Va. May Lift Most Restrictions Next Month — “Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam said Thursday the state could lift most of its COVID-19 pandemic restrictions by mid-June, about 14 months after the state initially put those measures in place to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus. Northam said the state is planning to do away with social distancing requirements and restrictions on gathering sizes on June 15, provided coronavirus cases continue to drop and the pace of vaccinations does not let up.” [DCist, InsideNova]
Allegations of Hazing at ACFD Academy — “Over a year ago, firefighter EMT recruit Brett Ahern alleged extreme bullying and hazing at the hands of one firefighter who was an instructor with the Arlington County Fire Department’s Training Academy… there were other victims. Witnesses are speaking out on the condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation.” [WDVM]
Mask Mandate for APS Athletes Questioned — From Sun Gazette Editor Scott McCaffrey’s blog: “Based on feedback we’ve been getting from our sources in the high-school-sports world, Arlington Public Schools has become something of a punching-bag of ridicule for its ongoing policy of requiring student-athletes to wear masks even in situations where it not only serves no good.” [Sun Gazette]
Woman Flees Knife-Wielding Robbers — “The female victim was outside her parked vehicle when she was approached by two male suspects. Suspect One brandished a knife and demanded her cell phone and money. The victim then ran to and entered her vehicle without providing any of her belongings. The suspects fled the scene when a witness approached the vehicle.” [ACPD]
Internal Pick for County Planning Director — “Arlington County has selected Anthony Fusarelli, Jr. to be the County’s new Planning Director after a nationwide search…. Fusarelli has worked in the County’s Department of Community Planning, Housing, and Development for 15 years and most recently served as Assistant Director. In this role he was responsible for development agreements and land deals, strategic initiatives, and demographic and development data research and analysis.” [Arlington County]
Warning About Rabid Cat in Falls Church — “The City of Falls Church Police and the Fairfax County Health Department are urging anyone who may have been bitten or scratched by a cat in the last fourteen days that matches the below description to please contact either agency immediately.” [City of Falls Church]
Bob & Edith’s Opening in Alexandria — “Bob & Edith’s Diner will open on King Street later this year, the company confirmed on Wednesday. The diner will take the place of Ernie’s Original Crab House, which closed in April, at 1743 King St. just a few hundred feet from the King Street Metro station.” [Alexandria Living Magazine]
A federal grand jury has indicted an Arlington lawyer on charges related to paying underage girls for sex.
Matthew Erausquin, 46, was arrested in November after a 1.5-year-long investigation. He was charged in Alexandria federal court with sex trafficking minors, producing child pornography, and charges related to transporting or forcing victims to cross state lines for sex.
If convicted, he faces between 15 years to a lifetime in prison, although sentences for federal crimes are typically shorter than the maximum penalties, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia said in a press release.
“The defendant allegedly used his money and power to sexually exploit minors,” said Raj Parekh, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “We remain steadfast in our commitment to holding accountable those who prey on and victimize children, and to seeking justice for society’s most vulnerable members.”
Court documents allege that Erausquin paid for sex with six underage girls and three young adults over three years. During that time, the documents say he secretly recorded some of his encounters.
He allegedly met some of the girls on Seeking Arrangement, a website where men seek younger partners looking for financial help. In other instances, prosecutors say he posed as an 18 or 19-year-old on the dating app Tinder.
“Erausquin lured the girls into commercial sex arrangements, paying the girls between $500 to $800 each per sexual encounter and offering to pay at least $1,000 for threesome sexual activity,” said the Eastern District of Virginia U.S. Attorney’s Office. “In addition to these payments, Erausquin gave the girls marijuana and expensive gifts, such as [Tiffany & Co.] purses.”
According to a Fairfax County police affidavit, the investigation began in 2019, after a high school student reported to police that a man in his 40s had paid two victims $1,000 for a threesome, Virginia Lawyers Weekly previously reported.
One girl alleges that she “passed out after taking a hit of marijuana at Erausquin’s Arlington apartment, then woke up with no clothes on,” according to the Washington Post. Some were lured to the area from out of town with first-class plane tickets purchased by Erausquin, the Post also reported.
According to an affidavit, some underage victims told police that he likely knew they not yet 18.
Erausquin was a founding partner of the Alexandria office of the firm Consumer Litigation Associates. CLA has since removed his office from its list of locations.
Flickr photo by Joe Gratz
Work could begin soon on the 65-year-old W. Glebe Road Bridge, which Arlington County says is “structurally deficient.”
This Saturday, the Arlington County Board is set to approve a $9.9 million contract that would kickstart the project. Improvements include replacing the top of the bridge, repairing its supports and making it more pedestrian- and cyclist-friendly.
According to the county, the bridge is in poor condition and requires attention soon. The bridge has been restricted to vehicles weighing fewer than five tons since a routine inspection in November 2018 uncovered structural problems.
The bridge “needs immediate superstructure replacement as further deterioration of the beams may result in bridge closure for [an] extended period,” a staff report said.
W. Glebe Road Bridge will remain open to vehicles and pedestrians during construction, which is expected to last 18 months, the county said, adding that extra time is needed to move underground utilities.
“The project includes removing the existing prestressed concrete superstructure and constructing a new superstructure with steel girders and a concrete deck,” the report said. “The project also includes repairing the existing substructures, and installing new,
wider sidewalks, bike lanes, architectural features and enhanced lighting.”
This bridge is the first to be rebuilt as part of an agreement between Arlington and Alexandria to share the costs of rehabilitating and maintaining five bridges across Four Mile Run which connect the two jurisdictions. Once the repairs are complete, Arlington will be fully responsible for inspecting and maintaining the W. Glebe Road Bridge.
The next bridge slated for attention is Arlington Ridge Road, which needs to be repaired in two to five years, according to the county. Other bridges in the agreement are at Shirlington Road, Route 1 and Potomac Avenue.
The county said it has received community feedback in favor of replacing the bridge, adding separate areas for pedestrian and bicycle traffic and incorporating art.
Such art elements would “connect the design of the bridge to Four Mile Run and the communities that live in the area,” the report said.
According to the county, some people voiced concerns about the length of the project. A shorter build time would require closing the bridge, staff said.
“The public prefers the bridge remain open during the construction period,” the county said.
Photo (1) via Google Maps, (2-3) via Arlington County
Call for Public Input in Police Chief Search — “The head of the Arlington branch of the NAACP wants the county government to include more public involvement as it prepares to select a new police chief… Community groups should ‘have the opportunity to participate throughout the entire selection process,’ Spain wrote. ‘Now more than ever, we need openness and transparency, and all candidates should understand the needs of the community.'” [Sun Gazette]
Reminder: Arlies Voting Now Underway — “Voting for the spring 2021 Arlies is now live! The Arlies are ARLnow’s community awards, highlighting Arlington’s favorite local places, people and organizations — as chosen by you.” Each season brings a new group of categories. [ARLnow, SurveyMonkey]
Arlington Homes Selling for Near Ask — “If Arlington homeowners appear to be getting a little too aggressive in setting listing prices for their homes, they are in good company. The same seems to be true for neighboring Alexandria and Falls Church, as well. For the first two months of the year, Arlington home-sellers garnered an average 98.47 percent of listing price.” [Sun Gazette]
Nearby: POTUS Visits Alexandria — “President Joe Biden visited the Neighborhood Health vaccine site at Virginia Theological Seminary today (Tuesday) just before he was scheduled to announce that states should open COVID-19 vaccination appointments to all adults by April 19. ‘We passed 150 million (vaccine doses distributed) yesterday,’ Biden said. ‘When you go home, get all your friends and tell them, ‘Get a shot when they can.”” [ALXnow, Twitter]
The County Board voted this weekend on an agreement with the City of Alexandria to dredge Four Mile Run in order to help mitigate flooding.
The neighboring jurisdictions will split the costs related to permitting, designing, construction, and dredging Four Mile Run, from around I-395 to the Potomac River.
“It’s time for us to undertake a joint dredging project so we can project that part of the county from flooding to the maximum extent possible,” said Arlington County Board Chair Matt de Ferranti at Saturday’s Board meeting.
The dredging — which will remove built-up sediment and debris from the bottom of the waterway — is expected to cost about $3.6 million, with each jurisdiction paying about $1.8 million.
The project is expected to get under way in the late summer or early fall, and will take approximately four months, Aileen Winquist of Arlington’s Dept. of Environmental Services tells ARLnow.
The work comes after the United States Army Corps of Engineers’ (USACE) most recent inspection report gave the state of Four Mile Run a rating of unacceptable. The Corps built a levee system along Four Mile Run in the 1970s and 80s to help with flood mitigation, after a series of devastating floods that inundated Alexandria’s Arlandria neighborhood.
The recent unacceptable rating from USACE was due to “excessive shoaling,” meaning the flood channel is too shallow and can lead to excessive flooding.
“Maintenance of the open channel of Four Mile Run includes clearing of debris, sediment, vegetation, and re-stabilizing stream banks as required by the USACE annual inspection program,” says Winquist. “This maintenance work helps to preserve the flood channel’s capacity and reduce flood risk in neighborhoods surrounding south Four Mile Run.”
The areas around Four Mile Run have flooded a number of times over the past decade, including in 2011, 2017, and in 2019. Flooding two years ago was historic and caused some $6 million in damage to county property alone.
The agreement would also put on paper a long-standing understanding about maintenance of Four Mile Run. The north side will be Arlington’s responsibility and the south side will be Alexandria’s responsibility.
The needed improvements for the Long Branch Tributary will remain the sole fianincal responsibility of Arlington, since it’s within county borders. The budget for the entire project is about $4.7 million with Arlington agreeing to pay $2.56 million and Alexandria paying $2.16 million.
GMU Forms Coalition for Arlington Expansion — “George Mason University has gathered a powerhouse coalition of business executives and public sector leaders to help guide its tech-centric Arlington campus. The President’s Innovation Advisory Council, GMU announced Monday, will be chaired by Aneesh Chopra, president of CareJourney and the nation’s chief technology officer during the Obama administration.” [Washington Business Journal]
Arlington Real Estate Prices Rise — “Year-over-year median per-square-foot prices were up in eight of nine major jurisdictions across the inner D.C. region, according to new figures… The District of Columbia led all comers, with its per-square-foot sales price standing at $521, up 16 percent from $449 in January 2020. Arlington ($465, up 16.5 percent from $399) and Alexandria ($360, up 4.1 percent from $346) ranked second and third.” [InsideNova]
Explaining Arlington to Australians — Arlington native and former Real World cast member Eric Patrick talked about his hometown and upbringing with an Australian podcast that focuses on communities. [Apple Podcasts, Twitter]
Nearby: Patrick Moran Running for Office — “Patrick Moran, son of former Northern Virginia Congressman and Alexandria Mayor Jim Moran, announced Saturday that he is running for City Council. Moran made the announcement on Facebook… [he] has yet to file his paperwork with the city registrar to run as a Democrat in the June 8 Democratic primary.” Moran was twice the subject of local controversy in 2012 and 2013. [ALXnow]
Arlington Spots with Great Fried Chicken — Washington Post food columnist Tim Carman lists three Arlington eateries among the seven serving some of the best fried chicken sandwiches in the D.C. area. The Arlington locations on the list are Queen Mother’s Fried Chicken, Etta Faye’s Fried Chicken, and Fuku. The latter two are “ghost kitchens,” available via delivery only. [Washington Post]
Regional Real Estate Record — “Average home-sales prices across Northern Virginia reached an all-time high in 2020, and total sales volume was second only to the pre-recession boom of 2005, as the market shrugged off COVID and the resulting government-imposed lockdown to see its first year-over-year sales increase since 2017.” [InsideNova]
DCA Still Struggling During Pandemic — “Only three states in the nation are faring as poorly in an aviation rebound as Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, according to new data. In December, the year-over-year passenger count at the airport was down 74.3 percent from December 2019, according to figures from the U.S. Transportation Security Administration.” [InsideNova]
Nearby: Atlantis Restaurant Closing — “After nearly 40 years in business, Atlantis Pizzeria and Family Restaurant will close on Jan. 24… The Greek and Mediterranean restaurant at 3648 King Street in the Bradlee Shopping Center has been open sporadically throughout the pandemic, and has only served carryout.” [ALXnow]
(Updated on 1/8/20) Long-time Washington Post reporter Patricia Sullivan, who covered Arlington, Alexandria, and much of Northern Virginia, has retired from the paper.
Some personal news: I'm retiring from the Washington Post today. Feeling lucky because so many better journalists didn't have this choice. Please support journalism by subscribing to your local newspaper, news site or news station. It's imperative for our democracy.
— Patricia Sullivan (@psullivan1) December 31, 2020
The retirement was effective as of January 1. Sullivan started with the newspaper in 2001 as the local technology editor. In 2012, she became the go-to reporter for everything related to D.C.’s closest Virginia suburbs.
She’s covered everything from why more than 2 million Northern Virginia residents lost 911 emergency service after a 2012 summer storm to Arlington’s success in housing military veterans to Amazon’s arrival in the region.
Sullivan would also occasionally be taken off the local beat by the Post to cover major national news events, like hurricane landfalls.
Prior to her time covering Northern Virginia at the Washington Post, Sullivan wrote obituaries for the paper’s Metro section, was the local technology editor covering tech companies in the D.C.-area, and helped teach the newsroom new content management systems.
She began her career as an intern at the Milwaukee Journal. Since, she’s worked and reported at the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, Missoulian, San Jose Mercury News, and the Industry Standard. She was awarded a John S. Knight Fellowship in 1992.
In total, her career spanned more than four decades.
Sullivan’s replacement on the beat has not been named as of yet, according Washingtonian’s Andrew Beaujon, though the paper plans on filling the role.
I asked the Washington Post whether it had named a replacement for @psullivan1 on the Arlington/Alexandria beat. The Post tells me it plans to fill her role but didn’t offer any names.
— Andrew Beaujon (@abeaujon) January 4, 2021
Sullivan herself noted on social media this could take a few months, but current staff will fill-in in the meantime.
When reached via Twitter messenger, Sullivan declined an interview.
A memo regarding Patricia Sullivan’s retirement from Post Local editors was sent to the Washington Post newsroom staff. The full memo from the Post is below.
We are sad to announce that Patricia Sullivan is retiring after 19 years at The Post.
Pat started at The Post in September 2001 as the local technology editor in Business. She then worked in Metro, writing news obituaries on the biggest names of the day — pastors to potato chip purveyors, scientists and socialites. “Somewhat to my surprise, it’s incredibly interesting and wide-ranging,” Pat once said of the role. She went on to help train the newsroom in Methode before she returned to reporting for Metro, where she has been covering Arlington and Alexandria for the past eight years.
Pat’s deep well of sources and diligent reporting landed numerous scoops, including that Amazon had chosen Crystal City as a site for its much-coveted East Coast expansion. Her contributions strengthened and deepened The Post’s stories on Amazon’s development, and she wrote movingly and authoritatively about the potential effects of the deal on the surrounding neighborhoods. Pat wrote compelling pieces about life in two of the District’s most densely populated and liberal suburbs, including fights over a “spite house” in Del Ray and a gun shop in Arlington. She penned several memorable stories about the slave trade in Alexandria. She traveled to West Virginia, where she produced a poignant story about one community’s division over a new Rockwool plant, played a lead role in chronicling the historic passage of the ERA in Virginia and was a stalwart member of Team America’s hurricane and natural disaster response team.
Always a kind and unfailingly generous colleague, Pat happily pitched in on stories that needed a team effort, whether it involved Virginia politics or the daily ledealls on the novel coronavirus.
Pat began her journalism career as an intern at the Milwaukee Journal before moving on to roles at the Joliet Herald News, the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, the Missoulian, the San Jose Mercury News and the Industry Standard. She was a John S. Knight Fellow in 1992-1993, a longtime Journalism and Women Symposium leader and role model for female journalists. She also was a pioneer in developing a website for the Missoulian and one of the first email newsletters of tech news for the Mercury News.
We will miss her and we wish her well on her next adventure.
Photo by Jahi Chikwendiu, courtesy of The Washington Post.
More Snow Than Last Year? — “Winter officially starts in just two weeks (by the Dec. 1 meteorological definition), and, as such, we present our annual seasonal outlook… Overall, we expect slightly below-average snowfall, though around the median… 10 to 14 inches (compared with a 15.4-inch average, 11-inch median).” [Capital Weather Gang]
Sailor Sentenced for Child Exploitation — “A former U.S. Navy Seabee was sentenced today to 109 months in prison for transporting images of child sexual abuse. According to court documents, Martin Nieves Huizar, 37, of Arlington, was previously assigned to the U.S. Secretary of State’s overseas travel communications detail.” [U.S. Dept. of Justice]
Construction Crane Coming to Ballston — “Fans of bocce ball at a county park in Ballston will not find themselves displaced, although they soon may see a big crane swinging above their noggins. Arlington County Board members on Nov. 14 approved a request allowing the crane to operate within the government’s air rights above Glebe & Randolph Park. It will support redevelopment of the Harris Teeter site at 600 North Glebe Road.” [InsideNova]
Board Approves New Town Square Name — “The Arlington County Board today approved naming Green Valley’s Town Square for civic activist John Robinson, Jr. Robinson, often called the ‘Mayor of Green Valley,’ fought for decades against racial injustice and inequality in northern Virginia.” [Arlington County]
Shaved Ice Truck Coming to Arlington — “The pandemic did not dampen Noel and Jasmine Bourroughs’ first summer running a mobile Kona Ice truck in Fairfax and the City of Falls Church. In fact, their first season of operating the franchise was so successful they decided to expand. By next March, the couple anticipates opening two more trucks that serve Arlington and McLean.” [Tysons Reporter]
Plane Flying Circles Around Pentagon — A small, single-engine plane registered to a government contractor was flying circles around the Pentagon last night, at an altitude of around 5,000 feet. [@InTheSkyDC/Twitter]
Alexandria Cancels Winter Sports — Alexandria City Public Schools has canceled its winter sports season, a week after Arlington Public Schools reversed course and decided to play most winter sports. [ALXnow]
Alexandria Restaurant Partners, which owns Mia’s and Palette 22, announced on Monday that those in and around Shirlington can now get pizza, giant meatballs and classic dishes delivered via UberEats and GrubHub from Mia’s “ghost” location, in the kitchen of Palette 22.
“We’ve had tremendous success with Mia’s to-go in Old Town, and thought, ‘This has legs,'” said Dave Nicholas, a founding partner of ARP. “So we decided to help people in Arlington who can’t reach us all the way in Old Town.”
The expansion of Mia’s, which also has a dine-in location in Orlando, follows a nationwide trend.
These delivery-only spaces with no dine-in options began sprouting up as food delivery businesses such as UberEats and GrubHub took hold in the economy, but really took off during the pandemic. The coronavirus accelerated their growth as more Americans use delivery, RestaurantDive reports.
In addition to operating from the back of bricks-and-mortar restaurants, ghost kitchens also can operate from mobile trailers, like the one that currently set up in a Clarendon parking lot.
Nicholas defines a ghost kitchen as one where customers do not know where the food is made, but they recognize the brand. ARP had mulled over the idea for years, but the pandemic and government-imposed restrictions sped up its development.
ARP operated its first ghost kitchen around Easter, when 150 full-family meals were made in Mia’s Old Town Kitchen for another ARP restaurant, The Majestic, while it was still closed.
“We’re a couple of weeks into it, and the response is awesome and sales are growing every week,” Nicholas said. “We’re not even doing pick-up: It is a true ghost kitchen.”
He predicts ghost kitchens will be a long-term necessity for the industry, and could help restaurants make up for lost time and money when dine-in returns to full capacity.
“People believe in our brands and know what we do, so it doesn’t matter where the delivery driver picks it up from or if you pick it up,” Nicholas said.
Delivery-only menu items offered by Mia’s include:
- Giant meatball ($14)
- Chicken Parmigiana ($19)
- Roasted Mushroom Lasagna ($19)
- Rigatoni à la Bolognese ($20)
- Bucatini Cacio e Pepe ($18)
- Five different pizzas, including Margherita, pepperoni, and sausage and peppers ($7.5-$8)
Hours of operation are:
- Monday and Tuesday: 12-9 p.m.
- Wednesday to Friday: 12-10 p.m.
- Saturday: 3-10 p.m.
- Sunday: 3-9 p.m.
Photos via Mia’s Italian Kitchen
On Saturday, the County Board is scheduled to review an agreement with the City of Alexandria to build a connector trail near Four Mile Run and Route 1, in the Potomac Yard area.
“The Connector Trail will connect a trail to be constructed by Arlington County from Richmond Highway in Arlington County to a portion of the Four Mile Run Trail located in the City of Alexandria,” says a county staff report.
The new trail and the connecting trail are part of a development plan for Short Bridge Park. The waterfront park, adjacent to several bridges over Four Mile Run, is part of both Arlington County and the City of Alexandria.
“The first phase of development of Short Bridge Park involves the construction of the New Trail leading from Richmond Highway across a parcel currently owned by Arlington Potomac Yard Community Association and on which the County Board has a public access easement,” the staff report said.
The board will have three years to construct these paths.
“The County shall be responsible for maintenance, repair and replacement of the connector trail and the removal of trash and debris during the term of the agreement,” the report said.
Short Bridge Park was created through a site plan that the County Board approved in 2000. A master plan for the park, including a name change from the informal moniker “South Park,” was hashed out in 2018 after “extensive community engagement.”