Press Club

Morning Notes

People pose with a blossom statue outside the future Amazon Fresh store in Crystal City (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Amazon Hiring Update — “Amazon.com Inc. is one-fifth of the way to the minimum number jobs the company committed to fill at its second headquarters in Arlington, one of the tech giant’s top hiring locations. As of Wednesday, Amazon had hired 5,000 employees who are assigned to HQ2… It is a 1,500-employee uptick since the last announcement in November.” [Washington Business Journal, Amazon]

HQ2 Phase 2 Vote This Weekend — “Amazon’s proposal for the next phase of HQ2 construction, including the spiral-shaped Helix structure, is set to go before the Arlington County Board for a final vote on Saturday, April 23. The company wants to build three more HQ2 office buildings alongside a 350-foot tall, futuristic building it calls the ‘Helix’. The development would be built on a piece of property known as ‘PenPlace’, just off Army Navy Drive.” [WJLA]

Injured Crow Dies — From the Animal Welfare League of Arlington: “UPDATE: this morning the crow passed away peacefully at @BRWildlifeCtr. We are very grateful to them for doing everything they could to care for him. We are still looking for information regarding this active investigation.” [Twitter]

Fire Station 8 Demolition Nears — “Arlington County will begin demolishing the Fire Station 8 structure during the week of May 2 and expects to complete demolition by the week of June 20. The demolition of the fire station, at 4845 Langston Blvd., will be in preparation for construction of the long-awaited new fire station at the same site. Demolition work will take place from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.” [Patch]

Arlington Company’s Ukraine Donation — “Arlington defense contractor AeroVironment Inc. is donating more than 100 unmanned aircraft systems and training services to defense officials in Ukraine… the donation of the company’s Quantix Recon systems will provide Ukraine’s military with unmanned vehicles that can fly by enemy forces undetected and unaffected by radio frequency jammers to relay reconnaissance intel.” [Washington Business Journal]

It’s Thursday — Mostly cloudy throughout the day, with a slight chance of rain in the afternoon. High of 67 and low of 45. Sunrise at 6:24 am and sunset at 7:52 pm. [Weather.gov]

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(Updated at 3 p.m.) A half-dozen Arlington fire stations will be upgraded to accommodate more firefighters.

The renovations will give firefighters and EMTs at Fire Stations 1, 2, 3, 5, 6 and 9 more space and amenities to use while they’re at the station.

On Saturday, the Arlington County Board approved the $1.4 million project, which responds to a recent change to the Arlington County Fire Department’s schedule that required the department to hire more staff.

Last month, the county officially implemented the “Kelly Day,” an extra 24-hour shift off every 28 days, which reduces a firefighter’s average work week from 56 to 50 hours per week. The day helps reduce absenteeism, exposure to hazardous and stressful conditions, and overtime, while improving work-life balance, recruitment and retention, according to the county.

“[The] implementation of the Kelly Day [is] the result of committed funding across multiple years and dedicated advocacy on behalf of our firefighters to modernize the schedule of the Arlington fire service to improve their balance and quality of life to make ACFD more competitive across the region,” Board Chair Katie Cristol said on Saturday. “We’re really excited to see the Kelly Day implemented as a way of thanking and respecting our firefighters as the professionals they’ve been, especially our firefighter EMTs, who’ve worked so hard during the pandemic.”

Kelly Day planning began in the 2017-18 fiscal year, and the county began funding additional firefighter positions in the 2019 fiscal year, ACFD spokesman Capt. Nate Hiner tells ARLnow. Between then and the official implementation on Jan. 16 of this year, the department hired 39 firefighter EMTs.

Those 39 firefighters will need additional personnel lockers for their gear, uniforms and street clothing, he said. Other upgrades include expanded refrigeration and storage spaces in the kitchen, additional bathrooms and showers, stackable washer-dryer units to increase laundry capacity and expanded and improved gym areas.

Only Fire Station 4 will require additional locker space after these renovations are complete, says Hiner.

Fire Station 10 in Rosslyn, which was finished last summer, has the additional amenities, as will the new Fire Station 8 in the Halls Hill neighborhood once it’s complete about two years from now, he said. The old Fire Station 8 is currently being torn down and crews are operating from a temporary station.

Also related to firefighters, the County Board approved a deadline extension in its civic code giving new labor unions — authorized last year — more time to get through the necessary procedures to officially form as collective bargaining units. Firefighters were concerned that the delayed hire of a labor relations administrator would put off compensation negotiations another year.

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Morning Notes

Ballston Quarter’s outdoor Christmas tree (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Shot Fired in Buckingham — “At approximately 3:04 p.m., police were dispatched to the report of shots heard in the 4200 block of 2nd Road N. Upon arrival, it was determined that the male victim exited an apartment, encountered the two suspects in the hallway and confronted them. A physical altercation ensued, and one suspect produced a firearm. During the struggle, a shot was fired, causing damage to the door of an apartment. The suspects then fled the scene. Responding officers recovered the firearm.” [ACPD]

Driver Strikes Child in Falls Church — “At approximately 4:15 p.m., Falls Church Police and Arlington County Fire and Medical units were dispatched for a report of vehicular crash with injuries involving a pedestrian, approximately 3 to 4 years old. The victim was taken to Fairfax Hospital and is currently listed in critical condition. The driver of the striking vehicle remained on scene. The preliminary investigation is still underway with no additional details at this time.” [City of Falls Church, Twitter]

Huge Covid Testing Line Monday Evening — “The Court House Curative kiosk COVID-19 testing line is probably 100+ people long right now.” [Twitter, Twitter]

Fairlington Fire Station’s Future in Flux — “The Arlington government three years ago closed Fire Station #7 over concerns about the structural integrity of its flooring. It has since been determined that it would be too costly to upgrade the facility to resume its original function, but competing planning priorities coupled with the COVID crisis have left the building’s future unclear. A community process to determine the future of Fairlington’s 1940s-era, one-bay fire station has been on hold during the COVID crisis, but may be tackled in early 2022.” [Sun Gazette]

Fire Departments Struggling With Staffing — From public safety watchdog Dave Statter “Alexandria isn’t alone. Area fire department staffing is impacting the number of fire & EMS units available at a time when Covid is surging. There’s also significant impact on EMS availability due to hospital staffing leaving ambulance crews stuck at EDs with patients.” [Twitter]

Local Scholarship Application Now Open — “Arlington Community Foundation (ACF) launched its 2022 scholarship application today, providing Arlington high school students with an opportunity to compete for more than 70 scholarships worth over $525,000 in student aid. A single, common application gives students an easy way to apply for an award from more than 55 individual scholarship funds.” [Press Release]

Marymount Now Requiring Booster Shot — “On Monday, Marymount University administrators shared with its community members an enhanced COVID-19 vaccination policy that will require a booster shot for all students, faculty and staff who will be physically present on campus during the upcoming semester, a precautionary measure designed to ensure the best possible protection against the virus.” [Press Release]

It’s Tuesday — Today will be mostly cloudy, with a high near 46. Sunrise at 7:23 a.m. and sunset at 4:49 p.m. Tomorrow will be sunny, with a high near 48 and wind gusts as high as 24 mph. [Weather.gov]

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Morning Notes

Fire Station 8 Now in Temporary Home — “On December 6th, 2021, The Arlington County Fire Department relocated Fire Station 8 into their new temporary quarters ahead of the construction of a new station. The temporary Fire Station 8 is located at 2217 N. Culpepper St, just behind the location of where the old Fire Station 8 stood for decades. In the coming months, the old Fire Station 8 will be demolished and work will be started on constructing a new Fire Station 8 in the same location that the previous fire house once stood.” [Arlington County]

APS Not Seeking Vax Status for Most Students — “With one major exception – student-athletes – Arlington Public Schools is not, and likely will not be, keeping tabs on the COVID-vaccination status of students. ‘We don’t know the names’ of those who have been vaccinated, Superintendent Francisco Durán told School Board members on Dec. 2. ‘The school will only be asking [parents] if your child is vaccinated if they are in close contact’ with students who test positive for the virus.” [Sun Gazette]

Still No Witnesses to Critical Crash — “At approximately 8:25 p.m., police were dispatched to a crash with injuries involving a pedestrian at S. Four Mile Run Drive and S. George Mason Drive. Upon arrival, officers located the unconscious pedestrian, an adult male, in the roadway. He was transported to an area hospital and remains hospitalized in critical condition. The striking vehicle fled the scene and there is no description of the vehicle or driver. Detectives have not located any witnesses to the crash. Anyone with information related to this incident is asked to contact Detective D. Gilmore at [email protected] or 703-228-4049.” [APCD]

Another Airport Noise Meeting Scheduled — “Arlington County, along with Montgomery County, Maryland will hold its third community meeting on the joint Airport Noise Mitigation Study for communities north of Reagan National Airport (DCA) on Monday, Dec. 13, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. The meeting will include a status update on the overall study, present draft recommendations for departure procedures, and take questions and comments from community members.” [Arlington County]

Sheriff’s Office Food Drive Deemed a Success — “On Thursday, Dec. 9, 2021, Sheriff Beth Arthur presented donations to the Arlington Food Assistance Center (AFAC) CEO Charles Meng. The Arlington County Sheriff’s Office collected 3,731 food items. ‘The Sheriff’s Office is part of the community and I believe it is important for us to support those in need during the holidays. I appreciate staff’s enthusiastic support of these efforts,’ says Sheriff Arthur.” [Arlington County]

It’s Friday — It will be mostly cloudy throughout the day today, with a high of 53 and low of 38. Sunrise at 7:16 a.m. and sunset at 4:46 p.m. Saturday will be warm, with a high of 68 and a low of 52, but rain is likely. Sunday will be clear most of the day, with a high of 59 and a low of 39. [Dark Sky]

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Morning Notes

Charges Dropped Against TikToker — Charges of violating an emergency protective order were dropped earlier this week against Coco Briscoe, the local TikTok personality whose accusations against a pair of local bars and their employees went viral on the video app. A judge previously ended the order, which Briscoe was accused of violating, citing a lack of physical threats. In the comments of one of her videos this week, Briscoe threatened to sue ARLnow for defamation for our coverage of her case. [Twitter, TikTok]

Buyer for Ballston Health Tech Company? — “Evolent Health Inc. saw its share price shoot up Wednesday after Bloomberg reported Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc., the Illinois holding company that owns pharmacy chain Walgreens, is considering a purchase of the Arlington health system consultancy.” [Washington Business Journal]

Grand Opening for Fire Station No. 10 — “This morning we held our grand opening ceremony for new fire station 10 in @RosslynVA. This fire station provides modern accommodations for our firefighters and allows us to serve our community for decades to come. We are grateful to all who came out to share in this special day.” [Twitter, Patch]

Grant for Local Senior Program — “The Arlington Neighborhood Villages program has received a $30,000 grant from the Community Care Corps to support its mission to help older adults in Arlington age in place while staying connected with the community. The funding will assist the social-safety-net organization in partnering with Culpepper Garden and the Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing to bring services to residents of their apartment communities.” [Sun Gazette]

How Local Nonprofits Faced the Pandemic — “The new report, Safety Net Arlington: rising together to meet historic needs for our community, is told through the voices of the 21 nonprofit leaders in Safety Net Arlington and through the lens of how they worked collaboratively with each other and the County to face unprecedented levels of need through the first 18 months of the pandemic and the economic and racial justice crises.” [Arlington Community Foundation]

New Gym Open in Bailey’s Xroads — “Gold’s Gym is now open at 5718 Columbia Pike in Bailey’s Crossroads. There will be a grand opening on Oct. 9, noon-1 p.m., with a ribbon-cutting, food, membership deals, free classes, and prizes for members, including those who sign up on that day. The gym has relocated from its former location on Carlin Springs Road to the former HHGregg store.” [Annandale Blog]

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Arlington County firefighters have moved into their new, permanent Fire Station 10 in Rosslyn last Monday.

The new station, a brick building with retractable glass doors, sits at the base of one of the high-rise building in The Highlands development, two apartment towers and one condo tower on the 1500 block of Wilson Blvd.

Nearly five years ago, the County Board voted to relocate the firefighters from an aging single-story station along Wilson Blvd — which was demolished to make way for The Highlands — to a temporary station at 1791 N. Quinn Street while the new station was built. Members chose to locate the station next to the construction site for The Heights, now home to the H-B Woodlawn Secondary Program and the Shriver Program, which opened in 2019.

“We cannot say thank you enough for all who have designed, funded, and built the station,” said Fire Chief David Povlitz.

The pandemic will not allow for station tours, but ACFD looks forward to sharing the features of the fire station through various media content through social media sites, said Lt. Nathaniel Hiner, a spokesman for the department.

“This is a world class facility that will allow our members to serve the community for many generations to come, while providing our firefighters a safe and comfortable work location,” he said. “The station incorporates many modern design features that improve responder turnout, safety, health, and wellness along with the ability for the department to adapt to changing needs of the community for years to come.”

The station will house a fire engine, paramedic ambulance, and technical rescue support unit, Hiner said. There are six personnel consisting of an officer, three firefighters and two medics assigned on each of three shifts.

Construction on the three towers of The Highlands, which started in October 2018, is wrapping up. The fire station appears to have finished earlier than developer Penzance anticipated. A spokeswoman previously told ARLnow the station would be ready in the fall, along with a new apartment tower and condo tower.

Passersby can see a 35-foot tall sculpture of a bronze nozzle with twisting spirals of stainless steel, representing water. At night, light illuminates the stainless spirals. The art installation, a tribute to firefighters, marks the first time public art has adorned a fire station.

Baltimore artists David and Eli Hess were commissioned for the art, which was funded by Penzance as a part of the development process.

Fire Station 10 is part of the 2015 Western Rosslyn Area Planning Study, which created a plan for developing the neighborhood. Other parts of the study included The Heights school building, the new Rosslyn Highlands Park and the recently completed Queens Court Residences affordable housing development (1801 N. Quinn Street), which features a new playground on-site.

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Morning Notes

Arlington Traffic Still Way Down — “New numbers provided to 7News by the Virginia Dept. of Transportation (VDOT) show… weekday traffic in Arlington County in June 2021 was still down 26% versus June 2019. But that was an outlier – in Fairfax County traffic was only down 12%, Loudoun County just 8%, and Prince William County was basically back to normal, falling just 3% versus June 2019.” [WJLA]

A-SPAN Rebrands — “What began life three decades ago as the Arlington Street People’s Assistance Network, or A-SPAN, has assumed a new identity: PathForward… ‘We came to the conclusion that we needed a new name to match all that we do,’ the organization’s board chair, Tim Denning, said.” [Sun Gazette]

Route 1 Makes NYT List — “The New York Times this May compiled a list of ’50s-era American highways being re-thought in an age when environmental concerns and past racial injustices in land use are at the national forefront. Arlington’s section of Route 1, that elevated structure that pierces Crystal City, made the cut.” [Falls Church News-Press]

AWLA Reunites Raccoon Mom and Baby — From the Animal Welfare League of Arlington: “Officer Elpers got some amazing footage of this mama raccoon reuniting with her baby this morning.” [Facebook]

Local NAACP Awards Scholarships — “The Arlington branch of the NAACP recently awarded nearly $60,000 in college scholarships to Arlington high-school students.” [Sun Gazette]

Big Donation to VHC — “Virginia Hospital Center (VHC), a community-based hospital providing medical services to the Washington, DC metropolitan area for 75 years, has received a transformative gift of $5 million from long-time donor Lola ​C. ​Reinsch to promote the Hospital’s campus expansion efforts.” [Press Release]

Darby Family Visits ACFD Station — “Ashley Darby is having plenty of family fun with her kids this summer. The Real Housewives of Potomac cast member [and Arlington resident] recently took to Instagram to capture their latest outing that left her two-year-old son, Dean, completely ‘lost for words’… ‘What a fun time we had at the Arlington County Fire Station 4 with our friends!’ she wrote in the caption.” [Bravo]

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A fire station project in Arlington is getting an additional $2.88 million to add environmental-friendly upgrades and more.

The County Board approved the budget increase Saturday, bringing the total project cost — including contingencies — to $27.92 million. It covers the new Fire Station No. 8 at 4845 Lee Highway, in the Hall’s Hill area, and a temporary facility to allow firefighting operations to continue during construction.

“The new total project budget is $27.92 million which includes: $19.98 million in hard construction costs; $1.21 million for furniture, fixtures and equipment (FF&E); $3.26M in soft costs (design and construction administration fees, County staff time, and permits and inspections); $2.51 million in land acquisitions, and $0.96 million for contingencies,” notes a county staff report.

The fire station will be the first county building to have a “green” (vegetated) roof and solar power, thanks to panels atop the building.

The budget increase approved by the Board covers the solar panels for the 20,522 square-foot facility, placing utilities underground in front of the station along Lee Highway, and other additions, Arlington Dept. of Environmental Services spokesman Peter Golkin said in an email.

The additional cost will be covered by a 2020 bond premium, the county said.

To rein in costs, a value engineering process found savings to the tune of $1.43 million, according to the county. A Public Facilities Review Committee meeting in November detailed those changes, which included reducing the amount of glass used and other adjustments.

Golkin said groundbreaking on the new facility is slated for this fall after the temporary facility is complete.

Photos via Arlington County

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Morning Notes

Future of Fairlington Fire Station — “A community process to determine the future of Fairlington’s 1940s-era, one-bay fire station has been on hold during the COVID crisis, but may be tackled later in the year, a top community leader says. The Arlington government in late 2018 closed Fire Station #7 over concerns about the structural integrity of its flooring.” [Sun Gazette]

Arlington’s Affordable Housing Effort — “Some jurisdictions are building more homes than others. Of 10 localities analyzed by HAND’s Housing Indicator Tool, D.C. and Arlington County are closest to meeting some affordable housing targets recommended by the Urban Institute… For its part, Arlington County has excelled at adding more homes for low-middle-income households, but has built virtually none for the most vulnerable households in the last two years.” [DCist]

Women in Stolen Car Arrested Near Crystal City — “An officer observed the vehicle enter Arlington County on I-395 NB. With the assistance of additional units, a traffic stop was initiated. The occupants of the vehicle were initially noncompliant and were observed reaching around the vehicle and storing items on their persons, but were detained without incident. During the course of the investigation, the vehicle was confirmed as stolen; distribution quantities of marijuana were located and determined to be associated with the driver of the vehicle.” [ACPD]

Cicada Swarm Coming Soon — “They’ve been buried — alive — for 17 years. And now, Brood X, one of the world’s largest swarms of giant fly-like bugs called cicadas, is ready to rise. When the ground warms to 64 degrees, they’ll stop gnawing on tree roots and start scratching toward the surface by the hundreds of billions.” [Washington Post]

Flickr pool photo by Tom Mockler

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Morning Notes

Metro 29 Diner Back Open — After temporarily closing in late December due to “COVID-19 concerns,” Metro 29 Diner on Lee Highway reopened earlier this week. [Facebook]

Arlington Rents Going Back Up — “In what might be another sign of a return to a semblance of normalcy, average rents for Arlington apartments increased in February for the first time since the start of the COVID pandemic. The 0.7-percent month-over-month increase also mirrored the national index, which reported its biggest monthly increase since June 2019.” [InsideNova]

Alamo Drafthouse Declares Bankruptcy — A centerpiece of some of the changes in Crystal City is the planned Alamo Drafthouse movie theater. But the company just declared bankruptcy, potentially putting new theater projects in jeopardy. [CNBC, @abeaujon/Twitter]

More Edging Work Along Trail — “The morning volunteer session this Saturday has sold out but we still have 8 spots open for the afternoon session. Come help us continue to uncover the [Mt. Vernon] trail and make it a little bit wider.” [@MtVernonFriends/Twitter, Eventbrite]

Don’t Worry About Flipped Car at Fire Station — “Have you driven by one of our fire stations and noticed an overturned car? Don’t be alarmed, it’s likely a vehicle extrication training prop like the one pictured below at Fire Station 5! These vehicles provide us high fidelity training to respond to serious auto crashes.” [@ArlingtonVaFD/Twitter]

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Arlington County has received just over $1 million in grants from both the federal government and the state to help fight the opioid epidemic.

The Department of Justice is providing about $900,000 to the county’s Department of Human Services to assist in improving access to treatment, identifying alternatives to incarnation, and to hire two full time staff to further help those being treated for substance abuse.

Virginia is granting $110,000 that will add a contracted nurse position and help continue to train police and DHS staff on techniques to best help those in need of treatment.

The grants will also help purchase more Narcan (Naloxone) kits.

Suzanne Somerville is with the Department of Human Services and will be overseeing how the grants will be used as the Bureau Chief for Residential and Specialized Clinical Services. She says the grants will allow the department to continue to build out programs that focus on harm reduction and “pre-arrest work.”

“[That’s] partnering with police… and working with folks who are having substance use issues,” Somerville says. “Or when they first bring them into the jail, looking to see if we can divert them and send them to treatment instead of incarceration.” 

She says that a large portion of the grants are going to hiring two full-time staff — a case manager and therapist — but a chunk is also going to help with sober living options.

There are four Oxford houses in Arlington, a self-supported program that houses those in recovery. Somerville says that a portion of the grants will help residents pay for these programs.

The opioid epidemic continues to ravage Arlington County. While 2017 remains the county’s worst year for incidents involving opioids, after a downturn in 2018 and 2019, last year saw a resurgence in opioid-related overdoses. There were more opioid related deaths in 2020 than 2018 and 2019 combined.

The pandemic is likely to blame for much of the resurgence.

“There are a lot of reasons why people have relapses,” says Somerville. “A lot of it does have to do with employment. A lot of our clients… work in the service industry and a lot of them lost their jobs.”

And 2021 is looking even more tragic and deadly. Somerville says since January 21, there have been six known overdoses in Arlington County, three of which were fatal.

For many, the first step in asking for help is the hardest. So, the county is attempting to lower the barrier for that.

It has established a confidential “warm line” for folks in crisis that is staffed with peers and those in recovery themselves. The number is 571-302-0327.

“They’ve been through this and they understand what it’s like to try to quit and all of the pressure that comes with it,” says Somerville.

Starting in April, all Arlington fire stations will become “safe stations” where residents can simply walk in and those there will initiate the process of getting them help.

There are also a number of upcoming training sessions for Arlington residents to learn how to administer Narcan.

These grants will assist the county in closing gaps in service, says Somerville, and provide quicker, more complete help to residents in need at a particularly hard time for all.

“It’s our job to help you connect to treatment and help you figure out how you can do better,” she said.

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