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Police Seeking Suspect in Attempted Abduction Near Ballston

Arlington County Police are asking for the public’s help in tracking down a suspect in an attempted abduction on Sunday.

Police say a man tried to pull a woman into his vehicle on the 600 block of N. Oxford Street, near Ballston, on Sunday afternoon. The woman was able to break free and run away. Police were called and searched for the suspect, but were unable to find him.

ACPD is now hoping a description of the suspect and his vehicle, below, can turn up some leads.

At approximately 2:32 p.m. on April 1, police were dispatched to the report of an assault that just occurred in the 600 block of N. Oxford Street. Upon arrival, it was determined that the female victim was walking in the area when she passed an unknown male suspect. The male suspect called out to the victim and when she didn’t respond, he grabbed her from behind and attempted to pull her towards his vehicle. The victim was able to break free from the suspect and run away, however, the suspect continued to watch the victim from his vehicle until she entered her residence. The victim did not require medical treatment. The suspect fled the area prior to police arrival. Arriving officers canvased the area and a lookout was broadcast with negative results.

The suspect is described as a black male, with short dreads, possibly braids, with some orange, approximately 6’0, wearing a black shirt, light gray zip up hoodie and dark gray sweatpants. The suspect’s vehicle is described as an older, possibly late 1990’s or early 2000’s, model pick-up truck that was dark blue or black in color and looked “beat-up.”

Police have increased patrols in the area. Anyone with information on the identity of this suspect or details surrounding this incident is asked to contact Detective G. Sloan of the Arlington County Police Department’s Special Victim’s Unit at 703.228.4198 or at [email protected] To report information anonymously, contact the Arlington County Crime Solvers at 866.411.TIPS (8477).

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Morning Notes

ACFD Responds to Overturned Truck — Rescue crews responded to the intersection of George Mason Drive and 27th Street N., in the Yorktown neighborhood, just before 6:30 last night for a crash involving an overturned vehicle. At least two vehicles, including a minivan, and a pickup truck that overturned, were involved. [Twitter]

Apartment Fire in Ashton Heights — Firefighters quickly extinguished a small fire in the storage room of an apartment building in Ashton Heights yesterday afternoon. The fire happened on the 500 block of N. Piedmont Street and was “kept small by sprinklers.” [Twitter]

I-66 Tolls Not as Bad as You Might Think — According to VDOT, tolls on the first day of HOT lanes on I-66 were, on average, not too bad: “The average round-trip toll price was $14.50, with the average morning toll paid of $10.70 and average afternoon toll paid of $3.80. This average toll rate is lower than the estimated average toll rate of $17.00 round-trip discussed in 2015.” Also, Friday morning’s tolls were lower than those of previous days. [VDOT, Washington Post]

Kaspersky Closes Arlington Office — Russian cybersecurity firm Kaspersky Labs has closed its government sales office in Arlington as a result of the government banning use of Kaspersky antivirus software on federal computers. The company “came under tough US scrutiny after US officials became concerned about the company’s links to the Russian government.” [Buzzfeed]

Flickr pool photo by Michael Coffman

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Large Power Outage Reported in Ballston Area

(Updated at 4:30 p.m.) More than 2,000 Dominion customers are without power in the Ballston area this Election Day afternoon.

The outage was first reported just before 3:45 p.m. Some 2,063 Dominion customers in Ballston, Virginia Square and Ashton Heights are without electricity.

Police are also reporting traffic signals to be dark at the busy intersection of Wilson Blvd and N. Quincy Street, causing some traffic tie-ups. In a tweet, the police department advised drivers to treat all non-operating traffic signals as a four-way stop.

No word yet on what caused the outage. Dominion is listing a preliminary restoration estimate of 8-11 p.m.

https://twitter.com/ArlingtonVaPD/status/928001587443847168

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Arlington Readies for Halloween Trick-or-Treating

Halloween is tomorrow (Tuesday), and as in previous years, some Arlington County residents have gone all-out decorating their houses.

On just a small stretch of N. Jackson Street in the Ashton Heights neighborhood, some houses were covered in skeletons, gravestones, ghosts and other scary things.

Arlington does not designate a time for trick-or-treating, but tradition indicates parents will bring their costumed kids through the neighborhoods around sunset on Halloween — which is expected around 6 p.m. — and knock on doors until 8 or 9 p.m.

Temperatures should be on the cool side that day, with highs likely to reach only around 60 degrees.

Here are some tips for planning your trick-or-treat trip:

  • Children should be accompanied by an adult.
  • Choose a neighborhood or street you’re familiar with or is known for getting in the spirit.
  • Houses with the outside lights are the ones expecting and ready for trick-or-treaters.
  • Expect the older, non-costumed crowds later in the evening.
  • If you’re passing out treats, turn the outside lights off when you run out.

Ambassadors for Arlington PAL (Predictable, Alert, Lawful) will be out and about on of N. Jackson Street on Tuesday night for an outreach event. They will be handing out bike lights, reflective vests and other goodies to help encourage everyone to be safe.

A number of Halloween-themed events are taking place over the next few days, including the Seventh Annual Spooky Paws Dog Walk and Fall-O-Ween, both at Market Common in Clarendon.

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One Critical After Ashton Heights Fire

One person is in critical condition after a house fire in Ashton Heights early this morning.

The fire broke out around 1 a.m. on the 500 block of N. Ivy Street. By the time firefighters arrived, the front of the house was already fully engulfed in flames.

Two men who lived in the house made it out safely. A third man was “quickly located and rescued” and transported “to a burn center in critical condition,” according to the Arlington County Fire Department.

No firefighters were injured. The cause of the blaze is now under investigation.

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County Exploring Telling Homeowners About Issues That Prevent Tear-Downs

Homeowners could be notified in future tax assessments if their property is subject to any special circumstances that would prevent tearing down and rebuilding their house without County Board approval.

Such special circumstances would include homes on so-called pipe-stem lots, which have a narrow “stem” that runs from the street and does not meet requirements for minimum lot width, and in Resource Protection Areas, which help protect environmentally sensitive lands near streams.

If homes are subject to those circumstances, anyone wishing to tear down the current house and build a new one on the same property must go to the Arlington County Board for approval. Projects not hindered by such issues are permitted by right under zoning rules, so long as the new home continues to conform.

Board member Libby Garvey said she has spoken to County Manager Mark Schwartz about including a note to property owners in their tax assessments, which are mailed each year and outline the property tax bill due to the county.

“That’s one piece of paper that pretty much everyone in the county looks at,” Garvey told ARLnow last week. “So that seems like a really good place to put information like that with an asterisk or note, but we have to see if we can actually do that.”

Garvey and colleague John Vihstadt suggested the change at the July 15 County Board meeting, after a plan to build a new home in Ashton Heights ran into difficulties in June because of its location on a pipe-stem lot. The family that owns the N. Kenmore Street property did not realize it would require special approval to build a new house, a costly process in terms of time and expense.

After community meetings and some modifications to the proposed new house between June and July’s meetings, the Board unanimously approved the plan. Vihstadt said the county must make such issues more understandable for county residents, including on the designated web page for pipe-stem lots, which he said must be “a better information source.”

“Despite the happy ending, it would have been much simpler had the family known from the start that they faced this extra challenge,” Garvey said last week in an email to constituents. “We need to find a simple way for residents to know when their current or potential homes have some special situation that could affect their ability to build.”

Schwartz said at the July 15 meeting that while the county is committed to simplifying its permitting process, he warned that applicants must also do the necessary leg-work for such projects.

“I think people need to be aware there is still a requirement on their part to do their due diligence,” he said. “If they were to somehow rely on a notation on a website from us, it’s hard to believe but sometimes we make mistakes, and due diligence is required on the part of the applicant to do their research through the appropriate legal means.”

County Attorney Steve MacIsaac agreed, and noted that from a legal standpoint, the county can only help in so many ways.

“It’s incumbent on anyone who’s buying anything to be sure they know what they’re buying,” he said. “The ‘buyer beware’ phrase definitely applies to land, and you’ve got to know what you can do with it before you buy it.”

Image via county presentation

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Neighborhood Day Set For Saturday Across Arlington

Neighborhoods across the county are getting ready for Neighborhood Day, set to take place Saturday and feature a wide range of events and activities.

The day looks to bring together neighbors to strengthen bonds on blocks and across the county.

This year’s events are:

Jennie Dean Park Historical Markers Unveiling Ceremony
At noon, the park’s new historical markers will be unveiled, followed by a tour  of Arlington Food Assistance Center’s new office at 2708 S Nelson Street.

Seventh Annual Turtle Trot 5K Race
A chip-timed 5K race at Bluemont Park on a certified course. The race begins at 10 a.m.

International Migratory Bird Day Festival
From 9-11 a.m., celebrate International Migratory Bird Day by learning about migratory birds such as hummingbirds and osprey with hands-on activities, games, crafts, bird walks and more. Meet at Lacey Woods Park Picnic Shelter, 1200 N. George Mason Drive.

Lee Highway Alliance Events
The Lee Highway Alliance is hosting three events to celebrate at Woodstock Park, Big Walnut Park and Langston-Brown Community Center.

Tuckahoe Home and Garden Tour
The self-guided Tuckahoe Home & Garden Tour showcases recently renovated Arlington homes that solve common space and design challenges through creative remodeling.

Fairlington Home and Garden Tour
Tour a variety of renovated homes and gardens in Fairlington Village. Tickets are $10 each and can be purchased in advance or on the day.

Remove Invasive Plants
Increase native species diversity by helping with the return of ferns and wildflowers, and the animals that depend on them, in areas once covered in destructive invasive plants. The Gulf Branch Nature Center will host the event from 2-4 p.m.

Zumbathon
Join Enrique and special guest Mimi in a two-hour zumbathon from noon-2 p.m. at Penrose Square.

Tara-Leeway Heights Community Day
From 1-3 p.m. at Big Walnut Park, the Tara-Leeway Heights community will host an event complete with food vendors, games and more.

LBCCA Celebration and Movie Night Series Kick-Off
The Long Branch Creek Civic Association will bring the community together to celebrate from 5-9 p.m. at Troy Park. The event will include a moon bounce, games and activities, potluck dinner, snacks, beverages and an outdoor movie screening.

Ashton Heights Neighborhood Yard Sale
From 8 a.m.-noon, visit the Ashton Heights neighborhood for a community-wide yard sale.

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Felled Tree in Ashon Heights Repurposed as Dragon Sculpture

On a calm summer night a few months ago, just after the Fourth of July, a big, century-old tree toppled over, blocking a street and knocking out power to much of the Ashton Heights neighborhood.

Fast forward to today and something cool has come from the tree’s unfortunate demise.

Local chainsaw artist Andrew Mallon has turned part of the big tree — the stump of which remains horizontal in a front yard along the 500 block of N. Lincoln Street — into a sculpture of a two-headed dragon.

The sculpture has captured the neighborhood’s imagination and is clearly an object of fascination for the homeowners’ young son, who was outside admiring it with a caretaker when ARLnow.com stopped by yesterday afternoon.

Mallon, who grew up two blocks from the home, says the family was “disappointed” that the tree fell down, but specifically asked whether it could be kept for posterity, in dragon form.

“They asked if a dragon with a horn was a possibility,” Mallon said. “They wanted a carving the kids could play on that also included a bench for the adults to enjoy. I thought it was a great idea and quickly started thinking of different ways to incorporate all the elements the family wanted.”

“This carving has really been an amazing piece to work on and I couldn’t be happier it is living at a great home, with a fun loving family, in my old neighborhood,” continued Mallon. “I have to be honest the 10 year old in me is a little jealous I didn’t have a dragon to play on as a child.”

Before the carving could begin, Mallon said, a crane had to be brought into remove the four-ton tree from the street. After that, the design was finalized: a dragon with two heads and a kid-friendly saddle.

“To fit the design in the log I had to start the carving by leveling out the bottom and removing about 1,000 pounds from it,” said Mallon. “After being properly leveled, I used my largest saw to block out the heads, body, and tail. Once the general shape was there I was able to switch to a smaller saw to begin working on the details. This includes the playful faces, tail, saddle, etc.”

“I still have some details like the scales to complete, but will be waiting to finish them until we can put the dragon in its permanent location,” he added. “Once the carving is finished I will burn it to add depth and color. This will be followed by a nice sanding, to prevent splinters, and finished with an outdoor sealer to protect the carving from the elements so it lasts for years to come.”

This isn’t the first notable sculpture Mallon has created in Arlington. As we’ve previously reported, he has also transformed dead trees in local yards into bears and other woodland creatures.

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Redevelopment Coming to Staples Site in Va. Square

The Staples store at 3804 Wilson Blvd in Virginia Square is slated for redevelopment, though the plans are still in the early stages.

Schupp Companies presented a plan to build a hotel on the site to the Ashton Heights Civic Association last month.

“My understanding is that the redevelopment would also replace the apartments on that side of N. Oakland [Street],” said a resident who was in attendance.

Ray Schupp said the exact details are still fluid and that his company will be working with residents to craft the plan.

“We have not decided exactly what we’ll do with the site,” Schupp told ARLnow.com. “We are exploring several options including a hotel. That being said we have been extremely pleased with the reception of the community to our new Hyatt hotel at Courthouse.”

“We will be working with the County staff and the neighbors on solutions to the Staples site,” Schupp continued. “Just as we developed a close relationship with Lyon Village homeowners and reached a win-win solution to the Courthouse site… we will work with the community and staff on this.”

Plans should begin to firm up within 3-4 months, said Schupp.

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Construction Vehicle Brings Down Power Lines Near Virginia Square

(Updated at 2:40 p.m.) A construction vehicle is currently draped with downed power lines near Virginia Square.

The incident occurred shortly before noon at 3700 6th Road N. as the truck was being hauled through the Ashton Heights neighborhood.

Firefighters and police were called to the scene and currently have the sidewalk and the road closed for safety, as the lines were believed to be live electrical lines.

No injures were reported, but at least one neighboring home was reportedly damaged.

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Big Tree Fall Hard in Ashton Heights

(Updated at 5:15 p.m.) A downed tree in the Ashton Heights neighborhood is leading to a call to the county ombudsman’s office.

The big tree, said to be more than a century old, fell last night near the intersection of N. Lincoln Street and 5th Street N., knocking out power to the area.

The neighborhood listserv is now abuzz with talk of what might have caused the old tree to fall during calm weather. Paving work on the street, residents are speculating, may have had something to do with it.

“A massive road repaving project brought in heavily vibrating equipment — many thought unnecessarily vibrating — which, according to our neighborhood listserv buzz, may have contributed to the tree’s fall, given very wet soil conditions,” a resident told us. “I lack professional credentials to shed light on that one way or another.”

Whether rooted in fact or not, residents are not content to leave the issue alone. They’re barking up the tree of the county ombudsman, according to a listserv email.

“Scott Sklar is contacting the county ombudsman about this problem today and complaining on behalf of Ashton Heights,” the email says. “The tree was 125 years old. Very sad.”

Sklar, president of the Ashton Heights Civic Association, said residents felt as if there was an “earthquake” when the heavy equipment was in use. One resident even reported that her morning cup of coffee rolled off the kitchen counter and broke as a result of the pervasive vibrations.

There’s “no question” about what caused the tree to fall, he said.

“The County contractors are using percussion rollers to compress the road under-bed — which uses intense weight and sound rather than the usual heavy roller compression approach,” he told ARLnow.com. ” There is no question in my mind, that this new approach is what caused this old tree to fall after the heavy rain we just had.”

“Use of percussion rollers should not be used in areas where there are large trees and old homes (pre-2000),” Sklar said. “Manufacturer’s warnings on percussion rollers explicitly state they should not be used near large trees or old buildings

Meghan McMahon, spokeswoman for the Arlington Dept. of Environmental Services, said in a statement that the county is “reviewing the matter.”

DES crews have been performing roadbed reclamation and paving on Lincoln Street over the past week. The roadbed reclamation process, which was completed on June 30, is more disruptive than normal paving or patching. This process uses a machine that churns and mixes the base of the road at a deeper level so more vibrations and disturbance may occur. This process is specifically used for underbuilt, lower volume roads like Lincoln Street. Our paving contractors use vibratory rollers and other heavy machinery during the roadbed reclamation process. These rollers are also used on every street during maintenance and repaving. Rollers are commonly used to gain better compaction in asphalt construction. Yesterday’s work on Lincoln Street was repaving.

We have used these processes for several years in this neighborhood and several others like it that have older trees and houses. This is the first we have heard of such impacts from this type of work. We are reviewing the matter to determine what caused the tree to fall.

As seen in the photos above, some paving equipment was underneath the tree when it fell.

“Two County vehicles were enclosed by the tree canopy when it fell, but neither were impacted or damaged,” said McMahon. “The storm drain was damaged, but we have already put in a work order to fix this. It will be prioritized based on other work we have and safety.”

Photos courtesy Elizabeth Lyon

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Morning Notes

Daffodils along the Mt. Vernon Trail (Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley)

Ashton Heights Takes Stance Against Gun Store — More than 100 members of the Ashton Heights Civic Association voted last night on whether or not to take a position against the planned gun store in nearby Lyon Park. Fully 93 percent of those voting said they supported the civic association expressing opposition to the store, according to the group Act4LyonPark.

Retiring School Board Chair Recognized — At last night’s Arlington School Board meeting, Del. Alfonso Lopez read the joint resolution passed in the state legislature commending Dr. Emma Violand-Sanchez, who’s retiring as School Board Chair at the end of her term this year. [Katch, Twitter]

Raccoon Checks Out Home’s Toilet, Leaves — A woman in the Columbia Forest neighborhood called police after finding animal footprints on a toilet seat. The responding animal control officer determined that a raccoon had come down the chimney, apparently traipsed around the toilet and left. [Twitter]

GOP Convention Delegate Selection Gets Interesting — The prospect of a contested convention has made the selection of three delegates to represent Virginia’s Eighth Congressional District more interesting. At a recent Arlington County Republican Committee meeting, would-be delegates were asked who they would support for president. A reporter present didn’t hear anyone say Donald Trump. [InsideNova, InsideNova]

Condo for Sale Has a Unique Map of D.C. — A one-bedroom condo for sale in Rosslyn has a custom-designed map of D.C. painted across one of the walls. The mural was created by one of the current owners, who happens to be a former cartographer. [Washington Post]

Ouli Gets Attention from Local Tech Scene — “First Look: Could ‘Ouli’ Be the Concierge App for DC?” asks a new headline from a D.C. tech publication. The app’s creator, a software development firm on Lee Highway that has up until now served just corporate clients, says for now the app is focused solely on serving the Arlington market. [DC Inno]

Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley

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Shot Fired During Home Invasion Robbery in Ashton Heights

Police car lightsEight people were robbed and a shot was fired during a home invasion robbery in Ashton Heights early this morning.

The incident happened around 2:40 a.m. on the 700 block of N. Lincoln Street, not far from the Arlington Arts Center and the Virginia Square Metro station.

Police say eight people were hanging out in a home recording studio when one went outside to smoke a cigarette. As that individual went back inside, two men entered the house and told the crowd that they were being robbed. The victims initially thought it was a joke, and that’s when one of the suspects fired a gunshot into the ceiling, according to Arlington County Police spokeswoman Ashley Savage.

The victims were robbed of cash and electronics. Police believes they were targeted by the robbers.

“This appears to be a targeted incident and we do not believe there is a threat to the public at large,” Savage said.

“Suspect one is described as a black male in his twenties, approximately 5’9″ with a thin build wearing all black clothing with white scarf,” according to a crime report. “Suspect two is described as a black male in his twenties, approximately 5’8″ with a thin build wearing all black clothing. Investigation is ongoing.”

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KFC on N. Glebe Road Closes, Reportedly For Maintenance

The KFC on N. Glebe Road in Buckingham appears to have temporarily stopped serving “finger-lickin’ good” fast food.

According to a notice posted on the restaurant’s drive-thru menu, the KFC at 70 N. Glebe Road is “currently closed due to maintenance.”

“We apologize for any inconvenience and we will re-open shortly,” the notice — which is signed from “KFC Management” — says. “Thank you for your patience and we value your patronage!”

Though maintenance is the explanation given for the closure, there’s no sign of such work happening inside the establishment at the moment. The notice also does not explain when it will reopen.

A representative from Yum! Brands — the company that owns KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell — could not be immediately reached to confirm this or provide more information. There was also no answer for the location’s provided telephone number and no answering machine.

The restaurant is near the intersection of N. Glebe Road and Arlington Blvd and is across the street from a McDonald’s.

Arlington is home to only one other KFC location, at 4901 Lee Highway. There’s also a KFC just outside the county on Columbia Pike in Bailey’s Crossroads.

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Morning Notes

Bedsheet ghost in the woods (Flickr pool photo by xmeeksx)

Arlington Ridge Ramp Closure — The ramp from Arlington Ridge Road to Washington Blvd and I-395, and from Washington Blvd to Arlington Ridge, will be closed during nights and mornings this weekend, starting at 9 p.m. tonight. VDOT will be milling and paving the ramp as part of a $2.2 million project to repair the Arlington Ridge Road ramp bridges. Construction is scheduled to end by 11 a.m. Sunday. Detours will be in place during the closure. [VDOT, Google Maps]

Weenie Beenie Serves a Top Dog — The borderline historic Weenie Beenie stand near Shirlington is one of the “21 best hot dog joints in America,” says Thrillist.com, besting event Ben’s Chili Bowl. [Thrillist]

Another Endorsement for Cristol, Dorsey — The urbanist blog Greater Greater Washington says Democrats Katie Cristol and Christian Dorsey are the best choices for Arlington County Board. GGW says Cristol is “great on transit” and “a pleasure to work with” and Dorsey is “clearly superior to the other two options, Audrey Clement and Mike McMenamin.” [Greater Greater Washington]

Ashton Heights Profiled — WaPo’s real estate section profiles the Ashton Heights neighborhood of Arlington, calling it “cozy” with “charming older homes, a child-friendly atmosphere and accessibility to the city.” [Washington Post]

Flickr pool photo by xmeeksx

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