89°Mostly Cloudy

by ARLnow.com — July 27, 2015 at 3:40 pm 1,235 0

Heavy rain on 7/27/15(Updated at 4:15 p.m.) Arlington County is under a Severe Thunderstorm Warning until 4:30 p.m. and a Flash Flood Warning until 6:45 p.m.

Parts of Arlington were inundated by heavy rain and frequent lightning and thunder this afternoon. There were scattered reports of power outages along Columbia Pike and people trapped in stuck elevators in Virginia Square and other parts of the county.

A wind gust of 58 miles per hour was reported in the Cherrydale neighborhood of Arlington during the storm, according to the National Weather Service. Flooding was reported in the westbound lanes of Washington Blvd, prompting police to close a ramp from Route 50.

From the National Weather Service:







Also from NWS:





by ARLnow.com Sponsor — July 27, 2015 at 2:45 pm 398 0


This is a sponsored column by attorneys John Berry and Kimberly Berry of Berry & Berry, PLLC, an employment and labor law firm located in Reston Town Center that specializes in federal employee, security clearance, retirement, and private sector employee matters.

On July 21, 2015, the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed a new anti-discrimination bill. The bill, referred to as the Federal Employee Antidiscrimination Act of 2015, H.R. 1557, enhances existing discrimination laws. The protections proposed by the bill largely focus on federal agency and supervisor accountability involving discrimination of federal employees in the workplace.

If the bill becomes law, it would require that each federal agency restructure its operations so that the Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) program head reports directly to the agency head. Federal agencies would also be required to post notices on their agency’s website of any adverse findings of discrimination made against the agency for at least one year.

In addition, the new law would require an agency to notify the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) regarding whether it has taken disciplinary action against an employee found to have engaged in discrimination or retaliation. The new law would further require that the EEOC refer any federal employees who are found guilty of committing discrimination or retaliation to the U.S. Office of Special Counsel for disciplinary action.

A finding of discrimination against a supervisor does not often result in disciplinary action against the supervisor. Therefore, these new reporting and disclosure requirements would likely motivate agencies to take more disciplinary action against supervisors.

Lastly, the new law would prohibit non-disclosure agreements that prevent a federal employee from disclosing wrongdoing involving whistleblower matters to Congress, an Inspector General, or the U.S. Office of Special Counsel. Federal agencies typically insist on these types of non-disclosure clauses in their settlement agreements with federal employees. However, the new law would certainly end this practice.

Since the Act passed in the House 403-0, there is a strong likelihood that it will pass in the Senate and become law. It was received in the Senate on July 22, 2015, and has been referred to the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.

We represent employees in federal employment matters nationwide, as well as private and public sector employees in employment matters in the Commonwealth of Virginia, Washington, D.C., and Maryland. If you need assistance with an employment law issue, please contact our office at (703) 668-0070 or at www.berrylegal.com to schedule a consultation. Please also visit and like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/BerryBerryPllc.

The views and opinions expressed in this sponsored column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

by Heather Mongilio — July 27, 2015 at 1:45 pm 2,241 0


A synchronized breastfeeding event will be held at the Arlington Central Library auditorium this week.

The Big Latch On is an international event where women across the country and world breastfeed their children at the same time. Women will join together in the Arlington County Central Library’s auditorium (1015 N. Quincy Street) to breastfeed from 10:30-11:30 a.m. on Friday.

“The Big Latch On involves groups of breastfeeding women coming together at registered locations around the world to all ‘latch on’ (breastfeed) their child or children at a set time,” according to the event’s website.

The Big Latch On was started to promote the benefits of breastfeeding and to encourage more women to breastfeed. It also aims to make breastfeeding in public part of daily life, according to the website. Last year, 14,173 women in 31 countries participated.

The World Health Organization encourages mothers to breastfeed their child for at least six months. Breastfeeding helps protect babies from infectious diseases and can promote cognitive development, according to WHO.

This year, the Big Latch On is hoping to beat its record of 14,356 children breastfeeding at one time. The women start breastfeeding at the same time for one minute while the children are counted, according to the Big Latch On’s website.

by Heather Mongilio — July 27, 2015 at 12:30 pm 765 0

Startup Monday header

Editor’s Note: Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

A million people around the world have been able to play pen and paper games on a virtual tabletop thanks in part to an Arlington man.

Richard Zayas co-founded Roll20.net, a site that provides a virtual platform to play pen and paper games, like Dungeons and Dragons, with his college roommates Nolan Jones and Riley Dutton.

Roll20 Screenshot (Courtesy of Roll20)The three friends used to play Dungeons and Dragons together in college, but stopped once they graduated and moved to different parts of the country. After talking about how they wish they could all play together, Dutton created a prototype of a virtual tabletop.

What started out as a way for the three founders to play Dungeons and Dragons together after college turned into a successful business. Roll20 reached 1 million users in July, according to Jones.

“We didn’t start thinking we’d run a small software company,” Zayas said.

After creating the prototype, the three launched a Kickstarter with the goal of getting $5,000 to create Roll20. The Kickstarter raised $39,000.

“So to raise that kind of money in that short of time was a shock,” Zayas said.

Roll20 is not a video game, instead it provides the virtual tabletop for players to build their own games on. It is functionally similar to a video chatroom. Players are required to provide their own content — including tokens for characters — and create their own game boards. Alternatively, some game board and pieces can be purchased from a marketplace.

“At the basic level, the interface is just a virtual table,” Zayas said.

Richard Zayas (Courtesy of Roll20)The site can be used for any type of pen and paper game, not just Dungeons and Dragons, Zayas said. Roll20 users can create or enter a game. The “game master” creates the game using his or her own content, such as character tokens. Users can also buy tokens and other assets from the Roll20 marketplace.

“If you like video games or ‘Game of Thrones,’ Dungeons and Dragons was the original game of the fantasy genre,” Zayas said. “And if you want to play it online, you can play it on Roll20 for free.”

The site is free to use, but it also offers a subscription service that comes with advanced like dynamic lighting, which gives the game a more realistic feel, Zayas said.

The subscription service is the site’s current revenue stream, though Jones, Zayas and Dutton may consider advertising on the site, Zayas said. So far, enough people are subscribing to the premium content to keep the site profitable.

“The model is definitely sustainable,” Zayas said.

Users from around the world are using Roll20 to host games. About 15 percent of users come from outside the U.S., Zayas said.

“People just find us,” he said. “It’s like wildfire.”

The idea of being able to play a game with people all over the world is reflected in the company’s set up. The three founders each live in different areas of the U.S.: Dutton in Kansas City, Kansas, Jones in Las Vegas and Zayas in Arlington. The founders only see each other once a year, Zayas said, and each has his own role in the company. Zayas is responsible for accounts and finances, while Jones does public relations and Dutton is the main developer.

“He [Dutton] would be the brains. I guess Nolan would be the mouth,” Zayas said. “I deal with all the finance, accounts, that sort of stuff.”

While the company is successful and growing, it has only gotten to where it is today through hard work, long hours and tough lessons learned.

“It is definitely the hardest thing I’ve ever done,” Zayas said. “Easily.”

by Heather Mongilio — July 27, 2015 at 11:00 am 2,905 0

(Updated on July 28 at noon)A group of protesters, including students, teachers and members of advocacy group Higher Ed, Not Debt, chanted and waved signs outside of the Key Bridge Marriott in Rosslyn this morning.

The demonstration was held while for-profit college ITT Technical Institute held its annual shareholders meeting inside. The approximately 20-person protest group received honks from passing cars as they shouted complaints about how ITT Tech handles its marketing, course credit, loans and executive compensation.

“ITT what the Hell? Your CEOs should go to jail,” protesters chanted at the cars driving into Arlington from Key Bridge.

ITT Tech’s marketing promises students a sought-after degree and transferable course credits, but this is not always the case, said former ITT Tech student Anthony Byrd. Byrd attended ITT Tech in 2011 in order to get course credits he needed to attend Drexel University. However, when he called Drexel, he found out that his credits did not transfer.

Other students often leave ITT Tech only to find their degrees don’t count for much or that their credits are only transferable to another for-profit college, Byrd said. ITT Tech does say that the transferability of credits is at the sole discretion of the institution receiving the credits.

“I think a lot of students who attend ITT have no idea what’s going on until after they graduate,” Byrd said. He ended up leaving ITT Tech, but he still has debt for his time there, he said.

ITT Tech has a problem with students defaulting on student loans, with more students defaulting on loans than graduating at many of the ITT campuses, said Maggie Thompson, the campaign manager for Higher Ed, Not Debt.

ITT Tech CEO Kevin Modany spoke with Bryd at the protest, but Thompson said it is important that the shareholders pay attention. Shareholders are able to pressure the school into giving more support to students, reducing executive pay and focusing less on advertising.

“We really feel the schools needs to stop investing in executive compensation and more in students and teaching,” she said.

ITT Tech is not the only for-profit school where there are problems with loans and transferring credits, said Dahn Shaulis, an adjunct teacher at Burlington County College. Shaulis researches for-profit colleges and has found there are multiple instances where students end up defaulting on loans or cannot use the degrees they earned.

“These students have been defrauded,” he said. “They were lied to.”

This morning’s protest was also supported by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the group Student Debt Action and the Center for American Progress.

ITT Tech Vice President of Government Affairs Nicole Elam said that the protests are often staged with recruited protesters. ITT Tech has lowered its tuition and increased scholarships to help address debt problems, she said.

“We believe these protests are staged and have nothing to do with providing accurate information to students or shareholders about the debt or success of our students,” Elam said.

ITT, Modany and another executive were charged with fraud in May, with federal regulators alleging that the company hid the poor performance of student loan programs from shareholders.

by ARLnow.com — July 27, 2015 at 9:45 am 1,994 0

Arlington County Board member Libby Garvey at the John Vihstadt victory party 4/8/14More than a year after she resigned from the Arlington County Democratic Committee (ACDC), County Board Libby Garvey wants back in. But after applying, Garvey has been told she will need to wait at least a few months.

Garvey resigned in April 2014, preempting a committee vote to remove her, after she supported independent County Board candidate John Vihstadt over Democrat Alan Howze. Both Vihstadt and Garvey opposed the now-cancelled Columbia Pike streetcar project.

This year, Garvey is planning to support the Democratic nominees for County Board — Katie Cristol and Christian Dorsey — and wants to officially rejoin the ACDC and its steering committee, on which elected Democrats are given seats. She was told to reapply for membership, but after submitting the proper paperwork she was then told that she would have to wait until November to apply again, a source told ARLnow.com and Garvey confirmed.

“I don’t know what the problem is,” she said in a phone interview over the weekend. “I’m a Democrat, I’m not a member of another party, I’m planning to support all the Democratic candidates — I think they’re all great.”

ACDC Chair Kip Malinosky said the move is simply a matter of staying focused heading into a key election, in which the Democratic County Board candidates will have to fend off two experienced independent candidates: Audrey Clement and Michael McMenamin.

“This year we have two exceptional county board candidates in Katie Cristol and Christian Dorsey,” Malinosky said. “Because the focus should be squarely on them, as well as the rest of our great candidates, we deferred discussion about the subject of Libby’s readmission until after this year’s election.”

by ARLnow.com — July 25, 2015 at 9:00 pm 5,388 0

Three people and two dogs escaped from a two-alarm house fire on the 700 block of N. Edgewood Street, near Clarendon, this evening.

The fire broke out around 7:00 p.m. in the rear of a three-story house. Residents told ARLnow.com that they rent the house and were playing video games when all of a sudden they noticed a fire in their backyard, which borders the 2700 block of Washington Blvd.

The three people inside the house grabbed the two dogs that were inside and fled for safety, they said. No injuries were reported.

Despite heavy flames and smoke, firefighters were able to largely contain the fire to the house’s back porch and first floor. Washington Blvd was closed in both directions while fire companies from Arlington and Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall battled the blaze.

The county fire marshal is investigating the cause. Residents said they didn’t hear any loud noises before seeing the fire. ARLnow.com spotted a melted electrical meter near the charred rear porch, but a fire department spokesman declined to speculate on a cause.

by Heather Mongilio — July 25, 2015 at 8:00 am 807 0

Pork, beef and chicken buns at Gaijin Ramen ShopThe weekend is here and National Weather Service is predicting a beautiful Saturday with a high of 90 degrees. There’s a slight chance of late thunderstorms of Sunday, but the majority of the day should also be sunny.

If you’re planning to spend some of the sunshine in Lacey Woods Park, you’ll need to find a different way than N. George Mason Drive. The county is reporting that the road will be closed between 10th Street N. and Washington Boulevard from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday.

Saturday’s cool evening low of 72 degrees will be great for the runners participating in the Twilighter 5k in Crystal City. The race kicks off at 8:30 p.m. and follows a route along Crystal Drive and Long Bridge Drive.

Feel free to sound off any local topic of interest to you this weekend in the comments.

by ARLnow.com — July 24, 2015 at 6:30 pm 3,503 0

Police car lightsA man is in jail after allegedly shouting racial slurs and flashing a weapon at a two men near Columbia Pike.

The incident happened around 10:30 p.m. Thursday, on the 4600 block of S. Four Mile Run Drive. Police say two African American men were having a conversation in the Carlton condominium parking lot when a stranger walked up to them, “took a fighting stance” and started cursing and yelling racial slurs at them.

He then pulled a shiny object out of his pocket, which the victims believed was a weapon. The man also yelled “Columbia Pike Locos,” an apparent reference to a gang the man is affiliated with, according to Arlington County Police spokesman Lt. Kip Malcolm.

The victims, who are twin brothers, called police, who quickly arrived on scene, found the suspect nearby and arrested him.

The suspect, 37-year-old Chad Michael Bailey, refused to answer officers’ questions, Malcolm said. Police say they found a small pair of scissors in his pocket.

Bailey was charged with two counts of assault as a hate crime and one count of criminal gang participation. He’s currently being held at the Arlington County jail.

Assault as a hate crime is a misdemeanor that comes with a minimum six month sentence if convicted. Unlike the charge of assault and battery, simple assault does not require any allegation of physical harm to the victim.


by ARLnow.com — July 24, 2015 at 3:50 pm 1,770 0

Electronic traffic safety sign in Clarendon

An electronic road sign in Clarendon is reminding drivers to be aware of and yield to pedestrians and bicyclists.

The Arlington County Police Department-owned sign was placed near the intersection of Wilson Blvd and N. Edgewood Street, where traffic is approaching Clarendon’s main bar district.

The sign flashes three separate messages: “yield to people in crosswalk,” “watch for bikes on your right” and “people don’t have airbags.” It’s part of an ongoing ACPD traffic safety campaign, said a police spokesman.

“We’re trying to modernize the message that we send in regards to traffic safety,” said Lt. Kip Malcolm. “Most mundane traffic safety messages get overlooked by motorists. Anything we can do to help promote or draw attention to their driving behaviors is going to get the message across faster and make it more memorable.”

In 2013 the electronic sign was placed at an accident-prone on-ramp, at Route 50 and Washington Blvd, with the simple message: “don’t hit the car in front of you.”

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — July 24, 2015 at 2:45 pm 0

Weekend Wine and Beer Guide logo

Editor’s Note: This biweekly column is sponsored by Dominion Wine and Beer (107 Rowell Court, Falls Church). This column is written by Dominion owner Arash Tafakor.

When a consumer asks for a suggestion on a wine, I consider a lot of things before making the right suggestion, such as price, customer’s taste, occasion and food pairing. With the summer heat here for now and BBQs in full force, I’ve been suggesting Zinfandels. Most of the time the consumer says, “No, no, no, I don’t want sweet or a white zinfandel.” I have to quickly point out I’m talking about a red zinfandels, which are fruit-forward, medium-bodied, delicious red wines. Zinfandel happens to be California’s oldest grape, and, although not originally from California, its roots have been traced to be from Croatia or Italy’s Puglia region depending on whom you ask.

Zinfandel is also the same grape as the Italian red wine called Primitivo. The word primitivo in Italian means “early one.” The red wine and its grapes are called primitivo because of its early ripening nature. Classic Primitivos from Italy tend to have a darker color with rich and concentrated black fruit notes, which is different from California Zinfandels that tend to have bright, juicy, red fruit flavor notes. This difference in style is directly correlated with the difference in climate. Northern California, like most Zinfandel growing regions, has cooler temperatures, and Puglia (Southern Italy) has much warmer temperatures. Both styles are easy drinking red wines with great fruit that offer an alternative to your everyday Cabernet Sauvignon. California Zinfandels are more often than not are termed “Old Vine.” Grape vines usually produce grapes for about 120 years. Production decreases and grape clusters get smaller as the vines age. Winemakers claim, as vines get older, the grapes yielded are of better quality and more concentrated flavor.

Here are a few of my Favorite Zinfandels:

Brazin wine (Courtesy of Arash Tafakor)

Brazin Old Vine Zinfandel 2012 Lodi, California

Easily one of our favorite and best selling Zinfandels we carry. At 15 percent a.b.v, Brazin is big and bold with dark fruit flavors and hints of vanilla and cinnamon on the long finish. Brazin’s big bold flavor is intense but is balanced out with it’s acidity and smooth tannins making Brazin great with slow roasted pork, grilled sausages and baby back ribs.

Ridge Three Valleys (Courtesy of Arash Tafakor)

Ridge Three Valleys Zinfandel 2012 Sonoma, California

Ridge Three Valleys Zinfandel is a blend of Zinfandel grapes from all over Sonoma County as well as Petite Sirah, Carignane, Mataro, Alicante Bouchet and Grenache. These additional grapes provide character to the wine making it lighter and less jammy than the more stereotypical California Zinfandel. This doesn’t mean this wine doesn’t burst with flavor. Hints of blueberry, plum and cherry make this wine a steal and enjoyable for years to come.

Gnarly Head (Courtesy of Arash Tafakor)Gnarly Head Old Vine Zinfandel 2012 Lodi, California

You can find Gnarly Head Old Vine Zin almost anywhere, but that Is not going to stop us from carrying it. Frankly for less than 10 dollars this wine is a home run. The newly released 2013 vintage has received some great press as well. Smooth and full bodied with tasty flavors of dark fruit, Gnarly Head zin is a great companion for a summer BBQ.

by ARLnow.com — July 24, 2015 at 1:45 pm 4,129 0

Flightrader24 track of possible surveillance plane over Arlington

A small prop plane was flying circles over Arlington, Alexandria and D.C. yesterday, and one tipster says it was probably an FBI surveillance plane.

The Cessna 182T Skylane plane was tracked by the website Flightradar24, flying around parts of Arlington. The Associated Press reported last month that the FBI uses that exact model of plane, equipped with high-resolution video cameras and cell phone trackers, to conduct surveillance flights over U.S. cities.

The AP also reported that such flights sometimes orbit Reagan National Airport.

“I stumbled on [the website] yesterday and much to my surprise there was one of those planes flying over Arlington,” said the tipster. “Just thought others in Arlington would be curious to know it is happening here as well as all over the country as the AP points out.”

The Washington Post reported in May that a Cessna 182T, registered to a company in Bristow, Va., was tracked flying over Baltimore during the Freddie Gray riots.

ARLnow.com has fielded occasional questions from readers over the past year or so about small aircraft seen circling overhead. The flights have struck readers as odd because with few exceptions FAA regulations limit aircraft flying over the immediate D.C. area to government aircraft and flights arriving and departing at Reagan National.

There are instances, however, when the FAA allows commercial general aviation flights over the restricted air space for aerial photography or research purposes.

by ARLnow.com — July 24, 2015 at 12:45 pm 580 0

It’s the last full weekend in July, and as the humidity rises again, now’s a great time to ditch the outdoors for some cooler, indoor house-hunting.

As always, see our real estate section for a full listing of open houses. Here are a few highlights:

1001randolph1001 N. Randolph Street
1 BD / 1 BA Condominium
Agent: Meredith Sterrett, Century 21 New Millennium
Listed: $367,000
Open: Sunday from 2-4 p.m.

1763hayes1763 S. Hayes Street
2 BD / 2 Full, 1 Half BA Condominium
Agent: Jake Sullivan, Re/max Allegiance
Listed: $535,000
Open: Sunday from 1-4 p.m.

2318rolfe2318 S. Rolfe Street
4 BD / 3 Full, 1 Half BA Townhouse
Agent: Barbara Wood, Long & Foster Real Estate
Listed: $699,900
Open: Sunday from 1-4 p.m.

1862patrickhenry1862 Patrick Henry Drive
4 BD / 3 BA Single Family Detached
Agent: Grant Doe, Long & Foster Real Estate
Listed: $849,999
Open: Sunday from 1-4 p.m.

1907kenmore1907 N. Kenmore Street
4 BD / 3 BA Single Family Detached
Agent: Kerry Schull, Optime Realty LLC
Listed: $1,099,900
Open: Sunday from 2-4 p.m.

571920th5719 20th Street N.
4 BD / 3 Full, 1 Half BA Single Family Detached
Agent: Joseph O’Hara, Washington Fine Properties LLC
Listed: $1,235,000
Open: Sunday from 1-4 p.m.

by Heather Mongilio — July 24, 2015 at 11:45 am 825 0

Recycling is being made easier in county offices and facilities.

The county is starting a new program that no longer requires residents and county staff to separate different recyclable items.

Instead, the county is introducing new recycling containers for all recyclable materials, including paper, glass and plastic. The new blue bins will be placed in all county facilities and offices over the next couple of weeks.

Here is what Acting County Manager Mark Schwartz said about the new recycling changes, in a memo to employees:

Good News. We are implementing a new recycling program in all County offices and facilities. Now all your recyclable items — plastic, metal, empty food and beverage containers, paper, cardboard and glass — can be placed in one recycling container, eliminating the need to separate materials for collection.

This is good news for you and for sustaining the environment. As you may know, one of the core values listed in our vision statement is sustainability. At the end of last year, the County Board was presented with the Environmentally Preferable Practices and Purchasing Work Plan to encourage sustainable practices County-wide. This plan was put together by a team of staff from various departments and is a great example of the kind of ideas that help us do a better job.

You may have noticed blue desk-side recycling bins at various County-owned or occupied buildings. If you haven’t received a blue bin yet, you will in the coming weeks. There will also be new co-located trash and mixed recycling containers used as sorting stations in shared areas, such as hallways and break rooms.

Be on the lookout for these new containers and instructions on how to properly use them in your building. I challenge you to actively participate in the County’s recycling effort and increase the facilities’ recycling rate by the end of the year. With everyone’s participation, I am confident that County staff can continue to lead by example in the area of sustainability. For help with your conservation efforts, please contact the Solid Waste Bureau.

Thank you for your support,

Mark Schwartz

P.S.  Some facts on the recycling:

  • The County has a recycling rate goal of 47 percent; currently County facilities only recycle around 23 percent;
  • Recyclables cost less to process than trash; therefore, increasing recycling and reducing waste helps lower the County’s operating costs;
  • Nearly 70 percent of the materials disposed as trash in an office can actually be recycled; and
  • Recycling helps preserve natural resources and reduces greenhouse gases.

by ARLnow.com — July 24, 2015 at 10:50 am 1,678 0

Arlington County fire truckThe Arlington County Fire Department responded to a fire on a balcony at a Crystal City apartment building this morning.

Around 10:15 a.m., firefighters were called to the Concord apartment building at 2600 Crystal Drive for a report of a fire on a fifth or sixth floor balcony.

Firefighters found a computer on fire on the balcony. According to scanner traffic, a resident had brought the computer outside after it caught fire in the apartment.

Firefighters are now working on smoke ventilation while the county fire marshal investigates the exact cause of the fire.


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