Arlington, VA

(Updated at 2 p.m.) Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall is assessing damage to two dozen different buildings on the base caused by last month’s disastrous flooding, per a spokesperson.

“The base is still assessing the damage sustained during the flooding and is working on a report to be forwarded to our higher headquarters at the Army’s Installation Management Command,” said JBMHH Spokeswoman Leah Rubalcaba.

“There were a total of 26 facilities across our three bases of Fort Myer, Henderson Hall and Fort McNair that sustained water damage,” Rubalcaba told ARLnow in an email yesterday (Thursday.) “Military organizations do not have insurance, but are allotted an annual budget for operations and maintenance. Then, based on the final assessment and funding availability, additional funds will be forwarded to JBM-HH for repairs.”

She said the base has had to move events, like a recent job fair, into the basketball court because the community center is currently unusable.

“Somehow water got under the flooring and the floor buckled so nobody can walk on it,” she said.

Additionally, one bus from Marine Corps Base Quantico was parked in the lower lot by Henderson Hall — part of the headquarters of the U.S. Marine Corps — when rain flooded the area, damaging the bus along with four cars and a forklift.

The Henderson Hall parking lot, dubbed the “lower flood lot,” is prone to flooding because of the landscape’s natural drainage. But in her 15 years of working on the base, Rubalcaba said she’s never seen flooding as high as during the storm on July 8.

“We know we’re going to get a little bit of rain there. But usually like an inch,” she said. “That’s why we don’t build anything there. People know that’s what happens and they stay away from it.” 

The unusually strong storm last month dumped 3-4 inches of water in an hour on Arlington. Roads, businesses and homes across the county were inundated with water and sewage with one stream swallowed whole by a broken pipe.

Countywide, the storm wrought an estimated $4 million in damages to publicly-owned property alone.

“We’re hoping to get some extra funding just to get everything repaired,” said Rubalcaba.

Courtesy photo

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Morning Notes

Developer May Build Second Metro Entrance — “A plan submitted by developer JBG Smith to Arlington County could see the company put in charge of building the second Crystal City Metro station entrance, a long-sought-after project that would increase access to the station. If approved, the new entrance would be built along Crystal Drive near 18th Street.” [Greater Greater Washington]

Glebe Road Crash Yesterday Morning — “Police say the crash was caused by a driver attempting to merge onto southbound Glebe from 16th Street S. striking another vehicle heading southbound. No significant injuries were reported.” [Twitter]

Company Opens New HQ in Ballston — “Armor Express, a leading manufacturer and distributor of high-performance protective solutions for the Domestic and Federal Law Enforcement markets, Department of Defense and First Responders, today announced the grand opening of its new corporate headquarters in Arlington, VA.” [Globe Newswire]

Video: Olli on Fort Myer — New videos show the Olli autonomous shuttle driving around Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall. [Twitter]

New Funding for 9/11 Victim Fund — “U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) today applauded the passage of a bill to continue providing financial support to those who suffered physical harm or families of those who were killed as a result of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks or ensuing debris removal efforts.” [Press Release, NBC News]

Nearby: Boy Dies at McLean Construction Site — A boy died after a ditch collapsed at a large excavation site in McLean, near the Arlington border and Jamestown Elementary. The boy was reportedly working to build a sewage line at a new residential development. [Tysons Reporter, NBC 4]

Flickr pool photo by Tom Mockler

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Morning Notes

Auditor Looking at Economic Development Funds — “Are economic-incentive funds provided to corporations by the Arlington County government being doled out in accordance with agreements? The county government’s auditor is going to take a look… The audit, already under way, will look only at whether terms of agreements are being complied with; overall effectiveness of the sometimes controversial economic-incentive policy ‘is not part of the scope.'” [InsideNova]

Suspicious Letter at Fort Myer — “Joint Base Myer Henderson-Hall police and other agencies investigated a suspicious letter this afternoon that was delivered on the Fort Myer portion of the joint base. It was determined to not have any dangerous substance on or in it.” [Twitter]

Lauding Arlington’s Retiring Election Chief — “As her tenure as director of elections approaches its end, Linda Lindberg on June 18 was honored by Arlington County Board members for her service. Lindberg — who has served in Arlington’s elections office since 1994 and has been registrar since 2003 — has delivered ‘an outstanding career of public service,’ County Board Chairman Christian Dorsey said during a ceremony marking her tenure.” [InsideNova]

Arts Group Applauds Arts Plan — “Embracing Arlington Arts – an independent citizens group comprised of Arlington arts supporters – applauds the County Board for formally adopting Arlington’s Strategic Plan for the arts – “Enriching Lives” at their Board meeting [on] June 18. This well-researched plan brought together arts professionals, experts, stakeholders and citizens in its development.” [Press Release]

Arlington Developer Plans Senior Projects — “A multifamily developer is making a $200 million senior living play, with five such projects coming together under the company’s new Aspire brand, and potentially more on the way in the Mid-Atlantic. Arlington, Virginia-based Bonaventure has communities under construction or development across the commonwealth, in Alexandria, Woodbridge, Norfolk, Chesapeake and Richmond.” [Senior Housing News]

New Solar Co-op — “Neighbors in Arlington County (including Alexandria… and Fairfax County) have formed a solar co-op to save money and make going solar easier, with the help of nonprofit Solar United Neighbors. Arlington Initiative to Rethink Energy, EcoAction Arlington, and Virginia Clean Cities are sponsoring the co-op.” [Press Release]

Arlington Tech Co. Gets New CEO — Rosslyn-based Snag, “the country’s largest and fastest-growing platform for hourly work, announced today new changes to its executive leadership team. Mathieu Stevenson has been appointed Chief Executive Officer… Stevenson will lead the company forward, with Rosati’s active involvement, to realize Snag’s mission of revolutionizing how hourly workers and employers connect.” [Snag]

Flickr pool photo by Brian Irwin

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A man was cut by a drunk, knife-wielding acquaintance during an physical altercation that spanned two different locations early Sunday morning, according to Arlington County Police.

Police say two men who knew each other got into an argument that turned violent in a Ballston apartment around 1:30 a.m. Sunday. The intoxicated suspect then drove the victim to Penrose neighborhood, near the 2nd Street S. entrance to Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, where the altercation continued, said ACPD spokeswoman Kirby Clark.

The victim reportedly escaped after the suspect fell asleep in his car.

“The victim was able to exit the vehicle safely after the suspect stopped the vehicle and fell asleep in the area of 2nd Road N. and Washington Boulevard, where officers ultimately made contact with the suspect and took him into custody,” Clark said via email. “This is an ongoing investigation and the reason(s) why the dispute initiated, as well as the circumstances surrounding why the suspect transported the victim in his vehicle, will be determined as part of the investigation.”

The suspect was identified as a 20-year-old resident of Ft. Myer.

More from an ACPD crime report:

MALICIOUS WOUNDING, 2019-05190107, 900 block of N. Pollard Street. At approximately 7:05 a.m. on May 19, police were dispatched to the Office of the Magistrate for the late report of an assault. Upon arrival, it was determined that at approximately 1:30 a.m., the victim and known suspect were inside a residence when they allegedly became involved in a physical altercation in which the intoxicated suspect struck the victim multiple times and tackled the victim. The suspect then produced a knife and threatened the victim, and strangled him. The suspect and victim exited the residence and the suspect drove the victim to another location, where he again threatened the victim and cut the victim with the knife. The victim was able to escape after suspect fell asleep in the vehicle. Investigating officers located the suspect in his vehicle and he was taken into custody without incident. Robert Reyna, 20, of Fort Myer, Va., was arrested and charged with Malicious Wounding, Strangulation, Abduction, Assault and Battery and Underage Possession of Alcohol. He was held on no bond.

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Morning Notes

Crystal City BID Proposes Expansion — “The Crystal City Business Improvement District has submitted its proposal to Arlington County to officially expand its borders into Pentagon City and the county’s portion [of] Potomac Yard as Amazon.com Inc. prepares to establish its second headquarters in the area collectively branded as National Landing.” [Washington Business Journal]

County Planning More Housing Initiatives — “Even by its own estimation, the Arlington County government’s success rate in stemming the exodus of affordable housing in Arlington has been hit-or-miss, and the local government at times has been viewed as unimaginative and overly bureaucratic by those who want to see more aggressive efforts at building and retaining housing accessible to lower- and middle-income residents.” [InsideNova]

Twilight Tattoo Begins Tonight at Ft. Myer — “Our 2019 Twilight Tattoo season is scheduled to begin on Wednesday, May 1, 2019, and run through Wednesday, July 31, with exception to July 3 and July 10, 2019… Twilight Tattoo is an hour-long, live-action military pageant featuring Soldiers from The 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) and The U.S. Army Band ‘Pershing’s Own.'” [Military District of Washington]

Stressed Out Judges at Crystal City Immigration Court — “One of the most backlogged immigration courts in America is in Arlington… 7 on your side witnessed and heard of additional tense exchanges in court from multiple judges stressed with the ever-increasing caseload.” [WJLA]

Nearby: ‘Woodchuck’ Scam in Falls Church — “The City of Falls Church Police are investigating a “woodchuck” scam that has cost a victim thousands of dollars. Police caution City residents to be aware of predatory services, especially for tree removal, landscaping, roof and chimney work, and other home services.” [City of Falls Church]

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A rented box truck ran into a fence surrounding Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall in what was reported to be just an accident.

The incident happened Friday morning near the Route 50/Washington Blvd interchange. The truck ran into and damaged a fence but did not actually drive onto the military installation.

The crash was a “simple traffic accident” and there was no threat to the base or its personnel, JBMHH spokeswoman Leah Rubalcaba told ARLnow.

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Olli Autonomous Shuttle at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall

Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall is the announced winner of the National Capital Region Local Motors Olli Fleet Challenge. Commander Col. Kimberly A. Peeples accepted the award at 2 p.m. Thursday in Washington, D.C., on behalf of the Marine Corps Installations Command and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Headquarters.#TeamJBMHH #OlliFleet3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) 4th Battalion, 3d US Infantry Regiment "The Old Guard" Jbmhhfmwr Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall Army Community Service (ACS) The United States Army Band Headquarters Marine Corps, Henderson Hall, Headquarters & Service Battalion US Army Military District of Washington

Posted by Joint Base Myer – Henderson Hall on Thursday, April 4, 2019

Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall has been selected to test pilot an autonomous-vehicle shuttle service starting next month.

“Olli” autonomous shuttles will start circling the base from Henderson Hall Gate to Wright Gate and will be open for service members and their guests as early as May.

The vehicles are 3D-printed, electronic, and seat eight people, according to manufacturer Local Motors.

The pilot program is scheduled to last 90 days. The shuttle route aims to connect buildings on the base including the health clinic, child care center, dining hall, library, and chapel, according to a Local Motors press release.

“This pilot is for a brief period to assist the U.S. Army and U.S. Marine Corps collect data about autonomous vehicles on military installations,” JBMHH spokesman Michael Howard told ARLnow Monday.

“Our goal is to start in phase one with a deployment on the joint base itself, moving service members and family members in and around the base,” said Lt. Col Brandon Newell, in a video about the program.

Newell noted that young recruits are increasingly less likely to own their own cars and autonomous transport vehicles are one way the military is looking to adapt to the demographic.

“In the future we hope to then extend that between the Joint Base and the Pentagon, and even into the Northern Virginia region,” he added.

In a press release Friday, the JBMHH Public Affairs Office said that Olli vehicles may one day be shuttling people between the base and Arlington Metro stations.

Depending on funding, two other phases are potential options. Phase 2 service will include the addition of a route from JBM-HH to the Pentagon from day 91 to day 180 if milestones are achieved and if funding is available. Phase 3 service will include the addition of a route to two Arlington Metro stations at Rosslyn and Pentagon City from day 181 to day 365 if further milestones are reached.

Several locations bid on the chance to host the Olli pilot program. Local Motors CEO Jay Rogers said that choosing the base “was a dream come true.”

Howard said several features of the base’s road infrastructure made it an ideal location to test drive Olli including the fact that:

  • All of its roads have speed limits of 25 mph or lower, which matches Olli’s averages speeds of 15-25 mph.
  • There are no hills with inclines greater than 15 degrees.
  • There are no traffic lights, only stop signs.
  • There are other vehicles on the roads, along with “a consistent population of ready customers.”

When asked if the eight-person occupant of the shuttles squared with the traffic needs of the base, Howard replied: “We think so. Again, this is something new to us and we are not looking to replace other transportation services.”

Howard also clarified that the arrival of Olli does mean the end of the road for the base’s existing shuttle, the Myer Flyer, which will continue its normal schedule.

The program comes several months after Google began testing autonomous vehicles in D.C. and about two years after Virginia Tech famously deployed pseudo-self-driving cars on the streets of Clarendon to gauge the reactions of pedestrians. An ARLnow poll from 2017 found that 80 percent of respondents said they were okay with at least some forms of self-driving vehicle testing in Northern Virginia.

This contrasts with 71 percent of American surveyed by AAA this year who said they were afraid of fully-autonomous vehicles on the road.

“Having the opportunity to interact with partially or fully automated vehicle technology will help remove some of the mystery for consumers and open the door for greater acceptance,” AAA’s Director of Automotive Engineering and Industry Relations, Greg Brannon, said in March.

“In some aspects, technology is moving faster than the regulations that govern it,” Rogers, the Local Motors CEO, acknowledged. “And this deployment for Olli will put autonomy within reach of those who are working to regulate it, which we welcome. It is exciting to see innovation in action, and Olli is an example of that.”

Video via Facebook

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Arlington residents can expect a special morning wake-up this week as a U.S. Army regiment begins its annual cannon fire training.

Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall announced that the Presidential Salute Battery Guns Platoon of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment, a.k.a. the “Old Guard,” will begin firing off blank rounds in the Arlington National Cemetery between 7-8 a.m. on Thursday.

Joint Base community relations officer Leah Rubalcaba told ARLnow that the training will continue on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 7-8 a.m. “going forward” but that there isn’t a scheduled end date because it depends on how long it takes to train the platoon.

Residents in Radnor-Fort Myer Heights, Foxcroft Heights, Columbia Heights, Aurora Heights and Pentagon City have previously reported being able to hearing the sounds, which they described as “pounding,” “banging,” “booming,” or “explosion.” The booming sound has been reported in neighborhoods even farther away, depending on weather conditions.

During the training, teams work together to fire howitzers and 21-gun volleys. The goal is to time the shots with a ceremony or song, but the guns were not always ceremonial, according to the platoon’s website.

The platoon is equipped with ten M5, 75mm antitank cannons mounted on the M6 howitzer carriage. Each gun weighs 5,775 pounds. The M5 cannon saw service in North Africa, Italy, and Northwest Europe from 1943 until the end of World War II. Today, the Presidential Salute Battery fires the 75mm blank ceremonial shell with 1.5 pounds of powder….

Ceremonies require a five-man staff and a two-man team for each gun. The staff consists of the Battery Commander, who initiates fire commands and ensures the proper number of rounds is fired; the Sergeant of the Watch, who marches the battery into position, controls the firing of the backup gun, and monitors the watchman and his assistant; the Watchman controls the timing between rounds and gives the command to fire; the more experienced Assistant Watchman ensures the Watchman stays in time; and the Counter, counts the rounds and signals the last round to the battery.

Rubalcaba wrote in email Monday that the Presidential Salute Battery Guns Platoon conducts the training in preparation for firing the cannons “at ceremonies in honor of the President of the United States, for visiting foreign dignitaries, during official government ceremonies, regional celebrations… and while rendering honors during the funeral services of our nation’s fallen service members and veterans.”

Rubalcaba said the training sessions will each end prior to the cemetery’s visiting hours.

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The bowling center at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall is getting a few upgrades, but that means construction will restrict access to its lanes this week.

The Army base announced Monday (Jan. 7) that it would be kicking off work to “add new counters at the Strike Zone and Front Desk locations” within the bowling center.

The downside, however, is that the bowling alley will “experience limited operations and/or closures” through Friday (Jan. 11).

Anyone looking for more information can call 703-528-4766 for details.

The bowling center last garnered headlines back in 2016, when officials moved to restrict access to its lanes only to people escorted by someone with a Department of Defense ID.

However, anyone hoping to bowl or otherwise gain access to the base on a regular basis can apply for a special pass to do so.

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The Army is now set to build a two-mile-long, eight-foot-high security fence along the border of the Arlington National Cemetery and Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall.

The National Capital Planning Commission, a regional planning body focused on projects on federally owned land, unanimously signed off on designs for the new fence at a meeting last month. The project, commissioned to replace a four-foot-high fence currently separating the base from the cemetery, will also include a five-foot-wide walking trail along the perimeter of the burial ground and a new parking lot to replace some spaces to be eliminated by the construction.

The Army proposed the new fence in the first place over concerns that the existing wall is “no longer adequate to protect the employees on the installation,” according to a report prepared by the commission’s staff. The fence will include four gates to allow access between the base and the cemetery — the fence itself will be “anti-climb and the gates will be both anti-climb and anti-ram,” according to staff.

The gates were a particular point of concern for some members of the commission, who pressed the Army to to reconsider designs at the Selfridge and Memorial Chapel gates, in particular. However, the fence’s designers said they couldn’t quite manage to find a design that would simultaneously meet the Army’s design concerns and the aesthetic issues the commission identified.

“[At] Selfridge, I think we’ve proven that beauty and elegance is gone from our minds,” Commission Vice Chairman Thomas Gallas said during the Oct. 4 meeting. “And I guess I’m disappointed, because I know everybody, everybody, all the stakeholders appreciate what that gate feels like as you approach it. It really is something powerful, as we went there to see it, it moves you. And it won’t move you anymore. Nothing’s going to move there. It’s constipated, I guess you could say.”

The Army does plan to add more shrubs and landscaping at the gates to help address some of those concerns, according to the staff report.

The project will also include a trail, which “follows the path of countless runners and walkers” and “will be made from permeable pavement.” The Army also hopes to add “small seating areas with benches and detailed planting along the trail,” the report says.

The cemetery is set to see a bevy of other changes in the coming years, with plans for a massive expansion of the burial ground and a realignment of many nearby roads.

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If it sounds like World War II in Arlington tonight, there’s a good explanation for why.

The U.S. Army Band “Pershing’s Own” will be firing off massive World War II-era anti-tank guns on Fort Myer between 6-8 p.m., according to the base’s public affairs office. Up to 84 rounds will be fired in order to “obtain audio recordings of the cannon fire.”

Arlington residents can expect to hear the barrage, though the exact neighborhoods where such artillery fire is most audible varies depending on weather conditions.

More from Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall:

Esteemed Arlington County Neighbors,

Please be advised that there will be blank cannon fire on the Fort Myer side of Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall between the hours of 6 and 8 p.m. tonight, Nov. 14.  The cannon fire will be shot from four 5,775-pound WWII-era anti-tank guns used during ceremonial events on base and in the region.  Members from the 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) Presidential Salute Battery will be firing up to 84 rounds at random intervals during this two-hour window.  The reason for tonight’s cannon fire is so that the U.S. Army Band “Pershing’s Own” can obtain audio recordings of the cannon fire for use at upcoming performances when it isn’t feasible to have the actual guns present.

For additional information, please call the Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall Public Affairs Office at 703-696-2976.

Thank you.

Update at 2:35 p.m. — The cannon fire is now scheduled between 5 and 6:15 p.m.

We just received word that the hours for the blank cannon fire scheduled for this evening at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall were moved back – now to take place from 5 to 6:15 p.m.  While we hope that this last minute change does not cause any confusion, the good news is that the cannon fire will not occur so late in the evening.  There will still be 84 rounds of cannon fire that will take place between 5 and 6:15 p.m.

Photo via Facebook

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