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by ARLnow.com — August 30, 2016 at 3:45 pm 0

Arlington Public Schools and the Arlington County Police Department are reminding students, parents and drivers to watch out for one another on the roads as a new school year starts.

Yesterday APS released a new Public Service Announcement video, above, featuring Superintendent Patrick Murphy, Police Chief Jay Farr and School Resource Officer Supervisor Lt. Susan Noack.

Among other things, the video reminds parents to practice safe walking with their kids and reminds drivers that it’s never okay to pass a school bus with its stop arm out.

The first day of school for the vast majority of APS students is a week from today — Tuesday, Sept. 6. Barcroft Elementary Students, however, are already back at school; their first day was Aug. 1.

by ARLnow.com — August 23, 2016 at 10:00 am 0

Mr. Panda fills in for the stuffed bear outside of Kinder Haus Toys in Clarendon (photo courtesy Eric LeKuch)

Arlington Searching for Ultimate Frisbee Coaches — With ultimate frisbee approved as a new school-sponsored sport, Arlington Public Schools in now on the hunt for frisbee coaches at each of its middle and high schools. [InsideNova]

Dems Hold Unity Event — Arlington Democrats are presenting a unified front heading into election season. After a bruising primary, both County Board Chair Libby Garvey and her once-challenger, Erik Gutshall, attended a Democratic unity event at the house of County Board member Jay Fisette last night. [Twitter, Twitter]

‘Tranquility’ in Crystal City Underground — Gallery Underground, the subterranean art gallery in the Crystal City Shops, is preparing for its next exhibit, on the theme of “Tranquility.” The month-long art show starts Sept. 1. [Gallery Underground]

Photo courtesy Eric LeKuch

by ARLnow.com — August 22, 2016 at 9:10 am 0

Arlington County Fair 2016 (Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf)

APS Testing for Lead in Pipes — Arlington Public Schools has been testing systemwide for lead in pipes. Already, the school system has replaced a water fountain in Jamestown Elementary School found to have lead levels above a level considered safe by the state health department. [InsideNova]

Bayou Bakery Raising Money for Flooding Victims — Bayou Bakery in Courthouse is raising money for Louisiana flooding victims. The restaurant is offering a special Shrimp Creole appetizer for $9 this week; half the proceeds from that dish will benefit flood victims, including chef/owner David Guas’ own aunt, whose home in Abbeville, LA flooded with two feet of water. [Bayou Bakery]

Arlington Names New Communications Director — Dr. Bryna Helfer has been named Arlington County’s new Director of Communications and Public Engagement. She joins county government from the federal government. “Helfer currently serves as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Public Engagement at the U.S. Department of Transportation and also serves as Senior Advisor to the Secretary on Accessibility and Workforce,” a press release notes. [Arlington County]

Fox 5 Highlights Rosslyn — The Fox 5 morning news program highlighted various people, businesses and activities in Rosslyn during a “Zip Trip” segment Friday morning. [Fox 5]

Crystal City Boxing Recap — It was a nine-bout, nine-knockout night at the Crystal City Hilton Friday night. [Fight News]

Transport Nerds ‘Playing With Traffic’ — A big group of “transportation techies” gathered recently at WeWork in Crystal City to discuss creative and tech-based solutions to transportation problems. The group is sponsored by Mobility Lab, the research arm of Arlington County Commuter Services. [Washington Post]

Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf

by ARLnow.com — August 19, 2016 at 9:05 am 0

Bicycling in Bluemont Park (Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick)

County Backtracks on Uber Story — Arlington County is in the early stages of considering a plan to replace low-ridership ART service with some sort of partnership with ridesharing services, like Uber. However, the county is backtracking on an official’s statement that the service would be subsidized. “A recent press account quoted a County staff person as saying, incorrectly, that we will be subsidizing this service,” said County Manager Mark Schwartz. “No such decision has been made at this preliminary stage of analysis.” [Arlington County]

Advisory Group: Change Name of Jeff Davis Highway — An advisory group appointed by the City of Alexandria has recommended changing the name of Jefferson Davis Highway. Alexandria’s “Ad Hoc Advisory Group on Confederate Memorials and Street Names” says the Confederate president’s name should be removed from Route 1 in the city. [Patch]

Ultimate Frisbee Vote — Arlington Public Schools is now the first school system in Virginia to make ultimate frisbee an official school sport. The Arlington School Board voted Thursday night to implement ultimate as a sport in middle and high schools, on an initial countywide budget of $90,000. [WTOP]

New ART Bus Route Launching Monday — The new ART 54 bus route will begin serving Dominion Hills, Madison Manor and East Falls Church on Monday. The new bus will run every 24 minutes on weekdays, during the morning and evening rush hours. [Arlington Transit]

Medicine Dispensing Exercise — Arlington residents are being encouraged to participate in the county health department’s mass medication dispensing exercise on Saturday. Volunteers are needed to form a crowd seeking medication (the county will be dispensing two types of candy during the exercise.) [ARLnow]

United Bank Purchasing Cardinal Bank — Two regional banks are coming together to form what may be the “most dominant community bank” in the D.C. area. United Bank, which has four Arlington branches, is purchasing Cardinal Bank, which has five Arlington branches. [Washington Business Journal]

Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick

by ARLnow.com — August 18, 2016 at 9:30 am 0

Storm clouds rolling in over the Potomac

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]

by ARLnow.com — August 17, 2016 at 1:15 pm 0

Arlington Public Schools administration buildingAs we noted this morning, Arlington Public Schools was not included in Newsweek’s rankings of the 500 best public high schools in the country.

But there’s a big asterisk to that fact, says an APS spokesman.

As opposed to 2010, when all APS high schools were included in the top 500, for the past couple of years the school system hasn’t even applied to be ranked by Newsweek.

“Unlike the Niche, Great Schools and many other ‘school rankings; which are compiled by outside sources who access data from readily available sources like the VDOE and the US Department of Education, Newsweek is one of about a dozen or so rankings that ask school divisions to complete detailed forms and provide additional data to them,” said Frank Bellavia.

“As a result, for the past few years, APS (and many other school districts in Virginia and the U.S.) have chosen to not participate in the Newsweek list,” Bellavia said. “It is a time consuming endeavor that takes away time away from providing instructional and other supports to our students and families. Consequently, while interesting, the list is not scientifically valid since it does not report using data from all eligible school divisions.”

Bellavia said APS’ participation in the Newsweek rankings ended after 2010, when Newsweek was sold by its then-owner, the Washington Post.

“2010 was the last time Newsweek partnered with the Washington Post on the Challenge Index,” Bellavia said. “We continue to participate in the Post’s Challenge Index because it our local ‘hometown paper.'”

In the 2016 Challenge Index rankings, Arlington’s Washington-Lee High School was on the rise, ranking No. 5 in the D.C. area, while H-B Woodlawn, Yorktown and Wakefield were all down, ranking No. 8, 11 and 84 respectively.

by ARLnow.com — August 17, 2016 at 9:00 am 0

A mobile food vendor on Columbia Pike

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 ListUpdated 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]

by ARLnow.com — July 25, 2016 at 9:00 am 0

Ziina flower in the Four Mile Run community gardens (Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley)

Ultimate Frisbee at APS — The Arlington School Board is expected to vote to make Ultimate Frisbee an official co-curricular sport in middle schools and high schools. Arlington is already a hotbed of Ultimate play at the high school club level. It’s likely to be years before the sport is recognized by the Virginia High School League, the statewide intramural sports governing body. [InsideNova*]

Adoption Event Success at AWLA — The Animal Welfare League of Arlington reported 28 adoptions as part of the national Clear the Shelters pet adoption event over the weekend. [Twitter]

Development Before and After — A series of before and after photos, via Google Street View, show some of the more dramatic changes from the last decade of development in Arlington. [Rent Cafe]

Local White Supremacist Quoted — The Associated Press yesterday quoted Richard Spencer, a 38-year-old white supremacist who reportedly lives in Arlington and believes that African-Americans, Hispanics and Jews should be removed from the United States. Spencer, an alt-right figure, attended the Republican National Convention in support of Donald Trump. [Associated Press]

Few Proven Towing Violations — Out of 18,642 trespass tows in Arlington last year, only 7 — or 0.04 percent — were found by authorities to have violated local towing ordinances. [InsideNova*]

Watts Finishes Another Race — Jamie Watts, a fixture in the local running scene, has finished another race. Watts, who has cerebral palsy, completed Saturday night’s Crystal City Twilighter 5K despite sweltering conditions. [WUSA 9*]

Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley.

*Denotes website that employs pop-up ads, autoplay video or other disruptions to the user experience.

by ARLnow.com — July 20, 2016 at 10:50 am 0

Outside of one of Arlington's polling locations

As part of its latest Capital Improvement Plan, the Arlington County Board last night approved a new slate of bond referenda that will appear on the ballot this fall.

The county has proposed four bonds for voters to consider. In total the bonds add up to some $315.8 million.

  • Metro and Transportation — $58,785,000
  • Local Parks and Recreation — $19,310,000
  • Community Infrastructure — $98,850,000
  • Arlington Public Schools — $138,830,000

In a board report, county staff detailed the planned use of funds for each bond.

Metro and Transportation:

This proposal will fund a variety of transportation, road, pedestrian enhancement and transit projects across the County. The largest components of this proposal are $30 million for Arlington County’s share of WMATA / Metro’s capital improvement program, and $24 million to fund a portion of the costs for paving local streets and roadways. Proceeds of this proposal will also fund bridge renovation, street lights, transportation systems & traffic signals, as well as the WALKArlington, BikeArlington, Safe Routes to Schools, and Curb & Gutter Missing Links programs. The County Board may reallocate bond funds among the various projects to the extent necessary or desirable.

Local Parks and Recreation:

This proposal will fund various parks improvements and enhancements, as well as $3 million for the Land Acquisition and Open Space Program for strategic park acquisitions. This proposal would also fund the Trail Modernization program, design and planning at Jennie Dean Park and construction at Tyrol Hills Park, and maintenance capital improvements such as playground, courts and other parks infrastructure improvements. The County Board may reallocate bond funds among the various projects to the extent necessary or desirable.

Community Infrastructure:

This proposal will fund a variety of County infrastructure projects. The largest component of this proposal is $46.46 million for the Lubber Run Community Center project. Also included is $12 million of funding for Neighborhood Conservation projects, as well as funding for the Nauck Town Square, planning & design of the Fire Station 8 replacement, renovations & improvements to government facilities in the Court House Complex, renovation of the Barcroft Sports & Fitness Center for additional gymnastics, and a County childcare facility. The Neighborhood Conservation Program provides funding for a variety of neighborhood-identified capital improvement projects including street improvements (sidewalk, curb and gutter, drainage, paving), traffic management and pedestrian enhancements, park improvements, street lighting, recreational facilities, landscaping, and beautification.

It also includes funding of a joint County & Schools parking deck and other improvements at the Thomas Jefferson middle school site due to the construction of a new elementary school, critical systems infrastructure upgrades to 24×7 hour facilities; and facilities maintenance capital improvements, including design and construction of projects including but not limited to roofs, electrical and heating / cooling systems and other facilities infrastructure. The County Board may reallocate bond funds among the various projects to the extent necessary or desirable.

Arlington Public Schools:

This proposal will make funds available for the Arlington Public Schools’ capital improvement program. The proposed bonds will fund the following projects:

  • The new middle school at the Stratford site ($26,030,000)
  • The new school at the Wilson site ($78,400,000)
  • Addition and renovation at the Career Center/Arlington Tech ($12,000,000)
  • Planning for secondary seats at location(s) to be determined ($10,000,000), and
  • Infrastructure capital projects such as HVAC, roofing, etc. ($12,400,000)

The School Board may reallocate bond funds among the various projects to the extent necessary or desirable.

The Board also approved its $3.3 billion 2017-2026 Capital Improvement Plan Tuesday night. A county press release on the plan, after the jump.

(more…)

by ARLnow.com — July 15, 2016 at 11:45 am 0

Screenshot of new Arlington Public Schools (APS) website

Earlier this month, Arlington Public Schools relaunched its website with an updated design and new technology.

There are still some minor bugs evident — many older links to specific pages on the site are not working — but for the most part the transition appears to be complete.

Here’s what APS said about the relaunch, in a press release.

The multi-year redesign will relaunch the APS website with improved functionality and technological integration for the future.

After a rigorous search, APS selected local vendor Materiell to custom-build the new website using the WordPress platform, which was chosen for its adaptability to new technology, and its potential for future development as an open-source platform.

APS invited staff, families and the community to provide feedback in three rounds of user testing over the past year; the most recent was completed mid- April. Their comments and suggestions have been incorporated into the site functionality and design

When the site launches, it will feature:

  • an intuitive user interface
  • seamless integration with our back-end systems
  • improved video and social media integration
  • an elegant new design

Among other features, the APS homepage now includes academic highlights from the previous school year at the bottom of the page.

Screenshot of new Arlington Public Schools (APS) website

by ARLnow.com — July 6, 2016 at 10:15 am 0

Wilson site plan (image via Arlington County)The H-B Woodlawn Secondary Program is gearing up to move to a brand new building in Rosslyn for the 2019-2020 school year, but a new wrinkle in that plan is worrying parents.

On Friday, Arlington County announced that it was collaborating with Arlington Public Schools on a money-saving plan: a temporary fire station will be placed on the school’s field while developer Penzance constructs two new mixed-use buildings next door, on the county-owned site of the current Fire Station No. 10.

The development will provide a new, permanent fire station and 100 underground parking spaces for the school — when it’s completed in 2022. In the meantime, the temporary fire station will be placed on the field at the corner of N. Quinn and 18th streets, and Arlington County will provide off-site fields and parking for the school.

The county says the plan will save it $20 million and will save Arlington Public Schools $5 million — thanks to Penzance paying for the parking, the new fire station and a new Rosslyn Highlands Park, adjacent to the development.

“We realize that opening the school without a field will inconvenience students and staff,” County Board Chair Libby Garvey said in a statement. “We chose this site because the parking provided to APS for schools will save a considerable amount of money for the school project, and it is the best location by far for the temporary fire station. We believe that when the project is finally completed, this site will not only be a great new home for H-B and the Stratford Program, but will also provide many, many benefits to our community.”

Members of the H-B Woodlawn Parent Advisory Committee, however, were none too pleased with the idea of opening the school without a field and other factors that could have “an adverse impact on our children.”

In an email to members, the committee urges parents to reach out to County Board and School Board members before each considers approving the plan at their July meetings.

Dear Members of the H-B Woodlawn Community:

Our apologies for sending this message out on the Friday before a three-day weekend, but we thought it was important to bring this issue to your attention as soon as possible.

The School Board and County Board announced today that they are in negotiations to build a temporary fire station on the planned athletic fields at the new home of the H-B Woodlawn and Stratford programs, at the Wilson site.  This plan is being rushed through with very limited public input and without serious consideration of its impact on students, staff, and visitors, in the name of saving money.  A press release regarding this proposal can be found here: Press Release

We strongly urge you to express your opposition to this proposal to members of the County Board ([email protected]) and members of the School Board ([email protected]).  Your emails should be addressed to County Board Chair Libby Garvey and School Board Chair Nancy Van Doren, and will be distributed to all members of each respective board, including H-B Woodlawn’s School Board member liaison Reid Goldstein.  The County Board plans to vote on this issue on July 16th and the School Board on July 21th.

Here are suggested points to make in your communications with Board members:

  • I strongly urge you to oppose the proposed licensing agreement that would allow a temporary fire station to be built on the planned athletic field at the Wilson site.
  • H-B Woodlawn and Stratford students’ instruction would be seriously compromised by the elimination of all outdoor physical education classes for three years or more if this proposal went forward.  The idea of bussing students to parks almost a mile away is unworkable, as the entire class period would be spent loading and unloading busses and driving back and forth.
  • The safety of HB Woodlawn and Stratford students, as well as staff and visitors, would be put at risk as the planned covered drop off and pick up entrance would be obstructed by an active fire station.  There has been no analysis of the transportation impact of this major change that will result in students being dropped off and picked up on Wilson Blvd., an idea the stakeholder representatives serving on the Wilson project design committee and APS already rejected.
  • There has been no public input to this last minute, backroom deal with a private developer.  Indeed, the APS School Board is considering this significant change to the new building without even asking the architects for revised schematics to understand the impact on the building design, without knowing what the temporary fire station would look like or how its colocation could impact instruction, and without a new traffic analysis to determine the safest and most efficient ways for bus, auto, pedestrian, bicycle, and emergency traffic to flow on and/or around the new campus.
  • The County should relocate the temporary fire station to another location that doesn’t have such an adverse impact on our children.

We will keep you informed as we gather more information about this proposal and its potential impact.

by ARLnow.com — June 22, 2016 at 10:15 am 0

Wakefield High School(Updated at 12:50 p.m.) The summer starts today for Arlington high school students.

Arlington Public Schools high school students will have an early dismissal today, their last day of the school year.

The last day of school for APS middle school students is Thursday; it’s Friday for elementary students. All schools will have early dismissals on their last day.

(Barcroft elementary ends its school year early — it had its last day yesterday. Private, Arlington-based Bishop O’Connell High School had its last day of school on Friday, June 10.)

The graduation and celebration schedule for Arlington Public Schools is as follows.

  • Wednesday: Williamsburg Middle School (8:15 a.m.), Gunston Middle School (8:30 a.m.), Kenmore Middle School (8:30 a.m.), Swanson Middle School (8:30 a.m.), Jefferson Middle School (9 a.m.), H-B Woodlawn (6:15 p.m.)
  • Thursday: Washington-Lee High School (10 a.m.), Yorktown High School (3 p.m.), Wakefield High School (8 p.m.)
  • Friday: Arlington Mill High School (9:30 a.m.), Langston High School Continuation Program (1 p.m.)

by Andrew Ramonas — June 20, 2016 at 6:00 pm 0

Renee Bostick (Photo via Arlington Public Schools)Hundreds of have signed a petition calling on the county to keep Randolph Elementary School’s principal in place after she was told to step down this month.

In a June 15 petition to the Arlington School Board, more than 330 Randolph parents, school employees and their supporters said they are “deeply concerned” about the panel’s decision to give principal Renee Bostick a new, unspecified role at Arlington Public Schools July 1. She has led the school at 1306 S. Quincy Street since 2004.

APS told the Randolph community her removal was due to “test scores,” but didn’t elaborate, according to the petition.

“The Randolph community is in total disarray,” the document says. “Students and staff are distraught. We have many unanswered questions, not least why a beloved, experienced, dedicated, and effective principal is being shown so little respect.”

In a letter he sent to the Randolph community today, APS superintendent Patrick Murphy didn’t address the petition, but he wrote that APS is slated to hold a meeting at the school with parents next Monday, June 27, at 7 p.m. to discuss the principal hiring process.

Interviews for Bostick’s successor are expected to begin in early July, Murphy wrote. By August, he anticipates the school board will appoint a new principal.

“We will keep you posted throughout the process and look forward to working with the Randolph community in the coming weeks,” Murphy wrote.

Photo via Arlington Public Schools

by ARLnow.com — June 15, 2016 at 3:00 pm 0

iPadStudents at some Arlington elementary schools will be allowed to take their school-issued iPads home for the summer.

Letters were sent to parents of eligible students last week, asking them to “supervise and monitor your child while on the device” but also giving them the option of refusing the take-home iPad.

“The decision to allow students to take the APS issued iPads home over the summer is made individually by the administration at each school,” said Arlington Public Schools spokesman Frank Bellavia. “We are excited for the opportunity for our students to be able to extend their learning over the summer through access to high quality digital resources including curriculum specific tools as well as thousands of eBooks through the APS Library and Arlington Public Library systems.”

The letter sent to parents of Hoffman-Boston Elementary students, after the jump. A full list of the schools allowing take-home iPads was not immediately available.

(more…)

by ARLnow.com — June 10, 2016 at 9:45 am 0

Star Wars-themed Grace Community Church service in Arlington (Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman)

Petition for New High School — A petition urging Arlington Public Schools to build a new high school, rather than cramming more students into existing high schools, has nearly 1,000 signatures. The petition states that APS is considering “double shifts, online classes, and mandatory off-site internships” to help with the high school capacity crunch. [Change.org]

Hero Cab Passenger Saves the Day — A passenger in a Barwood taxi jumped into action, grabbed the steering wheel and steered the cab to safety after the driver passed out behind the wheel. The incident happened Thursday morning on the GW Parkway between Chain Bridge and Key Bridge. [WJLA]

No Quidditch in Arlington After All — Those hoping to see some elite-level quidditch playing this weekend will have to hop on their brooms and head to Annandale. Major League Quidditch was unable to conjure up an available field on which to play in Arlington. [ARLnow]

Del. Lopez on Trump — In an op-ed in El Tiempo Latino, Del. Alfonso Lopez (D-Arlington) writes: “It is rare to find bipartisanship in a presidential election year, but Trump’s bigoted comments about a Latino judge are so horrifying that many Republicans are joining Democrats in decrying them.” [El Tiempo Latino]

Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman

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