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Gray day in Rosslyn (Flickr pool photo by Jeff Vincent)

Pike Raid Leads to Child Porn Charges — “Federal prosecutors in Virginia have charged a former national security journalist for ABC News with a child pornography offense. James Gordon Meek, a producer who covered wars, terrorism and major crimes for the network, was charged with one count of transporting child pornography. The FBI said in a court filing unsealed Wednesday that agents searched Meek’s apartment in Arlington last year and found explicit images and videos of minors on his electronic devices.” [Washington Post, Twitter]

ACPD Upping Response to Carjackings — “Since the beginning of 2023, the Arlington County Police Department has investigated five reports of carjackings in the County. The Department continues to deploy increased police resources, to include both visible and non-visible assets, in Crystal City and the surrounding neighborhoods to address this crime trend.” [ACPD]

Shots Fired Near Shirlington — “4500 block of 31st Street S. At approximately 10:23 p.m. on January 31, police were dispatched to the report of shots heard. Responding officers recovered evidence in the roadway confirming shots had been fired. No property damage or injuries were reported. During the course of the investigation, officers established a perimeter, processed the scene and spoke with potential witnesses. There is no suspect(s) description. The investigation is ongoing.” [ACPD]

It Snowed at Last — “It’s official: DC (based on observations at Reagan National Airport) had its first measurable snow of winter today: 0.4 inches. This is the fifth-latest first snow on record. NYC, Baltimore and Philly also had their first dustings.” [Twitter, Capital Weather Gang]

Arlington Hires Climate Policy Officer — “Arlington County is excited to announce the hiring of Carl “Bill” Eger for the position of Climate Policy Officer. Mr. Eger brings sixteen years of senior-level local government energy and climate experience to Arlington County. He will begin this leadership role on March 6.” [Arlington County]

Ped Struck at Dangerous Intersection — “ACFD responded a short time ago to a pedestrian struck at the intersection of Four Mile Run Drive and S. George Mason Drive. Driver reportedly ran over pedestrian’s foot.” [Twitter]

It’s Groundhog DayUpdated at 9:15 a.m. — “Punxsutawney Phil – the legendary groundhog weather watcher – woke up and saw his shadow Thursday morning, calling for six more weeks of winter. Each February 2, on Groundhog Day, the members of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club make the pilgrimage to Gobbler’s Knob, Phil’s official home.” [CNN]

It’s Thursday — Overcast throughout the day. High of 42 and low of 32. Sunrise at 7:15 am and sunset at 5:32 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Good Wednesday evening, Arlington. Today we published articles that were read a total of 8668 times… so far.

📈 Top stories

The following are the most-read articles for today — Feb 1, 2023.

  1. Four Courts starting interior demolition today, aiming for late summer reopening
  2. Columbia Pike’s Rincome Thai is set to close this month after nearly 40 years
  3. APS parents plan march to show support for students and demand action on youth opioid epidemic
  4. Morning Notes

📅 Upcoming events

Here is what’s going on Thursday in Arlington, from our event calendar.

  • No events today. Have one to promote? Submit it to the calendar.

🌥 Thursday’s forecast

Overcast throughout the day. High of 42 and low of 31. Sunrise at 7:15 am and sunset at 5:32 pm. See more from Weather.gov.

💡 Thought of the Day

“The only way to do great work is to love what you do.” – Steve Jobs

🌅 Tonight’s sunset

Thanks for reading! Feel free to discuss the day’s happenings in the comments.

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Learn about the new assessment of Arlington’s urban tree canopy and the many ecological and social benefits trees provide. Staff from the Green Infrastructure Center (GIC) will share study results and compare canopy cover for different areas of Arlington.The webinar will include assessments of ecosystem services such as stormwater mitigation, air quality, carbon uptake, and urban heat islands. For background on Arlington trees see the “Tree Benefits: Growing Arlington’s Urban Forest” presentation at http://www.gicinc.org/PDFs/Presentation_TreeBenefits_Arlington.pdf.

Please register in advance to assure your place at the webinar, https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/29543206508863839.

Read More

Submit your own Announcement here.

The owner of the bakery Cake Baby is celebrating one year of opening at the Pentagon City mall — and being out of her parents’ house.

In December 2021, a new bakery specializing in elaborately adorned cakes and numerous kinds of cookies opened on the Metro level at the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City. The corner space near is next to the recently shuttered Yong Kang Street and in the former home of Garrett Popcorn.

Cake Baby is owned by 26-year-old Jimia Mozie. Just over a year ago, she opened her first brick-and-mortar shop after realizing she had outgrown the kitchen of her parents.

“My client base was getting too big to keep working out of my parents’ house,” she told ARLnow. “Schools… would message me for big orders. That’s when I realized I couldn’t do it anymore from the house.”

Mozie — who’s originally from Montgomery County, Maryland — first started baking as a teenager, learning from her aunt who was the “pastry chef in our family.” She loved it so much that she made a pledge to herself that, in 10 years, she would open her own bakery. That’s exactly what she did after graduating in 2019 from the Culinary Institute of Virginia.

As a young Black female entrepreneur, Mozie knows others may be looking up to her.

“A lot of young people look up to me as an inspiration. I know a lot of young kids are lost, so I also bake and be a business owner because I want to inspire [them],” she said.

The Pentagon City mall location has its pros and cons, she said. The positives are that the bakery gets a good amount of large custom orders from the Pentagon. They also get walk-ins from those who pass the shop every day going to and from the Metro.

The negatives are that the bakery is a bit tucked back in a corner, Mozie said, so it can be easy to miss if you aren’t passing it every day. Plus, there remains the lingering feeling that the mall hasn’t fully recovered from the pandemic.

Mozie said she is currently committed to staying in Pentagon City but is also looking for a second location, likely closer to her parents’ house in Montgomery County, where it all started.

The best part of Mozie’s day is seeing people smile, laugh and be happy when eating her treats made from recipes that she created. The best praise is when clients say her treats are better than what their grandparents make.

“Cake Baby gives a lot of people those feelings,” she said. “We’re very homey.”

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Valentine Pop-Up at George Mason University

Valentine gifts for someone special or for yourself are here at George Mason University from noon -4pm on February 14, 2023. Satisfy your sweet tooth with Kingsbury Chocolates, find a handmade bag from Karina Gaull, pick up treats from Village Sweet, get a greeting card from FastSnail and top off with coffee from Northside Social. Gift yourself scented candles from Divine Healing and feed your spirit at Soul Good Kitchen.

Police and firefighters on scene of a reported overdose at Wakefield High School (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

A coalition of parents will be marching on Friday at Wakefield High School to encourage students not to use drugs and to demand a countywide response to in-school opioid use.

The planned silent demonstration responds to an apparent drug overdose on school grounds discovered yesterday morning (Tuesday). An unconscious student was found in a boys bathroom and taken to the hospital in critical condition. Medics evaluated four additional kids at the school and students were released early so police could conduct an investigation.

Parents who plan on marching came up with the idea during a Spanish-language Zoom call hosted by Arlington Schools Hispanic Parents Association (ASPA) last night after the news of the overdose spread.

“We’re going to walk to Wakefield with signs of encouragement and love for students,” said ASHPA member and community activist Janeth Valenzuela. “We want to let them know they’re not alone.”

She said ASHPA intends to meet with Superintendent Francisco Durán. Kenmore Community Families in Action, a school community-based organization which she helped found, intends to host a meeting open to all parents on Thursday, Feb. 23 at Kenmore Middle School.

“Every community has this issue,” said Valenzuela, who previously sounded the alarm about opioids in a report ARLnow published last fall.

Last night, parents floated a number of APS responses, including an immediate increase in school security.

“You can improve your security right now. You can check the bathrooms right now,” said ASHPA member Elder Julio Basurto. “We continue to have reports about distribution inside the school, and usage in hallways, bathrooms and classrooms. We still have reports of… people coming in and out of buildings without being checked.”

They heard from parents that drug deals involving dealers from within and outside Arlington are facilitated via social media and that some students are, allegedly, bullied into taking drugs.

Many meeting participants expressed a desire for the return of School Resource Officers, Basurto and Valenzuela said. The Arlington School Board removed them from school buildings to decrease racial disparities in interactions with police inside school buildings.

Should SROs be reinstated — a process that the Arlington County Police Department have previously said could take years due to staffing shortages — Valenzuela said some feel the dynamic could be different because of recent policing reforms. Anecdotally, she said newer recruits “don’t treat us with disregard” during stops or when responding to 911 calls.

“Parents think that the respect for the uniform will alleviate the problems,” she said.

Parents asked about supervised after-school programming and suggested that the Arlington County Dept. of Parks and Recreation update existing programs to be more relevant to younger generations and do fresh promotion.

Some parents want more effective disciplinary action for students caught dealing drugs while others want the zoning code to prohibit vape shops from opening near schools.

Basurto says APS needs to evaluate the efficacy of existing drug abuse curricula in schools.

“Just because we have presentations doesn’t mean we’re having success,” he said.

Last year, APS published a newsletter summarizing the work by its six substance abuse counselors, staff and teachers and Arlington Addiction Recovery Initiative to combat the opioid crisis. These are some of the efforts to date:

  • Substance use counselors have trained more than 100 school staff on how to reverse an opioid overdose using naloxone, known by the brand name “Narcan”
  • AARI provided some 65 boxes of Narcan throughout school buildings
  • Counselors and AARI are developing resource folders and medication deactivation bags for families and have  provided community education at PTA meetings, school events and online
  • Counselors added a K-12 over-the-counter medication safety curriculum this year and provide regular education on avoiding use of tobacco, alcohol and other drugs in the middle and high schools, as well as lessons for fourth and fifth-grade students

Last night, more than 100 parents tried to log into the Zoom meeting and Valenzuela constantly let in new people as others logged off. The demand for information and action underscores the longstanding concern among parents, Basurto says.

“We’ve been telling the schools for over a year now about the situation in Arlington Public Schools, we’ve shared concerns specifically about Wakefield,” he said. “This is a serious problem and we need to take immediate action on these issues.”

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Renovations to a pair of office buildings in Crystal City, including the construction of a new pedestrian plaza, are set to wrap up this spring.

Work kicked off last year at the Century Center towers, located at the intersection of Crystal Drive and S. Clark Street. Some older retail space between the buildings, previously known as Century One (2450 Crystal Drive) and Century Two (2461 S. Clark Street), was torn down to make room for the plaza.

Now, the upgrades to the 50-year-old buildings and the plaza between them are in the home stretch and set to be completed this spring, per an announcement from MRP Realty and LaSalle Investment Management. As part of the refresh, the towers are being rebranded simply as “Crystal & Clark.”

The exteriors and mall interior of the old Century Center buildings were “dated and washed-out,” per a press release. Now, the buildings “balance modern design with biophilic and organic touches” and feature “vibrant retail.”

The plaza, meanwhile, “is a reimagined central gathering hub between the two buildings,” per the release.  It will be lined by retail, including a new Primrose Schools Early Education & Care location and forthcoming retailers in casual and fine dining, medical care and boutique fitness, as well as a food market, according to the building’s website.

“Century Center was an outmoded design with limited amenities and much-needed indoor/outdoor spaces for the offices, further complemented by the retail-accessible pedestrian plaza shared by the two buildings,” said Frederick Rothmeijer, Founding Principal of MRP’s Development, Construction Management and Asset Management operations, in a statement. “Our strategic plan executed with Davis Construction brings a palpable vitality to this property, and to the neighborhood, located in the center of the burgeoning National Landing.”

As part of the renovations, the plaza has new outdoor seating and gathering areas while the buildings have increased street-level retail and restaurant spaces, as well as streetscape improvements.

Inside, refreshed features include a new lobby and “the largest office conference center in National Landing,” per the press release. That’s in addition to a fitness center with locker rooms, second- and third-floor terraces with indoor and outdoor meeting spaces and a “townhall” amenity space.

“With our keen appreciation of the National Landing neighborhood, we are pleased to see the redevelopment come to fruition,” said Shaun Broome, Managing Director at LaSalle Investment Management. “We believe it will be a significant draw for new tenants and an improved chapter for those who have been onsite for years.”

The renovations have already attracted a “strong contingent of office leases,” despite the difficult office leasing environment, per the release. Arlington’s overall office vacancy rate is currently above 21%.

Raytheon renewed the lease for its corporate headquarters at the Crystal City office complex in 2021, with 120,000 square feet of space on six floors across both buildings.

In total, 2450 Crystal Drive comprises 336,229 square feet of office space and 51,443 square feet of retail. Of that, 36,000 square feet are leased out or a lease is being negotiated. 2461 S. Clark Street has 232,969 square feet of office space and 5,000 square feet of retail now under lease of the total 18,980 available.

“Once prospective tenants visit the site and see this radically improved office and retail environment — especially the food and dining choices, along with a continuing vision set in the very center of National Landing, the value of this position will be undeniable,” said Gary Cook, Senior Vice President Leasing for Lincoln Property Company, in a statement. “The ‘office lifestyle’ here is a game-changer that I believe all current and future tenants celebrate as we seek to bring them new synergistic neighbors to the building.”

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“Memory Bricks” by artist Winnie Owens-Hart in the historically African American Hall’s Hill/High View Park community.

This column is sponsored by Arlington Arts/Arlington Cultural Affairs, a division of Arlington Economic Development.

Arlington Cultural Affairs and the Arlington Commission on the Arts are introducing the P.L.A.C.E. Grant, a new grant program that seeks to provide opportunities to artists, makers and performers from underserved and under-represented communities. Six $15,000 grants will be awarded. Applications are now being accepted through April 28.

The P.L.A.C.E. Grant, which stands for Promoting Local Arts and Community Equity, is a competitive grant program that will support community-initiated projects related to Arlington’s history, built environment and/or cultural heritage. The grant reinforces the goals of the Arts Commission to advance cultural equity in Arlington for all and enhances Arlington County’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.

This grant seeks proposals that are at the intersection of arts, culture and heritage to provide opportunities to communities that have had limited access to programming, education and other art services. Arlington’s historic communities are a critical priority for this funding. Parties eligible to receive a Fiscal Year 2023 P.L.A.C.E. Grant include:

  • Individuals who reside in Arlington County (P.O. boxes are not eligible).
  • Institutions, community groups and organizations serving Arlingtonians and/or utilizing historic property.
  • A civic/citizen organization and/or homeowners association that serves Arlington County.
  • A 501(c)(3) organization in Arlington County.

How To Apply

The application process is electronic via Slideroom. The application period is now open, and applications will be accepted through Friday, April 28. To complete this process, applicants will need access to a computer with the latest version of Adobe Reader software, internet access and the ability to send and receive emails. The Grants Office can assist applicants with limited computer access or who need help submitting an online application.

Please direct any requests for application assistance to [email protected].

Click here for more detailed information about the new P.L.A.C.E. Grant.

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After nearly four decades, Rincome Thai is set to serve its last pad thai this month.

The Columbia Pike mainstay is closing up shop in the coming weeks, co-owner Mihee Pansiri confirmed to ARLnow.

“We’ve been here since 1985. Since the pandemic, we’ve lost some customers and some staff,” she said, who owns the restaurant with her sister Miok An. “It’s just too much for us to go on. It’s time for both of us to retire.”

It remains a bit unclear exactly when Rincome Thai’s last day might be at 3030 Columbia Pike, occupying a corner space inside of the Days Inn. Pansiri said they are talking with the landlord about getting out of the lease, but she expects they’ll stop serving some time in mid to late February.

While secure in the decision they’ve made, it’s still tough for the owners and locals alike.

“My customers are really sad. They want us to be here forever, but that’s not possible,” Pansiri said. “I just really appreciate them, they always came out even during the pandemic and even did a GoFundMe to [help me] keep my staff.”

As a thank you, she is giving out her recipes to regulars and is considering putting on a workshop in the coming weeks to teach those who are interested how to prepare some of Rincome’s most popular dishes.

“Some chefs don’t like to give out their recipes, but my customers are like family,” she said. “Some have been coming here since they were dating and now they are grandparents. Their kids are bringing their kids. I don’t mind giving away my recipes.”

Pansiri and her sister opened the restaurant in 1985 with Pansiri’s husband, who has since died. She explains they did it with just “a few dollars” and a generous loan from her parents. The sisters are Korean-American, but Pansiri’s husband was Thai. So, they created a restaurant that eventually infused both cultures onto its menu.

“We offer kimchi fried rice. It’s delicious,” Pansiri said. “It’s mom’s recipe. I don’t buy it from the store.”

The hot sauces, too, have Korean influences, she said. Pansiri can still be seen in the kitchen, working alongside a cook that’s been with her for 35 years.

To this day, Pansiri and An both live a three-minute walk from Rincome. It’s these walks to work, she said, that made her realize it was time to finally close.

“My sister and I can still walk and enjoy going on vacation,” Pansiri said. “I don’t want to quit when I can’t walk. Then, I wouldn’t be able to do anything.”

She’s also clear that Rincome closing doesn’t have much to do with all the development going on around Columbia Pike in recent years. Pansiri said it’s generally been a good thing for business, getting new customers and having “younger couples” discover her small Thai restaurant, even if she doesn’t have the heart to tell them they’ll be closing soon.

While sad that Rincome is in its final weeks, Pansiri knows it’s time to finally hang up the apron.

“I love what I’m doing,” she said. “It’s really sad and I wish I could go, but… it’s time.”

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