Thrive Hair Bar in Ballston is hosting a free COVID-19 vaccine clinic this Saturday (Oct 23).
The clinic is in partnership with the Arlington County Public Health Division and part of the “Shots at the Shop” initiative, a White-House-backed effort to recruit Black-owned barbershops and salons to help increase COVID-19 vaccination rates in the community.
The program trains barbers and stylists to dispel myths and misinformation about the COVID-19 vaccines, as well as provides a $1,000 grant courtesy of beauty care brand SheaMoisture.
“We saw the lagging COVID-19 vaccination rates in Black, Latinx, and other minority communities,” Thrive Hair Bar owner and founder Ajia Minnis told ARLnow via email about why they’re hosting the clinic. “Given the majority of our clients come from these communities we thought we might be well positioned to help dispel myths, help people feel more comfortable, and get more folks vaccinated.”
The clinic is from 10 a.m. to noon and is open to everyone 12 years old and older, in accordance with current guidelines. Only the Pfizer vaccine will be given. No appointments are needed and walk-ins are welcome.
Minnis says that they actually reached out to the county about holding the clinic after attending a course at the University of Maryland Center for Health Equity. It was there that she learned about the role salons have historically played in their communities in increasing awareness of health issues.
“As a community we need to serve each other and this is our small way of giving back to those who give so much to us,” says Minnis. “We want to not just be good neighbors but we want to also be valuable assets to the communities we love and serve.”
Fifty-nine percent of Black residents in Arlington that are eligible are fully vaccinated, according to Virginia Department of Health data. That’s comparable to the white population in Arlington, but both are lower than the Latino and Asian/Pacific Islander populations in the county.
Covid cases in Arlington have fluctuated over the past month but are currently down to just above 25 cases per day, on average, according to Virginia Dept. of Health data.
There remains a worry among some medical professionals that a fifth Covid wave could happen among the unvaccinated in the winter. This concerns Minnis as well and is another reason why she decided to hold the clinic now, as temperatures start to dip, she says.
Thrive Hair Bar opened in Ballston in August 2020 inside of Sola Salon Studios at 1010 N. Glebe Road. A former professional dancer and choreographer who traveled the world, Minnis opened the shop because of her experiences struggling to find a local salon that was well-versed in her hair texture.
“Our goal isn’t just for us to give [clients] a hairstyle and they walk away, it’s really to help educate women on how to maintain their hair and care for their natural hair,” Minnis told ARLnow at the time.
She says business ownership has been great so far, adding that she really enjoys being in Ballston.
“It has a modern, professional vibe with fantastic people but didn’t have enough salons that provide twists, braids and blowouts for all hair textures,” Minni said.
APS Enrollment Down — “Despite intensive efforts to get them back, Arlington Public Schools has about 4 percent fewer students in class than it did pre-pandemic, according to new figures. Superintendent Francisco Durán on Oct. 14 said the school system’s official count for the 2021-22 school year is 26,911 students, based on enrollment Sept. 30 that will be submitted to state officials as is required by law. That’s down slightly from the 26,932 students reported on hand at the start of classes in August.” [Sun Gazette]
Update on Metro Woes — “While Metro aims to provide service consistent with the announced basic service plan through the rest of the week, customers should anticipate trains every 15-20 minutes on the Red Line and every 30-40 minutes on all other lines to account for any unplanned disruptions. There is currently no capacity to fill unforeseen gaps, which will result in longer wait times. Crews are working as quickly as possible to put more trains into service.” [WMATA]
County: Update Your Bookmarks — “With the launch of our new website, your favorite page or service has a new home! While we have redirect links for our most visited and discussed pages, we couldn’t do it for all 5,000+ pages. But the content you want is still there!” [Arlington County, Twitter]
Birds Banging into Arlington Windows — From the Animal Welfare League of Arlington: “We’re starting to see a lot of migratory birds come into the shelter, likely due to hitting windows as they fly. But we are here to help! This little Golden-Crowned Kinglet stayed with us overnight before heading off to a licensed rehabber this morning!” [Twitter]
IPO for Local Multinational Company — “Renewable energy storage firm Fluence Energy Inc said on Tuesday it is aiming to fetch a nearly $4 billion valuation in its U.S. initial public offering, as investor interest in such technologies soars alongside growing calls to limit climate change… Arlington, Virginia-based Fluence serves major utilities, developers, as well as commercial and industrial businesses, promising increased efficiency through its digital platform designed for renewables.” [Reuters]
Event to Mark Genocide Anniversary — “November 4, 2021 will mark exactly one year to the day that the Ethiopian & Eritrean regimes waged a devastating and ongoing genocide on the people of Tigray. You are welcome to visit our Arts & Photo Exhibition ‘Call It A Genocide’ which runs from November 5 to 7, 2021 at the ECDC in Arlington.” [Eventbrite]
Halloween Bike Ride for Families — “The Kidical Mass Arlington Halloween ride is BACK! Meet Sun 10/24 4pm at Zitkala’Sa (nee Clay) Park Costumes and decorations encouraged! Enjoy some pizza from our friends @TrekBikes Clarendon after the ride.” [Twitter, Facebook]
It’s Wednesday — ☀️ It’s another sunny day today, with a high near 76. West wind 5 to 7 mph. Sunrise at 7:23 a.m. and sunset at 6:22 p.m. Tomorrow is will be sunny, with a high near 78.
Join the ARLnow Press Club and get the Morning Notes via email, four hours earlier.
The Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization (CPRO) celebrated its 35th anniversary last week with a party at Penrose Square, while unveiling a new name: The Columbia Pike Partnership.
Shannon Bailey, vice-chair of the organization’s executive committee, along with executive director Kim Klingler, made the announcement at its 35th anniversary party on Wednesday (Oct. 13) evening.
“It really does take all of us to create an ecosystem here,” Bailey said. “So we do this together moving forward as a partnership.”
Along with the new name, there’s also a new logo, color scheme, and branding.
“Everything that we do requires our partners and we really realized that during Covid,” Klingler told ARLnow moments after announcing the name change. “We wanted a name that truly reflected who we are today. We have the same mission. We have the same values, but people really didn’t know who we were and we wanted our name to reflect that.”
The Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization formed in 1986 in response to the Arlington County Board awarding a $50,000 grant to help make the moribund corridor a more vibrant place to live and do business.
The hope was the money and an organized effort would be “the first step in what some see as a 10-year effort to coordinate improvements that could lead to revitalization of the highway as well as a return of community pride.”
But times and the Pike have changed.
“This really jump started [development] on Arlington’s oldest main street,” Takis Karantonis, former CPRO executive director and current county board member, told ARLnow at the celebration. “Urban development is a slow game. A very slow game. But [the form-based code] and CPRO have brought diverse communities together — developers, shop owners, residents — to make it happen.”
Klingler said it was time to make clear the organization’s role in preserving this reputation.
“We really want to marry diversity and development. People say that is a very challenging thing to do, but I believe we can find that balance,” she said.
Arlington-based Bakeshop is opening up a third location just across the Key Bridge in Georgetown.
It was more than a decade ago, in the middle of Snowmageddon, when the bakery first started satisfying Arlington’s sweet tooth at 1025 N. Fillmore Street in Clarendon. Since then, Bakeshop has expanded to Falls Church, weathered a pandemic, and, now, is once again growing.
Bakeshop is moving into 3210 Grace Street NW in D.C., just about a mile walk from Gateway Park in Rosslyn and only two and a half miles from their original Clarendon shop.
“Georgetown is a charming little slice of DC, it’s both historic, extremely active and has a good bakery scene,” owner Justin Stegall wrote in an email to ARLnow. “It’s going to be great opening up next to South Block — we’ve been neighbors for over 10 years in Arlington and it’s great to be neighbors in DC.”
The plan is to open by the end of the month (October) “as long as inspections etc. are done,” he notes.
The menu will be similar to that of the other locations, offering vegan treats, Vietnamese coffee, and ice cream “cookiewiches.”
In January 2020, Stegall told ARLnow that he had “no immediate plans to open more” shops but would “do it again if the moment feels right.”
Nearly two years later, the moment felt right despite being in the midst of challenging times.
“The last 18 months has been extremely challenging and has felt more like 5 years. The overall uncertainty about what tomorrow will be like and constantly trying to look out for ourselves and our customers,” Stegall writes. “My team has been brave and very professional throughout this whole ordeal and I’m really proud of them.
Stegall also says the shop is fortunate because it’s “in a business that suits take-out ordering and delivery.”
But there’s certainly something about in-person connections.
“We’ve really missed having our community in the shops for their morning routine of newspaper, pastry and coffee, parents bringing their kids in for a treat, and people just convening in general,” he writes. “That aspect of community has always been a big part of us and it has been sorely missed.”
Over the years, the Bakeshop has gotten attention beyond their treats and expansion. In 2012, the shop was featured on the Cooking Channel and, in 2016, there was a viral Facebook post from Stegall’s mom where she showed her love for her son.
When asked if the shop could expand even more so in the future, Stegall said that’s the plan, if all goes well.
“I hope we will expand further because it is very exciting and rewarding to join a new neighborhood and become part of that community,” he said.
Lockheed Downsizes Arlington Presence — “Lockheed Martin Corp. has re-upped its Crystal City presence, but for less space. The nation’s largest government contractor renewed its lease at 2121 Crystal Drive, but for only 180,000 square feet, downsizing from 220,000 square feet, according to CBRE. That 18% contraction accounts for one floor of the 12-story, 505,000-square-foot office building.” [Washington Business Journal]
More Office Interest in Ballston — “It’s masks on as Mark Witschorik readies for another tour at Ballston Exchange. The 783,000-square-foot office complex at the heart of the Arlington neighborhood was once the home of the National Science Foundation, but since it left in 2017, developer Jamestown has worked to bring new office users into the building… Witschorik, Jamestown’s senior vice president of asset management, says things are picking up.” [Washington Business Journal]
Local Man Sentenced in Child Porn Case — “An Arlington man was sentenced today to 20 years in prison for production and receipt of child pornography… According to court documents, Abraham Razook, 43, admitted to sexually exploiting a prepubescent minor on multiple occasions and producing videos of this abuse.” [Dept. of Justice]
German Struggles at APS Abate — “Arlington school officials say they’re hoping to be back on track by the end of the month to address yet another crisis that popped up at the start of the school system – the lack of a teacher to instruct students in certain German-language classes. The educator who instructed the classes was among those who left the school system at the start of the school year, requiring some students taking German to receive instruction online as a stopgap measure. That provoked a furor among some impacted students and their parents.” [Sun Gazette]
Charges Dropped Against TikToker — Charges of violating an emergency protective order were dropped earlier this week against Coco Briscoe, the local TikTok personality whose accusations against a pair of local bars and their employees went viral on the video app. A judge previously ended the order, which Briscoe was accused of violating, citing a lack of physical threats. In the comments of one of her videos this week, Briscoe threatened to sue ARLnow for defamation for our coverage of her case. [Twitter, TikTok]
Buyer for Ballston Health Tech Company? — “Evolent Health Inc. saw its share price shoot up Wednesday after Bloomberg reported Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc., the Illinois holding company that owns pharmacy chain Walgreens, is considering a purchase of the Arlington health system consultancy.” [Washington Business Journal]
Grand Opening for Fire Station No. 10 — “This morning we held our grand opening ceremony for new fire station 10 in @RosslynVA. This fire station provides modern accommodations for our firefighters and allows us to serve our community for decades to come. We are grateful to all who came out to share in this special day.” [Twitter, Patch]
Grant for Local Senior Program — “The Arlington Neighborhood Villages program has received a $30,000 grant from the Community Care Corps to support its mission to help older adults in Arlington age in place while staying connected with the community. The funding will assist the social-safety-net organization in partnering with Culpepper Garden and the Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing to bring services to residents of their apartment communities.” [Sun Gazette]
How Local Nonprofits Faced the Pandemic — “The new report, Safety Net Arlington: rising together to meet historic needs for our community, is told through the voices of the 21 nonprofit leaders in Safety Net Arlington and through the lens of how they worked collaboratively with each other and the County to face unprecedented levels of need through the first 18 months of the pandemic and the economic and racial justice crises.” [Arlington Community Foundation]
New Gym Open in Bailey’s Xroads — “Gold’s Gym is now open at 5718 Columbia Pike in Bailey’s Crossroads. There will be a grand opening on Oct. 9, noon-1 p.m., with a ribbon-cutting, food, membership deals, free classes, and prizes for members, including those who sign up on that day. The gym has relocated from its former location on Carlin Springs Road to the former HHGregg store.” [Annandale Blog]
Since 1980, Glebe Road has been considered the border between central and west Ballston.
But in recent years, the dividing lines drawn in Ballston’s 40-year-old sector plan have become more stark, with businesses thriving in one area and struggling in another.
Today, Ballston contains the densest census tract in the D.C. area. As more apartments and retail are proposed and built, however, some argue that the county needs to address the impact of uneven development on either side of Glebe.
Many of the new business openings orbit the Ballston Quarter mall and the ground floor of Ballston Exchange, both in the central part of the neighborhood. But west of Glebe Road and north of Carlin Springs Road — which is technically part of the Bluemont Civic Association — there have been numerous high-profile closures.
Leaders in planning and business development have different ideas for improving west Ballston, but they do share an interest in making it welcoming, walkable and sustainable without getting into the weeds of a sector plan update. During a joint County Board and Planning Commission meeting this month, Planning Commission Vice-Chair Daniel Weir stressed the importance of re-examining Ballston in the near future.
“Glebe Road continues to become a wall that separates east and west Ballston, which are separate communities,” Weir said. “Pedestrians and people not in cars are unwilling to cross five to seven lanes of traffic to get a very excellent donut or to go to one of the many restaurants that have been circulating through some of the bays there.”
Rather than rewrite the admittedly old sector plan, which county staff don’t have the capacity for, he said they ought to take “a more agile, nimble approach.”
“It doesn’t need to be completed in 2022, but it’s an opportunity we can and should think about, especially since, if done right, it could be a model for more agile sector planning going forward,” he said.
Ballston BID CEO Tina Leone agrees that Glebe Road is a problem. She says no other road elicits the same number of complaints, ranging from excessive vehicle speed to unnerving pedestrian crossings. She suggested extending the sidewalks, turning some parking spaces into parklets and widening the medians.
“We need to come together as a neighborhood and work with county to solve the problem,” Leone tells ARLnow. “There hasn’t been a plan — everyone does their own thing and no one is looking at Glebe Road as an entity.”
In response, Arlington County’s Department of Community, Planning, Housing and Development said it is using and will continue to use opportunities during development, capital improvements and county programs such as Vision Zero to improve Ballston’s walkability.
“Over the past two decades, we’ve worked with partners to make N. Glebe Road in Ballston safer and more attractive for all users and have better integrated the street within Ballston’s overall urban fabric,” CPHD Director Anthony Fusarelli, Jr. said. “The County will continue to make the most of similar opportunities in the future.”
“Enhancements have occurred thanks to the combination of infill development, streetscape improvements, signalized pedestrian crossings, intersection improvements, and curb space management techniques, all of which have collectively and significantly improved the experience of traveling along and across N. Glebe Road in this area,” Fusarelli added.
The media company, which covers national news with short, punchy articles, has launched more than a dozen daily city and regional newsletters. One spotlighting the D.C. region debuted this week.
The new venture, Axios Local, aims to “help readers get smarter, faster about their hometowns.”
Following the acquisition of a local news publication in Charlotte, Axios launched six newsletters earlier this year, from Denver to northwest Arkansas. By the end of October, Axios Local will have eight more locally-focused newsletters, including D.C.’s.
Publisher Nick Johnston tells ARLnow that Axios distinguishes itself from other local news outlets by applying its well-known smart brevity style to individual cities and regions.
“We call it ‘smart, lifestyle reporting,’ where you get a lot of hard, scoopy news but you are also writing about the community,” says Johnston. “People care about museums that are opening or cool places to eat or what’s happening with festivals [over] the weekend. Can you combine all of that with a little bit of a local voice? Would readers respond to that? So far, the early response has been great.”
Axios aims to cover a mix of bigger cities, smaller cities, and college towns, he says. The nation’s capital was a natural choice because of its size, audience and endless supply of topics — not to mention the fact that it’s Axios’ home turf.
“D.C. is a big, awesome, dynamic city with a great market,” Johnston says. “Also, an audience that knows us a lot from our political reporting.”
The key is to hire great, in-the-know journalists, notes Johnston.
Axios D.C. is written by Chelsea Cirruzzo, Cuneyt Dil and Paige Hopkins. Both Cirruzzo and Dil have plenty of local bonafides, with Hopkins coming from Charlotte, where the already-popular Charlotte Agenda was rebranded Axios Charlotte after being acquired for a reported $5 million.
The D.C. newsletter will cover the District as well as Arlington, Alexandria and neighboring Maryland counties. Dil tells ARLnow that the newsletter’s goal is to cover the regional conversations that folks are having, not necessarily every city council or county board meeting.
“That [can] be about housing, transportation — Metro is always a regional story,” he said. “Everyone’s interested in what’s going on in terms of lifestyle, food and entertainment-wise in D.C.”
The pandemic revealed the importance of a regional focus, Dil notes, since COVID-19 crosses borders and the impact of policies extends beyond individual jurisdictions. Arlington’s Amazon-fueled redevelopment boom is a prime example of that, he said.
“There’s now Amazon and redevelopment everywhere. It’s part of this massive regional story of the whole area changing right before our eyes. We want to cover that,” says Dil.
Amazon, it should be noted, is Axios D.C.’s first advertiser.
First week of the new Axios DC newsletter (which I’ve generally enjoyed reading!) and the Amazon HQ2 ads keep on coming…
There’s something to say about target demographics here, I think. pic.twitter.com/0fI7pfwjD5
— Teo Armus (@teoarmus) September 24, 2021
Dil and Johnston say the region’s size, with two states, one city and a number of localities, does present a challenge.
“It’s been fascinating to get a sense of how you pick and choose,” says Johnston. “There’s just so much happening. And, also, how do you cover it in a comprehensive way?”
He said a recent story about vaccine mandates for public employees struck this balance, explaining D.C.’s mandate and ticking off mandates in other jurisdictions.
In terms of operations, many Axios employees still work from home, but Johnston says the Clarendon office at 3100 Clarendon Blvd remains the company’s “central hub.”
After this fall, Johnston says staff will focus on getting a better sense of what appeals to readers and how the business works in various local markets. The current plan is to launch newsletters in a dozen more cities in 2022.
The growth comes as Axios shakes off failed talks of merging with The Athletic or being acquired by German publishing company Axel Springer. The latter ended up buying Rosslyn-based Politico, from which the Axios founders split when founding their company in 2017.
Still independent and newly-invigorated by its foray into local, Axios recently announced a number of promotions, including moving Johnston to the newly-created publisher role, after he previously served as Editor in Chief. He will oversee both the local news operation and “Axios Pro,” a new subscription service.
“I’m super excited about just continuing to grow as fast as we can,” Johnston said.
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]
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]
Dave Grohl Rocks Local Studio — “Dave Grohl doesn’t seem terribly interested in taking a day off. Shortly after the 9:30 Club announced the Grohl-led Foo Fighters would play a surprise show Thursday, the former Nirvana drummer reunited with D.C.-based punk rockers, at Inner Ear Studio — the legendary and soon-to-close Arlington, Virginia, recording studio owned by Don Zientara.” [WTOP]
Fmr. Fire Chief on Arlington’s 9/11 Response — “‘It was truly an all-hands-on-deck endeavor,’ Schwartz said at the historical society’s annual banquet, held Sept. 9 at Washington Golf & Country Club. ‘We’re all in this together. There’s not a single agency or even a single jurisdiction that can handle this by themselves.’ Schwartz pointed to the county’s then-fire chief, Edward Plaugher, for his work building relationships with agencies like the FBI. Plaugher ‘was ahead of his time’ in being concerned about terrorism.” [Sun Gazette]
Night Paving at Busy Intersection — “Nighttime paving continues overnight this week at the Langston Boulevard (Lee Highway)-Glebe Road intersection improvements project… lasting into Friday, Sept. 17.” [Twitter]
Tower of Light Returns — From Dave Statter: “The Tower of Light at the Pentagon began tonight & continues through September 12 in honor of those killed when the United States was attacked 20 years ago Saturday.” [Twitter, Fox 5]
Road Closures for Memorial 5K — “The Arlington Police, Fire, Sheriff and ECC Memorial 9/11 Memorial 5k race will take place on the evening of Saturday, September 11, 2021. The Arlington County Police Department will close the following roadways around the Pentagon and in Crystal City to accommodate the event.” [ACPD]
Some Boundary Adjustments Coming — “Arlington’s public-school leadership has so much on its return-to-classrooms plate already – ya think? – that a massive boundary-adjustment process is just not in the cards for now. School officials are planning for ‘only those adjustments that must be done,’ said Lisa Stengle, the school system’s executive director of planning and evaluation, during an Aug. 26 briefing to School Board members.” [Sun Gazette]
Feds Add Rep from Arlington to Metro Board — Updated at 9 a.m. — A new alternate Metro Board member from Arlington was sworn in yesterday. Assistant County Manager & Director of Communications and Public Engagement Bryna Helfer is a federal appointee to the Board. Helfer previously worked for the U.S. Dept. of Transportation. [U.S. Dept. of Transportation, Twitter]
Biz Booming for Local Tattoo Shop — “As more Americans resolve to change their lives after a tumultuous year and a half, many are choosing to get tattoos: D.C.-area tattoo-shop owners are reporting a boom in business, even though the pandemic all but shuttered other industries. Inside Lady Octopus, in Arlington, Virginia, artist Gilda Acosta shades in a touch of light green on the leaves of a primrose. Client Meg Little, of Alexandria, booked this appointment seven months ago.” [WTOP]
Higher Ed Booms With Amazon Arrival — “With the arrival of Amazon and a proliferation of other tech companies in fields ranging from big data to cybersecurity, candidates like Bhatia are in high demand. The problem is, there aren’t enough to go around. Universities are trying to change that, and in the process, sparking an academic explosion in and around Arlington… Virginia Tech, Mason and the University of Maryland are preparing to open gleaming new facilities here.” [Arlington Magazine]