Arlington, VA

Morning Notes

Arlington’s Name Change Centennial — “On Sept. 25, 1919, the Alexandria Gazette published a letter  from the Alexandria County Civic Federation proposing a name change for the County. The letter asserted that Alexandria County was “constantly confused with the City of Alexandria”… Proposed names included George Washington, Arlington, Pocahontas, and Alcova (ALexandria COunty VA).” [Arlington County, InsideNova]

Arlington Nat’l Considering Rule Changes — “Arlington National Cemetery is proposing new rules that would eliminate burial and inurnment eligibility for service members who die on active duty but not in combat, ending a custom that goes back to the cemetery’s founding in 1864. It is one of a series of tough new proposals, requested by the government, that seek to address Arlington’s fast-dwindling space.” [Washington Post]

WJLA May Go Off the Air for Some — Rosslyn-based TV station WJLA (ABC 7) may go dark starting Friday evening for DirecTV, U-verse and AT&T TV Now subscribers. The station’s parent company, Sinclair Broadcasting, is engaged in a heated carriage dispute with AT&T. [FierceVideo. Dallas Morning News]

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If you want to remain in the dark about the contents of the mysterious Ballston time capsule, which is set to be opened next year, read no further.

Melinda Schaedig, who was a third grader at Taylor Elementary School in 1988 when the capsule was buried, approached ARLnow with details from when the capsule was put into the ground.

“In 1988, it seemed like 2020 would never arrive, but here it is in the blink of an eye,” Schaedig said. “I just turned 40 and the time capsule is all that I have been thinking about as I have been waiting for this day for a long time.”

In the 31 years between the time capsule was buried and now, Schaedig said some of her memories from the burial have grown hazy, but she reached out to her third grade teacher to help put more details together.

“It was a big deal at the time,” Schaedig said. “I’ve always thought about it. I recall a couple months ago I was driving in the car with my mom and kids and I said ‘2020 is coming, is there anything on the building?'”

Schaedig saw the plaque and inquired inside the building, eventually being directed to the top floor where the building’s owners told her what a spokesperson for WashREIT told ARLnow yesterday: the capsule is there and but the company has no idea what’s inside.

But Schaedig remembers.

“I remember seeing a steering wheel with an airbag, which was new at the time, and maybe some Redskins memorabilia,” Schaedig said.

An article in the Northern Virginia Sun said a signed baseball, old coins and a postcard from an Arlington auto dealership were included as well. The article notes that Schaedig — then Melinda Foulke — added a poster showing how America has changed since the Constitution was signed.

The poster selected via a competition for local elementary school students.

“The contest presented local teachers with an opportunity to review Ballston’s evolution from farmland in the 1800s to the retail, business and retail center county planners forsaw when they wrote the Ballston Sector Plan in 1980,” the Sun noted.

Foulke said she dug up old news footage her mother had kept around, in which the building owners talked about how Ballston was poised to become the new downtown of Arlington.

“They talked about how in the future, there were unlimited possibilities because of the number of corporations moving in,” Foulke said. “They were predicting that with growth between Rosslyn and Ballston, [Arlington] would have more office space than Miami.”

(That turned out to be true: as of 2018, Arlington had 41.7 million square feet of office space compared to the Miami area’s 35.6 million square feet.)

The video does show some items being placed in the capsule, confirming Foulke’s memories of a steering wheel and a Redskins pin.

WashREIT said they were unsure how to open the time capsule. One of the old clippings shows Schaedig and the late County Board member Ellen Bozman holding a key to the capsule. Schaedig says she doesn’t know where the key is now.

“I hope to go when they open it,” Schaedig said. “It’ll be exciting to bring my kids and my family. It’s silly, but it’s been a part of my life.”

Newspaper photos courtesy Melinda Schaedig

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Morning Notes

Spotted: Leading Edge of Dorian — The “exhaust” of Hurricane Dorian could be seen over the D.C. area yesterday afternoon, in the form of a large sheet of cloud. [Twitter]

Arlington Name Centennial Approaching — “Arlington government officials currently are in the brainstorming phase on plans to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Arlington becoming ‘Arlington.’ It was on March 17, 1920, that Gov. Westmoreland Davis signed legislation formally changing the county’s name from Alexandria County to Arlington County.” [InsideNova]

Bloomberg BNA Changes Name — Crystal City-based news organization Bloomberg BNA has changed its name to Bloomberg Industry Group. [Twitter]

Video: APS Staff Gets School Year Started — Arlington Public Schools staff starred in a music video to the tune of the Black Eyed Peas Hit “Let’s Get It Started,” created for start of the new school year. The video also features now-former superintendent Patrick Murphy dancing while getting off a school bus at the end. [YouTube]

Local Startup Raises $51 Million — Arlington-based telecom startup Federated Wireless has raised $51 million in Series C funding, the company announced yesterday. [Federated Wireless]

What Long-Time Residents Like About Arlington — “Judy and Raoul Wientzen have owned their home in North Arlington since 1984. Judy told us what they love about their home.” [Washington Post]

Flickr pool photo by Eric

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District Taco began as a stand-alone food cart and expanded into the burgeoning regional restaurant chain it is today.

This year marks the 10th anniversary of District Taco, which was co-founded by Marc Wallace and Osiris Hoil. The company is marking the occasion with an event in Rosslyn tomorrow (Thursday).

“ATTN, amigos!” the company said in a social media post. “Join us back where it all started for our 10 year anniversary… from 12-1 p.m. we will be on the corner of Lynn St & Wilson Blvd, in Rosslyn, handing out tacos and giveaways! Come celebrate with us and pose for a photo with our original taco cart.”

Hoil said he also plans on celebrating by taking a trip down to Mexico in August to visit family and reminisce about his mother’s cooking — the inspiration for many District Taco recipes.

Hoil’s entrepreneurial story began when he came to the United States as an immigrant and was laid off from a construction company during in 2007, around the time of the economic crisis. He said despite his dismay at the time, he still thinks highly of the firm and hired them to build several District Taco locations.

The District Taco cart launched in 2009, but was retired in 2014. Since then, two bricks-and-mortar District Taco locations have opened in Arlington: at 5723 Lee Highway — its very first storefront — in 2010 and in Rosslyn (1500 Wilson Blvd) in 2016.

District Taco now has 14 locations, according to its website, and plans to add at least three more in 2020, according to Hoil. They also want to double their office space by 2021.

“Everything we have done is by scratch,” said Hoil. “We have learned so much from other people and big companies.”

Photo 1 via Twitter

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Email may be one of the internet’s oldest technologies, but email newsletters are all the rage right now.

The reason for the recent resurgence in popularity is the medium’s simplicity: if you’re a media outlet, email newsletters let you reach readers directly, without being subject to a Facebook algorithm or a Google ranking. If you’re a reader, it’s an easy way to scan the day’s headlines without having to type in a bunch of URLs into a browser or scroll through endless social feeds.

ARLnow’s email newsletter has been around for almost as long as ARLnow itself — 9 years as of today — and faithfully delivers headlines from the past 24 hours to more than 12,500 subscribers around 4 p.m. daily.

For those subscribers — and you, if you’re not currently subscribed but would like to do so now (it’s free) — we’re thinking about ways to deliver even more cool stuff in 2019.

Among the ideas we’re currently considering:

  • A monthly email version of those local coupon packs you get in the mail
  • A monthly happy hour directory (now that it’s becoming legal)
  • A monthly email devoted to events and things to do in Arlington for kids and families
  • Other monthly emails focused on local topics like health and wellness, home and garden, etc.

Have any ideas on those or any other things we can offer through our email newsletter? Let us know in the comments.

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Morning Notes

‘Coffee With a Cop’ Comes to Clarendon, Pentagon City — The Arlington County Police Department is hosting a pair of “Coffee with a Cop” events later this month, at a Starbucks in Pentagon City and Northside Social in Clarendon. In a press release, ACPD said it “is committed to developing and maintaining strong relationships with those we serve, a vital component to ensuring the public’s trust.” [Arlington County]

Potomac Roaring Over Great Falls — Those within earshot of the Potomac River are being treated to an especially loud roar this week as the rain-swollen river “churned and even exploded into the air at Great Falls.” It also flooded parts of Alexandria and the Georgetown riverfront. [Washington Post, Twitter, Twitter]

Artisphere Closing Anniversary — It has been three years since Artisphere closed its doors in Rosslyn. The former county-funded arts venue is now a co-working and events space.

Photo courtesy @jimcollierjr

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(Updated at 11:50 a.m.) Joe’s Place Pizza & Pasta will be celebrating its 40th anniversary next week, and several state legislators and Arlington County Board Chair Katie Cristol are expected to be in attendance.

On Wednesday, Joe’s Place will offer its pizza, pasta and salad buffet bar at the original price of $3.99 for both lunch and dinner.

The restaurant, at 5555 Lee Highway, is the final remaining branch of a family-run chain that began in Woodbridge in 1978, a rep noted. It was founded by Joe Farruggio, who came to the U.S. from his hometown of Agrigento, Sicily. It is now managed by Joe’s nephew, Rosario Farruggio, and hosts numerous community events and fundraisers for local schools, sports teams and nonprofits each month.

A private event will also be held at the restaurant next week and is expected to feature a brief program during which a Congressional proclamation from Rep. Don Beyer’s office will be presented to the office.

“We have so much to be grateful for, especially all of our longtime staff and loyal customers,” the restaurant’s staff wrote. “Thank you!”

File photo

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Morning Notes

Instant Runoff Bill Fails in Richmond — It appeared to be headed toward potential passage, but a bill to allow Arlington County to hold instant-runoff elections for County Board was referred to another committee on a 51-49 House of Delegates vote and is effectively dead for 2018. [InsideNova]

Arlington Denies Request for 911 Recording — “Arlington County has denied a request from the family of Bijan Ghaisar to release the 911 call made after a hit-and-run crash he was involved in, before a police chase ended with U.S. Park Police fatally shooting him.” [Covering the Corridor, WTOP]

ARLnow on Kojo — ARLnow founder Scott Brodbeck will discussing the state of local news on the Kojo Nnamdi Show today. The show airs at noon on WAMU 88.5 FM. [Kojo Nnamdi Show]

A-SPAN Celebrates Quarter Century — The Arlington Street People’s Assistance Network, which started as a grassroots effort to address local homelessness, recently marked its 25th anniversary with a fundraiser and celebration in Rosslyn. [InsideNova]

Email List Hits 10K — ARLnow’s email newsletter mailing list crossed the 10,000 mark on Monday. Thank you to all of our subscribers, who are receiving our headlines free of social media filters. (ARLnow’s Twitter account reached 40,000 followers in December and our newly-verified Facebook account is on the verge of 24,000.)

Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf

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Morning Notes

ARLnow’s Eighth Birthday — Today is the eighth anniversary of the founding of ARLnow.com. Here is our first post ever.

Sexual Harassment FOIA Folo — In a follow-up to our FOIA request seeking any records of sexual harassment or assault allegations against senior Arlington officials since 2000 — no such records were found — we asked about any such cases, against any county employee, that were handled by the County Attorney’s office over the past decade. The response from the county’s FOIA officer: “There are no records responsive to your request because no such cases exist.” The last publicly reported case was that against an Arlington police officer in 2007.

Vihstadt Launches Re-election Bid — Arlington County Board member John Vihstadt made it official last night: he is running for re-election. Vihstadt, who is running as an independent, has picked up at least one Democratic challenger so far. However, he again has the backing of a number of prominent Democrats, including fellow Board member Libby Garvey, Commonwealth’s Attorney Theo Stamos and Treasurer Carla de la Pava. [InsideNova]

County Accepts Millions in Grant Funds — “The Arlington County Board today accepted $17.85 million in grant funding from three transportation entities that will be used for transit, bridge renovation and transportation capital projects in the County.” Among the projects is a new west entrance for the Ballston Metro station. [Arlington County]

County Board Accepts Immigration Donation — “The Arlington County Board today accepted a resident’s anonymous donation for a Citizenship Scholarship to help Arlingtonians pay the $725 federal application fee charged to those seeking to become U.S. citizens.” [Arlington County]

Man Convicted of 7-Eleven Robberies — A man arrested last year for a string of robberies has been convicted by a federal jury of three armed robberies and an armed carjacking. Among the crimes were two armed robberies of 7-Eleven stores in Arlington. [Alexandria News]

Arlington Lauded for Solar Program — The U.S. Department of Energy has named Arlington County a “SolSmart” community “for making it faster, easier and more affordable for Arlington homes and businesses to go solar.” [Twitter, Arlington County]

Flickr photo by John Sonderman

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Eight years ago this month, Arlington launched its search for two “car-free diet skeptics” to take the inaugural Car-Free Diet Challenge.

What resulted were two seasons of the challenge, featuring Car-Free Todd, Matt, Ross and Kyle; a blog; and a sketch-comedy show that appeared on YouTube and local cable TV. The goal: convince skeptical commuters of the virtues of biking, walking or taking the bus instead of driving.

The show might have been silly — and intentionally so — but it did have a certain je ne sais quoi. In all, the Car-Free Diet Challenge was creative and memorable enough to warrant a mention eight years later.

And it might have had some lasting impact. After all, last year’s Bike to Work Day in Arlington set a new registration record, with 2,900 people signed up.

So what are the Car-Free Diet Challenge contestants up to these days? We received updates on three of the four.

According to a county spokeswoman, Ross moved to Boston to attend graduate school and Todd moved to Reston. Matt, meanwhile, is “working for Tysons Partnership doing Transportation Demand Management… [helping] those in the Tysons area to be car-free or car-lite.”

There’s no word on whether any of the contestants remained car-free.

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A mainstay of the Clarendon bar and restaurant scene celebrates a significant milestone Friday, as Mister Days (3100 Clarendon Blvd) marks its 40th anniversary.

It first opened in an alleyway off Dupont Circle on November 21, 1977 serving prime rib, ham sandwiches, a soup and a salad. And in the years that followed, including a move to 18th Street NW between L and M Streets NW before opening in Arlington in 2000, it gained a strong following.

The bar has served famous guests like movie star Arnold Schwarzenegger, former Washington Redskins greats like Sonny Jurgensen and John Riggins, and had live entertainment from singer-songwriter Mary Chapin Carpenter early in her career.

But owner Robert E. Lee said it is the relationships he has built that are most memorable.

“It’s kind of bittersweet,” Lee said of the anniversary. “You start losing friends, not customers, but friends that you met through business. After you get out of school, you have professional relationships. In the bar business and restaurant business, you meet hundreds of people that become friends.”

Lee said that initially, he was unsure about having televisions showing sports in Mister Days, figuring it would be a distraction from the dancing and food. But when he saw customers leaving to go home and watch “Roots,” a 1970s miniseries, he began to think differently.

Instead of relying on the major network broadcasts, Lee did something new for customers by, as he put it, putting on “all games all the time.” 

“We figured out how to do back-channels through satellite dishes, so we got the satellite dishes,” he said. “We started doing all games all the time. Nobody else had it. We weren’t the first sports bar, but I believe we were the first where you could get all the games. You couldn’t buy them.”

Much of Mister Days’ popularity in D.C. came from its “Rally in the Alley,” an outdoor event held in conjunction with other nearby bars that included food, drink and live entertainment and at times hosted 15,000 people.

What began as a party one St. Patrick’s Day morphed into a charity event, just one of the bar’s charitable ventures that also included paying for kids to attend basketball camps and get basketball scholarships to DeMatha Catholic High School and donating food for free Christmas and Thanksgiving meals. 

“[Rally in the Alley] became a major event,” Lee said. “That’s like the acorn that became an oak tree. That was just an idea, and that’s what I love to do. You have an idea, and all of a sudden it works.”

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