Arlington, VA

Morning Notes

Quarter of Students Staying at Home — “Students in Pre-K through second grade returned to Arlington County classrooms Tuesday, a step that Superintendent Francisco Duran says the school system is prepared to take on. Roughly 75% of the student body took the in-person learning option, while 25% will continue to learn virtually. Staff and students who return will complete a daily screening.” [WTOP]

More Commercial Burglaries Reported — Two more local businesses have been victimized among a spate of commercial burglaries. Arlington County police yesterday reported that business on the 5500 block of Columbia Pike and the 4200 block of N. Pershing Drive in Buckingham were broken into. In both cases, thieves stole cash registers and an undisclosed amount of cash. Police did not reveal the businesses involved; there are two on that block of N. Pershing Drive: El Paso Cafe and Popeye’s. [ACPD]

Wakefield Football Undefeated So Far — “The Wakefield Warriors rallied from a 14-0 deficit to defeat the Edison Eagles, 34-14, in National District high-school football action on Feb. 27… Wakefield stays undefeated on [the] gridiron.” [InsideNova]

W&OD Trail Work Taking Place — From the Arlington Dept. of Environmental Services: “[This] afternoon: W&OD Trail asphalt repairs in Bluemont Park just south of Wilson Boulevard. Will take about 4 hours. Flaggers on hand to direct users onto nearby Four Mile Run Trail. (Rescheduled from earlier this week.)” [Twitter]

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A belated 2020 high school football season is getting underway, but a number of Arlington Public Schools parents are awaiting a plan permitting limited spectators.

Last fall, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam approved a revised schedule for high school sports that allowed winter sports to start in December and rescheduled fall-season sports for February through early May.

Arlington Public Schools football players had their first official practice on Feb. 4 ahead of their first games on Monday, Feb. 22 — yes, high school football on a Monday night — but so far, there is no word on whether people can attend their games.

“Staff are working on these plans now,” APS spokesman Frank Bellavia told ARLnow in an email.

Yorktown football parent Diane Boyle said in an email that she is hoping a plan for spectators will be announced at the upcoming School Board meeting on Thursday, Feb. 18.

“The stands are rarely at capacity even in non-pandemic times,” Boyle said. “I’m certain we can safely have limited spectators, and hopeful APS announces a workable plan soon.”

Boyle is one of nearly 150 parents who have written to APS, urging the school system to allow two masked, socially distanced spectators per player. Northam allowed this ratio for outdoor sports in a December executive order that also stipulates capacity cannot exceed 30% of a venue.

The Yorktown parents pleaded for action to allow spectators for the sake of students. More from their letter:

“Students’ need for this sort of athletic and emotional outlet is far more pressing during Covid than in ordinary times. Our students have already suffered months of deprivation, isolation, loss, and related mental health challenges. For many seniors on the team, this season will be their last opportunity to play organized football. In addition, many need sports to open the door to college admission and scholarships. In short, the players and coaches need — and have earned — the opportunity to play.”

In a similar letter from 70 Wakefield families, parents said APS has “the good fortune” of having football stadiums with ample capacity. They added that other recreational sports and other school systems are permitting spectators.

“Many of us have seen these rules successfully implemented for months with outdoor baseball, soccer, and travel and other sports,” their letter said.

Last November, APS reversed course on a decision not to allow winter sports after hearing from students and parents. All but two winter sports started their seasons in December.

Image via W-L Football/Twitter

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Morning Notes

Confusion Over CVS Vaccine Reservations — “The confusion began early Tuesday morning, with people reaching out to ABC7 to express their frustration over the COVID-19 vaccine registration process at CVS pharmacies in Virginia. ‘They didn’t do what they said they were going to do, and it’s just really frustrating,’ said Roxanne Grandis, who’s been trying to make vaccine appointments for her elderly parents.” [WJLA]

Some Kudos For County Vaccination Effort — “Virginia’s been struggling for weeks to administer vaccine doses. Out of the 1.38 million doses the Commonwealth received, officials only injected 1.1 million. That’s roughly 80%. Meanwhile, Arlington County is setting the standard at 97%. How did they do it? With other areas struggling, how did Arlington Public Health succeed on all levels? Local officials say it’s been a team effort.” [The Dogwood]

Chase Young’s Arlington Connection — “Washington Football Team defensive end Chase Young, whose father was in law enforcement, testified before the Maryland House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, expressing support for police reform… Young, named the NFL’s Defensive Rookie of the Year on Saturday, grew up in Prince George’s County, Maryland, but his father spent 22 years as a police officer in Arlington, Virginia.” [ESPN]

Arlington Man Running for Governor — “Another Northern Virginia executive is joining the Republican race for governor. Peter Doran of Arlington said Tuesday he is seeking this year’s GOP gubernatorial nomination. It is his first run for office.” [Associated Press]

Arlington Dems Eye High Rises — “Mid-rise and high-rise living represents a large swath of the Arlington population, and ‘many of them are inaccessible to outside groups,’ said Carol Fontein, who heads the robust precinct-operations efforts of Arlington Democrats. As a result, the party aims to recruit those living in multi-family complexes to help with outreach – within the limits set by owners of the properties.” [InsideNova]

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Arlington County is asking residents how and when they use athletic fields.

The County’s Public Spaces Master Plan, adopted in April 2019, calls for a public survey every five years to garner feedback to determine how and when Arlingtonians use the available athletic fields.

The collected data will be used to update the permit process, availability of fields, and who has access when.

“We have a finite amount of park spaces,” Jerry Solomon, Community Engagement Manager for the Department of Parks and Recreation, writes to ARLnow in an email. “Our goal is to ensure we are using them as efficiently and effectively as possible. We need to determine if we are offering field spaces at times that people can best access them.”

Fields for adult soccer leagues, for example, are most needed outside of typical working hours. Baseball diamonds for Little League should be accessible when the players are, like on weekends or after school.

This survey will help make sure this is the case, plus provide additional data that may not be as self-explanatory.

The survey specifically asks about activity start and end times for different age groups as well, like if kids 9 and youngers should end their field use prior sundown on weekdays and who should have access to lighted fields.

In total, Arlington has 96 athletic fields — a mix of rectangular fields (35), diamond fields (42), and a combination of the two (19). That can be further broken down into lighted (37) and not lighted fields (59) as well as natural grass (80) and synthetic turf fields (16).

It probably doesn’t come as a surprise that the fields that have the most use on an individual basis are the lighted, synthetic turf fields. On average, each one of those fields gets more than 2,100 hours of play per year. This is compared to an average of 700 hours per non-lighted, natural grass field.

For years, which fields got lights has been a source of community contention.

Athletic field use in Arlington is often not a free-for-all or on a first-come, first-serve basis. Nearly all of the fields are either only accessible to permit holders or priority is given to permit holders.

Only six of the 96 athletic fields in Arlington are available as drop-in fields, or “community fields.” Even those, though, can be reserved for scheduled programs or practices.

That has drawn the ire of some residents, like those who live near Pentagon City and want to see one or both of the softball diamonds at Virginia Highlands Park opened up for community use.

There’s even a tiered priority system for the allocation of permits, which was first recommended in 2016 due to an “inequity” that existed in how fields were allocated.

Arlington Public Schools are given first priority, then county-organized non-profit youth sport leagues, then adult leagues, then for-profit sports leagues, and, finally, individual rentals or other organizations.

Some fields also have agreements with local universities for their use.

All of this, plus Arlington’s growing population, is resulting in heavy use and demand for athletic fields. According to the PSMP, the county could need an additional 11 rectangular and 2 diamond fields by 2035 to maintain the current levels of use and access.

The hope is that the survey and public feedback will allow for better, more efficient, and more fair use of the limited field space.

This survey will be open until the end of the month, says Solomon, at which point DPR will review and report findings to the Public Spaces Master Plan Implementation Committee in the spring.

There could be more opportunities to provide feedback come the spring and summer, Solomon noted.

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Morning Notes

ACPD Salutes Fallen Officer — “ACPD Officers honored fallen @CapitolPolice Officer Brian Sicknick as his procession traveled through Arlington County. In Valor, There is Hope.” [Twitter, Twitter]

M.J. Stewart Makes Splash in Upset Win — “Former Yorktown HS standout M.J. Stewart was one of NBC’s players of the game in the Cleveland Browns’ playoff upset of the Pittsburgh Steelers tonight.” [Twitter]

National Award for County Naturalist — “Alonso Abugattas, natural resources manager for Arlington County, VA, received a Regional Environmental Champion award at the 2020 Natural Latinos conference.” [Bay Journal]

Cristol to Chair NVTC Again — “Arlington County Board member Katie Cristol will go another round as chair of the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission (NVTC) for 2021.” [InsideNova]

McAuliffe Picks Up Local Support — “Four of the seven members of Arlington’s legislative delegation, including all three state senators, have announced their support for Democrat Terry McAuliffe’s bid for governor. McAuliffe ‘has the bold vision and proven track record we need to push Virginia forward,’ said state Sen. Adam Ebbin.” [InsideNova]

Nearby: Fairfax Vaccinating Teachers — “Starting as early as Saturday, Jan. 16, the Fairfax health department has partnered with Inova to vaccinate an estimated 40,000 teachers and staff of public and private schools and childcare programs across the health district.” [InsideNova]

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(Updated at 10:10 a.m.) There’s a “Bachelorette” contestant from Arlington.

Jason Foster, 31, is a former pro football player who lives in the Courthouse area and works as an Account Manager for a local staffing firm. His official ABC biography says he loves animals, spending time outside, and visiting Arlington’s historical sites.

“Jason prides himself on being able to have fun everywhere he goes,” the network’s bio says. “On the weekends, Jason loves to spend his days visiting historical monuments around Arlington or kayaking on the Potomac River.”

Foster was an NFL lineman after college at the University of Rhode Island, with stints on the Indianapolis Colts, Oakland Raiders and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, before wrapping up his pro career with a year in the Canadian Football League, according to his LinkedIn page.

“After suffering too many concussions on the field, [Jason] decided to prioritize his health and change the direction of his life,” the network bio says. “Since leaving the NFL in 2016, he has lost 120 pounds and started a career in IT staffing and solutions.”

One of two contestants from the D.C. area this season, Foster says on the show that he was born on Long Island but moved to Vermont with his family as a young kid.

Foster made an impression on Bachelorette Clare Crawley, 39, by getting out of the limo with a pillow tucked under his dress shirt — a reference to Crawley’s “pregnant” limo exit when she was a contestant on a previous ‘Bachelor’ season. There was, however, an awkward moment when Foster compared Crawley’s looks to his mom’s.

In the end, Foster was one of the lucky guys to get a rose and advance to next week. If he continues to advance he might end up courting a different lady — reports suggest that Crawley exits the show early after falling for one of the contestants, at which point previous ‘Bachelor’ contestant and fan favorite Tayshia Adams is brought on as the new lead.

Foster is not the first Arlingtonian to appear on the long-running reality franchise.

A local high school teacher failed to get a rose from Brad Womack on the first night of the 2011 Bachelor season.

Jillian Anderson, a former TV producer who currently works as a publicist, produced a memorable moment in 2015 when she slipped on a rug when accepting a rose early on, before being eliminated soon thereafter. She also appeared, briefly, on the ‘Bachelor in Paradise’ spinoff show, but found her happy ending last year after getting engaged to a work colleague, Mike King, who goes by the Twitter handle @kingofarlington.

Another Arlington connection to the show: Chris Bukowski, co-owner of the Bracket Room in Clarendon, is a repeat ‘Bachelorette’ and ‘Bachelor in Paradise’ contestant who holds the title of most appearances on the franchise.

Here’s what Foster said last night on Instagram about his five minutes (so far) of reality show fame:

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Morning Notes

County Board to Consider Bridge Pact — “The Arlington and Alexandria governments are planning to formalize their long-shared responsibilities for maintenance of five bridges that span Four Mile Run between the two communities. The new agreement sets out the share of funding for future short-term and long-term rehabilitation of the five bridges – at West Glebe Road, Arlington Ridge Road, Shirlington Road, Route 1 and Potomac Avenue – as well as maintenance costs.” [InsideNova]

Meal Donation to Hospital — Per a spokeswoman: “At 12:45 p.m., roughly 1,500 meals from local restaurants will be delivered to Virginia Hospital Center in Arlington as part of a 9/11 Day and World Central Kitchen initiative to support first responders and frontline healthcare workers on the 19th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. The local restaurants participating in the delivery to Virginia Hospital Center are Arepa Zone, La Ceiba and Bistro Bis.”

Board to Vote on ART Facility Contract — “The Arlington County government is moving forward with planning for reconstruction of its Arlington Transit (ART) operations and maintenance facility, located on Shirlington Road in the Four Mile Run/Green Valley area. County Board members have been asked to approve a contract of roughly $3.9 million for planning, design and construction-administration services for the $81 million project. Stantec Architecture is receiving the contract.” [InsideNova]

Local Bars Welcome NFL Season — “‘We’re delighted to have live sports back,’ said Dave Cahill, general manager of Ireland’s Four Courts in Arlington, Virginia. ‘We’re fortunate here at the Four Courts; we have three different rooms, and we have a large outdoor area. So we have 18 televisions inside and three TVs outside. Having three rooms, it’s going to allow us to spread people out all over the rooms, 6 feet apart and still enjoy the football,’ he said.” [WTOP]

GOP Senate Candidate Addresses Civ Fed — “His longshot candidacy notwithstanding, Daniel Gade received a polite reception from delegates to the Arlington County Civic Federation. ‘I’m the sort of person who will always tell you the truth,’ the Republican U.S. Senate nominee said at the Sept. 8 event. His opponent, incumbent Democrat Mark Warner, was invited but did not attend the forum, convened online due to the public-health pandemic.” [InsideNova]

County Encourages Local Hotel Bookings — “For most of us with out-of-town family and friends, it’s been far too long since we’ve been able to get together. And with safety being everyone’s top priority, you may not be comfortable yet hosting guests in your Arlington house, condo or apartment. With plenty of space, great fall deals and packages, and an array of enhanced health and safety programs, Arlington’s 44 hotels can offer the ‘spare bedroom’ for your visitors this fall.” [Arlington County]

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Colton Poythress, a 2018 Wakefield High School graduate and former varsity quarterback, died on last week at the age of 20.

Poythress led the school’s football team to its first district championship in 40 years during his senior season, according to the Wakefield Chieftain student newspaper. He was also a pitcher for the varsity baseball team and helped to end a 20-season losing streak to Marshall High School in 2017.

Poythress wrote for the Chieftain for all four years of high school.

Family and friends reacted to Poythress’ Aug. 12 death on social media.

Cason Poythress, one of Colton’s three siblings and Wakefield’s graduating varsity quarterback, wrote “You’ve been my best friend for my entire life. You take care of everybody up there and I got everyone down here. I miss you more than anything right now but I know I have to stay strong to make you proud.”

Messages were also shared on Wakefield-related Twitter accounts such as the athletic department, the boys soccer team and the lacrosse team’s head coach.

The Poythress family held a celebration of Colton’s life on Sunday in Crystal City.

This is the second publicly-announced death of a local student last week. A Washington-Liberty student died suddenly of heart failure on Aug. 10.

Image via Twitter

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Morning Notes

Evictions Halted in Virginia — “Governor Ralph Northam today announced a temporary statewide moratorium on eviction proceedings in Virginia. The moratorium, which will begin on Monday, August 10 and remain in effect through Monday, September 7, halts all eviction proceedings related to failure to pay rent.” [Commonwealth of Virginia]

Amazon Rents More Space in Crystal City — “Amazon.com Inc. is adding more Arlington office space to its portfolio even during a pandemic that has forced most of the company’s corporate employees to work remotely… The [newly-leased] 18,700-square-foot space is part of the 272,000-square-foot 2100 Crystal Drive that Amazon agreed in December to eventually lease in full.” [Washington Business Journal]

Erroneous Library Card Renewal Email — Per Arlington Public Library spokesman Henrik Sundqvist: “About 4,000 patrons were mistakenly notified to renew their library card in person. This is not required. We are working on communicating with any affected patrons to clarify and will do so today [Friday].”

Investigation Reveals ‘Historic’ Shed Built in 1974 — “A homeowner living in the Maywood Historic District of Arlington will be able to tear down a no-longer-considered-historic shed. The 10-foot-by-12-foot wooden structure at the back of a home in the 3600 block of 21st Avenue North long had been considered a ‘contributing’ part of the local historic district, a designation that likely would have prevented its demolition as sought by the current owners. But as it turns out, the shed doesn’t come from Maywood’s historic period, defined as 1906 to 1941.” [InsideNova]

Arlington’s Former ‘Lost Cause’ Textbooks  — “A series of textbooks written for the fourth, seventh and 11th grades taught a generation of Virginians our state’s history. Chapter 29 of the seventh-grade edition, titled ‘How the Negroes Lived Under Slavery,’ included these sentences: ‘A feeling of strong affection existed between masters and slaves in a majority of Virginia homes.’ The masters ‘knew the best way to control their slaves was to win their confidence and affection.'” [Washington Post, Washington Post]

War Memorial Interpretive Project Honored — “Arlington’s Historic Preservation Program staff and Historical Affairs and Landmark Review Board (HALRB) will be honored with a Commission Excellence Award in the category of Best Practices: Public Outreach/Advocacy from the National Alliance of Preservation Commissions (NAPC) during its virtual conference on Aug. 7. The award recognizes the work of County staff and the HALRB on the Clarendon War Memorial Interpretive Project.” [Arlington County]

Former YHS Star Goes to Cleveland — “The Cleveland Browns have claimed CB M.J. Stewart off waivers on Saturday. Released by Tampa Bay, Stewart was drafted by the Buccaneers in the second round of the 2018 draft (53rd overall).” [Browns Nation]

Flickr pool photo by Vincent

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Morning Notes

Local Unemployment Update — “Over 1 million first-time claims for unemployment benefits have now been filed by Virginians this year, 97% of them since pandemic-related business shutdowns began in mid-March, the Virginia Employment Commission reported Thursday.” Arlington, meanwhile, reported 576 initial unemployment claims last week and 6,148 continuing claims. [InsideNova]

Google Satellite Images Updated — Google has updated its satellite imagery in maps. One can now see the line at Arlington’s drive-through COVID testing site and an empty Arlington National Cemetery parking lot, among other pandemic-specific sights. (Hat tip to Eric Dobson for spotting this.)

No High School Football This Fall — “High school football will not be played this fall in Virginia. Football will be either played in the winter or spring or not at all, based on which of three plans the Virginia High School League’s executive committee approves July 27 for the 2020-21 high school sports season.” [InsideNova]

Lane Closures on I-66 This Weekend — “Overnight lane closures and traffic stoppages are planned for I-66 East in Arlington near Patrick Henry Drive this weekend, weather permitting, to implement a traffic shift as part of the I-66 Eastbound Widening Project. This work will split the two I-66 East travel lanes for more than a half mile.” [Press Release]

Trade Association Moves to Arlington — “The National Automatic Merchandising Association has relocated its headquarters from Chicago to [Arlington] Carla Balakgie, president and CEO, announced.” [Vending Times]

Nonprofit Gets Donation from Local Race — “Bridges to Independence has received a $10,000 grant from the Arlington Bunny Hop 5K and Clarendon United Methodist Church to support the housing of Bridges’ local homeless families.” [InsideNova]

ICYMI: Update to Pool Outbreak Article — In an email sent to members last night, the Overlee Community Association confirmed that three people have tested positive for COVID-19. They, along with other cases still not revealed to the membership, all became sick after a intrasquad swim meet on Saturday, a source tells ARLnow. Thus far, swim coaches and pool management have tested negative, according to the email. [ARLnow]

Flickr pool photo by Vincent

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