Arlington, VA

The Arlington County Board is set to vote this weekend on a new Memorandum of Agreement with Arlington National Cemetery, ahead of work on a new cemetery expansion project that will bring major changes to the eastern end of Columbia Pike.

The project, which has taken shape over the past four years, would add 70 acres to the southern portion of the cemetery, including 37 acres of additional burial space, intended to help the nation’s most hallowed ground continue burials through at least 2050. The expansion will add another 60,000 burial plots, by converting the former Navy Annex site, as well as current portions of Southgate Road and Columbia Pike, into cemetery space.

The Southern Expansion Project will result in a realignment of Columbia Pike, bringing it south of its current loop toward Southgate Road and reconfiguring both the intersection with S. Joyce Street and the ramp to Washington Blvd. While the reconfiguration may be an improvement for cars and buses, bicycle advocates have worried that the elimination of Southgate Road may make cycling more dangerous on the stretch.

Portions of the land being added to the cemetery are owned by Arlington County. Originally the military proposed a land swap, giving Arlington a chunk of federal land south of Columbia Pike to use for county facilities, but the land swap was called off in 2017. Instead, the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act lets the Army purchase Arlington’s land for fair value, and compel the sale if necessary.

The land south of the Pike will now be used to house a cemetery maintenance and operations facility, and a parking garage that will serve visitors to the cemetery and the Air Force Memorial, which will become part of the cemetery.

More from an Air Force Magazine article this past summer:

The plan would turn the Air Force Memorial into the centerpiece of a new southern entrance to the facility, potentially bringing thousands more people to the memorial each year.

The change will alter the landscape, traffic flow, and even the way people experience the memorial, which today is accessible 24 hours a day, but under the new plan, it would be contained within the cemetery’s perimeter and only accessible during daylight hours. The memorial entrance would have a multilevel parking facility and an anticipated five-fold increase in visitors, said Maj. Gen. James A. Jacobson, commander of the Air Force District of Washington.

“This will further enshrine the Air Force Memorial as the history and heroism location for our service,” he said. “Tying it in with the cemetery does what it can’t do standing alone.”

Last March, a House Appropriations subcommittee was told that the Army was hoping to break ground on the first phase of the project in 2020, with a second phase starting in 2022 and work completing in 2025. Nearly $300 million of the project cost has already been appropriated.

The Memorandum of Agreement among the cemetery, the county and other stakeholders, under consideration by the County Board this weekend, outlines proposed “mitigation of cultural resources” as part of the project. The agreement calls for repair and reuse of the cemetery’s blue granite Boundary Wall, in the project site; a new historic marker commemorating Freedman’s Village, a village of freed slaves that was built during the Civil War on current cemetery grounds; and some alterations to the grounds around the Air Force Memorial.

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While placing wreaths on headstones at Arlington National Cemetery may be a more festive volunteer activity, there’s still as much of a need for help removing the wreaths.

The cemetery is calling for volunteers to help “retire” the wreaths with dignity this weekend. The removal event is taking place Saturday starting at 8 a.m.

Due to stepped up security all volunteers will need to bring photo IDs.

More from the cemetery’s website:

Arlington National Cemetery (ANC) will hold its annual removal of wreaths, known as “Wreaths Out,” Saturday, Jan. 11 beginning at 8 a.m.

Thousands of volunteers are expected to help remove the more than 245,000 wreaths placed Dec. 14 by approximately 35,000 volunteers. The high volume of volunteers may create traffic congestion and delays on nearby streets and at the cemetery’s entrances.

This is a special day where the wreaths placed at these hallowed grounds during the holiday season in remembrance and honor of our nation’s fallen service members and their families will be respectfully removed by volunteers. We encourage volunteers to use three entrances to access the cemetery which include Memorial Avenue, South gate and for DoD cardholders, the Old Post Chapel gate.

There will be no vehicular access permitted on cemetery grounds until 3 p.m. Family pass holders and volunteers with handicapped placards only will be permitted to park in the Arlington National Cemetery parking garage beginning at 7 a.m. on a first-come, first-served basis. Volunteers must remain in their vehicles until the cemetery opens at 8 a.m. Ride share and taxi drivers using Memorial Avenue must drop off adjacent to the Arlington Cemetery Metro stop.

Tips for Volunteers:

  • Give vehicles and heavy equipment the right of way and let them pass in roadways.
  • Remove only WAA wreaths. Leave all other wreaths or decorations in place.
  • Place wreaths in dumpsters positioned throughout the cemetery and pack them tightly.
  • When dumpsters are filled, do not pile wreaths next to them. Carry wreaths to unfilled dumpsters.
  • Do not jump or climb on wreaths in dumpsters to compress them

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Morning Notes

New Security Measures at ANC — “Arlington National Cemetery is implementing heightened security measures after a U.S. airstrike killed a top Iranian general. The extra security will create longer lines at security checkpoints and delays… All visitors over the age of 16 will be required to show a valid state or government photo ID to enter by foot or car, Arlington National Cemetery says. Visitors aged 16 or 17 can show a school-issued ID.” [NBC 4, Twitter]

Office Building Above Rosslyn Safeway Sold — “An affiliate of The Meridian Group has paid $113.15 million for 1525 Wilson Blvd., a Rosslyn office building featuring the colorful sculpture of a dancing couple, after selling another building in the Arlington County office market last summer.” [Washington Business Journal]

Lee Highway Planning Update — “To mark the end of a year collecting ideas for the road’s ‘reimagining‘ by the nonprofit Lee Highway Alliance, its executive director, Ginger Brown, gave an update predicting that phase two — development of land-use and zoning ideas — could be ‘the most contentious.’ […] ‘Lee Highway is stuck in 1950s strip-mall zoning,’ Brown told a Dec. 19 breakfast group.” [Falls Church News-Press]

Local Shop Has Best Cheese Selection in the U.S.? — Arrowine, a long-time ARLnow sponsor, has the best wine selection in the D.C. area and possibly the best cheese selection in the country after its recent renovation, according to local restaurant reviewer Don Rockwell. [DCDining.com]

Pike Lane Closures Are Hurting Local Business — “An employee at Cinthia’s Bakery II on Columbia Pike said the restaurant is seeing a significant drop off in the number of customers and an increase in empty tables all due to the construction.” [WJLA]

Yorktown Boys Improve to 11-0 — “This is the new Yorktown basketball: Take the first available shot, press nonstop on defense, substitute in a whole new lineup every 90 seconds. It’s a strategy some other area schools have tried — Lake Braddock, most successfully — but few have perfected. And it has the Patriots, the worst team in their conference last season, undefeated at 11-0 after a dazzling 86-51 rout of Madison (6-5).” [Washington Post]

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Arlington County’s 2019 DESIGNArlington award winners were announced earlier this week.

The big winners receiving the Award of Excellence include a cemetery, a mall, a school and two houses. Others were recognized with Merit Awards.

“DESIGNArlington 2019 award recipients were recognized for projects including public art, private home renovations, new construction, open space, sustainable design and historic preservation,” says the awards’ website. The winners were selected by a panel of local judges with architectural, planning and design backgrounds.

The Award of Excellence winners are:

  • Arlington National Cemetery’s Millennium Project — “The design accommodates an additional 56,000 interments through a combination of in-ground casket burials, cremation burials, and cremation interments in multiple courtyards across the site.”
  • Ballston Quarter mall (Ballston) — “The mall’s reconfiguration creates a shopping loop along Wilson Boulevard and through the newly converted ‘street.'”
  • The Heights Building (Rosslyn) — “[The school’s] vertical design creatively responds to site constraints and meets the main goals of providing a central space that connects the building levels with access to outdoor space at all levels.”
  • Manifold House (Lyon Village) — “Inspired by the owner’s passion for repairing small-scale engine parts, Manifold House is an ode to the precision of manufactured assemblages.”
  • Rubio Residence (Donaldson Run) — “This addition enhances a classic, early 1940’s Art Moderne house with both complimentary massing and similar architectural vocabulary.”
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Morning Notes

County Board Approves Legislative Priorities — “The Arlington County Board today finalized its 2020 General Assembly Legislative Proposals… Arlington’s proposals include requests that the General Assembly renew without a sunset clause the .25 percent transient occupancy tax on hotel rooms that funds travel and tourism promotion in Arlington.” [Arlington County]

Groups Call for County-Owned Power Company — “Eighty years after the idea was first broached, several progressive groups are embarked on a likely uphill effort to have the Arlington government develop its own energy utility. The Arlington Green Party is the latest to sign on to the effort, which was proposed by Our Revolution Arlington.” [InsideNova]

New Operator for Shelter on the Pike — “Arlington has finalized new contracts for operation of the County’s two homeless shelters for single adults beginning in January 2020. A-SPAN will continue to operate the Homeless Services Center in the Courthouse Neighborhood, and New Hope Housing will take over from Volunteers of America – Chesapeake & Carolinas to operate the Residential Program Center on Columbia Pike.” [Arlington County]

Thousands Participate in Wreath Laying — “Despite the cold and the rain, thousands of volunteers came to make sure our country’s fallen heroes were honored with wreaths during the 2019 National Wreaths Across America Day at Arlington National Cemetery. There was no mistaking what this meant to families whose loved ones are buried at Arlington National. One of those families watching volunteers flood the cemetery told FOX 5 they couldn’t interview without crying.” [Fox 5]

Trump Campaign Strategizes at Local Hotel — “Over a 90-minute PowerPoint session at a hotel in Arlington, Va., on Thursday, Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, campaign manager Brad Parscale and other senior Trump campaign officials presented dozens of national political reporters their theory of how Trump can win again in 2020.” [Axios]

Nearby: Seven Corners Bridge Rehab Complete — “The rehabilitation of the one-way bridge linking the eastbound Route 50 (Arlington Boulevard) service road to Wilson Boulevard (Route 613) is complete, improving safety for drivers and pedestrians and extending the overall life of the bridge.” [VDOT]

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Morning Notes

Fire on Columbia Pike Sunday — Arlington County firefighters extinguished a kitchen fire in an apartment building on the 1900 block of Columbia Pike Sunday afternoon. One resident was displaced by the blaze. [Twitter/@ArlingtonVaFD]

Ballston Launches ‘Gnome’ Promotion — “Starting December 16th through December 20th, look for the Ballston Holiday Gnome spreading cheer all around the neighborhood. Find our holiday helper, and you’ll win gifts from some of our favorite Ballston restaurants and stores.” [Facebook]

Skylight Replacement at Arlington National — “After 30 years, the skylight in the @ArlingtonNatl Welcome Center is being repaired under the watchful eye of our Engineering team. As always, the cemetery remains open while we improve your experience.” [Twitter/@KDurhamAguilera]

Amazon Opening Smaller Office in NYC Post-HQ2 — “The giant online retailer said it has signed a new lease for 335,000 square feet on Manhattan’s west side in the new Hudson Yards neighborhood, where it will have more than 1,500 employees. The new lease represents Amazon’s largest expansion in New York since the company stunned the city by abandoning plans to locate its second headquarters in the Queens neighborhood of Long Island City.” [Wall Street Journal, Crain’s New York BusinessTwitter/@ProfGalloway]

Nearby: Shoppers Closing in Potomac Yard — “Shoppers is closing in Potomac Yard, its parent company announced today. The supermarket, at 3801 Richmond Highway, is expected to close by the end of January. Other Shoppers stores in Manassas, Baltimore and Severn (Maryland) are also closing, and the company is selling 13 other locations.” [ALXnow]

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Morning Notes

Parents Protest APS Proposal — “School officials tasked with the perpetual jigsaw puzzle of reassigning school zones have stirred new tensions… If you drive McKinley Rd., you can’t miss the printed signs ‘SAVE MCKINLEY: Our Neighborhood School Since 1951.’ The Madison Manor Civic Association has revved up with nearby PTAs and community groups to assemble contrary arguments.” [Falls Church News-Press]

Tafti Pushes Back on AG Comments — From Arlington Commonwealth’s Attorney-elect Parisa Dehghani-Tafti: “We are neither righteous warriors nor avenging angels. We are public servants. So a little humility in how we do our job and how we accept public critique of our work would go a long way toward building a system that is both safe and just.” [Twitter]

Free Holiday Grief Support Service — “For those who’ve suffered loss-whether recently, or even years prior-the holiday stress can make the season more difficult. To help those grieving in Maryland, D.C., and Virginia during the holidays, Capital Caring Health, a local non-profit, offers a wide range of free counseling and support services.” [Press Release, Arlington Public Library]

Special Burial at Arlington National — “Private Edwin Francis Benson was killed in action at Tarawa during World War II. In 2017, his remains were located. Earlier this year, his remains were identified and a couple weeks ago he was laid to rest in Section 60. We honor his service.” [Twitter]

APS Students Learn About the Census — “The U.S. Census Bureau kicked off its Statistics in Schools program, offering Arlington teachers and others a wide array of resources that teach students not only about data but also about the importance of being counted in the upcoming 2020 Census. Arlington Public Schools shared the free program with its teachers, who can integrate it into their lesson plans.” [Arlington County]

Road Closures for Race in Pentagon City — “The Jingle Bell Run/Walk 5K for Arthritis will take place on Saturday, December 7. Police will conduct road closures in the area of South Joyce Street and Army Navy Drive to accommodate this event.” [Arlington County, Twitter]

New Additions to Story Map — A number of properties have been added to the Arlington Historical Society’s Story Map, per organizer Charlie Clark, including: 817 N. Irving St. (Lyon Park), built circa 1904; Hendry House, 2411 N 24th St. (Woodmont), built circa 1900; 3405 N. Glebe Rd. (Country Club Hills), built circa 1907. [Arlington Historical Society]

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(Updated at 10:50 a.m.) Thousands of volunteers will gather at Arlington National Cemetery later this month to honor veterans by laying wreaths at their graves.

The annual Wreaths Across America event will be held this year on Saturday, December 14, beginning with an opening ceremony at 8:30 a.m.

Volunteers are still being sought to help lay the wreaths, while the group that organizes the annual event is also seeking sponsors to help pay for the wreaths. As of today (Monday), more than 70,000 wreaths have been sponsored — just over a quarter of the 253,000 graves across the cemetery.

Similar to years past, cemetery officials are strongly recommending attendees use public transit to get to the wreath laying event. Because so many volunteers are expected, officials suggest using the nearby Rosslyn and Pentagon Metro stops instead of the cemetery station.

“The annual tradition provides another opportunity for visitors to honor the service and sacrifice of our service members, veterans and their families laid to rest within our hallowed grounds,” the cemetery said via social media.

More from an ANC press release:

The annual Wreaths Across America event will be held at Arlington National Cemetery (ANC) and the Soldiers’ and Airmen’s Home National Cemetery on Saturday, Dec. 14. The gates to these cemeteries will open at 8 a.m.

Volunteers should anticipate large crowds and difficulties with driving vehicles in the vicinity of Arlington National Cemetery due to road closures. To ensure the safety and security of its visitors, the cemetery has restricted personally owned vehicles from driving onto cemetery grounds during the duration of the event and is encouraging visitors to use Metrorail or Metrobus.

“We encourage volunteers to arrive early and recommend taking Metro to the Pentagon or Rosslyn stations and walking into the cemetery,” said Executive Director Karen Durham-Aguilera. “It’s a short 15-minute walk from these stations and the most seamless way to access our hallowed grounds on this special day.”

Event Details

The Arlington National Cemetery gates – Main Entrance, South Gate and Ord & Weitzel -will open to the public at 8 a.m. All volunteers must pass through the cemetery’s security screening process before entering the cemetery.

Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall will be accessible to DoD ID card holders only; however, parking will be limited to the Tri Services parking lot located across from the Spates Community Center and Henderson Hall.  Due to ongoing construction, the sole entry point to the cemetery from Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall will be the Old Post Chapel Gate.

There will be a brief opening ceremony inside the cemetery at the McClellan Gate at 8:30 a.m. General wreath placement will also begin at this time with the exception of those trucks in vicinity of the opening ceremony. They will begin wreath placements no later than 9 a.m.

Use Metro to Access the Cemetery

Due to anticipated congestion at the Arlington Cemetery Station, Metro recommends volunteers exit via the Rosslyn or Pentagon stations and walk to the cemetery. From these locations it is a short 15-minute walk to one of the cemetery entrances.  If exiting at Rosslyn, you must enter the cemetery via the Ord & Weitzel gate by walking along the North Meade Street sidewalks. If exiting at the Pentagon, you must enter through the cemetery’s South Gate entrance by walking along North Rotary Road.

Pentagon Parking

Limited general public parking will be available at the Pentagon North and South Parking lots. There will be Wreaths Across America volunteers and signage positioned in the parking lots guiding visitors to walk to the nearest cemetery entrances. For those parking in Pentagon South Parking, recommend walking to the cemetery’s South Gate entrance for screening and entry to the grounds. For those parking in Pentagon North Parking, recommend walking to the cemetery’s main entrance on Memorial Ave. by using the Route 27 pedestrian walkway.

There will be additional parking lots available for volunteers at a reduced $7 per day rate, within walking distance to the cemetery.  These garages are located at:  1616 Fort Myer Drive; 1300 Wilson Blvd.; and 1655 North Fort Myer Drive.

Family Pass Holders/Handicapped Placards

ONLY family pass holders and those with handicapped placards will be allowed to park in the ANC Welcome Center parking garage.

Instructions:  Family pass holders and those with handicapped plates/placards will need to go to Pentagon North Parking where their pass will be verified. They will then be directed to the ANC Welcome Center parking garage. Once the parking garage is full, drivers will be directed to other parking options.

Note: This is a change from last year. There is NO pre-registration required for family pass holder parking this year.

Ride Share Drop-off Locations

For those volunteers who plan to arrive via a ride share (i.e. Uber, Lyft), the drop off location is the Hayes lot (599-549 Army Navy Drive). From this point, volunteers will need to walk to the cemetery’s South Gate entrance.

Photo via Flickr/Jeff Reardon 

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Morning Notes

Advocates Pushing for Less Parking at HQ2 — “Amazon wants employees at its new Northern Virginia headquarters to commute car-free to work… So why does the development’s current design include an underground parking garage with nearly 2,000 spaces — guaranteeing that a significant chunk of Amazon’s workforce will drive to work?” [Greater Greater Washington]

Express Lanes Causing 14th Street Bridge Slowdown? — Some commuters have been taking to social media to gripe about what they say is heavier traffic caused by the I-395 Express Lanes: “This morning the express lanes made 395N regular lanes undriveable. The problem is they closed off the 14th street bridge hov to regular traffic, which is creating a tremendous clog point. Its now taking 30 mins just to cross the 14th street bridge.” [Twitter, Twitter]

Northam in Arlington Today — Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) is scheduled to attend the Governor’s Transportation Conference this morning at a hotel in Crystal City. [Cvent]

‘Feuerwehrmann’ Joins ACFD for Three Weeks — “Two Arlington County Fire Department crews had a unique opportunity recently when they welcomed a fellow firefighter from the Aachen Fire Department in Germany.  Lieutenant Sebastian Ganser, a firefighter, paramedic, and fire instructor in Arlington’s sister city of Aachen, Germany, spent three weeks with Station 5C in Crystal City and Station 2B in Ballston — living and working alongside Arlington’s firefighters and paramedics.” [Arlington County]

Long-Distance Runners Arriving in Arlington Soon — “Josh and Brian will be running roughly 500 miles from Massachusetts National Cemetery to Arlington National Cemetery in VA for your donations. This journey will take between 10-14 days averaging 40-50 miles per day. They will start on November 11th, 2019 (Veterans Day) and will only stop to eat and sleep until they make it to Arlington, VA.” [Mission 22]

Road Closures for Annual 5K — “The 5th annual Jennifer Bush-Lawson Memorial 5K Race will take place on Saturday, November 23, 2019. The Arlington County Police Department will implement several road closures from approximately 8:00 AM until 11:00 AM to accommodate this event.” [Arlington County]

Planetarium Boosters to Stay Active During Closure — “The Arlington school system’s lone planetarium will be closed for about a year and a half starting later this month, as construction takes place turning the nearby Arlington Education Center building into classroom space. But leaders with the Friends of Arlington’s David M. Brown Planetarium say they will fill the gap with programming elsewhere during the closure.” [InsideNova]

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Morning Notes

Congrats to the Nats — Fireworks could be heard in parts of Arlington as the Nationals won the World Series in Game 7 just before midnight. [Twitter, Twitter]

Nats World Series Run Helps Local Startup — “BreakingT’s business is very much staying in the fight. The Arlington T-shirt retailer had already seen a significant boost from the Nationals’ playoff run… Until last week, BreakingT’s biggest revenue day was during the All-Star Game hosted at Nationals Park last July. But each of the three home World Series matchups have now exceeded that.” [Washington Business Journal]

Severe Storms Expected Tonight — “Hazardous Halloween weather is possible in the Washington area and many parts of the Mid-Atlantic, where a line of storms, some of which may be severe, will sweep through during the evening. ‘A potentially dangerous weather event is unfolding for Thursday,’ wrote the National Weather Service serving the Washington region.” [Washington Post, Twitter]

Chick-fil-A Customers Cause Crystal City Cycling Consternation — “Diving deeper geographically from streets to blocks and overlaying vehicle type, a story starts to emerge from the data. We already knew the majority of bike lane blockages were on Crystal Drive, but now we can see that the 2100 block of Crystal Drive is where all the action is, why? Chick-fil-a!” [Greater Greater Washington]

Kudos for Hot Lola’s in Ballston — “Got a hankering for a fried chicken sandwich? Forget Popeyes — go for Hot Lola’s’s version in Arlington, says a new report. Washingtonian says Hot Lola’s hot-chicken sandwich are the best in the D.C. area, tied with Wooboi in Herndon for the No. 1 spot in their list of the top five in our region.” [Washingtonian, Patch]

Paul Rudd’s Pentagon Ice Cream Connection — “While searching for the quickest route to the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City from my apartment, I went down a weird internet black hole and discovered that the Google Maps photo for the Baskin-Robbins at the Pentagon features Paul Rudd dressed as a Baskin-Robbins employee. What’s the deal with that?” [Washingtonian]

Tomorrow: Horticultural Event at Arlington National — “Friday Nov 1: Join ANC’s Horticulturist for a walking tour of the cemetery’s Memorial Arboretum. We’ll look at trees, shrubs and perennials that survived the wet spring and hot, dry summer of 2019.” [Twitter]

Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf

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Morning Notes

New Noise Enforcement Tools — “Arlington government officials have added new tools in an effort to address nighttime noise violations from restaurants and bars. The new policy is designed to target ‘the ones who consistently refuse to comply’ in resolving noise complaints, County Attorney Stephen MacIsaac told County Board members on Oct. 22.” [InsideNova]

Beyer on Aircraft Noise — “Today, Rep. Don Beyer (VA-08) sent a letter to the Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration expressing concerns about its recent announcement to make changes to flight paths at DCA to accommodate Secret Service needs without giving meaningful consideration to community interests.” [Press Release]

Video: Amazon Truck Towed in Crystal City — “Can’t say we didn’t warn you… controversial Advanced Towing removes an @amazon truck from ‘National Landing.'” [Twitter]

Housing Supply Down, Prices Up — “The Arlington County, Virginia, housing market continues to get more expensive, and potential buyers continue to have fewer and fewer houses and condos to consider.” [WTOP]

What Goes Into an Arlington Nat’l Cemetery Burial — “If you live near Arlington, you may be familiar with the sound of cannon fire early in the morning. The Presidential Salute Battery fires cannons for military ceremonies in Washington and is the only unit of its kind in the Army. ” [WAMU]

Nearby: Nats World Series Scam — Per Fairfax County Police: “Our Detectives are investigating an increasing number of scams involving the sale of @Nationals World Series tickets. Please use caution when purchasing tickets from sources other than @MLB authorized dealers.” [Twitter, FCPD]

Courtesy photo

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