(Updated at 3 p.m.) Arlington Transit’s phone system to connect disabled and elderly riders to bus service has been hobbled by technical problems all week, prompting big headaches for people who rely on the program.
ART’s “Specialized Transit for Arlington Residents” service, commonly known as STAR, has been dealing with “technical difficulties” at the agency’s call center since Tuesday (June 26), according to a series of alerts sent out to riders.
The main STAR phone line hasn’t worked since then and remains down today (Friday). County transportation spokesman Eric Balliet says ART is working on the issue with service provider Verizon and even the state’s technology agency, with a temporary solution on the way.
“The temporary solution, estimated to be in place later today, will forward the main STAR number to a number provided by Red Top Cab, which dispatches service for STAR,” Balliet wrote in an email. “STAR personnel have been taking calls on this temporary line and will continue until the issue is resolved.”
The phone system is designed to connect riders who might have trouble using ART’s regular service with a scheduled, shared-ride service to take them wherever they need to go around the county. Accordingly, this week’s outages have created big problems for riders with disabilities, in particular.
I have been trying to stay quiet, but I am close to reaching my breaking point. I am an Arlington resident who is #blind, and my county is failing me.
— Tiffany Jolliff (@TiffanyJolliff) June 29, 2018
Since last week, STAR, Arlington county's #paratransit system has been inaccessible to customers. The phones are down, meaning that no trips can be scheduled. This places an undue burden on people trying to access employment, healthcare and recreation in the DMV.
— Tiffany Jolliff (@TiffanyJolliff) June 29, 2018
The worst part is, STAR customers have not received any communication from Arlington about what is happening, or when a resolution will be in place.
— Tiffany Jolliff (@TiffanyJolliff) June 29, 2018
Photo via Facebook
McDonald’s to Open Next Week in Rosslyn — The new McDonald’s restaurant in Rosslyn is expected to open on Monday, May 8. It will feature “mobile and kiosk ordering, with six touch-screen kiosks,” as well as “table service, with servers bringing customers their food after orders are placed using the screens.” [Washington Business Journal]
Petition Against Proposed APS Policy — Among those signing a petition against a proposed new school enrollment and transfer policy is former U.S. CTO Aneesh Chopra. He writes: “We need to be expanding, not restricting access to Arlington’s award-winning, integrated elementary school science curriculum! Counter to the data-driven ‘Arlington Way,’ this proposal is inappropriately rushed with debate or impact analysis. Sad!” [Change.org]
ACPD Officer to Be Added to Memorial — Arlington County Police Cpl. Harvey Snook is being added to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in D.C. Snook died last year of cancer caused by his service during the recovery effort at the Pentagon following the 9/11 attack. Snook will also be added to Arlington’s Peace Officers Memorial on May 10, the first name added since 2005. [WTOP, Arlington County]
Arlington Woman, 109, Still Stays Up Late — Viola Graham, a 109-year-old resident of Arlington, says she still feels young and still doesn’t go to bed until midnight. Graham also “takes no medicine, besides the occasional Tylenol.” [WUSA 9]
Britt McHenry Goes Off the Air — Arlington’s own Britt McHenry is among the mass layoffs at ESPN. Though the sportscaster is going off the air, she said last week via Twitter that her fans would see her again on TV “soon.” McHenry formerly worked for WJLA (ABC 7) in Rosslyn. [Florida Today, Twitter]
Gubernatorial Candidates in Arlington — Democratic candidates for governor in Virginia, Ralph Northam and Tom Perriello, will be debating at a progressive forum in Ballston tonight. [Facebook]
Flickr pool photo by GM and MB
Two Northern Virginia men have been sentenced after being convicted of ripping off elderly homeowners in Arlington’s Yorktown neighborhood.
John Walsh and Mark Sisk were sentenced to serve at least two years in prison and pay $62,100 in restitution to the victims, in addition to several years of probation. Prosecutors say the pair conned the elderly residents of a home on 27th Street N. into believing that they “were in need of serious home repair.”
More from an Arlington County Police Department press release, below.
Two men were sentenced on Friday, March 3, 2017 in the Arlington County Circuit Court for their role in a fraud scheme targeting Arlington County residents. John Patrick Walsh, 32, of Culpepper, VA was sentenced to seven years in prison, with all but two years suspended, on the charges of false pretenses and conspiracy. He was ordered to pay restitution to the victims in the amount of $62,100 and ordered to five years of probation upon release from incarceration. Mark Sisk, 31, of Boston, VA was sentenced to six years in prison, with all but two years and five months suspended, on three charges of false pretenses. He was ordered to pay restitution to the victims in the amount of $62,100 and ordered to three years of probation upon release from incarceration.
On September 10, 2016, Walsh and Sisk approached the victim’s residence in the 4800 block of N. 27th Street and fraudulently claimed to be contractors working in the area. They advised the elderly residents that they were in need of serious home repair and that failure to comply could result in the home catching fire. Throughout the month of September, Walsh and Sisk misrepresented the need for work and provided false information to the victims that work had been performed. Through a series of repeated home repair scams, the victims were defrauded of $62,100 in cash.
Arlington County Deputy Chief Daniel J. Murray, Commander of the Criminal Investigations Division said, “The individuals who perpetrate these scams target and victimize our most vulnerable populations. While there was a substantial loss of money in this investigation, the greater loss was the victim’s sense of security in their own home. This prosecution serves as another opportunity to warn residents to avoid becoming a victim of fraud. Residents should beware of any smooth-talking salesman who comes to your home unannounced.”
Detective K. White was the lead detective.
Arlington County honored a group of local centenarians during a special ceremony earlier today.
County staff members presented nearly a dozen long-living locals (including Eugene Kahn, who was the subject of an ARLnow profile last month) with a proclamation from County Board member Libby Garvey and a letter from Del. Patrick Hope at the Arlington Employment Center.
All of those honored have lived in the Arlington area for decades. Many took the opportunity today to talk about the past.
Dowdell Tillman, who has resided in Arlington since 1947, talked about his days working at the Reagan National Airport — then just National Airport — as part of the utility crew. Tillman built his current home in 1954 and still lives there to this day.
Others talked about how they’ve played an important role in the community. Martha Ann Miller was a math teacher at Stratford Junior High School when it became the first public secondary school in Virginia to desegregate its classes by accepting four African-American students in 1959. Ms. Miller said she volunteered to have the students in her math class.
While their spirits haven’t changed, much has changed throughout the United States since the centenarians were born.
In 1916, a stamp was $.02, a loaf of bread was $.07, the average price of a U.S. house was $5,000 and the average price of a car was $400, according to a presentation given during the event.
Of course, some of those in attendance shared their “secrets” for living so long. Here is some of what they said:
- Martha Ann Miller: “B supervitamins”
- Eugene Kahn: “Incredible good luck”
- Raymond Renola: “Luck, exercise and refusing to get old”
- Allan Matthews: “One third genetics, one third luck, and one third diet and exercise”
- Hasso von Bredow: “Staying active and port wine”
- Dowdell Tillman: “Patience, and never worrying too much, especially about things you can’t control”
- Vera Punke: “I don’t know what it’s like to get old. I’ll tell you when I get there. I tell people there’s one thing I don’t have to worry about, and that’s dying young.”
Arlington resident Eugene Kahn turned 100 in November, but that hasn’t changed his three-day-a-week exercise habit at the Ballston Sport and Health Club.
Kahn joined the Sport and Health Club at Skyline in 1980 after retiring from his job at the Pentagon. However, in 1995 he transferred to the Ballston location, which is closer to his East Falls Church home, after he stopped driving.
Kahn said he owes his longevity to “incredible good luck,” perhaps in addition to some healthy life choices.
“I quit smoking pipes at 60 so maybe that’s one of the secrets,” said Kahn.
Sport and Health has become something of a second home for Kahn. The entire staff knows him and treats him like gym royalty. Customers show deference too — getting up to allow Kahn to use his usual machines, if need be.
Kahn performs his workouts alone but occasionally consults with trainers at Sport and Health Club to change up his weekly routine.
“I am very impressed with this facility, the people are wonderful. They are friendly and they greet you when you walk in,” he said.
While Kahn doesn’t consider himself much of an athlete, he has been exercising since starting his job at the Pentagon in 1961. During his lunch breaks at the Pentagon, he would swim for an hour and half in the Pentagon’s gym.
These days, when Kahn isn’t at Sport and Health, he’s typically at home doing chores around his house — except on Mondays, when he plays golf.
Although originally from New Jersey, Kahn and his wife of 74 years — she’s also a centenarian — have been living in the same house in Arlington since 1961. He plans to be there, still keeping up on chores, for the foreseeable future.
“I’m on my second pacemaker and this one is going to last for 12 years, so I’m not worried,” he said.
Second Leaf Collection Pass Starts Today — Crews will begin their second (and final) vacuum leaf collection pass through Arlington’s neighborhoods today. Leaf collection is scheduled to wrap up on Dec. 20. [Arlington County]
Arlington, State Fund Innovation Initiative — Arlington County and the Virginia are jointly funding a $500,000 initiative that will “connect startups with national security agencies, aiming to both foster commercialization of federally-funded technology and open a new market for entrepreneurs.” It will be helmed by Jonathan Aberman, managing director of Amplifier Ventures. [Washington Business Journal]
Human Rights Award Winners Announced — Arlington County has announced its 2013 James B. Hunter Human Rights Award winners. Among them are the Hon. Leslie M. Alden, “a former Fairfax County Circuit judge who has spent her career devoted to gender rights;” Pastor Richard Cobb of Arlington’s Central United Methodist Church, who launched a program to serve meals to the homeless; Thomas Kelley, who “has dedicated his life to ensuring that schools provide equal access to children with disabilities;” and Margaret Patterson, who “has provided opportunities to abused children and their families.” [Arlington County]
Arlington ‘Villages’ To Launch in March — In March, Arlington will be debuting its “Neighborhood Villages” program for helping the elderly age in place. “The Arlington Neighborhood Villages will debut as a nonprofit corporation aimed at helping senior citizens “age in place” – as long as possible in their own homes – by creating neighborhood-based networks made up mostly of volunteers,” reports columnist Charlie Clark. [Falls Church News-Press]
Flickr pool photo by Philliefan99
An elderly landlord was found beaten and incoherent in his apartment in the Woodmont neighborhood on Monday, according to this week’s Arlington County crime report.
The man was in his 80’s and police believe the assailant was a prior tenant who owed the landlord money, said Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck.
MALICIOUS WOUNDING, 10/22/12, 3300 block of N. Lorcom Lane. On October 22 at 8:35 am, a resident of a multi-unit dwelling found his elderly landlord in his bedroom incoherent, with a orbital fracture of the right eye. The victim had been assaulted but struggled to recall the incident. The investigation is ongoing.
Last Thursday a woman was dragged about 25 feet by a vehicle in the Douglas Park neighborhood. Police say the vehicle was being driven by the woman’s boyfriend following an argument..
MALICIOUS WOUNDING, 10/18/12, 3700 block of S. 16th Street. On October 18 at 10:00 am, a female victim was dragged by a vehicle driven by her boyfriend after an argument. The victim sustained a large cut to the back of her head and other minor injuries, requiring transport to Virginia Hospital Center. Warrants were executed against the suspect, Giancarlo Perez, 23, of Arlington, for malicious wounding and destruction of property. He remains at-large.
The rest of this week’s crime report, after the jump.
DOMESTIC TERRORISM, 10/18/12, 4200 block of N. Wilson Boulevard. On October 18 at 11:45 am, a subject entered Ballston Mall with bottles filled with an unknown substance. He lit one and threw it into the food court. Leon Traille, 29, of Duluth, GA was arrested and faces federal charges of arson.
ROBBERY BY FORCE, 10/19/12, 3400 block of S. 23rd Street. At 11:07 pm on October 19, a male victim was robbed of his cell phone and $60 while walking home from a bus stop. One of the suspects was described as a black male, between 25-30 years of age, approximately 5’9″ tall and 160 lbs. He was wearing a black hooded sweatshirt and black pants. The second suspect was described as a black male, between 25-30 years of age, approximately 5’5″ tall and 160 lbs. He was wearing a black hooded sweatshirt and khaki pants.
MALICIOUS WOUNDING, 10/18/12, 5000 block of S. 7th Street. On October 18 at 6:08 pm, a victim was stabbed in the left hand with a knife by his intoxicated brother after an argument. The victim was treated and released on scene by medics Efrain Gallo-Amaya, 62, of Arlington, VA was arrested and charged with malicious wounding. He was held without bond.
PROSTITUTION, 10/20/12, 2800 block of S. 24th Road. Between 10 and 11:39 pm on October 19, a officer observed two females and three males engaging in prostitution. All parties involved admitted to paying/receiving $20 for sexual intercourse. Theresa Howard, 40, of Arlington, VA and Smayan Cromatie, 28, of Landover, MD were charged with prostitution. Masadonia Gonzalez, 51, of Arlington, VA, Nicolas Reyes Castro, 49, of Arlington, VA and Pablo Castro Calat, 45, of Arlington, VA were charged with solicitation of prostitution.
BURGLARY, 10/21/12, 1300 block of S. Scott Street. At 3:30 am on October 21, a victim awoke to a suspect inside his apartment taking items. The victim chased the suspect out of the apartment and down a hallway, but the suspect was able to flee the scene with numerous items. Stolen items include a iPad, laptop, cell phone, cash and credit cards. The suspect was described as a 6’0″ tall male of unknown race, with a medium build and short hair.
BURGLARY, 10/21/12, 1200 block of S. Thomas Street. Between 11:30 am on October 20 and 3:25 am on October 21, an unknown suspect(s) entered a residence through a window and stole a safe. Inside the safe was cash and jewelry. There is no suspect(s) description.
BURGLARY, 10/19/12, 3000 block of S. Glebe Road. Between 7:30 am and 6:30 pm on October 19, an unknown suspect(s) entered a residence through a window and stole numerous items to include laptops and electronic devices. There is no suspect(s) description.
BURGLARY, 10/18/12, 5600 block of N. Williamsburg Boulevard. On October 18 between 12:30 pm and 2:38 pm, an unknown suspect(s) entered a residence and stole jewelry. There is no suspect(s) description.
COMMERCIAL BURGLARY, 10/23/12, 1600 block of N. Kent Street. Between 7:15 pm on October 22 and 8:05 am on October 23, an unknown suspect(s) forced open an office suite door and stole three laptops and six cell phones. There is no suspect(s) description.
10/22/12, VA 727205, 2001 KTM 250cc Motorcycle, Orange, 2000 block of N. Adams Street
10/19/12, VA WWG 5746, 2006 Toyota Corolla, Black, 5000 block of S. 10th Street
Two members of the Arlington County Police Department were recognized for their investigative prowess at a luncheon hosted by Arlington County Crime Solvers yesterday. Officer James O’Daniel and Detective Christine Everest both received the Detective of the Year Award for their efforts to end fraud and scams targeting the elderly.
One police official said the pair’s efforts were part of the department’s “War on Woodchucks” — a reference to the name sometimes given to scam artists who prey on senior citizens by performing unnecessary yard work and charging exorbitant amounts of money for it. Some of the offenders repeatedly target the same victims, or inform other scam artists of who to target. It’s not unusual for some of the victims to lose tens of thousands of dollars during interactions with woodchucks.
Even after being asked about winning the award, Everest turned the attention back to helping the elderly. She encouraged people to watch out for their neighbors and to call the police if they notice something suspicious. She added that there’s still a long road ahead in the fight to end these kinds of crimes in Arlington, and she’d like to see tougher laws put in place to bring the scam artists to justice.
“We’re both appreciative that the focus of today was on crimes against the elderly,” Everest said. “It’s out there and it’s unfortunate, and these are not small amounts that we’re talking about. You can have one individual who can have upwards of hundreds of thousands of dollars being taken from them from scams. A lot of times these individuals come in contract with a dozen or more people who are scamming them for this money.”
“As a sidenote, I guess we’re getting a little bit of a tribute ourselves,” Everest added. “We were not expecting anything like this. The recognition is overwhelming.”
Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck explained that in addition to their usual work, Everest and O’Daniel created informational brochures to help people identify if they’d been victimized, and to let victims know where to go for help.
“It’s important to note that both of these individuals didn’t just do the minimal amount required. They went above and beyond their typical day-to-day work on the streets,” said Sternbeck. “From the chief level down, we’re very proud to have them represent us.”
Some of Everest’s notable contributions include displaying compassion and establishing a rapport with victims, researching suspects and conducting surveillance in areas known for being targeted.
One of O’Daniel’s major accomplishments was performing traffic stops after observing questionable solicitation practices by known scam artists, which led to additional violations such as identity theft. He also exhibited proactive enforcement by speaking with residents who were having repair or yard work done.
The luncheon, which raised money that will support Arlington County Crime Solvers, was attended by a number of local officials and lawmakers, including County Board member Walter Tejada, Police Chief Douglas Scott, Commonwealth’s Attorney Theo Stamos, Del. Bob Brink, Del. Patrick Hope, Del. Alfonso Lopez and state Sen. Adam Ebbin. Lopez said this year’s awards will help highlight the problem of scams against the elderly, which often don’t receive as much attention as better-publicized crimes like robberies and burglaries.
“The two people who won the award today are doing critical work to try to protect elderly [residents] who are being scammed by folks coming to their houses,” Lopez said. “This is a scam that’s happening far too often, and it’s hurting the elderly and immigrant populations more than others.
Lopez added that Everest and O’Daniel’s effectiveness in investigating such crimes is “a testament to how good our community policing efforts are in Arlington.”
It’s the first such use of the county’s new Project Life Saver – LoJack Safety Net system. The system’s implementation was first announced last summer.
More information about Project Life Saver is available here.
The police department just issued the following press release.
ARLINGTON, VA. – The Arlington County Police Department is pleased to announce the successful use of Project Life Saver – LoJack Safety Net to locate an elderly man last night.
At approximately 5:30 p.m., police were called to the 1500 block of North Danville Street for an elderly man missing for over six hours. An 85 year-old man, suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, walked away from his home around 11 am. His family just enrolled him in the Project Lifesaver Program three days ago. Once police officers arrived, they activated the tracking system and the victim was located within fifteen minutes. This time period is especially important in frigid temperatures.
Project Life Saver – LoJack Safety Net is designed to track and rescue those with cognitive conditions who tend to wander. This service answers a critical need for protecting people at risk of wandering, including those with Alzheimer’s, autism, Down syndrome and dementia. Eleven Arlington County Police Officers are certified as Electronic Search Specialists and Electronic Search Instructors through Project Lifesaver International.
Clients enrolled in the service will wear a wrist-watch sized radio transmitter on their wrist or ankle. The transmitter constantly emits a Radio Frequency signal, which can be tracked regardless of where the person has wandered – even into a densely wooded area, a marsh, a concrete structure such as a garage, or a building constructed with steel. When a loved one goes missing, caregivers notify locally trained agencies and they are dispatched to the wanderer’s area.
This service is available immediately. Families and caregivers can enroll their loved ones by contacting Project Life Saver – LoJack Safety Net at 877-434-6384.