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Morning Notes

The sun shines through a tree showing fall colors in the Ballston area (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

DCA Changes Next Week — From NBC 4’s Adam Tuss: “Major change coming to @Reagan_Airport next Tuesday – these new security checkpoints open, changing the feel of the airport. The main hall (Ben’s Chili Bowl, Legal Seafood) now goes BEHIND security.” [Twitter, Twitter, NBC 4]

Chilly Weather Poses Lunch Challenge — “Having tried where possible to provide school-lunch service outdoors since August, Arlington school leaders are now faced with the task of trying to figure out a plan to accommodate students inside while meeting their own social-distancing guidelines. And it looks like it’s being left up to the individual schools to thrash out their own approach.” [Sun Gazette]

Memorial Service for Pentagon Police Officer — “The Pentagon Force Protection Agency (PFPA) will hold a memorial service for fallen Pentagon police officer Cpl. George Gonzalez, on Thursday, Nov. 4, 10 a.m. EDT in the Pentagon Center Courtyard. Cpl. Gonzalez, a Pentagon police officer and Army Reservist, was killed in the line of duty Aug. 3, 2021, during an attack at the Pentagon Metro Platform. His body was laid to rest Aug. 16 in his hometown of Brooklyn, N.Y.” [Dept. of Defense]

It’s ThursdayAreas of frost before 9 a.m. today. Otherwise, partly sunny, with a high near 53. Sunrise at 7:38 a.m. and sunset at 6:04 p.m. Tomorrow it will be sunny, with a high near 54.

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Ceremonies and events will be held in Arlington this weekend to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on Saturday.

The events will pay tribute to those who died as well as to Arlington’s first responders, whose response to the Pentagon attack has been hailed as a “model for the nation” by the 9/11 Commission.

Among the events on tap are a wreath-laying ceremony, a memorial 5K, a bike ride, a softball tournament, and a private event at the Pentagon for the families of the victims.

With some events at-capacity or closed to the public, the county says locals can observe the day from home, by watching short videos produced by the county, or by hanging American flags.

Wreath-Laying Ceremony

The Arlington County Public Safety Combined Honor Guard will perform a Presentation of Colors and lay a wreath at county government headquarters at 2100 Clarendon Blvd at 9 a.m tomorrow (Friday). A moment of silence will be observed at 9:37 a.m., when American Airlines Flight 77 struck the Pentagon.

The ceremony can be steamed on the county website, YouTube, or Facebook, or viewed on Comcast channel 1085 or Verizon FiOS channel 39.

Memorial 5K

Arlington’s police and fire departments, the Sheriff’s Office and the Emergency Communications Center will host the annual 9/11 Memorial 5K Run and fundraiser this Saturday. The race starts at 6 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 11 at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel in Crystal City (300 Army Navy Drive). The in-person race is at capacity, but the event is still registering virtual participants.

Pentagon Memorial Event

The National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial is currently closed due to COVID-19, with no reopening date set. Family members of victims and other invited guests will be admitted this weekend for a seated event with social distancing and various speakers.

‘Ride of Hope’ Cycling Event

Cyclists will ride 15 miles, starting at 7 a.m. on Saturday, and stop at the nine Arlington fire stations that responded to the attack. The ride ends with a moment of silence and a wreath ceremony.

Those who responded 20 years ago will ride to the Pentagon 9/11 memorial and lay another wreath. All retired and active first responders are invited, as well as family and friends 18 and older. If spots are available, other adults can join as well.

Photography Exhibit

Three local photographers will host a photography exhibit entitled “Still Standing — Still Free” at Fashion Centre at Pentagon City mall, with original photos, a video of the immediate aftermath, 9/11 artifacts and never-before-seen snapshots. The display will be free to the public. It runs from Saturday, Sept. 11 through Monday, Oct. 11.

First Responders Cup Tournament

A softball tournament at the Barcroft Park (4200 S. Four Mile Run Drive) on Saturday will raise money for Pentagon Disaster Relief charities. All games are free to participate in and open to anyone who is interested. Opening ceremonies start at 7:30 a.m. Saturday, and will feature the Armed Services Color Guard, the 3rd Army Old Guard Ceremonial Fife and Drums Corps, and the fire department.

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(Updated 8/27/21) The long-planned 9/11 Pentagon Memorial Visitor Education Center is aiming for a September 2025 opening, executive director Jim Laychak tells ARLnow.

A video announcement with updated designs, plans, and visuals for the education center that will be located along the soon-to-be-realigned Columbia Pike will be unveiled in the coming weeks and prior to the 20th anniversary of 9/11, Laychak says.

The website and provided renderings currently shows a sleek, modern design with exhibits, “interactive biographies” of those who died at the Pentagon on 9/11, a rooftop terrace, ample parking, and a family gallery.

The project has contracted Fentress Architects to design the building as well as the museum design firm PRD to do the exhibits. PRD recently helped to design D.C.’s Museum of the Bible.

Construction on the anticipated companion to the 9/11 Pentagon Memorial is expected to start within two years.

“September 2023, we could start construction and, in two years from that, we will be open,” says Laychak, who also oversaw the building of the nearby memorial. “It’s about a two year construction [phase].”

However, that timeline isn’t set and and is dependent on the completion of the Arlington National Cemetery Defense Access Roads Project. That project will realign Columbia Pike, modify the S. Joyce Street intersection, and shift the Columbia Pike and Washington Blvd. interchange. This is all being done to allow for Arlington National Cemetery to expand.

“The site where we are going to build is on that whole grassy area where the gas station used to be,” says Laychak. “It’s got a cloverleaf there and… that needs to change to a parallel on and off ramp… to Washington Blvd. So, all of that needs to happen first.”

Construction on the road realignment was originally slated to start  in “summer 2021,” according to the U.S. Department of Transportation website, but work hasn’t begun yet.

ARLnow has reached out to the department about an updated timeline for the project but has yet to hear back as of publication.

The Pentagon Memorial opened to the public in 2008, but the 9/11 Pentagon Memorial Visitor Education Center wasn’t announced until late September 2015. It will sit on land owned by Arlington National Cemetery.

“The 9/11 Pentagon Visitor Education Center site is in a dramatic location,” the museum’s website said back in 2015. “Right where the attack of 9/11 took place and adjacent to the 9/11 Pentagon Memorial, Arlington National Cemetery and Air Force Memorial.”

In 2016, renderings were displayed at the Pentagon City mall. Initially, it was expected to be completed by 2020 but that didn’t happen due to the project needing to wait for the ANC expansion and roads projects to take shape, says Laychak.

The last few years have mostly been filled with completing the architecture design, raising money, and reassembling a board of directors that now includes Sean Connaughton, a former Virginia transportation secretary.

The project has raised about $5 million, which was used to complete the design of the education center and exhibits. Overall, it will need to raise another $80 million, which Laychak estimates will be a split between federal appropriations (much like what was the case for the memorial) and private funds. The executive team is in the midst of a capital campaign to raise those funds.

Laychak believes the addition of the education center, along with the expansion of the cemetery and the roads project, will transform the 9/11 Pentagon Memorial into a “destination location.” It will also make the memorial much easier to get to, he says, since right now it can be a bit of a maze of a walk through parking lots, concrete barriers, and closed access points.

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The National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial (courtesy of 9/11 Trail)

The National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial is currently closed to the public due COVID protocols and may not be open to the public by September 11, a Pentagon spokesperson confirms to ARLnow.

The Department of Defense closed down the 9/11 Memorial and public tours again earlier this month due to an increase in COVID-19 cases in the region.

At this point, it’s unlikely that the memorial in Arlington will be reopened to the public on September 11, the 20th anniversary of the attack on the Pentagon.

“We can not predict when it will be open again,” Pentagon spokesperson Susan Gough tells ARLnow.

As of August 2, the Pentagon reservation has been under Health Protection Condition Bravo (HPCON Bravo), meaning there’s “moderate” community transmission. This lines up with CDC’s data on August 2 showing that Arlington, as a whole, was seeing “substantial” community transmission. (It was recently upgraded to “high” by the CDC.)

Gough says the restrictions on the memorial will only loosen when the entire reservation moves to HPCON Alpha — “limited” community transmission.

While the memorial is outside, it operates under the parameters of the entire Pentagon. Meaning, it will only reopen to the public when the Defense Department shifts the entire reservation back to HPCON Alpha.

While the memorial probably won’t be open for visitation by the general public, there will be a small ceremony on the morning of September 11 for families and invited guests only.

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A 1,300-mile network of trails that connects Arlington to the two other sites of the Sept. 11 terror attacks could be granted federal designation next month.

Initially founded in the weeks after the attacks, the expansive September 11th National Memorial Trail, which runs through six states and D.C., has yet to be fully completed.

Federal designation would give the network of trails name-recognition and help the nonprofit alliance administering the trail fund its completion in the coming decades, proponents say.

A bill advocating for federal designation, put forward and sponsored by Northern Virginia Reps. Gerry Connolly and Don Beyer, respectively, is with the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. It passed unanimously in the House of Representatives last week.

If approved by the Senate, locals riding on the Mount Vernon Trail — which is part of the 9/11 Memorial Trail — or near Arlington National Cemetery may see new, standardized signage within the next year heralding the “September 11th National Memorial Trail Route,” according to Thomas Baxter, President of the September 11th National Memorial Trail Alliance, which administers the trail.

“The designation will help in our visibility of the 9/11 National Memorial Trail and will enhance our partnership with the National Parks Service,” the trail’s founder, David Brickley, tells ARLnow. “It’ll enhance the experience of the visitor and assure that that story of what happened on 9/11 are not forgotten.”

Brickley, a Virginian, says the move will be at little to no cost for local municipalities or the taxpayer. Outside of consistent signage across the six states and D.C., other practical implications — such as new construction — have yet to be teased out, according to Beyer’s team.

The trail route from the National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial to the National 9/11 Memorial and Museum in New York City and the Flight 93 National Memorial in Pennsylvania will be administered by the National Park Service. Brickley said maintenance will remain the responsibility of the trail’s alliance.

Still, the connection to NPS will help, as much of the trail runs through national park land, he said.

To make sure the trail isn’t too much of a burden to municipalities, Baxter said the trail alliance works with local community foundations to maintain individual sections.

In Arlington, “we are in discussions with several community foundations, but one has yet to be selected,” he said.

As for whether designation will bring long-term projects down the road, Beyer’s spokesman Aaron Fritschner said “we don’t know yet.”

“The first step is to get the federal designation, which is what Rep. Connolly’s bill does, and which would create a federal status so the 9/11 Memorial Trail remains protected by federal law along its full length, some of which runs through jurisdictions where you might have less certainty about it remaining protected without a federal designation than you would expect in a place like Arlington.”

About 51% of the 1,300-mile trail is designated for off road multi-use trails, meaning another 49% is not built up or runs through land that could one day be developed, Baxter said. Finishing the trail involves securing property, writing grants and working with local partners.

“It’s going to take a long time, probably decades, to get it all the way complete,” he said.

Designation will make the trail more competitive when applying for state, federal and private grants for building the trails and maintaining them, he said.

With federal designation possibly coming soon, Brickley thanked Beyer and Connolly for their support.

“Gerry Connolly and Don Beyer have been tremendous friends to the trail and the alliance,” he said. “We couldn’t ask for better congressmen helping with this project.”

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Fire Station 5 in Aurora Highlands (via Google Maps)

Arlington County’s first responders, family and friends will gather on Saturday, Sep. 11 for a bike ride to honor those who responded to the attack on the Pentagon 20 years ago.

The bike ride will also commemorate the 20th anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

Called the 20th Anniversary 9/11 Ride of Hope, the 15-mile bike ride will stop at the nine Arlington fire stations that responded to the Sep. 11, 2001 attack on the Pentagon.

The ride will begin at 7 a.m. at Fire Station 6 (6950 Little Falls Road), near Falls Church, and for most attendees, will end at Fire Station 5 (1750 S. Hayes Street) in Aurora Highlands. There, organizers will hold a moment of silence.

There will also be a wreath-laying ceremony at Fire Station 5, which will be a “memorial service for a grand opening of a memorial park” that includes a steel beam from the World Trade Center, which currently lies next to the station, organizers Dale Smith and Christine Cornwell said.

Smith and Cornwell are both retired firefighters, and Smith was on the scene after the Sep. 11 attack on the Pentagon. First responders who were at the scene of the attack will then ride to the Pentagon 9/11 memorial to lay another wreath.

Organizers said the entire ride will be at a leisurely and relaxed pace and will have a police escort.

The bike ride is open to all retired and active first responders, along with family and friends over the age of 18. Other adults may join as well, but with a limit of 200 people, priority will be given to first responders. After conceiving the idea, the two obtained approval from the Arlington County Fire Department to hold the event.

Cornwell and Smith said they hope that even if people are unable to participate, they still support the riders along the route.

“We really would love for the citizens of Arlington to either flags on the route, be on the route, or make signs for the first responders. I think it would be a really uplifting thing,” Cornwell said.

The bike ride is one of several Arlington events that will be held to remember the attacks on Sep. 11, 2001. Later that day, Arlington’s 9/11 Memorial 5K will start at 6 p.m.

Photo via Google Maps

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Morning Notes

Mystery Disease Still Killing Songbirds — “Jennifer Toussaint, chief of animal control in Arlington, Virginia, can’t forget the four baby blue jays. In late May, worried residents had delivered the fledglings to her clinic just outside of Washington, D.C., within just a few hours. Each was plump, indicating ‘their parents had done a great job caring for them,’ Toussaint says. But the birds were lethargic, unable to keep their balance, and blinded by crusty, oozing patches that had grown over their eyes…. Since May, when the illness was first recognized in and around Washington, D.C., researchers have documented hundreds of cases in at least a dozen species of birds in nine eastern and midwestern states. ” [Science Magazine, InsideNova, Fox News]

Plaque to Honor Breast Health Fund’s Namesake — “The Arlington Free Clinic (AFC) on July 7 held a plaque unveiling to celebrate the life of Sharon McGowan, an Arlington mother of seven who died at age 45 after battling breast cancer, and to mark the transfer of a fund in her name supporting breast health… The fund supports mammograms and biopsies for uninsured patients (including those AFC serves) fighting breast cancer in Northern Virginia.” [Sun Gazette]

Pentagon City Bus Stop Relocations — “Starting on Sunday, July 11, bus stops A, B and C along S. Hayes Street at the Pentagon City Metro station will be closed while in road concrete pads are installed at the bus bays. Buses that serve the closed stops will be temporarily relocated to bus stops E, T1 and T2 (see map below). The bus stop relocations will mainly impact Metrobus and Metroway service. The bus stop relocations will not impact ART bus service.” [Arlington Transit]

Prosecutor Pushes Back on ‘Myths’ — From Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney for Arlington and Falls Church: “Myth: Restorative justice is a ‘get out of jail free card.’ Reality: Restorative justice is not synonymous with diversion.” [Twitter]

Event for New Chamber Music Quartet — “The newly formed 9th Street Chamber Music LLC will host a launch party on Friday, July 16 at 5 p.m. on the lawn at St. George’s Episcopal Church, 915 North Oakland St. The event will include music, food and drink for purchase, a raffle and more.” [Sun Gazette]

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A music-producing memorial tied to World War II received some fanfare this morning, as part of a restoration effort that began in 2019.

The towering Netherlands Carillon, located near the Marine Corps War Memorial and a short walk from Rosslyn, had its bells removed and shipped back to the Netherlands for restoration and tuning. The country gifted the memorial to the U.S. for its help during and after the war.

On Thursday morning, a new bell weighing over three tons was raised by a crane, in a ceremony that featured the U.S. and Dutch anthems as well as speakers including André Haspels, ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

The hoisted George C. Marshall Bell is named after the former secretary of state who under President Harry Truman helped Western Europe rebuild with the Marshall Plan.

The bell, along with two other new bells, were cast in 2020 in the Netherlands.

The carillon was first installed in D.C. in West Potomac Park before being relocated next to the war memorial in Arlington in 1960.

The three new bells will make it a grand carillon — a term for the musical instruments that have more than 50 bells.

The other two bells will be added later, and the National Park Service expects the restoration to be complete by this fall. Those other bells are being named in honor of civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr. and First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt.

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Morning Notes

ACFD Vaxed to the Max — “Of the public safety departments surveyed by the I-Team, the Arlington County Fire Department has the most vaccinated, with 82 percent of its roughly 360 employees receiving the shot. Alexandria’s fire department, Frederick County, Maryland’s fire department and Montgomery County police are close behind, reporting about 70 percent of their members vaccinated.” [NBC 4]

Law Enforcement Memorial Day — Today starting at 8 a.m. “[t]he Arlington County Police Department and the Arlington County Sheriff’s Office will host a virtual Observance of Peace Officers Memorial Day to honor and pay tribute to the memory of Arlington’s seven fallen law enforcement officers.” [ACPD]

Covid Testing for APS Athletes — “Beginning the week of May 10, APS will begin providing daily free COVID-19 testing for student athletes. The testing is optional and will be conducted at the three comprehensive high schools with written parent/guardian consent. These efforts are put in place to prevent and mitigate transmission of COVID-19 among athletes.” [Arlington Public Schools]

DJO Grad to Kick for UNC — “Bishop O’Connell High School graduate and Great Falls resident Ethan Torres played four years of college football for Bucknell University as a place-kicker, and now will play a fifth season this coming fall for University of North Carolina at Charlotte as a graduate transfer student.” [Sun Gazette]

Runners Enjoy Rainy Crystal City 5K — “They lined up in waves, socially distanced for The Great Inflatable Race: Pacers 5k in National Landing. Only 250 runners instead of the normal 1,500… ‘This is one small step toward normalization,’ says runner Ian Squires.” [WJLA]

Jeopardy Asks Arlington Question — “We made Jeopardy! again. From last Friday. Category was A Whopp’ington’ of a City.” [Twitter]

Nearby: Mosque Knife Incident — “A Falls Church man is under arrest and faces charges after Fairfax County, Virginia, police said he pointed a knife at several people in a Seven Corners mosque.” [WTOP, Annandale Blog]

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Morning Notes

Park Plaque to Honor Gutshall — “A memorial plaque honoring the life and contributions of the late Arlington County Board member Erik Gutshall soon will be a part of the neighborhood he called home… when it is in place near the North Highland Street side of Zitkala-Sa Park, the memorial will be situated within sight of Gutshall’s longtime home.” [Sun Gazette]

Ballston Local Now Open — “A casual new neighborhood bar serving New York-style pizza, smash burgers, cheesy crab fries, and generous “Vegas-style” portions of chicken Parm opened in Arlington, Virginia, over the weekend. Ballston Local (900 N. Glebe Road) comes from Jason Johnston, the opening executive chef at MGM National Harbor, and business partner Jonah Troth. Opening day was Saturday, May 1.” [Eater]

Arlington Unemployment Ticks Down — “Although it continues to report improvements, the latest unemployment date shows Arlington’s jobless rate remains more than twice what it was at the onset of the pandemic… the county’s jobless rate in March was 4 percent, according to figures reported April 28 by the Virginia Employment Commission. That’s down a tick from the rate of 4.1 percent reported in February, but remains well above the 1.8-percent rate of March 2020.” [Sun Gazette]

New Trails May Provide Economic Boost — “A proposal to add more than 400 miles to the region’s existing trail network could create more than 16,000 jobs and generate more than $1 billion a year in revenue from construction and local spending, according to a new report.” [Washington Post]

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Arlington County will be participating in a national event “honoring the lives we have lost to COVID-19” next week.

The event is happening at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, in connection with the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden. The county is encouraging churches to ring their bells, businesses to light their buildings, and residents to put a lighted candle in a window.

“Although the memorial is part of the inauguration event, we view it as a non-partisan effort to bring our nation together to honor those who have died, reflect on this challenging period in our history and commit to ending this pandemic,” County Board Chair Matt de Ferranti wrote to businesses today, encouraging their participation.

More than 380,000 people have died from the coronavirus in the U.S., including nearly 4,000 yesterday alone, according to the New York Times.

In Arlington, 82 new cases were reported overnight, bringing the seven-day trailing average of new daily cases down to 117. During the course of the pandemic, 187 people have died from COVID-19 in Arlington, according to Virginia Dept. of Health data. One additional death was reported Wednesday.

More from a county press release:

The Arlington County Board today invited all Arlingtonians to participate on Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021, in an event of national unity and remembrance honoring the lives we have lost to COVID-19.

“I hope that every Arlingtonian will join County Government in honoring those who have died, offering comfort to those they have left behind, and committing to defeating this pandemic and recovering,” Arlington County Board Chair Matt de Ferranti said. “Amidst concerns for public safety around inaugural activities, this memorial event offers an opportunity for our community to make a powerful statement of unity while staying home and staying safe.”

Arlington will join communities across the nation in remembering the more than 380,000 people who have died in the United States from COVID-19. At 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 19, just as a pre-inauguration vigil begins at the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool in the District of Columbia, County Government has asked that church bells ring and that other houses of worship and Arlington businesses light their buildings, while residents place a lighted candle in a window.

“We ask all our residents, our business community, our faith community, and our non-profit organizations to join us in this powerful gesture of comfort, remembrance, and hope,” de Ferranti said.

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