Arlington, VA

A North Carolina man wound up in jail after allegedly declaring independence from his trousers Saturday night.

Just before midnight on July 4, police were called to the 1200 block of S. Eads Street in Pentagon City for a report of a man exposing himself.

“Arriving officers located the suspect, who attempted to walk away from them. He then turned back and allegedly exposed himself to officers, who then took him into custody without incident,” according to a new Arlington County Police Department crime report.

A 36-year-old man from Fayetteville, North Carolina “was arrested and charged with Indecent Exposure and Drunk in Public,” the report continued. “He was held on no bond.”

On the morning of the Fourth of July, a 29-year-old D.C. man was arrested on the 100 block of S. Fenwick Street, in the Arlington Heights neighborhood, after another alleged indecent exposure incident.

“At approximately 7:04 a.m. on July 4, police were dispatched to the report of an indecent exposure,” said the crime report. “Upon arrival, it was determined that the victim observed the male suspect allegedly touching himself inappropriately. Arriving officers located the suspect and took him into custody without incident.”

The suspect was charged with Public Masturbation and held on no bond, the crime report said.

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(Updated at 11:25 a.m.) A man inappropriately touched and attempted to restrain a teen girl in the Arlington Heights neighborhood Tuesday evening.

That’s according to Arlington County Police and an email on the local civic association listserv.

The incident happened around 5 p.m. on the 300 block of S. Irving Street.

“My 14 year daughter was walking home the boy she babysits for with another friend and was grabbed by a man who was walking behind following then when he attended to snatch her around the waist while crossing the street,” the victim’s father said via an email, which was reposted on the civic association’s Facebook page.

“She screamed and slapped the man who dropped her and ran away. A local family came outside when they heard the scream, and let them wait in the house for the police and my wife to show up. All three are traumatized.”

So far no arrests have been reported and police say the investigation is ongoing. More on the incident, including the description of the suspect, from ACPD:

SEXUAL BATTERY, 2019-12100186, 300 block of S. Irving Street. At approximately 5:12 p.m. on December 10, police were dispatched to the report of an assault that just occurred. Upon arrival, it was determined that three juveniles were walking in the area when the suspect allegedly began to follow them. The suspect then approached the female victim from behind, grabbed her buttocks and placed his hands around her, pulling towards him. The victim pushed the suspect away and yelled for help. The suspect fled the scene on foot prior to police arrival and a canvas of the area returned with negative results. The suspect is described as a white male, 30 – 40 years old, 5’7″ – 5’9″ tall with a lanky build. He has dark hair, a dark brown goatee with highlights of gray and stubble around the cheeks. He was wearing a tan hoodie and baggy, light blue jeans at the time of the incident. The investigation is ongoing.

Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf

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At a ribbon-cutting yesterday (Thursday), Arlington’s Montessori community celebrated the landmark ribbon-cutting for Virginia’s first standalone public K-5 Montessori school.

For years, the Arlington Public Schools’ Montessori program operated as an entity within Drew Model School. But now, the program has launched its own school inside 701 S. Highland Street — formerly Patrick Henry Elementary School.

Faculty, parents and students all celebrated the new opportunities that come with having their own school. School Board member Monique O’Grady compared the change to a metamorphosis befitting the new school’s mascot: a butterfly.

The Montessori Method is an educational philosophy that emphasizes nurturing a love of learning by offering students more educational freedom than what’s found in a traditional public school.

“Our teachers have always done a great job, but here we can carry the Montessori philosophy out of the classrooms and into the halls or outside,” Principal Catharina Genove said. “It adds to their community and it encourages collaboration throughout the hallways.”

The school currently has close to 500 students, selected through a lottery system held every spring. Students in the school traditionally stay with the same teachers for three-year cycles.

The path to the Montessori School’s independent opening was fraught with some controversy, most recently with parents from the Patrick Henry Elementary School saying they felt betrayed by the School Board’s decision to break up that school population.

“No project planning is smooth, but you persevered,” School Board Chair Tannia Talento told the crowd at the ribbon-cutting. “You have advocated and made all the efforts to get us here.”

Students at the opening sang a modified version of the Lil Nas X hit “Old Town Road” before proceeding inside to tour their new classrooms. Inside, teachers greeted old students and helped calm down children who were stressed about the new location.

“As of today, there are 502 public Montessori schools across the country, and [around] 300 of them opened in the last 10 or 15 years,” said Katie Brown, Director of Professional Learning at the National Center for Montessori in the Public Sector. “This shows an increasing demand for a holistic and child-centered approach. It’s [a program] that’s gone from the margins of education into the mainstream.”

“Montessori has been traditionally viewed as a program accessible only to the wealthy due to the high cost associated with it,” said Mrinal Oberoi, a PTA member. “It has been made especially famous by the likes of Jeff Bezos, Sergey Brin and Larry Page, Stephen Curry, etc. MPSA makes Montessori education accessible to all.”

Students at the opening said they were excited to feel less cramped than in their previous school.

The change also comes with a handful of new transportation changes. Residents will likely notice more busses in the area since the school is a countywide program, according to a press release from APS.

Other changes include:

  • The entrance on S. Highland Street will be bus-only and one way, with buses exiting on Walter Reed Drive.
  • The south entrance to the building, next to the library, will not be available to entry from 7:30-8:30 a.m. to accommodate bus traffic.
  • Parent drop-off is in the nine spaces between the 15-minute parking signs on Highland Street with queuing on 9th Street S.
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Morning Notes

‘Mabel’s Restaurant’ Coming to Arlington Heights — The restaurant coming to the grounds of the Dominion Apartments, at the former Sherwin Williams paint store (3411 5th Street S.), is called “Mabel’s Restaurant.” An outdoor seating area is planned for the restaurant, according to permit filings. [Arlington Economic Development]

Northam Visits Amazon — “In June, we were excited to open our first temporary office space for our Arlington headquarters in Crystal City. Today, we welcomed @GovernorVA to tour our new work space and meet with Amazonians from the Commonwealth.” [Twitter]

Crystal City Conducting Survey — “The area encompassing Crystal City, Pentagon City and Potomac Yard – Arlington is a dynamic mixed-use urban center and Virginia’s largest walkable downtown… we are embarking on a place branding effort to uncover our neighborhood story and create a striking visual identity.” [Crystal City BID]

History of Heidelberg Bakery — “Heidelberg Bakery is a local landmark in Arlington… In this oral history clip, Carla and Wolfgang Buchler, owners of the Heidelberg Pastry Shoppe, discuss the lack of diversity in breads that Wolfgang found in America when he first came to the U.S. in the 1970’s–and how tastes have changed, partly due to Heidelberg Pastry Shoppe’s delicious treats.” [Arlington Public Library]

Glebe Road Bridge Project — “The Virginia Department of Transportation on Tuesday, Aug. 13 will hold a community forum on its plans to rehabilitate the Route 120 (North Glebe Road) bridge over Pimmit Run to improve safety and extend the bridge’s overall lifespan. The event will be held on from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Williamsburg Middle School, 3600 North Harrison St. in Arlington.” [InsideNova]

‘Drunkard’ Ruling Won’t Be Appealed — “Virginia’s attorney general on Friday said he will not appeal a ruling that struck down a state law allowing police to arrest and jail people designated as ‘habitual drunkards.'” [Associated Press]

Oil in Sink Causes ‘Fatbergs’ — “If you pour used cooking grease down the kitchen sink, you’re not alone — according to a new survey, 44 percent of respondents in the D.C. region pour cooking oil, fat, or grease down the sink at least occasionally. In doing so — rather than dumping it in the trash–you may be contributing to the creation of something truly horrifying — a fatberg.” [DCist]

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The Arlington County Board made the unusual move of extending weekend operating hours to 2 a.m. for one Columbia Pike establishment — but it’s not for a bar.

The Board granted permission for the Ethiopian Community Development Council (ECDC) to hold community events until 2 a.m. on weekend nights. In exchange, staff from the office building at 901 S. Highland Street will be responsible for keeping the noise down, and ensuring there are two security personnel present in labeled vests.

“It’s outcomes we care about,” said Board Chair Christian Dorsey after a lengthy back-and-forth over the number of security personnel needed to accommodate the event space. The Board voted unanimously to grant ECDC a use permit after Board member Katie Cristol proposed an amendment to keep the current requirement of 2 staff members.

“It’s pretty unusual extending events to 2 a.m., particularly in a space that abuts a more residential area,” said Cristol.

“The reason I’m comfortable taking this unusual step is all of the work all of you have done,” she said, citing sound-proofing and traffic management measures ECDC has taken over the past several years.

“I think it is going to accommodate the needs of our community,” ECDC President and CEO Dr. Tsehaye Teferra told ARLnow today (Tuesday). “In times of death or joy people need a space to gather and we are meeting that need. That’s how we started it.”

The development council has provided language and job training to Ethiopians who have newly immigrated to the United States since 1983 and advocates for the D.C. area’s growing Ethiopian community. ECDC’s office along Columbia Pike also serves as an ad-hoc community center by letting members rent out space for events, from celebrations to memorial services.

County planner Matthew Pfeiffer presented recommendations to the Board that ECDC be granted longer opening hours — as long as they provide three staffers to oversee operations to direct “potential impacts away from N. Highland Street.” Under the county’s proposal, ECDC would be required to provide two staffers to monitor the events and provide security, and the third would be dedicated to managing noise and traffic on N. Highland Street.

Teferra protested the increased staffing requirement, saying it should be up to ECDC to set appropriate staffing levels in order to keep cost of renting the spaces low.

“If we are required to have three staff at all times, financially it is not sustainable,” he said.

The newly-extended hours would only apply to one of ECDC’s buildings: the “front” building on the corner of Columbia Pike and S. Highland Street, which has a 3,762 square-foot ballroom. ECDC’s rear office building also has a 1,437 square-foot space that will stick with the old midnight closing hours for weekend events, Teferra says.

ECDC requested later hours for the ballroom to help serve a community that includes people working late shifts in restaurants and hotels that conflict with the current closing times.

Teferra added that although many of the community members work in hotels, it’s hard for them to afford the activity space in hotels, and not all locations allow them to bring in their own food. Other places, like apartment party rooms, sometimes require guest lists which are difficult to manage for drop-in events like wakes.

“In many cases, most people work until 8 or 9 p.m. and events don’t start right away,” he said. “So in the past we had the limit was until 11:30. By the time the party started then it’s over.”

Teferra told the Board that ECDC usually hosts at least one community event per month, including memorial services, christenings, weddings, graduations, religious ceremonies and birthday parties.

The council also holds other events, like job training events.

He told ARLnow that not every event is a nighttime one — most christenings happen in the morning, for instance — and that ECDC plans to end most weekend nighttime meetings before 1:30 a.m.

Pfeiffer noted that neighbors “fairly clearly” did not support the request for long hours when the county engaged the Arlington Heights neighborhood. Teferra disagreed, saying the ECDC gathered over 100 signatures of support from neighbors.

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An Arlington Heights parent is launching a challenge to School Board Chairman Reid Goldstein, arguing that the county school system needs a more transparent, comprehensive planning process to match the county’s persistently rising student enrollment levels.

David Priddy told ARLnow that he’s filed papers to compete in the upcoming caucus to win the Democratic Committee’s endorsement in the race. School Board seats are nominally non-partisan, and candidates don’t run under party labels, but local parties frequently endorse candidates for the Board.

Goldstein announced his re-election bid in early January in the race for the lone Board seat on the ballot this fall. He’s seeking his second term in office after winning the seat in 2015, replacing retiring Board member Abby Raphael.

Democratic Committee Chair Jill Caiazzo says that Goldstein and Priddy were the only candidates to file for the caucus ahead of last night’s deadline. Considering that every School Board member for the last 15 years has won the party’s endorsement before going on to win the general election, the caucus will likely decide the outcome of the race.

Priddy wrote in an email that he’s an Arlington native, and grew up attending Arlington Public Schools. He serves on Superintendent Patrick Murphy’s Advisory Committee on the Elimination of the Achievement Gap and he has two children currently in the county’s school system: one at Thomas Jefferson Middle School and the other will attend Alice West Fleet Elementary School when it opens next year.

He hopes that, as “a product of APS as well as an APS parent,” he’ll have a unique perspective to bring to the job.

“Priddy is running for the School Board because he believes better transparency into School Board decision-making is needed, along with comprehensive planning for growth to enable fiscally-responsible financial investments in both new and renovated educational facilities,” his campaign biography reads. “He is not afraid to directly confront the tough issues – from technology to inclusion to capacity challenges – that Arlington’s schools are currently facing.”

Priddy’s Arlington Heights neighborhood has a bit of a fraught history with the school system, and Goldstein, in particular.

The process of determining how, exactly, the school system will add new space for high schoolers at the Arlington Career Center has frustrated many parents in the neighborhood, who argue that the school shouldn’t open as a high school serving the South Arlington neighborhood unless APS can guarantee it will boast the same amenities as the county’s other comprehensive high schools.

Similarly, the recent redistricting process to divvy up students from nearby elementary schools and send them to Fleet as it opens next year sparked conflict in the community.

Parents at Patrick Henry Elementary School, which will soon become the exclusive home of Drew Model School’s Montessori program, argued that Board members (Goldstein, in particular) repeatedly promised them that the school community would move as one to Fleet. School officials dispute their account, and the Board ended up directing about a fifth of Henry’s student body elsewhere, prompting plenty of hurt feelings.

However, Priddy does not make any direct reference to those controversies in his campaign materials, and he said he will launch his campaign in earnest in mid-March.

Goldstein and Priddy will square off in a three-day, “unassembled” caucus in June.

Democrats hoping to vote in the race can do so on June 4 at Drew Elementary (3500 23rd Street S.) from 7-9 p.m., June 6 at Key Elementary (2300 Key Blvd) from 7-9 p.m. or June 8 at Washington-Liberty High School (1301 N. Stafford Street) from 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Anyone hoping to vote in the race will be required to sign a pledge indicating that they are a Democrat and don’t plan to support any other candidate in the race.

Caiazzo stresses that this process is different from a primary, which Virginia law does not allow to decide nominations in School Board races.

Courtesy photo of Priddy, right, file photo of Goldstein, left

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A Virginia State Police SWAT team raided a home Tuesday in the Arlington Heights neighborhood, between Columbia Pike and Route 50, but no arrests were made.

A resident said the raid happened around 2 p.m., near the intersection of S. Garfield Street and 6th Street S.

It involved an “armored vehicle [and] 7 or 8 officers with rifles, pointing at basement windows ordering someone to come out with hands up,” the resident said. “[A] woman and girl only in towels were escorted out.”

VSP spokeswoman Corinne Geller said the police activity “was related to an ongoing criminal investigation” and added that no arrests were made.

“Because it’s ongoing, I’m not able to provide any additional information at this time,” Geller said.

While most criminal matters are handled by local law enforcement, Virginia State Police has a mandate to investigate felonies statewide via its Bureau of Criminal Investigation, either at the order of the Governor or at the request of the Attorney General, commonwealth’s attorneys, chiefs of police, sheriffs and grand juries.

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An Arlington woman who looked after dogs in her home was forced to close late last year after a complaint from a neighbor.

A reader emailed to say that a woman she said was “the best dog boarder in Arlington” was closed after a neighbor “complained and effectively shut down her boarding business.”

The reader said she used the dog-boarding service Rover.com to connect with the sitter when she needed to go out of town. Rover.com describes itself as the “nation’s largest network of 5-star pet sitters and dog walkers,” and allows people to connect with others nearby who can help with their pets.

A spokeswoman for the county’s Department of Community, Planning, Housing and Development confirmed the closure at a house on S. Fenwick Street in Arlington Heights.

“The property owner admitted that she was operating a dog sitting business and that she had three adult dogs plus her own two adult dogs but was not able to obtain photos of the three adult dogs she was watching,” the spokeswoman said. “She informed the inspector that she was operating her business from a website called Rover.”

Such services could be illegal under Arlington County Code, which allows no more than three dogs per household. The only exception to that rule, per the Animal Welfare League of Arlington, is when the zoning administrator approves more and the home has a kennel license.

That could mean that more users of Rover.com in Arlington — there are nine sitters and walkers listed in the county on the website — are in breach of county code. In an email, the reader bemoaned the loss of a favorite service.

“This was the most lovely, family-run business you could imagine,” she said. “Kids at home helped look after the dogs. [They had] 112 repeat clients.”

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A Japanese restaurant is now open at the Westmont Shopping Center on Columbia Pike.

Takohachi opened last Monday (December 11) at 3249 Columbia Pike, near its intersection with S. Glebe Road in Arlington Heights.

It replaced the Sports House Grill, a sports bar that ran into some controversy in recent years, between a State Farm agent and a Mattress Firm store.

The restaurant has a sushi bar, as well as traditional Japanese food like noodles, ramen, tempura and several types of saki — a Japanese rice wine — on the menu.

It is open for lunch every day from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. On Sundays through Thursdays, it is open 5-10 p.m. for dinner, and on Fridays and Saturdays from 5-10:30 p.m.

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Construction crews have moved into the Dominion Arms apartment building as major renovations begin.

The building at 333 S. Glebe Road in Arlington Heights is set for renovations inside according to permit applications filed with the county. This will include converting 2,400 square feet of retail space on the building’s first floor into amenity space for residents.

Six laundry or storage areas will be converted into residential units, while the sprinklers and fire alarms will get an upgrade and the building’s roof will be repaired. Several trees will also be removed.

To prepare for the project, which appears to have shuttered the entire building, first-floor businesses have moved out. That included the likes of a barber shop, dry cleaners and convenience store. The entire site has been fenced off by the construction crews.

Several readers had asked whether the building would be “razed,” but no demolition permits have been filed.

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Morning Notes

Arlington Heights Gets New Stop Sign — “The Arlington Heights neighborhood became a safer place for students and other pedestrians on Oct. 30,” after the neighborhood got a new all-way stop sign at the intersection of 2nd Street S. and S. Irving Street. Residents collected some 500 petition signatures in support of adding the stop sign. [InsideNova]

Reminder: Daylight Saving Time — Early Sunday morning is the time to “fall back” as Daylight Saving Time ends and clocks get set back an hour. [USA Today]

Clean Air in N. Va. — “This past summer’s air was among the healthiest in memory across the commonwealth. The summer months were the cleanest in terms of ground-level ozone in at least 20 years, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality reported on Oct. 31.” [InsideNova]

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