Sun Gazette’s County Board Endorsement — The Arlington Sun Gazette newspaper has endorsed Erik Gutshall in the Democratic County Board caucuses, which are happening this week. At the same time, the paper urged readers to also consider Kim Klingler, thanks in part to her background on public safety issues. [InsideNova]
SoberRide Triples Cinco de Mayo Usage — Having switched from offering free taxi rides to free Lyft rides, the regional SoberRide anti-DUI program reported that its ridership on Cinco de Mayo tripled this year: 676 riders compared to 225 last year. [Washington Regional Alcohol Program]
Hurricane Hunters at DCA — Government officials and members of the public were on hand at Reagan National Airport yesterday to tour the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s hurricane hunter aircraft. Among those on hand were acting FEMA director Bob Fenton and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross. The director of the National Hurricane Center called it “the biggest, baddest hurricane awareness tour stop we have ever had.” [Roll Call, Capital Weather Gang]
TV Station Visits Local School — WJLA (ABC 7) and meteorologist Brian van de Graaff broadcast live from Hoffman-Boston Elementary School, near Columbia Pike and I-395, yesterday as part of the station’s “lunchbox weather” program. [WJLA]
Activists Target FCC Chair’s Arlington Neighbors — In their fight to retain net neutrality policies, activists have been leaving advocacy materials for and knocking on the doors of FCC Chair Ajit Pai’s neighbors in Arlington. Pai has suggested such policies should be rolled back. [Silicon Beat, DSL Reports, Popular Resistance]
Arlington Water Quality Report Posted — The results of Arlington County’s annual water quality testing have been published online. Per a press release: “Based on sampling data taken throughout the year at our treatment plant and distribution system, the report confirms that Arlington’s high-quality drinking water meets and exceeds all federal and state requirements.” [Arlington County]
Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman
Next Tuesday, for the first time at Reagan National Airport, the public can tour four planes that fly into hurricanes for better weather forecasts.
Hurricane Hunter aircraft pilots from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the U.S. Air Force will be on hand, as well as hurricane experts. Dr. Rick Knabb, director of the National Hurricane Center, NHC hurricane specialists and local National Weather Service meteorologists will educate residents of vulnerable communities about hurricane preparedness.
NOAA will be joined by staff from FEMA, local and state emergency management offices, non-profit organizations such as the American Red Cross, and other partners.
Participating aircraft are the WC-130J, the Lockheed WP-3D Orion “Hurricane Hunter,” the NOAA G-IV and NOAA’s King Air Special Mission. All the planes are used to gather data on hurricanes and forecast their future intensity.
Tours are scheduled to be open to the public from 2-5 p.m.
Registration is not required for the public tours, although no backpacks or large bags are permitted. Tours begin at the aircraft hangar near the Signature Air terminal at shuttle bus stop No. 9. Four pre-selected school groups of 80 local fourth- and fifth-graders will also tour the event and aircraft that morning.
Image via National Weather Service
ACPD Officer Played in NFL — Arlington County Police officer Dorian Brooks was formerly an offensive lineman for the Pittsburgh Steelers. At 6’3″ and 280 lbs, Brooks has lost some weight from his playing days — which included a 2011 Super Bowl appearance — but remains an imposing figure on the beat. [WUSA]
Write-in Candidate: Congressman Stole My Porn — Write-in congressional candidate Mike Webb continued his press release barrage early this morning with a curious one: an evidence-free accusation that Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) broke into his home and stole cell phone chargers, digital cameras and an external hard drive containing his porn stash. The subject line of the email: “VIP Beyer Steals External ‘Sex Drive’ and Impotent Webb Wants Good Porn Bac [sic].” Webb inadvertently made headlines earlier this year by releasing an image showing tabs for porn websites on his computer, later claiming that he was just testing said sites for viruses. [PDF]
Flights Canceled Due to Matthew — Hurricane Matthew’s jaunt up the Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina coast is leading to numerous flight cancellations at Reagan National Airport. [WJLA]
New Bishop Is an Eagles Fan — The Diocese of Arlington’s incoming bishop, Michael Burbidge, is a big fan of the Philadelphia Eagles, the Redskins’ NFC East foe. He received the call telling him the pope had appointed him to replace Bishop Paul Loverde in Arlington during the recent Eagles-Steelers game — though he unknowingly let the call go to voicemail. [News & Observer]
Columbia Pike Fall Wine and Craft Beer Fest — Sponsored — Sample Columbia Pike’s unique wines and rare craft beers at this family-friendly, ticketed event. It’s taking place Saturday, Oct. 8 from 3-8 p.m. on Adams Street at Columbia Pike. Food and beverages from Pike restaurants will be available for purchase, and a children’s area and musical performances will keep all visitors entertained. [CPRO]
Even though Arlington is expected to be spared from most of Hermine’s rain and wind — “little to no impact is anticipated,” according to the National Weather Service — the storm is a good reminder of why you should be prepared for emergencies.
Feel free to discuss the weather, emergency preps or any other topic of local interest in the comments. Have a relaxing Labor Day weekend and we’ll see you back here on Tuesday for what’s looking like a busy week of news.
Rainy Weekend, Maybe — Hurricane Hermine, which is now a tropical storm after making landfall in Florida, is expected to make its way up the coast and bring rain to the Mid-Atlantic region Saturday and Sunday. The exact track of the storm is still in question, thus it’s unclear just how much rain the D.C. area will get. [Capital Weather Gang, Twitter]
Arlington Native Serving on USS Arlington — Wakefield High School grad Joseph Reed is serving as a fire controlman aboard the USS Arlington, the U.S. Navy ship named after his hometown. [Navy Office of Community Outreach]
Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley
McAuliffe declared the state of emergency to allow Virginia businesses, residents and officials to prepare for the impending storms.
“I cannot stress enough the imperative for Virginians to focus on the rainstorms that are headed our way tomorrow and Friday, well before Hurricane Joaquin could potentially impact Virginia,” McAuliffe said in a statement. “The forecast of up to 10 inches of rain in areas across Virginia could result in floods, power outages and a serious threat to life and property. As we continue to track the path of Hurricane Joaquin, I have instructed the Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security to make every preparation for a major event Thursday and Friday.”
The nor’easter is expect to hit the area Thursday and Friday bringing a prolonged period of torrential rain and the potential for dangerous flooding, McAuliffe said in a statement. The rain may continue as Hurricane Joaquin approaches.
Joaquin is currently expected to make landfall at some point on Sunday, according to the National Weather Service.
The hurricane’s possible trajectory has it hitting North Carolina around 2 p.m. on Sunday and moving through Virginia, D.C. and Maryland Sunday and Monday. Another path, however, predicts Joaquin will bypass the East Coast completely.
Joaquin is currently a Category 1 hurricane with winds up to 85 miles per hour and is floating around the Bahamas and other Caribbean islands, according to NWS.
Virginia officials issued the following tips for staying safe when flooding is expected (after the jump).
Major Traffic, Metro Woes — It was extremely slow going for commuters crossing the 14th Street Bridge this morning. Wet roads and a couple of crashes backed up traffic on I-395 and feeder routes for miles. Traffic issues were also reported on Columbia Pike, due to malfunctioning traffic signals at S. Queen Street. Meanwhile, a fire response at the L’Enfant Metro station and track issues on the Yellow Line bridge have resulted in speed restrictions and delays for Yellow Line riders. [Twitter, Twitter, Washington Post]
Waiting for Joaquin — Arlington County is keeping a close eye on Hurricane Joaquin, which some models are suggesting may have a big impact on the D.C. area. [Twitter]
Cristol Touts Endorsements — Following a snub by County Board member John Vihstadt, who endorsed her Democratic ticketmate Christian Dorsey and independent candidate Mike McMenamin, County Board candidate Katie Cristol is touting her own endorsements. “Twenty elected officials, comprising all of Arlington’s School Board, Constitutional Officers and Richmond delegation, and much of the County Board, today endorsed Katie Cristol’s campaign,” the campaign said in a press release Tuesday. [Katie Cristol]
Juror Qualification Process Begins — A random selection of Arlington and Falls Church residents are being mailed juror questionnaires, which will be used to qualify residents for jury duty in 2016. [Arlington County]
Attorney General Holds Arlington Newser — Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring announced a new training initiative for police at a news conference in Arlington yesterday. The training is intended to help officers de-escalate dangerous situations, thus preventing the need to excessive use of force, while also recognizing potential biases they may bring to the job. Arlington County already conducts similar training. [NBC Washington]
There are actually two hurricane tax holidays this year. The first tax holiday is May 25-31, which has been declared Hurricane and Flooding Preparedness Week by Gov. Terry McAuliffe. The second is Aug. 7-9.
After 2015, there will only be one holiday in August. The Virginia General Assembly voted to combine three hurricane preparedness tax holidays into one three-day period. However, the bill goes into effect on July 1, 2015, which means the planned tax holiday from May 25-31 was unaffected.
The 2015 Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30, according to the National Weather Service. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will release its predictions for the 2015 hurricane season at 10:30 a.m. today.
Among the list of items exempt from tax are supplies under $60, including bottled water and batteries, generators under $1,000 and chainsaws under $350. Food and candles are not exempt.
While inland, Arlington is not immune to the impacts of Atlantic hurricanes. The county saw plenty of wind and rain from Hurricane Sandy in 2012 and more significant damage from Hurricane Irene in 2011.
From May 25-31, certain emergency supplies that cost less than $60 — a list that includes batteries, flash lights, rope, duct tape, bottled water and cell phone chargers — are exempt from sales tax at all Virginia retailers. Portable generators that cost less than $1,000 are tax exempt, as are gas-powered chainsaws that cost less than $350.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced today that it anticipates three-to-five hurricanes to hit this season, and one or two “major” hurricanes. The National Weather Service is anticipating a “below normal” hurricane season, but that doesn’t mean NWS scientists aren’t urging caution.
“The prediction of a below normal hurricane season should not be taken to mean Virginia won’t be impacted this year,” said Bill Sammler, NWS warning coordination meteorologist, said in a press release from Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D). “Let’s all remember that it only takes one storm to cause severe damage and even loss of life. Everyone should get ready now for this hurricane season.”
State officials are urging residents to purchase flood insurance, saying “an inch of water in a small home can lead to more than $10,000 in losses.” The governor’s office is recommending families have at least a three days’ supply of bottled water, plenty of nonperishable food, extra batteries and either a battery-powered or hand crank radio to listen to emergency broadcasts.
The complete press release from the governor’s office, after the jump. (more…)
Ground Floor Retail Exemption Granted — At its meeting yesterday (May 21), the County Board granted an exemption to the policy of requiring ground floor retail space, for the office building at 3701 N. Fairfax Drive. The building formerly housed the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), which had received a retail exemption due to security concerns. The Board granted the exemption this time due to the space’s lack of access and visibility from the street. [Sun Gazette]
AIRE Goal Exceeded — Arlington County has exceeded its 2007 Arlington Initiative to Rethink Energy (AIRE) goal of a 10 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from government operations by 2012. The county has reduced its emissions by 11.7 percent since 2000. “This is an important milestone in Arlington’s efforts to build a more sustainable future for all our residents and businesses,” said Arlington County Board Chairman Walter Tejada. “The County has made great strides in improving the energy efficiency of our buildings and of our fleet and services, and we will continue to look for ways to reduce emissions and reduce spending on energy.” [Arlington County]
Sales Tax Holiday Begins Saturday — Virginia’s annual Hurricane Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday begins on Saturday, May 25, and runs through Friday, May 31. The tax holiday allows residents to prepare for hurricane season, which begins on June 1, by eliminating sales tax on purchases of emergency supplies. Items such as batteries, generators, bottled water, duct tape, cell phone chargers and radios are included. [Virginia Emergency Management]
(Updated at 10:55 a.m. on 11/10/12) For nearly two weeks, stories of devastation have continued pouring out of New York and New Jersey, where Hurricane Sandy struck the worst. Today, members of the Arlington County Police Department did their best to ease the pain of some of the hardest hit victims.
Sgt. Steve Meincke and Det. Colin Dorrity (who is with Metro Transit Police) are both from Toms River, NJ, an area that experienced widespread devastation. Hearing about the hardships their family members and friends are enduring in the surrounding areas prompted Det. Dorrity to ask Sgt. Meincke about sending out an email to the entire department, asking for donations of supplies. The response was overwhelming and in just one week, the effort exceeded Det. Dorrity’s anticipated goal of one carload of supplies. Instead, the haul required a moving truck.
The donations will go to the Keansburg, NJ police department to be distributed to those in need. The department headquarters was demolished in the storm, so officers there are working out of an old building. Det. Dorrity has a friend on that force, who sent a request for help.
“He said, ‘Can you help us out? We have nothing. We’ve been working for the last 10 days, we’re running out of equipment, we’re running out of underwear, we’re running out of socks. We can’t even wash our clothes because we’re never off duty,'” said Det. Dorrity. “If you think about the first responders, in particular, their houses got destroyed but those guys now have been working for 10 days straight without any relief. They can’t even get back to their houses to check on them.”
On top of the existing devastation from Sandy, this week’s Nor’easter left homeless victims facing freezing temperatures and up to a foot of snow while trying to clean up their towns.
“Now that the second storm hit, they’re dealing with the snow issue, and no power,” said ACPD spokesman Dustin Sternbeck. “We’re just trying to provide some items for these families who are going through a tough time. Items for infants and babies, food, and basically anything that can keep people warm up there.”
There was a big push to get not just warm clothing and food, but also games and toys to keep displaced children occupied while they stay in shelters. Animal food is another item that’s often forgotten but is in high demand. Many people brought their pets to the shelters, but shelters don’t have a supply of foods for pets.
On Wednesday (November 7), Det. Dorrity helped take two trucks of supplies to New Jersey. Those items were donated by members of various law enforcement agencies throughout the D.C. metro area, along with a couple of schools. He said seeing his hometown in such a state was painful.
“It’s really bad up there, it’s really terrible. It’s hard, you know, when I went up the past few days,” he said. “Seeing your home and a National Guard checkpoint in your neighborhood, it’s a little bit surreal.”
More, including photos, after the jump.
Arlington Independent Media, the non-profit public access cable channel, is back on after being knocked off the air by Superstorm Sandy.
AIM went off the air last week due to damage to a “server that programs the channel.” The computer problems were caused not by flooding or wind damage, but by power outages during the storm.
“We apologize for any inconvenience this might cause our producers and viewers,” AIM said at the time.
This afternoon, the organization announced that repairs were complete and the channel is once again broadcasting on air — on Verizon channel 38 and Comcast channel 69 — and online.
The tree supposedly came down this past Sunday, according to parks department spokeswoman Susan Kalish, but the resident who first emailed ARLnow.com to ask about the safety hazard said it actually came down Tuesday, during Superstorm Sandy. Regardless of when it fell, the tree remains have been blocking the sidewalk ever since, forcing pedestrians to either walk up a small hill or into the street to get around it. It also blocked a bus stop and a bike lane, forcing bicyclists out into a vehicle travel lane.
The tree was on private property — near the intersection of Wilson Blvd and N. Troy Street, just down the street from the Courthouse area — and Kalish said the county was not notified that it was blocking a sidewalk until ARLnow.com asked about it yesterday.
“According to a property manager at Colonial Village the tree fell Sunday night. They did not have an opportunity to remove it or contact us regarding it until we checked into it for [ARLnow.com],” she said. “The Parks team will clear the sidewalk today.”
County to Ask For Federal Storm Aid — Yesterday, Arlington County ended the State of Emergency declaration put in place for Hurricane Sandy. The county says it will seek federal reimbursement for the estimated $1.17 million cost of responding to the storm. Meanwhile, the county says that one private home was destroyed by the storm, while 17 suffered major damage and 27 suffered minor damage. [Arlington County]
APS Rolls Out ‘Courtesy Bus Service’ — Arlington Public Schools has started to bus some students who lost their eligibility to ride the bus this year as part of changes to the school system’s transportation policies this year. The courtesy service will only be offered this year, school officials say. So far, 83 students have been allowed back on buses. [Sun Gazette]
SoberRide Halloween Stats — The SoberRide program says it provided 157 free cab rides to “would-be drunk drivers” in the D.C. area on Wednesday night and early Thursday morning. [Washington Regional Alcohol Program]
Road Closures for 5K Race — A number of roads will be closed near Tuckahoe Elementary School for the National Race Against the Odds 5K race this weekend. The closures will be in place from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. on Sunday (Nov. 4). [ACPD]
Advice for Damaged Trees — The TreeStewards of Arlington and Alexandria have some advice for property owners whose trees were damaged by SuperStorm Sandy. The organization has been encouraging property owners to read about precautions to be taken when hiring tree services to help with storm clean-up, and about “first aid” procedures for storm-damaged trees.
Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann
As of 10:15 this morning, only 997 Dominion customers were without power in Arlington, compared to more than 5,000 around the same time yesterday and more than 18,000 at the height of Superstorm Sandy.
Last night, Arlington officials reported that there were no dark traffic lights in the county. Six intersections were using generators to keep the signals functioning, however. There were about 20 non-functioning traffic signals the morning after the storm.
As of 5:30 last night, about 18 streets were still blocked or partially blocked by down trees, but county crews were working to clear the debris, according to a county media update.
Dominion says crews will be working on power lines and equipment at the following Arlington locations today:
- N. Henderson Rd & N. 3rd St
- S. 7th St & Buchanan
- Arlington Ridge Rd & S. 28th St
- Columbia Pike & S Buchanan St
- N 15th St & N Vermont St
- N Inglewood St & 17th St N
- 1st Rd & N Irving St
- N Quinn St & N 12th St
- N Stuart St & N 25th St
- N Underwood St & N 25th St
- N Nelson St & N 10th St
- S 5th St & S Aberdeen St
- S Chesterfield Rd south of Four Mile Run
- S. Glebe Rd. & S 9th St.
- Williamsburg Blvd & N Edison St
- Wilson Blvd & N Randolph St
Flickr pool photo by Afagen