McAuliffe Under Investigation — Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) is being investigated by the FBI and the Justice Department for possible illegal campaign contributions. [CNN]
Board Accepting Feedback on Blue Ribbon Panel — The County Board’s so-called Blue Ribbon Panel was supposed to help the Board set county priorities without getting bogged down in bureaucracy and process. Instead, the panel’s implementation has been delayed and the county is now asking for public feedback on the panel and its charge. [Arlington County]
The Legacy of ACFD’s First Black Firefighters — The Halls Hill/High View Park community held an event this past weekend to honor the Arlington County Fire Department’s first black professional firefighters. Some members of the original group of 14 black firefighters to staff Arlington’s Fire Station No. 8 were on hand for the event. [InsideNova]
Don Rockwell Profiled — Don Rockwell, the mysterious proprietor of the influential Don Rockwell online restaurant forum, lives along Columbia Pike and dines out just about every day for lunch and dinner. At the end of the profile, Rockwell lists some of his favorite local restaurants and dishes. [Arlington Magazine]
Flickr pool photo by James L.
That’s what Arlington County is telling dogs and their owners who got stuck inside the James Hunter Community Canine Area (1299 N. Herndon Street) in Clarendon Friday evening.
A faulty latch is being blamed for the stuck gate that prevented dog park users from leaving. The fire department responded and removed the latch, allowing people and their pets to head home. A welder was scheduled to work on the gate today.
Arlington County issued a light-hearted press release about the incident today (see below), with the title, “Ruff Night Ends in Tails of Joy: We now know who let the dogs out.”
The Arlington County Fire Department came to the rescue of some two dozen pups plus their people last Friday after an inner gate froze closed around dinner time at Clarendon’s James Hunter Park’s dog park.
No one was howling to leave, but once firefighters removed the stubborn, industrial-grade latch, almost half the pooches and their biped pals hightailed it home, authorities reported.
“We want to apologize to the dogs and their owners,” said Jane Rudolph, director of the County Department of Parks and Recreation. “That gate had a date with the welder today.”
Park locks and latches are checked regularly and lubricated and adjusted as needed.
All eight of Arlington’s dog parks are open from sunrise until a half-hour after sunset unless otherwise designated.
The James Hunter dog park closes at 9 p.m.
File photo courtesy Arlington County
Van Doren, Talento Win Dem Endorsement — Tannia Talento and incumbent Nancy Van Doren convincingly won the Democratic endorsement caucus for School Board last week. Talento and Van Doren were the most-endorsed candidates in the race. They will now move on to the November general election. [InsideNova]
Female WW2 Pilots Gain Burial Rights at ANC — Bipartisan legislation signed by President Obama has granted Women Airforce Service Pilots, who served during World War II, formal burial rights at Arlington National Cemetery. Those rights were revoked due to a Dept. of Defense legal finding and policy change last year. [Voice of America]
(Updated at 12:50 p.m.) An SUV smashed through the front of the Hallmark store at the Bradlee Shopping Center near Fairlington around noon today.
Firefighters from Arlington County were dispatched to assist Alexandria units on scene, but no injuries and no serious structural damage was reported. The area was closed off to shoppers while crews worked to remove the SUV from its final resting spot, most of the way into the store.
The store is located at 3670 King Street in Alexandria, near the center of the strip mall shopping center.
1st arriving on car in bld. No injuries no serious structural damage. pic.twitter.com/O3E5AokcdS
— Robert Dubé (@AFDChief200) May 20, 2016
Tow truck starting to pull vehicle from building at Bradlee Shopping Center. Area opening up soon! pic.twitter.com/H7idqUm4YO
— Alexandria Police (@AlexandriaVAPD) May 20, 2016
After a national search, County Manager Mark Schwartz has selected Acting Assistant Chief James Bonzano to be Arlington’s new permanent chief, effective May 8.
“Chief Bonzano brings a wealth of experience to this position, as well as deep ties to the Arlington community and Fire Department,” Schwartz said in a statement (below). “Over the last three decades, he has been committed to being a strong and progressive leader and I am thrilled that he will continue to do so as our new Fire Chief.”
Bonzano’s career with ACFD has included serving as the Fire/EMS branch director following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attack on the Pentagon.
Arlington has not had a permanent fire chief since last September, when Chief James Schwartz was appointed deputy county manager.
The full county press release on Bonzano’s appointment:
County Manager Mark Schwartz has named James Bonzano Arlington County Fire Chief, after an extensive national search. Chief Bonzano joined the ACFD in 1984, and has worked in a multitude of positions in his 31 years with the department, most recently serving as Acting Assistant Chief. Over the course of his career he has led and served in nearly every section of the fire department, including time as South Deputy Chief, Personnel Services Section Chief and Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Battalion Chief. Chief Bonzano will begin his new position on May 8.
“Chief Bonzano brings a wealth of experience to this position, as well as deep ties to the Arlington community and Fire Department,” said Schwartz. “Over the last three decades, he has been committed to being a strong and progressive leader and I am thrilled that he will continue to do so as our new Fire Chief.”
Chief Bonzano has worked to create positive and lasting partnerships with both the community and regional fire prevention and EMS programs. He serves on committees for both the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments and the Northern Virginia Chiefs Committee, and is a well-known and respected member of the public safety community.
“I am honored to work alongside the great men and women of the ACFD,” said Bonzano. “I was born here in Arlington, and I feel privileged to continue to serve this community as Fire Chief. I am looking forward to the great things I know we will accomplish together.”
Chief Bonzano received his Master’s degree from Marymount University in Organizational Leadership and Innovation, and his Bachelor’s degree in Health Science from Old Dominion University. He currently serves on the Board of Trustees at Dominion Hospital and as a Board Member for the Northern Virginia Community College EMS Program.
After the jump, Schwartz’s memo to county employees.
(Updated at 1:20 p.m.) A technical rescue team from the Arlington County Fire Department freed a child who got his head trapped between a railing and a wall this morning.
The incident happened around 11:15 a.m. on the third floor of a building on the 4200 block of Fairfax Drive in Ballston.
According to a photographer on the scene, the victim was a four-year-old boy at the Kinhaven School, a preschool. Firefighters dismantled the railing to free the child, we’re told. He was reportedly evaluated by medics and transported to the hospital as a precaution.
A fire marshall was called to the scene to help investigate what happened.
An ACFD spokesman could not be reached for additional information.
Photos (above) courtesy Andrew Pang
— Arlington Fire (@ACFDPIO) May 5, 2016
The incident was reported just after 11:30 a.m. at the Happy Family restaurant at 301 S. Washington Street.
Initial reports suggest that the odor is the result of pipe relining in the area.
Metro Delays and Traffic This Morning — There are residual delays on the Orange and Silver lines due to a malfunctioning train near the Clarendon Metro station earlier this morning. For drivers, morning rush hour traffic is noticeably heavier than usual around Northern Virginia inside the Beltway. [Twitter]
Firefighters Applaud New Metro Move — WMATA will now staff its Metrorail control center with a uniformed fire officer 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Arlington’s firefighter association applauded the move, calling it a “positive step for the safety of firefighters and citizens in the DMV.” [WTOP, Twitter]
CARD to Hold School Board Debate — The Pike Presidents’ Group and the Coalition of Arlingtonians for Responsible Development, which advocates for a wider distribution of affordable housing throughout the county, is holding a School Board candidate debate on Wednesday, May 11. CARD also sent a candidate questionaire to all four candidates seeking the Democratic nomination. Of them, only Tannia Talento declined to respond. [CARD, CARD]
Liberty Tavern Named Top Brunch Spot — A new-for-2016 list of the top brunch spots in the country, compiled from diner reviews by the restaurant reservation website OpenTable, includes The Liberty Tavern in Clarendon. [OpenTable, Patch]
Mall Launches Walking Program — Today, the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City is launching a new program called “Walk-Fit.” Open to all ages, the program is described as “an official way for walkers to meet up, exercise, socialize and even enjoy a morning cup of coffee,” all inside the mall.
Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf
Arlington and Fairfax County firefighters are battling a house fire in the Bluemont neighborhood.
The blaze was reported just after 7 p.m., near the intersection of 6th Street and N. Kensington Street, in the attic of a home on 6th Street.
Firefighters are reporting that they have the flames under control. They’re also looking into the possibility that the fire started as the result of a lightning strike.
Update: Units have put out a fire on the 2nd floor and attic. Fire Marshall will be investigating.
— Arlington Fire (@ACFDPIO) May 2, 2016
— Arlington Fire (@ACFDPIO) May 3, 2016
Photos courtesy Steve Thurston
(Updated at 2:15 p.m.) Arlington County firefighters rescued a man who fell into a trench just in front of Fire Station No. 4 in Clarendon this afternoon.
The incident happened around 1:30 p.m., in the middle of 10th Street N., where utility work associated with an apartment construction project appears to be underway.
A man — reported to be a construction worker — fell 8 feet into a trench in the street, according to scanner traffic. An ACFD technical rescue team extricated him from the trench. He was transported via ambulance to George Washington University Hospital.
Portions of 10th Street N. were closed during the rescue. Lane closures are still in place for the construction activity.
Valor Awards Recount Harrowing Moments — Saving a suicidal woman who was about to jump from the seventh floor of a parking garage. Saving the life of a man who had just been run over by an SUV twice. Smashing a car window in order to resuscitate the victim of a major crash on I-395. Those are a few of the acts of valor recognized at the Arlington Chamber of Commerce’s Valor Awards this week. [InsideNova, Arlington Chamber]
WaPo Questions Crystal City-Brooklyn Comparison — The Washington Post isn’t letting the New York Times get away with a quote that compared Crystal City to Brooklyn. The area’s hometown paper instead quoted a number of Twitter critics, one of whom called Crystal City a “Ballardian hellscape.” The Times story suggests that Crystal City — with its new restaurants, emerging tech scene, transportation improvements and community events — is experiencing something of a mini renaissance. [Washington Post]
Nauck Town Square Designs — Arlington County is seeking feedback on the draft design of the forthcoming Nauck Town Square park. The design includes a large sculpture of the word “FREED.” [Arlington County]
County Gets Adorable Letters — Arlington County gets adorable letters from children, who ask about things like raising backyard chickens and saving worms that might have gotten swept up as yard waste. [Arlington County]
(Updated at 10 a.m.) A teen was struck by a car in Ballston around 8:15 Wednesday night.
The victim appeared to be crossing at a marked crosswalk, at the intersection of Washington Blvd and N. Utah Street, when she was struck, according to witnesses.
One resident who was in her house at the time of the collision described hearing a “thud” followed by screaming. The victim was bloodied and remained lying in the middle of the street while passersby attended to her, we’re told.
The teen was conscious and breathing when paramedics arrived, said fire department spokesman Lt. Jason Hart. She was transported via ambulance to a local hospital and is being evaluated for a potentially serious head injury.
One local resident who emailed ARLnow.com said the intersection is a major pedestrian crossing that serves Cherrydale and Waverly Hills residents walking from the Ballston Metro station.
“Pitch dark at night,” the emailer said of the intersection. “Been trying for years to get county to put in pedestrian signals. Being studied forever…”
Photos courtesy Katie Pyzyk
The Board largely took the recommendations of County Manager Mark Schwartz, who presented his proposed budget in February, and voted unanimously for the new, $1.2 billion FY 2017 budget.
Under the budget, the property tax rate will be reduced by half a cent, to $0.991 for every $100 in assessed value, while the overall property tax burden on the average homeowner will increase from $7,640 to $7,829. The increase is due to a 2.8 percent rise in residential property assessments.
The budget provides more money for Arlington Public Schools than APS asked for, in stark contrast to the budget battle in Fairfax County.
APS, which is continuing to grapple with a burgeoning student population, will get a $466.9 million budget transfer from the county, a 3.3 percent increase over the previous fiscal year. That includes “$1.1 million in one-time and ongoing funding above the School Board’s funding request.”
The budget includes the biggest boost to Arlington’s public safety funding in years, satisfying some long-sought requests.
The fire department will get eight additional firefighters to convert existing three-person fire units to the recommended safe staffing level of four per unit. ACFD will also get four additional firefighters to address persistent strains to medic unit staffing during peak times.
“A positive step forward for public safety,” the Arlington Professional Firefighters and Paramedics Association said via Twitter.
The police department will get six new officers to help the department “meet its core mission responsibilities.” The Sheriff’s Office, which is facing a lawsuit over the alleged mistreatment of a deaf jail inmate, is getting five new positions to “improve safety and security at the Courthouse and the Detention Center, bolster its administrative staff and add a uniformed American with Disabilities Act coordinator.”
Other notable budget items include:
- An additional $1.5 million for Arlington Economic Development, “to focus on lowering the commercial vacancy rate.”
- $13.6 million for the county’s Affordable Housing Investment Fund, which is $1.1 million more than proposed by the manager.
- “Modest funding to continue the County’s open data efforts” and funding for livestreaming County Board work sessions and certain commission meetings.
- Merit pay increases for county employees.
- An increase in the living wage for county employees to $14.50 per hour, plus tuition reimbursement and continued funding for the Live Where You Work program.
“This is a good budget,” Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey said in a statement. “Even as our population and school enrollment continue to grow, and our office vacancy rate remains high, the Board was able to put together a budget that preserves our community’s values, gives schools more funding than they requested, and adds funding for public safety, economic development and other key services – with a slight decrease in the tax rate.”
The budget is a complex document and the adopted budget is not yet online. Know of any other notable budget items not included here? Any quiet boosts or cuts in funding to a certain group or county department? Let us know in the comments.
Times Lauds Crystal City’s ‘Reboot’ — Arlington’s Crystal City community is “is quietly and persistently reinventing itself,” with tech startups and co-working spaces moving in and taking advantage of office space left vacant by departed federal and military tenants. Crystal City stakeholders are positioning it as a less expensive but still amenity-filled alternative to the District. “Think Brooklyn and Manhattan,” said Mitchell Schear, president of property owner Vornado/Charles E. Smith. [New York Times]
Ballston Named One of the Area’s ‘Hottest Neighborhoods’ — Ballston is among the top 5 “hottest neighborhoods in Washington,” according to Washingtonian. The magazine notes that Ballston’s median home price rose by nearby 10 percent last year, and that the forthcoming renovation of Ballston Common Mall will convert it into “an airy, downtown-like destination, akin to Fairfax’s Mosaic district.” The other four hot neighborhoods are Mount Pleasant, Trinidad, Shaw and Hyattsville. [Washingtonian]
Archaeological Dig Unearths History — An Arlington County-supervised archaeological dig at Dawson Terrace, near Rosslyn, has unearthed “243 ceramic objects, 1,603 glass objects, 74 metal objects and 13 others.” Most of the objects are believed to be from the 18th and 19th centuries. Dawson Terrace is Arlington’s oldest stone house, dating back to around the Revolutionary War. [Falls Church News-Press]
County Recognizes ‘Notable Trees’ — At yesterday’s Arlington County Board meeting, the county recognized this year’s batch of “notable trees.” Among the record 23 trees bestowed the honor for “their importance to our community, our environment and our sense of identity” was a Southern magnolia in Clarendon, planted in 1965 in honor of a fallen firefighter. [Arlington County, InsideNova]
Four Mile Run Initiative Advances — The County Board yesterday appointed a working group, charged with “providing advice, guidance and feedback to the Board and County staff on developing a comprehensive vision for Four Mile Run Valley.” The 95 acre area between Shirlington and Nauck, also known as Shirlington Crescent, is currently home to various light industrial businesses but may be ripe for redevelopment. [Arlington County]
Flickr pool photo by TheBeltWalk
Arlington County firefighters are responding to a brush fire in Crystal City.
The smoky fire broke out in the median along Route 1, near the 23rd Street intersection.
Police and an Alexandria medic unit are on scene, attempting to use a fire extinguisher to control the blaze.
Update at 3:05 p.m. — The fire is reported to be out.