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Video: Navy Reserve Commander Returns Home, Surprises Son at School

(Updated at 4:25 p.m.) Jonathan Blyth, a commander in the U.S. Navy Reserve who spent the last nine months overseas, promised his son he’d be home by the time school let out.

Blyth made it home today (Tuesday), with one day to spare.

He arranged to surprise his son, David, just before class let out at Arlington Science Focus School. Staff led the second grader away from the room briefly, giving his dad some time to sneak in and wait for David to return.

“I was very shocked,” David Blyth told ARLnow. “I was just expecting books.”

Jonathan Blyth says seeing his son again after nearly a year apart “gives you a greater appreciation of the United States of America,” particularly because this was his first deployment.

He was stationed at NATO’s Resolute Support Headquarters in Kabul, Afghanistan for the last seven months, so he finds himself appreciating even the little things like “the ability to walk and be outside.”

“It’s amazing to be back,” Blyth said. “It’s great to be back.”

He brought with him a preserved scorpion — David’s verdict: “It’s creepy looking,” but he still showed it off to his classmates — as well as a Washington Nationals baseball cap.

David will head back to school for his last day of class tomorrow (Wednesday), then the family will take off for a lengthy summer vacation.

“I promised him if he did well in school, he’d get a trip to Disney World,” Jonathan Blyth said.

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Morning Notes

Golf Course Tax Bill Passes — A bill that would provide a massive tax break to two Arlington country clubs has passed the Virginia General Assembly. The bill, if signed into law by Gov. Ralph Northam (D), would cost Arlington $1.5 million or more in tax revenue. [Washington Post]

Military Couple Fights Wife’s Deportation — The wife of a retired Army special forces veteran was to face deportation in an Arlington-based immigration court next week, but the Dept. of Homeland Security is now offering to drop the proceedings. Prior to the reversal, Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) called said via social media: “Military families should not be targeted like this. It’s unconscionable.” [Military Times, Twitter]

Cherry Blossom Bloom Prediction — The National Park Service expects peak bloom for the Tidal Basin cherry blossoms to take place March 17-20. [PoPville]

Beyer’s GOP Challenger — “The Republican challenger to U.S. Rep. Don Beyer (D) used a Feb. 28 meeting of the Arlington County Republican Committee to introduce himself to the county’s GOP rank-and-file. ‘I look forward to the campaign,’ said Thomas Oh… an Army veteran and currently a contractor in Falls Church.” [InsideNova]

Marymount Joins New Conference — Marymount University in Arlington and five other schools have formed the new Atlantic East Conference within NCAA Division III. [Marymount University, Twitter]

County Seeking Budget Feedback — Arlington County is seeking feedback on its proposed budget. The online survey asks residents to weigh in on various priorities, including county employee raises, economic development, Metro funding, school funding, infrastructure investment and affordable housing. [SurveyMonkey]

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Military Device Prompts Scare in Lyon Park

An unexpected find by a Lyon Park resident prompted a police and fire department response on the 200 block of N. Barton Street last night.

The resident called the authorities after finding a military mortar shell in his or her basement. Police, firefighters and the county’s bomb squad responded to investigate.

Eventually, it was determined that the object was indeed an old World War II mortar shell, but that all of the explosives has already been removed.

“Nothing illegal or dangerous about it, but [the] homeowner turned it over to [the] bomb team anyway,” a fire department spokesman said via text message.

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Kaine: Budget Deal is “Good for the Country and Good for Virginia”

Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) is calling the bipartisan budget deal, which passed early Friday morning after a five-hour government shutdown, “good for the country and good for Virginia.”

The deal, which adds billions of dollars in federal spending for military, disaster relief, and domestic programs, comes weeks after a historic package of tax cuts championed by President Trump and the GOP was signed into law.

Kaine is touting several portions of the spending bill as Virginian victories, such as the $3 billion for 2018 and 2019, respectively, that the budget sets aside to tackle the national substance abuse epidemic. The Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) has been funded for an additional four years, which a press release from the Senator’s office states will benefit 66,000 Virginian children.

A two year funding extension of federally-qualified community healthy centers was included in the spending bill. The Senator’s press release states that “approximately 300,000 Virginians receive health care at more than 100 community health center locations in underserved communities” across the state.

“I am proud to have worked with a bipartisan group of my colleagues last month on negotiations to reopen the government that led us toward this deal, but our work isn’t done. We now must build on this bipartisan progress and immediately proceed to debate and pass legislation that permanently protects Dreamers,” stated a press release quoting Kaine.

The bill ends military sequestration, which Kaine says has been “painful” to Virginia’s military community. It also increases national security and military spending by $80 billion in 2018 and $85 billion in 2019. Domestic spending will be increased by $63 billion in 2018 and $68 billion in 2019, which will fund education, health, and non-defense national security programs.

Other Virginia “wins” cited by Kaine, via press release, include:

  • Veterans – $2 billion for FY 18 and $2 billion for FY 19 to reduce the VA health care maintenance backlog
  • Child Care – $2.9 billion for FY 18 and $2.9 billion for FY 19 for child care, including for the Child Care Development Block Grant program;
  • Higher Education – $2 billion for FY 18 and $2 billion for FY 19 for programs that aid college completion and affordability, including those that help police officers, teachers, and firefighters;
    Drug Addiction and Mental Health – $3 billion for FY18 and $3 billion for FY19 to combat the substance abuse epidemic;
  • Infrastructure: Transportation, Clean Water and Broadband – $10 billion for FY 18 and $10 billion for FY 19 to invest in infrastructure, including programs related to rural water and wastewater, clean and safe drinking water, rural broadband, roads, rail and bridges;

Photo via Sen. Tim Kaine’s office

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Beyer: Trump Parade Idea Is ‘Vanity Project… Reminiscent of Authoritarians’

Congressman Don Beyer (D-Va.) is raining pointed criticism on President Donald Trump’s parade.

Calling the president’s idea of a grand military parade in the nation’s capital “terrible” and “an embarrassing misuse of our military leaders’ time,” Beyer says he is also concerned about the impact of tanks and large military vehicles on local roads.

Beyer is particularly concerned that if the parade follows the same route as Trump’s inaugural parade, as suggested, it could take heavy equipment over the deteriorating Memorial Bridge, which is currently undergoing major repairs.

The congressman issued the following statement Wednesday afternoon.

Most of the reasons why Trump’s idea of huge military parade is a terrible one are immediately obvious. Our military is already strong without having to waste millions of dollars on a parade that could be better spent improving veterans’ services. In 2018 such displays are reminiscent of authoritarians than they are of healthy democracies. Planning this vanity project for President Trump is already an embarrassing misuse of our military leaders’ time, which should be focused on keeping Americans safe.

But there is also regional opposition to this idea because of its local impact. At least one Department of Defense official has already expressed concerns that running heavy military equipment of the kind Trump has asked for could damage local infrastructure. We are still waiting to see the details of Trump’s long-heralded national infrastructure plan, and I fear that my constituents may see their roads ‘chewed up’ before they see any progress toward rebuilding roads and bridges.

Tanks rumbled and troops marched over the Memorial Bridge in 1991 as part of the National Victory Day Parade celebrating the end of the Gulf War.

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Girl Scout Troop Sends Holiday Care Packages to Overseas Female Military Members

A local Girl Scout Troop will send more than 400 pounds of care packages to female military members deployed overseas in time for the holidays.

Girl Scout Troop 6802 collected items like coffee, noodles, personal hygiene products, protein bars and magazines to ship to women based in Jalalabad, Afghanistan. Also included are toys to give to local Afghan children and a personalized note.

The four, all eighth graders, loaded up their packages yesterday (Tuesday) at one of their houses in Cherrydale, ready to be sent abroad.

The Troop members are at the Cadette level of Girl Scouts, and used this project to earn their Silver Awards, which encourage Cadettes to help those in the community and beyond.

Troop member Clara Grimmelbein said she was inspired to help plan the project by a personal connection to the military. She was joined in collecting items by Adriana Sheppard, Victoria Jones and Emily Rotter, who took donations from other troops, friends and family.

“My brother is in college and we always send care packages to him,” she said. “My cheer coach, she’s in the military and she recently got out so I got the idea to send care packages to them. They really need it, because they’re really close to the fighting. Not that other people in the military don’t need it, but they’re close to combat.”

Sending the packages proved to be a challenge, though. Finally, after reaching out to friends and neighbors, they connected with Mike Taylor, global head of Dept. of Defense shipping for DHL and a Boy Scout troop leader in Baltimore. He agreed to have the packages all sent for free.

“We put our feelers out to see who could get all these packages delivered, and DHL stepped up,” Sheree Jones, one of the Troop members’ mothers, said.

In a brief appearance over FaceTime during his travels in Asia, Taylor congratulated the Girl Scouts on their efforts.

“You’ve really stepped up to help servicewomen deployed overseas, and you’re doing great work,” he told them.

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Coast Guard to Conduct Training on Potomac River This Afternoon

The U.S. Coast Guard vessels will be on the Potomac River near Arlington this afternoon for a tactics training session.

The exercise will take place from approximately 3:30-7:30 p.m. today (Wednesday) between Memorial Bridge and the 14th Street Bridge. During the exercise, crews will simulate a secure zone around a valuable asset.

No live fire or blanks will be used, though anyone on the water at that time should be extra vigilant.

More from the U.S. Coast Guard:

On Wednesday, 06 DEC 2017, Coast Guard Station Washington will be conducting boat tactics training from approximately 1530 to 1930. Location for this training will be the Upper Potomac River between Arlington Memorial Bridge and 14th St. Bridge. We will be using orange Coast Guard boats, with flashing blue lights, simulating a security zone around a high value asset. There will be no live fire or blanks used during this training; this is only a tactics and maneuvering drill. There will be a broadcast to notify mariners to exercise caution in the area for the duration of the exercise.

Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman

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County Government Closed Friday for Veterans Day

Arlington County government will close on Friday, November 10 to observe the Veterans Day holiday.

County courts, libraries, community centers, public schools and other government offices and facilities will be closed on Friday also.

Libraries and community centers will be open on Saturday, November 11 on a normal Saturday schedule, while trash and recycling services will continue to operate on a normal schedule on both days.

Parking meters in the county will not be enforced on Friday, but will be on Saturday.

And anyone looking to catch an ART bus over the long weekend will encounter limited service. The 41, 42, 43, 45, 51, 55, 77 and 87 routes will operate on Saturday schedules on both days, while all other ART routes will not operate. The STAR call center will be closed on both days.

Flickr pool photo via thekidfromcumlin

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President Trump to Visit Fort Myer Tonight

President Donald Trump will give a speech regarding the U.S. military strategy in Afghanistan tonight at Fort Myer.

“President Donald J. Trump will address our Nation’s troops and the American people tomorrow night at 9:00 p.m. (EDT) from Fort Myer in Arlington, VA, to provide an update on the path forward for America’s engagement in Afghanistan and South Asia,” the White House said in a press release Sunday afternoon.

As a result, Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall will be closed to non-essential activities starting at 3 p.m. this afternoon.

“This will impact parking and traffic throughout the day. The base will close at 3 p.m. except for essential business,” JBMHH said via Twitter. “The Child Development Center will remain open for normal hours. Recommend using the Henderson Hall gate to enter and depart the joint base. Event is invite only.”

The president’s motorcade may result in some rolling road closures and other traffic impacts in the county.

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Morning Poll: How Worried Are You About Nuclear Annihilation?

As tensions with a nuclear-armed North Korea escalate, it may be prompting some who live here in the D.C. area to reflect on the threat of nuclear conflict.

While experts say nuclear war with North Korea is unlikely, and both the North Koreans and the United States continue to talk about deterrence rather than aggression, there is no denying that the nation’s capital is a prime target for anyone who wants to attack the U.S.

Even in the event of a conflict, North Korea’s intercontinental missiles would not be able to reach D.C., according to news reports. Still, given our proximity in Arlington to places like the White House, the U.S. Capitol, and the Pentagon, how worried are you — in the back of your mind — about nuclear warfare given the latest escalation in rhetoric?

Flickr pool photo by Michael Coffman

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Morning Notes

Advanced Towing Lobbied Hard for Bill — Advanced Towing spent $10,000 on lobbyists and made a $1,500 donation to state Sen. Barbara Favola while successfully pushing for a state bill to override Arlington’s second-signature towing requirement. Supporters of the bill say it passed and McAuliffe ultimately signed it because it had the support of the business community. Advanced is one of the largest towing companies in Northern Virginia and has drawn the ire of many local residents for its ruthless efficiency at trespass towing from private lots. [NBC Washington]

Russian Military Jet Flies Over Arlington — Yesterday an unarmed Russian military jet flew over the Pentagon, CIA headquarters, and the U.S. Capitol “as part of a longstanding treaty that allows the militaries of the United States and Russia to observe the other from the air.” [CNN, Axios]

Arlington Still Hiring Teachers — Arlington Public Schools is still hiring teachers for the upcoming school year. “A total of 280 full- and part-time contract positions were unfilled as of Aug. 1… as the school system continues to process applicants,” the Sun Gazette reported. [InsideNova]

Uber, Lyft Make Mark on Local Restaurant Biz — Although readers were skeptical in a poll late last year, the Washington City Paper reports that Uber and Lyft are having a significant impact on the local restaurant industry, drawing customers from a wider area geographically than would have visited before the ride hailing services existed. It’s also bringing more customers to hot non-Metro-accessible restaurants. And it’s not just hipster-y D.C. restaurants drawing customers from around the region: Lyft said Clarendon’s Don Tito was its most visited bar in the D.C. area in 2016. [Washington City Paper]

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Morning Notes

Icy fence (Flickr pool photo by Eric)

CEB Being Acquired — Arlington-based CEB Inc., one of the county’s biggest private employers, is being acquired by Connecticut-based Gartner in a $2.6 billion cash-and-stock deal. CEB is set to anchor one of the under-construction Central Place towers in Rosslyn once it is completed. [Reuters, Gartner]

Fisette Still Mulling Reelection Run — Jay Fisette, who is serving as Arlington County Board Chair for 2017, has not yet decided whether he’ll run for another four-year term. Fisette says he’ll make a decision in February, the Washington Post’s Patricia Sullivan reports. [Twitter]

What County Board Members Did for New Year’s — With the County Board’s traditional New Year’s Day organizational meeting moved to Jan. 3, what did County Board members do on Jan. 1 instead? Nothing too interesting, it turns out. [Falls Church News-Press]

Obama’s Military Farewell Ceremony — It tied up some traffic in Arlington, but yesterday afternoon the country’s armed forces bid farewell to President Obama and Vice President Biden on Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall. The event went well, minus one Army honor guard member fainting during the ceremony. [NBC News, Daily Mail]

Couple Married After 20 Years Together — An Arlington couple that first met 20 years ago in a D.C. nightclub finally tied the knot over the summer. Bob Kenney, a real estate agent, and Mark Treadaway, an airport executive, were wed in the backyard of their Woodmont home in front of 75 guests. [Arlington Magazine]

Nearby: Alexandria Flips Out Over Taco Bell — Residents in the West End of Alexandria are really worried about a proposed Taco Bell. In letters to the city’s planning commission, residents decried the potential for “late night riff raff,” “the devastating effects of an accident,” and “lowered home values.” One resident also relayed her personal experience of going to a Taco Bell that had run out of forks. There are four Taco Bells in Arlington County, including one on the Alexandria border and another in the Pentagon. [Washington Business Journal, City of Alexandria]

Va. Legislator Proposes N.C. Style Bathroom Bill — Del. Bob Marshall (R-Prince William) has proposed a “bathroom bill” similar to the controversial bill that because law in North Carolina. The bill would restrict transgender individuals from using certain bathrooms and would require school principals to “notify all parents if a student at their children’s school asks to be treated as a member of the opposite sex.” [Washington Post]

Flickr pool photo by Eric

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President Obama Is Coming to Arlington This Afternoon

President Obama addresses students and parents at Washington-Lee High School

President Obama is expected to make at least one more official trip into Arlington County this afternoon.

The president and Vice President Biden will be participating in an Armed Forces Full Honor Review Farewell Ceremony at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, according to a White House press schedule.

The event is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. Drivers should expect temporary road closures near the base — Route 50, Washington Blvd, etc. — as a result of the visit.

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Mechanical Problems Force Military Helicopter to Land at Yorktown HS

A military helicopter experiencing mechanical problems landed on Yorktown High School’s football field Friday night.

The landing was first reported around 9 p.m. There was no report of injuries.

Arlington County Police said via Twitter that a maintenance crew arrived on scene just after 10 p.m. to make repairs.

 

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Closures, Clarendon Ceremony Planned for Veterans Day

Veterans Day ceremony in Clarendon (photo courtesy Peter Golkin)

Government offices, courts, libraries and schools in Arlington County will be closed Friday for the Veterans Day holiday.

Parking meters won’t be enforced and ART buses will operate on a Saturday schedule. County-run pools will be open and trash and recycling collection will proceed as normal, however.

On Friday at 1 p.m., an annual Veterans Day ceremony will be held in Clarendon.

Via Arlington County:

Arlington American Legion Post 139 is holding a ceremony at 1 p.m. at the War Memorial in Clarendon Central Park at Clarendon Blvd. and Wilson Blvd. The ceremony will honor current service members and all veterans and remember those we have lost. There will be a special recognition of the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War honoring Vietnam era veterans.

Photo courtesy Peter Golkin

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