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by Chris Teale October 20, 2017 at 9:45 am 0

Arlington County and the City of Alexandria will be working together on further upgrades to their respective 911 systems.

The Arlington County Board is set to approve a Memorandum of Understanding at its meeting on Saturday (October 21), paving the way for cooperation with the Alexandria City Council and interoperability between the two 911 systems.

Last year Arlington added text-to-911 capability, 5.5 years after first announcing, during a visit from the then-FCC chairman, that it was working to give residents the ability to send text messages to 911. Other “Next Generation 911” capabilities are still in the works.

In a report on the MOU, county staff said the two jurisdictions working together will help “improve operational standards and increase public safety in the region,” as part of a regional goal to improve the efficiency of handling emergency calls.

“Towards that end, Arlington County and the City of Alexandria have proposed an MOU for the planning, design, procurement, installation, configuration, operation and lifecycle management of a new shared NG 9-1-1 system to support these goals of interoperability and improve efficiency of call processing and public safety emergency response,” staff wrote. “Arlington County and the City of Alexandria have both planned for and allocated funding to improve their 9-1-1 call processing systems.”

The MOU will help create an integrated system for both jurisdictions, meaning they can process both emergency and non-emergency calls from either jurisdiction’s primary and backup 9-1-1 center.

Both will also be able to answer each other’s telephone calls when the other cannot do so, such as during a system failure or an evacuation.

The county will be the “fiduciary agent” for the scheme, meaning it handles all the finances. Alexandria will provide an inter-jurisdictional transfer of money to fund its side of the project.

by Chris Teale October 19, 2017 at 1:30 pm 0

The Arlington County Board will vote Saturday on a seven-year lease for an ART Bus maintenance facility in Fairfax County.

Currently, British transportation company National Express leases the space and has a contract to maintain ART buses at 6100-A and 6104 Farrington Ave., in the Alexandria section of Fairfax County. The space has a 10,000-square-foot building and a 32,833-square-foot parking area.

National Express’ contract with the county and its lease on the property both expire on June 30, 2018.

Under this plan, the county would control the facility for bus maintenance to, staff said, “promote more competition for the ART operations and maintenance contract, leading to more advantageous pricing for the county.”

The County Board voted last December to buy a maintenance site in Springfield for $4.65 million. But staff said that it will take at least five years to acquire the site and build it out, so this lease helps fill in the “gap years” until it is ready.

This new lease would begin on July 1, 2018, and expire on June 30, 2025. The initial base rent would be just under $180,000 a year, with an annual increase of 3 percent, which staff says would ultimately save the county money.

“The County’s new lease agreement cost of $178,345.80 for Fiscal Year 2019 is $16,483.32, which is 8.6% less than the amount National Express Transit would have paid,” the staff report says. “In the new ART operations contract, the payment to the contractor will be reduced accordingly.”

Photos No. 1 and No. 2 via Google Maps.

by ARLnow.com October 18, 2017 at 9:00 am 0

Metro Station Closures Promoted Big Lines at DCAShutting down the National Airport and Crystal City Metro stations caused long lines for shuttles and cabs and very pricy Uber and Lyft rides for travelers trying to leave the airport this past weekend. [Washington Post]

Chase Starts in Arlington, Ends in Alexandria — Arlington County Police spotted a stolen car heading southbound on I-395 yesterday afternoon and initiated a traffic stop. The driver, however, refused to stop and instead fled down the King Street exit. Virginia State Police gave chase down King Street and Braddock Road near Fairlington — Arlington units stayed behind per department policy — and eventually the car was stopped and two people arrested in Alexandria. [Twitter, Twitter]

Va. Square Land Use Changes Considered — The Arlington County Board will hear public comment on and vote on whether to advertised proposed land use changes to several parcels of land near the intersection of Washington Blvd and N. Kirkwood Road in Virginia Square. Citing traffic and building height concerns, some residents have objected to the possibility of a six-story apartment building on part of the site. [InsideNova]

E-CARE Event StatsUpdated at 1:25 p.m. — Arlington County’s biannual E-CARE recycling and disposal event this past weekend collected 55,875 pounds of household hazardous materials, 30,000 pounds of used electronics, 700 compact fluorescent bulbs and 30 cubic yards of scrap metal, while setting a record hourly rate, according the county. [Twitter]

Bad Behavior at Elementary School — Yesterday during afternoon school dismissal, police were called to Campbell Elementary on S. Carlin Springs Road for a report of a driver in the parent pickup line who was “cursing at teachers.” [Twitter]

Nearby: Alexandria to Promote Metro Improvement — “The City of Alexandria is launching the ‘Back 2 Blue’ campaign to raise awareness about the improved rush-hour service times on Metrorail and encourage residents and customers to ride the Blue Line. Service on Metrorail’s Blue Line has improved significantly, with rush-hour wait times of just eight minutes. [City of Alexandria]

Flickr pool photo by TheBeltWalk

by ARLnow.com October 17, 2017 at 8:45 am 0

NAFTA Talks in Arlington — A round of talks among the U.S., Canada and Mexico about updating the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is taking place in Arlington. “The Trump administration,” according to reports, “has presented a series of hard-line proposals that partners Canada and Mexico say will be tough to accept.” [CNBC]

Arlington Co. Makes New Acquisitions — Rosslyn-based tech company Higher Logic, which describes itself as “an industry leader in cloud-based community platforms,” has acquired a pair of marketing automation software companies, Informz and Real Magnet. Higher Logic now has over 340 employees and 2,600 customers, the company says. [Real Magnet]

Nearby: Alexandria Considering Nixing Water Park — The City of Alexandria is considering not renewing the lease of the Great Waves Waterpark along Cameron Run. Also, of particular concern to Arlington and other local jurisdictions, it is reportedly considering pulling out of the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority. [Washington Post]

Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley

by Chris Teale September 15, 2017 at 4:15 pm 0

An Alexandria man will spend 32 years in prison for raping a woman on the Four Mile Run Trail in 2012.

Elmer Umberto Lopez-Velasquez, 39, raped a 23-year-old woman near mile marker 44 in Arlington County on July 3, 2012, according to Arlington County Police.

He was sentenced to 50 years with 18 suspended for the charge of rape and five years for the charge of strangulation. The two sentences will run concurrently.

He brandished a knife and dragged the victim off the trail and sexually assaulted her. After the assault, the suspect fled the scene and the victim took herself to Virginia Hospital Center and the police were called.

Investigators discovered his connection to the sexual assault after an attack at a Columbia Pike motel in 2016.

On January 12, 2016, a woman was involved in escort-related activity at a motel when two men she did not know entered the motel room and raped her, stole her personal items and fled.  The men were caught by plain-clothes police officers nearby, and DNA evidence linked Lopez-Velasquez with the unsolved 2012 rape.

Lopez-Velasquez previously pled guilty in the January 2016 case and received a 10-year sentence.

More from an Arlington County Police Department press release:

Elmer Umberto Lopez-Velasquez, 39, of Alexandria, VA was sentenced on Wednesday, September 13, 2017, in the Arlington County Circuit Court to thirty-two years in prison for his role in a rape on a shared-use trail in 2012. Judge Daniel Fiore sentenced the defendant to fifty years with eighteen suspended for the charge of Rape and five years for the charge of Strangulation. The two sentences will run concurrently.

Theophani K. Stamos, Arlington County Commonwealth’s Attorney and M. Jay Farr, Arlington County’s Chief of Police made the announcement following the court appearance.

On January 12, 2016, a female victim was involved in escort-related activity at a motel in the 3000 block of Columbia Pike when two suspects unknown to the victim knocked on the door. Upon entering the motel room, the suspects sexually assaulted the victim while using the threat of a weapon to hold her against her will. The suspects stole the victim’s personal belongings before fleeing the room. The suspects were apprehended by police working a plain clothes detail in the area. DNA evidence recovered from this assault was submitted to the state lab for analysis and the results linked this case with an unsolved 2012 rape.

On July 3, 2012, a 23-year-old female victim was jogging on the Four Mile Run Trail near mile marker 44 when she was confronted by an unknown Hispanic male that she had passed minutes earlier. The suspect brandished a knife and drug the victim off the trail into taller vegetation where he sexually assaulted her. After the assault, the suspect fled the scene in an unknown direction and the victim transported herself to Virginia Hospital Center where police were called.

Elmer Umberto Lopez-Velasquez previously pled guilty in the January 2016 case and received a ten-year prison sentence.

Arlington County Commonwealth’s Attorney Theophani K. Stamos said, “This case brought to justice a serial sexual predator…and it’s a powerful demonstration of how intrepid victims, dogged police efforts, and dedicated prosecutors make the difference and help secure our community”.

Arlington County Deputy Chief Daniel J. Murray, Commander of the Criminal Investigations Division said, “The residents of Arlington County are significantly safer now that a predator has been removed from our streets. These horrible offenses and attacks on our community will be relentlessly pursued by our detectives. The message to criminals and the families of the victims is clear – Arlington County will not waver in our commitment to investigate and prosecute violent crimes – no matter how much time has passed.”

This case was investigated by Special Victims Unit Detective G. Sloan and prosecuted by Assistant Commonwealth Attorneys’ Lindsay Brooker and Stephanie Siegel.

by ARLnow.com September 7, 2017 at 8:55 am 0

ACPD Sending Supplies to Houston — The Arlington County Police Department is sending relief supplies to Houston Police, “who have been tirelessly serving those affected by Hurricane Harvey,” the department announced yesterday in a tweet. [Twitter]

More on County Board Debate — At Tuesday night’s Arlington Civic Federation debate, the two independent candidates blasted the County Board for supposedly being too pro cozy with business interests. Charles McCullough “several times ripped the county government for extending millions of dollars in ‘payola and corporate welfare’ in an effort to win economic-development successes,” while Audrey Clement “portrayed Arlington leaders as sharing a matrimonial bed with the development community, rubber-stamping new projects to reap the tax revenue they generate.” [InsideNova]

Arlington Encouraging Vanpools — Arlington County, via its Arlington Transportation Partners program, is encouraging commuters to join a vanpool, touting savings of up to $10,000 a year compared to solo commuting. [Arlington Transportation Partners]

Arlington Free Clinic Women’s Health Program — Grants from the Susan G. Komen foundation are funding a women’s health program at the Arlington Free Clinic and in turn saving the lives of breast cancer patients who otherwise could not afford their healthcare costs. Among those who beat breast cancer with the clinic’s help is one of its employees, a mother of three who found a lump while attending a breast health event in 2003. [WJLA]

Nearby: Rabid Raccoon Found — A raccoon found in an Alexandria park has tested positive for rabies. [Patch]

Flickr pool photo by Vandiik

by ARLnow.com August 17, 2017 at 11:20 am 0

Commonwealth Joe Gets $2.5 Million — Local nitro cold brew coffee purveyor and Pentagon City cafe operator Commonwealth Joe has landed a $2.5 million round of funding. The Arlington-based firm says it plans to use the investment to expand its cold brew business, which includes distributing kegs of the sweet, smooth chilled coffee to offices. [Washington Business Journal]

Local Holocaust Survivor Reunited — An Arlington man was reunited with a Dutch couple that hid him and his sister, who are both Jewish, from the Nazis in 1945. The reunion took place at the U.S. Holocaust Museum and happened thanks to a high school project undertaken by the couple’s grandson. [NBC Washington]

Raise for Arlington County Board Members? — There is renewed discussion of a significant raise for Arlington County Board members, in recognition that their job, rather than being part time as originally envisioned, now involves full-time hours. There are even “whispers” that Board salaries could be nearly doubled, to reach six-figures, according to one report. [InsideNova, InsideNova]

Tax Delinquency Rate Hits Historic Low — Arlington County’s 2017 tax delinquency rate has hit a record low of 0.226 percent, County Treasurer Carla de la Pava announced. That’s the lowest rate in Virginia and the lowest rate ever in Arlington, she said, touting it as “good for the county” and “good for taxpayers.” The news led Del. Patrick Hope to declare de la Pava the “best treasurer in the Commonwealth.” [Twitter, Twitter]

Remembering the Ballston Mall’s Past — First known as Parkington, then Ballston Common Mall, and soon (next year) to be reopened as Ballston Quarter, following extensive renovations, Ballston’s shopping mall has a long history that dates back to the early 1950s. [WETA]

Nearby: Legislation on Confederate Monument — State Sen. Adam Ebbin says he will introduce legislation “to give Alexandria the authority to relocate the Confederate statue in Old Town” Alexandria. “It is past time that we address the impact that lionizing the Confederacy has had on the character of our Commonwealth,” Ebbin said. [Twitter, Twitter]

by ARLnow.com August 14, 2017 at 9:00 am 0

Charlottesville Solidarity Rally Held — Arlington County Board vice chair Katie Cristol was among those who spoke at a “Rally of Solidarity for Charlottesville” in Courthouse yesterday. The rally was intended to “actively condemn bigotry and racial hatred through a series of speeches, songs, actions, and a moment of silence.” [Facebook, WJLA]

Alexandria Considering New Names for Route 1 — An Alexandria group charged with considering new names for Jefferson Davis Highway (Route 1) is soliciting suggestions through an online form and two public hearings. [City of Alexandria]

Flashing Lights on I-66 — If you drove on I-66 this weekend and noticed flashing lights from equipment overhead, don’t worry: you’re not getting a ticket. Instead, VDOT is testing new toll equipment. Non-HOV drivers are expected to begin paying a toll to use I-66 inside the Beltway in December. [VDOT, NBC Washington]

Old Oak Tree Saved — A “mighty” oak tree that pre-dates the Civil War was saved from being removed during the construction of a new home thanks to a petition by neighbors and a developer willing to consider their concerns. The tree, at the corner of N. Nottingham and 27th streets, is 18 feet in circumference and one of Arlington’s 100 designated “champion” trees. [Washington Post]

WeWork Offering Free Space on Mondays — Coworking provider WeWork is offering free workspace at its D.C. and Northern Virginia locations — including its Arlington location in Crystal City — on Mondays as part of a new promotion dubbed “#SummerMondays.” The promotion runs through the end of September. An RSVP is required. [WeWork]

Photo courtesy Peter Golkin

by Chris Teale August 9, 2017 at 1:15 pm 0

The project to extend the Interstate 395 Express Lanes from Fairfax County through Alexandria and Arlington to the D.C. line celebrated its ground-breaking ceremony this morning.

The toll lanes will be extended for eight miles north from Turkeycock Run near Edsall Road to the vicinity of Eads Street in Arlington, near the Pentagon.

The Virginia Department of Transportation partnered with toll road manager Transurban and contractors AECOM Engineering Company and Lane Construction to deliver the project. Construction is now underway and scheduled for completion in fall 2019.

The project will add a third reversible HOT lane on I-395, accessible for free by vehicles with three or more occupants and an E-ZPass Flex transponder, or for a toll by all others.

The lanes will generate funding for other transportation options in the region. Using toll money, Transurban will pay $15 million each year to local jurisdictions to help them pay for improvements. Among other projects, the south parking lot at the Pentagon is set for an overhaul, as are several nearby bridges.

The ceremony, atop a Pentagon City parking garage, marked the official start of construction. Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) was joined by Virginia Transportation Secretary Aubrey Layne and elected officials from across the area, including Arlington County Board chair Jay Fisette and fellow Board member Libby Garvey.

Layne said such partnerships between state government, local agencies and federal stakeholders have been crucial to move the project along, heralded as the largest in the United States.

“We knew what the construction was going to be, but it took collaboration and trust to get this project underway,” Layne said.

McAuliffe hailed the project for solving a “major headache for so many commuters going into and out of the District, and going to and from our great Pentagon.”

He added that as Virginia’s population continues to grow — with people attracted by its low taxes, strong business environment and other amenities like breweries and wineries, McAuliffe said — projects to improve congestion on the Commonwealth’s roads are vital.

“This is finally going to be solved, and this is going to be a game-changer for residents of Northern Virginia,” McAuliffe said.

For its part, Transurban promised to be good partners throughout construction and beyond.

Jennifer Aument, Transurban’s group general manager for North America, said workers are committed to the safety of all road users during work, and urged drivers in the area to avoid distractions, wear their seatbelt and watch their speed around the construction zone.

Aument also said Transurban would be a “good neighbor” and work with nearby neighborhoods to minimize any other disruptions.

“Now, we’ll get to work,” she said.

Work has already got underway in the existing I-395 high-occupancy toll lanes. On Monday, August 7, VDOT announced full night-time closures of the lanes in both directions from the southbound HOV exit ramp near Boundary Channel Drive to the northbound exit ramp from the 95 Express Lanes near Edsall Road.

And weather-permitting, some southbound regular lanes of I-395 will be closed overnight this week between Duke Street and Edsall Road. VDOT advised drivers to travel safely and pay attention to signs posted on the road.

by Chris Teale August 2, 2017 at 12:00 pm 0

A car crashed into a side entrance of Target in Potomac Yard, just over the Arlington border in Alexandria.

The car came through a smaller door at the store at 3330 Jefferson Davis Highway at around 11:20 a.m. this morning. The driver and a passenger were extricated after a brief entrapment, according to scanner traffic. Both were transported to the hospital with minor injuries.

The crash left the front side of the car mangled, and set off an alarm in the store away from the main retail section. Customers continued to enter the store as normal, while police were out directing traffic around the scene but did not close any travel lanes in the parking lot.

Firefighters from the Arlington County Fire Department initially went to assist at the scene, but as of 11:45 a.m. had left. Police and fire units from Alexandria remained on scene.

by ARLnow.com July 7, 2017 at 9:00 am 0

Rough Day on the Roads — An already rain-soaked Thursday was made worse after a tree fell across the eastbound lanes of I-66, blocking the highway during the morning rush hour. Later, the southbound lanes of the GW Parkway were closed near the Key Bridge due to a crash. [WJLA, Washington Post]

Running of the Bulls Viewing Party — New Spanish restaurant Pamplona in Clarendon is hosting its first annual Running of the Bulls viewing party on Saturday. [Facebook]

Arlington Helps Out With Falls Church Graduation — Arlington voluntarily shifted its high school graduation schedule to help Falls Church’s George Mason High School get a graduation ceremony spot at D.A.R. Constitution Hall last month. [InsideNova]

Nearby: Affordable Housing Decline in Alexandria — There was a 90 percent drop in affordable housing units in Alexandria between 2000 and 2017 and the decline is likely to continue without the construction of more dedicated affordable units. [WAMU]

Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf

by ARLnow.com June 15, 2017 at 9:00 am 0

‘Love Letters’ Along the Pike — The “Virginia Is For Lovers” tourism campaign has installed the person-sized letters “LOVE” along S. Walter Reed Drive, ahead of this weekend’s Columbia Pike Blues Festival. [Facebook]

News Orgs Confuse Arlington and Alexandria — A number of news organizations mistakenly stated that yesterday’s shooting in Alexandria happened in “Arlington, Virginia.” Though somewhat inexplicable, the confusion happens frequently. [Twitter]

Regional Metro Tax Mulled — The Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments has approved a series of principles that could be the basis for a region-wide tax that can provide dedicated funding for Metro. Without it, WMATA says it will face budget shortfalls by 2019. [WTOP]

by Chris Teale June 14, 2017 at 2:30 pm 0

(Updated at 4:05 p.m.) After gunfire left several people wounded early this morning in Alexandria, local leaders condemned the violence and said their thoughts are with the victims.

The gunman, later identified as James T. Hodgkinson III, 66, of Illinois, opened fire in Eugene Simpson Stadium Park in the Del Ray neighborhood of the city just after 7 a.m.

Among the wounded were U.S. House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.), two Capitol Police officers and other staffers. Hodgkinson died after a shootout with police.

Scalise was one of a number of people practicing at the field ahead of tomorrow night’s Congressional Baseball Game at Nationals Park.

Soon after the incident, local Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.), who represents Alexandria and Arlington in the House of Representatives, called the news “horrifying.”

“This morning’s tragic shooting in my hometown of Alexandria is horrifying,” Beyer said in a statement. “I am in close contact with city officials and am immensely grateful for the bravery of the first responders in Alexandria, as well as the U.S. Capitol Police. I am praying for the recovery of Congressman Scalise, Representative Williams’ staffer and the two Capitol Police officers who we understand from news reports were all injured.”

Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) expressed similar distress at the shootings, which are being investigated by the FBI among other agencies.

Dorothy and I are shocked and deeply saddened by this horrible act of violence against members of congress, law enforcement and other innocent people who were simply enjoying an early morning baseball practice. We are praying for swift recoveries for those who were injured and we are thankful for the bravery and quick action of U.S. Capitol Police and local first responders to stop the attacker and treat those who were wounded. Virginia public safety officials are coordinating with local responders and we will continue to monitor this situation and make every resource available.

Five people were transported to local hospitals. Arlington County Fire Department medics and the U.S. Park Police helicopter assisted Alexandria in helping to transport the wounded.

Alexandria City Public Schools went on a lock-in, with class proceeding as normal but outside doors locked and students kept inside. Alexandria Mayor Allison Silberberg said she was “shocked by such an incident in our peaceful community.”

Those traveling on the U.S. Route 1 corridor during this evening’s rush hour could experience delays due to the ongoing investigation.

by ARLnow.com June 14, 2017 at 9:15 am 0

Northam, Gillespie Win Va. Primary — Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam and Ed Gillespie, establishment figures in the state Democratic and Republican parties, respectively, beat back party insurgents to win the nomination for Virginia governor on Tuesday. The primary was a test of the “Trump effect,” according to political analysts. [Washington Post, Washington Post, Politico]

Python Found in Apartment Hallway — An Arlington animal control officer recovered a python from an apartment hallway Tuesday morning, prompting an article in by the Washington Post’s Martin Weil. In his signature style, Weil notes that “matters appeared to end satisfactorily.” [Washington Post, Twitter]

Developer, 91, Wants to Move Into New Building — Longtime local developer Marvin Weissberg is enthusiastic about the 24-story, 407-unit residential tower he’s proposing to replace the RCA building in Rosslyn. So enthusiastic is Weissberg, 91, that he says he wants to move in when it’s completed. [Washington Business Journal]

Nearby: Shooting at Congressional Baseball Practice — A gunman opened fire at a Republican congressional baseball practice in Alexandria this morning, wounding House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, a number of congressional aides and two police officers. The gunman was reportedly shot by U.S. Capitol Police. [Fox News, Twitter]

by ARLnow.com June 12, 2017 at 9:00 am 0

Yorktown Girls Win Soccer Championship — The Yorktown girls soccer team has won the state Group 6A championship for the first time, defeating the Kellam Knights 1-0 on Saturday. The state champs placed second in a regional tournament to reach the state finals. [InsideNova]

Arlington Triathlon Held — Kids ages 7-15 woke up early to participate in the Arlington Triathlon at Washington-Lee High School over the weekend. [WTOP]

Gunston Getting More Seats — Thanks to a proposed $651,000 internal modification project, Gunston Middle School will be able to add 72 seats, increasing its overall capacity to 1,004 students. [InsideNova]

Nearby: Alexandria Struggles With Housing Promise — “The escalating cost of construction and dramatic changes in how affordable housing is ­financed are leading Alexandria officials to consider modifying a requirement to replace any of its 1,150 public housing units that are redeveloped with equally priced apartments.” [Washington Post]

Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman

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