Board Holds Pike Transit Station Meeting — Updated at 10:45 a.m. — More than three-and-a-half years after it was first revealed by ARLnow.com that a prototype bus stop on Columbia Pike cost more than $1 million, the discussion of less expensive bus stop alternatives continues. The County Board last night held a work session with staff to discuss the current status of Pike transit station planning, ultimately voting to approve the County Manager’s design recommendations. [Arlington County]
APS High School Boundary Refinements — The next step in what promises to be a contentious process of adjusting Arlington’s high school boundaries will take place tomorrow. A community meeting is planned at the Washington-Lee High School cafeteria starting at 7 p.m. Thursday. [Arlington Public Schools]
Cemetery Bike Ban Starts Today — Starting today, only loved ones visiting a grave or niche will be allowed to ride a bike in Arlington National Cemetery. That nixes a commuter route through the cemetery that some cyclists used to avoid busy roads elsewhere in the county. [ARLnow]
Clement Attacks Pay Raise Proposal — Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey’s pay raise suggestion is opening her up to attacks from challenger Audrey Clement. “The problem is [the] County Board doesn’t do much work, unless you consider rubber-stamping done deals ‘work,'” Clement told supporters via email. Clement also is criticizing a plan to add an extra high-occupancy lane to I-395 and, in response to local noise complaints, calling on NASA to develop quieter helicopters. [InsideNova, Audrey Clement]
Stalled Cab Company May Retain Permits — Arlington County Manager Mark Schwartz is recommending the County Board give All Access Taxi, which specializes in providing wheelchair-accessible transportation, two more years to get its service off the ground. Currently, the company has only one cab — and 49 unused permits. [Washington Post]
Local Ghost Stories — ‘Our Man in Arlington’ columnist Charlie Clark has received recent reports of ghostly encounters from “reliable sources” at several local places: at Arlington Hall, along George Mason Drive; at the Overlee swim club and a nearby home; and at an 18th century home in McLean that was torn down last month. [Falls Church News-Press]
Pamplona May Open in December — Pamplona, a new Spanish restaurant in the former SoBe space in Clarendon, is hoping to open “by the end of the year.” James Martin, a 29-year-old rising culinary star, will be the restaurant’s executive chef. He hopes Pamplona will win the kind of critical acclaim that can “put Clarendon on the map.” [Northern Virginia Magazine]
Starting Oct. 26, the Army will bar bike riders from using a 1.2-mile route on Meigs, Sherman and Schley drives to cut through the property, unless they are specifically there to visit a gravesite, according to a new rule.
Bicyclists visiting a grave can get a pass from the cemetery’s Welcome Center to enter the grounds.
Instead of cutting through the cemetery, cyclists can travel into Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall and use a 1.3-mile route on McNair Road and Marshall Drive to reach a path along Route 110 that leads to the Memorial Bridge.
Cyclists using the base still have to abide by security policies that were enacted last year. Those security policies have been criticized by some as overly restrictive, requiring those who are not members of the military to apply for a special pass every 60 days.
“The cemetery is not intended to serve as a shortcut route for bicyclists commuting to and from other locations,” the military says. “Rather, as an operational cemetery conducting up to 30 funerals a day and hosting official visits from visiting dignitaries on its narrow roads, the primary purpose of these roads are to facilitate funeral processions, military units, official vehicles to include their escorts, and cemetery equipment and vehicles operating in the daily care of the cemetery.”
“Several commenters argued that bicycles do not impact the decorum of the cemetery,” the Army said in response to cyclist concerns. “The Army disagrees with and rejects these comments for several reasons related to the nature of cemetery operations, decorum, security, and safety.”
The response continued:
Additionally, while the Army assumes that most riders bear no malice of intent to demonstrate disrespect or violate decorum or decency, bicyclists traversing the cemetery grounds, even at the posted speed limit, can and do impact the decorum of funeral processions and services, which can number up to 30 per day, as cyclists pass along or across these procession routes. These funeral processions include not just the families and mourners, but include caissons drawn by horses, military bands, and military escort elements all travelling at a walking pace. For these services, bus tour operators and vehicles are forced to stop because there is simply not enough room to pass. This ensures proper decorum. Likewise, visitors on foot typically stop and yield to the processions also as a sign of respect. Previous trial periods with bicyclists in the cemetery showed bicyclists did not typically stop for these processions. The cemetery does not have the requisite staff to monitor and enforce this behavior for bicyclists.
Cemetery to Start Screening Visitors — Arlington National Cemetery will begin security screening of visitors and random inspection of vehicles in November. Visitors, particularly those in large groups, are being advised to allow extra time to go through screening. [Dept. of Defense]
Police: Dog Walker Stole from Residents — A dog walker who served clients in Arlington has been charged with stealing from them. Police say 34-year-old Margarita Denison and an accomplice stole valuables from watches to jewelry to baseball cards from homes in Arlington and Fairfax. Denison worked for the dog walking service Time for a Walk, which said it runs background checks and checks references but will be tightening security. [NBC Washington]
NPS Recommends Trail Projects in Arlington — Among the 18 regional trail-related projects recommended by a new National Park Service study are two in Arlington: connecting the Roosevelt Bridge path to the Mt. Vernon Trail, and improving safety at the so-called Intersection of Doom in Rosslyn. [Greater Greater Washington]
ACPD Lauded for Crisis Intervention — A father whose son spit and cursed at police as he was taken into custody in Arlington has written an op-ed to praise the Arlington County Police Department for its crisis intervention training. The father called police after his neurologically-disabled son got drunk and left the house. Officers could have hurt the son and threw him in jail, but instead used the minimum amount of force necessary and took him to a hospital, the man said. [Washington Post]
Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf
Former Mansion Owner is In Jail — Rodney Hunt, the man who once owned the $23 million Arlington mansion that’s being used to throw large parties (and which was recently sold at a foreclosure auction), is currently in the Arlington County jail. Hunt was ordered to spend 90 days in jail earlier this month for violating his parole. An attorney says Hunt doesn’t know anything about the parties. [Washington Post]
Tourists Can’t Handle the Heat at the Cemetery — Anytime it gets sufficiently toasty outside, medical calls to Arlington National Cemetery become frequent. Tourists at the cemetery regularly suffer heat-related ailments that require paramedic dispatches during the summer. The cemetery is advising visitors to wear sunscreen and bring a bottle of water during the warm weather months. [Twitter]
Airbnb Is Costing Arlington Tax Revenue — Arlington County has yet to figure out a good way to get those renting out their homes on Airbnb to pay the county’s 5.25 percent lodging tax, which is paid by hotels and should be paid by Airbnb hosts. “Very few of the folks who should be paying taxes have stepped up to fork over the money,” reports Michael Pope. [WVTF]
Art Murals in Crystal City — Crystal City has more than two dozen outdoor art murals, implemented by the Crystal City Business Improvement District. The murals are part of an effort to “visually revitalize the area,” which is noted for being something of a concrete canyon. [Curbed]
Teacher Salaries By School — A list shows the average teacher salary, by school, at Arlington Public Schools. Topping the list is Kenmore Middle School, at $80,411. At the bottom of the list is the Arlington Mill high school program, at $61,731. [Patch]
APS Finance Chief Wins Award — Leslie Peterson, the assistant superintendent for finance and management at Arlington Public Schools, is one of three officials in the U.S. to receive the 2016 Pinnacle of Achievement Award from the Association of School Business Officials International. [InsideNova]
Amtrak Police Chief Shared Apartment With ‘Alleged Boyfriend’ — Amtrak Police Chief Polly Hanson, who’s under investigation for fraud and conflict of interest, reportedly shared an Arlington apartment with her “alleged boyfriend,” a senior director at a contractor that Amtrak hired under Hanson’s supervision. The two also are said to have co-owned a condo in Dewey Beach, Del. [Washington Post]
County Considering Rideshare Subsidies — Arlington County is studying a plan that would subsidize rides on Uber and Lyft for residents who live in “more remote residential areas of the county where bus service to Metro stations is limited.” The plan, if implemented, would “replace some fixed bus service in north Arlington.” [Washington Post]
APS SOL Results — The results of the Virginia Standards of Learning tests are out. In response, Arlington Public Schools released a press release with the title “APS Continues to Make Progress in Closing the Achievement Gap.” It says: “In 2016, the APS met or exceeded the state passing rates on 28 of 29 assessments, across all grade levels and subjects. APS exceeded the state passing rates by 5 to 13 percentage points on 16 of the assessments.” [Arlington Public Schools, InsideNova, Washington Post]
APS Doesn’t Make Newsweek List — Updated at 2:05 p.m. — Newsweek is out with its annual list of the top 500 public high schools in the country, and no Arlington public school made the list. In fact, only four Virginia high schools made the list. In 2010, every APS high school was on the list. APS says it has not been submitting stats to Newsweek over the past few years. [Newsweek]
Boxing Coming to Arlington This Weekend — A nine-card boxing bout will take place at the Crystal City Hilton hotel Friday night. [Fight News]
ACPD Wreath-Laying Ceremony at ANC — Arlington County Police brass laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery on Monday. [Instagram]
Lost Dog On the Pike — A woman is trying to find her lost chihuahua, which was last seen near the intersection of Glebe Road and 9th Street S., near Columbia Pike. [Twitter]
The Laborers’ International Union says 30 of its members are striking to protest delays in negotiating a new contract, and for firings and discipline related to an ongoing labor dispute with Davey Tree and Greenleaf Services, which provide contract services to the cemetery.
Two Arlington County Board members joined the LiUNA’s first strike at the cemetery, in July.
From a press release:
In the second strike in as many months, Arlington National Cemetery grounds-keepers walked off the job today to protest extensive delays by their employers in negotiating a contract and the firing and discipline of workers who refused overtime.
The 30 members of Local 572 of the Laborers’ International Union have been seeking a contract for nine months with their joint employers, Davey Tree Expert Co. and Greenleaf Services.
The workers are asking for modest wage increases and paid sick leave. On August 1, workers engaged in concerted action, refusing to work overtime to protest perceived favoritism in the assignment of hours. The workers complain that only anti-union employees get steady hours throughout the work season, while the pro-union employees see their hours rise and fall depending on whether the employers needs them. The employers placed derogatory write-ups in the files of 15 workers and fired one, even though their action is protected under federal labor law.
“Arlington National Cemetery is a symbol of our nation’s strength and determination to stand for what is right,” said Larry Doggett, Business Manager of Local 572 and U.S. Marine Corps veteran himself. “It is shameful that the workers who care for the grounds are being treated with disregard for their fundamental rights and freedoms and subject to illegal actions for joining together.”
In addition to a contract, the workers are now seeking reinstatement of the fired employee and repeal of disciplinary action against the others.
The workers have won the support of Arlington County Board members, who joined them on their picket line when they struck on July 19.
Since May 2015, when the workers voted to join the union, they have been seeking to negotiate a boost to their average $13 an hour wage and for paid sick leave, but bargaining sessions have been repeatedly delayed or cancelled.
Davey Tree Co., based in Ohio, touts itself as the largest tree care company with 2014 revenues of $790 million.
Visitors Gathering at Khan Grave — The grave of an Army Captain who died in Iraq in 2004 has become something of a destination for visitors at Arlington National Cemetery. Flowers and American flags are being left on the grave of Capt. Humayun Khan, whose parents spoke out at the Democratic National Convention against GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump’s stance on Muslim immigration. [WJLA]
What’s Next for County Parcel Near Marymount? — Officials are beginning the process of deciding the future of a county-owned parcel of land near Marymount University, after the County Board nixed a plan to permanently move Fire Station 8 there. Possibilities for the seven-acre parcel at Old Dominion Drive and 26th Street include a small park, a new salt dome, a large mulch pile, a fueling station and a temporary home for the fire station. [InsideNova]
Richard Thompson Dies — Longtime Arlington resident and “Cul de Sac” comic strip creator Richard Thompson has died at the age of 58 after a battle with Parkinson’s Disease. [Washington Post]
Body of Missing Maryland Man Found — The GW Parkway was shut down for a period of time after a body was found in the area of Donaldson Run. Police say the body was that of a missing Maryland man. [WJLA]
Charles Hernick AMA — The Republican challenging Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) in November’s congressional race recently conducted an “Ask Me Anything” session on Reddit. Charles Hernick sparked a vigorous debate among users after saying he supports a cap and trade system to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and “clean coal” regulations. [Reddit]
What Is Old Is New Again — A 1965 issue of the Northern Virginia Sun newspaper included two hot topics of the day that should sound familiar to anyone following local news over the past couple of years: a “crisis in low-cost housing” in Arlington and complaints about aircraft noise from National Airport. [InsideNova]
It’s August — Today is the first day of August. Summer doesn’t officially end until Sept. 22, but get ready for plenty of indicators that fall is around the corner: back to school sales, Oktoberfest beers on store shelves and pre-season NFL games.
Arlington County Board members Christian Dorsey and Katie Cristol joined more than 25 contract groundkeepers in their strike this morning outside of Arlington National Cemetery.
The strike by the members of Local 572 of the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LiUNA) began today at 7 a.m. It comes after eight months of delays in reaching a new contract. The walkout is believed to be the first strike by workers at the cemetery, says LiUNA.
“This is about workers and their ability to provide for their families and their ability to live,” said Dorsey. “You really can’t do so if your wages don’t keep up with the cost of living.”
Cristol said she was at the strike to support “dignity and fair practices,” adding that the high cost of housing locally makes it hard to raise a family on the wages the groundskeepers are being paid.
The workers, who are jointly employed by Davey Tree Expert Co. and Greenleaf Services Inc., are looking for sick leave time and a pay raise of 4 percent from their current approximately $13 per hour rate.
“I don’t think our ask is that dramatic at all,” said LiUNA assistant organizing director Keon Shim. “We’ve negotiated on things that are non economic and when it came to economics, the company basically said no to everything that we proposed so far.”
“When you think about the incredibly enormous job and the important job of beautifying our cemetery, making it a sacred place and also making it hospitable for visitors, we shouldn’t take the low road with those employees who make that happen,” said Dorsey.
There will be negotiations tomorrow between the workers and the companies, according to the union. If the company is not willing to sign a new contract for workers, union representatives said, the strike will continue.
Currently, cyclists are allowed to use a specific route through the cemetery, a route that’s mostly used by bike commuters heading to D.C. However, that may soon change.
As reported two weeks ago on the Fairfax Alliance for Better Bicycling blog, the Army is considering new regulations that would ban bicycling through national military cemeteries except for those visiting gravesites or niches. That has cyclists who use the Arlington National route writing to oppose the regulations.
The recent uproar over those playing Pokemon Go at Arlington National Cemetery suggests that among the general public there is still a special reverence for the cemetery’s hallowed grounds. Does that extend to those quietly bicycling through the cemetery?
Photo by Schlickw
With the smartphone game Pokemon Go achieving unprecedented popularity, some of the geographic locations of “PokeStops” — the real-world places where the game spawns new Pokemon for players to catch — are coming into question.
As ARLnow.com first reported yesterday, Arlington National Cemetery has asked visitors to refrain from playing the game, after several people were spotted playing at the cemetery and called out on social media. (Some of the graves themselves are PokeStops.)
That followed reports of people playing at the Holocaust Museum, where officials say they’re asking the game maker to remove the museum as a PokeStop.
In addition to the cemetery, there’s another potentially inappropriate PokeStop in Arlington. As a Twitter user pointed out yesterday evening, a marker at the Pentagon that serves as a memorial to the children who lost their lives in the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks is a designated PokeStop.
— LucyVanPelt (@LucyAppa) July 12, 2016
The center of the Pentagon is also a Pokemon “gym,” though that seems to raise more questions about Pentagon employees playing the game at work than it raises questions of appropriateness.
No word yet on whether game developer Niantic Labs plans to eventually remove “inappropriate” PokeStops like the Holocaust Museum or the Sept. 11 children’s marker. Such locations in the game were actually originally geotagged by users of another Niantic Labs game called Ingress.
First of all, says Arlington’s Office of Emergency Management, don’t walk into traffic while playing the game. Also, don’t try to play the game and drive at the same time.
Beyond that, OEM and the Arlington County Police Department have other practical advice for game players to remain safe:
“Always be aware of your surroundings. Play with other people, there’s safety in numbers. Tell people where you’re going, especially if it is somewhere you’ve never been. Parents should limit places kids can go. Be considerate of where Pokemon are displayed and don’t trespass on private property.”
Even some public property may be off-limits. There have been recent reports of people playing Pokemon at Arlington National Cemetery (see below).
Spokesman Stephen Smith said players are asked to refrain from playing on cemetery grounds.
“In respect for those interred at Arlington National Cemetery, we do request and require the highest level of decorum from our guests and visitors,” Smith told ARLnow.com. “Playing such a game on these hallowed grounds would not be deemed appropriate.”
Saw someone playing Pokemon Go in Arlington cemetery today. Let that sink in…
— Tommy Strine (@coach_strine) July 12, 2016
SMH. People playing Pokémon Go at Arlington National Cemetery
— Lonnie Smalley (@BiggieSmalley) July 12, 2016
Keep it classy, Pokemon trainers. Stay out of the Arlington Nat'l Cemetery too… https://t.co/S9kLkONBJL
— Anna Marie (@annapocalypse) July 12, 2016
— Andrea McCarren (@AndreaMcCarren) July 12, 2016
Photo via @ReadyArlington
Board to Consider Arts Grants — The Arlington County Board on Saturday is set to consider its latest round of annual grants to local arts organizations. Among the 18 organizations being allocated a portion of the $215,810 in financial support for the arts are the Arlington Arts Center ($20,547), Bowen McCauley Dance ($27,237), Encore Stage and Studio ($24,715) and Washington Shakespeare Company ($24,247). [Arlington County]
ACFD Says Thanks for Fire Staffing — The Arlington County Fire Department thanked residents yesterday for fully funding safe fire truck staffing levels and an additional peak-time medic unit with the county’s latest Fiscal Year 2017 budget. The new budget took effect July 1. [Twitter]
Landscapers Volunteer at Arlington National — A group of some 400 professional landscapers from around the country volunteered their time at Arlington National Cemetery on Monday to help spruce up the grounds. The annual event is organized by the National Association of Landscape Professionals. [WTOP]
Extended Construction Hours for Ballston Project — The County Board will consider a proposal by Marymount University and developer the Shooshan Company to temporarily extend the construction hours at the “Blue Goose” project in Ballston. The proposal would extend construction hours to 1:30 a.m. for eight weeks, to allow nighttime deliveries of construction materials that would otherwise require lane closures on Glebe Road and Fairfax Drive during the day. [InsideNova]
Lane Closures on GW Parkway — Expect single lane closures on the northbound GW Parkway, 2.5 miles north of Key Bridge, due to repair work on a stone wall along the Parkway. The closures will be in place from 8 p.m.-5 a.m. through Wednesday. [Patch]
The second round of closures related to Metro’s yearlong SafeTrack maintenance plan is slated to take effect today, with big impacts to Blue Line service in Arlington.
Maintenance crews will work on portions of the Orange, Silver and Blue lines until July 3, according to a service advisory.
On the Orange Line, trains will not run between Eastern Market and Minnesota Ave/Benning Road. Orange and Silver line trains will run every 10 minutes between Vienna/Wiehle-Reston and Eastern Market.
On the Blue Line, trains will not run between between Arlington Cemetery and Rosslyn. Trains will, however, run between Franconia-Springfield and Arlington Cemetery each weekday until 10 p.m. Yellow Line trains will run on a Rush+ schedule all day on weekdays to compensate for the loss of Blue Line service.
Metro will provide shuttle service for riders traveling to and from affected stations. Arlington County has also expanded ART 43 service, which runs between Rosslyn and Crystal City, on middays, evenings and weekends until Aug. 20.
Trains may be extremely crowded, especially during rush hour, Metro officials said. Regular riders are encouraged to use commuting alternatives such as carpooling or telecommuting.
Video Courtesy WMATA
W-L Soccer Captures State Title — The Washington-Lee boys soccer team defeated First Colonial 3-1 on Saturday to win the school’s first Virginia 6A boys soccer state title. Despite an injury, Maycol Nunez led the team with two goals. [Washington Post, InsideNova]
Ceremony for W-L Grad Killed in WW2 — A special ceremony will be held today at Arlington National Cemetery to honor the memory of Merrill Walter Hoover, a star athlete at Washington-Lee High School who was killed while serving in the Coast Guard during World War II. Hoover’s body was never found following a ship collision in which he worked selflessly to save his shipmates. [Falls Church News-Press]
Arlington RAMMY Winners — Clarendon’s Northside Social and chef Jonah Kim of Yona in Ballston were big winners during last night’s RAMMY awards, picking up “Favorite Gathering Place of the Year” and “Rising Culinary Star of the Year” awards, respectively. The awards program for Washington’s restaurant industry also honored major Ballston restaurant operator Mike Isabella Concepts. [RAMW]
Worker Rescued in Crystal City — On Saturday, a worker whose lift platform became stuck 30 feet in the air in Crystal City was rescued by Arlington County firefighters. [Twitter]
Cousins Tweets W-L Senior’s Yearbook Quote — “Best of luck at VCU this fall!” Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins told Washington-Lee senior Joseph Langley, in a tweet, after Langley used Cousins’ famous “You like that?!” moment as his yearbook quote. [ESPN]
More on Applebee’s Ballston Plans — Applebees is opening in Ballston with a “new, urban-focused design.” Why Ballston? “There are lot of Millennials in the area, and it’s an area that has a lot of office buildings as well as residential,” a company spokesman said, as quoted in a 1,070 word magazine article about the restaurant’s Ballston plans. [Arlington Magazine]
CPRO Names New Executive Director — The Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization has named its interim executive director, former Rosslyn BID honcho Cecilia Cassidy, as its permanent executive director. CPRO’s previous executive director, Takis Karantonis, resigned in January after five years on the job, and is currently working for County Board candidate Erik Gutshall’s campaign. [CPRO]
One week ago today, soldiers from the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) placed an American flag on every grave in Arlington National Cemetery, as part of the annual Memorial Day weekend tradition of “Flags In.”
Those flags have since been removed, but what they stand for — remembering the sacrifices of our military service members — never fades away.
ARLnow.com captured this year’s Flags In in a brief video, above.
Video by Omar DeBrew