Arlington, VA

Morning Notes

More Coronavirus-Related Dispatches — ARLnow is starting to hear the Arlington County Fire Department responding to more suspected COVID-19 cases. Medics were just dispatched to assist a 44-year-old woman with severe trouble breathing and other symptoms consistent with the disease.

May Could Be Worse Than April — “It could still be weeks before the worst of the coronavirus crisis hits Virginia. State officials are preparing for a surge in the number of people who test positive between late April and late May, Gov. Ralph Northam said Wednesday that analysis of the latest models shows. Northam told residents he was planning for the worst and hoping for the best.” [NBC 4]

Prosecutors Have Video Evidence in Store Shooting — “The Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office showed the judge security video from the Shirlington Road business, which prosecutors said captures Abushariah shooting one of the burglars ‘point-blank in the back…’ The prosecutor called the case a ‘callous disregard for human life’ because Abushariah had other options, such as hiding in the backroom and calling the police. Or running to safety out the back door.” [WJLA]

Arlington Resident’s YOLO Money Diary — “We then took some mushrooms around 12 PM and went on a long, trippy, and fun-filled walk through Rosslyn. We stopped at Northside Social for some pastries and a Bitburger beer while on our walk–more illegal public drinking, but we kind of just don’t care anymore.” [Washingtonian]

Two Green Pig Employees Test Positive — “We regret to inform you that two of our employees have tested positive for COVID-19. Both… had been working with customers assisting with order-pickups. Neither were working in the kitchen or with food prep.” [Instagram]

Bakeshop Now Mailing Some Items — Bakeshop in Clarendon is now taking orders of cookies, cream pies, bars and bread slices online. Orders are shipped on Mondays to ensure freshness. [Bakeshop]

Marymount Prof is 3D Printing Face Shields — “Marymount University professor Dr. Eric Bubar is getting in on the action, with hopes of utilizing his unique skills to make a difference. A longtime provider of 3D printed upper-limb assistive devices, he is now shifting his focus to creating 3D printed, reusable face shields for use at hospitals in Washington, D.C., New York and beyond.” [Press Release]

APS to Distribute Week of Meals to Families in Need — “On Fri, April 3, APS will provide a week’s worth of meals to families who come to one of the five grab-and-go meal distribution sites to ensure students have food during spring break. There will be no APS meal service provided April 6-10… Meal services will resume on Mon, April 13, with an expanded list of sites to include Key and Hoffman-Boston elementary schools. Additionally, the USDA has provided a waiver to the rule that children must be present to receive meals.” [Arlington Public Schools]

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Virginia Hospital Center has received a sizable donation of surgical masks and gowns amid a nationwide shortage of personal protective equipment for healthcare workers.

Arlington-based Marymount University donated 550 surgical masks, 110 isolation gowns, 60 full-body suits and seven reusable goggles from its Department of Nursing, the school tells ARLnow.

“When I became aware of the dire circumstances that the nurses at VHC were in, I responded without hesitation,” Dr. Catherine Hillberry, technology coordinator for the nursing school, said in a press release. “[We] are committed to serving others and supporting the community in difficult times – and stepping up to help those who put their lives on the line daily to help save lives is a privilege.”

The donation was greeted with appreciation from workers at the hospital.

“The generous donation of PPE is having a direct and positive impact in my unit. Having it available means we have the tools and resources necessary to do our jobs,” said Karin Kutscher, an ICU nurse at Virginia Hospital Center and a Marymount grad.

“When we leave the hospital, there is a risk of increased exposure if we do not have proper supplies when caring for our patients,” said Alicia Marconi, a Marymount instructor and another ICU nurse at the hospital. “If we, the health care workers, get sick, then there are fewer of us to take care of patients in need.”

Virginia Hospital Center is currently accepting donations of goggles, hand sanitizer, face shields, medical isolation gowns, bleach and bleach wipes, but only in unopened boxes, according to a “community support” web page set up by the hospital.

“Please email [email protected] to connect with our team,” VHC said, adding that it is “not accepting donations of homemade masks for safety reasons.”

The hospital is also accepting donations of individually packaged food via restaurants and catering companies. For others who want to help during this trying time, VHC notes that “blood donations across the country have dropped significantly due to the COVID-19 pandemic response” and “individuals are not at risk of contracting COVID-19 from donating blood.”

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Morning Notes

Man Arrested After Door Incident at DCA — “A passenger on a flight operated by Frontier Airlines was taken into custody at Reagan National Airport Saturday, after allegedly using the emergency slide to exit the airplane, officials said.” [Washington Post, Twitter]

Metrobus Rides Are Free, For Now — “To help stop the spread of the novel coronavirus, Metrobus riders will be required to board using the rear doors and will not have to tap their fare cards, according to a letter sent to employees Sunday.
The change, which begins Tuesday, means rides essentially are free.” [Washington Post]

Don’t Flush Wipes Down the Toilet — From Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey: “Do NOT put wipes, paper towels etc in the toilet! They severely damage water treatment.” [Twitter, CNN]

County Trying to Help Small Businesses — “To mitigate some of the challenges and hardships experienced by small businesses as a result of COVID-19 related closures and modifications, Arlington County is finding new ways to reach out to business owners with counsel, resources and other options.” [Arlington County]

County Offers Help with Utility Bills — “If you are struggling to pay a County utility bill (water/sewer/refuse) at this time, please call the DES Customer Contact Center at 703-228-5000, Monday-Friday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. You may be eligible for special payment arrangements without accrual of additional late fees.” [Twitter]

Coronavirus Fraud Task Force Formed — “In response to the increased threat of fraud presented by the coronavirus, federal and Virginia state law enforcement leaders announced today the formation of the Virginia Coronavirus Fraud Task Force.” [Press Release]

Marymount Mulls Commencement Alternatives — “This Wednesday, Marymount University announced to students, faculty and staff that the online-only class period that started this week will be extended through the end of the spring semester, including final exams. It was also decided that the traditional commencement ceremonies scheduled for May 2020 would be canceled.” [Press Release]

Overnight Lane Closures in Rosslyn — “N Lynn St, SB Lee Hwy and the ramps to and from I-66 in Rosslyn will see overnight work requiring lane closures or full closures Mon night 3/23 – Thu night 3/26 in relation to the Lynn St Esplanade project.” [VDOT, Twitter]

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Morning Notes

Don’t Ride Metro Unless You Must, Says Metro — “Effective… Wednesday, March 18 — and continuing until further notice — Metro service will operate as follows: Rail system hours and service levels are further reduced to support essential travel only. DO NOT TRAVEL UNLESS ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY. Follow guidance from your state and local authorities. New hours: Weekdays 5AM-11PM, Sat/Sun 8AM-11PM. Trains will run every 15 minutes on each line at all times.” [WMATA, Twitter]

Utility Disconnections, Evictions Suspended — Arlington County has suspended water disconnections, Dominion has suspended power disconnections, and courts in Virginia has suspended evictions, giving those who are unable to pay their bills during the coronavirus outbreak a chance to stay in their homes. [Twitter, Dominion, Press Release, Twitter]

Police Can Now Enforce State Crowd Ban — “I just issued an emergency order with @VDHCommissioner to enforce Virginia’s statewide ban of more than 10 patrons in restaurants, theaters, and fitness centers. Please use common sense. If you were considering ignoring this limit — don’t.” [Twitter, Gov. Ralph Northam]

Compass Coffee Lays Off Most Employees — “”Compass Coffee, a DC based company just laid off 180 of their 200 employees abruptly.” [PoPville]

Vintage Restaurant Group Shutters Locations — The operator of iconic local restaurants Ragtime, Rhodeside Grill and William Jeffrey’s Tavern is closing its locations until further notice. [Twitter]

Four Courts Donates Extra Food to AFAC — “We just dropped off fresh produce @AFACfeeds… their need is still great.” [Twitter]

Marymount Extends Online-Only Classes — “In order to continue ensuring the health and safety of the campus community, Marymount University will extend its online-only class period to Tuesday, April 14 (previously March 30), as the greater Washington region sees increased cases of COVID-19.” [Press Release]

Macy’s Closes Stores Nationwide — “Macy’s is closing all of its stores nationwide, effective at the end of business Tuesday through March 31, to try to help curb the spread of COVID-19.” [CNBC]

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(Updated at 5 p.m.) Arlington-based Marymount University, which has campuses in Ballston and at 2807 N. Glebe Road, is extending its spring break and temporarily nixing in-person classes due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The university announced today (Wednesday) that its spring break, currently underway, will be extended by two days. Then, on March 18, classes will resume online only.

“All lecture and lab courses will be delivered online-only from March 18 through March 29,” the university said on its website. “At this time, on-campus classes are expected to resume on March 30.”

“Marymount is closely monitoring the course of COVID-19,” the university added. “We are also participating in weekly discussions with the Consortium of Universities of the Washington Metropolitan Area in order to jointly monitor coronavirus developments on campuses throughout the region.”

As of Wednesday afternoon more than 100 universities in the U.S. announced moving to online-only classes, including American, George Washington, Georgetown and the University of Virginia locally.

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Marymount University has launched a new scholarship program for its Dreamer students, starting in the 2020-21 school year.

The school officially announced its Dreamers Scholarship Program last night at a kick-off party in the university’s Main House, where Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va) and university president Irma Becerra gave remarks.

“Marymount is a special place, it is a recognized as one of the most diverse universities in the south,” Kaine said. “Diversity is a value here, and the support for Dreamers is very, very admirable.”

The university on N. Glebe Road is home to over 50 Dreamers — young immigrant students protected under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. These students are unable to apply for federal financial aid, which creates an obstacle for paying for higher education.

New for this school year, Marymount became one of 25 colleges in the country to offer grants for students through TheDream.US, a scholarship program that assists Dreamer students. Five students at Marymount are currently receiving the grants.

“Students have enough stress in their lives, and the lack of financial support creates another level of stress — these are incredible students, and we want them to be successful,” Becerra said. “We would love to support them all. That’s what this new scholarship is all about.”

Last night’s announcement kicked off the search for scholarship funding for the remaining students.

“We are looking for any and all sorts of support,” Becerra said.

During the event, Marymount freshman and Dream.US recipient Ashly Trejo Mejia introduced Sen. Kaine during a speech in which she shared the struggles of immigrating to Virginia from Honduras as a young girl, and the fear of not knowing whether she could attend college.

“Marymount was one of those hidden treasures that I, and the rest of us, did not know we had here waiting for us,” Mejia said. “The day of my high school graduation was the most emotional day of my life — I was achieving something that our family members longed for. Coming to Marymount has been a blessing.”

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(Updated at 4:15 p.m.) Marymount University President Irma Becerra isn’t slowing down.

With the 2019-20 school year underway and 455 students moved into the new upscale apartments at the newly-acquired “Rixey” building in Ballston, part of a $250 million investment in Marymount’s expanded Ballston presence, Becerra is continuing to push her Strategic Plan to double the Catholic university’s in size by 2024.

Becerra and Marymount are in the beginning planning phases of a project to repurpose buildings on the main campus to add capacity for an additional 3,000 students. She is also working on a capital investment plan to increase the university’s endowment nearly sixfold — from $43 million to $250 million.

Eventually, Becerra said, Marymount will have to build additional buildings for student housing if the university wants to reach its eventual goal of 10,000 enrolled students. As of last fall, there were 3,418 students in both graduate and undergraduate programs.

“Some of the growth will be fully online, and others will be through hybrid programs that will require less physical time on campus,” Becerra said. “We don’t anticipate an issue, but more buildings will probably come in the latter part of the next five years.”

As for the cost that comes with doubling a university size, Becerra said funding “would come through a combination of initiatives from corporations and private foundations and the launch of a new capital campaign and government funding.”

Within the next few years, she hopes the school will establish itself as a top producer of highly-competitive talent for all Arlington businesses, from Amazon to local startups.

With Amazon’s HQ2 being staffed up, there is a particular focus on technology at Marymount. Earlier this year Marymount recently hired tech-oriented entrepreneur Jonathan Aberman as interim dean of its business school. And a new artificial intelligence curriculum is being incorporated into every major “from arts to biology.”

Marymount will have competition in that regard: George Mason University and Virginia Tech also working on major local expansion plans with a tech focus.

In addition to doubling the university’s size, Becerra is seeking to raise its national profile. That effort is bearing some fruit, particularly with Marymount jumping more than 20 spots in its U.S. News and World Report rankings. At the same time, she wants to maintain the school’s local feel and connection.

“We’re Arlington’s only headquartered university, and we’d like to think of ourselves as ‘Arlington’s University,'” Becerra said. “There’s a significance to be headquartered here, and between [being] instrumental  to changing the Ballston experience, we have a number of proposals of how we’re going to work with local employers in the area and how we can help support the workforce needs in the community.”

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Morning Notes

Construction Underway on Hospital Expansion — “Shovels are in the ground and buildings are coming down as Virginia Hospital Center embarks on the nitty-gritty of a three-year, quarter-billion-dollar expansion effort.” [InsideNova]

Marymount Launches Intrapreneurship Initiative — “Marymount University’s School of Business and Technology (SBT) has launched an initiative to address one of the most significant talent gaps in the greater Washington region – a shortage of graduates who are prepared to use entrepreneurial skills to help employers grow and meet the challenges of an ever-changing world.” [Press Release]

Courthouse Office Building Sold — “Another Arlington office building has traded hands with the buyer citing Amazon HQ2 as a reason for optimism.  American Real Estate Partners, in partnership with Rockwood Capital, announced Tuesday it acquired the Arlington Plaza office building at 2000 15th St. North.” [Bisnow]

Metro Seeking Feedback on Bus Changes — “Metro is proposing service changes to selected bus routes based on input from customers and local governments, to increase on-time performance and ridership, and respond to planning studies and market changes.” Changes are proposed for the 3Y, 7F and 7Y routes. [WMATA]

Why Hoskins Left for Fairfax — “Victor Hoskins may be done working on Amazon HQ2 in Arlington County, but he’s certainly not done talking about it. The former head of Arlington Economic Development, in an interview with Bisnow, cited post-Amazon fatigue as one of the reasons he decided to leave and take a new job as CEO of the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority. ” [Bisnow]

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The Arlington County Board will consider amending its 2o09 agreement with Marymount University to extend its support for MU athletic facilities.

At its Saturday meeting, the County Board will discuss adding 100 hours of MU field use at Long Bridge Park plus additional access of county parks for MU athletic teams including tennis, baseball, and — potentially — softball.

In 2009, the County Board and MU signed a 15-year agreement detailing the shared cost and maintenance term of at Long Bridge Park. In exchange for regular use, Marymount pays half the construction costs and makes regular contributions to maintain the field.

If granted, the new amendment would expand the contract (originally slated to expire in 2024) through July 30, 2034.

Within the new contract, the county would grant MU access to Long Bridge Park for up to a total of 540 hours per academic year.

Additional terms include:

  • MU athletic teams will be able to play on the tennis courts at Virginia Highlands Park beginning in the 2019-2020 academic year for 850 hours per academic year.
  • MU will work with the county to find a diamond field facility to use when/if MU establishes a softball program.
  • The MU baseball program will be able to use Tucker Field at Barcroft Park after the field space has been allocated to George Washington University and county baseball programs.
  • In Long Bridge Park, the county would provide a synthetic turf on the field, permanent field lines, spectator benches, access to a scoreboard, storage space for team equipment, and a Marymount logo in season, among other improvements.

Marymount will continue to make annual contributions for the maintenance of Long Bridge Park, including the cost of replacing/repairing the synthetic turf. They will also pay the current rental rates for all hours used at other county facilities.

The agreement comes at a time of heated competition for local athletic fields among sports and community groups.

Flickr pool photo by Eric

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Morning Notes

Arlington 9/11 Remembrance Ceremony — “The County’s wreath-laying ceremony will begin at 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 11, at the Bozman Government Center. A moment of silence will be held at 9:37 a.m., the moment when the plane struck the Pentagon and 184 lives were lost.” [Arlington County, Press Release]

Stabbing in Boulevard Manor — “ACPD responded to a domestic violence incident in which a woman was reported stabbed in a home in the Boulevard Manor neighborhood around 11:30 a.m. [Tuesday]. She’s expected to be okay. Police are not releasing additional details, to protect the victim’s identity, per spokeswoman.” [Twitter]

ACPD Considering Ring Doorbell Partnership — “The Arlington County Police Department appears likely to become the fourth Greater Washington law enforcement agency to sign a partnership with Ring Inc., a doorbell-camera company owned by Amazon.com Inc., despite internal concerns over privacy and racial profiling.” [Washington Business Journal]

Marymount Jumps in Rankings — “Great news — Marymount has jumped more than 20 spots in the rankings for top Regional Universities in the South, according to the 2020 Best Colleges Rankings from @usnews!” [Marymount University, Twitter]

Arlington Visitor Spending Keeps Rising — “Arlington visitors spent a record $3.4 billion in 2018, a 4.3 percent increase over 2017, according to the U.S. Travel Association. Arlington has led Virginia counties in visitor spending since 2009. Tourism generated nearly $94 million in local tax receipts, benefiting County programs and services, as well as state tax receipts of nearly $127 million.” [Arlington County]

Rosslyn Neighbor Drama Does Federal — “A former analyst for the FBI admitted Tuesday to copying the private emails of a conservative conspiracy theorist and sharing them with his superiors while his wife offered them to the press… Tolson, who has left the FBI, agreed to forfeit two phones and two computers and avoid contact with Burkman, his neighbor in Arlington. He was released on bond until sentencing on Dec. 20.” [Washington Post]

Hoskins Wants ‘Innovation Campus’ in Fairfax — “As one of the lead negotiators involved in bringing Amazon.com Inc. to Arlington County, Victor Hoskins also helped Alexandria land Virginia Tech’s new ‘Innovation Campus’ — and now that he’s changed jobs, he wants to help Fairfax County do the same.” [Washington Business Journal]

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Morning Notes

Class of 2023 Moves in at Marymount — “The Office of Campus and Residential Services (OCRS) at Marymount University is welcoming new students as they move into residence halls on campus during 2019 Move-In Day on Wednesday.” [Press Release, Twitter]

New Medians Coming to Clarendon Circle — New medians are in the process of being built on Washington Boulevard as construction on the Clarendon Circle project continues. [Twitter]

Civ Fed Ponders Serving Those Who Cannot Attend — Asked about a lack of diversity among its membership, the new president of the Arlington County Civic Federation replied in part: “I feel that some of the residents not being served might never have the time to attend a Civic Federation meeting due to jobs and family concerns, but through member organizations and nearby civic associations, some of their issues can be addressed even though the faces of these residents might not appear in the audience.” [InsideNova]

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