If it seems like you’ve been seeing more reports of snakes around Arlington on local listservs, you’re not alone. Arlington County officials said there’s been a noticeable uptick in reported copperhead snake sightings.
Alonso Abugattas, the county’s natural resources manager, said there has been an increase in copperhead snake sightings but that the exact numbers are hard to track down because he, Arlington’s nature centers, and animal control all get and respond to calls about snakes.
“This past year I have gotten more,” Abugattas said, “but I expect there’s been more because more people are outside.”
Abugattas said with coronavirus keeping people at home rather than in their offices, the increase in calls may have something to do with people exploring their local parks during the day, when copperhead snakes are more active.
“Parks have had a 200% increased use because people are at home and bored,” Abugattas said. “I think more than anything else, people are more aware of them.”
The local emergency room is also seeing evidence of rising encounters between snakes and humans.
“We’ve had a few patients with copperhead bites recently,” Mike Silverman, head of the emergency department at Virginia Hospital Center, wrote last Friday. “As someone who trained and worked for a long time in Baltimore City, it’s seems so weird to see snake bites in what’s otherwise an urban area but they are definitely in Arlington.”
He encouraged anyone suffering from a snakebite to get a photo of the snake.
“Pictures of dead snakes are great,” Silverman wrote. “Please don’t feel the need to bring the snake into the ER, even if it’s dead, though it does add a little excitement to the shift.”
The copperhead is one of only three venomous snakes found in Virginia and the only one found in Arlington County. Ken Rosenthal, park naturalist at Gulf Branch Nature Center (3608 N. Military Road), said in a presentation last Thursday that they are most likely to be found in Gulf Branch and along the rocky, forested hillsides along the Potomac River.
Despite being venomous, Abugattas said there have only been one or two cases nationwide of copperheads killing humans, and even those had other factors. Neither of them, Abugattas said, were in Virginia.
“It is, for the most part, a very timid snake,” Abugattas said. “Even when they do bite, about one-third of the bites are dry bites — a warning.”
Rent Protest Today — Starting at the shopping center parking lot at 5001 Columbia Pike, a caravan of cars adorned with signs will travel to local apartment complexes to support “rent cancellation during this pandemic plus two months following the ability for community members to work and pay rent,” among other aims. The protest is being organized by La ColectiVA and other groups. [Facebook]
Animal Control Rescues Turtle from I-395 — “A few days ago, we got a call about a turtle very close to traffic on I-395. When Sgt Ballena arrived, he found a young snapping turtle who’s beak was fractured and bleeding. He took the turtle to Blue Ridge Wildlife Center, who will care for him until he can be released.” [Twitter]
Arlington Officers Injured During D.C. Protests — Despite an earlier comment by the police chief that no officers were injured, “a spokesperson for Arlington County Police told us, ‘one Arlington officer suffered a concussion and several others suffered bruises and abrasions.'” [WUSA 9]
Home Sales Downs, Prices Up — “May is usually one of the best months for housing sales, but the COVID-19 pandemic and a lack of listings sidelined many potential buyers. The D.C. area had its slowest May for sales in a decade. But more sellers stepped up from April and prices continue to rise year-over-year… The median price of what sold in Arlington County was $622,500, up 1.2% from last May.” [WTOP]
Could HQ2 Be Downsized? — Amazon prizes in-person interactions among employees, but there are still questions as to whether the company will proceed with the second phase of its 4+ million square foot permanent second headquarters in Pentagon City. [Washington Business Journal]
Orange Line Platform Work Moving Along — “Two weeks into the summer shutdown, construction activity is well underway at Vienna, Dunn Loring, West Falls Church and East Falls Church stations. So far, construction crews have focused on demolition work, including the removal of all tiles from the platforms, mezzanines and pedestrian bridges.” [WMATA]
Two Recent Drownings Near Chain Bridge — While D.C. Fire and EMS warns of dangerous waters near the Chain Bridge, the department said another grim discovery was made Thursday. “There have been 2 drownings in the past 3 weeks near Chain Bridge and a body was recovered today,” DCFEMS said. [Twitter]
(Updated at 5 p.m.) A 26-year-old Arlington man has been arrested after police say he tossed two dogs to their death from his apartment balcony in Courthouse.
The incident happened around 2:30 p.m. Monday. Police received a call about the dogs being thrown off a fifth floor apartment balcony at the Meridian building at 1401 N. Taft Street. According to police dispatches at the time, someone — possibly the building manager — had rushed the dogs to a local vet before officers arrived.
Police arrived on scene and arrested an apartment resident, who now faces animal cruelty charges.
More from an Arlington County Police Department crime report:
ANIMAL COMPLAINT, 2020-04280069, 1400 block of N. Taft Street. At approximately 2:30 p.m. on April 27, police were dispatched to the report of an animal complaint. Upon arrival, it was determined that the suspect allegedly threw two dogs off the balcony of a residence. Prior to police arrival, the dogs were located and transported to area animal hospitals, where they succumbed to their injuries and were pronounced deceased. Officers made contact with the suspect at his residence and took him into custody without incident. Zachary Hanson, 26, of Arlington, Va. was arrested and charged with Cruelty to Animals (x2). He was held on no bond.
A police spokeswoman tells ARLnow that one of the dogs was the suspect’s, while the other belonged to someone he knew.
“One belonged to the suspect, the other belonged to someone known to the suspect,” said ACPD spokeswoman Ashley Savage. “To best protect the identity of the victim, we will not release additional information related to their relationship.”
“What preceded the incident is under investigation,” Savage added.
Court records show that Hanson — no relation to the well-known singer who was born in Arlington — has a preliminary hearing scheduled in Arlington General District on Aug. 28. The charges against him are both Class 6 felonies that generally call for 1-5 years in prison if convicted.
Photo via Google Maps
Students: Keep the Career Center’s Farm Animals — “A staff proposal to revamp the animal-science program at the Arlington Career Center, including the removal of on-site large non-domesticated animals, is drawing brushback. The proposal calls for focusing more on smaller, domestic animals at the expense of farm animals, which have been part of the program for years and have come to be a beloved part of the Career Center family.” [InsideNova]
NBC 4 Profiles ACFD Mass Shooter Plan — “The Arlington County Fire Department is leading a national shift in how rescue squads respond to mass shootings.” Arlington fire trucks are now equipped with bulletproof vests and personnel are trained to treat victims as soon as possible. [NBC 4]
Arlington Rent on Par with D.C. — “The District and Arlington County are virtually tied for average apartment rent, at $2,233 and $2,236 respectively. Rents in D.C. and Arlington County are both up 4.3% in the last year.” [WTOP]
Local Tech Firm Not Meeting Job Hype, Yet — “Blockchain software developer Block.one promised in September to add 170 jobs in Arlington over three years, so we’re checking in on where its local employee numbers stand. Out of the 231 employees the company has listed on LinkedIn, 24 are now located in the D.C. area.” [Washington Business Journal]
How One Young Resident Affords Housing Here — “In 2013, [Mallory Scott] and one roommate moved into a three-bedroom, World War II-era Arlington house where the monthly mortgage and property taxes totaled $1,200. She had a connection that helped her find the place: Her parents, who now live in Nevada, purchased the home in 1991 for $190,000 when the Army assigned Scott’s father to Arlington. Today, it’s worth roughly $800,000.” [WAMU]
Neighborhood Near Clarendon Profiled — “Lyon Village is a chic, charming neighborhood in Arlington, Virginia, that resides regally just across the river from Washington, D.C. The 191-acre community of 6,000 residents, which was established in the mid-1920s by developer Frank Lyon for whom it is named, still retains a small-town, good-to-see-you feel yet offers access to all the cultural activities and amenities of the nation’s capital.” [Mansion Global]
A veterinary clinic is hoping to open soon along Columbia Pike.
Clarendon Animal Care is expanding and opening a second location in the newly-opened Centro Arlington development at 940 S. George Mason Drive. The clinic is anticipated to open at some point this spring, according to co-owner Kayleen Gloor, joining nearby Harris Teeter grocery store and Orangetheory Fitness exercise studio.
“[Our new location] will allow us to expand our ability to serve our existing clients and patients but also bring the Clarendon Animal Care culture and level of service to South Arlington and nearby locales,” said Gloor.
The County Board is set to consider a use permit for the 2,500 square-foot space at its meeting this Saturday, November 16. Per a staff report to the Arlington County Board, the new Clarendon Animal Care will have three to four exam rooms and employ two full-time veterinarians, along with a team of six to eight support staff.
The original Clarendon Animal Care is located at 3000 10th Street N., where it provides a wide range of veterinary services from emergency care to vaccinations.
Shooting Suspect Arraigned — “The man charged with shooting a woman he knew in her Crystal City, Virginia, office on Aug. 28 has had his first court appearance in Arlington County District Court. Mumeet Muhammad was arraigned on three felony counts: aggravated malicious wounding; use of a firearm in the commission of a felony, 2nd offense; and being a violent felon in possession of a weapon.” [WTOP]
Coastal Flooding Discussion — “The Northern Virginia Coastal Storm Risk Management Study will focus on sites in Arlington County, the City of Alexandria, Fairfax County, northern Prince William County, and at the Metropolitan Washington Airport Authority’s Reagan National Airport–as part of an effort to reduce coastal flood risk to people, properties, and infrastructure.” [MWCOG]
ACPD Wins State Award — “The Arlington County Police Department received top honors in the Municipal 5: 301-600 Officers Category in the 2019 Virginia Law Enforcement Challenge Awards.” [Arlington County]
Arlington’s Lonely Turkey Vulture — “Hallmark doesn’t have a card for it – yet – but the first Saturday of September nonetheless is celebrated as International Vulture Awareness Day. And in Arlington, that means a visit to Long Branch Nature Center and Tippy the resident turkey vulture.” [InsideNova]
Nearby: Falls Church Sheriff Vehicle Burns — “At approximately 6 a.m., City of Falls Church Police and the Arlington Fire Department responded to a call for a vehicle fire at City Hall… The vehicle was a marked Sheriff’s cruiser and was totaled in the blaze. An officer near the scene stopped a suspicious person for questioning, and subsequently arrested him.” [City of Falls Church]
Arlington Wins State Safety Award — “The Arlington County Police Department (ACPD) and Department of Environmental Services (DES) were awarded the 2019 Governor’s Transportation Safety Award in the category of Pedestrian/Bicycle Safety at the 2019 Virginia Highway Safety Summit.” [Arlington County]
Ducks Close Fairlington Pool — “Due to a family of ducks ‘living’ in pool 2 (safely re-located) earlier today, the pool will be closed until Premier Aquatics balances the chemicals to meet Arlington County Health department code.” [Twitter]
Translation Added to County Website — “The County website — arlingtonva.us — now includes a built-in language translation tool that web visitors can use to more easily translate online content into more than 100 different languages.” [Arlington County]
More Candidate Endorsements — Greater Greater Washington has endorsed Del. Alfonso Lopez and state Senate candidate Nicole Merlene. The Sun Gazette, meanwhile, has endorsed incumbent Commonwealth’s Attorney Theo Stamos. [Greater Greater Washington, Sun Gazette]
Nearby: Electric Scooter Bursts into Flames — “A Skip e-scooter burst into flames near Franklin Square in downtown Washington on Thursday morning… The cause of the fire is not clear, though it appears to have started around the battery pack while the scooter was parked.” [Washington Post]
The two Kriser’s stores in Arlington are being rebranded as “Loyal Companion,” with a grand opening planned to give away free pet food.
The rebranding is part of a change for all East Coast locations of Kriser’s. The new brand includes the natural pet food focus of Kriser’s with other parts of “holistic pet wellness.” From the brand’s website:
Loyal Companion is unlike any pet experience in the world. We’ve combined some of the best brands in the business including Kriser’s, Especially For Pets, Bark! Dogma – Life, With Your Pet, Pet Source, Pet Life and Whole Pet Central to form one new company dedicated to holistic pet wellness. Loyal Companion is a community of pet experts — nutritionists, behaviorists, educators and groomers — that has banded together to make life easy for pet owners by offering everything you need under one virtual and physical roof. Raw food. Healthy treats. Supplies. Grooming. Daycare. Training. Vet services. Advice.
There are two Kriser’s locations in Arlington, one in Clarendon at 2509 Franklin Road and one at 2501 N. Harrison Street in the Lee Harrison Shopping Center.
Both locations are throwing grand opening celebrations for the new brand on Saturday (May 4) from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. and Sunday (May 5) from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. The events will offer free gift bags for the first 100 customers in each day, with gift cards up to $100 as a doorbuster prize, according to the company.
The stores will also have raffle prizes, with potential to win free pet food for a year, gift cards and more.
Planned in-store activities include a blind taste test for pets and staff on hand to answer pet nutrition questions.
Photo via Google Maps
Arlington is asking residents to submit nature photos in a contest for which locality can log the most nature sightings in urban environments.
This year, challenge runs from Friday to Sunday and Arlington is hosting hourly spotting events at local parks where participants can learn to use the app and log their nature observations.
“The Arlington Regional Master Naturalists are sponsoring a series of events and need your help to get better data about our environment,” said Arlington County Department of Parks and Recreations on its website, adding that participants can “help biologists understand the biodiversity of Northern Virginia by documenting the organisms” they find during the events.
Thirteen events are planned in Arlington throughout the weekend. The events planned for tomorrow (Friday) are:
- Barcoft Park from 10 a.m.-1 p.m, with a focus on looking for insects, fish, and more species.
- Benjamin Banneker Park from 2-4 p.m.
- Fort C.F. Smith from 8-9:30 a.m. spotting birds with naturalist David Farner
- Woodlawn Park from 2-4 p.m.
After the observation period closes, the challenge is inviting participants to help out between April 30 and May 5 to identify the species spotted, per the event’s D.C. area website.
Last year, the Greater Washington area entered as one region in the challenge and placed fifth among 68 competing cities, according to the parks department. However, the D.C. area was awarded fourth place for participation with 876 people in the region logging nature sightings in the app.
Image via City Nature Challenge
The Animal Welfare League of Arlington is now opening adoption for dozens of rats and mice rescued from a hoarding case in the county earlier this month.
Animal control officers from AWLA seized 67 rats and mice from a home in the Rock Spring neighborhood on March 6, following a tip from a county agency involved with the situation, according to an Animal Welfare League spokeswoman Chelsea Jones.
Jones said the majority of the animals are now up for adoption from the Arlington Welfare League except for a few still being treated for upper respiratory infections — a common ailment in animals forced to live in overcrowded and unclean conditions.
Two of the rescued rats were “in very bad shape” with multiple tumors and had to be euthanized, Jones said, but not before staff baked them a dessert.
“They had a big ol’ cake they got to chew on,” Jones told ARLnow.
The animals’ owner has not been charged with any crimes, but was banned from owning any more “companion animals” as of March 13, according to the AWLA’s Chief of Animal Control.
Officers originally obtained a warrant to remove 18 of the domestic rats and mice from the woman’s house after she failed to improve the conditions, AWLA said. But when the officers entered the home on March 6 they found another 49 rodents, including two mice that had recently given birth to 20 babies.
There were so many animals that the Arlington organization had to ask Animal Welfare League of Alexandria to help re-home some of them.
The mice now available for adoption are a mix of grays and bright, unusual golds.
“We found out that they’re certain breed of mice called silky mice so they all have really shiny fur and interesting colors that you don’t see in the general mice you get from the pet store,” said Jones.
Photos courtesy of the Animal Welfare League of Arlington
With more than 150 new students set to attend classes at the Arlington Career Center in the coming school year, officials are now scrambling to free up some extra classroom space at the facility.
The county school system now plans to move eight trailers over from the adjacent Patrick Henry Elementary School to free up room for those students in the 2019-2020 school year. Career Center Principal Margaret Chung informed parents of the move in an email Monday (Feb. 25) that was subsequently obtained by ARLnow.
Chung wrote that school leaders initially hoped instead to move students into the second floor of the Columbia Pike Branch Library space, which is located in the Career Center. But county officials rejected that request, prompting the reliance on the so-called “relocatable classrooms” instead.
“To accommodate our expected growth next year and beyond, we have had to identify space for the additional students,” Chung wrote.
The downside of that move is that the trailers will take up some space currently used for the Career Center’s Animal Science program.
The program includes classes focused on animal care and veterinary science, with a variety of animals housed at the site for students to study. Chung expects that the trailers will take up the space currently set aside for three grazing animals — APS spokesman Frank Bellavia says that includes two goats and a miniature pony — forcing the Career Center to “reimagine that program for a more urban setting.”
“This does not mean that we are discontinuing our focus on animal sciences,” Chung wrote. “We will continue to maintain the smaller animals onsite for learning and instruction.”
She added that her staff has “begun to explore options to find a new home” for the animals that need to move, with the goal having them settled by the time the new trailers are in place this summer. That’s also when the school system will move the Montessori program currently housed at Drew Model School into the Henry building.
But with demand for the Career Center’s programs anticipated to only keep growing in the coming years, and the planned expansion of the building to accommodate more high schoolers still years away, Bellavia says the new trailers won’t solve all the building’s space limitations.
Accordingly, APS officials plan to ask the county for permission to use both the first and second floor of the library as instructional space, Bellavia said, with the goal of having it available for students in time for the 2020-2021 school year.
It’s a move that “comes as a surprise” to Kristi Sawert, the president of the Arlington Heights Civic Association and a member of working group that spent months studying the planned expansion and renovation of the Career Center.
Eventually, the school system plans to build room for another 1,050 high schoolers at the facility. But the process of doing so has been a thorny one, with Sawert and other local parents pressing the school system to add a full suite of amenities at the site to make it equivalent to the county’s other comprehensive high schools.
Still, Sawert says that the need to take up the library space for the new students was “never mentioned” during the working group’s deliberations, some of which included the library’s future. The group suggested that the county could ultimately buy up some properties near the Career Center and use that land for a stand-alone library.
“We were told repeatedly during the [working group’s meetings] that internal modifications to the Career Center would accommodate the incoming class of 150 students,” Sawert wrote in an email to concerned neighbors she provided to ARLnow.
Roughly nine years ago, the county kicked off a firestorm of controversy when it proposed shuttering the Pike library and moving its offerings to the Arlington Mill Community Center. The branch has been located at the facility since moving there in 1975.
While moving students into the library space (and the changes to the animal science program) may end up ruffling a few feathers, Chung chose to paint the impending changes as indicative of the demand for the center’s programs.
“We are so pleased to see the excitement and interest in our programs, and it is extremely rewarding to know that more and more students and families want to be part of the opportunities that our programs provide,” she wrote.
Photo 2 via @APS_AnimalSci