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Morning Notes

The Rosslyn farmers market (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Student Organizes Concert for Ukraine — “The granddaughter of a refugee from Ukraine who was forced to leave her home due to World War II, Sofia Parfomak knows all too well what millions of present-day Ukrainians are going through since the Russian invasion began in February. Parfomak, a dual enrollment student at Marymount University and Bishop O’Connell High School, has taken the crisis to heart.” [Marymount University]

Synetic Prepares for New Season — “Arlington-based Synetic Theater has announced plans for its 2022-23 season, which will explore ‘otherness’ and relationships to those who are different. ‘When I first came to this country as a refugee, I did not speak the language; it was disorienting but also magical,’ said Paata Tsikurishvili, cofounder and artistic director of the troupe.” [Sun Gazette]

Video: Drivers Blocking Bike Lanes — “Photo came out in ARLnow that police put a lighted sign to stay out of bike lanes so pulled a few clips from yesterday’s ride, which could be from any day I ride. I don’t even use the bikes lanes much then drivers get mad at me. Am sure drivers will give the sign all the attention it deserves.” [YouTube]

Nearby: Falls Church Transforming — “Under the guidance of the Falls Church City Council, the recent developments have increased City property tax receipts to fund such civic projects as constructing the new Meridian High School, renovating and expanding the Mary Riley Styles Library and updating and expanding City Hall, all while reducing the city’s property tax rate by roughly nine cents per thousand dollars of assessed valuation.” [Northern Virginia Association of Realtors]

It’s Friday — Clear throughout the day. High of 85 and low of 70. Sunrise at 5:57 am and sunset at 8:34 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Morning Notes

The U.S. Air Force Memorial and surrounding construction at twilight (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Cristol Calls Out Displacement ‘Lie’ — “Time will tell, as it always does, but Arlington elected officials say the public and some activists are mistaken if they believe there will be wholesale displacement of residents of the Barcroft Apartments complex in South Arlington. At a May 14 meeting, County Board Chairman Katie Cristol – not one normally known for getting rattled while on the dais – decried as a ‘lie’ the displacement rumors at the sprawling, 1,334-unit apartment complex.” [Sun Gazette]

Crash Last Night on GW Parkway — From Alan Henney: “Another auto went over the wall on the northbound side of the GW Pky prior to the Key Bridge in Arlington. Amazingly driver is out uninjured after his auto slid down the embankment.” [Twitter]

Marymount University Commencement — From Princess Reema bint Bandar bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, the Saudi Arabian ambassador to the U.S.: “It was my tremendous privilege to give the commencement at @marymountu, a university that like many around the U.S. hosts Saudi students. It was my absolute honor to receive an honorary doctorate, thank you to the faculty and Dr. Becerra for this special day.” [Twitter, Sun Gazette]

Metro CEO and COO Resign — “The WMATA Board of Directors has accepted Paul Wiedefeld’s decision to make his retirement effective today. In addition, Chief Operating Officer Joe Leader has resigned, effective immediately.” [WMATA, DCist]

New Skyline Development Proposal — “Madison Marquette has filed plans to convert two Baileys Crossroads office building into live/work lofts, advancing a vision to resuscitate the huge multibuilding cluster known as Skyline Center. By repurposing the mostly emptied office spaces — which meet planning and code requirements to serve as apartments and/or offices for small firms — Skyline can once again become ‘the gravitational center for the area.'” [Washington Business Journal]

Body Cams for Falls Church Police — “Police officers with the City of Falls Church will now be equipped with body-worn cameras beginning this month.” [WJLA, City of Falls Church]

It’s Tuesday — Clear throughout the day. High of 77 and low of 59. Sunrise at 5:55 am and sunset at 8:17 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Morning Notes

Kayakers on the Potomac near Key Bridge (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Driver Crashes into Trooper’s Cruiser — A Virginia State Police trooper was radioing in a license plate during a traffic stop on I-395 near Shirlington when his cruiser was rear-ended. The trooper finished giving the tag number before telling the dispatcher about the crash. [Twitter]

Circulator Strike Continues — “The first day’s negotiations between a bus drivers union and the operator of D.C. Circulator since workers began striking were unsuccessful through Wednesday evening, increasing the prospects of a potentially lengthy outage of the city’s only public bus service.” [Washington Post]

Marymount Planning Child Care Center — “Marymount University is setting up a new child care center on campus in a renovation project that it said is designed to fill a critical, and deepening, local workforce need as those with young children return to the office. The Marymount Early Learning Academy for children aged 3 to 5 will open in the summer or fall of 2023, reviving the idea of an on-campus preschool that the university used to run in the 1990s before it closed down.” [Washington Business Journal]

Sexual Battery Incident in Pentagon City — “500 block of 12th Road S…. at approximately 11:40 p.m. on April 29th the male victim had entered into the elevator of a secure residential building when the unknown suspect followed behind him. The victim exited the elevator and walked down the hallway, during which the suspect grabbed his buttocks. The suspect then fled the scene.” [ACPD]

Air Force Colonel on Trial — “An official with the California National Guard charged with indecent exposure in Arlington in March is scheduled to go to trial in Arlington on July 18… the suspect entered the business and exposed himself to female victims, according to the ACPD.” [Patch]

Falls Church Lowers Property Tax Rate — “On Monday night, the Falls Church City Council approved a $112.8 million Fiscal Year 2023 (FY23) that invests in public schools, core government services, walkability and traffic calming, environmental sustainability, and more, all while reducing the real estate tax rate by 9 cents… To mitigate the 11 percent overall increase in real estate assessments, the adopted budget includes a decrease in the real estate tax to $1.23 per $100 of assessed value.” [City of Falls Church]

It’s Cinco de Mayo — Mostly cloudy, with a high of 67 and low of 56. Sunrise at 6:07 am and sunset at 8:06 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Morning Notes

A tulip in a pot along Crystal Drive in Crystal City (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Local Unemployment Rate Still Falling — “Arlington’s unemployment rate, which bumped up at the start of the year, dropped back down in the latest data. With 149,651 county residents in the civilian workforce and 3,192 looking for jobs, the county jobless rate stood at 2.1 percent in February, down from 2.6 percent a month before and off from 3.6 percent in February 2021.” [Sun Gazette]

Tree Pollen Levels Rising — From the Capital Weather Gang: “Tree pollen spiking. Today’s count is HIGH or 429.39 grains per cubic meter. Grass pollen is low/moderate. Further rises next few days with highs well into the 70s today and near/above 80 Wed and Thur.” [Twitter]

New School Board Candidate — “Bethany Sutton, chair of the Arlington Public Schools Advisory Council on Teaching and Learning, announced she is seeking the Democratic Party’s endorsement for the Arlington School Board. Sutton, a 20-year resident of Arlington, is a former PTA president and a parent of two daughters who attend middle school and high school in Arlington Public Schools.” [Patch]

No Dem Challenger for de Ferranti — “There is one less election on the horizon for Arlington this year. The April 7 filing deadline came and went with no challenger emerging to take on incumbent County Board member Matt de Ferranti in the June 21 election. As a result, the primary will be canceled and de Ferranti moves on to the general election.” [Sun Gazette]

Library Worker Helping With Ukraine Archive — “Arlington Public Library’s Digital Archivist, Greg Pierce at the Center for Local History (CLH), has been part of global volunteer effort to back up Ukraine’s digital heritage, currently at risk of being erased by the Russian invasion. Pierce’s involvement includes database verification, task and link wrangling, and internal communications with other volunteers.” [Arlington Public Library]

Marymount Announces Commencement Speakers — “In mid-May, approximately 1,080 students will receive their degrees.. The newest graduates of the mission-based university will hear from three distinguished speakers – the first female Saudi Arabian ambassador to the U.S., Princess Reema; physicist and former NASA research center director Dr. Julian M. Earls; and global financier and philanthropist David M. Rubenstein.” [Press Release]

It’s Wednesday — Warm and mostly cloudy throughout the day. High of 80 and low of 59. Sunrise at 6:36 am and sunset at 7:44 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Morning Notes

A Washington City Paper box sits by itself near a crosswalk in Ballston, after the announcement that the paper would be ending its print edition (staff photo)

Concern Growing for Missing Man — “Arlington County, Va., police are seeking help from the public in locating gay Pentagon City resident Shaun M. Spaulding, 39, who police say was last seen on the afternoon of March 15, 2022, at his residence by his roommate. Princess Melissa, Spaulding’s cousin, reached out to the LGBTQ community in a Facebook message last week urging anyone who may have seen Spaulding to contact the police.” [Washington Blade]

Arlingtonian on Jeopardy! Tonight — Tonight’s episode of the long-running TV quiz show is set to feature Kathleen Snyder, a government contractor from Arlington. [Jeopardy!]

Overturned Vehicle Last Night — From Dave Statter: “One car overturned at the intersection of S. Carlin Springs Road & Ardley Court. Person out of the car. #Police, fire & #EMS on scene.” [Twitter]

Misbehavior at Local Middle School — “Parents in Arlington are concerned after students were caught bringing weapons to a middle school and being inappropriate in the restrooms. They’ve been contacting FOX 5 about a number of incidents that have taken place at Swanson Middle School.” [Fox 5]

APS Homework Debate Rages — “Rarely have I received reaction to a column as vigorous — and as negative — as the flood of emails from teachers appalled by my opposition to a plan in Arlington, Va., to strike down traditional homework and grading systems.” [Washington Post]

New Coach for New Marymount Sport — “Roy Hill has been hired to be the head coach and start the men’s wrestling program at Marymount University. The first season for the Division III Saints will be the 2022-23 winter season… ‘Northern Virginia deserves to have a top-notch Division III option for the large number of quality wrestlers who want to get a quality education while being in the business hub of the nation,’ Hill said.” [Sun Gazette]

Video: Coyote Terrorizes Fox Family — From a reader: “A coyote came to my Arlington backyard to try to feast on my fox family who live under my shed. There’s a mama and a papa and four kits. The foxes did their best to lure him away for now. This happened Friday night. We hope he doesn’t come back.” [YouTube]

It’s Tuesday — Rain throughout the day. High of 62 and low of 48. Sunrise at 6:48 am and sunset at 7:37 pm. [Weather.gov]

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The interfaith prayer vigil for Ukraine at Marymount University (courtesy photo)

(Updated at 9:35 a.m. 03/23/21) Most college seniors spend spring break tossing back cocktails somewhere warm and inviting — a last hoorah before graduation.

But one Marymount University student did pretty much the exact opposite. He traveled to his birth country of Ukraine, which Russia invaded nearly four weeks ago, to help some of his family members flee their homes and resettle in Poland.

A.C. — who asked the college to abbreviate his name fearing his safety and that of his family — has family members living in the capital, Kyiv, and Kharkiv, the country’s second-largest city. The war has caused a massive refugee crisis, and 10 million people have fled their homes in Ukraine, either for more remote parts of the country or for neighboring countries, chiefly Poland.

“It’s a lot worse of a situation than even what’s being shown on TV. When I was in Lviv, every five to 10 minutes the sirens would go off, warning anyone and everyone to find shelter or evacuate,” A.C. said in an interview with his school. “Near the edge of Lviv, I saw several bodies just laying outside buildings because there aren’t really any spots right now to bury victims. It was all very nerve-wracking.”

Some of his family resettled in Warsaw, Poland’s capital, but others told him they plan to stay in Kyiv — along with an estimated two million others sticking it out, either because they do not have a place to go or the means to get there, or in defiance of Russia.

“I pleaded with them, begged them to leave… told them, ‘you will die if you stay here.’ While I admire their patriotism for Ukraine, it’s inevitable what will happen and I would rather them be alive than sacrifice their lives,” A.C. said. “They’re attacking churches, hospitals, apartment complexes. They’re just openly targeting civilians because of their nationality — it is genocide, and there’s no other way to describe it.”

The Marymount senior predicts that if he is not thwarted, Russian president Vladimir Putin will target neighboring countries, a concern shared in particular by many Estonians, Latvians and Lithuanians — all of which were formerly under the control of the Soviet Union.

A.C. left Ukraine at six years old and has since become an American citizen, but he stays in touch with his roots through the Ukrainian embassy in D.C. and nearby Ukrainian churches, which offer volunteer opportunities, language classes and festivals.

Now, he’s tapping into his patriotism in a different way. He has attended protests outside the Russian embassy as well as at Lafayette Square, joining other demonstrators calling on the U.S. government to hold Russia accountable. He is also raising awareness for Ukraine on his campus.

During a recent interfaith prayer vigil for peace, he delivered a poem he wrote entitled “My Ukraine.” In it, he contrasts the country’s war-torn history and present-day circumstances with depictions of it as “a land of innocence and prosperity… filled with fields of sunflowers glistening… with magnificent churches and cathedrals.”

“I stand by my nation of Ukraine,” A.C. told Marymount.

Addressing his birth country and its people, he said, “I love you. Fight for our land. This is our land. This is our home. Slava Ukraini.”

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Marymount University’s office and educational building and “The Rixey” apartments (file photo)

Marymount University is seeking Arlington County Board approval to convert some of its student housing in Ballston into hotel rooms permanently.

The conversions would occur at “The Rixey,” an apartment building Marymount owns and operates at 1008 N. Glebe Road as graduate student housing. Marymount intends to repurpose 133 of the 267 units into hotel rooms to give students studying hotellery practical experience.

“The addition of hotel units to the Rixey building will be used to support and enhance Marymount University’s Hospitality Innovation Master of Business Administration (MBA) program by providing students with hands-on experience in the hotel industry,” a county report said.

This request follows several other recent proposals to temporarily convert apartment units into hotels during the initial leasing of these buildings, the report said.

For example, to recuperate revenue losses from pandemic-era vacancies, Dittmar asked the Arlington County Board last summer to allow three- to 30-day stays in 75 furnished units that are typically used for longer residential stays.

Some worried these conversions would harm rental housing affordability, but the County Board ultimately approved Dittmar’s request. County planners intend to study these conversions “in the next few years” to inform a potential hotel conversion policy, according to the report.

Staff say Marymount’s proposal, however, is “distinctly different” because the conversions would be permanent, would figure into a hands-on learning program and would add hotel rooms the county needs.

“The proposed conversion would also establish a concentration of new hotel rooms to help counterbalance the loss of 1,600 hotel rooms in Arlington over the past two years and would allow Marymount University to broaden its offerings as an anchor institution in Ballston,” the report said.

Recent losses include the Americana Hotel and the Inn of Rosslyn, both of which were sold to developer JBG Smith for residential redevelopment, as well as The Highlander and the Rosslyn Holiday Inn.

Marymount purchased “The Rixey” for $95 million in 2019 after it had purchased the land underneath in order to lease it to local real estate developer The Shooshan Company, which built the apartments. Marymount also owns the Ballston Center office building next door, using some floors for office and educational space and leasing other floors.

The Board is slated to review the proposal this Saturday.

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Morning Notes

A military helicopter flies along the Potomac River and National Mall, as viewed from near the Netherlands Carillon (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Wet, Windy, Snowy Saturday on Tap — “A powerful storm system will cross the region Saturday. We are likely to see winds gusting over 50 mph Saturday, along with very low wind chills by Saturday night. We remain uncertain about snowfall, as the cold air will be chasing the precip — a wide range remains possible.” [Twitter, Capital Weather Gang]

Firefighters Union Wins Vote — “For the first time in more than FOUR DECADES — a public sector union will have the right to negotiate a contract with Arlington County. And it wasn’t just a win — it was a BLOWOUT.” [Facebook, Twitter]

PSA: Don’t Leave Keys Inside a Parked Car — An auto theft near Upton Hill park: “At approximately 12:40 a.m., a witness observed three unknown suspects rummaging through a vehicle. The witness yelled and the suspects fled the scene on foot. The suspects then entered into the victim’s car, located the keys inside and drove away from the area. The vehicle is described as gray in color, 2015 Honda CRV bearing VA license plate VKX2844.” [ACPD]

Marymount Adding Wrestling Teams — “Marymount University is moving forward on plans to add both Men’s and  Women’s Wrestling as varsity sports, expanding the institution’s athletic offerings to 22 different varsity-level teams. Men’s competition will begin in the 2022-23 academic year, as Marymount currently searches for a head coach who will begin recruiting for the program immediately. Women’s competition will debut during the 2023-24 academic year.” [Marymount University]

How Arlington Landed HQ2 — “If you’re interested in how Amazon could reshape our region, it’s worth understanding what our region had to build to land them. It’s an underdog story that starts with a small team of local business-improvement officials who had neither the clout nor the cash of most of their competitors. Instead, they figured out what Amazon was really looking for and quietly began the process of shaping a city to fit those needs.” [Northern Virginia Magazine]

An Irish Tale on a Local Stage — “Tis the time of the year that everyone wants to be Irish, if only for a wee while, and Encore Stage & Studio has joined the celebration of all things Eire with the world-premiere production of ‘Riley O’Brien and the Lost Leprechaun.’ While aimed at the younger set, the show is inventive in its conception and solid in its execution, making it a treat for all ages.” [Sun Gazette]

Fairfax County Local News — ARLnow’s latest sister site, FFXnow, is providing up-to-the-minute coverage of Fairfax County following its recent official launch. Sign up for the email newsletter or follow on Facebook or Twitter. [FFXnow]

It’s Friday — Sunny most of the day, then rain overnight. High of 59 and low of 37. Sunrise at 6:27 am and sunset at 6:13 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Morning Notes

Men play basketball at Westover Park under the lights (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Prison for Convicted Drug Trafficker — “An Alexandria man was sentenced today to 14 years in prison for conspiracy, possession, and distribution of fentanyl and Eutylone, and being a felon in possession of a firearm during drug trafficking… Pills distributed by the conspiracy twice on December 20, 2020, contributed to the mixed drug overdose death of a 20-year-old female in Arlington, whose blood was later determined to contain fentanyl.” [Dept. of Justice, Twitter]

ACDC Lowering Participation Age — “Seventeen-year-olds would be able to participate in operation of the Arlington County Democratic Committee under proposed bylaw amendments. The change, part of a larger swath of amendments to be voted on in April, would allow those under 18 to participate in ACDC activities, including caucuses, if they would turn 18 before the next Election Day.” [Sun Gazette]

History of Columbia Gardens Cemetery — “Columbia Gardens, long run by the Thomas family, is the resting place of historic personages: car dealer Bob Peck, Sen. Robert Byrd, guitarist Roy Buchanan, and a host of prominent locals with names like Ball, Marcy, Mackay and Lyon. Retired superintendent Ned Thomas Jr. confirmed the story his great-grandfather (a co-founder) relayed: ‘Someone in the War Department knew World War I was coming and that Arlington cemetery was basically full,’ he told me. So the partners thought a new cemetery in Arlington would make a lot of money.” [Falls Church News-Press]

Marymount Boosts Local Economy — “A new study suggests Marymount University pumps $236 million annually into the local economy, directly and indirectly, and is responsible for a cumulative payroll of about $90 million. The study, released by the university, looks at both the direct impact of the university on local economic conditions, and indirect impacts, such as spending by students.” [Sun Gazette]

It’s Monday — Rain in the evening. High of 75 and low of 57. Sunrise at 6:33 am and sunset at 6:09 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Morning Notes

Aerial view of the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor at left, the Crystal City-Pentagon City corridor at right, and the Four Mile Run Valley at bottom (staff photo)

Man Tased After Columbia Pike Assault — “The suspect was inside of a business, acting disorderly and aggressive towards other patrons, when he allegedly approached the victim and struck him in the face. The victim sustained minor injuries and did not require medical treatment. Responding officers located the suspect, who continued to act disorderly and resisted arrest. A brief struggle ensued, during which the officer deployed a TASER, and the suspect was subsequently taken into custody without further incident.” [ACPD]

D.C. Also Has Camp Registration Drama — “Hey… it looks like DC is having similar problems with @VermontSystems as @ArlingtonVA had last week.” [Twitter]

Library Reads on the Ukraine Conflict — “Ukraine and Russia are top of the headlines around the world. Dig deeper into the two countries and their history in these books.” [Twitter, Arlington Public Schools]

Marymount Going Mask Optional — “On Monday, Marymount University announced to students, faculty and staff that the institution’s indoor mask requirement will no longer be in effect starting this Tuesday, March 1. This decision is based upon low COVID-19 metrics in Arlington County.” [Press Release]

On to States for W-L Boys Hoops — “The host South Lakes Seahawks played a part in the Generals’ failed attempt, winning that Feb. 25 boys 6D North Region tournament boys high-school basketball title contest, 56-47… Next for Washington-Liberty is the Virginia High School League’s Class 6 state tournament, with a first-round quarterfinal game against the undefeated Hayfield Hawks on March 4 or 5.” [Sun Gazette]

Beyer Wants to Nix Stadium Tax Break — “A Virginia congressman wants to sack a financial incentive package aimed at luring the Washington Commanders’ new stadium to the Commonwealth. U.S. Representative Don Beyer, a Democrat who represents Virginia’s 8th Congressional District in the heart of Northern Virginia, said stadium bond packages like the one working its way through the Virginia state legislature takes needed tax revenue out of the pockets of taxpayers all to benefit people who have more than enough money to build new stadiums on their own.” [WUSA 9]

Cherry Blossom Bloom Prediction — From the National Park Service: “We’re projecting cherry blossom peak bloom to fall between March 22 – 25 this year!” [Twitter]

It’s Wednesday — Sunny skies in the morning become partly cloudy. High of 60 and low of 40. Sunrise at 6:40 am and sunset at 6:03 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Morning Notes

Runners at Washington-Liberty High School in the mist and fog (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

APS Test-to-Stay Date Set — “Arlington County Public Schools, in Virginia, is planning to launch its test-to-stay program Feb. 14, a school spokesman said. The coronavirus testing will initially be offered to students only, for free, at Syphax Education Center from 2:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. on school days.” [WTOP]

Police Probe Particularly Problematic Pothole — “Scanner: Police responding to intersection of Washington Blvd and N. Sycamore Street in East Falls Church for multiple reports of a large pothole damaging passing cars.” [Twitter]

Another Guy Arrested With Gun at DCA — “A Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officer stopped a West Virginia man from bringing a loaded handgun onto a flight leaving from Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) early Tuesday morning, according to a TSA release. The TSA officer detected the .40 caliber gun while searching the Bunker Hill, West Virginia man’s carry-on items at a DCA checkpoint.” [Patch]

ART Performance Is Best in Region — From MetroHero: “Our January 2022 regional bus performance reports are now live! ART: B. DASH: B-. Fairfax Connector: B-. MTA Local Bus: C. Metrobus: C-. Ride On: D+.” [Twitter]

Marymount to Host National Event — “Marymount University has been selected by the Center for Excellence in Education to host the national finals of the 2022 USA Biolympiad, to be held on campus May 28 to June 9. The USA Biolympiad is the nation’s largest cost-free biology-education testing and training program for high-school students in the U.S.” [Sun Gazette]

Photos: Church’s Lunar New Year Celebration — “Bishop Michael F. Burbidge celebrated Mass in honor of the Vietnamese New Year at Holy Martyrs of Vietnam Church in Arlington Jan. 30. Tet, or Vietnamese New Year, is celebrated Feb. 1 this year. Following Mass, Bishop Burbidge blessed a shrine to Our Lady of La Vang in a courtyard outside Holy Martyrs.” [Arlington Catholic Herald]

It’s Groundhog Day — Patchy fog today before 8 a.m. Otherwise, Groundhog Day will be mostly cloudy, with a high near 46. Sunrise at 7:12 a.m. and sunset at 5:31 p.m. Rain likely Thursday, mainly before 1 p.m. Otherwise cloudy, with a high near 56. [Weather.gov]

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