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by Katie Pyzyk April 10, 2017 at 4:30 pm 0

There’s been a lot of clean-up in Arlington following last Thursday’s strong storms that produced a weak tornado.

The National Weather Service says the tornado formed adjacent to the Army Navy Country Club and lasted for six minutes on its 4.5 mile journey through Pentagon City and into Washington, D.C. The F-0 tornado had peak winds of 60-70 miles per hour.

The Army Navy Country Club property experienced quite a bit of damage, and a spokesperson issued the following statement to ARLnow on Monday:

“The tornado did interrupt some of the Club’s golf operations, as we had to close 18 of the 27 holes of golf in the Club’s Arlington location. Due to the tornado, we lost dozens of trees, several water coolers, trash cans, and benches on the course. We are fortunate that the path of the tornado did not cause any injuries or damages to the buildings.”

The last time a tornado was recorded in Arlington was on September 24, 2001, when an F-1 that originated in Fairfax County traveled northeast for 15 miles through Alexandria and Arlington, then it crossed the 14th Street Bridge into the District. It caused extensive damage and injured two people in south Arlington.

The scene was different for Thursday’s tornado in Arlington and the two others confirmed in the region that day, said Chris Strong, a warning coordination meteorologist with NWS Baltimore/Washington. Not only were the tornadoes weaker, but they also formed in a different manner.

“These weaker ones last week were basically eddies along a gust front, rather than more classic supercell thunderstorm tornadoes,” Strong says. “Those eddies produced small whirls of wind that in narrow corridors snapped some trees and caused siding and roofing damages.”

Some of that damage occurred when a portion of the facade and roof of the Macy’s at the Pentagon City mall ripped off and fell onto a car, resulting in one minor injury.

Technological advances have prompted changes in how local emergency managers warn the public about tornadoes and other weather emergencies. Some parts of the country, especially those that are more prone to tornadoes, use sirens as a warning. But sirens aren’t necessarily as effective in Arlington and the District, partially because of the dense buildings and foliage.

“Tornado sirens are not used much in this region of the country,” Strong said. “One of the reasons they work better in tornado alley is the wide open spaces with lack of trees that allows the sound to travel well.”

(more…)

by Katie Pyzyk April 10, 2017 at 3:30 pm 0

Police picked up two teens accused of breaking into cars early Saturday morning.

Around 12:45 a.m. on Saturday, police received a call from a citizen who reported seeing people tampering with vehicles along the 4100 block of S. Four Mile Run Drive. Officers responded to the area, established a perimeter and located the two suspects matching the descriptions the witness provided.

Investigators determined that eight vehicles had been broken into and rummaged through, and several had items of value stolen. Most of the vehicles had not been locked.

The 16- and 17-year-old suspects both face charges in Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court. Police have not linked them to other recent car break-in cases throughout the county, but the investigation is ongoing.

by ARLnow.com Sponsor April 10, 2017 at 2:30 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 Kimberly Berry

In the Commonwealth of Virginia, most employees are considered “at will,” which means they can resign or be terminated at any time. When employment ends, an employer may offer severance to an employee in exchange for the employee’s waiver of his or her rights, including the right to sue for any work-related issues.

In Virginia, in the absence of an employment contract, an employer usually has no obligation to provide an employee severance pay. If severance pay is offered, an employer will provide the employee with a severance agreement.

What Is A Severance Agreement?

A severance agreement is a contract between an employee and an employer that specifies the terms of an employment departure. Severance agreements can be offered in cases of terminations, resignations, layoffs and/or retirement.

In order for a severance agreement to be valid, it must usually provide something to the employee to which the employee is not already entitled. For example, in most cases, a certain financial sum is provided to the departing employee by an employer in exchange for a waiver of rights, usually referred to as a general release, by the employee.

In addition, in Virginia and many other states, employers are generally required to provide an employee time to consider a severance agreement before signing. The Older Workers Benefit Protection Act, in part, requires that an employer provide employees over 40 years of age with a 21-day consideration period, or a 45-day consideration period in the case of a large reduction-in-force, and at least a seven-day revocation period.

Oftentimes, employers rush employees to sign a severance agreement and do not adhere to the procedures for severance agreements.

The terms of a severance agreement are generally negotiable between the employer and employee. However, an employee will not necessarily be told this when the employer offers the severance agreement.

Potential Considerations With Severance Agreements

Some of the issues to consider in advance of signing a severance agreement may include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Financial terms and timing of severance payments
  • Tax issues
  • Continuation of employment benefits
  • Ability to claim unemployment compensation
  • What claims are waived
  • Confidentiality terms
  • Non-disparagement
  • Re-employment/re-hiring possibilities for departing employee
  • Scope of non-competition after leaving employment
  • Preservation of trade secrets
  • References and points of contact
  • Recommendation letters
  • Consequences of violating the severance agreement

Each case is different and an employee may need legal representation in negotiating a severance agreement. Before an employee signs a severance agreement, he or she should consult with an attorney to discuss the rights that he or she may be waiving and the terms of the severance agreement.

If you need assistance with negotiating a severance agreement 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 April 10, 2017 at 1:15 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.

Think of private investigators, and you might think of Magnum P.I. or Sherlock Holmes.

But from its new Crystal City headquarters, Trustify is looking to challenge those perceptions. Open since March 2015, it has now moved into a new space in Arlington, where it matches up private investigators with customers.

Trustify co-founder Jen Mellon said the company’s diverse staff — more than half are women — has helped make it more accessible to more people.

“There’s a lot of brand debt,” Mellon said. “We’ve worked hard to change the face of the industry. I think a lot of our success is because our team looks like their consumer.”

Trustify allows anyone to run background checks, investigate fraud, locate missing children, check for infidelity and more from their web browser or the phone app. A consultation with a private investigator takes place over Trustify’s chat application, then investigators choose whether to pursue a case.

Company co-founder Danny Boice said that while about half of investigators’ work is done using standard surveillance techniques, much of it now is done through investigations of someone’s online presence and on the dark web.

“The internet makes a great accelerator for dishonesty,” he said. “For all the things it provides exponential growth, it also provides the perfect catalyst for puffing up your Facebook profile or LinkedIn or lying about not being in a relationship when you’re on Tinder, all those things.”

Mellon said Trustify recruits a lot among ex-law enforcement officers, including police and those retiring from agencies like the FBI and CIA. She said that the company conducts its own vetting of applicants to ensure their credentials and experience stack up, and that there are no black marks on their record.

Once someone is employed at Trustify, they step into an office culture that aims to make everyone feel comfortable. Employees have a designated space on the walls for photographs, while behind hidden doors are rooms for nursing mothers and other relaxation spaces.

Mellon said it was imperative to make employees feel valued internally, while externally, being surrounded by other technology firms and startups adds value too.

“We wanted a space not only to support our team, but support the work that we do,” Mellon said. “It’s nice to be a part of that technology community. It’s so conducive to the work we’re doing. We don’t have a lot of time to go somewhere else, so it’s nice to be in this concentrated technology corridor that we’re proud to be a part of.”

Trustify employed architecture firm Wingate Hughes to design its new office space, a process that took about eight weeks before another 12 weeks of construction.

Gavin Daniels, co-founding principal at Wingate Hughes, said the firm wanted Trustify employees to feel comfortable in their new space, while at the same time making it unique.

“I wanted something for them that was badass,” Daniels said. “I wanted someone to walk in and have that visceral reaction of, ‘Holy s–t. This is an office building? I can’t believe I’m standing here in an office building.’ I wanted people to get their breath taken away, smile and feel something.”

With the use of technology in a welcoming office environment, Boice said they are working hard to change how people view private investigation.

“We analyzed the market and found it’s an old industry that’s white male dominated, it’s a 1 percenter service,” he said. “We saw that if you changed how it could be consumed and made it accessible to everyone, then it could be this very large, new industry.”

More photos of Trustify’s new Crystal City office:

Danny Boice photo via Trustify

by Chris Teale April 10, 2017 at 12:15 pm 0

Arlington Agenda is a listing of interesting events for the week ahead in Arlington County. If you’d like to see your event featured, fill out the event submission form.

Also, be sure to check out our event calendar.

Wednesday

County Board Candidate Forum *
Marymount University Phelan Hall (2807 N. Glebe Road)
Time: 7-9 p.m.

The Arlington Committee of 100 will host an Arlington County Board Candidate Forum with Peter Fallon, Erik Gutshall, Kim Klingler and Vivek Patil. Scott McCaffrey, managing editor of the Sun Gazette, will moderate.

Thursday

Lipstick Brigade
Marymount University Reinsch Auditorium (2807 N. Glebe Road)
Time: 7-9 p.m.

Dr. Cindy Gueli discusses the captivating, surprising and often moving first-person stories she collected for “Lipstick Brigade,” her book of how women triumphed over the challenges of war and the chaotic, frustrating and often deadly capital boomtown.

Food Truck Thursdays
Crystal City (18th Street S and Crystal Drive; 201 12th Street S)
Time: 11 a.m.-2 p.m.

Get your lunchtime Food Truck fix at Food Truck Thursday in Crystal City all spring and summer long. Many favorites from the D.C. region are set to participate at both locations, subject to change and each truck’s scheduling.

Friday

The Saint John Passion *
Resurrection Lutheran Church (6201 Washington Blvd)
Time: 7:30-9 p.m.

A narrative reading of the Passion Story by Johann Sebastian with selections for choir and orchestra drawn from one of Bach’s greatest works. Presented as part of the Liturgy for Good Friday. Free and open to the public. Free will offering accepted.

Grandma Lee Live
Arlington Cinema & Drafthouse (2903 Columbia Pike)
Time: Friday 10 p.m., Saturday 7 p.m.

Grandma Lee is America’s funniest and most outrageous grandmother who is nowhere close to being ready for the rocking chair. She is a pro at entertaining audiences of all ages with her unorthodox views of family, television and life.

Saturday

Arlington County’s Bi-Annual E-CARE
Thomas Jefferson Middle School (125 S. Old Glebe Road)
Time: 8:30 a.m.-3 p.m.

Residents can come and safely dispose of hazardous household materials, and recycle items including bikes, small metal items, shoes, select baby and medical supplies, clothing and much more.

West Columbia Pike Food Truck Party
Columbia Pike at Four Mile Run Drive (4809 Columbia Pike)
Time: 11 a.m.-2 p.m.

The first of four dates featuring food vendors and other entertainment. The following vendors will be featured: Little Miss Whoopie, Ricksha Streetside Indian, Margaret’s Soul Food, Peruvian Brothers and Pacific Twist.

Sunday

Easter Service *
George Mason University Founder’s Hall (3351 Fairfax Drive)
Time: 9:15-10:30 a.m., 11 a.m.-12:15 p.m.

Emmanuel Presbyterian Church will be having two Sunday morning Easter services. Child care will be provided for both services for children from nursery through fifth grade. Join us after each service for coffee, snacks, and fellowship.

*Denotes featured (sponsored) event

by Chris Teale April 10, 2017 at 11:15 am 0

The Virginia House of Delegates last week voted down Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s (D) plan to gut a towing bill that targets Northern Virginia. The bill now goes back to McAuliffe.

McAuliffe’s amendment to HB 1960 would have removed language preventing jurisdictions in Northern Virginia from requiring a “second signature” to authorize a tow from a commercial property. The second signature comes at the moment of the tow; the first signature is the contract that authorizes a company to tow from a particular property.

The bill would affect all of Northern Virginia, known as Planning District 8. It overrides regulations passed by the Arlington County Board last December to amend the county’s towing ordinance.

Included in the County Board’s package was a controversial provision requiring businesses to authorize individual tows. That provision brought objections from the Arlington Chamber of Commerce and others in the business community.

McAuliffe had tried to lessen the impact of the General Assembly’s towing bill by adding suggested language requiring the second signature. But Fairfax and Prince William counties Del. Timothy Hugo (R-40) said at the House’s reconvened session April 5 that requiring a second signature is not practical.

Hugo, the bill’s chief patron, said needing a second signature would prevent the likes of churches, restaurants and apartment complexes from quickly removing illegally parked cars.

“What this amendment would allow, is it would require every time the tower wants to tow that illegally parked car, they’ve got to find the preacher, the restaurant manager, the president of the homeowners’ association, they’ve got to find a second signature for that tow,” Hugo said during the debate.

Del. Rip Sullivan (D-48), a member of Arlington’s House delegation, said it was unfair that Northern Virginia be singled out in the bill while the likes of Stafford County and Virginia Beach can require a second signature.

“The question here is why should we single out one locality or one portion of the state to be treated differently from every other portion of the state,” Sullivan said. “There’s no justification that I’ve heard for doing so.”

Debate brought some testy exchanges on the House floor during the one-day session where lawmakers debated McAuliffe’s vetoes and proposed amendments to other passed legislation. Del. Patrick Hope (D-47) echoed Sullivan’s sentiment, asking why the bill only applies to Northern Virginia if it “is such a good idea,” and why it thus could not apply statewide.

“If the gentleman wants to put that bill in next year, he’s more than welcome to do so,” Hugo said in response.

Then Del. Mark Levine (D-45) questioned why Virginia Beach is able to keep prohibiting predatory towing but Arlington County cannot, and he said that McAuliffe’s amendment would make one towing standard apply across the commonwealth.

Hugo said the amendment would only affect Northern Virginia, then House Speaker Bill Howell (R-28) ended debate.

“How petty that Republicans would try to pass a law overruling a predatory towing local ordinance in Democratic Northern Virginia while allowing the exact same predatory-towing ordinance in Republican Virginia Beach,” Levine wrote in an email to supporters.

The House rejected McAuliffe’s amendment by a 67-33 vote. The governor now must either sign or veto the bill.

by Katie Pyzyk April 10, 2017 at 10:15 am 0

Firefighters spent part of Saturday night extinguishing a house fire on the 1300 block of N. Stuart Street in Ballston.

Arlington County firefighters arrived around 8 p.m. to find flames that originated near the back porch and extended to part of the attic. Crews managed to put out the fire in about 20 minutes.

Emergency crews reported that none of the four to five people living in the home were injured, and neither was their dog.

An ACFD spokesperson says an improperly discarded cigarette sparked the fire. It reportedly was thrown into dry leaves and shrubbery, which then ignited the porch.

by Katie Pyzyk April 10, 2017 at 9:15 am 0

Washington Business Journal Downsizes HQ — The Washington Business Journal has moved out of its headquarters at 1555 Wilson Blvd in Rosslyn, where it had been for 20 years. The publication moved just down the street to 1100 Wilson Blvd. The downsize puts WBJ in a location that is about 3,000 square feet smaller than its previous space. [WTOP]

Civic Leaders Honored — The Arlington County Civic Federation honored two residents for their years of community leadership and activism. The organization recognized Jim Pebley and Stefanie Pryor at its anniversary dinner on Friday. [InsideNova]

Northern Virginia Businessman Dies at 100 — Well-known sportsman and businessman Randolph “Randy” Rouse died on Friday. A long-time Arlington resident, Rouse is a Washington-Lee High School graduate and began his foray into real estate in 1947. He was said to entertain visitors at his 10-acre Arlington estate — the Febrey-Lothrop house on Wilson Blvd and N. McKinley Street — with tunes from his saxophone. Rouse was 100. [Fauquier Times]

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