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
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
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
— John Meehan (@MeehanEDU) March 28, 2018
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.
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.
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
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.
Average Paycheck Decreases — The average weekly paycheck in Arlington was $1,734 in the first quarter of 2016, down 0.2 percent compared to one year prior. Nationally, however, the average paycheck was down 0.5 percent. Arlington ranked in the top 10 of U.S. counties with the highest pay. [InsideNova]
New Media Venture Based in Clarendon — Politico co-founder Jim VandeHei’s next media venture is headquartered in Arlington. VandeHei, along with Politico’s Mike Allen and the publication’s former Chief Revenue Officer, are among those helping to found the venture, which has reportedly secured $10 million in financing and is said to be “a media outlet targeting corporate executives and other professionals with a mix of business and political news.” While Politico remains in Rosslyn, VandeHei’s new venture is based in MakeOffices in Clarendon. [Wall Street Journal]
Porn Discussion at DJO — Last night Bishop O’Connell High School hosted a public discussion, aimed at parents and teens, about “the effects of pornography on teenagers.” Today the founder of the website The Porn Effect will address DJO students and “present the reality behind pornography to the entire student body.” [Catholic Diocese of Arlington]
First Responders Cup This Weekend — The annual First Responders Cup fastpitch softball tournament will take place in Arlington this weekend. Among the participants, one team from Salem, Va. is paying tribute by wearing the name of fallen firefighters on the back of their jerseys. The players, who also wrote letters to the families of the firefighters, will be visiting Arlington’s Fire Station No. 5 near Pentagon City today. [WDBJ]
New Website for Chamber — The Arlington Chamber of Commerce has launched a redesigned website. [Arlington Chamber]
AHC Seeking Volunteer Mentors — Updated at 2:15 p.m. — Affordable housing organization AHC Inc. is seeking volunteers to serve as mentors and tutors for middle- and high school students. Before the start of the school year, AHC provided backpacks filled with school supplies to more than 900 low-income, school-aged children living in its apartment communities. “Along with scores of generous individuals, several local organizations donated funds or supplies, including Arlington County Community Outreach, BM Smith, Boeing, The Reading Connection, and the Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington,” AHC noted in a press release. [AHC Inc.]
Cooley Joins DJO Football Staff — Former Washington Redskins tight end Chris Cooley has joined the Bishop O’Connell High School football staff as the offensive line and tight ends coach. Cooley, who currently co-hosts the afternoon drive radio show on ESPN 980, is shifting to a morning slot at the station, thus allowing him to coach. [Arlington Catholic Herald]
Arlington Tech Light on Female Students — Only 21 percent of incoming freshmen at the new Arlington Tech high school program are female. That number is “not high enough,” an administrator told community members. [InsideNova]
North Arlington Road Closure — N. Sycamore Street is scheduled to be closed from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. today between Little Falls Road and 27th Street due to water service installation work. [Arlington County]
Architect Chosen for Gondola Study — Portland, Oregon-based ZGF Architects has been selected to conduct the feasibility study for a gondola system between Rosslyn and Georgetown. ZGF, which also has offices in D.C., worked on the preliminary concept for the Portland Aerial Tram, which opened in 2006. [Georgetowner, Urban Turf]
Real Estate Firm Raises $100,000 for Free Clinic — McLean-based Stewart Commercial Realty has helped to raise more than $100,000 for Arlington Free Clinic’s dental program. The program provides dental care to low-income, uninsured Arlington residents. The company held a fundraiser for the program in Courthouse last weekend. [Facebook]
The Denver Post and other local media reports that Rom lost control on an intermediate trail at Copper Mountain Resort and crashed into a tree. Rom was wearing a helmet but died of blunt force trauma.
The incident happened Wednesday and was the second skiing death in Colorado that day.
Rom was a recent graduate of Bishop O’Connell High School, where he rowed crew and was recognized for academic achievement.
Photo via Facebook
Update at 6 p.m. — Arlington County Police have issued the following statement about today’s incident.
Staff at Bishop O’Connell High School contacted an Arlington County Police School Resource Officer after they received a bomb threat that was telephoned to the school. After the school was evacuated, canine resources from the US Park Police, WMATA Metro Transit Police, and Pentagon Force Protection Agency assisted Arlington County Police canine in conducting a thorough and systematic search of the school.
Students were able to be evacuated by school staff with the assistance of Arlington County Police Officers and they were sheltered in nearby Tuckahoe Elementary School, who was having a Parent-Teacher conference day.
There was no evidence of any explosives or hoax devices and the school was deemed clear a short time later.
It appears that this bomb threat may be related to similar threats in the region based on their nature and timing. We will work closely with the other affected jurisdictions to investigate these incidents.
Update at 2 p.m. — Students are now being allowed back into Bishop O’Connell.
Update at 1:10 p.m. — The evacuated students from the high school have been moved from the football field to Tuckahoe Elementary School, across the street. K-9 units from Metro Transit Police, U.S. Park Police and Pentagon police have arrived on scene to aid in a sweep of the school.
Update at 1:05 p.m. — Tuckahoe parents were sent a text message saying the school was being secured in connection with the Bishop O’Connell incident and evacuation.
In addition to O’Connell and George Mason High, evacuations are also underway due to threats received at five other schools in Northern Virginia, NBC 4 reports: Herndon High School in Herndon, McLean High School in McLean, The Potomac School in McLean, Stone Bridge High School in Ashburn and Falls Church High School in Falls Church. (We’ve since updated this list as NBC 4 corrected its article.)
Earlier: Bishop O’Connell High School is being evacuated due to a bomb threat, ARLnow.com has learned.
Police and K-9 units are en route to the private Catholic school.
The evacuation was reported just minutes after another local high school — George Mason High School in Falls Church — was evacuated due to a bomb threat.
George Mason High School is being evacuated following receipt of a bomb threat this morning. MORE: https://t.co/4YWmBzYdDn
— FCCPSAlert (@fccpsalert) March 4, 2016
It’s Election Day — Arlington voters are heading to the polls today to vote in a number of state and local elections. The most closely-watched and competitive of these is the race for County Board. Democrats Katie Cristol and Christian Dorsey are facing off against independents Mike McMenamin and Audrey Clement for two open seats. Other races include largely non-competitive races for county constitutional offices, House of Delegates and state Senate seats, and the Arlington School Board. Local polling places are open until 7 p.m. [Arlington County]
DJO Standout Profiled — Standout Bishop O’Connell High School linebacker Landan Word has been profiled by the website Scout.com. Word, who has committed to the University of Virginia, is “physical [and] smart in way he plays,” the sports website says. [Scout]
Beyer Gets Spelling Kudos from POTUS — Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) received a handwritten note from President Obama congratulating him on his recent National Press Club spelling bee victory. The president called the win “seriously impressive” and noted “I use spell check.” [Twitter]
Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf
McMenamin Leads Cash Race — Independent Arlington County Board candidate Michael McMenamin has the most cash on hand of the four candidates in the race. McMenamin’s campaign reported $13,699 on hand as of Aug. 31, compared to $10,127 for Democrat Katie Cristol, $8,853 for Democrat Christian Dorsey and $1,657 for independent Audrey Clement. Dorsey has thus far spent the most on his campaign: $55,048, compared to McMenamin’s spending of $2,050. [InsideNova]
‘Demolition Derby’ for Old Houses — All over Arlington, older, more modest homes are being torn down and much larger, more lavish homes are being built in their place. The actual number of homes destroyed is low relative to Arlington’s population — the county reported 124 demolition permits for the first six months of 2015 — but it still worries long-time residents. “Can middle-income people in their 30s, first-time buyers, still live in Arlington?” asked one woman. [Falls Church News-Press]
Local Youth Pilgrimage to Philly — Six hundred teenagers from around Northern Virginia, plus 185 students from Arlington’s Bishop O’Connell High School, will be making a pilgrimage to Philadelphia for the visit of Pope Francis. [Arlington Catholic Herald]
Death Nears for Man Who Raped, Killed in Arlington — A man suspected of raping and killing a woman in Arlington in 1988 is scheduled to be executed in Virginia in two weeks. Alfredo Prieto has also been convicted of or is suspected in a number of other murders and rape cases in Virginia and California. [Los Angeles Times]
Grants for Serving Those with Disabilities — Arlington County has $111,910 available for grants to groups that provide services to Arlington residents with physical and sensory disabilities. The deadline for grant applications is Oct. 30. [Arlington County]
Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman
An alumni group is asking the Vatican to look into a slew of incidents they say has tarnished the private Catholic school’s reputation.
The group, led by former basketball player Brian Culhane, has sent a “fat package of allegations and grievances” to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which oversees issues of morality in the Roman Catholic Church, according to an investigative report by the sports gossip website Deadspin.
The allegations surround the varsity basketball team and its head coach, Joe Wootten.
Deadspin reports that Wootten sought the transfer of Congolese basketball player Junior Etou, who was the key figure on the team’s 2013 Washington Catholic Athletic Conference championship. The site found that Etou was very likely 21 years old when he played for O’Connell, two years too old to be eligible for high school play.
Etou, who was living with Malone at the time, produced a passport and visa that said he was born in 1994. While he was living in the Congo, however, he had earlier provided a birth certificate to basketball’s governing body stating he was born in 1992.
The report also alleges a cover-up by school officials after two basketball players allegedly filmed a sex act with a female student at the school. The players transferred before the last school year. Via Deadspin:
The talk was that Wootten’s latest exiles had left under an ugly cloud — that one of the players had shot a video in which a female student performed oral sex on the other player inside the school, then, according to an O’Connell employee, “posted his work on Instagram.” All of those alleged to be involved were juveniles and underclassmen.
Students found to have committed what is described in memos from O’Connell alumni to school and local Catholic officials as “a sexually immoral act” on campus are generally expelled, Culhane says; however, according to the rumors, the two boys were allowed to leave without any formal finding, while the girl alleged to have been involved remained enrolled at O’Connell. Culhane says alums who inquired about the incident were told by school administrators that she faced no punishment because “the [sex] act was not consensual.” Yet no charges were ever filed.
The Arlington County Police Department investigated the video, but spokesman Dustin Sternbeck said no charges were filed and the identity of the subjects could not be revealed because they were minors.
The confluence of events — without a satisfactory response from O’Connell administration of the Catholic Diocese of Arlington — prompted Culhane and his alumni to request Pope Francis step in. If the CDF and the Vatican decide it’s worth pursuing, according to Deadspin, it will compel Bishop Paul Loverde to investigate the school and the program.
O’Connell administration has not responded to a request for comment.
Update at 4:20 p.m. — The Catholic Diocese of Arlington has provided ARLnow.com with the following statement:
The Diocese of Arlington regrets that concerns about the basketball program at Bishop O’Connell remain a source of frustration for some members of the school community.
As stated previously in 2013, Bishop O’Connell received official documentation regarding the age of former student Junior Etou, confirming his eligibility to participate in athletics during the 2012-13 academic year.
With regard to any allegations involving other students, the Diocese of Arlington cannot comment on individual disciplinary matters. As a matter of policy and practice if a school has reason to believe a student’s actions have violated the law, the proper law enforcement agency is contacted.
Photo via Facebook
Board Takes Action on Affordable Housing — The Arlington County Board on Saturday voted on a series of measures to preserve some of the county’s supply of affordable housing. The Board approved a set of financial tools — including a Tax Increment Financing (TIF) area — that will help preserve the affordability of 6,200 market rate affordable homes along Columbia Pike, an estimated $6.7 million Tenant Assistance Fund for tenants of affordable housing that is being renovated or redeveloped, and a $8.3 million loan to keep the 101-unit Arna Valley View Apartments near I-395 affordable. [Washington Post]
Tree Removal Concerns County Board — County Board members said they were “deeply concerned” and “shocked” at reports that Arlington Public Schools allowed the removal of protected trees on the site of the Ashlawn Elementary School expansion project. [Sun Gazette]
Preservation Arlington Touts Colonial Village — The group Preservation Arlington says “it is a prime time to move to Colonial Village,” touting the community — the first Federal Housing Administration-insured large-scale rental housing project in the U.S. — as “an urban oasis: historic and protected in the heart of the Rosslyn-Ballston Corridor.” [Preservation Arlington]
DJO Coach Named to Hall of Fame — Bishop O’Connell High School softball coach Tommy Orndorff has been named to the 2014 National Softball Hall of Fame. [Arlington Catholic Herald]
Arlington Athletes Make All-Mets — Yorktown football running back M.J. Stewart, Washington-Lee cross country runner Sarah Angell, and Bishop O’Connell soccer midfielder Lauren Harkes have been named to the 2013 first-team fall All-Met. [Washington Post]
Photo courtesy Chase McAlpine