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By: Arlington Public Schools

February 8, 2023

Dear APS Families,

I have been reflecting on our communication following recent incidents and working with our staff on ways we can ensure it is as informative and reassuring as possible. We will be making changes moving forward.

Our goal is to inform families about what is happening at school as quickly as we can, and ensure they have accurate information about what is happening at school, including the steps being taken to protect the health and safety of students.

If there is a police presence at school, or any threat to safety, we will alert the school community affected as soon as possible. Moving forward, all messages regarding school safety will include the nature of the threat in as much detail as we are able. In evaluating some of the recent communications, there were instances that did not include this information, so we need to ensure this happens consistently.

There are three instances when we cannot share detailed information:

  • In a medical emergency, we notify families that there is an ambulance at the school due to a medical emergency, to provide reassurance that there is not a broader threat. We cannot share any further information with the school community as part of our legal obligation to maintain student’s private medical information.
  • When a school receives a threat of violence under active police investigation, we work closely with ACPD to ensure we do not jeopardize their investigation by releasing confidential or inaccurate information ahead of the police report. Once the investigation is complete and the report has been posted, we share it with our families.
  • Regarding student discipline, our goal is to assure families that appropriate disciplinary action has been taken to prevent further harm or danger. In most cases, we cannot provide specific information about disciplinary action related to individuals involved in making threats or other unsafe behaviors, due to student privacy.

We will continue to reflect and debrief after each incident to provide as much clarity as possible. I appreciate your feedback and partnership, as well as your vigilance and shared commitment to safety.

Other Updates and Reminders:

  • WIDA Testing for English Language Learners: Students who are eligible for English Learner services are taking the annual WIDA ACCESS English language proficiency assessment from Jan. 17-Mar 17. This is used to monitor student progress and shape instruction that meets the strengths and needs of every student. The results also determine if a student has reached English proficiency, or if they are eligible for testing accommodations on standardized tests. Families will be notified of the results after testing is complete.  Learn more
  • Thanking APS School Counselors: Our school counselors continue to play a vital role in the success and wellbeing of our students. I encourage everyone to thank your school’s counseling team this week, in honor of School Counseling Week. We are fortunate to have 127 talented professional counselors helping students grow and thrive.
  • Appreciating APS Crossing Guards: This week is also Crossing Guard Appreciation Week, so remember to thank them for keeping students safe on their way to and from school.

I want to again thank our APS community for working together when threats or other situations arise. Thank you for your partnership!

Sincerely,

Dr. Francisco Durán
Superintendent
Arlington Public Schools

By: UFCW Local 400

February 8, 2023

Today, workers at the Washington, DC-based nonprofit FRESHFARM voted to unionize with United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 400.

The workers organizing committee released the following statement:

“We are excited to announce that FRESHFARM has unionized! With our union, we will have a greater voice in the workplace and the opportunity to collectively address our working conditions, pay and benefits. We look forward to negotiating our first union contract with the same energy, unity and camaraderie that made our union possible in the first place.”

A majority of employees signed union authorization cards and filed for a union election in December and the vote was conducted by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). Mail-in paper ballots were distributed to workers on January 18 and votes were tallied by NLRB officials on February 8.

The unionized workforce covers approximately 25 employees responsible for staffing and operating 28 local farmers markets in DC, Maryland and Virginia, including:

  • Arlington, VA – Arlington
  • Arlington, VA – Ballston
  • Arlington, VA – Crystal City
  • Arlington, VA – National Landing
  • Arlington, VA – Rosslyn
  • Fairfax, VA – Mosaic (Sun)
  • Fairfax, VA – Mosaic (Thurs)
  • Oakton, VA – Oakton
  • Reston, VA – Reston
  • Silver Spring, MD – Downtown Silver Spring
  • Springfield, VA – Springfield
  • Washington, DC – By The White House
  • Washington, DC – Cesar Chavez
  • Washington, DC – CityCenterDC
  • Washington, DC – Columbia Heights (Sat)
  • Washington, DC – Columbia Heights (Wed)
  • Washington, DC – Dupont Circle (Sun)
  • Washington, DC – Dupont Circle (Thurs)
  • Washington, DC – Foggy Bottom
  • Washington, DC – H Street NE
  • Washington, DC – Kenilworth Rec Center
  • Washington, DC – Minnesota Ave.
  • Washington, DC – Monroe Street
  • Washington, DC – Mount Vernon Triangle
  • Washington, DC – Penn Quarter
  • Washington, DC – Petworth
  • Washington, DC – The Parks at Walter Reed
  • Washington, DC – Uptown

# # #

United Food & Commercial Workers Local 400 is led by President Mark Federici and represents 35,000 members working in the grocery, retail, health care, food processing, service and other industries in Maryland, Virginia, Washington, D.C., West Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee. www.ufcw400.org

By: Virginia ABC

February 8, 2023

Several products from the highly collectible Van Winkle line will be available for the opportunity to purchase through the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority’s (ABC) online lotteries in February and March. The whiskey, often dubbed the hardest to find spirit due to its low production, is offered by lottery to ensure equitable distribution.

Virginia ABC customers will have the opportunity to enter online to win the chance to purchase Pappy Van Winkle Family Reserve Bourbon 23 Year, 20 Year and 15 Year; Van Winkle Family Reserve Rye 13 Year; Van Winkle Special Reserve Bourbon 12 Year; and Old Rip Van Winkle Bourbon 10 Year whiskeys.

Each online lottery entry form will be available for five days. All entries received during each five-day entry period will have an equal opportunity to win. The lottery is open to individual Virginia residents 21 and older. Virginia ABC held a separate lottery event for mixed beverage licensees with these offerings. Winners will be selected at random in a drawing from all valid entries received during the lottery entry period. At the time of purchase, winners must present a valid Virginia photo ID. The name and address on the photo ID must both match the name and address on the winner’s entry.

The dates for each online lottery, number of bottles available and product prices are:

Feb. 15-19, 2023
Old Rip Van Winkle Bourbon 10 Year ($79.99) – 298 bottles available
Van Winkle Special Reserve Bourbon 12 Year ($89.99) – 1,010 bottles available
Van Winkle Family Reserve Rye 13 Year ($129.99) – 96 bottles available
Winners notified by March 13, 2023.

March 8-12, 2023
Pappy Van Winkle Family Reserve 15 Year ($139.99) -74 bottles available
Pappy Van Winkle Family Reserve 20 Year ($229.99) – 146 bottles available
Pappy Van Winkle Family Reserve 23 Year ($329.99) –  1 bottle available
Winners notified by April 3, 2023.

Since licensee sales typically make up approximately 20% of ABC’s business, a proportional number of bottles is set aside for licensees in a separate lottery event.

Additional details on the lottery process are available at https://www.abc.virginia.gov/products/limited-availability/lottery/lottery-terms.

By: Work & Mother

February 7, 2023

Work & Mother Services, Inc. (Work & Mother), a full-service lactation suite with an associated support resource, the HUB, announces today it has entered into an agreement with Jamestown to deliver commercial lactation suites as tenant amenities for two commercial office buildings in Boston, Massachusetts, and Arlington, Virginia, part of the Washington, D.C. market.

Work & Mother provides a high-quality, unique building amenity with the appropriate aesthetics that creates safe and healthy environments for nursing mothers while satisfying the legal obligations of tenants to provide private nursing accommodations. Its state-of-the-art suites are fully equipped with hospital-grade pumps, milk storage bags, cleaning and sanitizing supplies, and all other items to make the process comfortable and successful. In addition to the physical lactation suites, Work & Mother’s virtual resource center, the HUB, provides information and services specifically tailored to parents working both in and out of the home.

Jamestown’s 18 Tremont Street, set in the heart of historic Boston, includes over 10,000 square feet of ground-floor retail space and 12 floors of office space surrounded by views of the city. Its Ballston Exchange property, located in Arlington, Virginia, includes retail and office space that provides a hyper-connected, collaborative environment with building amenities that result in a dynamic and engaging workplace.

The partnership between Work & Mother and Jamestown comes on the heels of the recent bipartisan passing of the Providing Urgent Maternal Protections (PUMP) for Nursing Mothers Act. Long overdue, this victory gives nursing parents more workplace rights and protections to express milk. The PUMP Act builds on the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which requires employers to provide a private space that is not a bathroom for employees to pump and expands protections to cover all breastfeeding employees in every industry for up to two years.

“We are focused on creating inclusive places that improve health and wellness and build community,” said Carrie Denning Jackson, Director of Innovation at Jamestown. “Work & Mother’s lactation suites promote a healthy work/life balance for working mothers and help create a more equitable workplace environment for our tenants.”

Data has shown that lactation suites not only help nursing mothers reach their breastfeeding goals, but the rewards are just as beneficial to tenants. This workplace amenity has been proven to improve retention rates and lower absenteeism among working parents, as children who are breastfed or nursed are less likely to get sick1. Furthermore, it alleviates the need for tenants to designate areas of their leased office spaces with lactation accommodations, as it is provided as a building-wide amenity available to all occupants, therefore satisfying their legal obligations to give working mothers nursing protections.

“Jamestown is proud to bring Work & Mother’s state-of-the-art lactation suite to our buildings and provide a differentiating amenity that will help our tenants meet their recruitment and retention goals,” says Greg McQuade, Senior Vice President of Asset Management. “Through this partnership, we are transforming underutilized space into a real value-add for tenants in our buildings. More importantly, we are ensuring that working mothers have access to necessary and comfortable nursing accommodations.”

“Work & Mother is excited to venture into this partnership with Jamestown, a real estate firm that looks at its properties from both an aesthetic lens and a futuristic one, providing tenants with those services and amenities it knows will have a positive impact on all building occupants,” says Abbey Donnell, Founder and CEO of Work & Mother. “We also commend Jamestown for understanding how important working mothers are to the American business landscape and doing its part to ensure more gender-equality options and supportive resources in the workforce.”

The Work & Mother suites at 18 Tremont and Ballston Exchange are expected to be complete by Summer 2023. To learn more, please visit workandmother.com.

Cohen R, Mrtek MB, Mrtek RG. Comparison of maternal absenteeism and infant illness rates among breast-feeding and formula-feeding women in two corporations. American Journal of Health Promotion. 1995; 10(2):148-53.

About Work & Mother:
Work & Mother is a full-service lactation suite amenity and associated app to support working parents. This new commercial building amenity makes it easy for tenants to outsource their mother’s rooms, satisfying legal obligations while also providing a better way to support working moms, ultimately supporting talent retention following maternity leave for tenant employees. Work & Mother Suites have everything needed to pump, including hospital-grade equipment, cleaning and sanitizing stations, refrigeration and storage, immediate community, and much more. The Work & Mother HUB puts additional support resources and health and wellness experts right at parents’ fingertips. By bringing professional lactation suites to the commercial office space, Work & Mother is fundamentally changing the landscape for working mothers, enabling them to succeed in both of their roles.

For additional information on Work & Mother, visit workandmother.com, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, or LinkedIn.

About Jamestown
Jamestown is a global, design-focused real estate investment and management firm with a 40-year track record and mission to create places that inspire. Since its founding in 1983, Jamestown has executed transactions totaling approximately $40 billion. As of December 31, 2022, Jamestown has assets under management of $13.2 billion and a portfolio spanning key markets throughout the U.S., Latin America, and Europe. Jamestown employs more than 500 people worldwide with headquarters in Atlanta and Cologne, and offices in Amsterdam, Bogotá, Boston, London, Los Angeles, Madrid, New York, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. Current and previous projects include One Times Square and Chelsea Market in New York, Industry City in Brooklyn, Ponce City Market in Atlanta, Ghirardelli Square in San Francisco, the Innovation and Design Buildings in Boston and Lisbon, and Groot Handelsgebouw in Rotterdam. For more information, visit www.jamestownlp.com.

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By: Arlington Community Foundation

January 24, 2023

The stands at a typical Washington-Liberty (W-L) High School basketball game are packed as students and parents alike cheer on the blue and gray. Braylon Meade was on track to be on the receiving end of a lion’s share of that energy this year in what would have been his senior season. Though he is gone, he still has many fans.

Among his biggest ones? His parents, Kris and Rose. “There wasn’t anyone Braylon wouldn’t give time to,” says Kris. “There wasn’t one person he would disregard. He touched the lives of ‘jocks’, he touched the lives of ‘nerds’, he touched the lives of younger kids through tutoring and basketball…He touched the entire community.”

It’s been two months since Braylon, a 17-year-old student athlete at W-L High School, lost his life when his car was struck by a drunk driver. And in those two months, it has become more and more evident just how much Braylon meant to the entire community, and what that community has meant to Braylon’s family.

In the wake of his death, Braylon’s family sought ways to honor his life and legacy. “Braylon was a great student – he would have continued to be – and he loved lifting others up,” Rose explains. “He had just gotten his college applications in, so enjoying the rest of his senior year and then planning for life after high school were very front of mind. After learning about the Community Foundation from a few close friends, and talking to the Community Foundation about the process, it made immediate sense to establish a scholarship fund in Braylon’s name.”

Soon after the fund and donation page were set up, memorial gifts began to pour in… and they just kept coming. “We’ve just been so amazed by the breadth of the support, by the meaningful ways in which folks have enabled Braylon’s legacy to live on here,” Kris says.

“The generosity of both people we’ve never met, and people that have touched our lives over 20 years, is a real testament to the broad impact Braylon made, and a real tribute to Arlington as a community – a fact we don’t always appreciate. The willingness of so many different folks from so many different places to help perpetuate his legacy has been quite amazing.”

“And it’s been a very important way for Kris, the kids, and me to channel some positive energy through this vehicle – a vehicle that actually gives life to the notion of ensuring Braylon’s legacy goes on,” says Rose.

A legacy, Kris adds, that is multi-faceted.

“Braylon’s legacy is a legacy of kindness, a legacy of empathy, a legacy of hard work, a legacy of lifting others up, a legacy of scholarship, and a legacy of humor,” Kris pauses for a second to reflect, and chuckles, “He was a funny kid.”

With such a wide-reaching legacy, Braylon’s parents wanted the fund to be just as dynamic. So instead of creating one scholarship in Braylon’s name, they created three. “By establishing three scholarships, we hope to touch several different aspects of Braylon’s life,” Kris explains. “The way we’ve identified eligibility underscores things important to Braylon, and the scope of the scholarships mirrors the qualities of all three of our children: highly athletic, highly scholastic, and involved in a wide range of interests.”

The first of the three scholarships reflects a part of Braylon’s life that earned him hundreds of fans on and off the court: W-L Boys’ Varsity Basketball. Known for his hustle, humor, and leadership, Braylon became what W-L Head Coach Robert Dobson described as “the glue” of the team. And now, with an annual scholarship awarded to a graduating member of the W-L Boys’ Varsity Basketball team, Braylon will always be a part of the lineup.

Beyond basketball, W-L High School played a significant role in the life of Braylon and his family. “All three of our children went to W-L,” Kris says. “They all had such great experiences with the W-L community: the students, the diversity, the teachers, what they learned. It’s hard to contemplate a public school that lives up to such incredible standards, and W-L has done just that.” To honor the role W-L has played, and the role athletics have played in all three children’s lives, the second annual scholarship will be awarded to a W-L High School senior who has participated on any W-L sports team.

The third scholarship will be yet another way “Braylon touches the entire community:” an annual award to a graduating senior from any Arlington Public School.

In his legacy of “scholarship,” all three scholarships have academic requirements. In his legacy of “lifting others up,” all three are for students with financial need. And to “give life to the notion of ensuring Braylon’s legacy goes on,” all three scholarships are renewable for up to four years.

When asked if there’s anything Kris and Rose want people to know about Braylon and his legacy that hasn’t already been said, this is what they had to say: “The prospect of making these awards and interacting with the kids who receive the scholarship funds will be another vehicle through which Braylon can continue to be a part of our lives and their lives.”

“A lesson that’s come out of this is just how much he touched others’ lives. And if we can lift up three other teenagers each year, then we can do more to sustain his legacy than we could have ever hoped to do.”

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Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) prevented two travelers from bringing their handguns onto flights within a four-day span, bringing the total number of guns detected at the airport checkpoints to five so far this month.

Each weapon was caught as the individuals entered the security checkpoint. The X-ray unit alerted on the carry-on bags, which were searched and the firearms removed by the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority police who confiscated the guns and cited each individual on weapons charges.

On Sunday, Jan. 22, a Fredericksburg, Va., man was prevented from bringing his 9mm handgun onto his flight. The man told officials that he forgot that he had his gun with him. Four days earlier, on Thursday, Jan. 19, a Tennessee man was prevented from carrying his loaded .380 caliber handgun onto his flight.

“Individuals who want to bring their guns with them when they fly need to pack them properly in their checked luggage, and declare them at their airline check-in counter to be transported in the belly of the plane where nobody has access to firearms during a flight,” said John Busch, TSA’s Federal Security Director for the airport. “These marked the fourth and fifth guns that our officers have detected in just a little more than three weeks into the new year, and I can assure you we don’t want to break our 2022 record. However, if this keeps up, that’s just what will happen. Please understand that any time dangerous items are presented in the screening checkpoint, we have serious safety concerns for all in the area, and the resolution disrupts the process for the passengers waiting behind the offender. Individuals who own firearms should familiarize themselves with regulations regarding where their weapons can and cannot be carried.”

In addition to the citation by airport police, this individual now faces a stiff financial civil penalty–a penalty for carrying a weapon that was recently increased to a maximum of $15,000.

Firearms are not permitted through a security checkpoint because passengers should not have access to a firearm during a flight. This even applies to travelers with concealed carry permits or are enrolled in the TSA PreCheck® program, who will lose their TSA PreCheck privileges if they bring a gun to a checkpoint.  Individuals who bring their gun to a security checkpoint also face a federal financial civil penalty.

Passengers are permitted to travel with firearms only in checked baggage if they are unloaded and packed in a hard-sided locked case. Then the locked case should be taken to the airline check-in counter to be declared. TSA has details on how to properly travel with a firearm posted on its website.

Last year, 6,542 firearms were caught at 262 out of 430 airport security checkpoints nationwide. Eighty-eight percent of those guns were loaded.

Bringing a gun to an airport checkpoint carries a federal civil penalty because TSA reserves the right to issue a civil penalty to travelers who have guns and gun parts with them at a checkpoint. Civil penalties for bringing a gun into a checkpoint can stretch into thousands of dollars, depending on mitigating circumstances. This applies to travelers with or without concealed gun carry permits because even though an individual may have a concealed carry permit, it does not allow for a firearm to be carried onto an airplane. The complete list of civil penalties is posted online. Additionally, if a traveler with a gun is a member of TSA PreCheck®, that individual will lose their TSA PreCheck privileges.

Firearm possession laws vary by state and locality and passengers should do their homework to make sure that they are not violating any local firearm laws. Travelers should also contact their airline as they may have additional requirements for traveling with firearms and ammunition.

Unsure if an item should be packed in a carry-on bag, checked bag, either or neither? Download the free myTSA app, which has a handy “What can I bring?” feature that allows you to type in the item to find out if it can fly. Or ask on Twitter or Facebook Messenger at @AskTSA.

By: Office of Governor Glenn Youngkin

January 20, 2023

Governor Glenn Youngkin today announced that Amazon Web Services (AWS), an Amazon.com, Inc. company (NASDAQ: AMZN), plans to invest $35 billion by 2040 to establish multiple data center campuses across Virginia. Numerous localities in the Commonwealth are under consideration and will be decided at a later date. These new campuses will combine expandable capacity to position AWS for long-term growth in the Commonwealth. Amazon is among the largest private-sector employers in the Commonwealth of Virginia, establishing its first AWS data centers and operations facilities in 2006 and later announcing its second headquarters (HQ2) in Arlington in 2018. This announcement of planned investment will create at least 1,000 total new jobs across Virginia.

“AWS has a significant presence in Virginia, and we are excited that AWS has chosen to continue their growth and expand their footprint across the Commonwealth,” said Governor Glenn Youngkin. “Virginia will continue to encourage the development of this new generation of data center campuses across multiple regions of the Commonwealth. These areas offer robust utility infrastructure, lower costs, great livability, and highly educated workforces and will benefit from the associated economic development and increased tax base, assisting the schools and providing services to the community.”

“With the highest concentration of tech talent in the U.S., Virginia boasts one of the largest data center workforces in the nation–an advantage that sets us apart and directly benefits an industry leader like AWS,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Caren Merrick. “We thank AWS for its commitment to the Commonwealth of Virginia and look forward to a continued partnership in the years to come.”

“Virginia is a world leader in innovation and cloud computing, thanks to its investment in a robust, highly-skilled workforce and emphasis on long-term public and private partnerships,” said Roger Wehner, Director of Economic Development, AWS. “Since 2006, AWS has invested more than $35 billion in Virginia, boosting the Commonwealth’s total Gross Domestic Product by nearly $7 billion and supporting thousands of jobs annually. Building on these successful beginnings, we plan to invest an additional $35 billion in the Commonwealth of Virginia by 2040 and create 1,000 jobs.”

“I am pleased the MEI Commission could collaborate with our state and private-sector partners to ensure AWS selected the Commonwealth for this important project,” said Major Employment and Investment Project Approval Commission Chair Delegate Barry Knight. “The addition of multiple data center campuses will underscore Virginia’s position as the world’s largest data center market segment, and we thank AWS for its long-term commitment to the Commonwealth.”

“As the world’s most comprehensive and broadly adopted cloud, AWS is a tremendous economic driver in Virginia that will expand its roots across multiple regions of the Commonwealth, creating new jobs and an impactful ripple effect in communities,” said Senator Janet Howell, Co-Chair of Senate Finance and Appropriations. “We are proud the company recognizes Virginia as the optimal location for a project of this caliber and that the MEI Commission was able to play a role.”

“Securing Amazon Web Services’ data center campuses expansion is a significant win for Virginia and our booming technology sector,” said Senator George Barker, Co-Chair of Senate Finance and Appropriations. “I congratulate the partners that will continue to work together on this historic project and look forward to AWS expanding operations in the Commonwealth.”

The Virginia Economic Development Partnership worked with the General Assembly’s Major Employment and Investment (MEI) Project Approval Commission to secure the project to expand data center investment to new locations across Virginia. Pending approval by the Virginia General Assembly, the Commonwealth is developing a new Mega Data Center Incentive Program, which the company will be eligible to receive. The new program includes up to a 15-year extension of Data Center Sales and Use tax exemptions on qualifying equipment and enabling software. In addition, and also subject to approval by the General Assembly, AWS will be eligible to receive an MEI custom performance grant of up to $140 million for site and infrastructure improvements, workforce development, and other project-related costs.

By: Tony Weaver for County Board

January 17, 2023

Tony Weaver – a community leader, business owner and employer in Arlington County – has announced his candidacy for the Arlington County Board of Supervisors.

“I’m running for County Board because I’m deeply committed to ensuring that every member of our community has the opportunity to succeed, regardless of their background,” said Weaver.

Weaver has long been active with Arlington community volunteer and civic organizations, including as a president of the Arlington Rotary Club, and as a member of the Board of Directors of the Committee of 100. He was recently appointed as a Commissioner on the Arlington County Fiscal Affairs Advisory Commission, and he is a member of the Arlington Democrats’ Steering Committee.

“My volunteer work has given me valuable insights into the diverse challenges facing our community,” said Weaver. “And now, through my work as a Commissioner, I’ve been working with the county board to address many of these challenges.”

Weaver’s priorities include:

  • Managing the financial headwinds facing Arlington County – including rising commercial vacancy rates – by working with universities and other key potential partners to expand their presence in Arlington.
  • Addressing pandemic learning loss in our schools through increased funding to keep and attract the most talented teachers.
  • Leading on global climate change at the county level through improvements to mass transit and conversion of county buses and other fleet vehicles from gas to electric.
  • Ensuring access to affordable housing for all residents through smart housing strategies.

“It’s unacceptable that teachers, firefighters, first responders and other members of our community are unable to afford housing in the county they serve,” said Weaver. “The residents of Arlington County need and deserve smart missing middle policy and implementation.”

Weaver grew up in Northern Virginia and has lived in the Arlington area for nearly a decade. He is a graduate of the University of Virginia with a masters degree in business management. Currently the owner of a local company and an employer in the county, he was also a founder of several tech startups.

“I’m committed to listening to the needs and concerns of my fellow Arlingtonians so I can work to make Arlington a place where all residents can thrive,” said Weaver.

For more information about Tony Weaver’s campaign for Arlington County Board of Supervisors, please visit www.Tony4Arlington.com

By: Arlington National Cemetery

January 11, 2023

Arlington National Cemetery (ANC) and Soldiers’ and Airmen’s Home National Cemetery (SAHNC) in Washington, D.C. will hold their annual removal of wreaths, known as Wreaths Out, on Saturday, January 21, beginning at 8 a.m. Thousands of visitors are expected to help remove approximately 257,000 wreaths at Arlington National Cemetery and approximately 14,000 at SAHNC. The high volume of visitors at ANC may create traffic congestion and delays on nearby streets and at the cemetery’s entrances.

“On this special day, visitors are invited to respectfully remove the holiday wreaths placed at these hallowed grounds during the holiday season in remembrance and honor of our nation’s fallen service members and their families,” said Army National Military Cemeteries Executive Director Karen Durham-Aguilera.

The safety and security of our visitors and employees during this event is our top priority. Visitors should anticipate large crowds and difficulty driving vehicles in the vicinity of Arlington National Cemetery due to road closures. Visitors are encouraged to use all four entrances to access the cemetery which include the Memorial Avenue Welcome Center, Ord and Weitzel pedestrian only gate, the Service Complex pedestrian only gate and for DoD cardholders, the Old Post Chapel gate.

There will be no vehicular access permitted on cemetery grounds until 3 p.m. The Welcome Center Parking Garage will open to the public at 8 a.m. on a first-come, first-served basis. We recommend visitors use public transportation or a ride share service for travel to and from the cemetery. The drop-off location for ride share services is adjacent to the Arlington Cemetery Metro Stop on Memorial Avenue.

All visitors will be required to pass through the cemetery’s security screening process before entering the cemetery. Prohibited items include: large bags or backpacks, firearms and weapons of any type, laser pointers, aerosol containers, soda cans, coolers, picnic baskets, tripods, lighters, screwdrivers (or similar tools), air horns, personal protection sprays and insulated beverage containers. Clear plastic water bottles are permitted.

To aid with the removal of multiple wreaths, the public is permitted to bring in PVC pipe, rope, and broomsticks. No sharp objects are permitted. Any attachments at the end of a stick, such as a gardening hoe, rake or metal attachment, must be removed and will not be permitted entry for safety concerns.

Tips for Visitors

  • Give vehicles and heavy equipment the right of way.
  • Place wreaths in dumpsters positioned throughout the cemetery.
  • Do not jump or climb on wreaths in dumpsters to compress them.
  • When dumpsters are filled, carry remaining wreaths to unfilled dumpsters. Please do not place wreaths outside of dumpsters or anywhere else in the cemetery.
  • Bring work gloves, water and other appropriate gear such as boots and layered clothing.
  • Remove Wreaths Across America wreaths only. Leave all other wreaths/decorations in place.

For the latest information and event details, please visit www.arlingtoncemetery.mil/waa and follow us on social media @ArlingtonNatl for real-time updates on the day of the event. Visitors are also encouraged to download the ANC Explorer mobile app available for iOS and Android.

By: AFUT and ASF

January 9, 2023

Today, at the Reality Check Rally at Innovation Elementary School, 450 people gathered to demand that the Arlington County Board stop the rush to enact a flawed Missing Middle Housing Plan (MMHP) that experts and many residents agree is not ready for prime time. (View the livestreamed Rally on Twitter @ _AFUT.)  Co-sponsored by Arlingtonians for Upzoning Transparency (AFUT) and Arlingtonians for Our Sustainable Future (ASF), the Rally featured local housing and other professionals who said that County promises made to Arlington residents when the MM Housing Study was launched have not been kept.

Instead, the current plan will accelerate gentrification, reducing Arlington’s diversity; displace moderate-and low-income households, including seniors, persons with disabilities and renters; raise property values and taxes; reduce tree canopy and greenspace; and further overload schools, infrastructure and services. The County has not studied potential impacts nor developed strategies to address them. See table of County claims – and the Reality.

“The Missing Middle Plan is the most over-hyped and over-sold scheme since the streetcar fiasco a decade ago,” said John Vihstadt, former Arlington County Board member (2014-2018). “Far from delivering on the County’s laudable goals of adding affordable housing, increasing diversity and enhancing the environment, it will diminish all three by further inflating land values, incentivizing the teardowns of modest bungalows and ramblers, and degrading our already dwindling tree canopy. According to the County’s own 2022 Profile, Arlington’s existing housing stock is already 71.3% multifamily and climbing. We need to grow the supply of single-family homes and ownership opportunities–not shrink them!”

The County Board is expected to take its first vote on January 21 to advertise zoning and General Land Use Plan amendments to enact the MMHP — despite two Planning Commissioners voting in December against going forward with the Plan at this time. They cited concerns about “a lot lacking and missing” in the Plan, needing more time to know “what we are signing up for,” and the County not fully preparing for unintended consequences. The Board’s final vote to approve the Plan is expected in March.

Speakers at the Reality Check Rally highlighted the County’s many contradictory, confusing or incomplete explanations about the MMHP. As new facts about the Plan’s impacts have come to light, the County has continued to shift its messaging about what MMHP will and won’t do.

“A County Board Member recently said, ‘we can only have a conversation if we have the truth,’ and Missing Middle is missing too many facts,” said Jon Ware speaking for ASF. “Bad data and no data are a planning recipe for disaster, and the County admits it hasn’t done its homework on issue after issue, including on displacement and gentrification, unlike the few other communities experimenting with far more limited upzoning,” he added.

Rally speakers discussed how the County’s lack of proper analyses have created a flawed plan that will not create housing for low-and-moderate income residents and will result in teardowns of the most affordable homes.

County officials continue to insist that the new Missing Middle housing will be more “attainable” for teachers, public safety employees, service workers and others. In fact, in most cases, new housing will be even more expensive than existing housing.1 Median incomes for Black, Hispanic and senior households and average teacher incomes are all well below what is needed to purchase even the cheapest MM unit.

Rally Speaker and Mortgage Loan Specialist Joanne Swain explained that even the smallest one-bedroom unit in an eight-plex would require a household income of $150,000, with closing costs of $41,000, and monthly payments of $4,200.2

Kathy Rehill, licensed residential realtor (recognized as one of Washingtonian Magazine’s best realtors) and 28-year resident of Arlington, said, “Developers will seek out the least expensive lots, resulting in teardowns of the most affordable single-family homes and replacement with multi-family buildings with 4-8 rental units. New duplexes will be very expensive; in the $1.4 to $1.8 million range for each unit. How do we know? Because in areas where duplexes are allowed now, for example in Halls Hill, we are seeing teardowns of modest single-family homes to build these very expensive duplexes with accompanying gentrification and loss of diversity in Arlington’s historically black neighborhoods.”

Former Arlington Planning Commission Chair Elinor Schwartz and president of Elinor Schwartz and Associates (a commercial real estate consulting firm) agreed with Rehill and added that the plan will lead to a loss of units with a greater number of bedrooms saying, “The Plan will result in teardowns of relatively more affordable housing that have more bedrooms than the new MM replacing them.” She observed, “Renters will be displaced as developers build more expensive units,” and declared that, “Arlington has no strategy to ensure that there is no net loss of more affordable housing and I challenge the County to be accountable through a demonstration requiring guardrails with annual caps and use permits.”

Michael O’Grady, research economist with Virginia Commonwealth University’s Center for Urban and Regional Analysis and former research analyst for Arlington Economic Development, said, “Nothing in this Plan incentivizes construction of housing that is affordable. Developers will maximize profits by building housing for high-tech and high-income Amazon, Raytheon and Boeing employees. The County’s Plan is a market deregulation and we learned during the 2008 financial crisis about the results of unregulated markets. Passing this flawed Plan now and hoping to fix it in the future won’t work – developers won’t let that happen.”

Former Planning Commission Chair Brian Harner said, “The County Plan will not measure up to future Arlington needs for the environment, affordability, historic preservation and neighborhood character. It is a flawed premise that multi-family buildings will be like single-family homes now because the MMHP allows greater density and height than [MM plans in] other cities like Portland and Minneapolis. Residents have not been adequately consulted. The County Board should slow down and rethink this simplistic, one-size-fits-all and arbitrary Plan.”

David Gerk, a 20-year resident of Arlington, attorney, engineer, AFUT member and dad of kindergarten and pre-school kids, addressed the Plan’s impact on schools. He said, “Arlington is already struggling to provide classrooms in our overcrowded schools. The Missing Middle Plan will mean a future with more overcapacity schools, more relocatable (trailer) classrooms, more kids per classroom and less resources per student. Is this future desirable – or necessary? Will parents interested in providing a good education for their children even stay in Arlington?”

“Today we heard from experts in their fields,” said Julie Lee, civic association president and a founding member of AFUT.  “It is time for everyone to hear the REALITY of the County’s Missing Middle Housing Plan. The County Board must stop the rush, do the work that needs to be done – and that should already have been done — and ensure that everyone understands what this plan does and does not do.”

For more information on the Rally, go to AfUT.org or ASF-virginia.org.

By: Virginia State Police

January 6, 2023

The Virginia State Police (VSP) is steadily making progress with its ongoing restoration efforts of several data systems and webpages. As of 11 a.m. Friday (Jan. 6, 2023), access to the Virginia Criminal Information Network (VCIN) was restored for Virginia law enforcement queries. The VSP Information Technology Division’s application and engineering teams worked through the night and are now focused on reinstating VCIN-affiliated systems, to include the Computerized Criminal History (CCH) and the Virginia Firearms Transaction V-Check system. All stakeholders are being updated as the situation evolves.

The VCIN outage occurred mid-morning Jan. 5, 2023, when the fire suppression system was triggered in the data center located at the VSP Administrative Headquarters in North Chesterfield. There was no fire, but the system’s activation adversely impacted the server that supports the VCIN and several affiliated programs.

“State police recognizes the seriousness of this issue and its impact on our many stakeholders, both in the public and private sectors,” said Colonel Gary T. Settle, Virginia State Police Superintendent. “We have a corps of dedicated IT professionals and vendors working to restore VCIN and its programs as quickly as possible. I appreciate the patience and understanding of the public and the criminal justice community as we work through this challenge.”

Also impacted is the Virginia Sex Offender and Crimes Against Minors Registry (SOR), which is publicly offline for the time being.

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