Arlington, VA

Anyone familiar with ARLnow and our little corner of the digital media universe knows that we have a prolific comment section.

Voices from every spectrum of the community can be seen weighing in on local topics, often just minutes after an article on any given topic publishes. Driving the comment section is a community of regular commenters that has developed over time, and one of the leading voices in that comment community is Dave Schutz.

Dave is an Arlington resident who’s active in civic life and has a political bent that one might call middle-of-the-road. He is noted for being one of the few commenters to use his or her real name in the comments.

Dave has some signature opinions that he shares often — that the county should acquire the two country clubs that reside in Arlington, and their extensive acreage, for instance. But aside from a couple idiosyncratic takes, Dave can often be described as a voice of reason in the midst of heated discussions — he helps, to some degree, to keep comment threads focused and civil, and to make the comment section more of a community.

We talked with Dave about the comment community on ARLnow, about our comment moderation, and about his opinions on various topics — a unilateral audio comment section, of sorts.

Listen below or subscribe to the podcast on iTunesGoogle PlayStitcher or TuneIn.

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A custodian at Long Branch Elementary School is facing a battery of charges after allegedly making fraudulent purchases with the credit cards of school employees.

Arlington County Police say 25-year-old Kevin Sykes stole personal and banking information by photographing items from a colleague’s purse. The woman, and two other school employees, reported the suspected credit card and identity theft to police.

More from an ACPD press release:

The Arlington County Police Department has charged a suspect following a fraud investigation targeting employees of Long Branch Elementary School. Kevin Sykes, 25, of Washington D.C. has been charged with three counts of credit card theft, two counts of credit card fraud, and two counts of identity theft. Mr. Sykes was arrested by the Metropolitan Police Department and is being held in Washington D.C.

At approximately 3:46 p.m. on May 11, police were dispatched to the report of a credit card fraud. Upon arrival, the victim reported her credit cards had approximately 16 fraudulent charges since April. The investigation determined that the suspect, a custodian at Long Branch Elementary School, had stolen the victim’s personal and banking information by photographing documents obtained from inside her purse. Detectives identified two additional victims who were working at the school at the time their personal information had been stolen.

Arlington County Police are reminding residents to regularly check your bank statements. If you notice fraudulent activity, notify the banking institution so they can begin an investigation and file a police report.

This remains an active criminal investigation. Anyone with information related to this investigation is asked to contact Detective G. Gammell of the Arlington County Police Department’s School Resource Officer Unit at [email protected] Information may also be provided anonymously through the Arlington County Crime Solvers hotline at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477).

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Arlington still is not fully recovered from yesterday’s severe thunderstorm, which packed winds near 70 miles an hour and left a trail of destruction in its wake.

N. Glebe Road remains closed between Route 50 and N. Quincy Street in Ballston, as crews continue to work to clear fallen trees, replace splintered utility poles and re-string power lines. It’s a similar story on N. Barton Street between 10th and 12th streets, in the Clarendon area, which is still closed nearly 18 hours after the storm despite.

In Arlington County, as of 9:15 a.m., about 6,400 Dominion customers were still without power — down from an outage peak of about 36,000 customers. The largest remaining outages are in and around the Rosslyn-Ballston and Lee Highway corridors.

Police say the county’s 911 call center received a total of 48 calls for trees down and 39 calls for wires down after the storm. The call center received 130 calls in the first half hour after the storm alone, according to the fire department.

Police and firefighters — as well as Dept. of Environmental Services, Dominion and other utility crews — all worked overnight to restore power and services, mark off and clear downed trees and wires, and direct traffic around closures and non-functioning traffic signals.

More via social media:

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Morning Notes

Landmark Trees Felled During Storm — A well-known, historic oak tree near the Reevesland farmhouse, one of seventeen designated specimen trees on private property in Arlington, was among the trees that fell during yesterday’s storm. Trees were also downed in Arlington National Cemetery; one tree crushed a car. [Twitter, Twitter]

May 23 Storm vs. 2012 Derecho — “The ~36,000 Dominion customers without power in Arlington at the post-storm peak today is just over half the ~68,000 after the 2012 derecho.” [Twitter]

Rosslyn Trump HQ Rent Raises Questions — “President Trump was ‘thrilled’ that his campaign acquired northern Virginia office space at ‘bargain basement’ rates, a campaign official told the Washington Examiner in an interview in the plush 14th floor offices overlooking the Potomac River from Arlington, Va. But campaign finance specialists say the ‘steal’ could violate election law, which views below-market rates for rent as an illegal in-kind campaign donation.” [Washington Examiner]

Median Home Price in Arlington Up $100K — “Amazon’s impending move to Northern Virginia has had a significant impact on home list prices in Arlington County, a new analysis by online real estate platform Realtor.com finds. The median list price for a home there has grown 17 percent since last November.” [Curbed]

Amazon Employees Seeking Furnished Apartments — “Oakwood, which already managed a full Crystal City building at 505 18th St. South, recently extended its deal at the property for another five years, Eicholtz said. She said Oakwood is already seeing demand from Amazon employees, but it is not just coming in Crystal City.” [Bisnow]

Another County Board Contender — “Arlington resident Arron O’Dell has qualified to be on the ballot in the Nov. 5 County Board race. ‘My focus is on affordability. I will work to keep Arlington the place we enjoy living in now while controlling costs and taxes’ and ‘making the county more efficient and small-business friendly,’ O’Dell said on a nascent campaign website.” [InsideNova]

Police Chase Ends in Pentagon City — “Alexandria [Police] chased a robbery suspect on NB I-395… Chase reportedly ended at Army Navy Drive and S. Hayes Street near Pentagon City mall. Three suspects in custody.” [Twitter]

Senators Unveil Metro Funding Proposal — “Metro, which is about to undergo extensive summer track work, would receive $150 million a year for badly needed capital improvements under legislation outlined Thursday by U.S. senators from Virginia and Maryland.” [WTOP, Blue Virginia]

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Update at 8:40 p.m. — Closures along Lee Highway and N. Glebe Road, among others, are expected to remain in place into the morning rush hour, according to Arlington Alert.

Update at 7 p.m. — Lee Highway is blocked at N. Nottingham Street, just west of the District Taco, due to a downed tree, according to scanner traffic. Reported power outages are down to about 28,500 in Arlington.

Update at 6 p.m. — Power outages in Arlington have reached a new peak of 35,719 customers, per Dominion’s website. Firefighters, meanwhile, are continue to respond to numerous reports of trees and wires down on houses — and across sidewalks and roadways — as well as a number of vehicle crashes. A tree is reported down on a car at the intersection of N. Kennebec Street and 11th Road N. in the Westover neighborhood, according to the National Weather Service.

Update at 5:20 p.m. — Dark traffic signals is causing gridlock on local roads. A Google traffic map shows significant delays, particularly around the Ballston area. Arlington Public Schools and Arlington Transit buses are reported to be delayed due to heavy traffic.

Video recently posted of the storm arriving in Ballston shows a transformer explosion.

Update at 4:55 p.m. — Dominion has posted the following message on its website about the storm recovery.

Dominion Energy’s northern region has been impacted by severe thunderstorms, which included 70 mph wind gusts and lightning. These locations are the most impacted:

  • Alexandria
  • Fairfax
  • Woodbridge
  • Springfield
  • Leesburg
  • Fredericksburg

Customers have reported several spans of wire, trees and tree limbs down on the ground and over roadways.

We are still getting impacted by this line of storms. Our crews are working as quickly and as safely as possible to restore power. As soon as we are able to do a thorough assessment of the damages, we will be able to establish an estimated time of restoration.

Please stay back from all downed wires or damaged equipment, and call us immediately to report these damages at 1-866-DOM-HELP or 1-866-366-4357. You may also report power outages online by clicking here. If using a generator, please follow your manufacturer’s guidelines to operate it safely.

We appreciate your patience.

Dominion Energy

Update at 4:50 p.m — Due to the extensive storm damage, some parts of Arlington are not expected to have their power restored for hours. Dominion’s map shows the estimated restoration time for some large outages as 5-10 p.m., while others do not have an estimated time of restoration. N. Glebe Road is expected to remain closed south of Ballston, near 4th Street N., for about 12 hours per an Arlington Alert.

Volunteer firefighters have started responding to some calls to help work down the fire department’s backlog, per scanner traffic. Among the calls handled by ACFD are numerous stuck elevators, caused by power outages; several people were just freed from a stuck elevator at Don Tito’s in Clarendon, per scanner traffic.

Update at 4:35 p.m. — Dominion is now reporting just under 35,000 customers without power in Arlington. Among the neighborhoods without power is a large portion of residential north Arlington; several neighborhoods along Columbia Pike; most of Clarendon, Virginia Square and Ballston; Shirlington and Fairlington; and Aurora Highlands and Arlington Ridge.  

Updated at 4:20 p.m. — Photos from the scene show extensive storm damage to trees and power lines on N. Glebe Road south of Ballston. Police have requested additional units to the area for crowd control. Arlington’s 911 call center is “slammed” with calls and police have a 20-call backlog, per scanner traffic.

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(Updated at 3:20 p.m.) A reported wrong-way crash prompted the closure of Wilson Blvd at N. Rhodes Street, between Rosslyn and Courthouse.

A witness told ARLnow the driver of a blue SUV was driving in reverse down the street and struck several parked vehicles. A Metrobus was also struck.

Northbound N. Rhodes Street was also closed at Clarendon Blvd shortly after the crash. Rhodes and one lane of Wilson have since reopened as of 2:30 p.m.

Police placed the driver of the SUV in handcuffs after conducting a breathalyzer test. Open cans of beer could be seen inside the vehicle following the crash.

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Morning Notes

Fire Outside Shirlington Apartment BuildingUpdated at 9:30 a.m. — “ACFD working to extinguish a dumpster fire near an apartment building at 3000 S. Randolph Street in Shirlington. ‘Smoke conditions’ reported in portions of the building.” [Twitter, Twitter]

The Cost of Renaming Washington-Lee — “It will cost taxpayers about a quarter of a million dollars to change ‘Lee’ to ‘Liberty’ on the name of Arlington’s oldest public high school. School officials have released an estimate of $224,360 for the name change, with about two-thirds of the total for ‘soft costs’ (uniforms, athletic equipment and the like) and the remainder ‘hard costs’ such as signage.” [InsideNova]

Local Teen Gets Celebrity Shoutout — “When [H-B Woodlawn student] Cole Goco, 17, sits down to draw his comic Billy the Pop, every line and contour is decisive. He uses pen, after all. And, after five years, hundreds and hundreds of strips published regularly to a blog, two self-published comic books, a dedicated following, and — most recently — the recognition of Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, it’s safe to say Goco knows what’s doing.” [DCist]

Rosslyn Startup Gets Another Investment — “Frontier Capital, a Charlotte-based growth equity firm focused exclusively on B2B software, today announced a strategic growth investment in Phone2Action, a digital advocacy platform that connects citizens to lawmakers.” [BusinessWire]

Bomb Squad Investigates Suspicious Car at DCA — “A portion of the daily parking lot at Reagan National Airport was closed [Wednesday] morning after suspicious contents were spotted inside a parked car. Authorities checked out the car ‘out of an abundance of caution’ and nothing hazardous was found, per an airport spokeswoman.” [Twitter]

Local Pedestrian, Bicycle Crash Reduction Effort Honored — “The Arlington County Pedestrian Bicycle Crash Reduction Campaign aims to reduce bicycle and pedestrian-involved traffic crashes through the coordination of education, engineering and enforcement… Arlington County saw a seven percent decrease in pedestrian crashes and a 29 percent reduction in bicycle-related crashes in 2018.” [Virginia DMV]

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Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) has become the first member of Virginia’s Congressional delegation to call for the impeachment of President Donald Trump.

Beyer made the announcement Tuesday. It is the first time he has publicly called for an impeachment inquiry.

The congressman issued the following statement Tuesday evening.

The time has come for the House of Representatives to open an impeachment inquiry into the conduct of President Trump.

Endorsing such a course is not easy, and I do not do so lightly, but I believe that the President has left Congress no other option but to pursue it. When I came to Congress I swore an oath “to defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.”

President Trump has shown utter contempt for the Constitution from the moment he took office, but we are now faced with evidence of actions that strongly resemble high crimes and misdemeanors. The behavior repeatedly identified in the redacted Mueller Report meets every standard for the classification of ‘obstruction of justice’ of which I am aware. He has compounded that fact by engaging in escalating, illegal stonewalling of Congress as my colleagues and I have attempted to engage in oversight, a primary responsibility of the legislative branch under the Constitution.

We are aware of other potential crimes committed by this President, including tax fraud and violations of campaign finance laws, both alleged under oath by his former attorney. Congress must investigate these allegations to determine their veracity, but the President’s illegal cover-up, most recently evidenced by his preventing the Secretary of the Treasury and the former White House Counsel from honoring Congressional subpoenas, leaves us little recourse to do so.

From the first time I was asked about impeachment I have always said that I believed that such a serious action must be fully justified by the facts, must be done with great care, and it must have bipartisan support. I believe the facts fully justify an impeachment inquiry, and I have every confidence in the ability of Chairman Nadler, the House Judiciary Committee, and Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s ability to pursue one if they decide it is the proper course. Congressman Amash’s brave public statement makes support for an impeachment inquiry bipartisan, and I have privately spoken to other Republicans who believe he is right but are unwilling to say so publicly.

The most important consideration for me in evaluating whether this course of action is correct has been the views of my constituents. Their belief in the need to launch an impeachment inquiry — as expressed to me in calls, letters, and conversations — has grown to a crescendo in recent weeks. I believe that my constituents are right, and I support the initiation of an impeachment inquiry to examine evidence of criminal acts committed by President Trump.

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Morning Notes

Hospital Construction Starting Soon — “Around the time most local residents are firing up the grills for mid-summer barbecues, Virginia Hospital Center will be firing up the bulldozers as it moves forward with a long-awaited expansion. Hospital officials aim to have their land-swap agreement with the county government in place by the end of July, and ‘the plan is to begin construction shortly thereafter.'” [InsideNova]

Swastika in S. Arlington Park — “From a local Nextdoor group: someone drew swastikas on a sign board in Troy Park near S. Glebe Road. A parks department spokeswoman says the graffiti has been covered up and no other incidents of this kind have been reported recently.” [Twitter]

When To Report an Oily Sheen on the Water — “A rainbow sheen can result from iron-oxidizing bacteria or from petroleum. To differentiate, trail a stick through the film. It it readily breaks up, it’s most likely bacteria. If it swirls together, it’s most likely petroleum and should be reported.” [Arlington County]

When to Call 911 for a Medical Issue — “The Arlington County Fire Department (ACFD) is initiating a public information campaign to help individuals, facilities and communities develop the know-how to ‘Make the Right Call.’ The effort aims to empower the community to help maintain EMS system readiness by learning appropriate utilization of the medical 911 system.” [Arlington County, Twitter]

Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley

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Update at 2 p.m. — Police have released additional details about the stabbing and the suspect. Per a press release:

The Arlington County Police Department has arrested and charged a suspect following a malicious wounding investigation at Gateway Park. Wondwossen Kassu, 40, of No Fixed Address was charged with three counts of Malicious Wounding and three counts of Unlawful Wounding in the Commission of a Felony. He is being held without bond in the Arlington County Detention Facility.

At approximately 9:27 p.m. on May 21, police responded to the report of multiple stabbings in Gateway Park located at 1300 Lee Highway. Upon arrival, officers located the suspect and took him into custody without incident. During the course of the investigation, officers located three male victims suffering from lacerations. The victims were transported to area hospitals and all are reported in stable condition.

Based on the preliminary investigation, it appears two of the victims were sitting at a table inside Gateway Park when the suspect approached them and initiated a conversation before producing a knife and stabbing the victims. The third victim was walking in the area when he came upon the initial assault. The suspect then turned his attention towards the third victim and stabbed him as well. Two victims were able to leave the scene to seek assistance. They were located by responding officers in the 1900 block of Fort Myer Drive and the 1800 block of N. Nash Street.

This remains an active criminal investigation. Anyone with information related to this investigation is asked to contact Detective S. King of the Arlington County Police Department’s Homicide/Robbery Unit at 703-228-4243 or [email protected] Information may also be provided anonymously through the Arlington County Crime Solvers hotline at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477).

Earlier: Arlington County Police are investigating a reported stabbing spree in Rosslyn.

Initial reports suggest three people were stabbed in or near Rosslyn’s Gateway Park. Two people were seriously injured but expected to survive, while the other victim suffered minor injuries.

A police presence has been reported at Gateway Park, the Continental lounge, and Turnberry Tower. One of the victims ran to the bar and another to the condo building after being stabbed, leaving a trail of blood along the sidewalk, we’re told.

Eastbound Lee Highway and at least one lane of both N. Lynn Street and N. Nash Street were closed near the crime scene as a result of the investigation.

One suspect was in custody as of about 10:20 p.m., police said. An ACPD spokeswoman says the suspect in custody appears to have known at least one of the victims. There’s no word yet on a motive.

Police were still searching for other suspects with the assistance of the Fairfax County Police helicopter after the first suspect was detained, according to scanner traffic.

“One suspect is in custody and the investigation is ongoing to determine if any other individuals are involved,” said police spokeswoman Ashley Savage.

Separately, during the stabbing investigation, firefighters battled a reported townhouse fire on the 1400 block of N. Nash Street in Rosslyn, near the Iwo Jima memorial. The fire, on the roof of the townhomes, was quickly extinguished and did not extend to the interior of the building.

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(Updated at 4:15 p.m.) A pair of apparently unrelated water issues have been plaguing the Cherrydale neighborhood over the past 24 hours.

Last night, Arlington’s Dept. of Environmental Services (DES) reported “low water pressure along 4000-4200 Lee Highway, which includes several apartment buildings.”

Tipsters tell ARLnow that water service was out until the early morning hours for residents and some businesses, possibly due to a mistake by the contractor working to replace a 90-year-old water main along nearby N. Taylor Street. Other tipsters reported that some local households had rust-colored water around the time of the outage.

DES spokeswoman Kathryn O’Brien tells ARLnow that crews worked overnight to fix the problem.

Yesterday, we had water pressure issues with a newly connected main that impacted a number of residents in the Cherrydale area. The contractor had completed 1 of 2 connections to a new 12-inch water main as part of planned work in the area. It was expected that the redundancy in the system from one connection would be adequate enough to maintain enough pressure and service to the area. The normal pressure in the area is about 80 psi and the one-way feed dropped the pressure to 50 psi. This error caused the unexpected drop in pressure. The contractor was called back in around 10 p.m. to expedite the second connection which was planned for Tuesday during the day. Water pressure was restored around 5 a.m.

This afternoon, meanwhile, crews responded to another nearby Cherrydale location, at the Five Points Intersection, for a report of a burst pipe.

Water could be seen streaming from underneath the road, forming large puddles on the pavement and prompting a lane closure, but not a complete road closure.

“There is a confirmed valve leak near Lee Highway and N. Quebec Street,” O’Brien said. “This is unrelated to the water issues experience last night and in a different pressure zone. Crews are scheduled to begin the repairs 10 p.m. this evening. Approximately 50 customers may be impacted.”

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