The Pentagon Row ice rink closed on Monday, April 2, despite possible Saturday snow and ongoing cold temperatures.
According to the Capital Weather Gang, “snow or a mix of precipitation is likely across the region between 8 a.m. and late morning, with temperatures in the 30s.”
Several crew members were seen clearing the space on the shopping center’s plaza today (April 5). No word yet on social media when the plaza will be open again for other activities.
As remaining burial plots become more scarce, Arlington National Cemetery (ANC) has released a second public survey regarding its future.
If current burial eligibility policies remain in place, the cemetery will reach full capacity in 23 years, according to cemetery officials. In the first survey, conducted July of 2017, 93 percent of respondents said keeping that keeping ANC’s hallowed grounds open to burials long into the future was important to them.
The second survey specifically asks which veterans or active military members should be qualified for a burial, including questions relating to the eligibility of those with Purple Hearts, prisoners of war, elected officials once on active duty, and World War II veterans.
Results from the first survey showed that many respondents felt that eligibility should be given to those killed in action or on operational missions, Medal of Honor and other high award recipients, and former prisoners of war.
Current eligibility is currently more flexible, including prisoners of war and retired veterans who had served at least one day of active duty.
The survey notes that another cemetery expansion is expected to add additional burial plots, but it is not a long-term solution.
“The next possible expansion, into the area south of the cemetery (the Southern Expansion; around 40 acres) will add about 10-15 years of life to the cemetery – closing the cemetery to new burials by the mid-2050’s,” the survey says. “This does not achieve the objective or the desire of previous survey respondents to keep ANC open for new burials well into the future.”
On Tuesday night, the County Board room was packed with people asking for budget dollars.
Granted, a large number of police officers and firefighters were in attendance to make the case for higher pay, a cause certainly worthy of consideration. However, it is not an uncommon occurrence for the Board to hear about multiple ways to spend more taxpayer dollars.
With the tax rate question settled — unless the Board wants to lower it, which would be fine with many of us — the Board has a relatively big, but finite universe of spending to do this year. I have already made the case that the auditor’s office needs additional resources to truly be effective.
If we want to help relieve future budget constraints, let’s speed up the process of reviewing how the County spends our money.
The County Board should also constrain the closeout process now, as part of the budget. Calls in this column for the closeout funds to be used to lower tax rates have amounted to nothing. But what about an approach that takes our expenditures, tax rates and debt into account?
Total debt for FY 2019 is projected to reach nearly $1.2 billion by the end of the fiscal year. That is $5,193 for every Arlingtonian. Debt service is projected to cost taxpayers about $126 million in FY 2019 between the schools and the county government.
That is 9% of the county budget, which is close to the 10% threshold credit rating agencies look at when evaluating whether we maintain our high bond rating. And with upward pressure on interest rates, the days of uber-cheap financing may be coming to an end.
Here is a suggested constraint on the County Board’s year-end actions for the next five years:
25% of closeout funds, for unforeseen needs in the county or school system.
25% of closeout funds set aside in a reserve fund and earmarked to pay cash for some or all of a future school building.
25% of closeout funds set aside in a reserve fund and earmarked to pay cash for some or all of a major project in the Capital Improvement Plan.
25% of closeout funds given back to homeowners as a tax rebate.
Meeting unforeseen needs, saving to pay cash for purchases instead of putting them on the “credit card,” and giving money back to the people paying the bills sound like a pretty reasonable allocation of excess resources.
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 Sally J. Duran
Arlington is a dynamic place and a lot of economic development happens within our small borders.
Our economy is fortunate to be powered by technology and innovation companies, federal government agencies, higher education institutions, small businesses like neighborhood coffee shops and big newcomers like Nestle.
However, maintaining a robust and diversified local economy doesn’t just happen; it requires a progressive development strategy that holistically considers many aspects of our community. How does Arlington stay resilient and attractive through all kinds of challenges? How do we ensure both large and small businesses stay competitive – and viable – for the future? What does it truly mean to have “progressive development” in a local economy?
It’s something Arlington has faced many times over the years, and it’s something we at the Economic Development Commission (EDC), a citizen advisory commission set up to monitor Arlington’s economy and make policy recommendations to the County Board, often consider when planning for the future.
Arlington has a growing technology sector and diversified corporate community along with the federal government, commercial business, non-profit and international communities. It’s no surprise that Arlington has access to one of the most educated and sought after workforces in the nation.
Our balanced and stable fiscal base allows for highly competitive tax rates that in turn provide world-class services and amenities to Arlington residents, businesses and visitors. The high incomes and low unemployment rates of our residents enable us to attract quality cultural events, excellent restaurants and varied retail establishments.
We have a long tradition of welcoming those from around the globe, and Arlington is supportive of varied lifestyles.
Our attractive economic landscape hasn’t just happened; it’s the result of careful planning, community engagement and aggressively addressing challenges such as those that arose in the past decade.
In 2008, the EDC created an economic development strategic plan to address the significant impact to the county’s commercial vacancy rate that resulted from the federal government’s decision to relocate federal tenants out of leased space in Arlington.
What we didn’t realize at the time was that subsequent federal government budget reductions would further erode the federal presence in Arlington. Equally significant changes were happening in the private sector. New ways of working — teleworking, 3rd spaces, hoteling, etc. — would shrink the per worker footprint in our office buildings across all markets and transform the definition of “workplace.” Clearly, we faced challenges that were neither fully anticipated nor understood a decade ago.
Nonetheless, Arlington’s economic development strategy has evolved thoughtfully in response to these changing dynamics. As a result of careful planning, we’ve maintained Arlington’s triple-AAA bond rating and balanced fiscal base with an approximate 50/50 commercial/residential split in property taxes — which is what’s key to Arlington’s economic prosperity.
The 50 percent commercial/residential split is unique to Arlington and means the taxes paid by commercial property owners play a major role in funding the varied parks, excellent schools, well-maintained bike trails and other amenities we are fortunate enough to enjoy.
And it really demonstrates why strategic, progressive development that continues bringing businesses of all sizes to Arlington is so important for our local economy. After all, each percentage of commercial office space that stays vacant represents a $3.4 million annual loss to our tax revenues.
With the current office vacancy around 19 percent, this annual tax loss is having an impact and is starting to affect our County coffers, as evidenced by the County Manager’s Proposed FY 2019 Budget.
We’re now moving forward by advancing a dynamic economic strategy to utilize our market forces in creative ways. As outlined in the EDC’s recent strategy report, our plan will help Arlington prosper in an economy that emphasizes entrepreneurship and innovation by taking advantage of our business infrastructure, location and unique neighborhoods, as well as our existing talent, companies and universities.
The plan will seek to bring in new establishments, retain existing businesses and expand our marketing globally.
We want to continue helping our small businesses grow and thrive and attract larger companies to fill those critical office vacancies. Most importantly, we want to be sure our economic strategy reflects our community values and retains Arlington’s small town charm and big city amenities.
Sally J. Duran is the chair of the Arlington Economic Development Commission.
In last week’s column, I discussed a helpful new report on APS Future Facilities Needs prepared by the Advisory Council on School Facilities and Capital Programs.
The new report makes a compelling case that APS must pivot to a new way of thinking and decision making about capital projects. One commenter offered the following observation, “Yes of course but what is the ‘new way’? Some specifics would be nice.”
Today’s column offers some specifics.
Fiscal responsibility & long-range planning
Every future facilities decision should be made with fiscal responsibility and long-range planning as primary factors. The County and APS should collaborate to develop financial projections out to 2035 for both capital and operating budget spending, utilizing at least three assumptions: most likely case, optimistic case(s), pessimistic case(s).
The results of those projections, together with the major assumptions underlying them, should be published and shared for discussion with the community.
County & APS collaboration on site selection
The County needs to work with APS to find some sites for some new schools, starting with the next elementary in the new 2018 APS Capital Improvement Plan (CIP).
The County should adopt a land acquisition program to acquire acreage for school sites many years before the new schools would need to open. The County & APS should appoint a new task force, comprised of qualified, independent real estate professionals, to assist APS in negotiating for school space in vacant office space.
County-wide focus on locating new seats
Every decision on where to locate new seats should be made with a full understanding of the impacts of that decision on all of Arlington — not just the impacts on the immediately-proximate neighborhood.
Every community needs to be prepared to deal with some more intensified use of current buildings and sites. Congestion will grow inside and outside our schools. Every community will need to shoulder part of the burden, although the details will look different in each case.
APS & County resident-engagement
We must cut down on the average time it takes (currently up to 5 years) to get a new school on line. We also must introduce cost considerations into every stage of our engagement processes.
We need reformed civic engagement processes in which the public can weigh in early enough concerning a manageable number of budget-driving alternative options. We cannot continue with processes in which residents or staff are enabled to add one feature after another, never being told what the costs of doing so are nor that APS can afford X or Y but not both.
New CIP must include plans for enrollment growth beyond 2028
Last week’s column discussed the compelling evidence for future enrollment growth well beyond 2028. We won’t have enough capital funds or land (or money for land) to build up to 8 more schools beyond 2028 and service the debt in our operating budget. We need different (non-building) solutions to accommodate such further growth.
The County and APS must collaborate transparently to choose among new options for planning future facilities. Some residents may oppose each new option.
Some may not like:
- split shifts or year-round schedules (increasing capacity by 20%)
- using vacant office space
- larger schools
- centralized programs
- using public transit for high schoolers (saving on bus parking land)
But, we must do something other than just keep building as we have.
Real-time arrival information for ART buses is suffering another outage today (April 5).
The outage comes less than a day after the service was restored from a separate, five-day outage.
Eric Balliet, an Arlington Dept. of Environmental Services spokesman, said that today’s outage was due to “intermittent connectivity issues.” He added that there is not an estimated restoration time at the moment.
The repeat outage comes the same day that commuters faced a major WMATA service disruption between the East Falls Church and Clarendon Metro stations. WMATA supplements the ART’s bus service, but is separately operated.
(Updated: 4:05 p.m.) The Arlington County Board needs a new clerk “to serve as its principal staff officer,” according to a government job posting.
The current clerk, Hope Halleck, has been with the county since 1987. She has served as clerk to the County Board since 2008, according to her LinkedIn page, having served from 2006-2008 as a constituent services manager.
Her last day with the county will be April 27. Halleck told ARLnow that she’s getting married in June, and, along with other pleasant life events, both she and her partner are retiring and “ready for new adventures.”
The listed salary is between $88,025.60-$145,184, in line with the county’s 2018 county employee pay scale.
According to the job listing, the clerk will be expected to provide “leadership and supervision to a team of experienced and service oriented staff including the Deputy Clerk, Senior Management Analyst, and Receptionist and, in coordination with the County Board, the Board Members’ Aides.”
Key responsibilities will include “serving as the official record-keeper for the Board,” “providing management, staff supervision and administration of the County Board Office,” and “acting as the Board’s liaison to the public.”
Free Home Buying Workshop to be held in Rosslyn — Multiple Dates.
The first 3 to register and attend the class get a FREE Google Chromecast!
Attend the free Home Buyer Class hosted by Orange Line Living and learn all of our tips and get $1,500 towards your next home purchase.
Benefits of Attending
- $1,500 credit towards your new home or towards early lease termination
- 12-month home buy-back guarantee
- Wine and cheese provided
- AND the first 3 to attend will receive a Google Chromecast
- When: Monday, April 9 and Monday, April 23 at 6:00 p.m.
- Where: Orange Line Living, 1600 Wilson Blvd, Suite 101
- Cost: Free
- Parking: Validated Parking or Free Street Parking
- Food: Wine and Cheese
- Contact: [email protected] or call 571-969-7653
Learn More About Home Buying Essentials at Arlington’s Free Home Buying Workshop
You will get a comprehensive explanation of the home purchasing process — there’s more to know than you’d think.
The Orange Line Living Team and Keri Shull Team will be teaching all of the acronyms and definitions you will need, what happens at each stage of your transaction, real strategies on how to negotiate a lower purchase price, the different type of loans available and much more. There will be local specialists from multiple industries in attendance, so come with questions.
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 and winner of a 2017 Arlington Chamber of Commerce Best Business Award. The clinic is located 3000 10th Street N., Suite B. and can be reached at 703-997-9776.
A couple of weeks ago we looked at the significance of the complete blood cell count. This week, we’ll be looking at the serum chemistry profile which has loads of useful information about metabolic function:
- Electrolytes, such as sodium, potassium, chloride, magnesium, phosphorous, calcium — electrolytes may be abnormal with dehydration (or overhydration in rare cases), kidney disease, advanced diabetes, hormonal imbalances and with some gastrointestinal diseases. The pattern of elevation or decrease can be especially helpful in ruling in and out some diseases.
- Blood sugar, or glucose — measure of how much “sugar” is circulating in the bloodstream; high elevations are seen with diabetes, though animals can develop a very transient elevation, or hyperglycemia), with stress. Low glucose levels, or hypoglycemia, can be seen with liver problems, some cancers, among other causes.
- Kidney values — kidney function is typically monitored by measuring certain enzymes or products that are typically eliminated by the kidney. The two most commonly measured values are creatinine and blood urea nitrogen (or BUN); the term for elevation is “azotemia”:
- Creatinine — produced by muscle and eliminated by the kidney. Elevations indicate decreased kidney function or severe muscle damage.
- BUN — urea is produced by the liver (so may actually be low with significant liver disease), but eliminated by the kidneys, thus increasing with decreased kidney function. However, high protein diets and GI bleeding are other potential causes of elevations.
- Calcium and phosphorous levels can also be affected with more significant kidney disease.
- Liver values — here again, several different values are typically measured:
- ALP — alkaline phosphatase — may be increased with conditions that cause “stasis” in the liver, but also can be induced by certain drugs such as prednisone (a commonly used steroid medication). ALP can also be produced by bones, and mild elevations are not uncommon in growing dogs.
- ALT — alanine aminotransferase — elevations typically indicate ongoing damage or irritation of the liver.
- GGT — gamma glutamyl transferase — similar to ALP, but more specific to the liver.
- Total bilirubin — bilirubin is the molecule responsible for causing a jaundiced or icteric color to the skin, eyes and mucous membranes in individuals with significant liver disease. May also be elevated with a form of anemia in which the body destroys its own red blood cells.
- Blood proteins
- Globulins — may be increased with inflammation, some cancers (i.e. multiple myeloma); decreases can be seen with blood loss and with more severe gastrointestinal diseases.
- Albumin — may be elevated with dehydration, and decreased with blood loss, liver disease, gastrointestinal disease, kidney disease or destruction of red blood cells.
There are many other biochemical values that can also be measured from the blood, providing valuable information about heart health, pancreatic inflammation, cholesterol levels, thyroid hormones and so much more! Veterinarians today are fortunate to practice in an era when so much information is accessible in such a short period of time.
A smoldering pile of trash is currently blocking 1st Road S., two blocks from Thomas Jefferson Middle School.
The trash fire was first reported around 10:30 a.m., at the intersection of 1st Road and S. Oakland Street, on the west side of S. Glebe Road. A private garbage collection crew reported that it had dumped its load of trash in the road after the trash caught on fire.
Firefighters are currently dousing the trash pile with water while using tools to move the pile around to find hot spots.
After the fire is completely extinguished, the trash collection company is then expected to start the cleanup process.
Map via Google Maps
The event, scheduled to start at 6:30 p.m. in the school’s Patriot Hall, will kick off Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month in Arlington.
Entitled “#MeToo: What Men, Boys, and Everyone Need to Know,” the event will feature nationally recognized scholar and activist Jackson Katz as the keynote speaker. Katz is also the co-founder of the Mentors in Violence Prevention (MVP), an organization that has been running gender violence, sexual harassment and bullying prevention programs for more than 20 years.
Almost 50 percent of Arlington Public School female students in grades 8, 10 and 12 report that they have been sexually harassed while at school, according to the Arlington 2017 Youth Risk Behavior Survey.
Other community leaders will also be in attendance, including Arlington Chief of Police Jay Farr, County Board Chair Katie Crisol and Theo Stamos, the Commonwealth’s Attorney for Arlington and Falls Church. Middle and high school students as well as adults are encouraged to attend.
Arlington’s Project PEACE is hosting the event in partnership with INOVA Fairfax Hospital and Arlington Public Schools. Project PEACE, which stands for Partnering to End Abuse in the Community for Everyone, is a community educational initiative to end domestic and sexual violence in the county.
Photo via APS
More on Art Truck — Arlington’s new art truck will bring “hands-on experiences to schools and public events.” The art truck’s offerings are curated by Cynthia Connolly, who was involved in Arlington’s punk music scene in the 80s and 90s. There is no direct cost to county taxpayers, since the art truck is funded by the National Endowment for the Arts and other contributions. [WTOP, Twitter]
Pitch, Hit, Run Event in Arlington — Boys and girls ages 7-14 can participate in the Scotts MLB Pitch Hit & Run skills challenge at Barcroft Park Friday night. There is no registration fee and the first place overall champion in each age group will advance to the next round of competition. [Eventbrite]
Renovations at Culpepper Garden — A major renovation project will soon be getting underway at Culpepper Garden, a retirement home for low and very-low income seniors age 62 years and older. Built in the 70s, Culpepper Garden is undergoing renovations of its 204 original apartments and some of the building’s amenities. [Connection Newspapers]
Photo courtesy of our local tech guru, Alex Chamandy
Service was restored between East Falls Church and Clarendon Metro stations after grinding to a halt Thursday morning (April 5) for several hours.
Service was restored at about 8 a.m., but delays are expected to last at least throughout the morning. Metro referred to the incident as both a track problem and fire department activity at the Virginia Square Metro station.
The Arlington Fire Department tweeted that the Virginia Square Metro station was evacuated at about 6:20 a.m. due to smoke in the tunnel.
At about 6:58 a.m., the department tweeted that fire department units were going back in service, that much of the smoke was clear, and that commuters should expect “residual delays.”
The suspended service affects the Orange and Silver lines directly, though Metro tweeted that blue line delays were possible considering the congestion built up from the other lines.
On the highways, drivers reported heavier than usual traffic.
“We all suffer when the Metro fudges up,” one driver told ARLnow, who was stuck on I-66 in what she said was unusually heavy traffic for that part of her commute.
Several would-be riders took to Twitter to report long lines for WMATA buses and shuttles, as well as a general sense of “chaos” and “meltdown” at certain stations.
— Sally Harris (@sdadjou) April 5, 2018
It is 6:20 AM & my Orange Line train is holding due to smoke in the tunnel near Virginia Square. It’s been running for less than 2 hours – how is this happening?! @unsuckdcmetro @wmata #OrangeLine #fail
— Ashley Hollingsworth (@AshHollings) April 5, 2018
— Jim Mathews (@mathewsjh) April 5, 2018
Orange/Silver Line: Train service suspended btwn Ballston & Clarendon due to fire department activity at Virginia Sq. Bus service requested
— Metrorail Info (@Metrorailinfo) April 5, 2018
— Metro Reasons (@MetroReasons) April 5, 2018
— Maxine V Chikumbo (@mchikumbo) April 5, 2018
Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the agency tasked with enforcing the immigration laws of the United States and headquartered in Washington, D.C., has begun separating families who arrived in the United States without prior approval and those that have overstayed their visas or failed to maintain their status.
A lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) alleges that breaking up families without a hearing — specifically, separating parents from their minor children — is a violation of the due process rights of the parents.
Some families arrive in the United States as asylum seekers — individuals leaving war-torn or otherwise dangerous home countries in search of safety.
To qualify for admittance into the United States under a request for asylum, the individual must prove that they have been persecuted in the past in their home country or has a well-founded fear that they will be persecuted in the future because of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.
“The intent behind the asylum regulations is obvious: to provide individuals that fear for their lives the opportunity to come to the United States for safety,” said Natalia Segermeister, an immigration law attorney with The Visa Firm in Washington, D.C. “However, it is a very high bar to clear. The burden of proof is on the individual requesting asylum, and most of these refugees have very little to their names at all, let alone evidence of past persecution or reasons to expect persecution in the future.” As a result, many claims for asylum are denied for this reason.
The ACLU’s plaintiff is a mother from the Democratic Republic of Congo. She and her seven-year-old daughter came to the United States to escape the violence that has engulfed that African nation for years. Upon arrival in the U.S., they promptly surrendered to immigration agents and requested asylum.
Not long after their arrival, ICE sent the mother to a detention center in San Diego, CA. They sent her seven-year-old daughter to a youth shelter in Chicago.
“This family, so concerned about losing one another to violence in their home country, left in search of safety together,” said Segermeister. “They arrived in the United States, hopeful for protection. Instead, the mother and daughter were ripped apart. Now, the mother must decide whether to risk being apart from her daughter for waiting for a decision that may not be favorable, or whether to be reunited with her daughter immediately and risk returning the DRC. They have to make sure that their case is processed properly and that the evidence needed for the claim is present.”
Claims for asylum must be properly and supported with documentation to be successful. Having legal guidance experienced in the process can be the difference between approval and denial.