes, “still saw the highest tax delinquencies not just since the pandemic but the highest since the fallout of the Great Recession in 2008,” de la Pava said.
Taxes levied on vehicles make up the lion’s share of delinquencies, or 77% of the total delinquencies at the end of this fiscal year. Vehicle tax delinquencies went up 33% despite a far smaller increase in delinquent accounts, 3.4%. Almost half of these delinquencies involved vehicles worth at least $20,000.
Most delinquent accounts were opened the year prior and are concentrated in densely populated, highly transient areas, de la Pava said, which she attributes to new or short-term residents unaccustomed to a vehicle tax. Her office also hears from residents surprised their taxes went up after buying a new car.
The treasurer credited the 2022 reduced rate and delinquency prevention efforts for avoiding a surfeit of delinquent vehicle owners.
Compared to vehicle taxes, real estate taxes make up most of 88% of taxes levied and only 6% of delinquent taxes.
Delinquencies for the business tangible tax — for furniture and equipment inside businesses — were half a million dollars higher last fiscal year, compared to the year prior, though still lower than pandemic years, she said.
De la Pava credited the county’s online payments system for helping to keep a lid on delinquencies.
“People ask me all the time: ‘How is it that we have such a low tax delinquency rate?'” she said. “Delinquency prevention is a big part of that. The Customer Assessment and Payment Portal, otherwise known… as CAPP, is one of the most important tools we have to prevent delinquency.”
Automated withdrawals via CAPP made up $51 million of the taxes Arlington collected, she noted.
Metro 29 Diner says it is reopening today (Friday) following a closure that lasted several weeks due to plumbing issues.
Earlier this week, ARLnow reported the restaurant could remain shuttered for up to a month, as it awaited a permit to repair a clogged sewer line located along N. Albemarle Street, adjacent to the restaurant.
The local staple at 4711 Langston Blvd was forced to close after the plumbing issue caused grease and other liquids to flood the parking lot from the restaurant’s grease trap, creating a health hazard.
Arlington’s planning department granted the necessary permit on Tuesday, within hours of ARLnow’s initial story publishing, Metro 29 Diner owner Peter Bota told us.
Construction started Thursday morning and concluded by 1 p.m. Bota said the restaurant has been “given the green light to reopen by the health department.”
“I want to thank the county for their prompt attention and I’d like to thank our loyal patrons and staff for their patience, understanding and well wishes while we were closed,” Bota said.
After several years of relatively meager winters, could this upcoming season have a big snowstorm on tap for us?
There’s some early suggestion of an elevated chance of large coastal winter storms between January and March, owing in part to a particularly intense El Niño climate pattern.
Of course, such a pattern could also leave Arlington high and dry again.
“Of the seven strong El Niño winters since 1950, four have been associated with well above normal snowfall while snowfall was virtually absent in the other three winters,” the National Weather Service wrote about winters in metro D.C. and Baltimore.
Climate prognosticating — it’s an inexact science, just ask the groundhog — has been raising the hopes of snow lovers this month, with some models suggesting a cold and snowy winter is likely for the Mid-Atlantic region.
***NEW*** SEASONAL PRECIPITATION OUTLOOK JUST RELEASED. pic.twitter.com/56pnR8HIob
— MWAS-#1 (@SPCMETROWX) September 23, 2023
The latest CFS (Climate Forecasting System) shows a cold winter (Dec,Jan,Feb) for the Mid-Atlantic. pic.twitter.com/cgcEUirMVk
— Russ Adams 🌧️🌬️☀️🌡️🌨️🦃 (@patpend) September 26, 2023
One of many indicators recently. The reason El Nino produces more disruptive snow in the Mid-Atlantic is it creates more nor'easters (half the equation). That means more opportunities for this to sync with cold temperatures (the other half). https://t.co/6cqvJJ6Era
— Russ Adams 🌧️🌬️☀️🌡️🌨️🦃 (@patpend) September 18, 2023
The ECMWF+UKMET superblend* for December 2023-February 2024 is very active along the U.S. East Coast ❄️
Consistent with an El Niño winter, above normal precipitation (🟢) is shown across the Deep South, Southeast, Florida, Mid-Atlantic, and Northeast as well as California.
— Ben Noll (@BenNollWeather) September 11, 2023
The last really big winter storm to hit Arington was the Jan. 22-23, 2016 blizzard. The three large snow events of the winter of 2009-2010, meanwhile, are still fresh in the minds of many locals who lived through them.
What do you think? Would you welcome another big snowstorm this winter or do you prefer the mostly snowless winters of late?
Free Pantry Being Removed — “After more than three years, a food pantry in Arlington County is closing and food-insecure families who take advantage of it say they only received a three-day notice. Now, volunteers are hoping to save the community resource… The food pantry is located outside the Arlington Central Library in Ballston and was started by the Eagle Scouts during the pandemic.” [WJLA]
Ovechkin-Owned Home for Rent — “Alex Ovechkin’s relatively modest Arlington home — at least compared to the mansion he lives in now — is back on the market for lease. The five-bedroom, four-and-a-half bath home at 4906 16th St. N served as Ovechkin’s abode during his first years with the Washington Capitals. It is listed for rent by Ali Nasir of TTR Sotheby’s International Realty for $9,000 a month. The 5,000-square-foot residence, which sits on a half-acre lot, was last rented to Erik Gustafson, who played for the Caps during the ’22-’23 season.” [Washington Business Journal]
Pickleball Fight Continues — “If Arlington County Board members thought their two-month summer break would bring a respite from battles over pickleball courts, they were quickly disabused of the notion. A representative of the Columbia Heights Civic Association on Sept. 23 rapped efforts by the Department of Parks and Recreation at Walter Reed Community Center, saying the number of planned courts must come down and noise-mitigation efforts must improve.” [Gazette Leader]
Shots Fired Near the Serrano Apts — “5500 block of Columbia Pike. At approximately 6:47 p.m. on September 27, police were dispatched to the report of shots heard. Responding officers recovered evidence confirming shots had been fired in the area. No injuries or property damage were reported. There are no suspect(s) descriptions. The investigation is ongoing.” [ACPD]
County Joins Insulin Suit — “Members of the Arlington County Board on Sept. 26 authorized the hiring of outside legal counsel to join lawsuits by local and state governments nationally against alleged price-fixing by insulin suppliers.” [Gazette Leader]
Motorcade This Morning — Updated at 10 a.m. — The president and vice president will be coming to Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall this morning to attend a farewell tribute ceremony for Gen. Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Rabies Exposure in F.C. — “On Saturday, September 23, 2023, an injured raccoon was euthanized by the City of Falls Church Police after being struck by two vehicles near the 500 block of S. Washington St. A witness stated that prior to officers arriving, both he and an unidentified driver came in direct contact with the injured raccoon while removing it from the roadway. On Tuesday, September 26, 2023, the Fairfax County Health Department reported that the raccoon had tested clinically positive for rabies.” [City of Falls Church]
It’s Friday — Patchy drizzle and a 30% chance of showers until 2pm, with mostly cloudy skies and a high of 69°F accompanied by a north wind at 9 mph. For Friday night, expect mostly cloudy conditions with a low of 60°F and an 8 mph north wind. [Weather.gov]
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