Arlington, VA

(Updated at 4:15 p.m.) A bear was spotted near Bishop O’Connell High School this morning.

Social media posts on Reddit, Facebook, Twitter and Nextdoor have residents buzzing over the bear encounter in Arlington’s East Falls Church neighborhood.

The bear was spotted in the private high school’s parking lot by a construction crew, around 6:30 a.m., as seen in the photo above. It was later spotted around 7 a.m. closer to I-66.

“All the neighbors in the area saw it,” one poster said. “The workers saw it too.”

The Animal Welfare League of Arlington confirmed to ARLnow that its animal control unit responded to the area but was unable to locate the bear.

“Arlington County Animal Control was promptly alerted as was the Arlington County Police Department, Virginia State Conservation Officers, the Arlington County Natural Resource Manager, and Fairfax County Animal Protection Police,” AWLA said in a statement Wednesday afternoon.

“The bear appeared to be a yearling male… Animal Control quickly responded and monitored the area but was unable to locate the bear and there was no property damage,” the statement continued. “The bear did not approach any people, pets, or residences and quickly left the area. If a resident ever sees a bear we ask that they keep a large distance and immediately report to Animal Control at 703-931-9241. Animal Control is continuing to monitor the area to ensure the bear has moved on.”

Alonso Abugattas, Arlington County Natural Resource Manager, also released a statement.

Bears, especially young males, travel away from their families and often, as they don’t know as much as older bears, into new areas that perhaps are not ideal for them. They are shy and almost always try to get away from people, would like for you to leave them alone as well. Eventually they either find their way back to more wild settings or are helped to get there. They are almost always not a danger and just would like to be left alone. If you find one, just calmly report it. If you know they’re around you, don’t leave trash cans, pet food, and bird feeders around that may attract them. This is not an uncommon occurrence as bear numbers have really built up. For example, there are 4 bears this calendar year that have been seen in Fairfax.

A bear was spotted in the Reston area two weeks ago, our sister site Reston Now reported.

It’s not uncommon to spot bears this time of year as they wander into residential areas in search of food,” Reston Now write. “County officials say that bears may be drawn into populated areas because of the smell of food. Other things that attract bears include garbage, compost piles, fruit trees, beehives and berry-producing shrubs.”

Photos courtesy Animal Welfare League of Arlington

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Morning Notes

For Families, $100K Doesn’t Cut it Here — “An analysis by personal finance site MagnifyMoney found that in some pricey cities it’s particularly hard to make it on $100,000. ‘The worst metro area for a family earning $100,000 includes Washington, D.C. and neighboring cities Arlington and Alexandria, Va. After factoring in monthly expenses, families would be $315 in the red.'” [MarketWatch]

AWLA Helps Kitty with Gruesome Injury — “Today we urgently need your support for a young orange tabby with a horrific injury. On Valentine’s Day, we received a call from one of our rescue partners in West Virginia who had just taken in a cat who had been shot in the head with an arrow.” [Animal Welfare League of Arlington, WJLA]

YHS Athletes Prepare for Collegiate Competition — “On Feb. 5, I watched the ceremony in the cafeteria of Yorktown High School, where 20 male and female seniors announced plans to play collegiate-level football, soccer, lacrosse, swimming, baseball, tennis and track. Only 1 in 50 high school athletes play at competitive colleges, said activities director Mike Krulfeld.” [Falls Church News-Press]

New Head of School for DJO — “After an extensive national search, and at the recommendation of the search committee, Bishop Michael F. Burbidge, Catholic Diocese of Arlington, has named Mr. William Crittenberger the new Head of School at Bishop O’Connell High School, effective July 1, 2020.” [Press Release]

Nearby: Opening and Closing in Seven Corners — A new Food Star store has opened in Seven Corners, following the 2017 closure of the Food Star on Columbia Pike. Meanwhile, the Gold’s Gym in Seven Corners is reportedly closing on March 13. [Annandale Blog, Twitter, Twitter]

Flickr pool photo by Eric

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A large fire department response at Bishop O’Connell High School this afternoon has been pared back after a gas odor investigation found no active leak.

Firefighters — including a hazmat team — were called to the school at 6600 Little Falls Road around lunchtime for a report of a natural gas smell in a deep pipe chase. They remained on scene well into the afternoon, investigating the odor with crews from Washington Gas.

Thus far, nothing hazardous has been found. The school was not evacuated.

A portion of N. Trinidad Street was closed during the incident due to the extensive emergency response.

More from the Bishop O’Connell website:

A construction worker at Bishop O’Connell detected what he thought might have been the smell of gas in a utility tunnel this afternoon. The Arlington County Fire Department along with representatives from the gas company have been on site all afternoon. They have detected no sign of a gas leak and they have not recommended any evacuation at this time.

Please know that there continues to be a strong fire department presence at the school. In an abundance of caution, they are monitoring the situation, which remains unchanged at this time.

Afternoon pick-up notes: The front carpool lanes may be closed off this afternoon. Students will be dismissed through the gym and Underwood Street lobbies. Please obey all law enforcement officers, and exercise abundant care as you pick up your students.

We appreciate your patience during these unusual circumstances!

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Morning Notes

Dorsey Declares Bankruptcy — “Arlington County Board Chair Christian Dorsey, who was penalized Thursday for failing to disclose a campaign contribution to the Metro board in a timely manner, filed for bankruptcy last month after falling behind on his mortgage and accruing tens of thousands of dollars in credit card debt… he attributed his personal financial troubles to a drop in income since he was elected to the five-member Arlington board four years ago.” [Washington Post]

Metro Delays During AM Rush — “Blue/Yellow Line Delay: Single tracking btwn Braddock Rd & National Airport due to a signal problem outside Braddock Rd.” [Twitter]

Arlington Among Best Cities for Frugal Dating — Arlington is No. 17 on a new list of “the best cities in the country for budget-friendly dating.” [SmartAsset]

County Aiming for More Budget Feedback — “This week marks the beginning of the FY 2021 budget season, Arlington County’s process to decide how it will spend County dollars. From now through July 2020, you will have multiple opportunities to provide input and inform decisions about the County’s operating budget and capital budget.” [Arlington County]

County Football Teams May All Make Playoffs — “Depending on the outcome of final regular-season games on Nov. 8, there is a possibility that the Wakefield Warriors, Washington-Liberty Generals and Yorktown Patriots could all end up as district football champions. Wakefield (5-4, 4-0) and Yorktown (8-1, 4-0) are in sole possession of first place currently in the National and Liberty districts, respectively, and are guaranteed at least co-championships if they lose Nov. 8.” [InsideNova]

Yorktown Field Hockey in State Tourney — “It took a while, but when the stakes became the highest, that’s when the Yorktown Patriots started playing their best field hockey of the 2019 campaign, in what has become an historic season for the girls team… By reaching the region final for the first time in program history, Yorktown also earned a Virginia High School League Class 6 state-tournament berth, also for the first time.” [InsideNova]

DJO Runners Win State Title — “After not winning the state championship the past two seasons, the Bishop O’Connell Knights have returned to that throne this fall. The girls high-school cross country team won the 2019 Division I state private-school crown Nov. 7 in Mechanicsville by dominating the field with 46 points.” [InsideNova]

Nearby: Potomac Yard Plan Takes Shape — “Just a few days after submitting plans for the Virginia Tech site near the North Potomac Yard Metro station, JBG Smith has submitted early concept designs for the development that will replace Target and the other Potomac Yard stores.” [ALXnow, Washington Business Journal]

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Arlington zoning inspectors recently made an unusual discovery — a group of nuns living in a Williamsburg convent is currently running afoul of some county rules.

And in the process of trying to right that zoning quirk, county officials stumbled upon a similarly unique dispute within the neighborhood over how, exactly, the county should hand out a permit to let the nuns continuing living in their current home.

The dispute is set to come before the County Board this weekend, and involves a group of seven nuns who work as teachers at the nearby Bishop O’Connell Catholic High School.

The “Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary” have lived in a home along the 2800 block of N. Rochester Street since winning a permit from the Board last year, according to a report prepared for the Board.

But as county staff commenced a one-year review of that permit, they discovered that the nuns never obtained a “certificate of occupancy,” a document from the county certifying that the building’s occupants were following the terms of the convent’s permit.

Staff notified the sisters and the Catholic Diocese of Arlington, and they’re now recommending that the Board give them three months to straighten out that deficiency.

Yet they’re also suggesting a new condition for the permit allowing the convent to operate, after hearing from one concerned neighbor. That person expressed concern that “the use permit for group living/dormitory could be transferred to another occupant upon sale/leasing of the property to another user that could operate under the use permit without further review by the County Board.”

“If the current owners of the house were to sell the property to another user that agreed to abide by the current approved conditions, there is a possibility that another of the uses that falls within the group living category could occupy the premises,” staff wrote. “As a result, staff is recommending a new condition that would limit the use permit to the current convent use; any other use of the premises for group living would require a review by the County Board.”

If the Board agrees to follow staff’s recommendations, it will take up the matter again in April, when members could renew the convent’s permit for a full year. The matter is slated for the Board’s consent agenda Saturday, which is generally reserved for noncontroversial items to be passed all at once.

Photo via Arlington County

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Morning Notes

Work Begins to Replace Collapsed Pipe — A collapsed 18-inch stormwater pipe is being replaced on Arlington Ridge. The work is necessitating a detour for Arlington Ridge Road traffic between 23rd Street and S. Glebe Road. The stretch has been the site of numerous water main issues over the past few years. [Twitter]

Big Turnout for Caps Sendoff — Thousands of fans reportedly flocked to the Kettler Capitals Iceplex in Ballston on Saturday to give the Caps a Stanley Cup sendoff as they traveled to Las Vegas for Game 1 of the finals. [WUSA 9]

Manager Warns Against Additional Debt — “[Don’t] do it. That’s Arlington County Manager Mark Schwartz’s advice to County Board members, urging them to resist any temptation to disregard the government’s self-imposed, and for the most part sacrosanct, debt guidelines. The guidelines, long in place to help the county government retain AAA bond ratings, call for the cost of servicing municipal debt to remain less than 10 percent of the total overall county-government budget in any given year.” [InsideNova]

ACFD Lends a Hand in Ellicott City — Arlington County Fire Department units are helping out the flood recovery efforts in Ellicott City, Md. The catastrophic flooding in Ellicott City over the weekend prompted a regional disaster aid response. [Twitter]

DJO Wins State Softball Crown — The Bishop O’Connell Knights girls high school softball team won the Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association Division I tournament last week, capturing the state championship title for the seventh year in a row. [InsideNova]

Photo courtesy @thelastfc

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Two 5K races will be prompting road closures in parts of Arlington on Saturday morning.

The 2018 Bishop O’Connell 5K race will take place between 7:30-10:30 a.m. The following roads will be closed for the race, according to the Arlington County Police Department.

  • Williamsburg Blvd. will be closed to eastbound traffic from N. Underwood St. to N. Sycamore St.
  • Little Falls Rd. will be closed from Sycamore St. to Washington Blvd.
  • 26th St. will be closed from N. Sycamore St. to Washington Blvd.
  • Underwood St. will be closed from N. 24th St. to Williamsburg Blvd.

The 2018 Bunny Hop 5K race will take place from 7-10 a.m. For that race, ACPD said the following roads will be closed.

  • Pershing Drive, from N. Highland Street to N. Oakland Street
  • Irving Street, from N. 9th Road to N. 2nd Road
  • Jackson Street, from Rt. 50 to N. 2nd Road
  • Highland Street, from N. 9th Street to N. 9th Road
  • 5th Street, from N. Irving Street to N. Oakland Street
  • 9th Road, between N. Irving Street and N. Highland Street
  • 9th Street, Between N. Irving Street and N. Highland Street
  • 2nd Road, between N. Irving Street and N. Jackson Street

Part of the Bunny Hop 5K will run through the Columbia Gardens Cemetery. Visitors will be able to walk through the cemetery, but car traffic will be directed by race personnel. There will also be parking restrictions along N. Irving Street between 6th Street N. and 9th Road N..

For both races, residents will be escorted through traffic closures and are encouraged to park their cars in driveways to reduce road congestion.

Photos courtesy Arlington County

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A social studies teacher popped the question to a fellow educator at Bishop O’Connell High School in Arlington yesterday, and the proposal was captured on video.

The couple, John Whittaker and Lisa Moynihan, met when they were both teaching at the private school, which is also known by the acronym DJO. That culminated in a moment Wednesday afternoon that gave “new meaning to ‘student engagement,'” in the words of one of their colleagues.

Moynihan recounted what happened.

“It was a total surprise to me — John, who taught at DJO last year but is currently teaching at Visitation, had coordinated with some of our friends and colleagues to help him pull it off,” she wrote. “Many of our former students were there to witness it all. It was such a special moment, because as he said in his proposal, O’Connell is where we met and fell in love.”

Students cheered as Moynihan tearfully said “yes.”

There was also something special about the ring, which is not seen clearly in the video. Whittaker had arranged to propose with the ring Moynihan’s grandfather gave to her grandmother just before he went off to enlist during World War II.

The newly-engaged couple plans to get married at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart at Notre Dame in the summer of 2019.

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Arlington County’s 2018-2019 vehicle decals will have a drawing of its skyline behind blossoming cherry trees.

At the Arlington County Board’s meeting Tuesday (January 30), Treasurer Carla de la Pava announced that Schuyler Workmaster, a junior at Bishop O’Connell High School, won first place in the annual design competition over three other finalists.

Workmaster, in her third year as a finalist, said she chose to draw the design as she was inspired by the county’s mix of urban and natural settings.

“I chose to do this because it shows both the urban and nature aspect of Arlington,” she said at the meeting before her win was announced. “It just comes together in both pieces, and works together to create beauty. I think it represents Arlington because it’s very diverse, but it comes together to form something beautiful.”

Workmaster’s work was chosen among design finalists from three fellow student competitors: last year’s winner Amy Kohan, a junior at Wakefield High School; Washington-Lee junior Tom Bolles; and Yorktown High School junior Maddy Heinemann. Workmaster will receive a $750 cash prize from the Arlington Community Federal Credit Union and her design will be displayed on approximately 160,000 vehicles starting later this year.

A record 3,619 votes were cast in the competition, a figure de la Pava said is up 11 percent from last year. She said the interest in voting in the contest is huge across the county.

“The part that really tickles me is that it comes from all areas of Arlington,” de la Pava said. “All the nooks and crannies except for [Arlington National Cemetery]… it really represents how widespread the interest is in voting for this decal.”

Students are instructed to produce a design that represents Arlington. This year’s competition was widened to include anything that they felt represented World War I and the county’s participation in the war.

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Morning Notes

D.C. and Arlington: Tech Towns? — The Greater Washington area has ranked third on a major real estate firm’s list of “Tech Cities 1.0.” The area received high marks for its educated workforce and pace of startup growth. Arlington, meanwhile, is continuing to land tech firms from D.C. and Fairfax County, in part thanks to active outreach and an incentive program from Arlington Economic Development. State incentives helped keep Applied Predictive Technologies in Ballston; the firm has a new office and is now expanding and creating 350 jobs.

Exotic Pet Ban Vote Delayed — The Arlington County Board is expected to delay its consideration of a new exotic pet ban until the fall. The proposal has garnered strong reactions from both sides of the issue, including from the D.C.-based Animal Welfare Institute, which is urging the Board to approve the ban. [InsideNova]

Pentagon 9/11 Memorial Gets Architect — Denver-based Fentress Architects has been selected as the designer of the $75 million 9/11 Pentagon Memorial Visitor Education Center. The center will be built near the intersection of Washington Blvd and Columbia Pike, which is set to be realigned as part of an expansion of Arlington National Cemetery.  [Washington Business Journal]

DJO Standout in Running for National Recognition — Bishop O’Connell High School softball standout Kathryn Sandercock is in the running for USA Today’s ALL-USA High School Softball Player of the Year. She is currently second in an online poll. Sandercock was also just named to the 2017 Spring All-Met first team. Other Arlington high school students named to the first team All-Met in their sports include three boys soccer and one girls soccer player. [USA Today]

Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf

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The end of renovations at Tuckahoe Park will be marked Saturday with a ribbon-cutting to mark the completion of a two-year project. The ribbon-cutting is set for 11:15 a.m.

The park at 2400 N. Sycamore Street in East Falls Church has had its bleachers and benches renovated, while the bullpens and batting cages for local baseball players have also had a facelift.

In addition, the grass and dirt in the park’s two diamond fields have been revamped and drainage improved, while a new electronic scoreboard has been added for use by the community and the nearby Bishop O’Connell High School. O’Connell contributed $18,000 towards purchasing the scoreboard.

ADA accessibility has also been added around the park, including from 26th Street N., the school and the existing park trail near N. Sycamore Street.

The park is already being used by Arlington Little League and other community groups. The County Board approved the $1 million renovation project in 2015.

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