That’s the message from a flyer for a community town hall event next month focused on “how drugs and the opioid epidemic are affecting our community.” Arlington County may be in many ways a unique community, but it is not immune to the scourge of drugs.
Attendees at the town hall, set for Thursday, October 12 from 7-8:30 p.m. at Arlington Central Library (1015 N. Quincy Street), will hear from those “serving on the front lines,” including local law enforcement, community leaders and health care providers.
It will include a panel discussion moderated by NBC 4 anchor Jim Handley, a question and answer session with the audience and a keynote address by Virginia Beach School Board member Carolyn Weems, whose daughter died from a prescription drug overdose in 2013.
County government, Arlington Public Schools, the Arlington County Police Department and the Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney are collaborating to host the town hall.
Fairlington Named ‘Top Value Neighborhood’ — Fairlington and Shirlington are together the No. 3 “top value neighborhood” in the D.C. area, according to real estate website Trulia. No. 1 is University Park in Maryland and No. 2. is Kingman Park in D.C. [Curbed]
Market-Rate Affordable Housing Disappearing — In 2000 there were 19,740 homes in Arlington affordable to those making 60 percent of Area Median Income. That dropped by 86 percent, to 2,780 units, by the end of 2016. [Washington Business Journal]
Police Focused on Opioid Abuse — Yesterday the Arlington County Police Department “participated in a discussion on regional law enforcement efforts aimed at reducing the growing heroin/opiate epidemic.” There are at least three addiction treatment facilities in Arlington and ACPD “strongly encourages substances users and their family members to seek assistance.” [Arlington County]
Native Plants Return Thanks to Management of Invasives — “Native plants are on the comeback trail in Arlington – particularly along the W&OD Trail in Bluemont and Glencarlyn parks. Last month Dominion Energy mowed green space beneath powerlines along the trail, helping the County manage invasive plants like Japanese honeysuckle and multiflora rose.” [Arlington County]
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
That’s according to the Arlington County Police Department, in response to an inquiry from ARLnow.com. ACPD has thus far not provided additional details about the nature of the arrests, the suspects or the schools involved.
The new statistic comes as ACPD starts conducting K-9 drug searches after hours in Arlington public high schools.
Current and former students, who spoke to ARLnow.com on the condition of anonymity, said there is drug problem within the school system.
“Over the past two years or so, I have definitely seen an increase in drug usage among high school students, particularly Xanax and Adderall,” said one recent graduate. “If I had to place blame on one thing, I would say that stress is what’s driving most kids towards drug use, but particularly Xanax and Adderall. The stress problem is really something that APS needs to get out in front of sooner rather than later.”
A current junior at Yorktown High School said the issue extends beyond prescription drugs.
“Yorktown definitely has a drug problem,” she said. “So many people have started getting into cocaine and a lot of the other harder drugs and many of them don’t even think much of it just because they see it around so often. It’s definitely considered ‘cool’ to be into that sort of thing, which is why I think so many kids are drawn to it.”
“There’s not much else to do so a lot of people do for fun,” said a recent graduate. “I don’t think people really think of themselves as addicts.”
“The middle schools are the worst,” said a senior. “Kids have older siblings that are in high school and are able to sell to the younger students. It’s a cycle.”
In a prior statement, an Arlington Public Schools spokesman said APS is taking steps to combat drug use, adding that the problem is part of a larger trend that extends well beyond Arlington.
“As you know, substance abuse and opioid use is a growing problem both in our region and across the US,” said Frank Bellavia. “In collaboration with our law enforcement partners, we are taking steps to make sure that our students are safe and that our schools remain drug free. We also want to make sure that parents are aware and having conversations with their children at home.”
Kalina Newman and Brooke Giles contributed reporting. File photo.
During the last few weeks of the school year and throughout the summer, the dogs will patrol secondary schools after hours to try to sniff out illegal drugs.
Described as a “proactive measure” in a letter to parents, sent today (Thursday), the searches come at a time when parents are becoming increasingly alarmed about the presence of drugs in middle and high schools.
“I have two children in middle school and have heard of numerous times this year alone of students overdosing on prescription drugs on school grounds or having drugs on school grounds,” one Arlington Public Schools parent said in an email to ARLnow.com.
“Drugs in APS middle and high schools are a real problem,” said an APS employee, who wished to remain anonymous. “Administrators are quick to sweep the drug problems under the rug so it won’t make the school look bad. Do the police warn drug dealers of a raid before the raid? I’m a concerned parent, tax paying citizen and an employee of APS.”
In an email to staff yesterday afternoon, obtained by ARLnow.com, Washington-Lee High School Principal Dr. Gregg Robertson acknowledged that Arlington “has seen an increase in the use of controlled substances.”
As many of you may be aware, Arlington, like many areas of the country, has seen an increase in the use of controlled substances. Over the course of the past year, APS staff worked closely with a number of county agencies to respond to this uptick and to ensure that our schools continue to be safe spaces for students and staff. One of the new measures that will be implemented to help minimize the presence of illegal substances in the schools is the use of the Arlington Police Department K-9 unit. Beginning later this month, the police will come to each of the high schools with the K-9 units to search for drugs. The searches will take place in the evening after students and staff have left.
APS has been communicating this information to families, and all high schools will make an announcement tomorrow (Thursday) morning. I wanted you to be aware of this initiative as I am sure students may have questions.
The drug dogs will only patrol high schools, not middle schools, according to APS.
At least one middle school principal downplayed the extent of the “drug problem” at her school. In an email sent to parents on Monday, Williamsburg Middle School principal Connie Skelton said the problem was limited to “a small cohort of students.”
I’ve had some questions about the “drug problem” at Williamsburg. I want to assure you that this is not a widespread problem, however, we do share your concern. In our school, there is a small cohort of students we are carefully following for drug related issues. If you have any information you would like to share with me, please give me a call.
Arlington Public Schools spokesman Frank Bellavia said the school system is taking measures to keep students safe in the face of a nationwide upswing in drug use.
“Substance abuse and opioid use is a growing problem both in our region and across the U.S.,” said Bellavia. “In collaboration with our law enforcement partners, we are taking steps to make sure that our students are safe and that our schools remain drug free. We also want to make sure that parents are aware and having conversations with their children at home.”
Federal prosecutors announced the plea deal early Tuesday afternoon. The defendant, 28-year-old Anthony Medrano, now faces up to five years in prison when he’s sentenced in August.
From a press release issued by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia:
An Arlington man pleaded guilty today to willfully receiving a firearm while under indictment in Virginia state court.
According to the statement of facts filed with the plea agreement and other court records, Anthony Fernandez Medrano, 28, was indicted in Virginia state court in 2015 for possessing cocaine, a schedule II controlled substance. While still under indictment, and not lawfully able to purchase or possess firearms, Fernandez Medrano sought and purchased guns from a private party seller and signed bills of sale confirming the purchases.
Fernandez Medrano faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison when sentenced on August 11. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
Dana J. Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; and Michael B. Boxler, Special Agent in Charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ (ATF) Washington Field Division, made the announcement after Senior U.S. District Judge Claude M. Hilton accepted the plea. Assistant U.S. Attorney Nathaniel Smith III is prosecuting the case.
The Arlington County Police Department will accept the medicine, without any questions asked, as part of National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day Saturday. The initiative is intended to help prevent prescription drug abuse, accidental ingestion and water contamination.
The fire stations, which will collect pills and patches from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m, are at:
- 500 S. Glebe Road
- 4845 Lee Highway
- 1900 S. Walter Reed Drive
“Medicines that languish in home cabinets are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse, and abuse,” an Arlington County news release says. “Rates of prescription drug abuse in the U.S. are high, as are the number of accidental poisonings and overdoses due to these drugs. Studies show that a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including from the home medicine cabinet.”
Residents who can’t participate in the event should throw their medicine in the trash, according to the county.
Photo via Wikimedia/Sponge
Hazmat Incident, Arrests on I-66 — Two people were arrested on drug charges Saturday after their SUV broke down on I-66 and police found a suspicious liquid in and a suspicious smell coming from the vehicle. Lanes of westbound I-66 were shut down while a hazmat team investigated the substance. [WUSA, NBC 4]
Man Arrested for Sexual Assault on Orange Line Train — A man allegedly exposed himself and then tried to force a woman to perform a sex act on an Orange Line train Monday afternoon. The incident happened as the train was approaching the Dunn Loring station, but the man was reportedly arrested in Arlington and held at the county jail. [WTOP]
APS Still Searching for More Space — Arlington Public Schools officials have been busy trying to add more high school seats as a student capacity crunch continues and is expected to get worse at the top grade levels. For now, APS appears to be focused on adding seats at existing high schools and adding additional capacity through new high school programs, like the just-launched Arlington Tech program, as opposed to opening a fourth comprehensive high school. [InsideNova]
Photo (above) of Rosie the Riveter event at the Netherlands Carillon courtesy Valerie Crotty
County Looking at Fire Station Alternatives — The Arlington County Board on Saturday approved an agreement with Arlington Public Schools that would allow it to build a temporary fire station on the grounds of the new H-B Woodlawn school in Rosslyn. However, in response to parent concerns the Board directed county staff to look into potential alternative locations. [InsideNova, Arlington County]
Couple: Snow Melter Fumes Contaminated Our House — A couple who lives near Bluemont Park says diesel fumes from a snow melter that the county was using about 40 yards from their home this past winter has contaminated the home. The county paid for the couple to live in a hotel while the snow melter was running, in the wake of January’s blizzard. Now the couple wants the county to pay for a thorough cleaning of the home. [Washington Post]
Henry Gate to Reopen — The Henry Gate along Route 50 at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall will reopen to military bicyclists and pedestrians on Aug. 1. Among other expected benefits, the gate is expected to serve military users of Uber and Lyft; the ride hailing services are not available on the base. [Mobility Lab]
Police Escort Ducklings Across Road — An ACPD officers and a couple of “alert citizens” helped a mother duck and her ducklings cross N. Stafford Street on Friday. [Twitter]
More on Clarendon Drug Bust — One of the regular meetups for the alleged Clarendon drug ring was Whitlow’s on Wilson, where two of the suspects worked. “It was shocking, disappointing and frustrating to hear that any of this activity took place around our business and the neighborhood,” said Whitlow’s manager Jon Williams, noting that most other Clarendon bars were also named as areas of drug activity. [NBC Washington]
Board Approves Changes to Ballston Building — Originally proposed as an office building, the last building in the Founder’s Square project in Ballston will instead be built as a mixed use building, with a mix of retail, office and apartments. [Arlington County]
Nine people have been charged, accused of being part of a drug network that distributed marijuana, MDMA and cocaine in the neighborhood.
A tenth person was arrested and charged with making death threat against undercover officers.
From an ACPD press release:
Detectives assigned to the Arlington County Police Department Organized Crime Section – Vice / Drug Enforcement Unit and the Virginia State Police recently concluded a 7-month undercover investigation focused on drug distribution activity in the Clarendon area of Arlington County. During this time, undercover detectives conducted numerous purchases of narcotics. As a result of this intensive investigation, undercover officers identified a narcotics distribution network, seized a significant amount of cocaine, marijuana, MDMA, and THC and made 9 arrests.
The following individuals have been arrested as a result of this investigation:
- Kyle Bailey, 22, of Arlington VA has been charged with two counts of Distribution of Marijuana
- Michael Bramlett, 32, of Arlington VA has been charged with two counts of Distribution of Cocaine
- Benjamin Lee Callender, 31, of Woodbridge VA has been charged with two counts of Distribution of Cocaine and Possession with the Intent to Distribute Cocaine
- Victoriano Castro Reyes, 26, of Woodbridge VA has been charged with Distribution of Marijuana and Child Endangerment
- Amanda Mantanona, 24, of Woodbridge VA has been charged with Child Endangerment and Possession with the Intent to Distribute Marijuana
- Omar Small, 22, of Arlington VA has been charged with Distribution of Marijuana
- Joshua Swinton, 28, of Arlington VA has been charged with three counts of Distribution of Marijuana and Possession with the Intent to Distribute Marijuana
- Justin Terrell, 30, of Alexandria VA has been charged with two counts of Distribution of MDMA and Distribution of Cocaine
- Daryl Villanueva, 29 of Arlington VA has been charged with three counts of Distribution of Cocaine and Distribution of MDMA
In addition, after the initial phase of arrests were completed, the involved undercover officers began to receive death threats and threats of severe bodily harm. The threats were very graphic. Through further investigation, the source of these threats was identified and arrested without incident. Tesfayie Tesfa, 29, of Alexandria VA was arrested and charged with four counts of Obstruction of Justice and four counts of Death Threats by Text. He is being held in the Arlington County Detention Facility.
It’s part of the National Take-Back Initiative, which is aimed at preventing prescription drug abuse. It also helps prevent accidental ingestion and the contamination of water supplies.
“The Arlington County Police Department, Arlington County Sheriff’s Office and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) will give the public another opportunity to prevent pill abuse and theft by ridding their homes of potentially dangerous expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs,” ACPD said in a press release. “Bring your medications for disposal to the designated collection sites. The service is free and anonymous, no questions asked.”
The event will be held from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday at the following locations.
- Fire Station #1 (500 S. Glebe Road)
- Fire Station #8 (4845 Lee Highway)
- Fire Station #9 (1900 S. Walter Reed Drive)
“Medicines that languish in home cabinets are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse, and abuse,” the press release notes. “Rates of prescription drug abuse in the U.S. are high, as are the number of accidental poisonings and overdoses due to these drugs. Studies show that a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including from the home medicine cabinet.”
“If residents are unable to participate in this event, the Arlington County Department of Environmental Services advises residents to throw unwanted prescription drugs in the trash.”
County Board Work Sessions to Be Broadcast — Arlington TV, the county government’s cable channel, will begin broadcasting County Board work sessions on cable and online this month. First up: the riveting County Board work session on the FY 2017 budget, scheduled for 4 p.m. Thursday. [Arlington County]
Meal Delivery Startup Now Serving Part of Arlington — Galley, a D.C.-based meal delivery startup, says it just expanded its delivery area to include Rosslyn, Courthouse and Clarendon.
ACPD Focusing on Heroin Use and Addiction — The Arlington County Police Department is joining other law enforcement agencies around the region in an initiative to try to curb the distribution, possession and use of heroin. For those battling addiction, there are a number of treatment options in Arlington. [Arlington County]
Schneider to Lead Thrive — Former Democratic County Board candidate Andrew Schneider has been named the new Executive Director of Arlington Thrive, effective today. Thrive is a nonprofit that provides same-day financial assistance to residents in crisis.
Board Thanks Legislators for Hotel Tax Bill — The Arlington County Board is offering its thanks to the state legislators who successfully shepherded Arlington’s hotel tax surcharge reauthorization through the Virginia General Assembly. [Arlington County]
The incident happened just before 3 a.m. Police say 26-year-old William Donovan of Vienna, Va. was sitting by himself at a table in the tiny pizzeria, snorting cocaine. A uniformed Arlington County police officer who was standing nearby witnessed the alleged drug use and went to arrest Donovan.
At that point Donovan, who police say was highly intoxicated, defiantly said something to the effect of “I’m going home tonight,” and took a “fighting stance,” according to ACPD spokesman Dustin Sternbeck.
Donovan began kicking and punching the officer, prompting a witness to jump in and help restrain him while additional officers sped to the scene, Sternbeck said.
Donovan was charged with possession of cocaine, two counts of assault on a police officer, resisting arrest and obstruction of justice, according to Sternbeck, and is being held without bond.
He “eventually apologized while being transported to jail,” Sternbeck noted.
‘No Drone Zone’ Reminder for Pope’s Visit — Pope Francis begins his three-day visit to D.C. this afternoon. The Arlington County Police Department and the FAA are reminding residents and visitors that the airspace around the District, including Arlington, is a “no drone zone.” [Twitter, FAA]
Widening of I-66 Inevitable, Says VDOT Chief — Widening I-66 to three lanes between the Dulles Connector Road and Ballston is an inevitability, says Virginia Transportation Sec. Aubrey Layne. However, VDOT will exhaust every alternative before moving forward with expansion, Layne said. [WTOP]
Celeb Posts Pic from Arts Center Installation — A giant dart on the front lawn of the Arlington Arts Center in Virginia Square is gaining some fame. Comedian Nick Swardson over the weekend posted on Instagram a photo of a woman jokingly posing as if the dart had hit her in the rear end. He was apparently unaware that the woman was DC’s 107.3 FM personality Sarah Fraser. The dart is part of a well-reviewed installation at AAC called “Play.” [Sarah Fraser]
Prescription Drug Take-Back Day — Arlington County will participating in National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day this coming Saturday. The police department will be accepting anonymous returns of pills and patches at fire stations 2, 8 and 9 from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. [Arlington County]
New Office Lease in Rosslyn — Tax services Ryan, LLC has signed a lease for the 21st floor of the Rosslyn Twin Towers building. The towers at 1000 and 1100 Wilson Blvd are also home to Raytheon, SRI International, Sands Capital, Strategy&, Politico, WJLA and the Washington Free Beacon. [GlobeSt]
Pope Prayer Protest at DCA — Airport workers and a local pastor will hold a “worker pray-in” at Reagan National Airport this afternoon, in advance of the pope’s visit to D.C. Workers are seeking “a living wage, improved training and adequate resources.” [SEIU 32BJ]
Flickr pool photo by Edobson22207
Police say the couple was having an argument about finances in a rental car around 6:30 p.m. They parked the car at the corner of 15th Street S. and Eads Street and proceeded to fight in the street, police say. The male suspect then “attempted to force the female back into the vehicle but was unsuccessful.”
Police were called and officers spotted marijuana and drug paraphernalia “in plain view inside the vehicle.” A search of the vehicle revealed a host of other drugs, according to Arlington County Police spokesman Lt. Kip Malcolm.
The pair, both D.C. residents, were arrested. The woman charged with possession of marijuana. The man was charged with possession of marijuana, attempted abduction, domestic assault and battery, possession of MDMA with the intent to distribute and possession of methamphetamine.