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by ARLnow.com Sponsor — April 6, 2017 at 3:30 pm 0

Healthy Paws

Editor’s Note: Healthy Paws is a column sponsored and written by the owners of Clarendon Animal Care, a full-service, general practice veterinary clinic. The clinic is located 3000 10th Street N., Suite B. and can be reached at 703-997-9776.

Cats love to hunt! Their instinct to display predatory behaviors is incredibly strong. In the wild, cats are mentally occupied by the constant activity of obtaining their next meal. Only 25-50 percent of a wild cat’s hunting attempts are successful and they eat 10-20 small prey per day, which averaging 20-30 calories each. That can mean up to 80 hunts every day.

House cats, on the other hand, are usually offered canned food once or twice a day and have a bowl of dry food nearby that is kept full, at the cat’s insistence. So that’s three really easy “hunts” — it doesn’t require much mental gymnastics to sneak up on a bowl of kibble.

No wonder your kitty is asking for more food as soon as she finishes her meal – -it’s just too easy! Letting cats outside would give them opportunities to hunt, but puts them at risk for picking up infectious diseases and car accidents, and can have deleterious effects on wildlife populations.

Without adequate opportunities to hunt, cats tend to have more anxiety, struggle with obesity, frustration, and are prone to stress-related diseases. Luckily, we can use food and play indoors to provide cats opportunities to engage in pseudo-predatory play and feeding behaviors.

Uses of dry food (kibble):

  • Hide small amounts of food in multiple locations throughout the house. This works best in single cat homes, but can work for multi-cat homes as well. If you have one cat who is much more assertive about getting food and another who is more laid back about food, you may need to do a combination of separate bowl feeding and food scattered around the house. Use the bowl feeding to balance out hunting differences.
  • Your average cat kibble has between two and three calories in each piece, which means to mimic hunting behavior, each “kill” should be about 10 pieces of kibble.
  • Food toys or puzzle feeders greatly increase the mental and physical effort that goes into mealtimes. There are many products you can buy online or in stores, but homemade puzzle feeders are also great and very low cost.
  • Cat Amazing is a cardboard treat maze that many cats love
  • Videos of DIY toys made from common household materials

Uses of wet food:

  • Feed a very small amount of wet food at regular intervals, between two and five times per day depending on your schedule
  • Instead of putting the wet food in a bowl, fill a shallow cardboard box with empty yogurt cups (open side up) and put a teaspoon of wet food in just a couple of the cups

Uses of non-food toys:

  • “Kill the bear” — This is a game to play with your cat to allow them to go through all the motions of hunting and killing prey in a safe way. Designate a plush toy that is only for this game. Get on the ground, get your cat’s attention by shaking the toy rapidly at ground level, then throw it across the floor in front of your cat. The goal is for your cat to pounce on the bear, sink her teeth in and grab it with both front feet — this is a full hunting sequence. Play this game once every other day with your cat for a great emotional outlet.

With changes in feeding strategies, it’s important to watch out of weight loss or gain. Many indoor cats can stand to lose a couple pounds, and feeding in a way that encourages movement around the house can help with this weight loss. We don’t want more than 1 percent weight loss a week, about 0.1 pound a week for the average cat) If you think over/under eating will be a problem in our household, bring everyone by for a weight check before changing feeding strategies and then reweigh them a month later.

For best results, include both dry and wet food in your cat’s daily routine and use as many of the above strategies as you and your kitty have energy for. Happy Hunting!

by Mark Kelly — April 6, 2017 at 3:00 pm 0

Mark KellyThe Right Note is a weekly opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

Just as with our county budget, no one can argue with a straight face that our school budget is strained. We are consistently tops in the region in per pupil spending.

In the past I have asked for an explanation of what makes up the difference between the reported $18,957 per pupil spending and the $22,032 of actual spending. Per pupil spending would increase by $564 under the proposed FY 2018 budget.

It might also be interesting to see a study on budgetary savings from ending homework. There has to be some savings on paper and copier toner.

Last week, Peter’s Take discussed long range budget planning at Arlington Public Schools. His ideas to increase community and County Board engagement would represent a common-sense step in the right direction.

Here are two specific ideas to spark conversation about the APS budget:

Scrap the Revenue Sharing Agreement

As a candidate for County Board, I met with the Arlington Education Association Board and fielded their questions. One of the questions that day was whether I supported a revenue sharing agreement that guaranteed APS would receive 46.5 percent of county revenue.

I answered no.

As you might imagine, the answer met with shocked looks at the table. Why come to this meeting where I was supposedly seeking an endorsement and turn down one of the top requests?

My argument was simple. Why reduce the needs of Arlington schools to a few lines on an Excel spreadsheet? Why not leave open the possibility that sometimes they may need more, or less?

So instead of writing a school budget to an arbitrary 46.5 percent share of revenue, APS should write a budget based on demonstrable needs.

This approach could result in the school receiving a larger share out of the annual budget in some years. It might mean they no longer automatically receive a share of closeout funds, which would take away an administration slush fund.

This line of thinking would certainly require a closer relationship between the County Board and the School Board. It also would shine a brighter light on the APS budget, by requiring another layer of accountability for its spending.

Give APS Maximum Flexibility on Student-Teacher Ratios

Arlington’s enrollment is increasing. However, the growth has slowed down over the projections from a couple years ago. As Arlington works to deal with the uncertainty in increasing enrollment to determine the construction of new buildings, the community should give school administrators some room to make commonsense decisions in the short run.

Superintendent Patrick Murphy included increasing the ratios by one student per classroom as a way to find budget savings in this year’s budget proposal. Based on how the community has reacted in the past, the idea will almost certainly be shot down again.

This issue simply causes reflexive reactions from people who have been conditioned to think that any increase in ratios will have a devastating impact on educational outcomes. However, academic studies have not always backed up this view.

by ARLnow.com — April 6, 2017 at 2:00 pm 0

(Updated at 2:50 p.m.) A severe thunderstorm that ripped through Arlington just after lunchtime has left some debris and damage in its wake.

In Pentagon City, part of the facade and roof of the Macy’s at the Pentagon City mall was damaged and a portion of it fell onto a car. One minor injury has been reported. As of 2:45 p.m., workers were on the roof inspecting the damage.

According to scanner reports, a tree fell on a car near the intersection of Route 50 and Park Drive. The two occupants of the vehicle were shaken up but not injured.

A tree fell into a home on the 1400 block of N. Wakefield Street, a few blocks from Washington-Lee High School, according to a fire department dispatch. The tree caused damage to the front of the house, but did not hit a car parked next door.

A number of other instances of trees and utility lines falling have been reported around the county, including at the intersections of S. Wayne Street and 6th Street S., S. Adams Street and 8th Street S., and 31st Street S. and S. Randolph Street.

As of 2:45 p.m., just over 550 Dominion customers were without power, according to the company’s outage map.

Via Twitter, residents say the storm brought hail in addition to very strong winds.

by Peter Rousselot — April 6, 2017 at 1:30 pm 0

Peter Rousselot

Peter’s Take is a weekly opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

On March 27, Virginia’s Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe announced that he was renewing his call for Virginia to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act:

“The state is losing out on $6.6 million a day in federal money by not expanding Medicaid eligibility to roughly 400,000 low-income adults. McAuliffe has proposed a budget amendment that would give him power to expand Medicaid, saying the issue had gained new urgency after Trump’s defeat … in repealing the Affordable Care Act.”

The Virginia Republican legislative leadership quickly replied:

“They said they would reject McAuliffe’s proposed budget amendment when the General Assembly returns to Richmond in April.”

Discussion

Terry McAuliffe is right that Medicaid should be expanded. Virginia Republican legislative leaders should work with him to find a bipartisan solution.

Under the ACA, states can choose whether to expand Medicaid to cover people making up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level, or about $16,640 for an individual. The federal government currently picks up almost all the cost, although that percentage is scheduled to decline to a 90 percent federal share by 2020. About half of the 31 states that have chosen the Medicaid expansion have Republican governors.

One of those Republican governors is John Kasich of Ohio. Kasich has forcefully criticized Donald Trump’s failed efforts to gut the Medicaid expansion program:

That is a very, very bad idea, because we cannot turn our back on the most vulnerable. We can give them the coverage, reform the program, save some money, and make sure that we live in a country where people are going to say, ‘at least somebody’s looking out for me,'” he said. “It’s not a giveaway program — it’s one that addresses the basic needs of people in our country.

Michigan’s Republican Governor Rick Snyder agreed, touting “Michigan’s embrace of the Medicaid expansion, which has covered 642,000 people in the state.”

Virginia’s Republican legislative leaders can pick and choose from a whole host of Medicaid expansion options pioneered by Republican leaders in other states. Besides Ohio and Michigan, Virginia’s Republican leaders can look to other states like Arkansas or Pennsylvania.

So far, Virginia’s Republican leaders have offered a variety of excuses for not following the example set by Republican leaders in any of these other states. They have argued that Virginia cannot afford the 10 percent share of the costs that the federal government ultimately will not cover. But, Virginia’s hospitals have offered to cover the state’s share.

Virginia Republicans also have argued, and continue to argue, that the ACA is going to be repealed. Why risk expanding Medicaid under the ACA, and then have the coverage taken away? But Republicans like Kasich and Snyder have had the courage to fight successfully for their covered residents.

Finally, Virginia Republicans have argued that there is fraud and abuse in Virginia’s existing Medicaid program. While it is true that some fraud and abuse has been identified, there is a detailed roadmap for fixing the problems. There is no reason not to simultaneously implement the identified safeguards and expand Medicaid.

Conclusion

Regardless of what happens with Gov. McAuliffe’s latest budget amendment, Virginia Republican and Democratic leaders should work together to reach a bipartisan solution to expand Medicaid. It’s the right thing to do. The benefits substantially outweigh the costs.

by Chris Teale — April 6, 2017 at 1:00 pm 0

(Updated at 1:30 p.m.) A Severe Thunderstorm Warning has been issued for Arlington County.

From the National Weather Service:

* Severe Thunderstorm Warning

* Until 200 PM EDT

* At 111 PM EDT, severe thunderstorms were located along a line extending from near Warrenton to 6 miles west of Dale City to Triangle, moving northeast at 50 mph.

HAZARD…60 mph wind gusts and quarter size hail.

SOURCE…Radar indicated.

IMPACT…Damaging winds will cause some trees and large branches to fall. This could injure those outdoors, as well as damage homes and vehicles. Roadways may become blocked by downed trees. Localized power outages are possible. Unsecured light objects may become projectiles.

* Locations impacted include… Arlington, Alexandria, Germantown, Centreville, Dale City, Rockville, Bethesda, Gaithersburg, Reston, Leesburg, Annandale, Olney, Springfield, College Park, South Riding, Fort Washington, Herndon, Greenbelt, Fairfax and Langley Park.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS…

Get indoors to protect yourself from wind and lightning. Trees around you may be downed from damaging winds, so if you are near large trees, move to an interior room on the lowest floor. Don’t drive underneath trees or in wooded areas until the threat has passed.

A Severe Thunderstorm Watch is also in effect, until 5 p.m.

 

by Progressive Voice — April 6, 2017 at 12:15 pm 0

Progressive Voice is a weekly opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the individual authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of their organizations or ARLnow.com.

By Bill Rice

In the age of the Trump administration and its new, draconian immigration policies, many Arlingtonians are looking for ways to stand with their immigrant neighbors and actively fight back against such intolerant measures.

Thankfully, such an avenue for action occurred on March 28 as members of the Arlington community gathered at Patrick Henry Elementary School for an immigration-focused community forum, sponsored by the Arlington County Democratic Committee.

Forum panelists included Michele Waslin, senior research and policy analyst at the American Immigration Council; Azaz Elshami, a Sudanese human rights activist who was affected by the travel ban; Tram Nguyen, co-executive director for the New Virginia Majority; Laura Peralta-Schulte, senior government relations advocate at the Network Lobby for Catholic Social Justice; and Karen Vallejos, a graduate of Arlington Public Schools and a DREAMer.

The panelists provided information and action items at the federal, state and local levels.

At the federal level, Waslin outlined a number of pernicious policy goals of the Trump administration, including plans to significantly decrease refugee resettlement in the United States, block entry of individuals from certain Muslim-majority countries, drastically curtail legal asylum for those fleeing violence in Central America (many of them mothers with their children), potentially end the Temporary Protected Status and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals programs, and introduce new barriers to legal immigration.

The Trump administration has also moved away from the prior deportation policy of targeting individuals who are serious criminals and/or a security threat to the United States. Trump’s new deportation policy, Waslin said, is “so overly broad” that it would make all 11 million undocumented individuals a priority for deportation.

The panelists urged people to contact their elected representatives to not only voice their opposition to these policies but also voice their support for comprehensive immigration reform that prioritizes humanitarian-based, employment-based, and family-unification-based immigration policies – with a legal pathway for otherwise law-abiding undocumented immigrants.

At the state level, Nguyen explained, “it’s not enough to protest…it’s not enough to attend rallies.” People must help register new Americans to vote, resist General Assembly legislation targeting immigrants and promote General Assembly legislation supporting immigrants.

Nguyen also stated that Virginians should resist attempts to turn local law enforcement into immigration/deportation agents (like through 287(g) agreements), explaining that “when you have local law enforcement dealing with immigration issues, it has very chilling effect on community policing.”

Peralta-Schutle explained that while Arlington is “fortunate to have a really strong network of activists” working on immigration issues, there is still much to be done.

Forum attendees specifically requested clearer answers from County officials on the role of ICE in our county jails and schools.

Perhaps most heart wrenching were the personal testimonies of Elshami and Vallejos.

Vallejos elaborated on her experiences as a DREAMer in the Arlington school system and community — “I figured we were going forward and we were progressing but after this election things changed,” she said.

For Elshami, the travel ban was a particularly frightening and perplexing experience. Born in Sudan, she left the country at age 3, eventually arriving in the U.S. through the lottery program. She has worked as an activist against policies of the Sudanese government. “I was really happy that finally I had found a place where I can call home and feel safe.”

The travel ban changed this atmosphere. Abroad when Trump issued the first ban, she was unable to return to the U.S. solely because of her Sudanese birth, while her 77-year-old mother remained in the U.S. alone. After the courts enjoined Trump’s order, Elshami was able to return.

“I saw a different face of America. This is not the U.S.,” said Elshami, who began to develop panic attacks during this time period at the prospect of the U.S. permanently sending her back to Sudan. “It shocked me…something beautiful, something ideal, something that you really associated yourself with…it turned into something smeared.”

Yet Elshami experienced a glimmer of hope the moment she returned to Dulles International Airport and saw that members of the Dulles Justice Coalition, a group of volunteer attorneys and activists, had established a presence at the airport to assist those affected by the ban.

“Knowing that there are lawyers sitting out there, giving their time…that was great…that was America,” Elshami said. “That made me feel like not all is lost.”

Hopefully we all can continue to strive for the America Elshami saw at that moment.

Bill Rice works as a government consultant. He serves as a volunteer in the Arlington community and with the Dulles Justice Coalition, a “nonpartisan alliance of individual volunteers from legal non-profits, law firms, and all walks of life.”

by Chris Teale — April 6, 2017 at 11:55 am 0

Police closed a section of Washington Blvd in Virginia Square this morning after a U.S. Postal Service truck struck a utility pole.

Officers shut down the 3400 block of Washington Blvd between N. Kirkwood and N. Lincoln streets just after 11 a.m. Thursday.

The driver of the truck told police she turned left from N. Kirkwood Street onto Washington Blvd, but in the heavy rain and slippery conditions lost control of the vehicle and hit the pole.

No injuries were reported, there was reportedly no other traffic nearby and businesses nearby did not appear to lose power.

Crews from Dominion Virginia Power were on the scene to repair the pole and the power lines attached to it.

by Chris Teale — April 6, 2017 at 11:00 am 0

Three candidates for Arlington School Board looked to stake their claim for the Democratic endorsement in a forum dominated by talk of capacity, boundaries and diversity.

Incumbent James Lander faced challengers Maura McMahon and Monique O’Grady on Wednesday night at the Arlington County Democratic Committee’s monthly meeting. All three are vying for ACDC’s endorsement at next month’s caucuses.

And while there was broad consensus among all three on several issues facing Arlington Public Schools, there was some disagreement over respecting the system’s diversity and solving its capacity needs.

Lander said the School Board’s decision to issue a statement in support of its immigrant families earlier this year showed that APS stood with them.

But O’Grady said the statement did not go far enough to help support families in light of some of the anti-immigrant rhetoric stemming from President Donald Trump’s administration.

“We do have to do a better job of making those families feel safe in our community,” she said. “Putting a statement out is just a start.”

And in her closing statement, McMahon said respecting diversity includes ensuring a quality education for all students, regardless of economic or social background.

“We may all be at the same Arlington party that Mr. Lander refers to,” she said, “but we are not all eating the same meal.”

The candidates also differed on their approaches to solving APS’ capacity needs, as each year the system adds approximately 800 students. Lander said the provision of a short-term plan to add 5,000 seats at all levels in 10 years as well as a long-term plan would help ensure every student has a seat, but his challengers advocated for thinking differently.

O’Grady said more collaboration with the County Board is needed, as well as ensuring a school’s instructional program — whether a choice program or comprehensive — fits with the location’s needs. McMahon said APS must look at its current sites and examine if they are being used as efficiently as possible, and shake things up if needed.

“It might mean more complicated shifting around if necessary, but it will help in the long-term,” she said.

All three appeared broadly supportive of the additional 1 cent real estate tax hike proposed by County Manager Mark Schwartz to pay for APS’ budget needs.

They also agreed that the current practice of providing each elementary school student an iPad should be discontinued, if it means being able to pay for other budget needs like psychologists or social workers.

“We want to make sure our students have a love for reading, and some of that is done with a book,” said Lander.

The three candidates are on the ballot for the Democratic caucuses on May 9, 11 and 13, where a County Board nominee will also be chosen.

by ARLnow.com — April 6, 2017 at 10:15 am 0

This week brought the sad news that long-time local outdoor retailer Casual Adventure is closing up shop.

The owners wrote that it’s “no secret that the old retail model no longer works” at a time when online retailers keep gaining market share.

There is a reason why Amazon’s market value is now almost twice that of Walmart.

You know things are topsy-turvy when Bethesda residents are petitioning against the closure of a large chain bookstore — which 20 years ago would have been criticized for running independent bookstores out of business.

Shop local” has been a popular rallying cry recently for those who value the community-enhancing power of local businesses, but it’s hard to deny that there are a ton of empty Amazon boxes sitting curbside on recycling day. “Shop local” is nice in theory, but the convenience and low prices online often win out when it’s time to actually make a purchase.

In today’s poll, we wanted to find out where Arlingtonians stand on this.

Think of a category of something you want to buy — outdoor goods, books, pet supplies, etc. What are you most likely to do: specifically seek out a local bricks-and-mortar retail store to buy the product, or just buy it online from Amazon or another site?

by ARLnow.com — April 6, 2017 at 9:00 am 0

John Glenn to Be Buried Today — Astronaut, U.S. senator and one-time Arlington resident John Glenn will be interred at Arlington National Cemetery this morning. Glenn died in December at the age of 95. Arlington County Police Department motor units are assisting with rolling road closures for the funeral procession. [Rare]

CivFed Rejects Tax Hike — The Arlington County Civic Federation voted “overwhelmingly” to call on the County Board to reject a proposed property tax rate hike and instead tap into reserve funds to provide needed funding boosts for Metro and Arlington Public Schools. [InsideNova]

Tears for Casual Adventure — Long-time customers, employees and owners of Casual Adventure in Virginia Square are all shedding tears as the 61-year-old store prepares to close. The outdoor retailer is holding a store closing sale to liquidate its inventory. [NBC Washington]

Lawsuit: Sexual Harassment in Arlington Apartment — A lawsuit alleges that a 72-year-old official with a small graduate school in D.C. coerced students “into sexually explicit physical examinations at his Arlington, Va., apartment, ostensibly to keep their jobs and advance their careers.” [Washington Post]

Buckingham Profiled by WaPo — Buckingham is a diverse, relatively affordable community near Ballston and the Orange Line. But its civic association president does not like the direction the neighborhood is headed — and he didn’t mind expressing that in the Washington Post’s “Where We Live” community real estate profile. “For Bernie Berne… the biggest issue is the ‘destruction of the neighborhood by affordable housing,'” the paper wrote. “Berne… said he believes the ‘increase in the density’ of the area ‘takes away open space and trees.'” [Washington Post]

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — April 6, 2017 at 6:00 am 0

By Karyn Ewart, PhD.

Stressed out, overwhelmed, anxious. Sound familiar?

I’m not talking about you, I’m talking about your kids!

As families prepare to take a much needed spring break next week, now is a good time to talk about why our kids are more burnt out than some corporate executives, and how parents can help their kids chill out on spring break, and even when they return to school.

Middle and high school students are under pressure:

  • Social pressure is high and social acceptance can now be measured by social media stats. Worse yet, kids never get a break from the social pressure, even after their school day is over. The Sycamore School is addressing social issues by giving students a place to talk about socialization as well as adolescent development and explicitly teaching students skills to increase self-awareness, self-regulation and effective communication skills.
  • Extracurricular pressure is mounting. Particularly in our highly competitive region, our kids are pushed to do more, do better and distinguish themselves. Kids are expected to not only be on teams, in clubs, service organizations, or enrichment, but if they want to get into a good college, they need to demonstrate leadership now.
  • Academic pressure is intense. Northern Virginia and the greater D.C. region are home to amazing schools — but with them comes expectations of high performance. From a very young age, our kids are grouped, labeled and tracked; if our students aren’t on the accelerated learning track, we feel they are falling behind. Our middle schoolers are pushed to start preparing for college starting in sixth grade; by eighth grade our kids are getting high school credit; by 10th grade they are earning college credits. For many kids, earning average grades triggers tutoring or supplemental instruction (god forbid a C!) while with others, they fall through the cracks, get lost in large classes and are unable to get the help they need to reach their potential. As a community, we don’t accept average, and that creates incredible stress for our children. The Sycamore School’s small classes coupled with experiential learning and student choice of assignments and assessments will support students at all levels of their academic journey, and allow students to recognize how they learn best. By providing a supportive environment, students can advance at their own pace, without the pressure of a standardized system.

Our culture of more-better-faster has created an academic environment that is unhealthy for children’s development; kids are not able to be kids. The impact of stress on adolescents can be seen in the rise of depression, anxiety, alcohol and drug use and abuse.

So what is the alternative? Parents have choices, but first they have to own that it is a choice to perpetuate the culture of pressure that is suffocating our kids.

  1. Let kids make their own choices — it’s ok if they don’t want to take 4 AP classes, or to take accelerated English, or join the science team. Let your kids develop their own interests: that is what will spark a love of learning.
  2. Lay off the “if you don’t do this now you’ll be shutting doors for later” language. That is your own anxiety talking and it’s not fair to put that pressure on your kids.
  3. Explore alternative education options. I founded The Sycamore School for the purpose of flipping education priorities upside down to let kids be kids, and develop learners who are problem solvers, independent thinkers and team players.
  4. Say “no” to our culture of acceleration. If you let your kid be the age they are and the developmental level they are, they will experience NOW instead of living for a maybe-one-day future.
  5. Be present for your kids. Slow down your own frenetic drive and take time to listen, observe and enjoy the moments you have with your children now.
  6. Play for the sake of playing. It’s OK if the game is silly and doesn’t reinforce a skill or developmental milestone. Laugh.

You can learn more about how The Sycamore School is turning education upside down in Arlington by attending an interactive open house, or subscribe to our newsletter for more insights into education and adolescent development.

Karyn Ewart, PhD. is Founder and Head of School at The Sycamore School in Arlington and is a licensed clinical psychologist who has worked in public and private schools for over 15 years. Dr. Ewart has a doctorate in clinical psychology from the California School of Professional Psychology. She has extensive experience working with adolescents in schools, including students with learning differences. She believes that engaging students to be active members of a community, within a school setting, serves as a catalyst for developing positive relationships, facilitating growth and effecting change.

The preceding was sponsored by The Sycamore School.

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