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by Bridget Reed Morawski February 20, 2018 at 5:00 pm 0

Several absentee voting measures have been sent to the House of Delegates’ Privileges and Elections study committee for review in 2019, meaning the legislation is effectively dead for 2018.

The bills, introduced by state Sen. Adam Ebbin (D), included a measure which would have allowed for senior citizens to vote with an absentee ballot up to and including the day of an election. Another, SB602, would have allowed for “no-excuse” absentee ballot voting beginning 21 days prior to an election, meaning that anyone could have voted with an absentee ballot without needing a qualifying reason for not being able to wait in line at the polls.

“We want to make it easier for people to vote and participate in democracy rather than harder,” said Ebbin. “In Arlington in particular, there are a lot of busy people who work a lot of unpredictable hours. Right now, working late is not a valid excuse for absentee voting.”

“It should be easier to vote, and we don’t want anyone to be disenfranchised.”

Though the bills will not have a chance to be passed until after the 2018 midterm elections, Ebbin told ARLnow.com that it isn’t necessarily a bad thing to wait, saying it “can be a good thing” as the bill will “get a more full hearing and more education and more consideration and more chance to educate legislators on these issues.”

File photo

by Bridget Reed Morawski February 20, 2018 at 1:45 pm 0

The number of Arlingtonians seeking treatment for opioid addiction and related disorders rose from 100 patients in 2015 to 345 patients in 2017, an overall increase of 245 percent, according to Arlington County.

The uptick, detailed in the Arlington County 2017 Annual Report released in January, has spurred the county to implement new treatment approaches for identified opioid-related disorders and addictions.

The police department, unsure of what the best opioid treatment options were to combat the increasing arrests or overdoses, contacted Suzanne Somerville, the county’s residential and specialized clinical services bureau chief.

“We weren’t working together as a county,” said Somerville. She added that departments also weren’t previously coordinating with Virginia Hospital Center but that there is now a monthly meeting with emergency room personnel to discuss frequent treatment or med-seeking patients.

A stakeholders task force was created in January 2017 among multiple county government representatives, non-profit treatment providers and affected families, to develop a plan to address the rising figures, according to Somerville.

In hard numbers, 345 patients in a county of approximately 239,000 isn’t an epidemic. But the 245 percent increase concerns officials — and the figures, Somerville said, may be higher.

“I suspect we always had a much higher number than are seeking treatment here,” said Somerville, later noting that previous data for opioid abusers only counted those seeking treatment through the Dept. of Human Services, not the number of relevant police interactions or even the number of those who are not seeking treatment and haven’t been arrested.

The county finds itself on the doorstep of three communities much more heavily impacted by the nationwide opioid epidemic, according to Somerville: the District of Columbia, West Virginia and more southern areas of Virginia.

“That’s the interesting thing with the opioid crisis, it’s widespread. There’s no socioeconomic division, there’s no race division. It depends on how they start,”she added.

Many opioid abusers initially are prescribed painkillers for medical problems, then later become addicted and switch to a cheaper habit like heroin. In Arlington, it costs approximately $25 for .25 grams of heroin. Oxycontin pills are about $1 per mg; Percocet, $.50 per mg; and Fentanyl, $6.50 per mg.

Arlington officials prefer two methods — a medication assisted treatment (MAT) and an office-based opioid treatment program (OBOT) — over incarceration. The OBOT program combines treatment with naloxone, which is sold under brand names like Narcan and Evzio, with group therapy and peer recovery services.

These peer recovery services take the form of residential intensive treatment homes where patients undergo detox for a minimum of two weeks, but typically up to three months. One Arlington treatment house has the capacity to take 14 patients for up to six months. During this time, patients learn independent living skills and have their sobriety monitored.

One treatment center is in Ballston and another is elsewhere in northern Arlington, though Somerville declined to be more specific, saying that both locations are inconspicuous.

The treatment centers are completely voluntary, but only two patients chose jail over drug court in 2017. Those who opt for jail face at least two years in prison, with terms varying depending on criminal history and individual circumstances. Drug court comprises of supervisory components like GPS anklet monitoring.

“There are some cases where that is not going to work out,” added the bureau chief. “If the police feel that a person has distribution, there probably wouldn’t be something we could do to divert, but we are looking to come up with options at the time of bond or sentencing to say that this person would benefit from treatment as opposed to straight incarceration.”

Photo via Eric Norris/Flickr

by ARLnow.com February 20, 2018 at 10:50 am 0

Eagle-eyed readers of this site may have noticed something odd in this past Friday’s weekend discussion post: namely, the inclusion of an article from December among the most-viewed stories of the week.

We also found that unusual, so we did a bit of digging. It turns out, there have been more than 6,000 views of the article, “County Wins Top Environmental Award from U.S. Green Building Council,” over the past week.

Here’s an excerpt:

Arlington County is the first community in the country to win a top award for its environmentally-friendly policies from the U.S. Green Building Council.

The county was named a Platinum level community by USGBC under its new LEED for Communities program.

USGBC said the certification recognizes the county’s creation of a “sustainable and resilient urban environment that has long-proven success in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, managing stormwater, ensuring economic prosperity and focusing on education, affordable housing, health and safety for residents and businesses.”

So from where is all this newfound interest in Arlington County’s sustainability bonafides coming? From Amazon.com, it seems.

The vast majority of the traffic to the page over the past week that can be tracked came from what appears to be an internal Amazon.com page devoted to its HQ2 search. Arlington, of course, is in the running as one of the potential landing spots for the company’s second headquarters.

Below is a chart showing traffic to the page, via Google Analytics.

No other page on ARLnow.com has a similar level of traffic coming from Amazon.

Last week a noted NYU professor who has written about the company opined that New York City and the D.C. area are among the most likely finalists for HQ2, due to a combination of being destinations for talented workers and being places that Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos likes to frequent.

by ARLnow.com February 20, 2018 at 9:45 am 0

An unexpected find by a Lyon Park resident prompted a police and fire department response on the 200 block of N. Barton Street last night.

The resident called the authorities after finding a military mortar shell in his or her basement. Police, firefighters and the county’s bomb squad responded to investigate.

Eventually, it was determined that the object was indeed an old World War II mortar shell, but that all of the explosives has already been removed.

“Nothing illegal or dangerous about it, but [the] homeowner turned it over to [the] bomb team anyway,” a fire department spokesman said via text message.

by Christina Sturdivant-Sani February 20, 2018 at 9:00 am 0

Photo by Mike Maguire

School chancellor under fire, teens stage die-in outside of the White House, grande dame of Washington arts and education scene dies, and other news of the day over in the District.

by ARLnow.com February 20, 2018 at 8:15 am 0

Vigil for Parkland — Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) was among those to speak at a candlelight vigil last night in Falls Church for the victims of the Parkland, Florida high school shooting. Beyer spoke in favor of stricter gun control measures. [Blue Virginia]

Police Investigate Sound of Gunshots — Arlington County Police investigated a report of shots fired near the intersection of Lee Highway and Glebe Road Friday night. No injuries were reported. [Twitter]

Fmr. Arlington Resident Convicted of Murder — “A jury found a man guilty of multiple counts related to an execution-style shooting that killed three people in a D.C. park in 1991. Benito Valdez, 47, formerly of Arlington, Virginia, was found guilty of first-degree murder while armed.” [WTOP]

Theater’s Pre-Oscar Deal — With the Academy Awards now less than two weeks away, the Regal cinema in Ballston is offering a special deal: a $35 pass to see all nine films nominated for Best Picture. [Patch]

Flyover This Morning — A military flyover is scheduled just after 11 a.m. this morning for a funeral at Arlington National Cemetery. [Twitter]

Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley

by ARLnow.com February 19, 2018 at 6:30 pm 0

Update at 9:45 p.m. — The missing teen has been located safely, according to police.

Earlier: The Arlington County Police Department is asking for the public’s help in locating a missing teen.

Police say the boy, 14, went missing this afternoon from the Bellevue Forest neighborhood and is considered endangered. He was last seen around 3:30 p.m.

He is described by police as “a white male with short blonde hair and blue eyes,” about 5’4″ and 110 lbs.

“He was last seen wearing black and yellow patterned pants and a black and blue hoodie,” police said in a press release. “He was reported to not be wearing shoes at the time he left his residence. [The boy] is considered endangered and may be in need of medical services.”

Anyone with information about the teen’s whereabouts is asked to call ACPD’s non-emergency number: 703-558-2222.

by Anna Merod February 16, 2018 at 3:45 pm 0

(Updated at 4:50 p.m.) A bill prohibiting school officials from stigmatizing students who can’t afford school meals or pay off their debts is likely to pass the Virginia General Assembly, said bill sponsor state Sen. Barbara Favola (D-31).

The SB 840 bill, which has already passed through the Virginia Senate, will ban school board employees from identifying students who owe a meal debt by, for example, requiring students to wear bracelets or hand stamps.

The bill also prohibits school board members from making students do chores or work to pay for meal debts. It also states that any communication about a meal debt must be written in a letter to the student’s parents to bring home.

“We want students to have as positive an experience as possible while they’re in school,” Favola said. “It doesn’t send the right message to children if they’re at all identified for being different because of an income inequality.”

Favola represents Virginia’s 31st District, which includes Arlington and Fairfax County.

A Virginia social justice group, Social Action Linking Together (SALT), approached Favola to sponsor the bill. After other constituents voiced similar concerns about the treatment of students with meal debts, Favola introduced the bill to the Senate.

One Arlington parent told John Horejsi, a SALT coordinator, that their child’s elementary school puts orange stickers on students’ shirts when they owe a lunch debt. The parent discussed the matter with ARLnow.com but did not wish to identify the school or speak on the record.

An Arlington Public Schools spokesman said that practice is not in place at public schools in Arlington.

“To our knowledge, this hasn’t happened in APS in a number of years,” said Frank Bellavia, via email. “Currently, staff only speak with parents directly about a student’s unpaid lunch account. Our Food Services staff is working now on a formal policy for School Board approval that will permanently address this.”

The state bill is highly likely to pass, Favola said, because a companion bill unanimously passed in the House. The bill is now being reviewed by the Committee on Education.

A similar piece of legislation was introduced to the U.S. House of Representatives last May, and a similar bill also passed in New Mexico last April.

File photo

by Anna Merod February 16, 2018 at 1:45 pm 0

Arlington residents can now take a five minute survey sharing their thoughts for the 10-year Capital Improvement Plan (CIP), a blueprint for how officials will shape Arlington County from 2019-2028.

The plan focuses on “building, maintaining, upgrading or replacing County facilities and infrastructure” over that 10 year period, according to the County’s website. Some of those facilities include libraries, parks, community centers, and transportation infrastructure.

The deadline for public input on the CIP is March 16. In May, County Manager Mark Schwartz will release a proposed plan for public review, in which the public will again have another opportunity for comment until July. The County Board will adopt the final improvement plan this July.

The CIP for 2017-2026 totaled $3.3 billion for capital projects and infrastructure investment for both the County and schools.

The survey asks about funding for a myriad of topics ranging from schools to transportation, including:

  • Maintenance of roads (ex. paving, potholes)
  • Bicycle and pedestrian safety and connectivity projects
  • Public art projects
  • New parks and/or playgrounds, maintenance of existing parks and playgrounds
  • New or expanded libraries, maintenance of existing libraries
  • Design and/or construction of public buildings (ex. recreation/community centers)
  • New or expanded public schools to address growing enrollment, maintenance of schools
  • Arlington Transit (ART) buses, bus stops or related facilities
  • Neighborhood Conservation projects
  • Metro

Photo via Arlington County

by ARLnow.com February 16, 2018 at 9:30 am 0

Northside Social Sued by Songwriters — Clarendon cafe Northside Social is being sued by the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) for “unauthorized public performance of its members’ copyrighted musical works.” [Patch]

Phil Vassar Visits Animal Welfare League — “We had a special visitor at AWLA today: country music singer Phil Vassar stopped by the shelter today to meet three neonatal kittens that are named after his hit songs; Deputy Ray, Carlene, and Amazing Grace.” [Facebook]

Focus on Arlington’s School Resource Officers — The Arlington County Police Department has thirteen School Resource Officers, whose job it is to connect with and protect the 27,000 students at Arlington Public Schools. [WJLA]

Arlington’s First Black Firefighters Faced Hardships — “The first of Arlington County’s black firefighters — members of the Hall’s Hill Volunteer Fire Department and the paid men at Station No. 8 — grappled with taunts and inequities in the days of Jim Crow, according to Arlington Public Library records.” [Arlington Fire Journal]

Dems Want More Social Followers — Arlington Democrats are pushing for more social media followers, particularly on Facebook, with the goal of having the most followers of any Democratic organization in the Commonwealth. At last check, Albemarle County Democrats had more followers than Arlington. [InsideNova]

by Christina Sturdivant-Sani February 16, 2018 at 8:35 am 0

Photo by DaleKid

A body-conscious bootcamp, Swings Coffee is back, James Beard award finalists, and other news of the day over in the District.

by Christina Sturdivant-Sani February 15, 2018 at 9:00 am 0

Photo by Mike Maguire

Metro delays, free stuff, best restaurants, and other news of the day over in the District.

by ARLnow.com February 15, 2018 at 8:30 am 0

Sen. Ebbin’s Anti-Discrimination Measure Fails — “A measure adding sexual orientation and gender identity to Virginia’s laws against discrimination in public employment made it through the state Senate, only to be killed in the House of Delegates.” [InsideNova]

Schools, County Offices Closed Monday — Arlington County government offices, courts, schools, libraries and rec centers will be closed Monday for the George Washington Day holiday in the Commonwealth of Virginia — also known nationally as President’s Day. In addition to the closures, parking meters will not be enforced. [Arlington County]

Ramp Closure Next Week — “A detour will be in place next week as the ramp from northbound George Mason Drive to westbound Carlin Springs Road is closed from Tuesday, Feb. 20 through Friday, Feb. 23 for installation of a sanitary line.” [Twitter]

Springlike Day Today — With temperatures in the upper 60s, today (Feb. 15) is expected to give a brief glimpse of spring, before temperatures turn colder. There is a chance of accumulating snow this weekend. [Capital Weather Gang]

Flickr pool photo by Lisa Novak

by ARLnow.com February 14, 2018 at 3:50 pm 0

Someone broke into nearly a dozen vehicles overnight, between Monday and Tuesday, in the Nauck, Douglas Park and Westover neighborhoods.

Most of the vehicles were unlocked, according to police.

More from this week’s Arlington County Police Department crime report:

LARCENY FROM AUTO (series), 2018-02130043/0046/0057/0061/0065, 3000 block of S. 19thStreet/1500 block of S. Glebe Road/3100 block of S. 15th Street. At approximately 6:37 a.m. on February 13, police were dispatched to the report of a larceny from auto series. Upon arrival, it was determined that an unknown suspect entered multiple, mostly unlocked, vehicles overnight and stole numerous items of value. There is no suspect description. The investigation is ongoing.

LARCENY FROM AUTO (series), 2018-02130040/0052/0055/0060/0066/0067, 1000 block of N. Kensington Street/1000 block of N. Kentucky Street/800 block of N. Lexington Street. At approximately 7:16 a.m. on February 13, police were dispatched to the report of multiple larceny from autos. Upon arrival, it was determined that an unknown suspect entered numerous, mostly unlocked, vehicles overnight and tampered with the contents and stole items of value from some of the vehicles. The suspect is described as a white male, approximately 5’6 to 5’10, 150-175 lbs. The investigation is ongoing.

The rest of this past week’s crime report highlights, including some that we’ve already reported, after the jump.

(more…)

by ARLnow.com February 14, 2018 at 9:25 am 0

Crystal City Could Be Big Budget Winner — Commercial real estate analysts expect Crystal City and the Dulles Toll Road corridor to be the big winners from the new spending bill that was signed into law last week, boosting domestic and military budgets. Crystal City is also among the Northern Virginia locales under consideration for Amazon’s HQ2. [Bisnow]

Park Police Chief Cancels Meeting with BeyerUpdated at 12:30 p.m. — The chief of the U.S. Park Police cancelled a scheduled meeting yesterday with Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) and D.C. Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton. Beyer and Norton are seeking answers in the fatal Park Police shooting of Bijan Ghaisar, who fled from a reported crash and then from officers before being shot in Fairfax County. USPP later released a statement explaining the chief’s decision. [WUSA 9, PDF]

Ballston to Hold Puppy Party Tomorrow — “Didn’t feel the love on Valentines Day? Join the Ballston BID for a puppy pick-me-up. All dogs present available for adoption through our partner, Homeward Trails. They bring the furry friends. Earl’s will bring the food.” [Ballston BID]

Charlie Clark on Arlington and Its History — “Clark compared the local population to the cast of the NBC show ‘Parks and Recreation,’ a group of honest, do-gooders who try their best but things still go awry. They’re a body of citizens that aren’t afraid to challenge their local governance on issues, pointing in particular to the struggle put up by local citizens last year when Arlington worked to relocate Fire Station 8.” [Arlington Connection]

Last-Minute Valentine’s Day Reservations — Procrastinators rejoice, a number of Arlington restaurants were, at last check, still taking reservations for Valentine’s Day dinner tonight. [Patch]

Flickr pool photo by Tim Brown

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