DEVELOPING: Water Main Break Leaves GMU, Others High and Dry

Kirkwood Road is closed between Washington Blvd and 14th Street N. due to a significant water main break.

Crews have been working on the break since last night and “scores of customers could be affected,” said Arlington’s Dept. of Environmental Services. Among those reported to be affected by the water outage is George Mason University’s Arlington campus.

Video posted of the scene shows a large hole in the roadway filled with roiling, cloudy water.

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Attend the Part-Time Preview Day at GMU’s Scalia Law School

Would you like to attend law school, but cannot leave your day job? Would you like to supplement your practical experience with a legal education?

If so, you can join a growing number of professionals who work by day and attend law school at night. Learn more at the Part-Time Preview Day on Thursday, January 24 from 6-8:30 p.m.

George Mason University’s Antonin Scalia Law School offers a robust part-time program for students. Over one hundred part-time students enrolled in the fall 2018 term. Like full-time students, the vast majority of these students (91 percent) receive scholarship money.

At Scalia Law, part-time students are not second-class citizens. They receive the same benefits, study under the same awesome faculty and share the same access to the school’s many organizations, resources and opportunities, as their full-time counterparts.

Senior Associate Dean, Alison Price is a fan of the part-time program and its students. “We have always welcomed part-time students. As law classes are frequently taught by Socratic method, part-time students bring a refreshing perspective on legal decisions,” she said.

Daniel Trujillo Esmeral is a part-time student at Scalia Law School. He is also President of the Student Bar Association and Managing Editor of George Mason’s Civil Rights Law Journal.

“Throughout law school I’ve worked as a Paralegal and a Law Clerk at private law firms. The convenient hours in Scalia Law’s part-time program and reasonable workload has allowed me to juggle the two roles with relative ease,” said Esmeral. “The time-management skills that I’ve learned as a working professional have allowed me to succeed and maintain these roles with greater efficiency than many of my full-time colleagues.”

Esmeral said he selected Scalia Law’s program because of its flexibility. “As a part-time student, I’ve learned the skills necessary to succeed as an attorney in the day, while gaining the academic know-how at night.”

He will join his current firm as an associate in employment law following graduation.

“Scalia Law fully supports part-time students as they simultaneously balance their education with full-time careers and families. With impressive focus, discipline and work ethic, part-time students provide a valuable asset to our community,” Price concluded.

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Kaine, Warner Hope to Lend a Hand on Affordable Housing Issues to Prepare for Amazon’s Arrival

Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) has never been much of a fan of the name “Crystal City.”

As a longtime Alexandria resident, the state’s senior senator has had to spend plenty of time in and around the Arlington neighborhood that will soon become home to Amazon’s vaunted new headquarters, all the while rolling his eyes at its moniker.

“I’m not sure ‘National Landing’ should be the name, but I’d be so glad to get rid of ‘Crystal City,'” Warner quipped Thursday (Dec. 13) at a roundtable discussion hosted at George Mason University’s Virginia Square campus.

Luckily, his colleague on stage, Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), had an alternative suggestion for the Crystal City-Pentagon City-Potomac Yard corridor ready to go: “Warner Plaza,” he said, prompting a round of laughter from the crowd of Northern Virginia business leaders and politicians.

That light-hearted banter aside, both senators acknowledged that the county will soon face far more dire problems than just naming its neighborhoods. Kaine and Warner both see Amazon’s impending arrival as a huge net positive for the county, and the state as a whole, but they also expressed a desire to take some action to help address the thorny issue of affordable housing in the area.

Kaine sees room for Congress to lend a hand, perhaps by expanding the federal “Low-Income Housing Tax Credit.”

The program is designed to incentivize affordable development, and Kaine teamed up with Democrats and Republicans alike to introduce a bill last year expanding its funding by 50 percent. His office estimates it would create or preserve 1.3 million affordable homes over the next decade, about 400,000 more than would be possible under the program’s current funding levels.

“We don’t have to recreate the wheel,” Kaine said. “We can take things that work and do more of them. It’s already a good program to create workforce housing, but we can do more of it.”

Considering the county’s challenges finding cash for its own affordable housing loan fund, more help from the feds would likely come as quite welcome news indeed for Arlington leaders. But, despite its bipartisan support, Kaine’s legislation on the subject has yet to make any progress.

Warner envisions a more local approach to the matter. While the state already has its own housing development authority, which is set to pour tens of millions more into affordable housing initiatives as part of Gov. Ralph Northam’s proposed deal with Amazon, Warner thinks the area’s localities could stand to team up as well.

“I think there needs to be work done on a regional housing authority to make sure there will be affordable housing, and make sure people don’t get pushed out of their homes,” Warner said.

Warner does expect, however, that Congress can help out by ensuring stable federal funding for Metro in 2019.

Though the rail service did manage to score its first dedicated revenue stream this year, thanks to commitments from Virginia, Maryland and D.C. lawmakers, it remains subject to the whims of Congress for another $150 million or so in cash each year. And with Amazon bringing thousands of workers to the area, many of whom will likely rely on the Blue and Yellow lines to reach the offices, Metro’s health has been a key focus as officials look to prepare for the company’s arrival.

As Democrats prepare to assume control of the House of Representatives, Warner fully expects the “odds and leverage [for more Metro funding] will go up” next year. But that doesn’t mean he’s counting on adding more federal funds for the service, either, considering that Republicans still control most levers of power in D.C.

“I would love to say we could plus up that number, but I don’t think that’s in the cards with this Senate and this president,” Warner said. “But if we can get $150 million again, let’s take the money and run.”

Beyond the housing and transportation challenges Amazon may well exacerbate in the area, Warner echoed the views of his colleagues around the state that the new headquarters will be a “game changer” for the region.

With such high office vacancy rates even in a prosperous part of the state like Arlington, Warner says the region had a “level of vulnerability that I’m not sure the whole business community appreciated” before Amazon tabbed Arlington. Of course, he hopes that that tech company doesn’t simply bring prosperity for Northern Virginia when it gets here.

“I know it’s a little bit of heresy to say with an Arlington crowd, but I hope to find some Amazon contractors and partners to put jobs downstate too,” Warner said. “As the commonwealth makes a substantial investment, an investment that is about one quarter per job what New York overpaid for, by the way, we need to show that it will benefit the whole commonwealth.”

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Morning Notes

APS Adds Non-Binary Gender Option — “This school year, Arlington Public Schools added a new question on its form for students to indicate a designated gender, including male, female and ‘X.'” [DCist]

ACPD Has New Electronic Sign — “You may see a new electronic signboard around @ArlingtonVA thanks to JAG grant funds provided through the @TheJusticeDept! These signboards help ACPD share important public safety messaging around school zones, events and campaigns… The signboards also display motorists speed so remember to slow down and obey posted speed limits.” [Twitter]

Leak Prompts Early Morning Road Closure — “A water leak has been repaired after causing early morning traffic problems Wednesday in Arlington. The leak was reported along S. Arlington Ridge Road between 23rd St S. and the Interstate 395 Service road.” [Fox 5]

Jail Holds Holiday Party for Inmates’ Kids — “The Arlington County Detention Facility was transformed Tuesday night into the fictional town, Whoville, in anticipation of a few special visitors. Some children were given the opportunity to visit their incarcerated parents.” [WUSA 9]

Amazon News Roundup — Amazon is planning to bring a “Treasure Truck retail vehicle” to the D.C. area. One way to accommodate new HQ2 workers would be to upzone nearby residential neighborhoods like Aurora Highlands to the population density of Capital Hill or San Francisco’s Mission District. Prompted by Amazon’s arrival, George Mason University plans to build a new 400,000 square foot facility on its Virginia Square campus in Arlington to house the Institute for Digital Innovation, “a research enterprise for fields like data analytics, cybersecurity and defense.”

Flickr pool photo by Brian Allen

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GMU Antonin Scalia Law School is Launching a New Juris Master (JM) Degree Program

George Mason University Antonin Scalia Law School is excited to announce the launch of its Juris Master (JM) degree program!

The JM degree is designed for professionals who interact with lawyers and legal issues regularly in the course of their careers. This type of program is in high demand and now offered by almost half of all tier one law schools.

“We are proud to offer the Juris Master degree program at Scalia Law School,” said Dean Henry N. Butler. “This is an opportunity for professionals to learn the law, so they will be better equipped to provide leadership in their respective fields.”

Scalia Law’s two-year part-time program will be offered at the Arlington campus, with classes starting in January.

As listed on the JM degree website, in addition to general legal research, writing and introductory law courses, JM students can select law school courses from six concentration areas:

  • Criminal Justice
  • Employment & Labor Relations
  • Financial & Commercial Services
  • Government Contracts & Regulations
  • Intellectual Property & Technology
  • National Security, Cybersecurity & Information Privacy

JM students can maintain employment schedules, while benefiting from the opportunities afforded by a tier-one law school.

There is a tuition discount for students who enroll in the JM degree program’s first year class, which will start January 14.

There is a growing base of legal services and legal knowledge required by employers and the JM degree is designed to educate students with the legal knowledge necessary for them to succeed in their chosen professions.

Applications are being accepted now. For more information about the JM degree program, please visit our website or contact Jessica L. Sartorius, Director of Juris Master (JM) degree program, at [email protected] or 703-993-8418.

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Morning Notes

GMU Arlington Building Renamed — “Founders Hall, one of two major academic buildings on George Mason University’s Arlington Campus, was officially renamed Van Metre Hall after Mason’s Board of Visitors approved the change at its Oct. 10 meeting. The board’s action recognizes the generosity of the Van Metre Companies, a major regional builder that donated 37 acres in Ashburn, Virginia, to the George Mason University Foundation.” [George Mason University]

Overturned Vehicle on Washington Blvd — Near the tail end of yesterday morning’s rush hour a vehicle flipped on its roof along Washington Blvd, between Route 50 and Clarendon. The westbound lanes of Washington Blvd were blocked for a period of time. One person suffered minor injuries. [Twitter]

County Ranks High for Resident Satisfaction — “According to Arlington’s recent Community Satisfaction Survey, 88 percent of residents surveyed are satisfied with the overall quality of County services, 38 percentage points above the national average… Arlington also rated significantly above the national average for overall quality of life — 86 percent compared with 75 percent.” [Arlington County]

Local Credit Union Merger — “Arlington Community Federal Credit Union (ACFCU) announced today the merger of ACFCU with the Queen of Peace Arlington Federal Credit Union (QPAFCU). The combined asset size is $325 million, with nearly 22,500 members.” The Queen of Peace Arlington FCU is located in a church in the northeast corner of the Nauck neighborhood, near the back entrance to Army Navy Country Club. [CUInsight]

Venture-Funded Company Moving to Rosslyn — “FELA, the financial education and literacy company, today announced its rebrand to LifeCents. The name LifeCents is also the company’s health and wellness app that inspires and empowers people to improve their financial health and well-being… The team will move to Rosslyn, VA, at the beginning of next year to accommodate its continued growth.” [BusinessWire via Potomac Tech Wire]

Arlington Has Nightlife Advantage Over Tysons — Despite worries about competition from Tysons among local economic development boosters, the Fairfax County community doesn’t yet have Arlington’s nighttime vibrancy. Said one Tysons bar owner: “A lot of people leave here. They’re done with their job at 6:30 or 7 p.m. and they go home. They don’t come back. If they want to go out, they go to Arlington.” [Tysons Reporter]

Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick

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Beyer Convenes Fourth ‘Women’s Conference’ at GMU Saturday

Rep. Don Beyer (D-8th District) is gearing up to hold his fourth annual “women’s conference” Saturday (Oct. 13), with speeches planned from groundbreaking female lawmakers and activists.

Beyer has titled this year’s event “Breaking Through: Women Work for Change,” and it will run from 8:30 a.m.-12 p.m. at George Mason University’s Virginia Square campus (3351 Fairfax Drive).

While Beyer is set to give some opening remarks at gathering, the rest of the speakers will be women.

Del. Danica Roem, the state’s first transgender lawmaker who represents Manassas Park and parts of Prince William County, is set to deliver the event’s keynote address and discuss her work in Richmond.

Beyer will then present the “Clara Mortenson Beyer Women and Children First Award” to Naomi Wadler, an Alexandria fifth-grader who gained national notoriety for organizing protests in the wake of the Parkland, Florida school shooting earlier this year.

Subsequent panel discussions include the following, per Beyer’s office:

Making History in Virginia with the ERA

Megan Beyer — Former executive director of President Obama’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities
Lynda Johnson Robb —  Advocate for literacy and the eldest daughter of President Lyndon Johnson
Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy (D-2nd District)
Bettina Hager — D.C. Director and COO, ERA Coalition and Fund for Women’s Equality

Starting a Movement – Mobilizing Support and Driving Solutions

Michelle Millben – CEO and Founder, MGMC Enterprises LLC
Kim Anderson – Executive Vice President, Democracy Alliance
Jennifer Herrera – Virginia Chapter Leader, Moms Demand Action
Miriam Gennari – Environmental Advocate

Gender and the Supreme Court — Understanding the Impact on Women’s Issues

Jill Morrison — Executive Director Women’s Law & Public Policy Fellowship Georgetown University
Rebecca Buckwalter-Poza – Journalist
Emily Martin – Vice President for Education & Workplace Justice, National Women’s Law Center

The event is free to attend, though participants should register online or by calling Beyer’s district office at (703) 658-5403.

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Morning Notes

WhyHotel Coming to Columbia Pike — “WhyHotel has just signed a deal for its second project in Arlington.  WhyHotel signed on with Orr Partners to operate temporary hotel rooms in 150 of the 366 units in the Centro Arlington development… [which] is replacing the former Food Star grocery store at the intersection of Columbia Pike and S. George Mason Drive.” [Bisnow]

New Scalia Statue at GMU Law School — “As debate raged on Capitol Hill over a Supreme Court nomination that could shape the court’s future for decades, five justices gathered Thursday at a law school just across the Potomac River for the unveiling of a statue honoring an icon from its recent past — the late justice Antonin Scalia.” [Washington Post]

Arlington Living Wage Calculator — According to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology living wage calculator, the income required to raise three kids in a household with two working adults in Arlington County is $92,480. [MIT]

Arlington Flyover Today — There is a flyover scheduled around 1:15 p.m. today in support of a funeral at Arlington National Cemetery. [Twitter]

Where to Find Singing WBJ Staffers — The Continental Beer Garden in Rosslyn and Westover Beer Garden in Westover are among the 15 best beer gardens in the D.C. area, according to the Washington Business Journal. The former is “a popular happy hour spot for WBJ staffers, who are known to sing along to the tunes playing on the outdoor speakers and share an order of pretzels and beer cheese dip.” [Washington Business Journal]

Arlington Pet Adoptions Up — “In 2017, we did a record number of adoptions for [the Animal Welfare League of Arlington], with 1,366 pets adopted. So far this year, we have already beaten that number, with 1,450 pets adopted.” [Twitter]

Halloween Stores Now Open — If you’re looking for a Halloween costume, there are three Spirit Halloween stores now open in the area, although none are in Arlington. For something closer to home, Total Fright in the Crystal City Shops (known as Total Party other times of the year) is also selling costumes and decorations. Meanwhile, a Christmas store is now open in Tysons. [Tysons Reporter]

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Morning Notes

Pentagon Ricin Case Update — “Letters sent to the White House and the Pentagon did not contain a finished form of ricin, law enforcement officials said Wednesday, but did contain a primitive form or precursor… A man was arrested in Logan, Utah, on Wednesday in connection with [the] suspicious letters.” [NBC News, NBC News]

Candidates Call for Speedier Lee Highway Planning — “Indications are pointing to redevelopment of significant portions of the Lee Highway corridor through Arlington beginning to gather steam. But is the Arlington County government going to be left behind as the process grinds on? The two candidates for County Board say the local government needs to get moving on its efforts to lead a comprehensive effort in helping plan the corridor’s future.” [InsideNova]

GMU ‘No Scooter Zone’ Nixed — George Mason University “recognizes the popularity of the scooters, so it is softening the message, [spokesman Buzz] McClain said. ‘I think the ‘no scooter zone’ sign got the attention of a lot of people, a little exclamatory. So we’re gonna tone down the messaging and say, ‘park the scooters over by the bikes,’ and that’s it.'” [NBC Washington]

Bistro 1521 Reviewed — Washington Post food critic Tim Carman gave a mostly positive review to Bistro 1521, the Filipino restaurant on N. Glebe Road in Ballston. [Washington Post]

Tonight: Family Film Showing in Clarendon — “Join Market Common Clarendon each Thursday in October starting at 6:30 p.m. for a FREE family-friendly movie on The Loop! Pre-movie fun begins at 4:30 with face painting and balloon twisting and free popcorn and candy from 6-8 p.m.” [ARLnow Events]

Teachers Endorse Kanninen, de Ferranti — The Arlington Education Association PAC has endorsed Democratic candidate Matt de Ferranti for Arlington County Board and incumbent Barbara Kanninen for School Board. The PAC represents Arlington teachers. [Twitter, Twitter, Arlington Education Association]

Domestic Violence Awareness Month Kickoff — “Project PEACE is hosting Kate Ranta, a local domestic and gun violence survivor… for a community conversation about sex, violence and the Arlington community. The event takes place [on] Thursday, October 4 [at] 6:30 p.m., at the Walter Reed Community Center.” [Press Release]

Arlington’s Pros and Cons Compared to Tysons — “‘Arlington has old office spaces with bad floor plans,’ said [GMU Professor Stephen] Fuller. ‘That’s sending people out to Tysons, which has newer office space… [But] when Amazon was looking at Northern Virginia, they were looking at Crystal City, not Tysons. Tysons just doesn’t offer lifestyle that they’re looking for.'” [Tysons Reporter]

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GMU Declares a ‘No Scooter Zone’ at Its Virginia Square Campus

George Mason University has cordoned off a “no scooter zone” in front of its Arlington campus in Virginia Square.

Readers alerted ARLnow to the signs yesterday (Monday), which are located in front of the university’s Founders Hall plaza on Fairfax Drive.

The signs direct dockless electric scooter riders to park the vehicles at a nearby bike rack, rather than abandoning them at random. Ever since Bird became the first company to bring the dockless scooters to Arlington this June, the county’s sidewalks and yards have increasingly been littered with the vehicles.

Buzz McClain, a spokesman for the Schar School of Policy and Government (which is located at Mason’s Arlington campus), told ARLnow that university officials believe the signs are necessary to keep the parked Birds out of harm’s way in the highly trafficked plaza. He noted that signs are simply designed to provide a little clarity about where the vehicles belong, “just as we do with bikes.”

Mason’s decision comes as the county prepares for an influx of hundreds of dockless bikes and scooters, thanks to a new pilot program approved by the County Board last week.

The nine-month pilot also sets some restrictions on the dockless vehicles to give the county more control about where the scooters end up, given growing community consternation about the sudden proliferation of the vehicles.

The new program bans riders from using the scooters on sidewalks and trails, and will also require any company to move an improperly parked vehicle within one hour of receiving a complaint, between the hours of 8 a.m. and 9 p.m.

County staff are also considering a similar tactic to Mason’s chosen option, and could soon establish “on-street corrals” at Metro stations for dockless bikes and scooters.

Staff believe such an addition would “encourage orderly parking and on-street riding” and has proven effective in cities across the globe, according to a presentation delivered to the Board.

Photo (1) courtesy Chaz Papa

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Podcast: George Mason Regional Researcher Terry Clower

Arlington’s economic outlook is “so bright you need to wear shades,” according to Terry Clower, an expert on the D.C. region over at George Mason University.

As a professor of public policy and director of Mason’s Center for Regional Analysis, Clower can speak with some authority on just how Arlington is doing. But between Amazon’s potential arrival in Arlington and all of the problems surrounding the region’s transportation, Clower does see a few clouds on the horizon.

On this edition of the 26 Square Miles podcast, we discussed the county’s odds of landing Amazon, what would happen if the county is successful, and all manner of the hottest economic and transportation-related debates around Arlington.

Listen below or subscribe to the podcast on iTunesGoogle PlayStitcher or TuneIn.

Photo courtesy of George Mason University

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GMU Hosting Free Screening of Obama Documentary ‘The Final Year’

President Obama speaks at Washington-Lee High School

George Mason University’s Arlington campus is holding a free screening of The Final Year, a documentary chronicling the foreign policy decisions made in the closing days of President Barack Obama’s administration.

The university’s Center for Security Policy Studies at the Schar School of Policy and Government will host the screening at the Founders Hall auditorium (3434 Washington Blvd) starting at 6 p.m. on Thursday (May 10).

Mason professor Ellen Laipson, the director of the university’s international security program, will then host a panel discussion with several Obama administration veterans. Panelists are set to include Rumana Ahmed, former senior advisor to Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes; Sergio Aguiree, former chief of staff to the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations and former White House National Security Council Director; and Desiree Barnes, who served as a communications and public engagement strategist for Obama.

Released earlier this year and directed by Greg Barker, The Final Year focuses on top foreign policy officials in Obama’s White House, like Secretary of State John Kerry and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power, as they wrestle with how to leave a lasting legacy on the international stage.

Anyone interested in attending the screening can register online.

File photo

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Nelson Mandela’s Grandson Heads to GMU’s Arlington Campus, Hopes to Continue the South African Leader’s Legacy

Siyabulela Mandela, grandson of the iconic South African leader Nelson Mandela, never thought he had much reason to come to America.

After all, the 25-year-old scholar is busy working on his doctorate at a South African university named for his famous grandfather. Someday, he even hopes to work as a diplomat for his country and follow in Nelson’s footsteps to resolve conflicts across Africa.

Nevertheless, he felt himself pulled toward the U.S., and Arlington specifically, for one simple reason — he had to get to George Mason University. Mandela arrived in Arlington on April 1, and he plans to spend the next four months working as a visiting scholar at Mason’s conflict resolution program.

“If it was not because of George Mason University, I would’ve never laid my foot in America,” Mandela told ARLnow in a recent interview. “I never wanted to come here. But the school here gave me an opportunity. The work that they do at George Mason overshadows that track record America has in the rest of the world.”

Indeed, Mandela confesses he is quite skeptical of America’s influence abroad, particularly after President Donald Trump’s vulgar, derogatory remarks about African nations sparked an international uproar earlier this year. But as a student of diplomacy, Mandela felt compelled to take a chance on Mason and its School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution.

“I think we are where we are in South Africa because of the contribution of scholars who came from George Mason,” Mandela said.

He’s hard at work on a dissertation on diplomacy and conflict resolution in African nations, like the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and he aims to bring some of the insights he gleans from the Mason scholars whom he admires so much into his work.

Mandela is also planning to do a little sightseeing (he says he’s already toured D.C. a bit and hopes to see the rest of the country in the coming weeks), yet he’d also like to do his best to spread a bit of his grandfather’s wisdom to his American counterparts. He sees plenty of parallels between South Africa’s struggles with racism and America’s history, and he hopes his paternal grandfather’s experience as president working to unite his country after the end of apartheid offers some lessons for American leaders.

“Even though for years and years he was imprisoned by the white folks who perceived themselves as supreme, he could emerge out of that pain and seek nothing but reconciliation,” Mandela said. “That is something that is phenomenal, and angelic. A prisoner who could come out and say, ‘It’s time to make peace.'”

Mandela was born in Qunu, a village in the same province from which his grandfather hailed, yet he reports only spending limited time with Nelson before his death in 2013. As his grandfather began to step away from politics in the early 2000s, Siyabulela says he got the chance to see him more often at family gatherings.

In particular, he remembers his grandfather’s tradition of holding a massive party at his home each Christmas Day, open to any child living nearby.

“He’d stay from morning until evening and shake the hand of each and every child and hand them gifts,” Mandela said.

Mandela says his family is so large that he’s not quite sure how many people can count themselves as Nelson Mandela’s grandchildren — according to his official biography, Mandela was married three times and had a total of six children — yet Siyabulela always felt the pressure to live up to the family name.

“You can’t do things other people can do,” Mandela said. “I cannot be found drunk in the street or fighting in the street like everyone else. I have to conduct myself on the basis of having him as my role model. It’s never an easy road, but interestingly enough it has shaped me as a person and made me to be a better person.”

Indeed, whether it’s his work at Mason or his studies in South Africa, the younger Mandela hopes to live up to his grandfather’s legacy, in ways big and small.

“It’s about taking up the baton and continuing that legacy, taking up the fight against injustice, the fight for human rights and peace for all,” Mandela said.

Photo by Anna Merod

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George Mason University Shrubbery Fire Extinguished Near Bill of Rights Eagle

Three shrubs caught on fire beside George Mason University’s Bill of Rights Eagle in Virginia Square.

The fire broke out on this afternoon (Friday) just before 1 p.m., engulfing the shrubbery and a patch of mulch. The flames were quickly extinguished by responding firefighters, and a college employee said that it wasn’t a major incident. Classes were in session at the time but there was not report of any evacuation.

A facilities worker told ARLnow.com that the flames were three feet high, and that a glass office window adjacent to the fire was cracked as a result.

Another facilities worker, who said that he had worked for the college for the past 20 years, said that the college’s shrubbery had never caught on fire before.

He added that his colleagues had not seen anything odd in the area prior to the fire, but that several people tripped and fell while running away.

Unveiled last May with much fanfare, the GMU Antonin Scalia Law School’s “Bill of Rights Eagle” did not appear to suffer any damage from the fire.

Warm weather has helped spark a number of small mulch and grass fires around Arlington over the past day or so.

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Kaine, Dems to Host Gun Control ‘Planning Meeting,’ Town Hall

Sen. Tim Kaine has organized an “action planning meeting” in Arlington with gun violence advocates, victims’ families and faith leaders, the day before gun violence prevention marches are scheduled nationwide.

The event will be held at George Mason University’s Founders Hall on Friday (March 23) at 1 p.m. Per a press release, meeting attendees will “talk about the work they are doing in the community to promote safety reforms that make communities safer.”

The senator, according to the release, “is optimistic that the activism of students and parents who have spoken out all over the country has changed the dynamic of the gun violence prevention debate and could finally spur action in Congress.

Kaine’s event is scheduled a day before the national March For Our Lives anti-gun-violence rally on Saturday, March 24. Arlington Democrats are planning a weekend of events around it.

Among the events is a “Town Hall for Action on Commonsense Gun Safety Measures” held by the Arlington County Democratic Committee. It is scheduled to take place on Sunday, the day after the rally, at Faith Lutheran Church (3313 Arlington Boulevard) from 2-4 p.m.

Virginia Del. Chris Hurst (D-12) will be the keynote speaker, discussing his personal gun violence story.

The following speakers will also attend the town hall and “offer unique perspectives on the issue of gun violence and concrete action steps,” per a Facebook event listing.

  • Beth Arthur, Arlington Sheriff’s Office
  • Kris Brown, Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence
  • Karina de Leede, Arlington Student Activists
  • Chloe Fugel, Arlington Student Activists
  • Josh Horwitz, Coalition to Stop Gun Violence
  • Celia Slater, Moms Demand Action Arlington
  • Yasmine Taeb, Alumnus of Stoneman Douglas High School and current DNC member
  • Tannia Talento, Arlington School Board

Former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe will be leading Arlington Democrats in the march on Saturday, starting on the Arlington side of the Memorial Bridge at 10:30 a.m., according to a press release from state Sen. Adam Ebbin’s office.

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