Crystal City Bus-Only Lanes Opening Soon — Bus-only lanes in Crystal City, part of the Crystal City Potomac Yard Transitway, are set to open April 17. It’s the region’s first Bus Rapid Transit line. [Washington Post]
Civ Fed Wants Lower Taxes — The Arlington Civic Federation voted Tuesday to call for a one cent reduction in property taxes. The current annual rate is 99.6 cents for every $100 of assessed value. [InsideNova]
Pulitzer Prize-Winning Author Visits Today — Anthony Doerr, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of “All the Light We Cannot See,” will discuss this best-selling novel at the Washington-Lee High School auditorium from 7-8:30 tonight. The discussion is part of Arlington Public Library’s 2016 Arlington Reads program, the theme of which is “the human displacement of World War II.” [ARLnow]
WW2 Exhibit at Library — In addition to the Doerr event and two other author talks, Arlington Central Library is hosting “an artifact-rich exhibition on Arlington County in World War II. It’s the story of a community undergoing rapid transition from fading farms to new home to the Pentagon, all while sending its young men to fight in Europe and the Pacific. ” [Arlington County]
GMU to Hold Talk With Camille Paglia — On Tuesday, the Mercatus Center at George Mason University’s Arlington campus will be holding a discussion with Camille Paglia, the “cultural critic, intellectual provocateur, and feminist icon.” The discussion will be hosted by GMU’s noted economics professor Tyler Cowen. RSVP is required. [Mercatus Center]
Former Willow Team is Now at the Watergate — Tracy O’Grady, the chef and owner of the former Willow restaurant in Ballston, is now running Campono, an Italian restaurant in the Watergate complex. O’Grady’s husband Brian, who also worked at Willow, is on the Campono team as well. [Washington Post]
Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf
Pulitzer Prize-winning author Anthony Doerr will be the featured speaker for Arlington Reads 2016.
Doerr’s “All the Light We Cannot See” earned him widespread literary fame after it was published in 2014. The New York Times bestseller won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction last year.
The novel tells the story of “a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II.”
Doerr is scheduled to speak at Washington-Lee High School’s auditorium on Thursday, April 7 from 7-8:30 p.m. Doors will open to the public at 6 p.m.
Two other authors will speak as part Arlington Reads 2016, the theme of which is “the human displacement of World War II.”
Julie Otsuka, author of “When the Empire Was Divine,” will speak on Thursday, May 5 and author Richard Reeves of “Infamy: The Shocking Story of the Japanese American Internment in World War II” will speak on Thursday, May 19. Both events will take place from 7-8:30 p.m. at Arlington Central Library (1015 N. Quincy Street).
Widening Critics Still Questioning I-66 Deal — “Widening the highway for four miles from Beltway to Ballston will not relieve traffic congestion, according to every expert I’ve spoken to,” writes WAMU transportation reporter Martin Di Caro, regarding the I-66 deal struck by Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D). Arlington County Board member Jay Fisette, meanwhile, says the overall plan for tolling I-66 is worth the compromise. [Twitter, WAMU]
Arlington Probably Won’t Sue Over I-395 HOT Lanes — After mounting an expensive legal battle over a plan by Gov. Bob McDonnell’s (R) administration to convert the HOV lanes on I-395 to High Occupancy Toll lanes, Arlington appears poised to accept a similar HOT lane plan by VDOT and the McAuliffe administration. There are some key differences between the two proposals, observers say. [Greater Greater Washington]
Arlington Man Arrested in D.C. Cold Case — Arlington resident Benito Valdez, 45, has been arrested and charged with an alleged accomplice in a 1991 triple homicide cold case in the District. [Associated Press]
Chamber Concert in Lyon Park This Weekend — On Saturday, IBIS Chamber Music will hold a free concert of chamber music in the newly-renovated Lyon Park Community Center (414 N. Fillmore Street). The concert will start at 7:30 p.m. and feature music by Schubert, Beethoven and Debussy. [ARLnow]
Local Resident’s Cat Story Appears in Book — A story by Arlington resident April Riser is featured in the new book, “Chicken Soup for the Soul: My Very Good, Very Bad Cat,” according to a PR rep for the publisher.
Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick
That’s the takeaway from the library’s list of top books and DVDs for 2015, which was released Thursday.
The top 10 print books in circulation last year:
1. “The Girl on the Train” by Paula Hawkins
2. “All the Light We Cannot See: A Novel” by Anthony Doerr
3. “Gray Mountain” by John Grisham
4. “The Goldfinch” by Donna Tartt
5. “Yes Please” by Amy Poehler
6. “The Paying Guests” by Sarah Waters
7. “Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania” by Erik Larson
8. “A Spool of Blue Thread” by Anne Tyler
9. “Go Set a Watchman” by Harper Lee
10. “Gone Girl: A Novel” by Gillian Flynn
2. “The Grand Budapest Hotel”
5. “Despicable Me 2”
7. “House of Cards: The Complete First Season”
8. “The Wolf of Wall Street”
9. “Gone Girl”
10. “Saving Mr. Banks”
See the full list of books, eBooks and DVDs here.
The session will be held at the Central Library at 1015 N. Quincy Street on Wednesday, Feb. 24 from 7-8:30 p.m.
It will involve both a book discussion focusing on the need for pet emergency preparedness across the country, as well as a talk about ways residents can train their pets in case of an emergency, such as unusual or extreme weather events.
The discussion will focus on Cathy Scott’s book “Pawprints of Katrina: Pets Saved and Lessons Learned.” It’s a journalistic account of the aftermath of the hurricane that hit Louisiana more than a decade ago, telling the stories of pets who were separated from their owners because of the storm. The book recounts the rescues of these pets as well as the reunions with their families.
After discussing the book and the issue, participants will receive safety advice and a free pet preparedness starter kit. The kit will include a collar strobe light, a collapsible food/water bowl and a waste bag dispenser.
Copies of the book will be available to borrow from the Central Library reference desk starting on Jan. 25.
Photo via Turner Publishing
Two Carlin Springs Elementary School staff members have created a new book series to help kids learn U.S. geography.
Gretchen Schuyler Brenckle and Kathryn Belcher Frazier recently released “A Cat Named Denali: An Outer Banks Adventure,” the first book in the series. In the children’s book, Denali goes on adventures while traveling with her family and learns fun facts about the United States, according to the book’s summary.
Brenckle, a counselor at Carlin Springs, wrote the story, and Frazier, a third grade teacher at Carlin Springs, illustrated the book. Brenckle said that she was inspired to write the book to give kids a fun way to learn geography.
“I am so excited to help children of all ages learn more about our country with Denali the Cat, who is on the adventure of a lifetime as she travels with her family, meeting new friends and learning fun facts about the United States,” she said in a press releases.
Frazier added: “Though I always remind my students not to judge a book by its cover, I hope these illustrations will entice and encourage young readers everywhere.”
Both Brenckle and Frazier live in Arlington and are Yorktown High School graduates.
“A Cat Named Denali: An Outer Banks Adventure” is available for purchase on Amazon or at Barnes and Nobles and Books A Million. The book costs $14.95.
H.K. Park and his two children, Avery and Spencer, created “The Arlington Playground Guide!!,” a review book of 70 playgrounds in the county.
“It’s a Zagat’s guide for kids written by kids,” Park said.
The Parks visited each playground, excluding ones at schools, and ranked them on the different features, like how challenging the playground was, how much shade each has and if it had bathrooms, Park said.
Each playground was giving a ranking out of five stars, with five stars denoting an “epic” experience.
“For a small county, there are a lot of playgrounds,” Park noted.
Park’s kids liked playgrounds that had more challenging features, like rock climbing walls or climbing nets.
Six-year-old Spencer Park gave the playground at Penrose Park (2200 6th Street S.) four stars, saying it had a good jungle gym. His sister gave it five stars.
“Cool! This is really big but not shady. It was super hot but it was worth it,” Avery Park, 9, wrote in the book.
Avery and Spencer liked the bigger playgrounds, Park said. They also liked ones with swings and seesaws, as well as newly-installed equipment.
The playground at Quincy Park (1021 N. Quincy Street) received two stars from the Park kids, who wrote it was too small.
“This place is boring,” Spencer wrote. “Sometimes I think it’s a little cuckoo.”
Park also included “Dad views” for each playground, which looked at the amount of shade at a park or how many bathrooms it had.
Park gave a copy of the book, which contains pictures of each playground, to Arlington Public Library. Families can also request a copy from Park, he said.
“The Beast of Barcroft,” set to be released as an e-book in November, is based on a series of actual animal attacks in Barcroft during 1974.
“Something for weeks in 1974 was scaring the residents of Arlington,” Schweigart said.
At least 23 pets near the Four Mile Run Trail were killed by an animal nicknamed “The Beast of Barcroft,” according to 1974 newspaper reports. Residents could hear a fearsome screeching a night, made even more terrifying by the fact that for a time no one knew what kind of a creature was making it.
“What is it that screams so, down there in the dark hollow of Four Mile Run?” read one contemporary newspaper article. “What is it that howls and kills and goes crash in the Arlington night; that tears the eyes from cats; that strips the hides from rabbits; that raises the hackles on the backs of terrified dogs and cats?”
Eventually the National Zoo was called in to capture the “beast,” which turned out to be a civet.
When Schweigart came across the story, he said it was the “lightning bolt that struck.”
Schweigart’s story takes plenty of artistic liberty with the actual history, he said, but he does reference it in his story. For instance, he includes a character who is a zoologist at the National Zoo.
“My bad guy is considerably more dangerous than what was caught in 1974,” he said.
“The Beast of Barcroft” is the first in a series featuring characters living in Arlington, he said. The second is already finished and set to be released in February 2016.
“Arlington is where I live and where I make my stand, and that’s where my characters are making their stands,” Schweigart said.
The book is a supernatural thriller and for adults only, he said, adding that he won’t let his own daughter read it.
“It would make me a very bad parent letting her read that book,” he said.
“The Beast of Barcroft” is Schweigart’s second book. His first, “Slipping the Cable,” is a thriller about a Coast Guard junior officer.
Schweigart started writing while at the Coast Guard Academy, he said. He wrote a story as part of assignment that ended up placing in a writing competition.
“That’s when I caught the bug,” he said.
Schweigart eventually wants to start writing as a full time profession, but for now, he writes in the morning before going to work, he said.
“If all the lovely readers would buy 100 copies of the book that would certainly help me in a huge way,” he joked.
“The Beast of Barcroft” is currently available for pre-order and will be released in November. The book’s plot summary, after the jump.
“Go Set a Watchman,” author Harper Lee’s follow-up to the American classic “To Kill a Mockingbird,” is being released on Tuesday. Despite some mixed reviews, some 300 library patrons have already lined up — by placing holds at the circulation desk or online — to read about Scout’s return to Maycomb.
The library has 50 copies of the book, plus two copies in Spanish and eight audiobooks — which are all either at the library now or being delivered soon, according to spokesman Peter Golkin. It will also have eBook and eAudiobook copies via its Overdrive system, starting tomorrow.
Golkin said the library adjusted its orders in response to strong demand.
“There’s always strong demand for the latest titles by acclaimed authors like Donna Tartt and James Patterson and pretty much any name you see toward the top of the best-seller list,” he said. “But Harper Lee is a very special case, this being only her second book published and also because it involves the characters from her first. ‘Mockingbird’ is one of the most revered titles in American literature and also a classic film adaptation so the anticipation is certainly understandable.”
Images of America “Arlington County Police Department” was released by Arcadia Publishing as part of its ongoing pictorial history series. The author is Janet Rowe, a former ACPD patrol officer who compiled photos from the 75-year history of the ACPD, many of which have never previously been published, according to a press release from Arcadia.
“This photographic history covers law enforcement from the early days of rumrunners to the present day, showing the changes in uniforms, equipment, methods of policing, and the department’s response to the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon,” the release states. “Officers are shown training for the line of duty, investigating crimes, serving in specialized units, and promoting public safety.”
The profits from the book will be donated to the ACPD Friends and Family Fund, which supports the family of officers in times of crisis. The book is available now online and in bookstores for $21.99.
Rowe served in the ACPD for 31 years, from 1981 to 2012, in evening patrol and as a member of the Crisis Negotiation Team. According to her bio, she is a recipient of two meritorious service awards, a life-saving award, the medal of valor and was named officer of the year by the ACPD.
“She hopes that this book will help highlight the police department through the decades and will bring another piece of history to the local community and reviving memories of those that have been part of the community through the years,” her bio reads.
County Board to Consider Concrete Contract — The Arlington County Board is set to consider an on-call concrete maintenance contract this weekend. The contract is intended to reduce the cost of repeatedly bidding out small contracts for road, sidewalk and curb work. The low bidder, Arthur Construction Company, is expected to bill about $3.8 million annually under the contract, according to county staff estimates. [Arlington County]
Bistro 360 Profiled — Bistro 360, the Rosslyn eatery opened last year by the owner of Cassatt’s Kiwi Café, is winning plaudits for its unique food offerings, which feature Asian, Central European and French influences. [Arlington Magazine]
Flickr pool photo by Michael Coffman
Blue, Orange, Silver Lines Suspended — Metrorail service on the Blue, Orange and Silver lines was suspended during the morning rush hour due to a water main break in D.C. Those in Arlington hoping to get to work via Uber were being charged four times the normal rate, thanks to the company’s “surge pricing” practices. An Arlington Alert, meanwhile, contained an oddly appropriate typo — it noted that service was suspended at “Farragut Wet” due to the water main break. [Washington Post]
Board: Traffic Light Coming in 18 Months — The Arlington County Board had good news for activists at its Saturday meeting: the traffic light they’re seeking at Columbia Pike and S. Frederick Street is coming. The bad news is that it could take up to 18 months. Board member Walter Tejada said that is “too long” and “we have to find a way to make it happen.” [InsideNova]
Zoning Change Advertised for Wendy’s Redevelopment — The County Board on Saturday voted to advertise a potential zoning change for 2026 and 2038 Wilson Blvd, the current site of the Wendy’s restaurant in Courthouse, which is slated for a redevelopment. Developer Carr Properties wants to build a 12-story office building on the site. Public hearings will now be held in advance of Board consideration of the rezoning request. [Arlington County]
Arlington Book Store Wins Grant — East Falls Church bookstore One More Page Books has won a $9,000 grant from novelist James Patterson. The store plans to use the grant to launch a “bookmobile” — a modified food truck that sells books around the community. [Washington Post]
(Updated at 9:50 a.m.) New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D) is no fan of living in Arlington, apparently.
In her new book, “Off The Sidelines,” which is due out today, Gillibrand recounts her move from New York to the D.C. area — to Arlington, specifically — when she was first elected to the House of Representatives. It was a move Gillibrand would come to regret.
From the book:
Our move to Washington was hard — on me and my marriage. I had a new job; [my husband] Jonathan didn’t; and we were trying to find our legs with a toddler in a new city. We started having the same argument over and over. I’d say, “What’s wrong?”
Jonathan would say, “I have no job and I hate D.C.”
I appreciated Jonathan’s viewpoint. We lived in a soulless suburb. It wasn’t the right place for us, and we needed a change. I could see that, but it took me at least a year to figure out that racing 100 miles an hour to do my job well was leaving no time for us… Eventually we moved from Arlington, Virginia, to Capitol Hill, and Jonathan found a job he liked.
Update at 6:00 p.m. — In a tweet, Gillibrand says she’s sorry.
Sorry, Arlington, didn't mean to hurt your feelings. #OffTheSidelines
— Kirsten Gillibrand (@SenGillibrand) September 9, 2014
A place to convene with neighbors, donate those dusty spy novels and show children the merits of community service comes in a package the size of an old cranberry crate.
These Little Free Libraries, neighborhood-sponsored curbside libraries with a free, “take a book, return a book,” policy, have sprouted up in Arlington since Robert Walter installed one in his neighborhood off Glebe Road and Walter Reed Drive in 2012.
“It’s better than donating to Goodwill, who will sell [the books], and it’s a way to give back to the neighborhood,” said Walter, who heard about The Little Free Library organization on Facebook.
Little Free Libraries encourage communities to contribute any books — from children’s books to novels to cookbooks — as well as to enjoy the contributions made by other neighbors.
There are now seven Little Free Libraries in Arlington, located at 3900 7th Street S., 1060 N. Liberty Street, 4706 32nd Street N., 5117 N. 27th Street, 1700 S. Edgewood Street, 6328 22nd Street N. along a section of the Four Mile Run trail, and on the grounds of Washington-Lee High School.
Last week, each library was stocked with books, including comedian David Cross’ memoir and an installment of the “Berenstain Bears” children’s series.
Much like ordinary libraries, Little Free Libraries are meant to be a community hub. However, they don’t charge late fees or require library cards, just an interest in reading and paying-it-forward.
“It’s good for poor people and the [undocumented] population who might have been intimidated by the registration process at a library, or who want to avoid potential late fees,” Walter said of his Little Free Library. “It’s also more social.”
After his proposal for a Little Free Library was approved by the homeowners’ association of his eight-residence community, Walter requested a box from Little Free Library.
Walter said his homeowners’ association paid approximately $350 for their recycled cranberry crate, its post and installation, but many communities make their own libraries rather than buying them from the organization.
“I’ve seen some really elaborate, cool designs that people have done,” Walter said. The Little Free Library website includes pictures of library “stewards” like Walter, who built their libraries to look like covered bridges or old-fashioned school houses.
More than 2,000 Little Free Libraries exist across the world. Since the organization’s beginning in Wisconsin in 2009, Little Free Library owners in Vietnam, Germany and Australia have registered their libraries on the official map.
For residents interested in installing their own, all that’s needed is the approval of the neighborhood association, access to building materials or the means to purchase a library box, and registration with Little Free Library’s map. A steward to sponsor and maintain the library is also essential.
“When I was a resident, I would just keep a box of books in the house and it was like a constant reserve,” Walter said.
Although Walter has relocated to Fairfax, and will soon transfer stewardship of his library to someone in his old neighborhood, he knows his library still gets frequent business.
“I went back there to pick up some mail, and there were books there, different ones from the last time I saw it,” Walter said.
Construction to Begin on Ballston Garage — Local developer The Shooshan Company says it is beginning construction on a 550-space parking garage at 4040 Wilson Blvd, site of a planned 20-story office building in Ballston. The building is the final component of Shooshan’s Liberty Center development. [Washington Business Journal]
Clarendon Day Date Set — The annual Clarendon Day street fair will be held on Saturday, Sept. 27, the Clarendon Alliance has announced. This year the event will add a bluegrass music stage next to the Clarendon Chili Cookoff. The layout is also being changed “to make it easier for people to find the cold beverages of their choice.” [Clarendon Alliance]
VDOT Warns of E-Z Pass Scam — VDOT says some Virginia E-Z Pass users have reported receiving emails demanding payment for a past due debt. The emails are a scam, the department says. It’s unclear how the scammer obtained the email addresses of E-Z Pass holders. [Reston Now]
New Arlington Book Released — “We Are Arlington,” a book featuring 180 pages of photos and history about Arlington and Arlington residents, is now on sale. The author is Bill Hamrock, co-owner of Pasha Cafe and Billy’s Cheesesteaks in Cherrydale. [Preservation Arlington]
Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf