by Katie Pyzyk — October 25, 2016 at 2:35 pm 0

The following is the second in a weekly series of articles about a “day in the life” of companies at the MakeOffices coworking space in Clarendon. The mini-series, which will run this fall, is sponsored by MakeOffices.

Just like former Utah Jazz  point guard John Stockton made a career of enabling Karl “The Mailman” Malone to score, the workers behind LeagueApps spend every day making assists. They strive to set up every community team that uses their management service with a slam dunk experience.

The app-based service provides a management platform and web presence for youth and recreational sports teams. It organizes tasks such as online registrations, schedules, score databases and payment collection. “It’s kind of like an all-in-one app for sports organizers to facilitate all the logistics of their registration and what they need to do during the season for communicating with their members,” says Steve Parker, LeagueApps co-founder and chief technology officer.

The service has about 50 employees in two offices: one in Arlington and one in New York. Although the New York contingent works out of a standalone office, Parker says the Arlington employees benefit from being in the MakeOffices Clarendon coworking space. “One of the things that I like, and I think everyone likes, is being around these other companies. The energy of this place is great,” he says.  “As a company, we see the value in having a nice working environment for people. [It’s] an intangible benefit that will pay dividends because they’ll feel more motivated and productive.”

Each day starts with the team having a stand-up meeting to go over what each person is working on, then the team disperses for their tasks. Although a lot of research, planning and strategy occurs in the Arlington office, much of what happens daily at this location is writing and testing code. Some businesses consider that an insular activity that can be performed remotely, but Parker believes staff members benefit from collaborating at the office.

“We can have in-person, live interactions, which are so valuable,” he says. “There’s a lot of questions that come up, issues that we encounter. Being able to talk through things and go to a whiteboard and discuss it live instead of just typing it… is a lot easier and more efficient.”

Having the two offices in different cities also creates a natural separation between the different tasks performed at each. Arlington houses the team behind the software platform and is considered the LeagueApps technology and product hub, whereas the New York office has a greater focus on business aspects such as sales, management, marketing, finance and customer success. “It’s a nice, clean delineation between what we do and they do,” Parker says.

The environment doesn’t just have a positive effect on employees. The conference rooms come in handy on the days when employees bring in clients for meetings. “The conference rooms and breakout rooms are key. We use those all the time,” says Parker, noting that clients are impressed when they visit the space.

So far, the business model appears to work. Parker says LeagueApps has nearly doubled in growth each year since its launch in 2011. “Just like any startup we’ve worked out a lot of kinks and have gotten to a point where we have a good model and we have a strong product-market fit. We’re continuing to refine that,” he says.

On occasion, the refining happens while interacting with employees at the other businesses in the coworking space. “Sometimes there’s technologies that we’re using that we can have conversations about and gain some quick insights,” says Parker.

One business improvement that has helped LeagueApps is choosing a handful of sports to focus on — such as lacrosse, soccer and baseball — and catering the platform to each, rather than having one generic platform that could be used for all sports. Customers get more value with the sport-specific focus because “different sports have slightly different ways of doing things,” Parker explains. “So we’ve built our platform to be customizable to all the different things that sport organizers do… our account executives and our support services are all tailored by sport.”

Although the team buckles down and works hard at the office, there’s plenty of room for being social. Such as when amidst the quiet typing and clicking, one employee nonchalantly teases another and everyone laughs. That spirit spills over from the work day into evening happy hours, sometimes on-site (MakeOffices provides a selection of locally-brewed beer on tap from four kegerators in the kitchen) and sometimes at nearby Clarendon watering holes.

“The space and location are good for team building activities,” Parker said.


by Katie Pyzyk — October 18, 2016 at 12:30 pm 0

The following is the first in a weekly series of articles about a “day in the life” of companies at the MakeOffices coworking space in Clarendon. The mini-series, which will run this fall, is sponsored by MakeOffices.

“Okay, let’s do the stand-up meeting now. What’s everyone up to?” says Shy Pahlevani, co-founder of Hungry, an app-based food delivery service.

The nearly 20 employees at the startup take Pahlevani’s cue and begin with the morning routine of everyone standing up for a few minutes while announcing what they’re working on. It’s this kind of collaborative model that the business says helps it thrive.

And thrive it does. In its first month after opening to the public, Hungry sold more than 1,000 meals and has goals to further expand.

After everyone has had a turn at the morning meeting, some employees remain in Hungry’s office space at MakeOffices Clarendon to go about their tasks, such as marketing and coordinating deliveries. Others scatter to some of the areas that Hungry shares with the other coworking space occupants.

A few Hungry employees, including Director of Chef Onboarding Laura Medina, head to the kitchen to prepare for one of the chefs who’s bringing in his dish of the day. It’s the chef’s chance to show off what food he can offer, and this particular dish will be available for Hungry users to purchase for delivery the following week.

“For the rent that we spend, we’re grateful to have great looking countertops and a gourmet-looking kitchen,” says Pahlevani. “It’s very appealing when we take pictures of our food and pictures of our chefs when we use this environment here.”

The Hungry team helps the chef set up his food in various parts of the kitchen that will allow for the best photographs. Contract photographer Reema Desai takes a prepared dish over to the window that overlooks Clarendon Boulevard to get a little more natural light on the display. As she arranges the food, she turns it slightly one way, then adds a napkin, then fluffs some of the garnish. She’s trying to use the light to maximize all the available textures and colors. “[The chefs] make it easy for me. The dishes already have a lot of bright, different colors and I just try to bring that out,” she says.

Designer Collin O’Brien works with the newly snapped photos. He’s populating the app with them and ensures the presentation works across all platforms — internet, iOS and Android. Getting customers to buy the food is all about quality and presentation.

Marketing can be one of the most difficult aspects for a fledgling small business to master, but Hungry employees say the coworking environment actually makes it easier. Again, it comes back to collaboration, this time outside of the immediate Hungry team. “It’s a really great base for word of mouth,” says Pardis Saremi, Hungry’s director of public relations.

She explains that employees at other businesses in the coworking space get interested when they see the food displays and try the service themselves. That has led to many becoming customers of the delivery service and talking it up to others. “They’re telling their friends. I also had someone say they know chefs that would love to cook on our app. The connections and the word of mouth is just so, so helpful,” Saremi says. The on-site connections also have led to two other MakeOffices occupants booking Hungry’s chefs — through the app — to cater events.

She also credits the MakeOffices newsletter that goes out to all coworking office occupants with drumming up interest in Hungry’s events and promotions. About 300 people showed up at the startup’s first food event, just based on word of mouth among the coworking office occupants. That definitely wouldn’t have been the case in a standalone building, says Saremi.

“The food business is very tough. So getting people to try our dishes and recommend us to friends is really how we’re going to grow,” says Pahlevani. “Being able to start in a space that’s 40,000 square feet and has 70 plus companies is an easy way… to get some traction early, just leveraging the folks here.”

Potential customers aren’t the only thing office interactions have produced; the Hungry employees also have forged mutually beneficial business relationships. “It’s a great way to attract talent from other startups that may have complementary businesses and can support the things we’re doing,” Pahlevani says. “We’ve met photographers from other groups that are now helping us. We’ve met social media gurus that are now helping us.”

Saremi agrees, further explaining how employees constantly gain unexpected knowledge for improving the business. “I met a guy in this building who does something in physics and he was giving us ideas on things to do with our packaging to keep the food warm,” she says.

Sometimes the employees finish their daily tasks during what would be considered a traditional “quitting time.” But with all the action from the chef’s visit, this may end up being one of those times the work day stretches longer into the evening. “When you start a startup it’s a lot of hard work,” says Pahlevani. “It’s very motivating to see a lot of other people staying past 9 p.m. It encourages our employees.”

The Hungry employees are proud of the hard work they’ve put into the business and how much it already has grown, which makes the time pass quickly, says Saremi. “There’s definitely an entrepreneurial spirit and everyone is so supportive of each other in this space,” she says. “You meet so many people… you see everyone growing in this space.”

Expect to hear more about Hungry in the coming months: the company just announced that it raised $2.5 million in seed funding, in a round led by New York-based Timeless Capital.

by Katie Pyzyk — January 23, 2016 at 10:35 pm 0

2014 Battle at Ballston snowball fightYou’ve probably watched everything Netflix offers, surfed the far corners of the internet, and will be ready to get off the couch. Well, you’re in luck because several snowball fights around Arlington could be the perfect way to release some pent up energy tomorrow.

The most hotly anticipated we’ve found, based on the nearly 630 people who have already responded on Facebook, will be near the Clarendon Metro station at noon on Jan. 24.

There will be another snowball fight less than a mile away in Virginia Square. That one begins at 1:00 p.m. in Quincy Park (1021 N. Quincy Street), and the organizer’s Facebook post claims the fun will keep going “until people have tired themselves out.” A similar Quincy Park snowball fight nearly two years ago attracted more than a hundred participants.

Not to be outdone, residents along Columbia Pike have posted a Facebook invite for a “neighborly” snowball fight at Penrose Square (2501 Columbia Pike). The snow flinging is set to start at noon tomorrow.

Metro will remain closed throughout the weekend and travel conditions are expected to be terrible, so it’s recommended that snowball fight attendees plan on safely walking to the events.

File photo

by Katie Pyzyk — January 23, 2016 at 1:30 pm 0

(Updated at 3:10 p.m.) The conditions outside still are treacherous for travel, so staying indoors for a while is the best idea. But if you’re already suffering from cabin fever and have the ability to easily and safely walk somewhere for a bite or a drink, there are options. Some places are even running winter storm specials.

Here’s the list of Arlington restaurants and bars that told us they’re definitely open, at the very least with limited hours and menu selections:

Is something open in your neighborhood that didn’t make our list? Tweet us or send us an email so we can check out your tip and add the establishment to our list.

by Katie Pyzyk — January 8, 2014 at 3:45 pm 1,561 0

“Are you available for a vehicle search, 66 and 495, to assist state?” screeches the police radio.

Cpl. Dave Torpy with the Arlington County Police Department receives a call from dispatch regarding a potential drug situation in Fairfax County. He confirms he can respond to the mutual aid call and heads out to his car to join his partner waiting inside. But his is no ordinary partner. Torpy gets to work with Ozzie, one of ACPD’s K-9 members.

The two head to the scene and find state police waiting for them. State police had pulled over the driver of a truck who was spotted wrecking one of his front wheels when he crashed into a jersey barrier. The driver allegedly kept going until he was pulled over, and police suspected he was under the influence of some sort of substance. Torpy and Ozzie were requested from Arlington because no other K-9 teams were available in Fairfax.

Torpy walks Ozzie to the vehicle and indicates places to sniff by leading his hand close to, but not touching, certain areas. He explains that officers are not allowed to search inside a vehicle without a warrant, but the law allows the investigation of the vehicle’s perimeter. Should a K-9 partner “hit” on a scent of drugs wafting from inside the vehicle to the outside, that’s considered probable cause and officers may perform a full search.

ACPD K-9 "Ozzie" searches a suspect vehicle for drugsHe points out areas where dogs often pick up drug scents emanating from inside, such as along door cracks or crevices in the vehicle body. But Ozzie doesn’t need any leading and pulls Torpy to a different portion of the vehicle. Ozzie stands up on the side of the truck bed, scratching and emitting low growls.

The multiple instances of scratching and barking are exactly what police look for; those actions are what the dogs are trained to do when they smell drugs. That is the permission police need to open this particular vehicle for probable cause and to continue their search.

Ozzie is allowed inside the vehicle and he repeatedly sniffs and scratches at the sun visors and along cracks around the door. Torpy explains those are two common places for suspects to stash drugs quickly when they’re getting pulled over by police.

When it’s clear that Ozzie smells something out of the ordinary, he’s led back to the ACPD cruiser to wait. It’s now time for humans to take over and to continue the search for illicit substances. Once humans enter the equation, dogs typically are not brought back in. Humans searching for items might spread the scent from a “hot” area to places where nothing was hidden. Bringing in a dog at that point could yield, for example, a dozen hits in a vehicle that previously only had one.

“He really likes this vehicle,” Torpy said. “He paid attention to the open window a lot and actually barked and scratched along the seams. If you weren’t initially looking for dope, you wouldn’t necessarily look at the seams. But his nose took us there so we can search further.”

ACPD K-9 OzzieOzzie, a Belgian Malinois, is one of the nine dogs in ACPD’s K-9 unit. Seven are “dual purpose” or patrol dogs that assist with building searches, evidence recovery, criminal apprehension and narcotics detection. Two are trained solely to detect explosives; one bomb detection dog belongs to a crime scene agent and the other belongs to a school resource officer.

Most of the dogs are purchased from reputable breeders in Europe, but the two bomb dogs were rescues. One was adopted from a shelter in Loudoun County and the other was donated by a family that could no longer care for the dog.

Sgt. John McCarthy is also a dog handler and supervises the K-9 unit. McCarthy goes out on calls with his partner, Charly, just like all the other K-9 unit members, but he also oversees the unit’s operations. He handles scheduling, helps with handler and dog hiring, and purchases supplies like food and toys.

Prior to his appointment in 2007, the department did not have a supervisor for the unit. Arlington County Police Chief M. Douglas Scott was instrumental in adding the position and with expanding the K-9 unit to allow for nearly 24-7 police dog coverage.

“When I was doing a review of the units, I saw at the time we only had four dogs. They were not really a full unit they were just on squads,” said Scott. “I didn’t think it was an effective way to run the program.”

Scott joined the department in 2003 and approved the addition of two dual purpose dogs in 2004, two bomb detecting dogs in 2006, and McCarthy’s supervisory position including a dog in 2007.

“We’ve done it all gradually by converting existing positions,” said Scott. “I didn’t want to be going to the County Manager or County Board asking to add new positions. I made the case internally and started the expansion that way.”

The current price of a police dog runs around $7,000 plus the cost of continuous training. Those working in the unit, along with Chief Scott, believe it’s a wise investment.

“K-9 to me has always been something I would describe as a force multiplier. Their ability to get in and search a building, do a track, is so much better than using multiple officers or for officers to be doing a blind search. They’ve proven themselves time and time again,” Scott said. “It’s well worth the investment.”

In 2013, the ACPD K-9 unit responded to 495 calls in Arlington County and 27 mutual aid calls in neighboring jurisdictions. The dogs helped apprehend 22 criminals, found narcotics in 26 vehicles or residences and found narcotics 23 times during sweeps of packages at United States Postal Service facilities. (more…)

by Katie Pyzyk — January 8, 2014 at 2:00 pm 3,934 0

Flyer distributed to residents at Washington & Lee ApartmentsAn Arlington apartment complex that’s been battling squirrel issues for years is sternly warning residents to stop making matters worse by feeding the animals.

The flyer at the left was recently posted at the Washington & Lee Apartments (2200 2nd Street N.), threatening “legal action and fines” against those who feed the squirrels. Sandra Rose, who has been the apartment property manager for 18 years, stresses she’s not trying to be nasty, but the animals have been causing thousands of dollars worth of damage to the property.

“People think they’re cute and cuddly, and they are. But they don’t always understand they’re a rodent,” Rose said. “As a rodent they do rodent type damage.”

The squirrels recently have chewed holes in roofs on the buildings and residents have complained about the animals getting into their attics. Rose said she has had to hire exterminators to try to capture the animals once they’re loose in the building.

Washington & Lee Apartments (photo via Google Maps)“What we try to do is trap and release. We relocate them,” Rose said. “It’s very expensive but that’s what we do.”

The roof damage isn’t the only problem with the squirrels the property manager has encountered. Rose said in the past, she’s sent out similar flyers when the squirrels managed to get into residents’ car engines and strip spark plug wire material, which they then used to pack their nests.

Rose said one of the exterminators actually spotted residents feeding the animals, which is why she sent out the flyer. She recommends other property owners inform their residents of how destructive the squirrels can be.

“I think they should let tenants know not to feed them because that’s domesticating them,” said Rose. “When they become domesticated they become dependent on you and won’t go away.”

Arlington County Natural Resources Manager Alonso Abugattas shared Rose’s concerns. He said feeding any wild mammals, squirrels or others, is a bad idea.

“In a nutshell, with mammals the overall idea is it’s not a good idea to feed them,” Abugattas said. “When you start feeding more unusual wildlife — squirrels, deer, foxes, raccoons — that’s a bad idea. It changes their behavior, and not only will they hang out in places where they shouldn’t, but they lose some of their fear and healthy respect for humans. Wild foods are always healthier for the animals anyway.”

While contracting rabies is a rare occurrence, it could be a possibility if the animals become so domesticated that they approach people, and perhaps bite them. Abugattas said it’s one of the many health concerns stemming from feeding wild animals. Another concern is the the spread of diseases to pets.

smaller acorn crop in Virginia and West Virginia this fall is prompting squirrels to change their behavior this winter, Abugattas added. As a result, squirrels and other animals have been seeking out non-traditional food sources to make up for the lack of acorns.


by Katie Pyzyk — January 8, 2014 at 11:00 am 6,227 0

Robert Morris (photo via Morris-Day Facebook page)Robert Morris, a prominent local architect and winner of a number of Arlington County Preservation Design awards, has died at the age of 53.

According to his obituary in an Alabama newspaper, Morris graduated from Auburn University with a Professional Degree in Architecture in 1984. He had been influenced at a young age by the historic house he lived in with his family, ultimately prompting him to pursue architecture.

Morris moved to the D.C. area after graduation and founded Morris-Day Architects and Builders soon after. He was well known for his distinctive home designs throughout the metro area, especially in Arlington and McLean.

Morris had been a member of Leadership Arlington and was considered a “bright light” at the organization. He is remembered for his sense of humor and for making people laugh, in addition to how he “worked to make the world a better place.” The organization considers his death a huge loss for the community.

“Rob was an incredibly creative individual and Leadership Arlington benefited from his creativity and from his engagement with his class,” said Leadership Arlington President and CEO Betsy Frantz. “He was always thinking about the next possibility and making the community the best it could be. He had a way of making things happen efficiently and effectively. We’re really going to miss him.”

Morris took his own life on December 29. Family members held a memorial service for him in Alabama last week. The local service for Robert Morris will be held at 2:00 p.m. on February 8 at Lutheran Church of the Redeemer in McLean (1545 Chain Bridge Road).

Photo via Morris-Day Architects and Builders Facebook page

If you or someone you know is experiencing thoughts of suicide, help is a phone call away. Call CrisisLink at 703-527-4077.

by Katie Pyzyk — January 8, 2014 at 9:45 am 1,508 0

aps_logoArlington Public Schools announced a plan to make up the days lost so far during the 2013-2014 school year.

Although technically there were three days off due to inclement weather — December 9 and 10 and January 3 — only January 3 needs to be made up. December 9 and 10 do not have to be made up because additional instructional hours were already built into the calendar.

The altered schedule only applies to elementary schools with Early Release, which includes Arlington Science Focus, Arlington Traditional, Long Branch, Nottingham, Oakridge, Taylor and Tuckahoe. Because additional instructional hours had already been built in for middle schools, high schools and elementary schools with Limited Early Release, those schools do not have to make up the time. Limited Early Release elementary schools include Abingdon, Ashlawn, Barcroft, Barrett, Campbell, Carlin Springs, Claremont, Drew, Glebe, Henry, Hoffman-Boston, Jamestown, Key, McKinley and Randolph.

The following early release days will become full attendance days as part of the make-up:

Elementary Schools With Early Release

  • Wednesday, February 19
  • Wednesday, April 9
  • Wednesday, April 30

The Stratford Program

  • Tuesday, February 18
  • Tuesday, April 8
  • Tuesday, April 29

APS will adjust its schedule as necessary should any more days be lost this year.

by Katie Pyzyk — January 8, 2014 at 8:45 am 1,019 0

Icy: Four Mile Run in Arlington Virginia (Flickr pool photo by @ddimick)

Fisette Staying Out of Confederate Name Issue — Arlington County Board Chairman Jay Fisette said he has too much other business to worry about in the coming months to get involved with the request to remove the name “Jefferson Davis” from Arlington roads. Fisette says he’s sensitive to the reasons behind the request to remove the Confederate leader’s name, but the process for removal is laborious and has to go through the state. [Sun Gazette]

Burst Pipe at Reagan National AirportTrader Joe’s in Clarendon certainly wasn’t the only business affected by a burst water pipe during Tuesday’s cold weather. Some pipes burst at Reagan National Airport yesterday afternoon and flooded the area near the baggage claim terminals for American Airlines and United Airlines. [DCist]

Tomb Sentinels Brave Freezing Temps — Most people did what they could to bundle up and stay indoors yesterday, but members of The Old Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery are getting attention for braving the bitter cold. The 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment posted a photo of one of the sentinels on its Facebook page and news organizations immediately spread the word. [WTOP, WUSA]

Flickr pool photo by @ddimick

by Katie Pyzyk — January 7, 2014 at 5:50 pm 4,718 0

Police respond to suspicious man at Ballston Metro (photo via @SRod17)(Updated at 6:05 p.m.) Reports of a suspicious person at the Ballston Metro station had police racing to the scene shortly after 5:00 p.m. to investigate.

In addition to the Arlington County Police Department, WMATA spokesman Dan Stessel says Transit Police were on the scene investigating the report of a suspicious male subject aboard an inbound train.

Few details are being released right now, but police scanner traffic first indicated the suspect may have lit WD-40 on fire inside the Ballston Metro station or inside a Metrorail car. Scanner traffic also indicates police are interviewing Metro employees at the East Falls Church station, where reports suggest the suspect may have gotten off the train.

Orange Line trains had been single tracking between Ballston and East Falls Church while police searched the station and the train, but the train in question has been released and was taken out of service. Normal service has resumed but some delays remain.

Photo courtesy @SRod17

by Katie Pyzyk — January 7, 2014 at 2:30 pm 1,509 0

Arlington County multi-space parking meterFor one day only, drivers parking in Arlington are getting a reprieve. Because the frigid temperatures are a danger to enforcement workers and because the weather is causing an increase in meter malfunctions, meters will not be enforced.

The Department of Environmental Services maintains the county’s meters and reports this week’s colder weather and last week’s freezing precipitation led to a higher than usual number of malfunctions on the multi-space meters that dispense tickets. An average day typically requires around 15 repairs throughout the county. However, there were 29 repairs last Thursday, 76 on Friday and 61 yesterday.

DES also has received a higher volume of calls to the broken meter hotline (703-228-3298). Instead of the usual 40 calls per day, 90 came in on Friday and 117 came in on Saturday and Monday. DES does not yet have a tally for today, but anticipates similar numbers.

The multi-space meters have a wireless connection that automatically informs DES of any malfunctions, but the department relies on phone calls for learning about problems with coin operated meters.

Although DES maintains the meters, members of the Arlington County Police Department take care of enforcement. In light of the issues today, the department decided to suspend meter enforcement.

“Enforcement has been suspended due to a combination of the extreme cold weather creating a danger to public service aides, and the growing number of malfunctioning meters,” said ACPD spokesman Dustin Sternbeck. “That’s just for today.”

by Katie Pyzyk — January 7, 2014 at 1:10 pm 0

Arlington Prepares iPhone app screenshotArlington’s Office of Emergency Management (OEM) encourages residents to make a commitment to being better prepared for emergencies in 2014, perhaps even by making it a new year’s resolution.

OEM highlights the statewide Ready Virginia initiative and asks Arlington residents to join in the campaign by having a plan in case of emergencies.

“I believe we all have a role in emergency management by ensuring that we are prepared, that we have a plan and that we get involved,” said Arlington County Office of Emergency Management Director Jack Brown.

Families should devise an emergency plan and go over it together. All members of the family should understand crucial aspects of the plan such as where to meet if the family is separated. Post the plan in an easily viewed place, such as on the refrigerator. Answer the following questions when coming  up with the plan:

  • Do you and your family members have contact phone numbers memorized or written down and available in backpacks and wallets?
  • Do you have a plan on how to meet up with family if you are separated?
  • Do you know how to contact your children’s school in case of an emergency?
  • Do you have three days of emergency supplies and water set aside?

The emergency kit should contain enough of the following items to last for three days:

  • Battery-powered radio and extra batteries
  • Non-perishable food and a can opener
  • Water
  • Flashlights
  • First aid kit and medications
  • Pet supplies

Home isn’t the only place residents need to be prepared. OEM notes that emergencies can happen at work and in the car, so separate plans should be made for safety in those locations. For example, OEM spokesman John Crawford noted that during the Navy Yard shooting last year, some people were required to “shelter in place.” Many did not have adequate food, water or medications in their work area. In addition to those supplies, Crawford also recommends keeping a small flashlight, batteries and a battery operated cell phone charger at work.

Having emergency contact numbers written on a paper and kept in a purse or wallet can come in handy should a cell phone battery die.

“When the emergency comes, all our contact information is in our cell phones, a majority of phone numbers are there,” said Crawford. “If you lose the ability to get that information and your phone is dead, you can’t access emergency numbers.”

The current cold snap is another example of a situation when preparedness can be beneficial. Drivers should prepare for the possibility of becoming stranded by keeping plenty of gas in their vehicles and keeping cell phones charged. Have extra blankets and snacks in the car as well.

“Winter preparedness may be a little bit different from summer preparedness, but if you’re prepared for one emergency, you’re pretty much prepared for every emergency,” said Crawford. “In the Snowmageddon a couple years ago, people were stranded for hours on the GW Parkway. The lessons we learned from that is that people were not prepared. People needed water and food and they didn’t have it. They needed blankets and didn’t have it.”

One of the important factors about having preparedness plans is to practice them often so they become second nature. Not being well versed in all aspects of the plan could be dangerous in an emergency when stress could cause details to be forgotten.

“If you train enough in anything, and then the disaster comes, you won’t think twice about what you have to do,” Crawford said. “You’ll already know what to do.”

The Arlington Prepares mobile app can be downloaded onto Apple and Android devices. Residents can also sign up for Arlington Alert, which allows the county to contact you during an emergency by sending messages to your email or mobile device.

by Katie Pyzyk — January 7, 2014 at 11:45 am 1,607 0

Thermostat(Updated at 2:55 p.m.) The cold temperatures have a lot of people cranking up the heat, but that’s putting stress on the region’s power grid. Dominion Power is asking customers to reduce any unnecessary use of electricity and alter the hours for major appliance use.

Dominion is one of the power providers in the 13 states and District of Columbia that use the PJM Interconnect power grid. PJM informed all of its clients that the power grid is currently under stress because of the increase in electric heat use due to the frigid temperatures. It’s asking customers to help conserve energy.

“We are asking customers to consider altering their normal pattern of power usage to mitigate the draw that is on the electrical grid right now,” said Dominion Power spokesman Chuck Penn. “We are confident today, as we were yesterday, that we have sufficient power capacity to meet the demand, there are just some steps utilities are asking customers to take to ease the load. We are just responding to the request from PJM Interconnect.”

Customers are asked to avoid using major appliances — such as stoves, dishwashers and clothes dryers — during the peak morning hours of 6:00-9:00 a.m. and the peak evening hours of 3:00-7:00 p.m. Customers are asked to lower their thermostats to between 65 and 70 degrees during the day in order to conserve energy. Dominion has additional energy saving tips on its website.

Arlington’s Emergency Winter Shelter in Courthouse (2049 15th Street N.) opened for around-the-clock services on Monday and will stay open, as a wind chill advisory remains in effect until 6:00 p.m. The shelter has been used by 75 people during the cold snap, and another 10 were provided with cots and blankets in the lobby of the nearby Detention Center. On Tuesday afternoon, DHS made the decision to keep the shelter open continuously on Wednesday as well.

“The good thing about this cold snap is that we had plenty of advance warning so we were able to let people know they needed to get off the streets and come inside,” said Department of Human Services spokesman Kurt Larrick. “A-SPAN did a great job of letting unsheltered homeless people in the community know that it was going to get really, really cold, and that we would have a warm bed for them.”

by Katie Pyzyk — January 7, 2014 at 10:00 am 4,966 0

LGBT rainbow flag (image via Wikipedia)Arlington is one of the most LGBT-friendly places in the country, according to The Advocate. The county has come in at number 10 on the magazine’s list of “Gayest Cities in America.”

Although it may seem surprising that Arlington would be ranked above areas with larger gay populations, such as San Francisco and New York City, it might make more sense when considering the non-traditional scoring process. The list compilers even note they looked for “hidden factors that give a city its queer cred” and that “It’s not all piano bars, gender-specific music festivals, and giant disco houses.”

Arlington scored low in a number of categories such as “Lesbian couple-headed households” and “Mariah Carey concert dates” but picked up a point for having a nearby Gay Rodeo association. Arlington also picked up three points for having gay local elected officials and 0.1 points for having gay state elected officials.

Additionally, The Advocate noted that Arlington is home to “popular gay bar and brunch spot Freddie’s Beach Bar & Restaurant and gay-popular divey beer bar Galaxy Hut.”

The top three regions on the magazine’s list were Washington, DC; Pasadena, CA; and Seattle, WA. The full list can be found on The Advocate’s website.

Image via Wikipedia

by Katie Pyzyk — January 7, 2014 at 8:30 am 1,091 0

The dog's perspective... (Flickr pool photo by wolfkann)

Two of Three Dem Candidates Endorse Streetcar — Two of the three Democratic candidates for County Board — Alan Howze and Peter Fallon — have voiced support for the Columbia Pike streetcar project. The third Democratic contender — Cord Thomas — has concerns about the proposal. [Sun Gazette]

Lack of Decal in Fairfax Affects Arlington — Eight years ago Fairfax County became the lone jurisdiction in Northern Virginia to abandon car tax decals, and Arlington County Treasurer Frank O’Leary believes that’s costing Arlington $300,000. O’Leary said it’s too labor intensive to check every single vehicle parked in Arlington without a decal to determine if the vehicle is from Fairfax or if the owner didn’t pay Arlington taxes. [Sun Gazette]

Civic Leadership Program Deadline Extended — Arlington County has extended the deadline for residents interested in signing up for the eight week Neighborhood College program. Participants will learn communication and influencing skills, how to organize for action and how to give and receive feedback, among other things. The deadline to sign up for the free series is now January 10, and classes begin February 13. [Arlington County]

Police Officer Profiled — A member of the Arlington County Police Department — Capt. Kamran Afzal — has been profiled in Asian Fortune. The Pakistani American studied economics in college before turning to a life in law enforcement. He has been with the department for 20 years. [Asian Fortune]

Christmas Tree Collection Begins — County workers began collecting discarded Christmas trees yesterday. The trees are collected curbside until January 17 and will be turned into mulch. [Arlington County]

Flickr pool photo by wolfkann


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