County to Continue Westover Study — Arlington County’s Historical Affairs and Landmark Review Board has asked county staff to study garden apartments in the Westover neighborhood. The study is expected to take 6-12 months, after which the board will consider whether to recommend a historic designation. Some residents want Westover designated as historic in order to prevent redevelopment. The study limits the historic designation to the garden apartments and not to other parts of Westover. [InsideNova, Arlington County]
Donations Needed for ANC Wreaths — The nonprofit Wreaths Across America is seeking donations to help sponsor wreaths for the gravestones at Arlington National Cemetery. Without additional donations, nearly half of the graves at the cemetery may be bare for the holidays. [Washington Examiner, WTOP]
New Name for New Street — A new street that will be built as part of a planned apartment development along Columbia Pike may be getting a new name. Originally set to be called S. Smythe Street, the short connector road behind the Wellington apartments may instead be named S. Ross Street. [InsideNova]
High School Boundary Change Approved — Despite some resident complaints, the Arlington School Board on Dec. 1 approved a series of high school boundary changes that will move students, starting with high school freshmen next year, from overcrowded Washington-Lee High School to Wakefield and Yorktown. [Arlington Public Schools, InsideNova]
Arlington Tops Clinton Vote Margin List — Arlington County, which has the highest percentage of residents with a college degree of any jurisdiction in the U.S. with a population over 50,000, also had the highest increase in vote margin for Hillary Clinton vs. Barack Obama in 2012. Clinton’s margin of victory in Arlington this year was 20.3 points higher than Obama’s. [Five Thirty Eight]
O’Leary on Clinton’s Victory Margin — Former Arlington County treasurer (and noted local election prognosticator) Frank O’Leary says the increase in the Democratic victory margin in Arlington reflects “a profound belief in government, particularly the federal government as the means of fulfilling the objectives expressed in the Preamble to the Constitution.”
DCA Ranks Poorly for Flight Cancellations — Reagan National Airport is the eighth-worst airport in the country for flight cancellations around the holidays, according to a new set of rankings. [WTOP]
Arlington Seeks Secret Santas — Arlington County is looking for volunteers to “brighten the holiday season for some of Arlington’s most vulnerable residents by taking part in the County’s annual Secret Santa program.” [Arlington County]
Flickr pool photo by Bekah Richards
Linden Business Resources (750 23rd Street S.) is again hosting its family-friendly Miracle on 23rd Street holiday event. It’s scheduled to start at 6 p.m. on Dec. 2.
The tree lighting ceremony is scheduled for 6:25, Santa is expected to arrive via fire truck at 6:30 and a 50/50 raffle will take place at 8 p.m. Unlike past years, this year’s event will be held completely outside.
There will also be food trucks and holiday music and entertainment. The event is free and open to the public.
Police are encouraging local residents to “help make the holidays bright for Arlington County children in need” via donations.
“The Arlington County Police Department is asking community members to donate new, unwrapped toys to bring holiday cheer to children ages 1 – 17,” the department said. “Donations will be distributed by the police department throughout the month of December.”
Tonight (Tuesday), from 6-8 p.m., police will be collecting donations at the following locations:
- Lee Harrison Shopping Center (2425 N. Harrison Street)
- Pentagon Row (1201 S. Joyce Street)
- Shirlington Village (2700 S. Quincy Street)
The Shirlington collection is still happening despite the fact that the Shirlington light-up night was postponed until next week due to rain.
A separate collection will take place at Our Lady of Lourdes (830 23rd Street S.) on Wednesday, Dec. 7, from 6-8 p.m. For those who cannot get to any of the events, donations are also being accepted at police headquarters (1425 N. Courthouse Road) until Friday, Dec. 16.
The union leading the charge, 32BJ SEIU, says that wheelchair attendants, skycaps, baggage handlers, checkpoint agents and cabin cleaners at the airports “earn as little as $6.75 an hour plus unreliable tips.”
The strike was authorized during a rally at National Airport today.
“The entire crowd marched for nearly a mile outside DCA to the Metropolitan Washington Airport Authority headquarters to demand that the board ensure contractors pay their workers $15 an hour,” the union said in a press release. “The workers were part of a nationwide Fight for $15 day of disruption, including strikes and protests at 330 locations and at 20 major airports nationwide.”
— Bri Carter (@ABC7Bri) November 29, 2016
Among those participating in the rally were the workers, clergy, community groups and state delegate Alfonso Lopez.
“Given the vital role that airport workers play in keeping air travel running smoothly, safely, and on-time, it is disappointing that contracted workers at DCA are not paid a living wage for the critical work that they do,” Del. Lopez (D-Arlington) said in a statement. “In our nation’s capital, we can and should do better for those who help keep our economy moving. MWAA should act now to ensure that contractors are paid $15 an hour.”
Locally, the workers are employed by a private contractor, Huntleigh Corporation.
More from the press release:
“We work very hard to ensure that travelers have a safe and clean airport, but we are ready to go on strike to ensure we can provide for our families,” said Aynalem Lale, a wheelchair dispatcher at Dulles. “If I made $15 an hour, I wouldn’t have to work two jobs and would not have to sleep at the airport between jobs.” …
Four decades ago, every job in an airport was a good, family-sustaining one. Men and women worked directly for the major airlines, which paid a living wage, provided pensions and health care and respected Americans’ right to stick together in a union. That’s no longer the case. Today, most Americans who work at airports are nonunion and are employed by subcontractors that pay low wages, without any benefits. Their jobs now represent the failures of a political and economic system geared towards the wealthy few and corporate profits at any cost.
Between 2002 and 2012 outsourcing of baggage porter jobs more than tripled, from 25 percent to 84 percent, while average hourly real wages across both directly-hired and outsourced workers declined by 45 percent, to $10.60/hour from more than $19/hour. Average weekly wages in the airport operations industry did not keep up with inflation, but instead fell by 14 percent from 1991 to 2011.
America’s airports themselves are also a symbol of the concerted effort to erode the ability of working people to improve their jobs. President Reagan fired and permanently replaced 11,000 striking air traffic controllers in 1981, paving the way for a decades-long march by corporations and elected officials to systematically dismantle Americans’ right to join together on the job. By zeroing in on airports Nov. 29, worker-class families are looking to transform a symbol of their decline into a powerful show of their renewed force.
All told, the Fight for $15 has led to wage hikes for 22 million underpaid workers, including more than 10 million who are on their way to $15/hour, by convincing everyone from voters to politicians to corporations to raise pay. The movement was credited as one of the reasons median income jumped last year by the highest percentage since the 1960s.
A number of local Christmas tree sales are set to begin after the Thanksgiving holiday.
Perhaps the best-publicized of the local sales is the Arlington Optimist Club’s tree sale at the Well Fargo bank parking lot on the corner of Lee Highway and N. Glebe Road.
The lot will open Friday, from noon to 6 p.m., and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Then, starting Monday, the schedule will be as follows:
- Monday to Thursday — 2 to 8 p.m.
- Friday — Noon to 8 p.m.
- Saturday and Sunday — 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
The Clarendon United Methodist Church, at 607 N. Irving Street, is also planning a Christmas tree sale starting this weekend. All proceeds will benefit the Arlington Food Assistance Center (AFAC) and Arlington Street People’s Assistance Network (A-SPAN).
The church’s sale will begin Sunday “and will continue until trees are sold out.” The hours are:
- Sunday — Noon to 4 p.m.
- Monday to Friday — 5 to 9 p.m.
- Saturday — 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
There are a number of other local Christmas tree sales that take place around Arlington — as detailed in this article from last year — but remarkably, in 2016, there is still little information about the sales to be readily found online.
Other usual Christmas tree sale locations include Whole Foods stores, local farmers markets, Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church (830 23rd Street S.), the Cathedral of St. Thomas More (3901 N. Cathedral Lane), the Dominion Hills shopping center (6000 Wilson Blvd), the Food Star parking lot (950 S. George Mason Drive) and the Unleashed by Petco parking lot (5400 Lee Highway).
Jolly Old Saint Nick has set up shop at the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City for boys and girls who want to get their Christmas wishes heard early.
Santa Claus has been keeping office hours at the mall since Veteran’s Day (Nov. 11). He’ll continue to be available for photos right up until 6 p.m. on Christmas Eve, according to a Facebook post.
This week, Santa is working from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Wednesday. He is taking Thanksgiving off, but will be back for the traditional Black Friday shopping mall madness, working a 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. shift.
Whereas Saint Nick used to have a simple setup in the food court area, he now has his own veritable Christmas forest one floor up, near Nordstrom.
This year Santa has at least two special photo sessions scheduled. This coming Sunday, from 7-9 p.m., Pentagon City mall will be hosting a pet photos with Santa event. Next Sunday, Dec. 4, from 9-11 a.m., Santa will have a free, private event for children and young adults with special needs.
Thanksgiving Travel in D.C. Area — More than 1 million D.C. area residents are expected to leave town for Thanksgiving, and 9 out of 10 of them will be traveling by car. The worst day and time for traffic in the region is expected to be next Tuesday afternoon. [Washington Post]
Arlingtonians Spend Big for the Holidays — The average Arlington household is expected to spend $1,741 celebrating the holidays, according to a new survey. That’s the highest expected holiday spending in the region and the 13th highest in the U.S. [InsideNova]
GMU Renames Building in Arlington — George Mason University’s Metropolitan Building in Virginia Square has been renamed for one of the school’s Nobel Prize laureates. The building will be renamed Vernon Smith Hall in a ceremony tomorrow (Friday). The university-owned building, at 3434 Washington Blvd, also houses the new Virginia DMV office. [George Mason University]
Beer Coming to Donut Shop — It’s a combination that would make Homer Simpson drool. Sugar Shack Donuts on Columbia Pike has applied for a Virginia ABC permit to serve beer. The application was filed Nov. 7. No word yet on how soon the store may be offering cold brews to pair with its donuts.
Good Stuff Eatery Opening at DCA — Burger restaurant Good Stuff Eatery is opening a new location today in Arlington: specifically, at Terminal B of Reagan National Airport. [Good Stuff Eatery]
Students Win Video Contest — “A team of students from the Arlington Career Center has won the fifth annual student video challenge sponsored by the Virginia School Boards Association (VSBA), taking home the top prize for the fourth year in a row.” [Arlington Public Schools]
W-L Defeats Yorktown, Twice — The Washington-Lee girls’ and boys’ varsity basketball teams both defeated their Yorktown counterparts yesterday, in cross-county rivalry games. The girls won 54-45, while the boys won 65-59.
Branson-Backed Startup Coming to Rosslyn — OneWeb, a startup that’s aiming to launch a constellation of low-orbit satellites that will provide affordable Internet access across the globe, is coming to Rosslyn. The company, backed by Virgin Group tycoon Richard Branson, will occupy a 6,000-square-foot space in Monday Properties’ 1400 Key Blvd building. The building, which is also home to ARLnow.com, is slated to replaced with an apartment tower and grocery store at some point, though it’s unclear when the redevelopment will move forward. [Washington Business Journal]
Reminder: Get Rid of Dry Christmas Trees — The Arlington County Fire Department is reminding residents that dry Christmas trees are a big fire hazard. The county is currently in the midst of its annual Christmas tree collection. [Twitter]
A-SPAN Kudos for Paisano’s — Paisano’s Pizza saved the day for the Arlington Street People’s Assistance Network, after A-SPAN’s planned hot dinner for its homeless clients fell through at the last minute. Paisano’s delivered pasta, salad and garlic bread on a cold night and on short notice. [Facebook]
Levine Proposes LGBT Rights Bills — Yesterday we reported on three LGBT rights bills proposed by state Sen. Adam Ebbin (D). Delegate-elect Mark Levine (D), who represents part of South Arlington and Alexandria, has proposed several such bills of his own. Among them are bills prohibiting employment, housing and other discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Levine was formerly legislative counsel to former U.S. Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.). [Washington Blade]
TransportationCamp DC Coming to GMU — George Mason University’s Arlington campus will host the 5th annual TransportationCamp DC gathering on Saturday. The “un-conference” will discuss various transportation, technology and mobility issues. More than 400 “thought leaders, young professionals, and students from around the country” are expected to attend. [TransportationCamp]
Thank You to Crystal City Rotary Club — Thank you to the Crystal City-Pentagon Rotary Club for a hearty breakfast this morning. ARLnow.com founder Scott Brodbeck spoke to the group about his experience running a small business that happens to be Arlington’s most-read local news outlet. ARLnow.com will celebrate its sixth anniversary on Jan. 29.
Baby Jesus was stolen from outside Calvary United Methodist Church (2315 S. Grant Street), in the Aurora Highlands neighborhood, sometime between 8 p.m. Saturday and the next morning, when parishioners showed up for Sunday worship services.
Police were called and took a report Monday, though hopes of cops catching the perpetrator are low. Rev. Matthew G. Smith said he’s hoping the thief has a change of heart and repents — by returning the Son of God to his rightful place in the manger, at least until the nativity scene is brought inside next weekend. Alternatively, the little Lord could also be left on the front steps of the church or brought, in person, to the front office.
“We have no desire to prosecute,” Smith said. “We would be very happy just to get Him back.”
“Baby Jesus missing,” said a sign posted in front of the nativity scene today. “Please return. No questions asked.”
(No other nativity thefts were reported this year in Arlington, according to an ACPD spokeswoman.)
This was the third time Jesus had been swiped from the church’s nativity scene, and if all works out it wouldn’t be the first time He has been returned, Smith said. The first time, years ago, Jesus mysteriously reappeared in the nativity scene on Christmas morning.
The last time, a few years back, baby Jesus vanished for good. A parishioner ended up ordering a new, hand-painted figure of the young Prince of Peace from Italy and donated it to the church as a replacement.
Before the nativity scene was put on display a few weeks ago, in mid-December, Smith and some church members discussed ways to prevent theft. The nativity scene itself is bolted down, but the Italian baby Jesus is too fragile to be secured in a permanent fashion. While many ideas were proposed, the one that was implemented involved tying fishing line around the porcelain figure. That did not save the Savior; the fishing line was cut by the thief.
Smith said he expects there to be more discussion of nativity security ahead of 2016’s Christmas season. Should the Christ child not be returned, the church will also have to consider raising funds to buy a new one. The pastor said he wasn’t sure of the cost of a new porcelain baby Jesus, but said of the Italian-made model that was stolen, “I’m certain it’s not inexpensive.”
“We will look for ways next year,” to secure baby Jesus, he said, “but we don’t want to chain him in.”
Either way, said Smith, “it’s not going to sour our love of the community or our mission.”
Photo via Facebook
As in previous years, Arlington County will be conducting its curbside Christmas tree collection during the first two full weeks of January. In 2016, the collection will run from Monday, Jan. 4 to Friday, Jan. 15.
“Residents are reminded to place the tree on the curb no later than 6 a.m. on your regular trash collection day and to remove all decorations, nails, stands and plastic bags,” the county said on its website. “The trees are later ground into wood mulch for garden use.”
Those who live in condos or other places without residential curbside trash collection can opt to schlep their trees Arlington’s Solid Waste Bureau near Shirlington for recycling. Residents are asked to call 703-228-6570 to make an appointment to drop off a tree there. Proof of Arlington residence is required.
Where ever you are, and whatever you’re doing on the holiday, we encourage you — at least for a day — to put aside the frustrations of the world and treat your fellow humans with uncommon patience and empathy.
By the time Saturday rolls around, you’ll be reading the Rethink Energy column here. The “challenge” referenced in the column is actually not much of a challenge at all — it’s a couple easy things you can do to save energy and money next year. Not a bad New Year’s resolution.
Speaking of the New Year, if you haven’t picked out the bottle of bubbly you’ll be bringing to your friend’s party next week, head on over to Arrowine for their free champagne and wine tasting Sunday afternoon. It will be better received than the supermarket swill you drank in years past.
With that, feel free to use the comments section on this post as your weekend discussion forum. Patience and empathy to all — at least for 24 hours — and to all a good night!
The high temperature today and tomorrow is expected to hover around 70 degrees. In the meantime, cloud cover will make it hard to spot Santa tonight, and Ol’ Saint Nick might want to bring a rain jacket, with storms and flash flooding expected.
A white Christmas is fairly rare in Arlington, and this year is no exception. On any given year, Arlington has around an 11 percent historic probability of having snow on the ground on Dec. 25. Anecdotally, cool and dry seems to describe the most common Christmas Day here.
If it’s not going to be a white Christmas, would you prefer it to be warm like today, but also wet, or cool and dry, as usual?
A week ago, BikeArlington organized a “Holiday Lights Ride” to visit some of the most decked-out homes in Arlington.
Among their stops:
- A home near the intersection of Key Blvd and N. Jackson Street
- A home on the 1700 block of N. Quebec Street
- A home on the 1600 block of N. Abingdon Street that was named 11th most outlandishly-decorated holiday home in the U.S. by MSN
Among the sights to see on the ride: a political “debate” of a dozen illuminated Christmas figurines, including Santa as a camera operator; Santa and his sleigh on a roof complete with reindeer and an American flag; and lots and lots of Christmas lights.
Those, of course, aren’t the only elaborate holiday displays in Arlington. In years past, readers have also reported crazy lights and decorations at homes on the 4200 block of 36th Street S. in Fairlington and the 5600 block of 24th Street N., near Lee Highway.
Where are the best decorations this year? Let us know in the comments.
Photos via BikeArlington/Facebook
ACPD says it will be upping patrols and setting up DUI checkpoints from Dec. 18 to Jan. 3. Nationwide, there’s an increase in drunk driving deaths around Christmas and New Year’s Eve.
From an ACPD press release:
Due to the increase in drunk-driving-related fatalities around the holidays each year, law enforcement agencies across America will be actively searching for and arresting drunk drivers from December 18, 2015 to January 3, 2016. In December 2013 alone, there were 733 people killed in crashes involving at least one driver or motorcycle operator with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher. Twenty-three of those deaths occurred on Christmas Day.
If you plan on drinking at the holiday party or at a restaurant, hand the keys over to someone else – a sober friend, a taxi or public transportation. Or, try NHTSA’s SaferRide mobile app, which allows users to call a taxi or a friend by identifying their location so they can be picked up. The app is available at http://ow.ly/RWs3S for Android and http://ow.ly/RWs8h for iPhone users.
As part of the national Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over enforcement campaign period, police will be increasing the number of patrols, setting up roadblocks and using local media to reach out to all drivers. If you’re drinking and driving, Arlington County Police Department will stop you.
If you see a drunk driver on the road, call the police right away. If someone you know is about to drive after drinking, take their keys and help them get home safely.
Please follow these tips to keep the holidays safe and happy:
- Even one drink can impair your judgment and increase the risk of getting arrested for driving drunk–or worse, the risk of having a crash.
- If you will be drinking, do not plan on driving. Plan ahead; designate a sober driver before the party begins.
- If you have been drinking, do not drive. Call a taxi, phone a sober friend or family member, use public transportation or call SoberRide at 1-800-200-TAXI.
Remember, driving after drinking should never be an option. Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over.