Press Club
Arlington resident Brianna Weck with Joe Buck on Jeopardy (courtesy Jeopardy Productions, Inc.)

Another Arlington resident will compete on Jeopardy tonight.

The classic TV quiz show has hosted a number of Arlington contestants over the years and at least one clue about our fair county. Tonight, it’s up to Brianna Weck to do us proud.

Weck is a community engagement manager for D.C. nonprofit HER Resiliency Center and a 2020 graduate of American University, according to an online biography and LinkedIn profile. She also volunteers as an English as a Second Language teacher with Catholic Charities and has a black belt in Judo.

The guest host for this week’s episodes is sportscaster Joe Buck. Longtime host Alex Trebek died in November after a battle with stage 4 pancreatic cancer.

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(Updated at 8:50 p.m.) None of the three contestants on Jeopardy last night knew that Arlington is, in fact, a county.

The bottom-row, $1,000 clue under “American Superlatives” contained the following answer: “At 26 square miles, Arlington is the smallest self-governing this in the United States.” The quiz show contestants remained silent until host Alex Trebek revealed the correct response: “it’s a county.”

The trio otherwise got most of the questions right during the round.

While Arlington is a county, its compact geography and dense urban corridors confuse many outsiders into thinking it is a city. There are some, like former County Board member Jay Fisette, who say that Arlington should take the leap of changing its form of government and becoming a city under Virginia law.

This post previously included a short video clip from the show, but it was taken down by YouTube after a copyright claim by Jeopardy producer Sony Pictures Television.

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The Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization (CPRO) has announced an official lineup of its summer movie series, but whether the event actually happens remains to be seen.

Every year, CPRO hosts a series of outdoor movies where attendees are encouraged to bring chairs and blankets and camp out under the stars to watch a film. Now in its 10th year, the series is scheduled to kick off June 5 with movies shown Fridays at the Arlington Mill Community Center (909 S. Dinwiddie Street) and Saturdays at Penrose Square (2503 9th Road S.).

CPRO is still evaluating whether the show will go on, depending on the trajectory of the coronavirus outbreak.

“As there is still so much uncertainty right now, we have not made any decisions surrounding summer events just yet,” Amanda Lovins, communications and fundraising coordinator for CPRO told ARLnow. “We are continuing to monitor the situation and will be assessing the state of our events in the coming months.”

If the summer movies series does go forward, the Arlington Mill lineup will be:

The Penrose Square lineup is:

Photo via Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization

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If you’re sheltering in place at home and need something to do tonight, you could root on an Arlington resident as she competes on Jeopardy.

Emmy Crawford, a program officer from Arlington, will appear as a contestant on “America’s Favorite Quiz Show” tonight. She’ll compete against a research compliance manager from Silver Spring, Maryland and — the winner of Tuesday night’s episode — an adjunct professor from New York City.

The show is taped in advance, which explains how it is still airing new episodes after yesterday’s announcement that it was suspending production. Jeopardy’s Alex Trebek has continued to host the show despite his battle with stage 4 pancreatic cancer.

Jeopardy airs locally at 7:30 p.m. on WJLA (ABC 7).

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Arlington resident Roey Hadar, a 23-year-old journalist at WETA-TV in Shirlington, is a Jeopardy champion.

During last night’s episode of the long-running quiz show, which was originally taped in March, Hadar topped five-time champion Sam Kavanaugh, a teacher from Minneapolis, and Jennifer Abel, a graduate student from Vancouver, British Columbia. Hadar walked away with $23,600 in daily winnings, having correctly answered two pivotal Daily Double questions.

Hadar will defend his title on tonight’s episode, facing a teacher from Seattle and a professor from Los Angeles. Jeopardy airs locally at 7:30 p.m. on WJLA (ABC 7).

Hadar live-tweeted during the episode, offering behind-the-scene nuggets like the power outage that almost made him miss the bus to the studio and the quirky ground rules given to contestants before the taping (no wagering $666 or $69). He also revealed that he is still together with his girlfriend, despite host Alex Trebek opining on air that he should “dump her.”

This is not the first time an Arlington resident found success on Jeopardy. Social worker Blair Moorhead notched a victory on an episode that aired in early 2017, while foreign service officer Liz Murphy advanced in the show’s Tournament of Champions following her initial win.

Hadar, a Ballston resident, says he will again be live-tweeting tonight’s episode, offering another interesting show fact: contestants do not receive their prize money until after the episode airs.

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If you tune in to Jeopardy! on Wednesday, July 17, you’ll have a local to root for.

Roey Hadar, a 23-year-old journalist at WETA-TV, represented Arlington during the game show taping in March, though the episode won’t premiere until next month.

Hadar couldn’t say anything about his clues or the results of the game — you’ll just have to see for yourself.

“I had tried out a few times before I got the call, and even then it took roughly two years to get to the point where they called me back,” Hadar said. “I was outside Navy Yard Metro station. It wasn’t a call I was expecting. My girlfriend was there with me, and right before she called the Uber I got the call from L.A. I know my spam calls well, so I picked up and on the other line was a contestant coordinator.”

It had been over 18 months since — the tail end of when you can usually expect to hear back if you got onto Jeopardy! after an audition — and Hadar hadn’t heard anything. And when Hadar said he’d heard about Alex Trebek’s cancer diagnosis, he was worried if he did get to play it wouldn’t be without the legendary host at the helm. Hadar was preparing to take the online test again when the call came in.

The coordinator ran Hadar through some biographical changes. There had been quite a few changes since he first took the test online in April 2017. He moved from New Jersey to Ballston, for one, and he’d gone from a student to working at the WETA show Washington Week.

Because Hadar worked for a TV station, he had to check with his office to see if it would be all right to go, but Hadar said his boss was insistent that he go be on the show. He had two weeks notice, so Hadar binge-watched the show, standing in front of the TV with a spotlight on his face and pressing down on a spring-loaded toilet paper holder to try and get the answers before the contestants.

Hadar said the TV production aspect of the show wasn’t a shock because of his work experience, and years of quiz bowl in high school and at Georgetown University prepared him for handling the buzzer, but seeing the game show from another angle was the biggest surprise.

“It felt like the game had come to life around me,” Hadar said. “It was surreal being up there and actually having to call out clues and facing the wrong way — seeing the board and set in a certain way — there was a bit of a shock seeing everything in a reverse angle.”

Despite being a competition, Hadar said everyone from the staff to the other contestants were incredibly friendly.

After getting home from the show, Hadar said he thought he’d have Jeopardy! fatigue, but instead he’s found himself locked in — watching the rise of fall of James Holzhauer in the time between his show taping and the air date.

“I always had a great respect for contestants, but now I feel like I can better put myself in their shoes,” Hadar said. “I can see how when players are stressing or when they’re trying to frantically hit the buzzer but they rang in too early; things that are a little more subtle that you’d know from playing it.”

But that doesn’t stop Hadar from shouting answers at the television like everyone else, he said.

Photo courtesy Roey Hadar

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An Arlington woman will get a chance to test her smarts on “Jeopardy!” later this week.

Lawyer Amanda Basta will compete on the long-running game show on Thursday (Feb. 7), according to a news release.

Basta will be the second Arlingtonian to appear on “Jeopardy!” just this year.

PR professional Maggie Byrd was featured on the show’s Jan. 1 edition, and took home a second-place prize of $2,000.

A variety of other Arlingtonians have faced questions from Alex Trebek over the show’s 35-year history. An Arlington social worker even took home $19,000 in prize money from the show in 2017.

“Jeopardy!” airs locally on WJLA (ABC 7).

Photo courtesy of Jeopardy Productions, Inc.

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An Arlington PR professional will get a chance to show off her smarts on “Jeopardy!” on New Year’s Day.

Maggie Byrd will be one of the contestants on the long-running quiz show on Jan. 1., according to a release from the show’s producers.

Byrd works in communications for the Crystal City-based Consumer Technology Association.

She joins a variety of other Arlingtonians to face questions from Alex Trebek over the show’s 35-year history. An Arlington social worker even took home $19,000 in prize money from the show just last year.

“Jeopardy!” airs locally on WJLA (ABC 7).

Photo courtesy of Jeopardy Productions, Inc.

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Photo courtesy of Jeopardy Productions, Inc.

What does it take to win at “Jeopardy?” You ought to ask Blair Moorhead.

Last year, Moorhead, a social worker who lives in Arlington, appeared as a contestant on the hit game show twice. The episodes aired Monday and Tuesday this week.

“I was so nervous,” Moorhead recalled. “I was shaking throughout the taping.”

Despite her nervousness, Moorhead still managed to do well. In her first appearance, she came out on top and racked up more than $17,000 to her name.

“It was awesome. I was completely shocked,” she said of her win. “I did not expect it at all.”

Moorhead added that she studied up on topics like geography and the periodic table of elements to prepare for her appearance. She also bought an almanac and even read up on famous monarch lineages.

Despite all that studying, Moorhead said her strongest subject was pop culture.

“They had a category that was all about songs written about people,” she said. “I was like, oh yeah, this one’s mine.”

But Moorhead’s winning streak was short-lived. A fellow competitor bested her during the final Jeopardy round of her second appearance, she said. Still the loss wasn’t all bad. After the taping, host Alex Trebek approached Moorhead and personally reassured her.

“He was like, don’t beat yourself up,” she said. “I was in shock, so I was not sure I was able to thank him properly.”

Plus, in the end, Moorhead managed to walk away with over $19,000 in prize money — though the check hasn’t yet arrived, she added.

“I’m just going to go nuts at Costco,” Moorhead joked. In reality, the “Jeopardy” champ said she plans to use her winnings to help pay down some student debt, travel and donate to her favorite charities.

One of the hardest parts about appearing on Jeopardy, she said, was keeping her win a secret for months. Though her episodes aired this week, the tapings originally occurred in September.

“Sometimes I would say, I’m still at work, so I didn’t earn enough to retire on,” she said. “I would say you’ll have watch when it comes out.”

Additionally, to anyone thinking of trying out for the quiz show, Moorhead has this to say: do it.

“Anybody who’s thinking about auditioning, go take the online test,” she said. “It’s so much fun.”

John Avila (photo courtesy Jeopardy Productions)Moorhead definitely won’t be the last Arlingtonian to shake Alex Trebek’s hand. In fact, next Monday, local lawyer John Avila will test his knowledge by appearing on the quiz show.

That episode is scheduled to air on WJLA (ABC 7) Monday at 7:30 p.m.

Photos courtesy of Jeopardy Productions, Inc.

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(Updated at 5:15 p.m.) The Hall’s Hill Volunteer Fire Department was no stranger to challenges.

The first All-African American volunteer fire department in Arlington faced segregation and limited equipment for almost 40 years, according to a history of Fire Station 8 by Arlington Public Library.

The chronological history of the station was published in the middle of a debate between local residents and county government over its proposal to relocate the station farther north to Old Dominion Drive, by Marymount University.

“My neighbors look at that fire station as the heart, the hub, the star on the tree, whatever you want to say,” community member Jim Derrig said at a July 30 meeting. “And what we’re trying to say is you can’t replace the heart with a pacemaker or a bandaid. You have to replace a heart with a heart.”

The county says relocation is necessary for the Arlington County Fire Department to meet their response time goal of four to six minutes countywide.

“We are focused on life saving. That is our mission,” former Arlington County Fire Chief Jim Schwartz said in a county-produced video.

While this would not be the first time the fire station moved, — the Hall’s Hill Volunteer Fire Department was previously housed in smaller fire stations on Lee Highway and N. Culpepper Street in the 1930s — relocation would mean that it would no longer be in the Hall’s Hill community.

Hall’s Hill is a historically African-American community, once the home of freed slaves and separated from the rest of the county by a fence. In 1918, the members of the community formed the Hall’s Hill Volunteer Fire Department with one 60-gallon chemical tank that six men would have to pull along muddy and unpaved roads, according to the library.

When Arlington County was formally established two years later, the county excluded the Hall’s Hill Volunteer Fire Department from the Arlington County Fireman’s Association and did not give the department monthly pay for professional firefighters.

The VFD, which played a central part in the community, slowly built up its fleet of fire trucks and built a station first on Lee Highway in 1927 and then 2209 N. Culpepper Street in 1934. The 1934 fire house also had a basement for a community center.

After the fire department was integrated, it moved to its current home at 4845 Lee Highway and officially opened on June 17, 1963 with 17 paid firefighters. The Hall’s Hill Volunteer Fire Department owned the deed to one of the pieces of land that went into the new station, while the county owned the others.

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The funding for the half-finished renovations to the Lyon Park Community Center may be in jeopardy.

In November of 2014, the Lyon Park Citizens Association voted to take out a $600,000 line of credit from Cardinal Bank to help fund the $1.2 million renovations. The vote was almost evenly split, with those who opposed the motion saying they were concerned about the park and community center being used as collateral to obtain the loan.

Now, the resulting legal wrangling over the loan has resulted in a ruling that will prevent it from being issued, at least as originally planned.

When the LPCA approved the motion to take out a line of credit, a group of seven residents referred to in court documents as the “Concerned Lyon Park Beneficiaries” opposed the petition in court. Their concerns were outlined in a flyer circulated to the community.

The opposition, filed Nov. 7 2014, states that the residents in question feel the Board encumbered the park “under imprudent conditions,” and that the residents “have reasonable and legal concerns regarding the ability of the community to re-pay this sizeable loan, and the resulting ramifications of a loan default.”

(Encumber is a legal term meaning that the property was placed in position where more than one party had a valid legal claim on it; if the park were used as collateral for a loan, both Cardinal Bank and the Lyon Park community would have valid claims.)

Another court document pertaining to the case dated July 30, 2014, states that “recently two trustees [of Lyon Park] resigned because each refused to sign documents pertaining to a $600,000 bank loan for a planned renovation of the community house. The appointment of successor trustees is far from a routine appointment.”

Since its inception in 1925, Lyon Park has had trustees appointed by the community to hold the deed to the park on behalf of all residents. When a loan is taken out for the park, the trustees have been the ones to sign the documents. Court documents also state that the park has been put up as collateral for a loan at least twice before, in 1925 for $2,500 and 1927 for $3,000.

Circuit Court judge Jonathan Thacher ruled last month that the latest loan was improperly filed. While the decision doesn’t prohibit the Board of Governors from using the park as collateral for a loan, that option is effectively closed to the community because at least one of the seven residents who challenged the Board’s decision in court indicated that he or she would also oppose any future filings, thus imposing burdensome legal costs, according to Lyon Park Community Center Chair Jeannette Wick.

“We are going to exclusively pursue options that don’t involve encumbering the park,” said Wick. “We’d like to go forward without further litigation — we could end up tied up in court forever.”

After the judge ruled, Wick said the Board came up with a table of options which included:

  • Raising enough money that a loan would not be required.
  • Working with Cardinal Bank to find a way to borrow without encumbering the park.
  • Stopping construction completely.

According to Wick, with more than half a million dollars still required for renovations, the first option is unrealistic even with neighbors’ “incredible generosity.” The second option is still being explored, but is proving difficult because thus far Cardinal Bank has insisted on collateral. Wick described the third option as undesirable for several reasons.

“It would be bad for the neighborhood, it’s costly to stop construction and having an unfinished building on our property creates an attractive nuisance for thefts and squatters,” said Wick. “Right now, we’re searching for some sort of happy medium between option one and option three.”

Wick estimates residents have donated about $500,000 towards the project thus far, including roughly $85,000 since June 1.

“Everyone that I have talked to has been united in the view that ‘It’s halfway done, we need to move forward,'” said Wick. “If you look at the donation map, giving has been robust throughout the community — this isn’t a project where it’s a one-man show or only a few people want it.”

Kevin Baer, a resident who opposed putting the park up as collateral, said that he and other concerned residents “look forward to continuing to work together in the neighborhood to find a prudent way forward.”

The renovations to the center, currently in progress, include making the building ADA compliant, adding a sun room, and improving the kitchen and bathrooms.

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