Arlington, VA

Morning Notes

Western Smoke Causing Hazy Skies — “The local National Weather Service office pointed out today in its technical discussion that the smoke is caught in the jet stream and moving overhead around 20,000 to 25,000 feet high. Smoke from the historic fires out West now covers much of the country, and it is expected to continue to be an issue in the days ahead.” [Washington Post, Twitter]

Board Approves Road Project — “Arlington County Board members on Sept. 12 approved a contract worth up to $805,000 for improvements to the intersection of 18th Street North with North Glebe Road and North Wakefield Street, aimed at providing a better walking and biking experience for children and others headed to Glebe Elementary School.” [InsideNova. Arlington County]

Ret. Deputy Seeking Answer to 9/11 Mystery — “Nineteen years after the 9/11 attack at the Pentagon, a retired Arlington Sheriff’s deputy still doesn’t know if the badly injured man he pulled from the burning building survived. He doesn’t know his family or even his name — and Art Castellano still cries about it whenever something reminds him of that day. Now, WUSA9 is trying to help reunite the two men.” [WUSA 9]

Teacher Seeking Desk Donations — “Students across Northern Virginia are turning homes into classrooms, so Arlington art teacher Jeff Wilson decided to rally the community to help. Wilson posted a request online for people to donate their old desks to help students who are learning from home.” [WJLA]

Local Business Legend Dies — “Russell A. Hitt, who helped transform the family business into one of the nation’s largest and most successful general contracting firms, died Sunday at his Falls Church residence. The 85-year-old Arlington native is survived by his wife of 66 years, Joan; four children and 15 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren, many of whom now work at Hitt Contracting Inc.” [Washington Business Journal]

No, the FBI Didn’t Conduct a Raid in Rosslyn — “The FBI’s Washington field office says it did not raid the home of Arlington conspiracy theorist Jack Burkman, despite a Washington Post story that apparently took Burkman’s word that his home had been tossed by federal agents.” [Washingtonian, Daily Beast, Washington Post]

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The National Landing Business Improvement District (BID) is expanding its Farm-to-Families food program to allow for public donations.

The program, which launched in June, gives a weekly supply of fresh fruits and vegetables to families in need with children attending Wakefield High School, Gunston Middle and Hoffman-Boston Elementary.

Members of the public can now help fund this effort. The BID said in a press release that a $15 donation will buy a week’s worth of produce for one family, and $60 will buy enough for a month.

Public contributions will supplement existing funds to give Farm-to-Families greater reach in the National Landing, Shirlington and Columbia Pike communities. (National Landing refers collectively to the Crystal City, Pentagon City and Potomac Yard neighborhoods in Arlington.)

The press release said the BID has so far dedicated $10,000 to the program, which has allowed 150 families to receive the weekly produce supply.

FRESHFARM, a nonprofit that operates farmers markets in the D.C. region, supplies Farm-to-Families with the produce through their local vendors. The BID is also partnered with Arlington Friends of Urban Agriculture and parent-teacher associations for Wakefield, Gunston and Hoffman-Boston.

“We continue to be inspired by the giving nature of the Arlington community and encouraged by all the ways that people have stepped up to lend a hand to their neighbors,” said Tracy Sayegh Gabriel, president and executive director of the BID. “The BID and our many partners are excited to now generate community support for Farm-to-Families and further our collective mission to create a healthier community, especially at this difficult time.”

The BID is also working with the Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization, which recently started a food assistance program of its own, to further expand food access in South Arlington.

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Morning Notes

No Citations for Mass Gatherings in Arlington — “Gov. Ralph Northam is limiting social gatherings to 50% of event space capacity, or 250 people, whichever number is smaller. A spokesperson for Arlington County says ‘there have been no reports of social gatherings of this size’ in the locality. Arlington County’s police department has not issued any citations for mass gatherings, and has not levied any fines for people who flout rules regarding mask-wearing.” [DCist]

Prosecutor Explains Fight With Judges — “Taking the court to court to preserve the discretion of this office is the only way I know to protect the will of the voters who elected me. This is how we weave the quilt of criminal justice reform: each locality using its voice to demand change and put its values into elected offices. Town by town, county by county, we must fight to shape the communities in which we want to live.” [Washington Post]

Wardian, District Taco Donate to School — “Ultramarathoner Mike Wardian, who recently ran a 62-mile run to all 12 DMV-area District Taco locations, asked District Taco to donate the proceeds of the run to Barrett students and families in need. District Taco employees made and delivered 200 burritos to over 100 Barrett families.” [Press Release]

Parking Blocked Off For Clarendon Bar Lines — A number of nightlife hotspots in Clarendon have been working with the county’s Arlington Restaurant Initiative to better space out patrons waiting in line. This past weekend, the county blocked off portions of lanes and some parking spots around bars to allow more physical distancing around the lines. [Twitter, Twitter]

Thousands Left Behind at DCA Security Lines — “A new… Transportation Security Administration report gives the amount of coins and bills left behind at security checkpoints at airports around the country, including Reagan National Airport and Dulles International Airport. The amount unclaimed at checkpoints at National in the last fiscal year was $13,207.46.” [Washington Post]

Armed Robbery Near Courthouse — “The victim was sitting inside his parked vehicle when the suspect vehicle, which was occupied four times, pulled alongside him. Suspect One approached the victim, displayed a firearm and commanded the victim to exit his vehicle, lay on the ground and empty his pockets. Suspect Two then stole the victim’s personal belongings. Suspect One entered the victim’s vehicle and rummaged through items. The suspects fled the scene after an unrelated vehicle drove by the incident.” [Arlington County]

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Garden space at Arlington Public Schools is being used to grow produce for local pantries.

When schools closed for the academic year in March, the seeds were planted for victory gardens to grow in the place of classroom gardens.

Now, fresh produce like lettuce, peppers and tomatoes fill soil at Wakefield High School, Thomas Jefferson Middle School, Hoffman-Boston Elementary and Tuckahoe Elementary.

APS is partnered with Arlington Friends of Urban Agriculture (FOUA) and Virginia Tech’s Arlington Virginia Cooperative Extension to maintain these gardens and organize volunteers.

“The community response has been amazing,” Emily Landsman, an FOUA board member, said in a press release. “The garden coordinators and school communities wanted to continue growing even though the schools were closed. To date, we have recruited over 70 volunteers and several Master Gardeners to assist the APS Garden Coordinators, and have donated over 500 pounds of fresh produce.”

The gardens were created as food pantries face the loss of key volunteers and the D.C. region sees increasing amounts of people in hunger as the area’s economy struggles.

FOUA’s goal is to grow 2,500 pounds of produce to donate to local food pantries. Area pantries where food is being donated include those at Bon Air Baptist Church and Columbia Baptist Church.

Local pantries have also received over 2,500 pounds of fresh produce from growing efforts in residential neighborhoods, churches and schools, according to FOUA.

For those who want to donate, Rock Spring Congregational church accepts produce donations on Mondays and Thursdays from noon-2 p.m. and Clarendon Presbyterian Church is holding a monthly food drive to help Arlington’s homeless population.

FOUA is currently seeking experienced volunteers to help in the gardens for one to four hours a week.

Photos via Arlington Friends of Urban Agriculture

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Morning Notes

One Rescued After Key Bridge Plunge — “DC water rescue Potomac River at Francis Scott Key bridge, 1 in water who may have jumped. Removed from water by Good Samaritan in Private vessel. #DCsBravest on scene and will be transporting a conscious patient.” [Twitter]

ART Bus Service to Increase — “Starting on Sunday, August 23, Arlington Transit will increase bus service. The majority of service will be restored to pre-Covid levels while Arlington Transit continues to take precautions to keep passengers and operators safe.” [Arlington Transit]

I-66 Ramp Closures Starting Tonight — “Overnight ramp closures are scheduled to occur this week on I-66 East in Arlington for asphalt paving as part of the I-66 Eastbound Widening Project. Detours will be posted to direct traffic.” [VDOT]

Yet Another Hot Day — “It’s a hot one! We haven’t been below 70 degrees at Reagan National since June 27th.” [Twitter]

Today: ACPD’s ‘Fill the Cruiser’ Drive — “The Community Resources Section will be collecting donations at drive-thru donation stations on Tuesday, August 11, 2020 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.  at three locations.” [Arlington County]

Nearby: Deadly Crash Sunday — “Two people are dead following a crash in Bailey’s Crossroads, Virginia, early Sunday. Fairfax County police said a single vehicle was involved in the crash, which happened on Carlin Springs Road near Columbia Pike around 1:30 a.m. Sunday.” [WTOP]

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As a new school year nears, Volunteer Arlington is launching a new fundraiser for students in need.

The “Buy a Neighbor School Supplies” drive follows the group’s previous “Buy A Neighbor Lunch” and “Buy A Neighbor Groceries” programs, which raised a combined $59,000 to help Arlingtonians amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

For the new effort, community members are encouraged to donate at least $10, which will go to foster care families and vulnerable families in the form of gift cards for school supplies.

Seven other local and regional organizations partnered with Volunteer Arlington for the fundraiser, including Arlington Foster Care/Adoption Program, Arlington Partnership For Affordable Housing and Offender Aid and Restoration (OAR).

The fundraiser is accepting money through August 23. Those interested in donating to “Buy a Neighbor School Supplies” can donate via the Volunteer Arlington website.

“We are asking people of all ages to come together to support this very tangible need, said Lisa Fikes, Executive Director of Volunteer Arlington, which is run by the Ballston-based Leadership Center for Excellence. “The Arlington community continually illustrates its heart and ability to support a worthy cause, and we are now calling on that generosity to support the growing educational and opportunity gaps in our community.”

In its earlier “Buy A Neighbor Lunch” program, Volunteer Arlington raised $50,000 by partnering with area restaurants. With each $10 donation, one of the restaurants would make and deliver a meal to a local resident in need.

“The beauty of this program was that it not only helped people who had become food insecure as a result of the pandemic, it also kept local restaurant employees working,” said Karen Coltrane, President and CEO of the Leadership Center for Excellence. “It allowed those of us still able to give to double our impact.”

Image via Volunteer Arlington

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Morning Notes

Storm May Affect Waste Collection — “In preparation for the upcoming storm ‘Isaias,’ residents should properly secure trash, recycling, and yard waste carts in case of flooding and high winds… The storm may cause additional delays in collection services. Please leave un-serviced carts at the curb (if not a flood risk) until they are collected.” [Arlington County]

County COVID Testing Sites Closed — “Arlington’s COVID-19 sample collection sites at 1429 N. Quincy Street and Arlington Mill Community Center will be CLOSED Tuesday, August 4, in anticipation of inclement weather.” [Arlington County]

Apartment Operator Suspends Evictions — “AHC Inc., one of the D.C. region’s largest managers of affordable housing, will not move to evict any of its residents struggling amid the coronavirus crisis for the rest of the year. The company announced the move in a letter to roughly 5,000 tenants in late July, just before August rents started to come due. The Arlington company also said it won’t charge any late fees for missed payments, or seek to impose any rent increases, until at least Jan. 1.” [Washington Business Journal]

Stabbing in Ballston on Sunday — “At approximately 5:55 p.m. on August 2, police were dispatched to the report of a stabbing. Upon arrival, officers made contact with Metro Transit Police, who had already arrived on scene and detained the suspect. The investigation determined that the victim was sitting in the park when the suspect allegedly approached him from behind and struck him with a sharp object, causing a laceration. The victim was transported to an area hospital with minor injuries.” [Arlington County]

Boy Scout Troop Donates Food — “Scout families and members of Troop 167 in Arlington delivered 1,500 packages of food to local families facing unemployment and financial instability during the first few months of the coronavirus pandemic.” [Patch]

New Officers Sworn In — ” In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Arlington County Police Department added 15 new officers to its ranks, following the graduation of Session 142 from the Northern Virginia Criminal Justice Training Academy (NVCJA) and their completion of additional, supplementary local training.” [Arlington County]

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Fulfilling a long-delayed promise, Arlington County Board member Christian Dorsey dropped off a cashier’s check for $10,000 to the headquarters of the Amalgamated Transit Union International yesterday.

The action is, one would assume, the last chapter in the saga of a political donation that caused Dorsey to lose his seat on the WMATA Board and lose the trust of some of his constituents in Arlington.

Dorsey was ordered by the WMATA Board to return the $10,000 political donation to his Christian Dorsey for County Board political committee due to a conflict of interest — between his role in helping to run the transit agency and his acceptance of a donation from its largest labor union. He also faced ethics scrutiny for not disclosing the donation for four months.

Dorsey resigned from the WMATA Board in February after failing to return the donation; at the time, he did not have sufficient funds in his campaign account to do so. Most of Dorsey’s campaign cash in 2019 went to himself and his wife, in the form of loan repayments and payments for campaign services, respectively.

Dorsey filed for personal bankruptcy in October 2019. The bankruptcy case was still active in federal court as of last week.

Friends helped to raise additional campaign funds for Dorsey in February and March, despite him not being up for reelection until 2023. In addition to donations from fellow elected officials and from individuals, Dorsey accepted $1,000 from the Northern Virginia Association of Realtors and $2,000 from Steamfitters Local Union #602.

Dorsey wrote a $10,000 check dated Feb. 24, 2020 and sent it to ATU International but, according to reporting by the Washington Post last week, the check was somehow lost when it was sent from the union to the bank.

In response to subsequent inquiries from ARLnow, Dorsey said on Thursday that he had dropped off a cashier’s check drawn from his campaign account. He provided a photo of the check, and ATU International spokesman David Roscow confirmed that it had been received.

“I’d like for this saga to be closed as well, and will cooperate as necessary to do so,” Dorsey told ARLnow earlier in the week, though he added that he saw it as closed “at least as it pertains to my responsibility in the matter.”

“My promise was to return the contribution, which I did, as evidenced through the certified mail receipt and acknowledgment by ATU in February/March,” he said. “That they didn’t process it is a matter I cannot speak to, nor can I reasonably be held responsible for.”

According to the Virginia Dept. of Elections website, Dorsey’s campaign initially submitted a campaign finance report on July 15 that did not include the February return of the donation. That report was amended on July 19, to include the $10,000 check as an expenditure. The Post reported on July 23 that the check was never cashed.

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Clarendon Presbyterian Church is holding its second drive-through food drive and toiletry collection Saturday to support Arlington homeless shelters.

The drive-through will run from 9 a.m. to noon at the church (1305 N. Jackson Street).

The church is asking for specific, top priority food items. These include rice, boxed cereal, applesauce, juice and packaged healthy kids’ snacks. They request that the kids’ snacks are unopened and not prepared.

The food drive supports residents of Bridges to Independence in Clarendon, according to a statement from the church.

The toiletry collection encourages donations such as toothpaste (regular and travel-sized), toothbrushes, men and women’s razors, deodorant (regular and travel-sized), new men’s underwear sizes XL through 3XL, new women’s underwear, new socks, combs/brushes and bar soaps.

The toiletry drive will support 35 individuals living at Residential Program Center on Columbia Pike, according to the statement.

The church is implementing COVID-19 safety protocols by requiring masks and discouraging physical interaction. They are offering a curbside drop-off location outside the church for donations.

Photo via Clarendon Presbyterian Church/Facebook

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Morning Notes

Rep. Beyer: Stay Home This Weekend — “In the nation’s capital we finally managed to slow the spread of COVID-19. The people in our region sacrificed to make these gains, and we should do all we can to hold on to this progress. Staying home on July Fourth and avoiding large gatherings is the best way to do this. Those who go out should absolutely wear a mask, and social distance without fail.” [Press Release]

Local Unemployment Rate Improves — “The local employment picture in May crawled back slightly from the abyss of April, according to new state data, with most parts of Northern Virginia seeing modest improvements in unemployment rates. In Arlington, May’s jobless rate of 6.1 percent was a comeback from 7 percent in April, although it remains far above norms of the past decade.” [InsideNova]

Wardian Running Through Delaware — “With most major races wiped off the calendar, professional ultramarathon runner Michael Wardian was asked to run 96 miles — the length of Delaware — over the course of a month as part of a virtual charity event. ‘I was like, ‘It’s 96 miles, I’ll just do it in one day,” Wardian said.” Wardian said in an Instagram post that his route will actually take him 135 miles over the course of about 24 hours. [Delaware Online, Instagram]

Ballston Company Makes Big Donation — “Today The AES Corporation (NYSE: AES) stepped up to provide immediate relief to hundreds of families who are struggling to put food on their tables as a result of the economic crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic. A $25,000 contribution… will allow [Arlington nonprofits APAH and AHC] to provide $100 grocery gift cards to a combined total of 250 low-income households in their apartment buildings. This grant is the first tranche of a $75,000 total commitment from AES to the Arlington Community Foundation.” [Press Release]

Good News on ARLnow’s InstagramArlington Community Federal Credit Union is sponsoring a month-long series of “good news” stories posted to ARLnow’s Instagram account. The innovative partnership will further ARLnow’s journalistic mission and give our Instagram followers something to feel good about near the end of each day. [Twitter]

Reminder: Road Closures Tomorrow — “Road closures are planned from 4-11 p.m. Saturday around the Air Force Memorial, Iwo Jima Memorial and Long Bridge Park. Street parking will also be restricted in the area.” [ARLnow]

Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman

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This weekend, Calvary United Methodist Church in Aurora Highlands is holding a “Stuff the Truck” donation event to collect food for the Chirilagua neighborhood in Alexandria.

The community — also known as Arlandria — has faced disproportionately high numbers of COVID-19 positive patients, as have Latino and Hispanic communities in Arlington and throughout the region.

Local nonprofits have worked to get food and other emergency supplies to hard-hit Chirilagua.

“Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many in the Chirilagua neighborhood are experiencing hardship from job loss, sickness, and food insecurity,” Calvary UMC said in a media advisory. “Recent data revealed that over 40% of Chirilagua residents are unemployed and, in mid-May, over 55% of COVID tests taken by community members living in Chirilagua were positive.”

This Saturday, June 6, Calvalry UMC is hosting a donation event at the church (2315 S. Grant Street) from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. to fill a 20-foot truck with items most needed by Chirilagua residents and families.

“To participate, donors can come to Calvary UMC and bring donated food and supplies to place in the truck,” the church said. “Items needed most are shelf-stable foods such as rice, beans, canned food and cornflour.”

The event is the latest in a series of fundraisers and food drives for the church to support the Chirilagua community. So far, the church says it has raised $24,000 of its $25,000 goal. The church plans to make an additional $15,000 pledge to bring the total to at least $40,000, the church said.

“Donors wishing to make a financial contribution to MISSION:COVID can donate at the event or through the Calmeth.org website,” the church said, “or text GIVE to 703-936-2684 and select MISSION:COVID from the menu.”

Staff photo by James Cullum

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