Press Club

Morning Notes

Pastel colors in the skies over the National Mall during peak bloom weekend, as seen from Arlington (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Traffic Restricted on Deteriorating Bridge — “As a result of a bridge inspection today, Friday, March 25, engineers closed the existing southbound lane of the West Glebe Bridge between Arlington and Alexandria due to further degradation of structural beams.  The northbound lane of the bridge over South Four Mile Run will remain open, making the bridge one-way to traffic and requiring a detour for southbound automobiles. The bridge’s maximum load rating of 5 tons will remain in place with a critical need for heavier vehicles – primarily buses and dump trucks — to comply for public safety.” [Arlington County]

Graupel Covers Fields, Prompts Tweets — An ice pellet downpour covered the ground in parts of Arlington on Saturday afternoon: “Well that was wild… heavy downpour rain and graupel swept through near Clarendon.” [Twitter, Twitter]

The Story Behind the Pentagon Chicken — “The Pentagon Building Operations Command Center initially considered using on-staff pest control to capture the chicken. But the pest control staff wasn’t scheduled to come on duty for another hour. The Building Operations Command Center, or BOCC, then came up with the idea to contact the emergency number at the Animal Welfare League of Arlington.” [Patch]

Bullying Incident at Middle School — “After a bullying incident involving her 6th grade son with autism, an Arlington mother asked the school board Thursday night to do more to create an environment where such incidents don’t happen to any child. On Friday both mother Kathleen Clark and her son Colton described what happened to 7 News, and Kathleen talked about changes she hopes Arlington Public Schools makes to help children better know how to relate to others who are different from them in some way.” [WJLA]

Seventh Grade Hoops Team Goes Undefeated — “An Arlington Travel Basketball girls teams capped an undefeated 16-0 season in the Fairfax County Youth Basketball League with victories in postseason tournament-championship games. The seventh-grade girls squad, coached by John Lomas, won the Division I championship game, 51-42, over Lee-Mount Vernon.” [Sun Gazette]

Lease Above Courthouse Metro Extended — “Chickasaw Nation Industries, Inc. (CNI) extends federal services division office lease in Arlington, VA. Represented by Edward Saa and Timothy Jacobs, CNI Federal experienced explosive growth in the 2020-2021 government fiscal year in awarded contracts necessitating a 10,000-SF office presence to service customers.” [Press Release]

More Afternoon ART Buses — “More of a good thing: Midday frequency gets a boost for ART 52 and 75 bus weekday routes starting Monday.” [Twitter]

Nearby: Stabbing in Seven Corners — “Fairfax County police officers arrested and charged a 21-year-old Falls Church man after two men were stabbed just before 2 p.m. yesterday (Thursday). Police were called to Seven Corners at Arlington Boulevard and Patrick Henry Drive for an assault and determined a man was involved in two separate assaults that escalated when he stabbed both men, police said.” [FFXnow]

It’s Monday — Mostly cloudy throughout the day. High of 37 and low of 28. Sunrise at 7:00 am and sunset at 7:29 pm. [Weather.gov]

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A bunny, improbably inside the Pentagon courtyard

If you thought the Pentagon chicken was impressive, wait until you hear about the Pentagon courtyard bunny.

In what might be the world’s fluffiest and most adorable infiltration of a secure military installation, a bunny was recently spotted hopping around in the 5.1 acre outdoor courtyard at the center of the headquarters of the U.S. Dept. of Defense, ARLnow has learned.

There is no official confirmation of the bunny’s existence — the DoD said it does not keep tabs on small, harmless animals in the courtyard — but we have obtained photographic evidence, above, and an eyewitness account.

“I just wanted to highlight that while the Pentagon Chicken is receiving its 15 minutes of fame, the Pentagon Bunny actually successfully infiltrated the Pentagon,” a tipster tells ARLnow. “It is currently living peacefully somewhere in the Pentagon’s courtyard, a location that is likely the most heavily guarded rabbit burrow on the planet… that is until the restaurant in the Courtyard decides to have an extremely locally sourced courtyard-to-table special.”

Given that it is outdoors and has plenty of trees and people eating meals, the courtyard is naturally a hangout spot for birds, which can simply fly in. It’s unclear how a bunny would have hopped into a place surrounded by five rings of some of the most secure office space on earth, though there are some theories.

“Aside from birds I have not seen any other wildlife. That is why I thought the rabbit was so notable,” the tipster said. “A bunch of us were trying to figure out how the rabbit made it into the courtyard since there are no obvious points of entry. The current hypothesis is that the bunny was carried into the courtyard by the hawks that were nesting in one of the trees and dropped before it was fed to the offspring.”

Aerial view of the Pentagon (Flickr pool photo by Michael Coffman)

A Pentagon spokesperson sent an appropriately non-specific response to ARLnow’s inquiry about the small mammal that’s apparently living inside the courtyard’s five walls.

“From time to time there may be various species of animals on the reservation that make it to the Center Courtyard,” said Sue Gough, Department of Defense spokesperson. “We normally do not intervene unless the animals create a hazard to building occupants, or the animal is at risk from our activities. In those situations, we will try to have it leave on its own accord, or capture it and release it to the environment where it is distanced from our activities (e.g., land adjacent to Boundary Channel).”

Pressed about this particular bunny, the official word from the DoD — which is a bit busy at the moment — is that they’re not sure.

“We don’t track individual wildlife unless there is a safety hazard to building occupants or the animal,” Gough said.

The Pentagon chicken, on the other hand, attracted national media attention after the Animal Welfare League of Arlington revealed that it had taken custody of the rogue poultry at the request of the DoD, after it was found wandering around a secure area outside of the building.

The chicken went viral on social media, now has its own t-shirt line, and even earned a Jimmy Fallon-sung ballad on the Tonight Show.

Read More

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Morning Notes

An artist paints inside Palette 22 in Shirlington (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Fallon Sings About Pentagon Chicken — “That stroke of social media brilliance was followed by even more exposure as ‘The Tonight Show’ host Jimmy Fallon wrote a song for the bold bird. It began with the lyrics ‘Are you just a clucker or an undercover spy?’ We do not expect the Pentagon to answer.” [WTOP, Twitter, Facebook]

WBJ Calls Out Crystal City Erasure — “On Jan. 18, JBG Smith Properties announced it has started construction on a pair of multifamily towers at 2000 and 2001 S. Bell St., a block south of the Crystal City Metro station. In, I dare say, the heart of Crystal City. But in that 750-word press release, “Crystal City” does not appear. Not once. ‘National Landing,’ meanwhile, appears seven times.” [Washington Business Journal]

More on School Mask Judge — “The Arlington judge who dealt a blow Friday to Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s executive order making masks optional in schools is married to an Arlington teacher, but attorneys for Youngkin (R) and the school boards did not believe she should have recused herself.” [Washington Post]

More On Eyeglass Smash and Grabs — “Five men with hoods and heavy coats cased the store for about five minutes, Abbasi said, then smashed open the display cases holding Cartier, Gucci and Dior glass frames and made off with about $60,000 worth of merchandise. Surveillance video shows the five bandits rapidly shoveling the high-dollar frames into plastic bags while Abbasi is yelling at them and calling police, leaving a patina of shattered glass chunks in their wake.” [Washington Post]

‘Mental Health Crisis’ at County Jail — “Sheriff Beth Arthur said the man, Paul Thompson, should not have been there, pointing out he had no criminal history. But she admits he did suffer from mental illness like most of the county’s inmates… Of the 280 current inmates, some 170 have mental health challenges; 66 of them are serious. Even the longtime sheriff wants to know why the county is ‘dumping these people in jail when they need serious care.'” [WTOP]

Metro Budget Meeting Tonight in Courthouse — “Beginning Monday, February 7, Metro will hold the first of three public hearings for people to weigh in on Metro’s Fiscal Year 2023 (FY23) budget. Hearings will be held next week and will provide for both virtual and in person public participation options.” [WMATA]

Beyer Challenger Launches Primary Bid — “An intra-party challenger to U.S. Rep. Don Beyer (D-8th) kicked off her campaign Feb. 2 with a singular plea to Arlington Democrats. ‘Give me a chance,’ Victoria Virasingh asked during a kickoff speech… An Arlington native, Virasingh – who did not level any criticism at Beyer or even mention him by name in her remarks – said her goal was to create ‘a community that is rich and thriving and has opportunity for all of us.'” [Sun Gazette]

It’s Monday — A slight chance of snow and freezing rain today before 9 a.m., then a slight chance of rain and snow after that. Otherwise partly sunny, with a high near 45. Sunrise at 7:07 a.m. and sunset at 5:37 p.m. Mostly sunny tomorrow, with a high near 43. [Weather.gov]

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The chicken that tried to sneak into the Pentagon (photo courtesy Animal Welfare League of Arlington)

A very bold and very lost chicken was “caught sneaking around the security area at the Pentagon” early Monday morning.

The adventurous bird was nabbed by Arlington animal control officers, who were called in to help the headquarters of the world’s most powerful military with its poultry problem.

More on what happened from the Animal Welfare League of Arlington:

Apparently, the answer to “why did the chicken cross the road” is…. to get to the Pentagon?! Very early this morning, this chicken was caught sneaking around the security area at the Pentagon (we’re not kidding) and our officers were called to come pick her up. Sgt Ballena brought her safely to the shelter where she’ll stay until we find a new home for her! Now we need a name for her — suggestions welcomed!

Naturally, plenty of people had thoughts on social media about the military’s most wanted chicken and what it should be named.

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A rooster has been nabbed by Arlington animal control after a brief stint on the lam.

Yesterday morning, county animal control officers picked up a rooster that was found wandering near Lubber Run Park, southwest of Ballston, and brought it to the Animal Welfare League of Arlington.

The rooster appeared healthy and was found “running in the front and back yards of the houses that backed up [to] Lubber Run,” according to the responding animal control officer.

The rooster will be kept at AWLA during the stray period (typically, five to seven days) where its caretaker can come to claim the bird.

If no one claims it, the organization will find a “specialized sanctuary farm” for the rooster, AWLA Chief Animal Control Officer Jen Toussaint tells ARLnow.

Wandering flightless birds are a common occurrence in Arlington, notes Toussaint, with animal control officers bringing in a decent number every year.

While roosters (and other fowl, like chickens, ducks, turkeys, patridges) are technically legal in Arlington County, there are strict restrictions on where the birds can go and how they can be housed.

“All poultry here in Arlington must be kept in enclosures more than 100 feet from property lines,” Toussaint says. “Given this restriction many residences do not meet the requirement to have backyard chickens.”

Additionally, it’s illegal for fowl to “trespass” onto county-operated property or land owned by another individual. In other words, this fowl was likely running afoul of county law.

Toussaint also warns — for those considering it — that keeping poultry in the backyard requires a whole lot of work, time, and preparation.

“Raising chickens is not easy and they need time, attention, and routine care. If you plan on going on vacations it’s not as easy to find a ‘pet sitter’ for an entire coop of chickens,” Toussaint says.

Chickens graze, so soil testing should be done since urban areas could have high mercury and lead levels. These heavy metals could be found in the eggs the chickens produce which can be harmful if ingested, particularly by young children.

Another common issue that AWLA finds is that too many chickens are being kept in coops that are too small. The birds need, at minimum, a four by four feet of space, Toussaint notes. Too tight quarters increases the risk of disease transmission, including salmonella and E. Coli.

What’s more, roosters and chickens don’t exactly make for great neighbors. They can be loud and their manure can smell, says Toussaint. Chickens can attract rodents and be prey for hungry foxes as well as wander into roadways and become traffic hazards.

It’s for those reasons that a push by backyard chicken advocates a decade ago attracted opposition and laid a proverbial egg, failing to substantially loosen the rules around keeping chickens.

“Please own [chickens] responsibly,” says Toussaint. ” We regularly find them at large and loose in backyards outside of enclosures. Not only is this against county code but it is not neighborly or safe for the chickens.”

Hat tip to Michael Thomas

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(Updated at 4:15 p.m.) It was poultry pandemonium at Popeyes on Pershing, the Pike and in Pentagon City today.

The fried chicken chain has been selling out of its wildly popular, critically acclaimed new chicken sandwiches nationwide, and Arlington is no exception — but one shining beacon of salty and fatty goodness in the county was still serving as of mid-afternoon today.

Spurred on by a social media war among Popeyes, Chick-fil-A and Wendy’s and lesser chicken sandwich purveyors, customers have been flocking to Popeyes restaurants and scarfing down every clucking sammy in the joint.

In Arlington today, we went searching for the coveted bread-chicken-pickles-and-mayo stack at three Popeyes locations in the county: at 4241 N. Pershing Drive in Buckingham, near Ballston; at 5007 Columbia Pike, near the Arlington Mill Community Center; and at the Pentagon City mall food court. (A fourth, right on the Arlington/Alexandria border at 4675 King Street, was left off our visit list.)

Arriving at the Pershing location around 1 p.m., the parking lot was full and a line wrapped around the interior of the restaurant. After finally advancing to the front of the line, a woman dressed in business attire and not the usual Popeyes uniform — was it the owner? — broke the news that the restaurant had sold out of the sandwich an hour earlier. She said a shipment on Friday is expected to restock their sandwich supply, and added in hushed tones that they may be restocked tonight (Wednesday) as well.

The story was even bleaker at the Popeyes on the Pike. Staff there said they’re out of the sandwiches, noted that many local Popeyes have been out for two days, and asserted they won’t be getting more until Friday at the earliest. One particularly spicy customer — the sandwiches come in classic and spicy varieties, it should be noted — said the viral online food fight is to blame.

“It’s crazy. I blame it on social media,” the customer said. “They [the Popeyes sandwiches] are good, but they’re not Chick-Fil-A good.”

Finally, at 3 p.m., the Popeyes at the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City food court beckoned. Taking stock of the origin of the chain’s name — it’s supposedly named after a detective in the 1971 film The French Connection, not the spinach-swallowing cartoon sailor — it dawned on our intrepid reporter that we, too, were conducting an investigation into a dealer of addictive substances. But since chicken sandwiches are decidedly more benign than heroin, he soldiered on.

From a distance, a long line could be seen. Upon further inspection, it started at the Popeyes and stretched well past the McDonald’s. Approaching the counter, employees could be seen preparing it — The Sandwich — the most buzzworthy fried chicken fast food concoction since the KFC Double Down.

Sure enough, the chicken sandwich was still being served to hungry shoppers and office workers, pulled to the Popeyes stall at the mall at 3 p.m. as if by some magnetic force.

“It’s really good,” said Sedaya Moore, halfway through her first Popeyes sandwich experience, before continuing to chow down with her dining companions. There was nothing else to say.

Vernon Miles contributed to this report

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Morning Notes

H-B’s Rosslyn Home Has New Name — The new Rosslyn home for the H-B Woodlawn Secondary Program has a new name, after a School Board vote last night. The under-construction structure’s new name: The Heights Building. The vote came after the School Board voted to change the name of Washington-Lee to Washington-Liberty. [Twitter, Arlington Public Schools]

CPRO Gets New Interim Leader — “The Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization (CPRO) has named Karen Vasquez as its Interim Executive Director. Karen has spent the last fifteen years working in the field of economic development, creating compelling stories to help recruit and retain Fortune 500 companies, non-profits, hotels and more to Arlington, Virginia.” [CPRO]

Animal Welfare League Nabs Chicken — “AWLA’s 75th animal control case of our 75th year came in just a few days ago! We received a call about a chicken on 8th Rd S., and Officer Swetnam was able to catch the chicken, now affectionately called Henny Penny, and bring her back to the shelter. [Instagram]

Arlington Housing Costs Top D.C. ‘burbs — “Homes in Arlington had the highest per-square-foot costs across the Washington suburbs, according to new sales data, although most jurisdictions saw lower averages from a year before. Arlington’s per-square-foot cost of $435 led the pack but was down from $473 in 2017, according to figures reported Jan. 10.” [InsideNova]

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Morning Notes

Criticism of School Drug Searches — The Arlington School Board last week heard public criticism of a new initiative to conduct K-9 drug searches after hours at Arlington’s public high schools. Despite talk of a drug problem in local schools, one activist said of the K-9 plan: “I don’t think it is reasonable.” [InsideNova]

Economic Segregation at APS — Arlington Public Schools is just below the threshold of “hypersegregation” in a new study of de facto economic segregation in public schools. Neighboring districts like Alexandria and Fairfax score well below Arlington on the “hypersegregation index,” though Prince William scores just above Arlington and is above the level considered hypersegregation. [Center for American Progress]

County Honors ‘Women of Vision’ — Arlington County’s 2017 Women of Vision honorees have been announced: emergency preparedness advocate Jackie Snelling, Washington Business Journal Editor-at-Large Jennifer Nycz-Conner and La Cocina VA founder and CEO Patricia Funegra. Arlington’s Commission on the Status of Women also honored former Arlington School Board member Dr. Emma Violand-Sanchez with a lifetime achievement award. [Arlington County]

Backyard Chickens Blamed for Salmonella — There have been eight salmonella outbreaks sickening more than 370 people this year due to contact with backyard or pet poultry, according to the Centers for Disease Control. In Arlington, backyard chickens are legal for only a handful of residents with very large backyards. In 2013, after dueling lobbying campaigns by chicken enthusiasts and opponents, Arlington’s county manager recommended against allowing more residents to keep egg-laying hens. [Washington Post]

Delta Experimenting With Biometrics at DCA — Delta is experimenting with a biometric identification system at Reagan National Airport. For now, the system is only being used by members of both CLEAR and Delta’s Skymiles program to enter the airline’s Sky Club lounge. If all goes well, in Phase 2 members will also be able to use their fingerprint to check a bag and board a flight. [Delta]

Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman

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Why did the chicken cross the road? To get to Rocky Run Park, apparently.

A chicken was found in the park, on N. Barton Street in the Clarendon-Courthouse area, by an animal control officer Thursday. No one seems to know how the chicken got there.

An Animal Welfare League of Arlington spokeswoman said stray chickens are actually more common in Arlington than one might think.

“We periodically pick up chickens ‘running at large,'” said Susan Sherman.

She said the chicken will be housed at the animal shelter for a couple of days before being shipped off to live out its days on a farm.

“It is being cared for at the shelter as a stray until November 6,” said Sherman. “If it is not claimed by an owner by that date, then we can adopt it to a person with a farm or transfer it to a farm sanctuary.”

“We do not send the chicken to any place where it would be eaten,” Sherman noted. “In our experience stray chickens are almost never reclaimed by owners since very few Arlington residents have the property to keep chickens legally.”

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Morning Notes

Aerial view of the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor

Fire on Ballston Sidewalk — Last night around 6:45 p.m., Arlington County police and firefighters responded to a fire on a sidewalk in Ballston, near the intersection of 9th and N. Stuart Streets. Initial reports suggested that a woman had deliberately set something on fire. No injuries were reported. [Twitter]

Metro Police Seeking Man Who Set Fire at Station — Metro Transit Police are looking for a man who lit something on fire in the Pentagon City Metro station Wednesday morning. The man is later seen on video boarding a train and displaying a sign. [WTOP]

Smoke Closes Pentagon City Station — Smoke in a tunnel near the Pentagon City Metro station prompted a large emergency response and a temporary closure of the station last night. The smoke was caused by an electrical issue. [Washington Post, Twitter, Twitter]

Urban Chicken Issue Still Clucking — The issue of whether Arlington should allow more households to raise egg-laying hens in their yards isn’t quite dead yet. The issue was raised briefly at an Arlington Civic Federation meeting and county staff say they’re willing to consider it if residents bring it up again. [InsideNova]

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There’s a new donut offering at Sugar Shack Donuts (3400 Columbia Pike), and it’s definitely not vegan. The store is now offering not one but two varieties of Korean fried chicken donuts.

The spicy option has a Sriracha maple glaze with spicy chicken on the top. The milder option has a maple glaze with honey chicken on the top.

It’s a collaboration with another Arlington eatery. The chicken comes from Dak! Chicken, which is a Korean style chicken restaurant in Shirlington.

Yesterday was the first day that the donuts were served. Sugar Shack has been advertising the donuts throughout the week on its Twitter and Facebook pages.

“We have sold quite a few,” said Sugar Shack employee Andy Barry. “We’ve definitely had people come in just for the donuts.”

Just don’t expect the fried chicken donuts to be an everyday offering. The donuts will be served only on the last Thursday of every month.

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