by Katie Pyzyk May 16, 2012 at 6:10 pm 4,529 11 Comments

Fifty military veterans who sustained life altering injuries during combat received new Segway vehicles at a ceremony today in front of the Marine Corps Memorial in Rosslyn.

The charity Segs4Vets arranged to give the vehicles to the wounded warriors, many of whom are amputees. Some of the Segways are specially outfitted to accommodate individual disabilities, such as having a built-in seat for when the user becomes too tired to stand.

Jerry Kerr started the organization in September 2005. He had broken his neck in 1998 and was paralyzed from the neck down. Although he has some movement now, he was told he would never be able to walk again. That prompted him to devote time to investigating what technologies were available to allow him to become more mobile.

“When I became permanently disabled, when I realized that my world had changed forever, I started to learn about what we had, how I was going to get around, how I could interact in society again,” said Kerr.

Kerr has particular interest in technology that aids people without drawing attention to their disabilities. When the Segway came out, he found it fit the bill.

Once Kerr discovered how much his life had improved through the use of a Segway, he got the idea to give one to an injured person returning from Iraq or Afghanistan, and the program has blossomed since then.

The Arlington County Police Department helps out Segs4Vets by providing training to the recipients, many of them coming from Walter Reed Medical Center. This allows the users to learn about the vehicles and get on them right away instead of having to wait for the once-a-year training sessions held in Washington D.C., San Antonio and San Diego.

“It originally started because they needed a place to store the Segways, and ACPD was interested in storing some of them,” said ACPD Retired Captain David Herbstreit. “Out of that, we saw an opportunity to go ahead and step into it a little deeper.”

Herbstreit is one of the founding members of the partnership between ACPD and Segs4Vets. Now, there are nearly two dozen participants in the ACPD. Lt. Mark Belanger is one of them. He’s been assisting for about nine months and has trained 18 Segway recipients, along with their spouses and other family members.

“It’s important that there’s a local group they can turn to,” said Belanger. “It’s nice to get someplace close, they don’t have to wait a year.”

Retired Staff Sgt. Robert Canine is one of the many who traveled from across the country to be at the ceremony. He received his Segway in the fall of 2010, and now volunteers with Segs4Vets.

Canine lost both legs below the knee from an injury he sustained in May 2009 in Baghdad, Iraq. He explained that an armor-penetrating explosive device hit the vehicle he was in, and he feels lucky to be alive.

Canine went through physical therapy at Walter Reed Medical Center for a year and half. He couldn’t walk well on his new prosthetics, but received his Segway within months of returning home. Canine says it’s been a huge boost to his mobility and allowed him to get around outside.

“I could keep up with my son on his bike, I could walk the dog,” said Canine. “It just felt good to be able to do something.”


by ARLnow.com May 16, 2012 at 3:45 pm 4,774 19 Comments

A woman was sexually assaulted last night as she walked into her apartment building in the Columbia Heights neighborhood. The victim managed to fight back, however, and the suspect left some incriminating evidence at the scene as he fled.

From this week’s Arlington County crime report:

SEXUAL BATTERY, 05/15/12, 2900 block of S. 13th Street. At 9:33 pm on May 15, a victim was walking into her apartment building when a subject ran up from behind and sexually assaulted her. The victim began throwing punches and was able to take the subject to the ground. As the suspect fled the scene, he dropped his cell phone and car keys. Police have knowledge of the suspect’s identity, but have been unable to locate him at this time.

Police say the incident was not related to a series of sexual assaults Friday night.

The rest of the crime report, after the jump.


by Katie Pyzyk May 16, 2012 at 2:45 pm 4,316 24 Comments

A race through Arlington this Saturday, May 19, not only gives competitors a chance to show off their speed, but also helps injured wildlife.

The 2nd Annual Turtle Trot 5K takes runners along the W&OD trail. Proceeds help with the rehabilitation of injured local turtles and wildlife, and with providing shelter until they can be released back into the wild. Some money also goes toward educational programs at Long Branch Nature Center.

Following the race, the whole family can enjoy educational booths, games and displays, some of which feature live animals. Onlookers can also cheer on the stars of the “real turtle race.”

The 5K starts close to the picnic pavilion in lower Bluemont Park, near Wilson Blvd and N. Manchester Street. Sign up can be done online through Friday, or on location starting at 9:00 a.m. on Saturday. The race begins at 10:00 a.m.

The W&OD trail will not be closed during the race, so runners must share the trail. Others who plan to use the trail at that time are encouraged to be patient and be mindful of runners.

For more information, call 703-228-6535.

by Katie Pyzyk May 16, 2012 at 1:45 pm 3,102 45 Comments

Arlington County is preparing to move forward with utility undergrounding and street improvements along Columbia Pike.

The County Board is expected to approve a contract for work along a section of the Pike at its meeting this Saturday, May 19. The $5.7 million contract would go to Sagres Construction Corporation, and includes work from S. Wakefield Street to Four Mile Run.

Utility underground is the first phase of the project, to be followed by a variety of additions and upgrades. Some of the improvements include new bus shelters, traffic signals, bike racks, ADA compliant ramps, street lights, trees and wider sidewalks. That stretch of Columbia Pike will also be resurfaced with a new layer of asphalt.

County staff has been working to ensure customers have access to all the buildings along the affected stretch of road, as well as to public transportation. Lane closures and traffic disruptions should be expected during construction, but will be during non-rush times. Night work is also possible, which could create some construction noise.

A Department of Environmental Services spokeswoman said assuming the board approves the contract on Saturday, work should begin in July. It will take about 15 months to complete. Project updates will be posted on the county’s website.

by ARLnow.com May 16, 2012 at 12:02 pm 4,919 140 Comments

Local state lawmakers are speaking out against a vote by the Virginia House of Delegates to deny a General District Court judgeship to an openly gay prosecutor.

Richmond prosecutor Tracy Thorne-Begland, a former Navy fighter pilot whose judicial nomination was supported by Gov. Bob McDonnell (R), failed to receive the 51 votes necessary in the 100-member House of Delegates. Del. Bob Marshall (R), who led the charge against Thorne-Begland’s nomination, cited his public opposition to the military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy 20 years ago, while still in the Navy, and his expressed support for same-sex marriage.

Thorne-Begland is “an aggressive activist for the pro-homosexual agenda,” Marshall said in a press release. “Can this candidate swear the required oath to support our state’ constitution if he has already indicated by his past actions that he does not support that section of our constitution barring same-sex legal relationships?”

State Sen. Adam Ebbin (D), the first openly gay member of the Virginia General Assembly, argued that Thorne-Begland was rejected solely on the basis of being openly gay. He also condemned the state Senate leadership for dodging a vote on the nomination.

“The debate in the House of Delegates was homophobic and embarrassing, and showed a disrespect to a chief deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney and decorated veteran who was honorably discharged,” Ebbin told the Washington Post. “It’s also offensive that the Senate Republican leadership wouldn’t even grant Lt. Thorne-Begland the courtesy of a Senate vote.”

On Twitter, Del. Alfonso Lopez (D), who along with Del. Patrick Hope (D) was among the 33 “yes” votes for Thorne-Begland, Tweeted about the vote in real time early yesterday morning.

“Shameful,” Lopez said. “Virginia and Mr. Thorne-Begland deserved better. I have a feeling the Commonwealth will be in national headlines again.”

Del. Bob Brink and Del. David Englin, Democrats who both represent portions of Arlington, were among the 26 lawmakers who did not cast a vote on Thorne-Begland.

Update at 1:55 p.m. — Del. Marshall and Sen. Barbara Favola (D) appeared on NewsChannel 8’s NewsTalk program this morning to discuss the judicial vote. 

Update at 3:35 p.m. — Del. Brink has issued a statement to ARLnow.com regarding his absence from the voting.

Due to previously scheduled travel out of the country, I was absent for the May 14 session of the House — the first session I’ve missed in my 15 years as Delegate. The House minutes reflect that I was granted a leave of absence for this reason.

Tracy is my friend. For several weeks, after the right-wing threat to his nomination became known, along with other concerned members of the General Assembly including my colleague Adam Ebbin, we strategized on the steps needed to get him confirmed. I deeply regret that we were unsuccessful.

The rejection of this eminently well qualified lawyer, in addition to its unfairness to him, is a loss to Virginia’s justice system and another black mark on Virginia’s reputation.

It goes without saying that I would have vigorously supported and voted for Tracy if I had been present.

Photo via Office of Sen. Adam Ebbin

by Katie Pyzyk May 16, 2012 at 10:45 am 4,071 19 Comments

Need a good laugh?  Tonight’s “Laughter Yoga” session might be just what you’re looking for. The free program takes place from 6:30-7:30 p.m. in the auditorium of Arlington Central Library (1015 N. Quincy Street).

Laughter yoga is a practice started in India in 1995 to let people experience the medical benefits of laughter. The sessions are based on medical research indicating the human body apparently cannot tell the difference between real laughter and fake laughter.

Some of the benefits reportedly include an immune system boost, increased oxygen intake, increased “feel good” hormones and reduced stress hormones. To get the full benefits, a person must laugh heartily for a sustained period of time, about 15 minutes.

The four elements of laughter yoga are clapping and chanting, breathing, childlike playfulness and exercises.

“It’s geared to anyone who can laugh… of any fitness or mobility level,” the session’s instructor, Diane Cohen, told ARLnow.com. “At a time when many don’t have a reason to laugh, laughter yoga brings laughter — for no reason — to anyone willing to laugh. It’s non-political, non-religious, non-judgmental, non-competitive.”

Update 12:25 p.m. — A library spokesman has requested we clarify that this event is neither sponsored nor programmed by the library.

by Katie Pyzyk May 16, 2012 at 9:45 am 3,261 31 Comments

Arlington is again on the Amazon.com list of The Top 20 Most Well-Read Cities, but this year it moved up.

Arlington was listed as #7 on the list, moving up 3 spots from last year’s #10 position. Alexandria also moved up the list from its spot at #2 last year. It has overtaken Cambridge, Mass. to become the #1 most well-read city in America.

Alexandria also has the distinction of liking spicy books. According to the press release, “Virginia is for lovers – Alexandria, Va., that is, which tops the charts in the Romance book category.”

Localities had to have at least 100,000 residents to be considered for inclusion on the list. Amazon.com compiled the data of all book, magazine and newspaper sales in both print and e-reader formats since June 1, 2011.

Here is the full list:

  1.  Alexandria, Va.
  2. Cambridge, Mass.
  3. Berkeley, Ca.
  4. Ann Arbor, Mich.
  5. Boulder, Colo.
  6. Miami
  7. Arlington, Va.
  8. Gainesville, Fla.
  9. Washington, D.C.
  10. Salt Lake City
  11. Pittsburgh
  12. Knoxville, Tenn.
  13. Seattle
  14. Orlando, Fla.
  15. Columbia, S.C.
  16. Bellevue, Wash.
  17. Cincinnati
  18. St. Louis
  19. Atlanta
  20. Richmond, Va.

by ARLnow.com May 16, 2012 at 9:05 am 2,407 28 Comments

New GOP County Board  Candidate — Crystal City resident and Republican activist Matt Wavro has stepped up to run on the GOP ticket for Arlington County Board in the fall. [Sun Gazette]

Arlington Cops Recognized — Five Arlington cops have been recognized by Virginia State Police for their exceptional work in deterring auto theft. The Law Enforcement Office Award competition — which recognizes efforts to combat car theft — is judged by partnering law enforcement agencies, the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, and insurance industry representatives. [Arlington County]

Remembering Swillers Music — Back in the mid-20th century, Swillers Music was the place in Clarendon to buy musical instruments, sheet music, and even turntables or radios. The bygone store also had its own recording studio. [Library Blog]

Arlington: The Palo Alto of the East?— The Arlington Convention and Visitors Service is touting the our tech-savvy county as “the Palo Alto of the east coast” via Twitter.

Flickr pool photo by Divaknevil


Subscribe to our mailing list