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Ferris wheel at the county fair (staff photo)

The Arlington County Fair is set to kick off this Wednesday and run through Sunday, Aug. 21.

As usual (though it was not without some debate) the fair is being held at the Thomas Jefferson Community Center, at 3501 2nd Street S. It is free to attend and open to the whole family.

Apart from the usual food and craft vendors, competitive exhibits and amusement rides, we’ve compiled a list of some lesser-known fair features this year.

The poster for axe throwing and the escape room at the fair (via Arlington County Fair)

1. Axe throwing

Fairgoers can try their hands at axe throwing inside a mobile trailer operated by Odyssey Mobile Adventures. Coaches are set to be present. Those interested need to first buy tickets on site, which are priced at $10 for 10 throws.

2. Escape room

The same company that runs the axe throwing is also set to provide an escape room for those interested in testing their problem solving abilities. Tickets are priced at $20 per group of a maximum of five people. Both activities are scheduled to be open all week.

The poster for the sensory hour at the fair (via Arlington County Fair)

3. Sensory hour

A new feature this year, this hour is set to happen between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. on Saturday (Aug. 20). During the hour, the fair plans to eliminate loud noises and music so that patrons may enjoy the fair without feeling overwhelmed.

This is a collaboration effort with the county’s Therapeutic Recreation Office, which focuses on providing equal access in recreation programs, like the fair, to individuals of differing needs and abilities. Sensory break tent areas are also scheduled at different hours over the weekend, according to an Arlington County Fair Instagram post.

The poster for the beer garden at the fair (via Arlington County Fair)

4. Beer (and rosé) garden

This year’s beer garden is a partnership with Arlington-based New District Brewing Company. Beers on tap include an IPA, pilsner, kettle sour and hard seltzer. For wine drinkers, a Virginia winery is providing its 2021 La Grange rosé as well this year.

The garden is set to open throughout the week, with a special trivia night on Thursday. Packs of beer and wine tickets may be purchased in advance.

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Hundreds of K-5 students at Oakridge Elementary School packed 200 gift boxes to seamen and Marines serving on the USS Arlington.

The boxes sent to those aboard the 684-foot-long amphibious transport ship, named after Arlington County in memory of those who lost their lives here on 9/11, included handwritten cards as well as candy, chips, crackers, chewing gum, toothbrushes, challenge coins, ear plugs and other items.

It’s part of an effort to ensure an ongoing relationship between the men and women who serve on the USS Arlington and the residents of the county for which it is named.

Spearheading that effort is the USS Arlington Community Alliance, headed by retired Arlington County Police Department captain Kevin Reardon, who is president, and Del. Patrick Hope (D-47), who is vice president.

Reardon, who happened to know Lynne Wright, the Oakridge principal, brought to her the idea of the gift packages.

“It’s the little things that keep us in contact with the ship,” says Reardon. “And this is one of those things.”

Donated goods came from Arlington-based firms, including Nestlé (200 bags of candy), and were sorted and packed by students at the end of the school year and transported to the ship.

Running their hands through hundreds of pounds of temptation must have been a challenge for the children, right? Oh, you’d be wrong.

“The students have been practicing the intentionality of being kind to each other and members of our community,” Wright says. “Creating care packages for individuals on the USS Arlington was a natural extension of being kind to others.”

“We have been fortunate to have partnered with the USS Arlington for several years,” she adds. “Additionally, we have many military families in our Oakridge community, and this year we became a [Virginia Department of Education] Purple Star-designated school and have focused on better serving the military-connected child.”

Honoring Arlington goes both ways. Reardon says the ship’s main passageway, traditionally called Broadway, is named Columbia Pike. Arlington street signs and Pentagon shapes abound.

“The sailors are constantly reminded of why the ship was named ‘Arlington,'” he says. Those same sailors often visit Oakridge Elementary when they are in the area for the annual 9/11 memorial 5K race — which is now in its 20th year.

Arlington is currently renovating the Bozman Government Center at Courthouse and the new lobby of county government headquarters, when it opens, will have an exhibit of USS Arlington artifacts and video displays, as well as a sizable model of the ship.

Reardon, for one, will be happy when the pandemic-delayed renovations are complete.

“There are not too many people with a six-and-half-foot ship model sitting in their parking spot in their garage,” he says with a laugh.

And this is not the last those aboard the Arlington will hear from Oakridge kids.

“Generously building care packages for the USS Arlington was an outstanding opportunity to bring everyone together through kindness and care for our community,” Principal Wright says. “When school reopens, I know the school community will be eager to build more care packages for the USS Arlington.”

The $1.6 billion vessel, commissioned in 2013, is one of three named for locations where citizens were killed on Sept. 11, 2001, along with the USS New York and the USS Somerset.

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Give a warm welcome to Cannoli, a rescue from Fort Worth who now calls Crystal City home, and our Arlington Pet of the Week!

This sweet boy from Texas loves everyone and his owner had the following to say about him.

Cannoli is new to the Arlington area this year. He comes to us as a rescue from Fort Worth, Texas, and has been enjoying making Crystal City his home.

He shows his ability to be a good boy by happily chewing his many bones, snuggling up for naps, and learning lots of tricks. Sit, shake, shake with the other paw, down, roll over, stay, and come are already in his repertoire!

On the other hand, his “gremlin behavior” comes through in howling at fluffy neighbors, digging at carpet, and teasing his dog park pals so they’ll chase him.

Whether it’s a Good Day or Gremlin Day, Cannoli loves everyone and enjoys his newfound popularity!

Want your pet to be considered for the Arlington Pet of the Week? Email [email protected] with a 2-3 paragraph bio and at least 3-4 horizontally-oriented photos of your pet. Please don’t send vertical photos — they don’t fit in our photo gallery!

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15 year old Australian Shepherd went missing from her yard in Waycroft-Woodlawn on the evening of August 8.

A pet tracker hasn’t been able to find her, and despite roaming in a busy area, there have been no reported sightings. She is microchipped, and her information is up to date. It’s most likely someone has picked her up. If found, or if there is any information, please contact the Animal Welfare League of Arlington or her owner at 571-510-0508 or [email protected]. If spotted, please don’t approach or call to her, but take a picture and call her owner.

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March for Marrow 5K Run/Walk

This 5K Run/Walk will raise funds and awareness for the Aplastic Anemia & MDS International Foundation (AA&MDSIF) which is a non-profit that provides support and education to patients and their families through the 3 phases of diagnosis, treatment and life

Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups, founders, and other local technology news. Monday Properties is proudly featuring 1515 Wilson Blvd in Rosslyn. 

When Marine veteran Brendan McElroy started working on the sales side of the consulting industry, he quickly realized that although he enjoyed the more interactive part of his job, he did not like the “typical consulting-sales model.”

McElroy described the model as consultants “[complicating] people’s problems.”

As a result in 2019, he founded and became the CEO of the management consulting company called Franklin Consulting, LLC. A year later in April, it merged with the Seattle-based consulting firm T.S. Marshall & Associates, Inc., which specialized in professional training and coaching.

Out of the venture, Ballston-based Franklin IQ was formed, according to a news release. Franklin IQ provides services in several areas of management consultancy, including strategic planning, employee engagement and workforce planning, according to its website.

“Our real passion is working with leaders on things like organizational development, leader development, learning and developing, or managing massive complex changes like return to work or employee engagement,” McElroy said.

What distinguishes Franklin IQ from other consulting firms is its mindset, he believes. “We don’t start with a product and say, ‘Hey, can you buy my product?'” Instead, his company first seeks to “understand the issue” in order to “offer unique and tailored approaches” to solve his clients’ issues.

Similarly, the consulting firm uses a nontraditional way of hiring people, relying less on putting up job notices and waiting for people to answer. There are 18 people working full-time, as well as a network of experts in different subject matters for different projects, McElroy said.

“Everyone around here kind of does it the same way, it’s tough to do this in a labor market where you’re recruiting through fairly traditional means,” he said about hiring practices.

Encouraged by the methods used in many Silicon Valley startups, McElroy said he believes in the importance of everyone in his company to network, especially in connecting with experts in different fields.

The firm’s approach appears to be working.

During the pandemic, the Department of Veterans’ Affairs requested the company’s consultancy on PTSD treatment, sexual assault response and prevention, as well as suicide prevention for about 600 veteran health clinics in the United States. Franklin IQ helped transition the clinics from primarily conducting face-to-face interactions to a virtual environment.

“We’ve really gone from the point where we’re really focused on communications outreach to now we’re training on really complex and modern therapeutic techniques for how to diagnose and treat mental health issues,” McElroy said.

Currently, around 40% of the company’s clients are from the defense industry, another 40% from federal healthcare and the rest are miscellaneous private businesses, McElroy estimates. Franklin IQ has provided consulting services to the first two sectors for the longest, McElroy said. The company has worked with over 45 government agencies, according to its website.

Even though it is now based in Arlington, McElroy’s company started off in nearby Alexandria. As a Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business, the consulting firm got its start by joining the national Bunker Labs program which supports veteran-owned businesses.

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Scene of shots fired call (via Google Maps)

Arlington County police are investigating gunfire in the Green Valley neighborhood this morning.

Initial reports suggest that someone in a gray vehicle fired several gunshots near the intersection of S. Kenmore Street and 23rd Street S. before fleeing the scene.

So far, there are no reports of anyone being struck by the gunfire, though police found at least one shell casing.

Officers remain on scene investigating.

Map via Google Maps

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Covid cases in Arlington as of 8/15/22 (via Virginia Dept. of Health)

The rate of reported Covid cases continues to slowly fall in Arlington, while the number of monkeypox cases slowly rises.

The local seven-day moving average of new Covid cases is now 83 cases per day, down nearly 60% since Memorial Day, according to the latest Virginia Dept. of Health data. Separate data from the CDC suggests that hospitalizations have risen over the past week, from 6.6 per 100,000 residents per week to 8.4.

The county, meanwhile, saw about one new monkeypox case per day over the past week. All seven new cases since last Monday — Arlington has reported a total of 39 cases since the start of the monkeypox outbreak — are among male patients, according to VDH data.

Arlington’s health department says its monkeypox vaccination effort is continuing, with nearly 700 vaccine doses administered as of this past Thursday.

From a county press release:

The Arlington County Public Health Division (ACPHD) continues to respond to the ongoing spread of the monkeypox virus and is working with community partners to ensure those who have been exposed or are at highest risk of exposure to monkeypox receive a vaccination.

ACPHD continues to provide monkeypox vaccine to close contacts of known cases and those at increased risk of exposure to reduce their chances of developing monkeypox. ACPHD has been offering the vaccine since late June and is currently operating clinics by appointment only six days a week. As of Aug. 11, 2022, ACPHD has administered 699 total doses of monkeypox vaccine.

Vaccine appointment invitations are being extended to those who have completed the Monkeypox Vaccine Interest Survey (open to all Virginia residents) AND meet the eligibility criteria. As new vaccine shipments arrive, ACPHD will issue new appointment invitations. The eligibility criteria may change as the outbreak evolves and based on vaccine supply.

Vaccine supply remains limited nationwide. ACPHD has been working with the Virginia Department of Health (VDH), which authorizes the priority groups for the monkeypox vaccine and allocates vaccine doses to local health districts.

On the Covid front, Arlington County is ending its local emergency declaration today, as planned. The nearly two-and-a-half year-long state of emergency gave county leaders greater powers to respond to the pandemic.

From a county press release this morning:

The Local Emergency for Arlington County, originally declared in response to the public health threat posed by the Coronavirus (COVID-19), ends on Aug. 15, 2022.

The declaration, which went into effect on March 13, 2020, was established to assist in the response and recovery efforts related to the COVID-19 pandemic. It allowed the County to shift to virtual operations, including online permitting, appointments, remote inspections, County Board and Commission meetings, as well as public comment.

“The declaration has been an important tool offering the flexibility needed to better serve our residents, businesses, and visitors,” said County Manager Mark Schwartz. “The added authorities under an emergency, such as the ability to alter procurement, hiring and zoning rules has served us well.  However, as we have learned to cope with a pandemic that will be with us for many months to come the need for these emergency authorities has dwindled.”

Many of the new tools, strategies, and approaches borne out of the pandemic will continue as the County moves beyond the local emergency declaration

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Virginia Hospital Center entrance (file photo by Jay Westcott)

(Updated at 10:15 a.m.) A man who worked at a local hospital has been charged with sexual battery.

Hektor Alvarez, 21, is accused of fondling a male patient’s genitals on two separate occasions at Inova Fair Oaks Hospital. He was arrested last week “after a month long investigation,” according to Fairfax County police.

Alvarez, who was working as a caretaker for a healthcare contractor at the time of the alleged incidents, most recently worked in Arlington.

“Through the investigation, detectives learned Alvarez is currently employed as a medical technician at Virginia Hospital Center in Arlington County,” FCPD said in a press release last week. “At this time, no incidents have been reported at this location.”

Fairfax County authorities are asking anyone with additional information about Alvarez to contact them.

A PR rep for Virginia Hospital Center tells ARLnow that Alvarez “is not a current employee” of the hospital.

The full press release is below.

A 21-year-old man has been arrested and charged with aggravated sexual battery while working as a hospital caretaker. On July 7, the victim reported to a hospital technician that his previous caretaker had sexually assaulted him in April. His caretaker fondled the victim’s genitalia on two separate occasions. The victim, who requires 24/7 care due to his condition, was receiving long-term care at Inova Fair Oaks Hospital at 3600 Joseph Siewick Drive in Fairfax.

Detectives from our Major Crimes Bureau were notified on July 8 and responded to assume the investigation. Detectives identified the hospital caretaker as Hektor Fernando Alvarez of Falls Church. Alvarez was employed by Metropolitan Healthcare Services (MHS), a company contracted by Inova to provide sitter services for patients. He is no longer employed by MHS. After a month long investigation by detectives, Alvarez was arrested on August 9 for aggravated sexual battery with a victim through mental incapacity or helplessness. He was held on no bond but later released on a secured bond.

Through the investigation, detectives learned Alvarez is currently employed as a medical technician at Virginia Hospital Center in Arlington County. At this time, no incidents have been reported at this location. Detectives are asking anyone with information about this case or believe Hektor Fernando Alvarez had inappropriate contact to please call our Major Crimes Bureau at 703-246-7800, option 3. Tips can also be submitted anonymously through Crime Solvers by phone – 1-866-411-TIPS (866-411-8477), and by web – Click HERE. Download the ‘P3 Tips’ App and follow the steps to “Fairfax Co Crime Solvers”. Anonymous tipsters are eligible for cash rewards of $100 to $1,000 dollars. Please leave contact information if you wish for a detective to follow up with you.

Victim specialists from our Major Crimes Bureau’s Victim Services Division have been assigned to ensure that the victim is receiving appropriate resources and assistance.

Morning Notes

Raindrops on a red leaf in Ballston (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Police Looking for Missing Man — “The Arlington County Police Department is seeking the public’s assistance locating a missing Arlington man. [The man], 28, last had contact with his family on July 30, 2022. [He] is described as a Black male, 5’6″ tall, 135 pounds with black hair. He was last seen in the 1400 block of 28th Street S. and believed to have left the area in a 2016 silver Toyota bearing VA license plate UZS-6307, heading towards West Virginia.” [ACPD]

Beyer in Taiwan — Following the high-profile visit to Taiwan by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, local Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) is among a Congressional delegation visiting the island today. [Twitter]

Home Inventory Levels Rise — “Forty consecutive months of year-over-year declines in the number of homes listed for sale across the Washington region came to a screeching end in July, when inventory spiked 15.6 percent compared to a year before. While the inventory of condominiums available for prospective purchasers was down, the number of single-family homes and townhomes was up about a third from July 2021.” [Sun Gazette]

Fox 5 Broadcasts from Crystal City — “Jennifer Fioretti with Arlington County Department of Parks and Recreation talks about the beautiful parks during our FOX 5 Zip Trip to National Landing!” [YouTube, Fox 5]

Cathedral Music Director Retiring — “As director of music for the Cathedral of St. Thomas More and the diocese, [Rick] Gibala, 75, has been responsible for music at thousands of Masses — from weddings and funerals to ordinations and other special liturgies… After 32 years in the diocese, Gibala will retire Aug. 23; his contributions will be honored Aug. 14 at a farewell Mass and reception.” [Arlington Catholic Herald]

Arlington’s ‘On Fire’ Startups — Several Arlington companies are among the 2022 honorees of the Inno on Fire Awards, including: Federated Wireless, MarginEdge, Momentus, RealAtom, Shift5, and Wagestream. [Washington Business Journal]

Another Local Cartoonist Highlighted — “Arlington photographer/cartoonist Jake McGuire is giving away free, signed reprints from his new book ‘Cartoons Too Funny For The New Yorker’ at a table by the Starbucks at the Virginia Square Metro station on Sunday mornings from 8 to 9 a.m. during August. This cartoon selected as the first of his signed giveaway reprints has an Irish theme, so McGuire is calling on all his fellow Irish in the area to stop by and get a copy.” [Sun Gazette]

It’s Monday — Possible light rain in the morning and afternoon, otherwise cloudy. High of 73 and low of 65. Sunrise at 6:24 am and sunset at 8:05 pm. [Weather.gov]

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