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(Updated at 2:40 p.m.) The rideshare driver who crashed into Ireland’s Four Courts in Courthouse last month likely experienced “a medical emergency” before driving into the building, police say.

This preliminary explanation comes after Arlington County police previously ruled out drunk driving as well as malicious intent.

The crash set fire to the popular pub, situated next to the “T” intersection of N. Courthouse Road and Wilson Blvd, during a local company’s happy hour event. It triggered a large emergency response and road closures as people fled the fiery scene. More than a dozen people were hurt.

Police said today that all three pub-goers who were hospitalized with serious, potentially life-threatening injuries have now been released — a little over a month after they were admitted. One patient was still in critical condition and two others were in stable condition within a week of the crash.

The seriously injured people are expected to undergo a rehabilitation process as they continue to recover, we’re told.

In all, 15 people were injured, including nine brought to local hospitals. Of them, three were Four Courts employees hospitalized for less serious injuries, including smoke inhalation.

Four Courts Managing Partner Dave Cahill told ARLnow that the patrons who were seriously injured may not have survived but for other quick-thinking fellow pub-goers, including a volunteer firefighter, as well as first responders who arrived on scene just moments after the crash.

“Our thoughts and prayers have been with them for this whole time,” Cahill said of the victims. “They’re regulars who come in here all the time… we’re happy that they’ve started the next stage of recovery.”

Building inspectors determined that Four Courts is structurally sound but not fit for occupancy due to the extensive damage.

The pub is planning to rebuild, funded in part by a now-closed GoFundMe campaign that blew well past its $50,000 goal, raising just over $95,000. Tonight, fellow Arlington Irish pub Samuel Beckett’s (2800 S. Randolph Street) is hosting a fundraiser and silent auction for Four Courts staff.

Cahill told ARLnow today that insurance and other matters are still being worked out before construction can begin that would allow at least part of the pub to reopen. If demolition starts soon, he said, the best case scenario would be reopening in late spring or early summer of 2023.

When the doors swing back open, he wants customers to feel like nothing has changed, and for regulars to request the same TV channels and sit in the same seats they’ve sat in for years.

“We’re going to work and recreate Four Courts as close back to the original as possible,” he said. “We don’t want people to walk in here and think they’re in a different place. Things will be updated, obviously, but we want people to feel at home in the Four Courts.”

The only thing that many repeat customers would miss would be their personal mugs. Four Courts had a mug club with more than 1,475 mugs people purchased; added their names, football team logos and family crests to; and drank from whenever they came in.

“We lost a lot of mugs,” he said. “When the fire came, it melted the mug and left the handle. We’re sad about that. That was a big part of the brand.”

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Arlington County police say the rideshare driver who crashed into Ireland’s Four Courts on Friday did not do so intentionally and was not drunk.

Beyond that, not much is known — or, at least, being revealed publicly — about the circumstances that led to the fiery crash that severely injured several people inside the long-time Courthouse pub.

“The Arlington County Police Department continues to investigate the cause of Friday’s crash,” the police department said in a statement late Monday afternoon. “Based on the preliminary investigation, detectives do not believe the crash was an intentional act and alcohol has been ruled out as a contributing factor. The driver of the vehicle is cooperating with the ongoing investigation.”

“Detectives continue to encourage anyone with information related to this investigation to contact Detective K. Stahl at [email protected] or 703-228-7145,” ACPD said. “Information may also be reported anonymously to Arlington County Crime Solvers at 1-866-411-TIPS.”

Police said that three people are still in the hospital, including one who’s still in critical condition and two others that are now in stable condition.

Initially, police said four people had been taken to the hospital from the scene in critical condition. In all, 15 people were injured, including nine brought to local hospitals, six of whom have since been released.

ARLnow previously reported that the quick actions of customers and first responders to treat the injured and move them away from the growing inferno likely saved lives.

Meanwhile, Four Courts has told local news outlets that it is planning to rebuild.

The pub and its staff will be helped by a GoFundMe campaign, which has blown past its $50,000 goal and raised more than $77,000 as of publication time. Four Courts employees, three of whom were hospitalized but have since been released, are also getting an assist from a fellow local Irish bar.

Samuel Beckett’s Irish Gastro Pub, at 2800 S. Randolph Street in Shirlington, is organizing a fundraiser and silent auction on Thursday, Sept. 15 for Four Courts staff.

Already more than 1,000 people have said they’re going or expressed interest in the event on Facebook.

“We at Beckett’s and Kirwan’s on the Wharf would like to hold a fundraiser for the staff of Ireland’s Four Courts,” wrote owner Mark Kirwan. “We will have a silent auction and a night of fun and entertainment to raise money for these poor unfortunate souls who went through hell… Thank you in advance and let’s make this road ahead for these folks a bit easier.”

Firefighters and county building officials were at Four Courts on Monday. The pub’s general manager, Dave Cahill, told ARLnow this afternoon that Four Courts is still trying to determine how to move forward, depending on what the inspections find.

“We are working with the county and inspectors to determine the next course of action,” Cahill said. “We are extremely grateful for all the neighborhood support.”

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The four people reported to be seriously injured when a car plowed into Ireland’s Four Courts last night may not have survived but for the quick actions of fellow pub-goers and first responders.

That’s according to Dave Cahill, long-time manager of the Courthouse fixture, which remains closed after last night’s crash and fire.

At last check, the four critically injured people were still hospitalized, but the hope is all four will pull through, we’re told. Cahill tells ARLnow that all three Four Courts employees who were injured and brought to the hospital have since been released.

The crash happened around 6:45 p.m. Friday, as people were gathered near the front of the pub for a local company’s happy hour event.

A gray Toyota Camry — ARLnow has heard from multiple sources that it was being operated as a rideshare vehicle — reportedly came speeding up N. Courthouse Road and drove through the “T” intersection, slamming directly into the pub. It was nearly 20 feet inside the business, Cahill said, and started to catch fire almost immediately.

Quick-thinking customers sprang into action, coming from the back of the restaurant to the smoldering wreckage to help severely injured customers, the driver, and at least one passenger of the car, who was also hurt. Photos taken as fire started to engulf the car and the pub show several people carrying one man — who can be seen in a photo taken seconds earlier slumped over in front of the car — to safety outside.

Police and firefighters arrived on scene as employees and customers were still trying to flee the pub. Photos and a TikTok video show police officers running into Four Courts as smoke billowed out. In frantic police radio transmissions, first arriving officers requested “a lot of ambulances” and reported “a lot of people” still inside the restaurant as fire spread.

“It’s an image I’ll never forget,” said Cahill.

Without customers risking their own safety to save the injured, and without the lightning-fast response of police and medics — ACPD headquarters is a couple of blocks from Four Courts and a fire station is a short distance down Wilson Blvd — “it could have been a lot worse,” he said.

Also helping: the pub was significantly less crowded than usual for a Friday, a server told NBC 4.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone who was hurt,” said Cahill.  Asked about when the pub might reopen, Cahill said “we’re not thinking about it right now.”

Building inspectors determined that Four Courts is structurally sound but not fit for occupancy due to the extensive damage. Photos of the interior from this morning, shared with ARLnow, show a vast swath of charred flooring, fixtures and ceiling near the front of the pub.

The car, meanwhile, was removed from inside and hauled away on a flatbed tow truck early this morning. Video shows heavy front-end damage from the collision.

Cahill said management will start to assess repairs and future plans next week, but noted that the kitchen and the newer rear of the pub is largely intact. The current hope is that insurance will help to pay employees and keep them on staff.

A GoFundMe page, which Cahill says was set up by a regular customer, will also help. As of publication it has raised more than $7,500 of a $50,000 goal.

A total of 14 people were injured, including eight who were brought to local hospitals, police and fire officials said last night. There’s still no word on what led to the crash.

Update at 4 p.m. — The Arlington County police and fire departments just issued the following joint statement. Two of the victims remain in critical condition, the statement says, while the other two seriously injured people have been stabilized.

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Fifth graders at Nottingham Elementary School raised more than a thousand dollars, via a lemonade stand, for relief efforts in Ukraine.

The fundraiser, held June 4, raised $1,250 to donate to World Central Kitchen, the nonprofit founded by Chef José Andrés that is providing freshly made meals to people in Ukraine. Students ran the stand as their graduation service project.

The fifth graders sold lemonade and popsicles from around 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on that Saturday. Their stand was decorated in blue and yellow, the national colors of Ukraine, and set up along a sidewalk near the school’s fields.

“We sold a lot of lemonades to baseball teams, a lot of coaches came,” said Juliette Schroeder, one of the fifth graders.

The students led the event largely by themselves, while their parents acted as coordinators.

“I would say this was really kid-run and kid-driven,” parent Alison Grantham said. “We stood back and they ran the lemonade stand and handled the money and everything.”

The fifth graders voted to run a lemonade stand from of a list of idea. The decision was “almost unanimous,” Juliette said. She voted for it because she was interested in helping the people in Ukraine.

“Since I’ve been interested in this conflict myself, I’ve been seeing things on the news,” she said. “There were a bunch of people that have been talking to me about it and I thought it’s interesting to try to do something.”

The students made posters promoting the event and posted them around the neighborhood, while the parents organized the signups, bought the materials and took out a cashier’s check for the money raised, Grantham added.

World Central Kitchen was chosen as the recipient of the funds because the students wanted to provide food assistance to Ukraine, especially warm meals, Juliette said.

“It’s one of the main things of living and honestly, I don’t think I could imagine, like, my world without having warm meal for me every single day,” she said.

Grantham’s daughter, Abby, was at the stand in the morning. Her most memorable moment was when multiple families were waiting around the stand to get lemonade.

“It was a very hectic moment, but it was also very nice, because they all wanted to come and support Ukraine,” Abby said.

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The woman who was injured after being pushed out of an SUV (via GoFundMe)

(Updated at 10:45 a.m.) The woman who was pushed out of a moving vehicle along Wilson Blvd near Ballston has a long road to recovery from her injuries, according to an online fundraiser.

The victim, 25, suffered a traumatic brain injury that required extensive surgery and left her in critical condition, her sister wrote on a GoFundMe page. Two weeks after the incident she was in stable condition but expected to require 6-12 months of recovery.

“The hospital bills and the rehab center will be very expensive, so we appreciate all the help we could get,” says the fundraising page, which has raised more than $40,000 towards its $50,000 goal.

The page notes that the victim is from Ukraine and her father is currently fighting in the war there.

“We are from Ukraine, so our dad is defending our homeland while our mom had to flee the war to Germany,” it says.

A GoFundMe spokesperson tells ARLnow that the fundraiser has been verified by the company’s Trust and Safety team.

The fundraiser sheds little light on the circumstances leading to the woman being pushed out of the vehicle.

“She was going home from a night out, but at 3am she was pushed out of a speeding car onto the [road] by an UNKNOWN DRIVER, and her phone was stolen,” it says. The Arlington County police crime report from last month said that a witness saw the woman pushed out of the passenger door of a black SUV, but no further description of the vehicle or the driver was given.

An ACPD spokeswoman said this morning that police are still investigating and seeking tips.

“The investigation into the incident is ongoing and detectives continue to follow up on investigative leads in the case,” said Ashley Savage. “No arrests have been made at this time.”

“Anyone with information that may assist with the investigation is asked to contact the Arlington County Police Department’s Homicide/Robbery Unit at 703-228-4180 or [email protected],” Savage added. “Information may also be reported anonymously through the Arlington County Crime Solvers hotline at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477).”

The full fundraising message from the GoFundMe page is below.

Hi, my name is Polina – I’m Maryna’s sister.

On our dad’s 50-year anniversary, Maryna, 25 y.o., has been a victim of a SEVERE crime. She was going home from a night out, but at 3am she was pushed out of a speeding car onto the highway by an UNKNOWN DRIVER, and her phone was stolen. When the paramedics arrived, her skull bone was out in the open, she had bruises, scratches, and road rash all over her body… Doctors have performed two different surgeries on the brain right away – one lasted 5 hours, the other one lasted another 2,5 hours; and still she was in a critical condition.

Police called me and woke me up at 4am with these terrible news. My husband and I drove up to DC from NC right away. I am the only family Maryna has in the USA . We are from Ukraine, so our dad is defending our homeland while our mom had to flee the war to Germany. When I came to the hospital and saw Maryna, I didn’t recognize her. Her long beautiful hair was shaved, she had two huge ridges on both side of the head, plenty of tubes in her to keep her alive, she was pale and motionless…

The first few days were critical – people die from these injuries, and you don’t even need to be a doctor to understand that. The fact that she’s young made a big difference in this case, otherwise she wouldn’t have survived. She’s super smart and kind, and always helps people – she volunteered to help with the humanitarian catastrophe in Ukraine, while working for an NGO. She has 2 masters degrees and speaks 4 languages fluently. It’s terrifying to think what would have happened if the ambulance didn’t arrive on time. This kind of crime is for horror movies, not for real life. Nobody deserves this.

Now it’s been about two weeks since the incident, and she is stable. Maryna would need about 6 months to a year to recover. The hospital bills and the rehab center will be very expensive, so we appreciate all the help we could get.

Since starting Arlington-based Cozy Cleaning during the pandemic, its co-owners have viewed it as a way to support other Mongolian Americans.

Otgon Altankhuyag and Munkhzul Nergui, who are both Mongolian, decided to start the house cleaning and organizing service after hearing that demand for residential cleaning was up given that many people were stuck at home all day.

“We can also help Mongolian women,” Altankhuyag said. “We pay our employees, so we support Mongolian women who (are) staying home with lots of kids. They can’t work full time.”

The owners are planning to join other local business owners for a fundraiser in Ballston organized by Hamkae Center next Thursday, June 9, to support Asian American communities. It’s the first fundraiser for Hamkae Center since it changed its name from NAKASEC VA, which stood for National Korean American Service & Education Consortium Virginia, in November 2021.

This is the first time the center has organized the event on its own, and it’s the first in-person fundraiser since the pandemic began, said Growth and Operations Team Lead Patrick Canteros. The event was canceled in 2020 and virtual in 2021.

“A lot of our sponsors previously were national organizations,” Canteros said. “This time around, a lot of our sponsors, a lot of the organizations and businesses that are supporting us, this time around with food and auction items, they are all local businesses.”

Altankhuyag had previously worked with Hamkae Center as a translator, as well as donating masks to the organization during the pandemic. Her company decided to join the upcoming fundraiser because she wanted to encourage others and contribute, said Altankhuyag.

“I would like to show the neighbors that everybody has the potential to learn a small business and make a small amount of money and enjoy their (lives),” she said.

As of 2021, there were over 70,000 businesses owned by Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the Washington region, which accounted for 12.4% of all private businesses in the area, according to a report from the Virginia Asian Advisory Board.

The fundraiser, called Pursuing Our Dreams 2022, is set to feature around 20 Asian American businesses in the D.C. area, including various restaurants, a rock-climbing gym and the soccer team The Washington Spirit. The event is set to be held between 6:30-8:30 p.m. at Marymount University’s Ballston campus (1000 N. Glebe Road).

Participants can choose to sponsor and donate to the fundraiser, according to its application form. Canteros said Hamkae Center wishes to have 20% of its funding come from community donors.

During the event, Hamkae Center is set to give out a few awards to individuals and organizations for their work in issues in which the center is also involved.

“We definitely selected them based on the work that we’ve done and who have been key instrumental folks in helping us move that needle forward,” said Policy and Communications Team Lead Zowee Aquino.

The four awards this year will go to Del. Kathy Tran (D-42), the Virginia Poverty Law Center, the Vietnamese Resettlement Association and organization member Onion Ha, according to the organization’s Twitter announcement.

The fair is set to include a range of activities such as origami tutorials, tarot card and birth chart readings, and a silent auction. Food and drink will be provided by local AAPI-owned restaurants.

https://twitter.com/hamkaecenter/status/1523055348030275584

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(Updated on 5/18) A local family raised nearly $2,000 holding a yard sale this past weekend to help children impacted by the war.

Constantin, a Ukrainian-American who lives in Arlington’s East Falls Church neighborhood and flew flags on 1-66 overpasses earlier this year, held the sale in his front yard Saturday morning in support of the D.C. area non-profit United Help Ukraine.

The funds will specifically go to the Hibuki Therapy Project, a program that pairs toy stuffed dogs and specialized therapists with children impacted by the ongoing war.

https://twitter.com/iFirebrand/status/1525976966620450821

“It’s important to [bring] attention to the victims of the war,” Constantin told ARLnow via phone as he was rehanging Ukrainian and American flags over I-66. He asked his last name not be used for safety concerns.

He placed flyers for the yard sale near the Westover Library, the Lee-Harrison shopping center, and Nottingham Elementary. They attracted attention.

It was a “very strong turn out,” Constantin says, with neighbors donating both items and money to the effort. In all, he believes they made at least $1,600, though probably more since some folks donated money without buying items.

He held the yard sale not only to raise money to help those back in his homeland, but to show his own children how they can make a difference.

“I wanted to show my children how… they can take a specific thing, sell it, make money, and how it can go to a specific cause in Ukraine,” he says.

All of the money went to United Help Ukraine, which focuses on providing medical supplies and basic needs to Ukrainian refugees.

The local nonprofit has raised $25 to $30 million since Russia’s invasion in late February, President Maryna Baydyuk tells ARLnow. Through the Hibuki Therapy Project, 1,000 toy dogs have already been distributed to Ukrainian refugee children. The hope is to manufacture and distribute 6,000 in total, Baydyuk says, as well as train dozens of counselors who can help while the kids are at the refugee camps.

“Children are the most vulnerable group of refugees, so we want to focus on their psychological help,” Baydyuk says.

This yard sale won’t be the end of Constantin and his family’s efforts. He’s currently planning a block party fundraiser for early June that will give his East Falls Church neighbors. Even after close to three months of war, Constantin said it’s clear to him that Arlingtonians are still very much aware of and concerned about the ongoing human toll from the invasion.

“It’s very heart-warming as an American to see the number of Ukrainian flags going up in Arlington,” he said. “They are still everywhere.”

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(Updated at 12:40 p.m.) Famed local ultramarathoner Michael Wardian is going full Forrest Gump and running across America.

The 48-year-old Arlington resident and noted athletic adventurer has a new running challenge: to run from sea to shining sea.

The journey begins this Sunday (May 1) at San Francisco City Hall. Wardian will follow U.S. Route 50 to Arlington and, then, onto Dewey Beach, Delaware. His mission is to dip his toes in the Atlantic Ocean on July 4. That’s 3,184 miles in 65 days.

“With no planned rest days,” he tells ARLnow on the phone from San Francisco. “At least, that’s the plan right now.”

Wardian is doing this to raise money for World Vision, an organization that works to provide clean and safe drinking water to families across the globe. His goal is to raise $100,000.

It will be his longest run ever, an attempt inspired by his run across Israel back in 2019.

“It’s something I’ve never done before. I’m looking forward to it,” he says. “But also a little nervous.”

Wardian is known for incredible feats of the foot. That includes running seven marathons on seven continents, setting treadmill records, and logging 260 miles running loops around Arlington Forest. He also has recently set his sights on mastering pickleball.

He was actually planning to run across the country back in 2020, but the pandemic pushed those plans back two years.

“This has been my dream for, like, 20 years. And now it’s finally coming to fruition,” he says.

With him running nearly 50 miles per day, Wardian acknowledges the effort will take a physical and, crucially, a mental toll. This will be the longest he has ever been away from his family, he noted.

But Wardian is not doing this alone. He’ll have support alongside him the whole way, including someone very special. Trailing behind him in an RV will be his dad, there to prepare meals, do laundry, and just be supportive.

“This is a chance to reconnect with my dad… this is the longest I’ve ever been with him since I moved out 25 years ago,” Wardian says. “He’s going to be cheering for me the whole time.”

There are several ways to keep pace with Wardian on his months-long journey from coast to coast. There’s the normal social media channels like Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok. There will also be real-time tracking along with a detailed day to day schedule (including endpoints).

For those who get the bug, runners can also join Wardian on his journey at any point and for any distance — yes, much like Forrest Gump and his running entourage — by reaching out to [email protected].

About 40 people have already committed to joining him at some point one the expedition, including a few Arlington pickleball buddies.

“Hopefully, I can pop in on some [pickleball] games along the way,” he says. “I’d also like to play chess at various places too.”

Oh, Wardian is an avid chess player as well.

Wardian understands why he’s sometimes compared to Forrest Gump: the beard, the long hair, and the jogging across America.

“I have been called ‘Forrest Gump’ about a gazillion times… over the years and across the planet so I completely understand and embrace that,” he says.

But there’s one difference, he says, between him and the fictional character.

“Forrest Gump, to me, wasn’t quite sure why he was running at first but eventually he found what he was looking for,” Wardian says. “Which is different than me.”

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Northside Social in Clarendon (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

(Updated 12 p.m.) Today (Thursday) marks one month since Russia invaded Ukraine, plunging the country and Arlington’s sister city, Ivano-Frankivsk, into war.

In solidarity with Ukraine, Northside Social (3211 Wilson Blvd) is hosting a fundraiser this weekend, featuring traditional food and beer and live Ukrainian music from D.C.-area ensemble Gerdan.

The fundraiser begins at 3 p.m. on Sunday, and Gerdan will play “original arrangements of traditional Ukrainian folk melodies” from 4-6 p.m., according to a flier.

Northside Social will donate a percentage of proceeds to the International Committee of the Red Cross and World Central Kitchen, a nonprofit founded by local celebrity chef José Andrés that’s currently working to feed Ukrainian refugees and those still in the war-torn country. Proceeds from some wine sales will go to World Central Kitchen, the flyer says.

An Arlington-based glass artist, Maria Milton, will be selling pieces at the fundraiser and donating proceeds to United World Mission. The Arlington Sister City Association will be on-site raising awareness about the war and Ivano-Frankivsk.

“If you’d like to stop by and help support, I think it’s going to be a great event,” Arlington County Board Member Libby Garvey said at the Board meeting on Tuesday. “I know it always feels like we’re doing not much, but I think every little bit helps, and the more awareness builds, the more there’s global pressure to bring this horrible, horrible invasion to a halt.”

Locals can also bring new and gently used coats, as well as new blankets, heavy socks and gloves, to Arlington Central Library (1015 N. Quincy Street), where a collection bin was set up yesterday (Wednesday).

The Northern Virginia Regional Commission will be sending collected items to relief agencies and churches in Poland “waiting and wanting these goods,” Garvey said.

NVRC requests items be donated no later than April 15.

As the Russia-Ukraine war enters its second month, the U.S. has announced it will accept 100,000 Ukrainian refugees. Today, President Joe Biden is participating in an emergency NATO summit that could lead to more aid for Ukraine and additional sanctions against Russia.

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Morning Notes

A jet takes off from Reagan National Airport at twilight (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Whiskey Bar Coming to Clarendon — “Chicken + Whiskey is branching out into Northern Virginia. The Peruvian rotisserie chicken restaurant and whiskey bar, which got its start from a smaller location in Logan Circle in 2017, has inked a deal for a new location near the Clarendon Metro in Arlington County. The 5,708-square-foot restaurant is slated to open late this year or early next at 3033 Wilson Blvd.” [Washington Business Journal]

It’s Flood Awareness Week — “Flooding is the most common and costly natural disaster in the United States and it is becoming more frequent with climate change. As we head into the typical rainy season, Arlington County and Fairfax County are teaming up for Virginia Flood Awareness Week to get out key messages of being informed and prepared.” [Arlington County]

Bill to Limit Gov. Powers — “Five of Arlington’s seven-member General Assembly delegation voted in support of a measure that will limit the power of governors to act unilaterally for an indeterminate period in a crisis. Legislation sponsored by state Sen. David Suetterlein (R-Roanoke) on March 9 cleared the House of Delegates on a 91-8 vote, following earlier passage in the state Senate by a margin of 29-11. Gov. Youngkin is expected to sign the bill.” [Sun Gazette]

Arlington Kids Hold Ukraine Bake Sale — “Our boys and friends wanted to do something to help the people of #Ukraine – they decided on a bake sale. They raised $900+ today and it’s now headed to medical staff that are getting supplies to the Ukraine/Poland border. Nice job kiddos.” [Twitter]

Bishop O’Connell Swimmer Stands Out — “For Kate Bailey, her time to receive deserved recognition as a standout high-school swimmer in Arlington came this season in her final senior campaign. During past winter years, Bailey and other top local swimmers performed in the shadow of 2022 Yorktown High School graduate and Summer Olympian Torri Huske. With Huske now swimming in college at Stanford University, Bailey’s accomplishments this winter drew more attention.” [Sun Gazette]

It’s Monday — Partly cloudy throughout the day. High of 58 and low of 31. Sunrise at 7:22 am and sunset at 7:16 pm. [Weather.gov]

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(Updated at 5:40 p.m.) A community fundraising campaign is helping Green Valley’s New District Brewing Company purchase its own canning equipment.

Earlier this month, Arlington’s first production brewery in a century launched a campaign to raise $8,000 in order to partially pay for a canning line (equipment used to can). The equipment can cost about $23,000, so the initial plan was to cover the rest with a loan.

“When COVID-19 hit and all the brewery tap rooms were shut down, everyone moved to canning. But we didn’t have a canning line,” says New District Brewing co-owner Mike Katrivanos. “So, what we had to do was hire a third-party company to bring a mobile canning machine in… we did it out of necessity, really.”

New District was able to can a limited selection of its beers and sell them to the public. However, the process is expensive and can be hard to schedule, since the third-party company was also working with other breweries.

So, Katrivanos and his co-owner (and brother) Stephen Katrivanos decided they needed to purchase their own canning line and to ask its customers for help.

In just 10 days, the brewery hit that original goal of $8,000 and is now moving forward with a new stretch goal of $23,000 that would allow the brewery to own the equipment outright.

As of yesterday (Jan. 26), New District has raised more than $10,700 with eight more days still in the campaign.

“We are completely blown away by community support,” says Katrivanos. “We are obviously very blessed.”

There are perks, like T-shirts, hats and mugs. For those donating more, there’s an opportunity to be an assistant brewer for the day as well as a chance to design and name your very own beer. For $2,000, one can become the official “New District Monopoly Man (or Woman),” which includes getting two cases of beer from every canning run for the next year plus a top hat and monocle.

Beyond those perks, it’s also a chance to help a local, small business continue to overcome pandemic-related challenges.

New District Brewing Company opened in 2016 in a 5,200-square-foot warehouse space at ​​2709 S. Oakland Street, near the Shirlington Dog Park and the W&OD Trail. It was Arlington’s first production brewery — as in, not an accessory to a restaurant — in a century.

Like most breweries across the country, though, the last two years have been a struggle for New District.

Sales were cut in half in 2020 and the brewery has yet to fully recover to pre-pandemic levels, Katrivanos says. With omicron emerging and few guarantees about what 2022 will have in store, the ability to can and sell beer themselves to customers is a lifeline.

“[Canning] is in many ways the only way we can earn a living,” says Katrivanos.

With the new equipment coming, New District is looking at the potential of working with local, independent beer stores — like Westover Market and Crystal City Wine Shop — to sell its beer.

After the fundraising campaign is over, it could take up to two months for the brewery to get the equipment. Which means that it may be April or May before canned New District beer is available to thirsty customers.

But Katrivanos is optimistic that, by the summer, Arlingtonians will be able to taste the suds of its labor.

“We are just thrilled to be engaged in a community like this,” he says. “It’s been an awesome ride.”

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