Several of the original firefighters of Arlington’s Fire Station 8 were glad to see that the Arlington County Board abandoned a plan to relocate the station, instead voting in favor of rebuilding it on its current site.
Fire Station 8 was the only station in segregated Arlington with black firefighters during the 1950s and 60s. Those firefighters had to work hard just to keep the station running — due to a lack of county funding, they would hold cookouts to raise funds for equipment.
“The community got together, and they sold dinners, fish dinners, chili dinners, chicken dinners, and… they made enough money to buy all the materials and things for a barracks,” recalled Marguarite Gooden, a local resident.
After working on a volunteer basis for years, Captain Hartman Reed and Firefighter Carl Cooper were two of the first three firefighters at Station 8 to receive pay for their work, starting in the early 1950s. (White Arlington firefighters started receiving salaries about a decade earlier.)
Reed and Cooper still live in Arlington, right behind the fire station. They spoke to ARLnow.com about their thoughts on the station’s relocation.
“I just thought, well, it was very wrong about trying to move it out,” Cooper said. “If anything, they should enlarge it and let it remain here.”
In 2014, the fire chief recommended — based on a 2012 consultant’s report — that Fire Station 8 be moved north of its current location to reduce response times for the northern communities. A county-owned parcel of land near Marymount University seemed like a prime candidate.
Captain Reed found that recommendation a little odd, especially given that there was more population density — and thus, more calls — along Lee Highway.
“I recall when I was in Station 8, how few calls we ran up into that [northern] area, and the difference in the calls we ran,” Reed said. “I don’t think the fire department could prove, even though it was a longer run, that they were needed more in that northern area, then they were in the Lee Highway corridor.”
Reed theorized that one of the underlying reasons for the move may have been a desire to place low income housing on the current fire station site. Cooper said he thought “maybe they wanted to get it away from this community” due to some sort of prejudice.
The recommendation to move the station was met with much resistance from both the historically black community surrounding the station’s current site and the community surrounding the stations’s proposed new location.
Kitty Clark Stevenson, the daughter of Alfred Clark — another one of the first paid firefighters at Station 8 — explained that the community felt they were included in the process only after a top-level decision had already seemingly been made.
“We were not respected as a community by the leadership in this county government, which for us was a violation of the Arlington Way,” she said.
Gooden, who is Captain Reed’s daughter, also found that upsetting.
“The thing that outraged me was… we weren’t engaged in the conversation at all,” she said.
After numerous county meetings and the creation of a task force, the county finally decided against relocating the station. Instead, the existing station will be knocked down and a new, larger Fire Station 8 will be built on its current site, which many in the community describe as historic.
“I was excited to hear that it would… remain where it is,” Cooper said. “Very much elated,” Reed agreed.
Gooden was also pleased that the building was being redone.
“I’m excited about them getting the best, the best technology, the best facility,” she said. “And they will better be able to serve the dynamic, very densely populated Arlington.”
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History of Hall’s Hill — This year is the 150th anniversary of the historically African-American neighborhood of Hall’s Hill, also known as High View Park. An event on the community’s history last week revealed the origin of its name. Hall’s Hill is named after Bazil Hall, a white slaveholder who sold plots of land to freed slaves after the Civil War to spite his white neighbors. [InsideNova]
Arlington Real Estate Agent Invited to SOTU — Naveed Shah, an Army veteran and a Rosslyn-based real estate agent, was invited to be a guest of the White House at tonight’s State of the Union Address. Despite the fact that Shah and his family moved to the U.S. when he was two, after living in Saudi Arabia, Shah grew up in Northern Virginia and describes himself as “as American as it gets.” [Military Times, NBC Washington]
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Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf
(Updated at 5:15 p.m.) The Hall’s Hill Volunteer Fire Department was no stranger to challenges.
The first All-African American volunteer fire department in Arlington faced segregation and limited equipment for almost 40 years, according to a history of Fire Station 8 by Arlington Public Library.
The chronological history of the station was published in the middle of a debate between local residents and county government over its proposal to relocate the station farther north to Old Dominion Drive, by Marymount University.
“My neighbors look at that fire station as the heart, the hub, the star on the tree, whatever you want to say,” community member Jim Derrig said at a July 30 meeting. “And what we’re trying to say is you can’t replace the heart with a pacemaker or a bandaid. You have to replace a heart with a heart.”
The county says relocation is necessary for the Arlington County Fire Department to meet their response time goal of four to six minutes countywide.
“We are focused on life saving. That is our mission,” former Arlington County Fire Chief Jim Schwartz said in a county-produced video.
While this would not be the first time the fire station moved, — the Hall’s Hill Volunteer Fire Department was previously housed in smaller fire stations on Lee Highway and N. Culpepper Street in the 1930s — relocation would mean that it would no longer be in the Hall’s Hill community.
Hall’s Hill is a historically African-American community, once the home of freed slaves and separated from the rest of the county by a fence. In 1918, the members of the community formed the Hall’s Hill Volunteer Fire Department with one 60-gallon chemical tank that six men would have to pull along muddy and unpaved roads, according to the library.
When Arlington County was formally established two years later, the county excluded the Hall’s Hill Volunteer Fire Department from the Arlington County Fireman’s Association and did not give the department monthly pay for professional firefighters.
The VFD, which played a central part in the community, slowly built up its fleet of fire trucks and built a station first on Lee Highway in 1927 and then 2209 N. Culpepper Street in 1934. The 1934 fire house also had a basement for a community center.
After the fire department was integrated, it moved to its current home at 4845 Lee Highway and officially opened on June 17, 1963 with 17 paid firefighters. The Hall’s Hill Volunteer Fire Department owned the deed to one of the pieces of land that went into the new station, while the county owned the others.
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More Opposition to Fire Station Move — Residents of the Old Dominion community aren’t the only ones opposed to a proposal to move Fire Station 8 to the neighborhood. Some residents of the Hall’s Hill/High View Park community, where the fire station is located, say that it is a “hub of the neighborhood” and should stay put. Fire Station 8 has some historic distinction, as the first African-American-run firehouse south of the Mason-Dixon Line. [Falls Church News-Press]
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Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman
Tonight, the residents of the Hall’s Hill neighborhood will hold a “peace walk” in memory of two residents who were killed two years ago in a double homicide.
From 7:00 to 9:00 p.m., starting at 1945 N. Dinwiddie Street, members of the community will gather to remember Carl Moten and Keefe Spriggs, who were found murdered in an apartment on the 1900 block of N. Culpeper Street on Aug. 7, 2012. The crime is still unsolved, but according to Arlington County Police Department spokesman Dustin Sternbeck, it’s still an active investigation.
Moten, known as “Pooh Bear,” and Spriggs, known as “Kee Kee” to friends and family, were born and raised in Hall’s Hill. Moten worked as a cook in Falls Church and was 31 years old at the time of the incident. Spriggs, 59 when he was killed, worked at a body shop. This is the second annual walk to raise awareness of the crimes.
ACPD will have a presence during the walk, Sternbeck said, and continues to encourage anyone who has information about the crime to come forward.
“It’s important to get this back out there and visible to the public because the smallest piece of new information given to the detectives could be the big break in the case,” Sternbeck said. He added the department “has been working with both families throughout this whole thing in an attempt to find the killer.”
The Arlington County Police Department released a 14-second clip of the alleged Hall’s Hill tire slasher this afternoon.
The video was reportedly shot on Dec. 7, when 40 cars had their tires slashed in the neighborhood between 12:30 and 7:00 a.m. It was the second tire slashing spree within a month in the neighborhood after 36 cars were found with slashed tires on Nov. 18.
The suspect “has a unique walk” according to the ACPD Twitter account. Police are asking anyone who recognizes the slashers to come forward and assist with the investigation. The police department’s non-emergency number is 703-558-2222.
In the above video, the suspect can be seen approaching an SUV parked in a residential driveway, appearing to stick a sharp object in a tire and walking down the street in a matter of seconds.
Video courtesy of ACPD
Police say 40 cars were hit sometime from 12:30-7:00 a.m. on Saturday, December 7. The first vandalized car was discovered at 7:00 a.m. that day and dozens of others were found as residents emerged from their homes.
The targeted cars were found along several blocks in Hall’s Hill: the 1800 and 1900 blocks of N. Dinwiddie Street, the 1800 block of N. Culpeper Street, the 1700 block of N. Cameron Street, the 4900 blocks of 17th and 18th Streets N., the 4700 and 5000 blocks of 19th Street N. and the 5000 block of 20th Street N. Most of the vehicles were in the street but some were also parked in driveways.
This is the same neighborhood struck last month when 36 vehicles were discovered with slashed tires. Some of the vehicles vandalized on Saturday had been hit last month as well.
Police do not have any suspects so far but the investigation is ongoing.
“We are aware of the continued target of that general area and without going into specifics about the tactical strategy, we will be deploying resources in that area,” said Arlington County Police Department spokesman Dustin Sternbeck.
Anyone who may have seen suspicious activity in the Hall’s Hill neighborhood or who may have information about the vandalism incidents is asked to call the police non-emergency number at 703-558-2222.
The two men were found dead in an apartment in the 1900 block of N. Culpeper Street on August 7 last year. Although initially referred to as “suspicious deaths,” police quickly re-classified the incident as a double homicide. No weapon was found at the scene and the murders are considered an isolated incident.
To honor the memory of 59-year-old Spriggs and 31-year-old Moten, neighbors planned a peaceful walk that will take place tonight. Organizers believe up to 100 people may participate in the walk, which begins at 7:30 p.m. at High View Park on N. Dinwiddie Street. Police do not plan to work crowd control because the peaceful event will keep to the sidewalks and no road closures are needed.
Shortly after the murders last year, members gathered for a candlelight vigil for Spriggs and Moten. Dozens of people showed up to take part in the singing, prayer and poetry reading.
Police have not released any new information about the homicides, but confirm the investigation is still open. Anyone who may have information about the murders should call Det. Robert Wright at 703-228-4197. To report information anonymously, contact the Arlington County Crime Solvers at 866-411-TIPS (8477).
Photo courtesy WJLA/ABC 7
A vehicle caught fire in the Hall’s Hill neighborhood this afternoon.
The fire was reported around 3:30 p.m. in the area of N. Dinwiddie and 22nd Streets. A thick plume of black smoke was spotted from around the area as the blaze consumed what appeared to be a pickup truck in a residential driveway.
Firefighters arrived quickly to extinguish the flames, according to a witness. No injuries have been reported.
Photo courtesy of @KenHagemann
Tonight (Friday), starting at 6:00 p.m., an opening celebration will be held for the newly-renovated High View Park, located at 1945 N. Dinwiddie Street, within the boundaries of the John M. Langston Civic Association.
Renovations to the park include new play areas, an ADA accessible route from Cameron Street, new benches, and a picnic area.
The event will include moon bounces “for all ages,” face painting, balloon art and refreshments. The ribbon cutting ceremony will be held at 7:00 p.m.
On Saturday, Arlington County will celebrate the restoration of Carlin Hall (5711 4th Street S.). Dating back to 1892, Carlin Hall is currently used as a preschool, a community meeting facility and a recreation center. It recently underwent an extensive structural restoration.
A ribbon cutting ceremony is scheduled for Carlin Hall at 12:15 p.m. on Saturday. The ceremony is part of the annual Glencarlyn Day festivities, which include a pancake breakfast, a parade, a fun fair and a home and garden tour.
Photo via Arlington County
Through song, prayer and poetry, the Hall’s Hill community came together Tuesday night to mourn the loss of two of its own.
A candlelight vigil was held for double homicide victims Keefe Spriggs and Carl Moten at the Hall’s Hill/High View Park Memorial Garden. Dozens of people young and old — including friends, family and neighbors of the victims — attended the somber vigil, which was organized in part by the Calloway United Methodist Church (5000 Lee Highway). Speakers included pastors and community members.
On the morning of August 7, 59-year-old Spriggs and 31-year-old Moten were found murdered in an apartment on the 1900 block of N. Culpeper Street, in Hall’s Hill — the neighborhood in which they were both born and raised. So far, police have not released any additional information regarding the ongoing investigation into the homicides.
Spriggs, known as Kee-Kee to friends and family, was divorced and was working at a body shop. Moten, also known as Pooh Bear, was an acquaintance of Spriggs and had been working as a cook at a restaurant in Falls Church.
Calloway pastor Rev. Sonja Flye Oliver said Spriggs and Moten both came from families with “extremely deep roots in the Hall’s Hill community.”
“Both of these families are families of faith, families of character,” she said. “These people exemplify what it means to be a close knit community.”
Rev. Oliver said it has been more than a decade since a crime like this has happened in the area.
“This is just shocking, it’s a shocking thing to have happen,” she said. “I’ve heard over and over again: things like this just don’t happen in Hall’s Hill.”
“When one of us hurts, all of us hurt, because we’re all related,” she told the gathered crowd. “We’re related by blood or we’re related by the Spirit. I like the feeling of family that this community exhibits all the time. You feel the love and the presence of God here.”
The families of both men are “not strangers to loss,” Rev. Oliver said. Spriggs’ mother had previously lost a son to a motorcycle accident and another son to an illness, she said.
The funeral for Spriggs was held on Tuesday. Moten’s funeral will be held at Mt. Olive Baptist Church in the Arlington View neighborhood on Thursday.
Rev. Oliver said Arlington County Police have been responsive to the community during the investigation into the homicides.
“We have faith that they are working diligently and trying to piece everything together,” she said. “I think the community will rejoice when we have an answer. We would just like to know who and why.”
In the meantime, she said, the “outpouring of love from the community” has been helping the families of Spriggs and Moten cope with their loss.
Initially classified as “suspicious deaths” yesterday, police now say that they believe Arlington resident Keefe Spriggs, 59, and Carl Moten, 31, were murdered inside the apartment on the 1900 block of N. Culpeper Street.
No weapon was found inside the apartment, according to Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck. Still, police are not saying whether a killer is on the loose. Instead, Sternbeck says the crime was an “isolated incident” and that local residents should not be worried about further violence.
Spriggs was a divorced father of two who worked in a body shop, WJLA’s Jennifer Donelan reported Wednesday evening. Moten, a cook at a restaurant in Falls Church, was an acquaintance of Spriggs and was staying at his apartment.
Both Spriggs and Moten had criminal records in Arlington, including DWI and eluding police for Spriggs, assault and probation violation for Moten, and possession of cocaine for both. Spriggs’ crimes dated back to 2003, however, and Sternbeck said so far there’s no indication of any other crime taking place inside the apartment other than the two killings.
After going more than two years without a homicide, these murders are the third and fourth homicide in Arlington so far this summer.
Photo courtesy WJLA/ABC 7
Update on 8/8/12 — ACPD has confirmed that they’re investigating the deaths as a double homicide.
(Updated at 2:55 p.m.) Police are investigating another possible homicide, this time in the Hall’s Hill/High View Park neighborhood.
A maintenance worker found two men dead in the living room of an apartment on the 1900 block of N. Culpeper Street, after a family member had called because they hadn’t seen the resident for awhile, according to Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck. A television was on in the apartment and blood could be seen, but no weapon was found, Sternbeck said.
Detectives are investigating the incident as a possible homicide or double homicide, though so far police are only officially saying the deaths are “suspicious.” The deceased men have been identified by police as Keefe Spriggs, 59, of Arlington, and Carl Moten, 31, of no fixed address.
The men are acquaintances and the apartment belongs to Spriggs, Sternbeck said. Asked whether a killer is still on the loose, Sternbeck was vague.
“We do believe it’s an isolated incident,” he said. “We are very early in this investigation. The detectives that are working the case will be processing the scene, interviewing all the neighbors [and] last known contacts of these individuals.”
Several people, including a woman believed to be Spriggs’ sister, have already been interviewed by detectives on the scene.
This could be the third homicide in Arlington in as many weeks. On July 24, a woman was killed in a murder-suicide near Fairlington. On July 27, a jewelry store owner was killed during an armed robbery on Columbia Pike. A 53-year-old D.C. man was charged with murder last week for the latter crime.
Prior to July, there had not been a homicide in Arlington since March 14, 2010.
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Flickr pool photo by Allee574
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