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by ARLnow.com March 13, 2017 at 6:15 pm 0

ACPD on scene of reported home invasion robbery between Shirlington and Fairlington

(Updated at 9:40 p.m.) Police responded to a home invasion robbery on the 4500 block of 31st Street S., between Shirlington and Fairlington, Tuesday evening.

Initial reports suggest a group of people armed with at least one gun broke into an apartment, possibly pistol whipped one of the occupants and stole some items. They then reportedly fled the in two cars.

The initial police dispatch went out shortly before 5:30 p.m. Arlington County Police Department spokeswoman Ashley Savage said it appears to be an isolated incident.

Just prior to 5:30 p.m., police were dispatched to the 4500 block of S. 31st Street for the report of a robbery. The investigation revealed that four suspects forced entry into a residence, brandished a firearm and stole items of value. The suspects then fled the area. The investigation is ongoing. Police do not believe there is a larger threat to the public. Anyone with information on this incident is asked to call Arlington County Police.

by Chris Teale March 13, 2017 at 4:45 pm 0

Williamsburg Middle School (photo via APS)After his whereabouts became a source of gossip among parents, Arlington Public Schools announced Monday that Gordon Laurie, principal of Williamsburg Middle School, has resigned.

Tipsters reported that Laurie had not been seen in school since February 24, and that earlier this morning they spotted that his office had been cleaned out. The tipsters mentioned that rumors were swirling about the reason for his departure.

In a letter this afternoon to Williamsburg parents, students and staff, Superintendent Patrick Murphy said Laurie has resigned for personal reasons after 15 years with APS. An APS spokesman did not elaborate on the exact reasons behind Laurie’s resignation.

“After working closely with the exceptional and dedicated Williamsburg Middle School staff to put programs in place that helped students reach new levels of achievement, I am excited about completing my dissertation in pursuit of my doctoral degree,” Laurie wrote in a letter to parents.

Connie Skelton, a retired superintendent of instruction at APS and former Williamsburg teacher, will fill in as acting principal for the rest of the school year. Murphy and APS staff will begin the search for a new principal in the near future.

“Connie is an exceptional school leader who is very familiar with our instructional and administrative framework, and will work closely with the Williamsburg team to ensure a smooth transition in leadership while continuing to provide excellent support for the students, families and staff,” Murphy wrote.

Murphy’s full letter is below:

Dear Williamsburg Families, Students and Staff,

I am writing to share with you that Mr. Gordon Laurie, Williamsburg Middle School Principal, has resigned from the Arlington Public Schools for personal reasons.  In his letter Mr. Laurie wrote, “After working closely with the exceptional and dedicated Williamsburg Middle School Staff to put programs in place that helped students reach new levels of achievement, I am excited about completing my dissertation in pursuit of my doctoral degree.”

I want to thank Mr. Laurie for his 15 years of service to APS and wish him the best in his academic and future professional pursuits.

For the balance of the 2016-17 school year, Connie Skelton, retired APS assistant superintendent of Instruction and a former Williamsburg teacher, has agreed to fill in as the acting principal for the remainder of the school year. Connie is an exceptional school leader who is very familiar with our instructional and administrative framework, and will work closely with the Williamsburg team to ensure a smooth transition in leadership while continuing to provide excellent support for the students, families and staff.

We know that changes in the middle of a school year can be challenging so all of us are committed to providing any added support that may be needed, and we will work to make this change as smooth as possible for everyone in the school community. In the coming weeks, Dr. Kristi Murphy, Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources, will join me to begin a process to select another strong leader for the school community.  I look forward to your participation in that effort.

Thank you for your continued support.

Sincerely,

Patrick K. Murphy, Ed.D.
Superintendent

by ARLnow.com March 13, 2017 at 3:50 pm 0

Snow plow on Jan. 24, 2016Update at 4:20 p.m. Metro has released its latest service plan for Monday night into Tuesday. The Metrorail system will be open Tuesday and will operate on a Saturday schedule. Buses will start the day operating on a severe service plan, according to WMATA.

Arlington County, Virginia State Police and other local jurisdictions and agencies are bracing for the late-season snowstorm that’s expected to bring several inches of snow and sleet to our region starting tonight.

After-school activities and sporting events are being cancelled en masse tonight and officials are preparing for what may be a messy commute at best or major travel disruptions at worst tomorrow. In addition to problems on the roads, widespread flight cancellations are also expected at local airports.

From Kathryn O’Brien at Arlington’s Dept. of Environmental Services:

Arlington County will fully-mobilize crews this afternoon to combat the snow beginning tonight into Tuesday. In preparation for the storm, crews pretreated roads over the weekend.

During the storm, our priority is to keep main arteries passable for emergency vehicles and public transportation. After the storm, cleanup operations begin, which includes treating ice on the roadways. Plowing generally begins when snow is two-four inches deep. If more than six inches of snow falls, we will plow some residential areas at the same time as arterial roadways in phase two. (Learn more about our phases).

The County’s Snow Removal Ordinance requires all Arlington property owners to clear snow and ice from public sidewalks adjacent to their property within a certain time frame. Here are some other ways residents can help with our snow removal efforts:

  • Coordinate with neighbors to park cars on one side of the street, where feasible, or avoid on-street parking so snowplow operators can efficiently clear more of the streets
  • Don’t park “head in” on cul-de-sacs so that plows have more room to maneuver
  • Clear your sidewalks and scoop snow towards your house, not the street
  • Wait for snow plows to come by before clearing snow from the front of driveways, to minimize the amount pushed back by plows
  • Stay home, telework or use mass transit to reduce the number of potentially stranded vehicles
  • Apply only the recommended amount of chemical de-icers on sidewalks to attain a safe and passable way

We encourage residents to stay connected through our Snow and Ice Central webpage and our DES social media platforms for updates on snow phases, transportation, trash and other important notifications. Follow us on Twitter @ArlingtonDES and on Facebook at Arlington County Environmental Services.

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, meanwhile, has declared a State of Emergency in advance of the storm, saying that “Virginians should take the necessary precautions now to ensure they are prepared for travel disruptions and possible power outages during a cold weather period.”

From Virginia State Police:

Virginia State Police will have all available troopers and supervisors working in advance of and the duration of the storm as it makes its way across the Commonwealth. To prevent unnecessary traffic crashes from occurring on Virginia’s highways during the storm, state police advises residents to postpone travel plans and avoid driving, when possible.

If having to travel during the storm, drivers are reminded to do the following:

  • Use headlights. Increasing your visibility helps you to avoid slick and dangerous spots on the road, to include standing water and/or flooding. Headlights also help other drivers see you better.
  • Slow your speed. Though state police works closely with the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) to identify problem areas on Virginia’s highways during a storm, drivers still must drive for conditions. Slowing your speed gives you more time to safely react and avoid a crash. Drive your vehicle based on your ability to properly maintain control of your vehicle.
  • Don’t tailgate. You need increased stopping distance on slick road surfaces. Give yourself more space between vehicles traveling ahead of you in order to avoid rear end collisions.
  • Buckle Up. Most crashes that occur during inclement weather are caused by vehicles sliding off the road or other vehicles. Wearing your seat belt protects you from being thrown around the inside of your vehicle and suffering serious injury in a crash.
  • Put down your phone. Having to drive in severe snow or rain requires a driver’s full, uninterrupted attention. Do not text and drive or shoot video of the bad conditions while driving, as these actions put you, your passengers and other vehicles at extreme risk of a crash and/or injury.
  • Check Your Vehicle. Make sure your vehicle is in good working order for the conditions. Fill up the tank in advance. Check windshield wipers, windshield wiper fluid, tire tread, battery life, etc.
  • Don’t leave home without a window scraper, blanket, bottled water, snack, cell phone charger and flashlight.

For the latest in road conditions and updates, please call 511 on a cell phone, download the App or go online to the VDOT Virginia Traffic Information Website at www.511virginia.org.

More via Twitter:

by ARLnow.com Sponsor March 13, 2017 at 2:45 pm 0

Berry & Berry column banner

This is a sponsored column by attorneys John Berry and Kimberly Berry of Berry & Berry, PLLC, an employment and labor law firm located in Northern Virginia that specializes in federal employee, security clearance, retirement, and private sector employee matters.

By John V. Berry

On March 8, 2017, Congress moved forward with bill H.R. 1313, sponsored by Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.-5), to enable employers to obtain genetic information about an applicant or employee.

Presently, genetic testing of employees and prospective employees, on anything other than a voluntary basis, is illegal. Genetic testing of employees currently is protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act and the 2008 Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act.

The bill, which was approved by the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, is part of the Preserving Employee Wellness Programs Act and would allow employers to impose penalties of up to 30 percent of the total cost of the employee’s health insurance on those who choose to keep such information private from their employer.

Congress enacted GINA to prohibit discrimination by health insurers and employers based on the genetic information that people carry in their DNA. GINA currently contains an exception, however, that allows employees to voluntarily provide their genetic information as part of a voluntary wellness program.

If passed, the bill would change the nature of the voluntariness of providing genetic information and make it clear that employers who offer wellness programs, and also require genetic testing as part of these programs, can legally charge workers who refuse to take the genetic test a higher price for health insurance than workers who will.

If enacted by the full House and Senate, H.R. 1313 would effectively repeal the fundamental genetic and health privacy protections in GINA and the ADA. The new provisions would permit employers, under the guise of workplace wellness programs, to ask employees questions about genetic examinations taken by themselves or their families.

Further, an employer could make inquiries about the medical history of employees and other family members. GINA’s requirement that employee genetic information collected as part of a wellness plan only be shared with medical professionals would no longer apply. This could open the door to discrimination by employers on the basis of genetic examinations or family histories.

If you need assistance with an employment law issue in Virginia, please contact our office at (703) 668-0070 or at www.berrylegal.com to schedule a consultation. Please also like and visit us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/BerryBerryPllc.

by Chris Teale March 13, 2017 at 1:45 pm 0

A Shirlington restaurant owner brought her Hawaiian-influenced cooking to one of the Food Network’s most recognized shows.

Mikala Brennan, owner of Hula Girl Bar and Grill, competed on season 32 of “Chopped,” the competitive cooking show where four contestants are handed a basket of mystery of ingredients with which to cook across three rounds.

A panel of expert judges tries the creations and after each round one contestant is eliminated — “chopped” — from the competition.

Brennan’s episode, entitled “Raw Deal,” was the 400th in the show’s history. She competed against Steven Londono and Timothy Walker, both from New York City, and eventual winner Marie Yniguez, from Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Brennan was eliminated after the second round and did not reach the final course, and said that while she enjoyed the experience, being chopped was still emotional.

The corridor chopped contestants exit through “is a hall of shame when you walk down that thing,” she said. “I was definitely trying not to pop a tear, because it’s really upsetting.”

Brennan’s episode was filmed in the network’s New York studio in August, one month after the show’s production staff descended on her Campbell Avenue eatery to film and gather background information. Brennan and her staff signed non-disclosure agreements promising not to share the news, then had to wait until the Food Network announced an air date.

The episode premiered on February 28, and will be re-run at various times throughout the network’s schedule.

In the first round, Brennan and her fellow competitors had to make an appetizer using sushi burgers, fresh wasabi, longan berries and pork floss as main ingredients, with the help of the show’s well-stocked pantry and fridge.

Then the entrée round called for the use of buffalo top sirloin steaks, porcini mushrooms, aji dulce and sea buckthorn juice.

In the dessert round, held after Brennan was eliminated, the final two chefs used polenta cake, bechamel sauce, plums and pink Himalayan sea salt.

Such ingredients required some creative thinking to prevent the episode’s judges Chris Santos, Amanda Freitag and Maneet Chauhan from eliminating her.

“It’s one of those things where you almost go into a surreal mode,” Brennan said. “You start flipping through every single recipe you’ve ever done or come across, and you’re trying to figure out what you can do. I’ll be honest, I really didn’t have a plan that quickly.”

Brennan has some experience with the Food Network, having previously competed on the show “Rewrapped” which aired in 2014 and asks chefs to recreate classic snack foods before making a new dish using that same snack food as the main ingredient.

But she said the experience of cooking in the “Chopped” kitchen, surrounded by cameras and being asked questions by host Ted Allen while planning and executing a meal against the clock, is a whole different ball game.

“It’s a very weird experience, because as a chef you’re just trying to figure out what you’re cooking, and then you’re also jumping over cables to get the things in the pantry, then you’re trying to get around camera people and other people you’re competing against,” Brennan said. “Then there’s Ted Allen over there asking questions. It’s a high-stress situation, but that’s the whole point of it.”

by Chris Teale March 13, 2017 at 12:45 pm 0

Startup Monday header

Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

Passengers at the region’s airports could have an easier time during their travels thanks to a new partnership between the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority and Crystal City startup incubator 1776.

1776 front deskThe partnership, announced last month, means the two organizations will work together to find and mentor firms that look to use technology to make air travel more efficient. That technology includes proposals that can benefit airports, transit agencies and more.

MWAA operates Ronald Reagan Washington National and Dulles airports, as well as the Dulles Airport Access Highway and the Dulles Toll Road. It also manages construction of the Silver Line project into Loudoun County.

“In today’s rapidly changing world of business and commerce, it is imperative that transportation providers, such as airports, take advantage of new technologies that help us meet the demands and expectations of our increasingly mobile customers,” said MWAA president and CEO Jack Potter in a statement.

Already, 1776 is affiliated with companies that look to improve the travel experience in and around airports. The startup incubator, which has an office at 2231 Crystal Drive in Crystal City, partnered with mobile application company Airside Mobile to add Automated Passport Control devices that help international passengers arriving at Washington Dulles International Airport be processed more quickly.

Reagan Airport (file photo)MWAA also has been innovating through a partnership with CLEAR, a firm that helps its members move quickly through airport security lines and advances the use of biometric technology for security screening.

Additionally, the authority has invested in mobile app technology to aid security screening and airport signage, and is developing patented processes and technologies to make airport operations more efficient.

“Startups and new technologies continue to rapidly disrupt the way we travel from point A to point B,” said Evan Burfield, cofounder and CEO of 1776, in a statement. “1776 is excited to partner with the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority to harness the latest innovations within the transportation and aviation industry.”

by ARLnow.com March 13, 2017 at 11:35 am 0

(Updated at 4 p.m.) A wild fight outside Ballston’s A-Town Bar & Grill last night resulted in two suspects being tased by police, including one man who was brawling while wearing a Pikachu onesie.

The incident happened around 9 p.m. on the 1000 block of N. Randolph Street. According to police, it started when the man in the Pikachu costume, Steven Goodwine, Jr., tried to pick a fight with the bouncers at A-Town after being kicked out of the bar’s weekly “Sunday Funday” festivities.

Goodwine “became aggressive with the door staff and Mr. Reid attempted to intervene,” according to what may be the longest item ever on an Arlington County Police Department daily crime report (below).

Police arrived and tried to break up the fight between Goodwine and Reid, according to the crime report. The men allegedly stopped fighting with each other and started fighting with police. Both suspects were tased during the fracas and Goodwine tried to flee, but both were eventually taken into custody and no one was seriously injured, police say.

More from the ACPD crime report:

ASSAULT & BATTERY ON POLICE, 2017-03120191, 1000 block of N. Randolph Street. At approximately 8:58 p.m. on March 12, police were dispatched to the report of a fight in progress.  The arriving officer located the subjects, later identified as Steven Goodwine Jr. and Marcus Reid, and provided verbal commands to cease the fight. The subjects allegedly ignored the commands and the officer physically separated them. As the officer was attempting to detain Mr. Goodwine, Mr. Reid advanced and struck the officer, pushing him to the ground. When Mr. Reid advanced towards the officer a second time, the officer deployed his taser. As officers were attempting to place handcuffs on Mr. Reid, he continued to forcefully resist while attempting to stand. An officer deployed their taser and the subject was taken into custody without further incident.

Additional officers responded to Mr. Goodwine’s location who was attempting to flee the scene. Officers ordered the subject to stop and get on the ground. When he refused, officers went hands on in an attempt to detain the subject. Mr. Goodwine struggled with the officer and was able to place him in a stranglehold. The officer was able to free himself, deploy his taser and the subject was taken into custody without further incident. Both subjects were evaluated by medics and did not sustain serious injuries. The investigation revealed that the initial incident began after Mr. Goodwine was removed from a restaurant, became aggressive with the door staff and Mr. Reid attempted to intervene.

Marcus Reid, 31, of Arlington VA was arrested and charged with assault and battery on police, obstruction of justice and drunk in public. Steven Goodwine Jr., 27, or Arlington VA was arrested and charged with assault and battery on police, strangulation, disorderly conduct, obstruction of justice and drunk in public. Both were held in the Arlington County Detention Facility on No Bond.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of the crime report interchanged the subjects names in the first paragraph. The report has been corrected at approximately 3:00 P.M. on March 13, 2017.

by ARLnow.com March 13, 2017 at 10:30 am 0

The Rosslyn parking garage in which a Washington Post reporter met a source dubbed “Deep Throat” to discuss the Watergate scandal looks like it may not be relegated to the history books quite yet.

The garage and the two office buildings atop it were set for a major redevelopment. Approved in 2014, the plan was to build a 24-story office tower and a 28-story, 274-unit apartment building on the site.

But the original County Board approval for the plan expires in June and property owner Monday Properties is asking for a three-year extension at the Arlington County Board meeting this Saturday.

Other than the extension, no other changes to the development’s site plan have been proposed. County Manager Mark Schwartz is recommending the Board approve the extension.

by ARLnow.com March 13, 2017 at 9:30 am 0

Cherry blossoms, Memorial Bridge and Rosslyn (Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman)

Permitting a Challenge for Older Properties — Arlington’s permitting office can be a source of frustration for homeowners trying to make changes or additions to their house, but it’s especially challenging for those who own older properties that no longer conform to the county zoning ordinance. [Arlington Magazine]

Free Tax Help in Arlington — Arlington County is again offering free tax assistance sessions through mid-April for lower income residents: individuals making up to $35,000/year or families making up to $54,000/year. [Arlington County]

Four Courts ‘Leprechaun’ Profiled — Dave Cahill, the general manager of Four Courts in Courthouse, is the official “leprechaun” of the Four Courts Four Miler, which took place on Sunday. Cahill recently spoke about how he started running and helped come up with the idea for the race. [Facebook]

Signature’s ‘Mrs. Miller Does Her Thing’ — Emmy- and Tony Award-winning actress Debra Monk is starring in the new production of “Mrs. Miller Does Her Thing” at Shirlington’s Signature Theatre. It’s the true story of Elva Miller, “a 59-year-old grandmother who became an overnight sensation with her operatic but off-turn renditions of pop hits.” The show runs through March 26. [NBC Washington]

Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman

by Buzz McClain March 13, 2017 at 6:00 am 0

Every Thursday morning, rain or shine, the folks enjoying breakfast and coffee at the tables outside the Lee Harrison Shopping Center Starbucks get to see the delivery of two to three tons of birdseed hauled into the Wild Birds Unlimited store next door.

That’s two to three TONS of bags of wild birdseed.

“That’s how fresh it is,” says owner Michael Zuiker. “And we go through that mountain every week.”

During special promotions that mountain has been known to grow to seven tons, and it flies off the shelves as if on eagle wings.

Wild Birds Unlimited has been at the same perch at Lee Harrison for 26 years, ever since Zuiker gave up designing Roy Rogers restaurants for Marriott in the 1980s and decided to do something that connected him as well as others with the outdoors.

“I’ve always loved outdoors, always loved nature,” Zuiker says. “I always loved the concept of doing something all natural. So for 26 years we’ve been bringing people and nature together.”

Over the years Zuiker has established a loyal clientele of bird lovers in Arlington, Falls Church and McLean, and he’s heartened by the growing number of new customers who come to the store perhaps for the first time. But some of them aren’t clear on the concept when they first come in.

“Maybe twice a week people come in looking to buy birds,” he says. “I tell them, I have no clue how to sell a bird. And the other misconception they have is when they ask, Can you make a living doing this? That’s when I politely tell them feeding wild birds is the second-most popular hobby in America, next to gardening.”

Zuiker says some 60 million Americans actively feed birds all four seasons. “It’s a beautiful hobby,” he says.

Zuiker is careful not to run down the competition, but those inexpensive bags of birdseed at grocery and hardware stores are not the stock he’s carrying.

“They sell it so cheaply, I don’t see how they can make a profit on it,” he says. “But it won’t be fresh, it won’t be good quality seed. A 20-pound bag might have 70 percent cereal grain in it which the birds don’t actually eat. They’ll kick it to the ground.

“And it’s very possible it’s been sitting on the shelf for months, which, because there is larvae in it, it could produce bugs.

“Or it could have very few seeds that only a few species will eat and not the kind people are trying to attract to their backyards.”

In Arlington, that would be cardinals, chickadees, titmice, winter wrens, English sparrows, goldfinches, blue jays, doves — “a lot of color, a lot of songs in your backyard,” he says–or any of the six species of woodpeckers that inhabit the area.

A different bag of bird food, when used strategically, will bring in the migrating birds. Zuiker says there are some 10 to 20 species of those who swoop in for a snack before headed home.

Zuiker and his staff make sure customers have the seed and the feeders they need to accomplish their goals, and in Arlington and Falls Church, which are famously leafy neighborhoods, it’s not hard to do. But it has to be done right.

“You can put a feeder out and have birds on it within an hour,” he says. “But we tell our customers to give it a couple of weeks to really get going because the birds don’t recognize it as a food source right off the bat.”

Then there’s the squirrel challenge. “Everybody has a squirrel challenge,” he says, “but we can make any feeder in our store 100 percent squirrel-proof if you set it up correctly.”

Unsure about squirrels, feeders, seeds and the difference between a tufted titmouse and a white-breasted nuthatch? Just ask.

“I train my staff really hard to be real educators,” says Zuiker. “We want people to walk out the door with their solution for what they want in their backyards, and we try to educate them on the different ways they can do that. And it’s fun!”

Still fun, after 26 years?

“I never get tired of listening to the birds, I never get tired of feeding the birds and I never get tired of going out into the woods and exploring,” Zuiker says.

“But what really motivates me is, I don’t think I’ve maxed out [the customer base]. I don’t think it’s reached its potential. And I’m not interested in growing just to grow, but to help the staff and help other people–I’m still motivated by that.”

And not to mention helping the wild birds.

Wild Birds Unlimited is in the Lee Harrison Shopping Center at 2437 N. Harrison Street, Arlington. Call 703-241-3988 or email at [email protected].

The preceding business profile was written by Buzz McClain for our sponsor, Wild Birds Unlimited.

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