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Morning Notes

Board OKs More Small Biz Money — “The Arlington County Board voted 5-0 today to approve the Small Business GRANT 2.0 program, which will provide direct financial assistance to small businesses as they continue to recover from the devastating impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.  The GRANT 2.0 program will provide immediate funds to businesses and nonprofits to aid in their short-term recovery.” [Arlington County]

Amazon Ramps Up HQ2 Hiring — “That job posting is one of roughly 2,700 openings newly unveiled by Amazon for its HQ2 campus, 99% of which are full-time corporate roles. The slew of new openings was added to the company’s jobs site earlier this week, ahead of Wednesday’s annual Amazon Career Day, held virtually… This is one of the bigger hiring pushes by the tech giant, which disclosed this month that its latest HQ2 employee tally tops 3,000, nearly double its last count in December.” [Washington Business Journal]

Amazon Charts Path to Net Zero Carbon — “Amazon.com Inc.’s design for the second phase of its HQ2 development must be carbon-neutral to comply with both Arlington County’s policy, as well as the tech giant’s own climate pledge to reach that status by 2040… The company’s consultant, Seattle-based Paladino and Co. Inc., found that carbon neutrality is “likely feasible” based on the current PenPlace [HQ2] design.” [Washington Business Journal]

Another Video of Columbia Pike Flooding — “We needed some scuba gear out on Columbia Pike” during Thursday’s flash flooding near S. Greenbrier Street. [Twitter]

Lots of Locals Want to Work at the Polls — “Arlington has too many people wanting to serve as poll officials in the upcoming election. Way, way too many. About 440 are needed and more than 1,100 expressed interest in serving, said Eric Olsen, Arlington’s deputy registrar. He called it, without hyperbole, ‘an extraordinary amount of interest.'” [Sun Gazette]

Remembering the Alexandria Canal — “The canal was completed in 1843. It roughly followed today’s Metro blue line and South Eads Street in Crystal City. Canal shipping, though interrupted by the Civil War, continued until 1886, by which time, railroads had rendered it obsolete. In modern times, remnants of the Aqueduct Bridge are visible from both the Virginia and Georgetown sides of the Potomac.” [Falls Church News-Press]

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Morning Notes

APS Getting EV Buses — “Arlington Public Schools (APS), working collaboratively with the County’s Department of Environmental Services (DES), will receive a $795,000 grant from the state, to be spent on three fully electric buses (EV buses) that will replace three with diesel engines. The EV vehicles, each with a capacity of some 65 passengers, will be equitably assigned to routes throughout Arlington. Currently there are no EV buses in the APS fleet of 200. The vehicles slated for replacement each travel some 8,000 miles a year.” [Arlington County, Gov. Ralph Northam]

No PARK(ing) Day This Year — “PARK(ing) Day is an annual international event where the public collaborates to temporarily transform drab parking spaces into small parks… Due to continuing COVID-19 issues, Arlington County will not participate in 2021 PARK(ing) Day. We hope to welcome participants back in 2022.” [Arlington County, Twitter]

USS Arlington to Help in Haiti — “The San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship USS Arlington (LPD 24) departed Naval Station Norfolk to provide humanitarian assistance and disaster relief to Haiti in support of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) led mission, Aug. 17.” [Navy]

Arrests in Ashton Heights Armed Robbery — ” The Arlington County Police Department’s Homicide/Robbery Unit is announcing the arrest of three suspects in an armed robbery that occurred during the early morning hours on Wednesday, August 18… At approximately 1:08 a.m., police were dispatched to the report of a robbery that had just occurred. Upon arrival, it was determined that the two male victims and a witness were sitting at a bus stop in the 700 block of N. Randolph Street when the three suspects approached.” [ACPD]

Arlington Org Deals with Afghanistan Fallout — “The young women of Ascend were used to spending their days doing yoga, preparing for mountain climbing excursions and teaching women at mosques in Kabul how to read… After the Taliban swept through Afghanistan this week, retaking control after two decades as the Afghan government collapsed, most of Ascend’s participants have been sheltering at home in fear of reprisal. Some have destroyed documents that would associate them with the Arlington, Va.-based nonprofit group, and are pleading for assistance from its leadership to help them find refuge in other countries.” [Washington Post]

Arlington Bishop Talks About Trans Youth — “The topic of transgenderism is discussed routinely in the news, on television shows and in schools. This prevailing ideology — that a person can change his or her gender — is impacting Catholic families, too, said Bishop Michael F. Burbidge of Arlington… Burbidge knows many will be criticized and ostracized for their belief that men and women cannot change their sex, but he asks the faithful to speak out anyway. ‘We cannot be silenced. The mandate to speak on this issue clearly and lovingly is greater than ever,’ he said.” [Catholic News Service]

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The good news for users of the Mount Vernon Trail is that a proposed widening project was selected for state funding. The bad news? It will be 2026 before work even starts on the project.

As anyone who has bicycled or walked along the popular trail could likely attest, there are parts that can feel dangerously narrow. Last year, the National Park Service released a report recommending widening. The report noted that there were 225 reported bike and pedestrian crashes on the trail between 2006 and 2010, many of them at crash hotspots near National Airport and the 14th Street Bridge.

Some spots along the trail are in notoriously poor condition, like the infamous Trollheim Bridge section south of Roosevelt Island, where the trail’s wooden planks often become slick in icy or rainy conditions.

The goal of the approved project is to improve and reconstruct approximately 6.5 miles of the trail, from the access point to Roosevelt Island down to Jones Point Park in Alexandria. One of the most narrow stretches of the trail, a single-lane tunnel under Memorial Bridge, is on Columbia Island, which is technically part of D.C.

According to the application, the project would “widen the trail’s paved surface from between seven and eight feet to 11 where feasible.”

The total project cost is estimated at $33 million, with $29 million funded by the Virginia SMART SCALE grant — which doesn’t fund the needed improvements on Columbia Island. The grant was on the list of projects approved by the Commonwealth Transportation Board at a meeting on June 23.

The widening is likely a few years down the road. The National Park Service previously said work could begin on the trail starting in 2026, Greater Greater Washington reported.

https://twitter.com/TrailsCoalition/status/1417887666671128578

 

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Langston Blvd, formerly Lee Highway, at N. Veitch Street (via Google Maps)

The Arlington County Board took a step toward converting one lane of the newly renamed Langston Blvd into a bus- and HOV-only lane.

On Saturday, the Board accepted and appropriated a $710,000 grant from the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission to pay for the transit project, which will run through parts of Rosslyn. Last year, Arlington County applied for funding from the Commuter Choice program, which helps pay for transit upgrades using toll revenue from I-66 inside the Beltway.

“This is an area where we are continuing to work toward multi-modal,” said Board Chair Matt de Ferranti during the regular County Board meeting on Saturday. “On Lee Highway, soon to be Langston Blvd, we will have a bus-only lane so that more residents can move more quickly to work, through our community, and home as well.”

This grant will cover pavement treatment, restriping, and signage for the new bus lane. The lane will run eastbound from N. Veitch Street, near Courthouse, to N. Lynn Street in Rosslyn during peak morning hours.It will run westbound from N. Oak Street to N. Veitch Street during the evening peak period.

At other times, the lane will continue as a general-purpose travel lane.

This segment of Route 29 in Rosslyn “is very heavily congested and sharply degrades bus performance and reliability, which will be improved by the lane conversion,” a staff report said.

Pre-pandemic, that section of Lee Highway carried around 25 loaded buses per hour, according to the report.

The project could take two years to complete, according to Eric Balliet, a spokesman for Arlington’s Department of Environmental Services.

“The County Board’s acceptance and appropriation of the funds signals the start of the project,” he tells ARLnow. “The schedule included with the NVTC funding application was 26 months from project start to end of construction.”

The funding is less than the full $1 million that the county applied for, but staff are not earmarking more for it.

“We will work to deliver the project within this funding amount,” Balliet said.

The county mulled this project over before, even seeking funding — unsuccessfully — in 2019.

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Morning Notes

Body Found in Metro Tunnel Last Year — “On April 2, 2020, a report said, a person jumped on top of a Yellow Line train at L’Enfant Plaza station. A track inspector found the person’s body three days later between the Pentagon and Pentagon City stations in Arlington, Va.” [Washington Post, WMSC]

Runway Reconstruction for DCA — “Today, U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine announced $13,715,000 in federal funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) awarded to four airports… [the] Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority will receive a grant of $1,700,000 to go toward a runway reconstruction at the Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport.” [Press Release]

Theme Announced for County Fair — “We are officially 50 days away from the Arlington County Fair! This year’s theme is… *drum roll please*… NIGHTS, LIGHTS, AND BITES! We are so excited for all the colorful nights, bright lights, and yummy bites at this year’s Fair, and we can’t wait to see you there!” [Twitter]

VHC Gets Grant for Remote OB Appointments — “Virginia Hospital Center (VHC), a community-based hospital providing medical services to the Washington, DC metropolitan area for 75 years, has received a $38,000 grant from the Jennifer Bush-Lawson Foundation (JBLF) for the pilot of the Hospital’s OB Connect program, which provides patients with the flexibility to receive prenatal care from home.” [Press Release]

Robbery at Pentagon City Mall — “At approximately 9:30 p.m. on June 25, police were dispatched to the late report of a larceny. Upon arrival, it was determined that the employee was assisting the suspect when he began to give her commands and directed her to open the display cases and place merchandise into his bag. The suspect then ordered the employee into the back of the store until he left the business.” [ACPD]

Restaurant T0-Go Drink Changes Extended — “During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, when many restaurants were shuttered, the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority (ABC) created a safe and secure way for restaurants to offer cocktails to go with a meal. The General Assembly has now continued this practice in statute for one year. In addition, restaurants who are delivering wine and beer can continue to do so for another year.” [Zebra]

Outdoor Balloon Launches Banned — “The revised law, sponsored by Del. Nancy Guy (D-Virginia Beach), takes effect on July 1, and will prohibit the intentional releasing, discarding, or causing to be released any balloon outdoors. Violators are liable for a civil penalty of $25 per balloon. The bill provides that if a person under the age of 16 releases a balloon at the instruction of an adult, the adult shall be liable for the civil penalty.” [Sun Gazette]

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Morning Notes

Ballston Company’s IPO Soars — “Privia Health Group, which provides technology and services to physician practices, began trading Thursday on the Nasdaq and saw its share price jump in early trading — and stay there. Shares closed at $34.75 per share, up 51 percent from its opening share price of $23, with just over 10 million shares traded.” [Crunchbase]

Ambulance Crash in N. Arlington — “Crash involving an ambulance (not ACFD) at Old Dominion Drive & Lorcom Lane. @ArlingtonVaFD & @ArlingtonVAPD on the scene.” [Twitter]

New Hire for County Retirement System — “After a nationwide search, the Arlington County Employees’ Retirement System (ACERS) has selected Susie Ardeshir as Executive Director and Chief Investment Officer. The appointment is effective July 6, 2021. Ms. Ardeshir has more than 15 years of investment management experience. Before joining ACERS, she was the investments director at a public university system in California.” [Arlington County]

Grants to Nat’l Landing Merchants — “The National Landing Business Improvement District (BID) teamed up with Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington (RAMW) to provide $100,000 in relief funding to 30 businesses as part of their “Love Local” campaign. Funds are allocated evenly across the eligible National Landing establishments to help cover necessary operator-related expenses including rent and employee wages.” [Press Release]

VHC Doc, Nurses Honored — “Virginia Hospital Center… is pleased to announce Michael Silverman, MD, FACEP, chair of emergency medicine, was recently selected as one of five 2020 Facility Medical Directors of the Year by Alteon Health [and] five members of the nursing team were selected by Washingtonian Magazine to receive Excellence in Nursing Awards.” [Press Release]

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Morning Notes

Grants for National Landing Restaurants — “The National Landing Business Improvement District and the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington have a new round of grant aid for restaurants and small businesses… Grant applications will be accepted online until March 28. They will be reviewed on a first-come, first-served basis, and will amount to at least $1,000 for each approved business.” [WTOP]

New Clarendon Salon Opening Next Week — The new Smitten on Washington salon is set to open on Tuesday, March 23, at 3000 Washington Blvd in Clarendon. The salon replaces Hendricks Gentlemen’s Barbershop, a men’s venture from the Smitten owners that closed in December after four years in business. [Facebook]

Silver Line Ext. Not Opening Until 2022 — “Metro officials say that the Silver Line extension to Dulles International Airport will open for use in early 2022, most likely in February. ‘What we’re looking at is early 2022, first quarter in calendar 2022, as the likely start of operations,’ Laura Mason, Metro’s executive vice president for capital delivery, said at a board meeting Thursday.” [DCist]

Local Leaders Want Metro Changes — “Representing the cities and counties that fund Metro in Virginia, the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission outlined its priorities for Metro’s proposed FY 2022 budget… While the Commission recognizes the major funding relief made possible by the American Rescue Plan Act, the Commission presses Metro to: Maintain a dependable and sufficient level of rail and bus service throughout FY 2022, Open Silver Line Phase 2 as soon as possible, Rebuild ridership, [and] Minimize shifting operating expenses to the capital program.” [Press Release]

Single-Family Homes Are Red Hot — “Typically, markets tend to favor sellers when the supply of homes drops below six months. For much of the last decade, the local supply has hovered at around two months, but has been trending ever lower in recent years. For single-family homes, the D.C. region’s supply dropped to a mere 0.6 months in February, according to the data, and those homes are selling within seven days on the open market.” [Washington Business Journal]

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A veteran-owned optometry and dental practice on Columbia Pike has won a $15,000 grant from the PenFed Foundation.

Eye Smile Optometry & Dental Care near the corner of Columbia Pike and S. George Mason Drive, next to the Harris Teeter, is owned by U.S. Air Force veteran Dr. Keith James (optometrist) and his wife Dr. Yvonelle Moreau (dentist).

The small, family-owned was awarded the grant because of its commitment “to serving its neighboring community, educating those that are under-represented and underserved, and leading as examples to future under-represented entrepreneurs,” according the PenFed Foundation website.

The foundation is a non-profit aimed at helping military members become financially stable. Its Veteran Entrepreneur Investment Program is specifically earmarked for Black veteran and active duty military entrepreneurs. Two other businesses also received $15,000: one in Maryland and another in Jacksonville, Florida.

James tells ARLnow that the couple is grateful for the grant and plans to use the money for business awareness, marketing, and increased staffing. They currently have three employees, plus the two doctors.

It wasn’t always destiny for the couple’s practice to land in Arlington. James and Moreau met in New York, when they were both in school. Then, James joined the Air Force and was stationed at Joint Base Andrews for three years.

While living in Alexandria, the pair realized the region could be a great place for a family practice.

“We just thought it was a fantastic community. We really want to focus on being a family practice,” says James. “We felt like it was just the perfect setting for us to flourish.”

Yes, they acknowledge, it is certainly unique that a dentist and optometrist share a practice.

“It’s definitely atypical,” James says with a chuckle. “But with both of us practicing health care, it’s definitely a good opportunity. It’s synergistic. We’re both practicing on the head which impacts overall health.”

The practice was initially slated to open in March 2020, James says, but was delayed due to the pandemic.

“We were planning this practice for two years,” James says. “So, that was extremely nerve-racking.”

It finally opened last May, right around the time when Virginia allowed dental practices to re-open.

Over the last ten months the business has continued to grow. Overall, combined, James says they’ve treated nearly 1,500 patients.

“We try not to focus on slower days and get too excited about bigger days,” he says. “It’s definitely steady.”

The practice’s goals continue to be to provide personalized service and access to care in a section of Arlington where options can sometimes be limited.

“We saw a little space there for vision and dental that could be really central to that neighborhood and those families,” says James. “Being a part of that and increasing access to care is important to us.”

Photo courtesy of Eye Smile Optometry & Dental Care

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Believe it or not, Arlington County has a working commercial farm.

The farm, which is located in a commercial building along Lee Highway, uses hydroponic technology to grow a variety of edible plants indoors. And it’s about to expand.

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced this afternoon that Fresh Impact Farms will be getting a $30,000 grant — half from the state, half from the county — that will help it double production and create six jobs.

Fresh Impact, Arlington County’s only commercial farm, is banking on its restaurant customers ramping up purchases as vaccinated customers flock back to indoor dining. It also launched a direct-to-consumer Community Supported Agriculture program last year.

County Board Chair Matt de Ferranti hailed the business and its expansion.

“Governor Northam’s award to Fresh Impact Farms, Arlington’s only commercial farm, is an innovative way to celebrate unique uses of technology to help a small business pivot during the pandemic,” de Ferranti said in a statement. “I am thrilled that Fresh Impact Farms is growing and looking to the future of a sustainable food supply.”

More on the company’s expansion, below, from a press release issued by the governor’s office.

Governor Ralph Northam today announced that Fresh Impact Farms will invest $137,500, create six new jobs, and more than double production at its Arlington County indoor facility. Operating since 2018 as Arlington’s only commercial farm, Fresh Impact Farms uses proprietary hydroponic technology to grow a variety of specialty herbs, leafy greens, and edible flowers for sale to customers in the Greater Washington, D.C. metro area.

Like many companies, Fresh Impact Farms has pivoted its business model amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Seizing the opportunity created by more people cooking at home, the company initiated a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program targeting area residents. The CSA program, which focuses on leafy greens and home kitchen-friendly herbs, has grown steadily since its establishment in April 2020 and now includes smaller wholesale clients. Now, with vaccinations underway and the restaurant industry poised to rebound, Fresh Impact Farms is expanding, which will allow the company to resume supplying their restaurant customers, while also meeting new demand through their CSA program.

“Agriculture continues to be a key driver of our economic recovery in both rural and urban areas of our Commonwealth,” said Governor Northam. “Innovative, dynamic businesses like Fresh Impact Farms are demonstrating how exciting new opportunities can grow out of pandemic-related challenges. I congratulate the company on their success and am thrilled to award the first-ever AFID grant to Arlington County to support this expansion.”

This expansion by Fresh Impact Farms will include a second grow room, larger production facility, and an educational hub where, post-pandemic, customers will be able to see how their food is harvested. Over the next three years, the company expects to grow an additional 10,500 pounds of Virginia-grown leafy greens, herbs, and edible flowers for restaurant and CSA customers.

“Agriculture is Virginia’s largest private sector industry and the Commonwealth continues to be on the forefront of emerging agriculture technologies,” said Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Bettina Ring. “I am inspired by Fresh Impact Farms’ commitment to not only bringing fresh, local produce to Virginians, but also for its commitment to educate our community about how local food is grown.”

“2020 was undoubtedly one of the hardest years in recent memory for many people and businesses, but I’m heartened by the strength and flexibility the entire Fresh Impact Farms team has shown in our deep pivot to consumers and a CSA model to help us get to the point where we are ready to expand our business,” said Fresh Impact Farms Founder Ryan Pierce. “The support and generosity from the Commonwealth and Arlington County will be valuable as we expand our production and move towards a hybrid model of serving both the needs of restaurants and consumers. As the owner of a local food business, nothing gets me more excited than seeing the community come together in support of local food. The future is bright for urban agriculture and this grant will help us make an even greater impact in our community.”

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Arlington could have the COVID-19 vaccine as early as the end of this month, but the first shipment of doses won’t be available to the general public.

Nearly a half million healthcare workers and long-term care facility residents across Virginia at risk of being infected will get the first doses from the Virginia Department of Health, and it is not yet known when the rest of the public will get the vaccine.

Arlington’s Public Health Director Dr. Reuben Varghese told the County Board on Tuesday that there is still a lot of unknown information regarding the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines that are undergoing Food and Drug Administration approval. He said that the number of vaccine doses that will arrive in Virginia (estimated at 480,000) is a moving target, that both vaccines require recipients to get booster shots within a month, and the effect on children and pregnant women is still unknown.

“The plan is that those health care personnel that directly care for COVID-19 patients, or are in support of that will receive top priority first,” Varghese said. “VDH is working with the Virginia Hospital and Health Care Association to prepare the health systems that have the ultra cold chain storage ability to receive these first shipments, because it has to be done safely and you don’t want to go through the expense of creating all of this, and then not maintain the vaccine at the appropriate temperature.”

On Saturday, the County Board will consider accepting $660,000 in state grants to prepare for mass vaccine distribution. The funds would pay for the hiring of temporary medical and non-medical staff, and cover travel costs, facility rentals and clinic operations, according to Arlington Public Health.

The vaccine will eventually be available at grocery stores, as well as chain and independent pharmacies, according to the VDH COVID-19 Vaccination Plan.

Mass vaccine distribution will not necessarily mean that COVID restrictions will be quickly lifted in Arlington, however.

“The fact that we are going to enter a period where vaccination will be available doesn’t mean in any way that all the other precautions for COVID hygiene are going to be relaxed,” County Board member Takis Karantonis said.

There have been 7,062 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Arlington since the pandemic began in March, along with 162 deaths and more than 600 total hospitalizations.

Below is Tuesday’s County Board work session discussing vaccination plans.

Photo by CDC on Unsplash

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Morning Notes

Restaurants Get Ready for Winter — “On November 6, TTT’s expansive rooftop bar unveiled a permanent structure with a retractable roof and sliding glass walls that can be heated when the air is chilly. Iricanin hopes the addition will keep the rooftop in use during the winter months. The new structure can seat up to 60 diners with social distancing. Ambar, meanwhile, is poised to open a winter garden in its rear parking lot with a similar heated structure that can accommodate 60 to 70 guests, pending final approval from the county. ” [Arlington Magazine]

Leaf Collection Update — The second pass for Arlington County’s vacuum leaf collection is set to begin Saturday and run through Dec. 19. [Arlington County]

New YouTube Channel for 55+ Programs — “The Office of 55+ Programs at the Arlington Department of Parks and Recreation has launched a YouTube channel offering local presentations on everything from fitness to cooking to technology. In addition, members of the 55+ Programs staff host a bimonthly talk show on the channel.” [InsideNova]

Arlington’s Oldest House — “The Ball-Sellers House on Third Street South in Arlington is the oldest building in Arlington County, Va. It was built in the 1750s by farmer John Ball. Later, three generations of the Carlin family owned the house, helping save it from destruction. Today, it is owned by the Arlington Historical Society.” [Washington Post]

Library Offering Book Bundles for Kids — “The Arlington library system is offering ‘book bundles’ for young readers, part of the library system’s outreach effort as its branches remain shuttered. Bundles of 10 picture books or 10- early-reader books are available for pickup at Central Library during the hours of holds-pickup, with a limit of one per library card.” [InsideNova]

Grant to Fund Grocery Gift Cards — “A half-million-dollar grant to… Virginia Hospital Center will help struggling families with $1,200 in grocery store gift cards over the next six months. Health clinics and pediatric units on the front lines of the pandemic are finding a side-effect of the economic crisis: food insecurity and hungry children.” [WJLA]

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