When Nathaniel Valenti, 20, missed his first day of classes at Marymount University this year, he had a good excuse — he was fighting wildfires.
The junior criminal justice major from Dover, Delaware, spent 14 days as a part-time federal employee, getting close to the big fires that have been raging in the west all summer. One fire he helped to contain had burned 8,700 acres near Toston, Montana.
“The first night we were holding the line and there were trees torching 20 or 30 feet away from me,” Valenti said. “That’s when the entire tree just goes up in flames, with really high flames and intense heat.”
That became a normal sight for him.
After completing a 40-hour firefighting course at West Virginia University last summer, Valenti spent the end of this summer enduring thick smoke and 90-degree weather while in firefighting gear, including a helmet, goggles and fire-retardant clothing.
Valenti had no firefighting experience before this summer, but he did have a role model in the profession. His father, Michael Valenti, is the state forester of Delaware and has been fighting fires in the western states most summers since 1998. This summer, the younger Valenti went with his dad, who was the chief of their 20-man crew.
“I was very happy the planets aligned so that we could do this together,” the elder Valenti said.
The group slept in tents as far as 15 miles from the flames, to avoid the smoke. Each morning they drove as close as they could before hiking to the fire lines. They didn’t leave the fireground all day, so everyone, including rookie Valenti, carried 25-pound packs that included an emergency fire shelter, food and more than a gallon of water.
“Once you go out for the day, you can’t get water anywhere else,” Valenti said. “So in addition to what you carry, you drink a lot in the morning and in the evening.”
Although he was new to firefighting, Valenti is not new to camping and being outdoors. He has gone on extended 14-day backpacking and trips with his Boy Scout troops. Valenti, his three brothers and father are all Eagle Scouts.
Michael Valenti said this has been an exceptionally bad year for wildfires and the need for firefighters is high. He urged anyone who is interested to go to their state’s department of forestry for more information on how to get involved.
One person he doesn’t have to convince is his son.
“Growing up on the East Coast I never really understood the impact these fires can have on communities and towns — even entire states,” Nathaniel Valenti said. “I was glad to be able to go out there and make a difference. Whenever we had a reason to be in towns, people would come out and thank us. Hopefully, I’ll be able to do it again next year.”
The volleyball coach at Marymount University knows a thing or two about the sport. Off the court, he’s a professional player, himself.
This summer, coach Hudson Bates will compete in pro beach volleyball tournaments in Seattle, Los Angeles and Chicago, according to a university press release. In between competitions, Bates will also be gearing up for the next volleyball season at Marymount.
“It keeps me busy,” Bates said. “I usually go from playing in a beach tournament over the weekend to recruiting at an indoor club tournament during the week.”
Bates is the university’s first men’s volleyball coach. The program was started three years ago and Bates was hired a month before the first season started.
“We had to scramble to put a roster together from nothing,” he said. “They called us the Bad News Bears. But I got hooked up with a couple of players. We found a few who were already here who had played in high school. We even had a few who had never played before.”
The first year, the team ended with a 9-20 record. Last year, they went 14-20, but this year Bates has high hopes, he said.
“Getting those wins is just like a drug,” he said. “It keeps you going back for more.”
Bates started off as an indoor volleyball player, playing in college at George Mason University. After graduation, he spent two years as an assistant coach for the school, while also training with the USA National Team. Bates has also played professional volleyball in Puerto Rico and Qatar.
Back and knee pain forced him off of the indoor court and outdoors onto the beach.
“Now I like playing on the nice, soft sand,” he said.
Despite the pain from playing indoors, Bates will often demonstrate moves for his players and join them in practice. This helps the players to learn, said Tomasz Ksiazkiewicz, a junior volleyball player at Marymount.
“We always talk about leading by example and Coach Bates always lives up to that rule,” Ksiazkiewicz said. “I have never seen him take days off either at the gym, court, or his office. If you see him around he’s always working on something or helping others out.”
Marymount is offering two sessions of the camp this summer, one for younger runners and one for more experienced athletes. Marymount’s cross-country and triathlon coach Zane Castro will coach both, assisted by professional triathlete Calah Schlabach and St. Anselm’s Abbey School cross-country coach Kailey Gotta.
The first session (June 22-26) is designed for runners age 8-13 who are looking to develop their skills. Enrollment in the five day camp costs $310, which includes lunch at the university and a camp t-shirt at the end of the session. The camp will run each day from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. There is no cap on enrollment.
The second session (June 29-July 3) is capped at 25 students and is geared towards runners age 14-17 who are preparing for the coming cross-country season. The more intensive camp will run from 7:30 a.m to 12 p.m. every day. Cost of enrollment is $200.
According to a press release, participants in both camps will receive a written evaluation from the coaches at the end of the session. To enroll their child, parents should send an email with their child’s name, age and emergency contact number.
Parents must also fill out a registration form and bring the form and a check on the first day of the camp. The form, along with a list of other youth development camps being offered at Marymount this summer, can be found on the school’s website.
Arlington Ranks High for Income Mobility — According to a new study, Arlington County is a very good place to grow up in terms of income mobility for children in poor families. Arlington ranks better than 81 percent of all counties in ensuring that poor children grow up to make more income than their peers in other parts of the country. On average, poor kids from Arlington will make $2,930 more per year at age 26 than poor kids from an average U.S. county. The story is different for girls from wealthy families in Arlington, who typically will earn less than their peers in other counties. By contrast, boys from rich families are in the national top 1 percent in terms of earning more than their born-wealthy peers. [New York Times]
Yorktown Soccer Rolls Stuart — The Yorktown girls’ soccer team beat Stuart on Monday 3-1 to improve their unbeaten record to 9-0-3. The Patriots’ opponents have scored only 5 goals over the past 9 games. [Washington Post]
Photos: Marymount Fashion Show — Fashion design students from Marymount University held their annual Portfolio in Motion show last week. [InsideNova]
Flickr pool photo by @TheBeltWalk
(Updated at 4:00 p.m.) Some of Arlington’s most ambitious teenagers will go before a panel of judges, “Shark Tank”-style, to present business ideas they have cultivated for weeks.
The event is called the Young Entrepreneurs Academy Investor Panel, is May 7 at Marymount University’s Reinsch Library (2807 N. Glebe Road), from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. It’s hosted by the Arlington Chamber of Commerce, which has taken a dozen students from ages 12 to 18 from Arlington schools and taught them the fundamentals of starting a business, every Wednesday evening since Jan. 7.
“It’s important for them to see how the process of starting a business works,” Chamber Communications Manager Meredith Smith said. Each business group will go through the process of applying for business licenses. “It’s been really good seeing these kids develop their businesses.”
The 12 students have split into seven different businesses, and each startup will have six minutes to present to a panel of eight members of the Arlington business community, including from Vornado, Graham Holdings Company and the Ballston BID. Those judges will ask questions, debate and “invest,” just like on the ABC reality show “Shark Tank.”
Among the businesses the kids have come up with are custom-denim shorts, mobile apps and an e-commerce marketplace for “local streetwear/lifestyle brands,” according to the Chamber. They have been instructed by Charlie Sibbald, an entrepreneur and adjunct business professory at MU.
“[The academy] helps the Chamber build the next generation of business leaders by introducing young people early to entrepreneurship and its rewards and challenges,” Chamber President and CEO Kate Roche said in an email. “The program also provides a significant number of meaningful ways for our members to engage with the students. Business leaders are instrumental to the curriculum and the program, serving as mentors, guest speakers, graphic designers, and business plan reviewers.”
Tickets for the event are $10, and it is open to the public. The winning team will be entered into a national scholarship competition and could present its idea to the Americas Small Business Summit in D.C. this June.
(Updated at 11:10 p.m.) One person is dead following a three-car accident on N. Glebe Road near Marymount University tonight.
Arlington 911 dispatchers received a call for a serious crash at the intersection of Glebe and Old Dominion Drive around 8:30 p.m. Friday. Paramedics arriving at the accident scene found one victim lying in the middle of the road, suffering traumatic injuries.
That person was pronounced dead on the scene, according to Arlington County Police Department spokesman Lt. Kip Malcolm.
Initial reports suggest that a pickup truck headed northbound rear-ended a Jaguar at the intersection, and that the pickup truck driver was ejected from the vehicle. The driver of the pickup was found dead, but the driver of the Jaguar suffered only minor injuries and did not require transport to the hospital, we’re told.
It’s believed that there were no other occupants of either vehicle, Malcolm said. A third vehicle, in the southbound lanes, was reportedly struck by the Jaguar after it was rear-ended. No one in the third vehicle required hospitalization, according to Malcolm.
Arlington detectives and the county’s critical accident team are currently investigating the crash. All lanes of Glebe Road are closed at the scene, and are expected to remain closed for several hours. Westbound Old Dominion Drive is closed, and eastbound traffic is being diverted onto southbound Glebe.
The victim is a man in his late 40s, Malcolm said. Early in the investigation, his body was still lying on the roadway, covered with a sheet.
Photo courtesy @ArlingtonVaPD
Marymount University’s physical therapy department is hosting its first 5K as a fundraiser to send its students on service trips to orphanages in Costa Rica.
On Saturday, April 18, the race will kick off and end at the university at 2807 N. Glebe Road. It will begin at 9:00 a.m. and runners will wind through the Donaldson Run neighborhood, along 26th Street N. and Military Road.
It costs $35 for registration — $10 if you’re a Marymount student — which includes a T-shirt, a pint glass and admission to the post-race party on Marymount’s campus. Runners will get a drink ticket, good for a draft beer or a drink from the mimosa bar, as well as free food.
Each runner’s registration will go to fund the school’s efforts in Costa Rica.
“Funds will provide rehabilitative services to the underprivileged and help defray the costs of purchasing and shipping medical equipment and supplies,” Danielle Gross of the Ace Physical Therapy and Sports Medicine Institute said in an email. Ace is co-sponsoring the race with Marymount. “This experience is not only a once in a life time of opportunity and experience for the students, but the orphanages in Costa Rica greatly benefit from the care provided. I myself have seen first hand from my classmates when I was in school how valuable programs like this are.”
At the same time as the race, Marymount will observe Marymount Remembrance Day, which honors two students killed in a car crash when they were freshmen at the school. This year, Gross said, the students would have been seniors.
Photo via Facebook
Chicken Restaurant’s Name Goes National — ARLnow.com’s story about Chingon Pollo, the new chicken restaurant in Buckingham with a potentially vulgar name, has gone national. Last night it was picked up by the Jezebel sub-blog Kitchenette. While our most likely translation of the name — there are a number of potential translations — was “f-ckload of chicken,” Kitchenette translated it as “top f-cker chicken.” Meanwhile, in order to not run “a fowl” of authorities, the restaurant has officially changed its name to “Charcoal Chicken.” [Kitchenette]
New Burial Sites at ANC to Open Next Year — Arlington National Cemetery will open more than 27,000 new burial sites next year, as part of its Millennium Project expansion initiative. Local environmentalists and preservationists protested the expansion. [U.S. Army]
Crowdsourced Bike Rack Map — Arlington County is launching a free crowdsourced map of places to park one’s bicycle. RackSpotter, as it’s called, will rely on users to contribute information on the location and size of bike racks. [Bike Arlington]
Marymount to Buy Portable Planetarium — Marymount University has completed fundraising for a new portable planetarium. The planetarium, which is set up in a tent, will be brought to schools in Arlington, Fairfax and a number of other local counties. [InsideNova]
Crystal House Renovations — Roseland, the owner of the Crystal House apartments in Crystal City, says it’s embarking on a multi-phase renovation of the 828-unit complex. The renovations will spruce up the main lobby, grounds, pool, community common areas and the apartments themselves. “New state-of-the-art washers and dryers are being added to each building’s studio, one-, two-, and three-bedroom apartments,” according to a press release. “Further, full renovations to approximately half of the community’s 828 apartments will include upgraded kitchens with new appliances, upgraded fixtures and finishes in the bathrooms, and new flooring throughout.” A PR rep declined to say how much the renovations will cost.
Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf
In the northeast corner of Marymount University’s North Arlington campus, there has stood an old cemetery with gravestones covered in weeds, without so much as a clue as to who was buried there, and when.
Many of the gravestones read “Gone but not forgotten.”
“That was pretty ironic because the people there had been pretty much forgotten,” MU nursing student Jen Carter, one of the students who was worked to uncover the mysteries of the old cemetery, said in a school press release.
This year, history professor Patrick Mullins, at the urging of MU President Matthew Shank, has led a group of students in unearthing the history behind the cemetery, and they’ve gotten results. According to the school, the Birch-Campbell Cemetery is the burial place for dozens of Arlington residents, dating back to 1841. The most recent burial was in 1959, nine years after the school was founded.
Mullins said they’re still not sure who owns the land — the discovery project is ongoing — but they do know more about some of the cemetery’s permanent residents. Most, the school said, were middle-class farmers and landowners.
The fathers, sister, uncle and brother-in-law of Mary Ann Hall, who owned an “upscale brothel” near the U.S. Capitol, are all buried in the cemetery, the students found. Hall owned a farmhouse on the land where Marymount’s Main Hall now stands. She is buried in Congressional Cemetery after her death in 1886.
“Some of the big questions we discussed — and we need to ask as a society — is who do we remember and what do we preserve?” Mullins said in the release. “We learned a great deal about the site and how it ties into local and regional history. We didn’t answer all the questions we were trying to answer, but it’s an ongoing project. We’re not even positive who actually owns that plot of land. That’s part of the research that we’d like to complete.”
Photos courtesy Marymount University
According to an email forwarded to ARLnow.com, Marymount has agreed to support the idea of a Saturday morning farmers market at the university. The organizing committee is planning a community meeting to discuss the plan next month.
Organizers will have to go through a county permitting process and a number of other steps before they’re able to turn their vision into reality, however. No word yet on a potential launch date.
The following was sent to a number of residents earlier this week.
As you know, Lee Highway Alliance organized a North Arlington Farmers Market committee last spring, which included representatives from a number of neighborhoods and civic associations.
Through a lot of effort, we worked with a potential manager – Smart Markets of Reston – to identify a site for the Saturday morning market at Marymount. Last week the University agreed to support the idea, so now that we have a potential site, we would like you and your members/friends to meet with us to express either your questions, support or concerns.
We have organized a community meeting to discuss it on March 19, 7:30 pm, Marymount Library. Information on the many aspects of a farmers market will be presented, including information on producers (selection and local linkages), transportation (access, parking, impacts), trash, walkability/health, noise, marketing, insurance, County permitting process, scheduling, etc.
If you can not voice your concerns or support in person, please send me your questions or comments in advance, and we will research the answers to be sure that we can respond to you directly.
On behalf of our NoArl Farmers Market Committee, we hope to see you on March 19 at Marymount.
(Updated at 6:25 p.m.) The distinctive “Blue Goose” building on the corner of Fairfax Drive and N. Glebe Road in Ballston is starting to be torn down.
The building, built in the 1960s, will be replaced by a nine-story office building and 15-story residential building. The redevelopment is a partnership between Shooshan Company and Marymount University. Shooshan has a ground lease for the land and is developing the new buildings, while MU owns the land and will occupy six of the nine floors of the new office building, with plans to fill the other three over time.
The demolition is expected to wrap up May, according to Shooshan Company Director of Leasing and Marketing Kevin Shooshan. The first step of construction will be excavation to create the three levels of underground parking. Shooshan expects the two buildings to be complete in summer 2017.
The entire property — the building and the parking lot in the rear — is fenced off as crews begin to tear out the building’s interior. This morning, workers were tossing pieces of the interior from the fourth floor window onto the ground below.
Panels from the building will be donated to local museums to preserve the building as a model of Modern Movement architecture. Some of the panels, as well as blue elements throughout the 7,600-square-foot public plaza also being built on the site, will be preserved as part of the new development.
Arts Center Gets Warhol Grant — The Arlington Arts Center has received a $70,000 grant from the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. “Funding from the Foundation will increase AAC’s capacity to support and present the work of new artists and spur the development of new initiatives and exhibitions,” AAC said in a press release. “Programming support of this scale makes new programs possible, like one for rising curators, while also furthering the ongoing work of the arts center.”
Bicycle Billboard Towers Sought — The Washington Area Bicyclist Association and BikeArlington are seeking bike ambassadors for a safety campaign. Volunteers will ride around Arlington while towing a large, wheeled billboard that tells drivers to pass bikes with at least three feet of space. The sign also encourages all road users to be predictable, alert and lawful. [WABA]
Arlington Couple Get Baby Wish Times Three — The Washington Post’s “This Life” feature profiles an Arlington couple who had trouble conceiving a child when, all of a sudden, fate blessed them with three via various means. [Washington Post]
Voting Machines May Go Old School — As part of a state-wide switch, Arlington election officials are considering replacing all touch screen voting machines with digital optical scan machines in time for the 2016 presidential election. The new machines will utilize what is fundamentally an old-school voting method: scanning paper ballots, which then leaves a paper trail for recounts. [InsideNova]
Jane Goodall to Speak at Marymount Benefit — Famed primatologist Dr. Jane Goodall will speak at a benefit event for Arlington’s Marymount University this spring. The event is taking place at DAR Constitution Hall on Friday, April 17. Ticket proceeds will “help establish a fund at Marymount that will enhance the work of volunteerism and community engagement.” [Marymount University]
Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley
Another Dem Enters Congressional Race — Derek Hyra, an associate professor in Virginia’s Tech’s Urban Affairs and Planning program, has thrown his hat into the ring for the June 10th Democratic primary to replace Rep. Jim Moran in Congress. Hyra is also a member of the Alexandria Planning Commission. [NBC Washington]
Young Dems Hold Meet and Greet — Arlington Young Democrats will hold a meet and greet with some of the Democratic congressional candidates tonight. The event is taking place at 7:00 p.m. at Ireland’s Four Courts (2051 N. Wilson Blvd). [Facebook]
Cost of Police Reports May Rise — County officials are considering raising the price of accident reports and criminal checks from $3-5 to $10 apiece. The increase in fees could bring in an additional $32,000, which would offset the police department’s cost of supplying the reports. [Sun Gazette]
Marymount Signs Ballston Lease — Marymount University has signed a lease for 87,000 square feet of space in the office building at 4040 N. Fairfax Drive. The building was renovated last year after it sole tenant, the Dept. of Defense, moved out due to the Base Realignment and Closure Act. [Federal Capital Partners]
Registration Open for Fairlington 5K — Registration is now open for the Fairlington 5K Run and Walk. The non-competitive event will take place at 8:00 a.m. on Saturday, April 5. It will benefit Abingdon Elementary School and Ellie McGinn, an Abingdon student who’s battling a degenerative mitochondrial disease for which there is no known cure. [Fairlington 5K]
Flickr pool photo by lifeinthedistrict
Lavern Chatman Running for Congress — Lavern Chatman, former president and CEO of the Northern Virginia Urban League, has announced that she’s running for the 8th District seat of the retiring Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.). “We need leaders who understand the struggles and joys of raising and educating children and the benefits of providing them opportunities for economic empowerment,” Chatman, a Democrat, said in a statement. [Blue Virginia]
TandemNSI Launches — TandemNSI, Arlington’s initiative to bring national security technology companies together with government agencies and universities, officially launched Tuesday night. The $525,000 public-private partnership is being launched at a time when Arlington is still smarting from the impending loss of the National Science Foundation. [Bisnow, DoD Buzz]
McKinley Elementary Expansion — A plan to add 225 seats to McKinley Elementary School by the fall of 2016 is moving forward. Arlington Public Schools hopes to complete the design of the addition by the end of 2014 and begin construction by mid-2015. [Sun Gazette]
Restaurant Challenge Begins — The Ballston Business Improvement District is now accepting applications for its Restaurant Challenge. The BID is seeking the area’s “next signature restaurant.” The winner of the challenge will receive an interest-free loan and an 11-year lease on the former Red Parrot Asian Bistro space at 1110 N. Glebe Blvd. “This new program is designed to activate commercial space and showcase the community of Ballston as a magnet for discovery and innovation,” the BID said. [Ballston BID, Washington Business Journal]
Marymount Creates Redskins Gear for Women — Fashion design students at Marymount University in Arlington have created new fashion-forward Washington Redskins apparel for women. The student project was initiated in response to what a professor saw as a lack of stylish options for female Redskins fans. [Marymount University]
Flickr pool photo by Ddimick
The proposed site plan amendment for the project will go before the Arlington County Board at its meeting this Saturday, Jan. 25. The Shooshan Company hopes to bulldoze the distinctive blue building at the corner of Fairfax Drive and N. Glebe Road and replace it with a nine-story office building — to be used to house the Marymount University programs now in the Blue Goose — and a 15-story residential high-rise.
The request for increased density comes with a proposed donation of $1.15 million toward the Ballston beaver pond restoration project and improvements to the Custis Trail, and a $4.57 million contribution to the Ballston Metro west entrance project.
County Planner Samia Byrd said the contributions would connect the Custis Trail to a cycle track that the developer plans to build along Fairfax Drive. The final designs for the improvements “are still under review,” Byrd said, but they could include building a planted buffer between the existing sidewalk and Fairfax Drive and making the sidewalk smoother for pedestrians and cyclists.
The contribution to the Metro entrance is just one chunk of the proposed $75 million project. The entrance, which is partially designed and planned for the intersection of Fairfax Drive and N. Vermont Street, still has no timeline for construction, according to Byrd.
The Ballston Pond restoration project is already underway. Logs were removed that were holding the water in the pond and it drained completely by November. Construction on Ballston Pond to improve the habitat for wildlife is expected to begin in the spring.
The redevelopment, and demolition of the infamous building, drew criticism from historic preservation group Preservation Arlington, which named it one of the most “Endangered Public Places.” The developer has since agreed to keep some of the blue panels as elements in the new buildings, while others will be donated to local museums.
The “historical attributes” of the 1960s-era building will be “incorporated into the design of the proposed office building and landscaping in the public plaza and courtyard,” according to the county staff report.
Other community benefits proposed in the site plan include a $75,000 public art contribution, a $106,000 utility underground fund contribution, a $567,000 Transportation Demand Management contribution over 30 years, a public plaza and walkway, a $258,000 contribution to the Affordable Housing Investment Fund and LEED Gold certification.
Construction will remove the surface parking lot on the site and, because the office building will be largely used for education purposes, the Shooshan Company has requested a reduced mandatory parking ratio. The residential building includes 3,000 square feet of ground floor retail and 267 units, some of which will be committed affordable housing.