The County Board has given the go-ahead to a plan from the U.S. Department of Defense to install equipment around Arlington that could detect explosions and provide forensic data to investigators after an attack.
The board’s members voted unanimously last night to approve a license agreement between the County Board and the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) to install the equipment on county property.
According to a county staff report, the nature and location of the equipment will be kept secret and exempt from Virginia’s Freedom of Information Act, a fact that worried ACLU of Virginia’s executive director, Claire Guthrie Gastañaga. Speaking before the board, Gastañaga argued that it was “important that the capabilities of the equipment be public.”
“We don’t think think that… those capabilities of this kind of equipment are any real secret,” she said. Additionally, Gastañaga urged the board to ask the Defense Department to agree not to install listening devices or other active monitoring equipment.
County Attorney Stephen MacIsaac replied that the board has some of the same concerns as the ACLU, and added that its members have had an opportunity to examine the plans to assure “that the nature of the equipment is not the kind of thing that can record audio or visual activities.”
“It is dormant equipment that is only activated when an event occurs and it does not record audio or video,” MacIsaac said. “You can have a high level of confidence that the equipment they’re putting out there is not capable of doing the sorts of things that there is concern about.”
Board member John Vihstadt agreed with McIsaac and said that “the county has a high degree of control over exactly what DTRA is doing and what they’re putting out on county property.”
“I think a big distinction here is that we’re not turning over any part of our county’s infrastructure or geography or territory to DTRA, we’re simply entering into a licensing agreement to deploy the kind of sensors that they have described,” added board member Christian Dorsey. “That gives me great comfort that many of the civil liberties issues that Ms. Gastanaga have brought up are not going to be ongoing issues here.”
Furthermore, board chair Libby Garvey said the county could choose to cancel the agreement if it ever became concerned with the new equipment.
Screenshot via County Board video
The Arlington County Board is expected to approve the installation of the detection equipment on county property at its meeting this Saturday.
A county staff report, below, notes that the nature and location of the equipment will be kept secret and exempt from Virginia’s Freedom of Information Act.
[The Defense Threat Reduction Agency] is a part of the U.S. Department of Defense and has requested permission from the County to install explosion detection equipment on County property. The equipment is designed to characterize explosions in urban environments. In the event of an intentional detonation, such as a terrorist attack, the information generated by the equipment will be used in the federal government’s efforts to determine who was responsible for, and how to respond to, the event. The information obtained from the equipment will be used to support law enforcement efforts. DTRA has requested that the License Agreement and supporting documentation, such as the type of equipment and the installation location, be exempted from public disclosure pursuant VA Code Section 2.2-3705.2(4) of Virginia’s Freedom of Information Act.
Barcroft Fourth of July Parade — The annual Barcroft neighborhood Fourth of July parade will take place Monday at 10 a.m. “Decorate your bikes and wagons, put on a costume or build a float and come march from the Community House to Barcroft Elementary,” organizers wrote. “Stay for a potluck picnic and performance by the Banjo Man.” [Arlington Events]
Real Estate Section Returns — After a six month absence, ARLnow has relaunched our Arlington-specific real estate section. Browse local homes for sale, rentals and open houses (there aren’t many this weekend). We’re still working out some bugs, so let us know if you find any. Real estate agents, if your listings aren’t there shoot us an email and we’ll let you know what your office needs to do to get listed. [Arlington Real Estate]
Summer of Savings — Want to get 25 percent off at a local 4.5 star Yelp-reviewed restaurant? Want other exclusive local discounts and offers? If so, be sure to subscribe to our daily Afternoon Update emails today. Starting this weekend, email subscribers will be receiving some great, curated deals from local businesses. [Email Subscription]
Arlington Considering WWI Commemoration — Arlington County officials are considering options for an official, local World War I commemoration. Such a commemoration would mark the 100th anniversary of the conflict, which ended in 1918. [InsideNova]
Photo courtesy @TheBeltWalk
Residents Supportive of Cemetery Expansion Plan — The military held a meeting yesterday to reveal preliminary plans to expand Arlington National Cemetery and realign Columbia Pike. Local residents were generally supportive of the plan and the need to expand the cemetery. [Washington Post]
Arlington Woman Turns 100 — The Sunrise senior living community in Arlington has celebrated the 100th birthday of a resident, Kathleen Hanawalt. Hanawalt celebrated the event with her daughter-in-law and two grandsons. Hanawalt’s husband died in 1969. [InsideNova]
Endorsements for Gutshall, Talento — Arlington County Board challenger Erik Gutshall has picked up a trio of endorsements from state lawmakers. State Sen. Adam Ebbin, Del. Alfonso Lopez and Del. Rip Sullivan have endorsed Gutshall in his primary challenge against County Board Chair Libby Garvey. Meanwhile, School Board candidate Tannia Talento has received the endorsement of School Board member Reid Goldstein. [Blue Virginia, InsideNova]
Sexual Assault Awareness Event at the Pentagon — All branches of the military were represented at a recent event to raise awareness of and combat sexual assault in the military. “Walk-a-Lap for a Survivor” was held in the Pentagon courtyard on April 20. Also participating in the event were members of Arlington-based Doorways for Women and Families. [Pentagram]
Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf
The USO of Metropolitan Washington-Baltimore is holding its 34th annual awards dinner on Tuesday, April 19 at the Renaissance Arlington Capital View hotel. The event will mark the USO’s 75th anniversary and will honor people and organizations that have “made a significant contributions to our country’s military community.”
Honorees and special guests expected at the event include WWE Superstar John Cena, NASCAR hall of famer Richard Petty, “Jackass” star Jason “Wee Man” Acuna, Korn lead singer Jonathan Davis and Medal of Honor recipient Florent Groberg.
Musical performances by Tony Orlando, the 82nd Airborne Chorus and Miss America 2016 Betty Cantrell, among others, are also planned.
The press release from the USO, after the jump.
Photo via Wikipedia
Editor’s Note: Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.
As men and women in the military head off to basic training or travel overseas during a deployment, it can be hard for their friends and family to keep in touch. Even after leaving the service, veterans can easily lose track of their unit friends and mentors.
Arlington-based Sandboxx, the developer of a mobile application, aims to fix those communication shortfalls, says co-founder and CEO Sam Meek. In 2007, Meek left the Marine Corps and fell into a finance position on Wall Street.
“During my time there, I was introduced to Maj. Gen. Ray ‘Etool’ Smith — a Marine Corps legend — and Bob Russell, a Marine Corps father and seasoned executive,” Meek said. “They wanted to create a family readiness platform for the Marine Corps. As the only millennial on the team, I shifted the focus to creating a mobile-first, lifestyle platform for the entire military and veteran community… [and] the underlying purpose of Sandboxx has never changed — connect our military community.”
It took the team about a year to build the first version of Sandboxx, which launched on two patriotic dates — it became available on the Apple app store on Veterans Day (Nov. 11) 2014, followed by the Android app store on Independence Day (July 4) 2015. Sandboxx aims to connect active duty service members and veterans both on and off the grid.
“On-the-grid, Sandboxx lets you easily connect to any unit you have ever served, with a unique Instagram-like user experience,” Meek said. So far, 25,000 units have been created in the app by users.
“Its amazing to see our military take to Sandboxx,” Meek continued. “From the Marines at Camp Lejeune to the airmen in Okinawa, Japan, they find Sandboxx gives them a frictionless communications experience with the men and women they serve with.”
The app also enables those in the military to authenticate their spouse, parents or other close family members and friends so they can share a secure, private connection.
When service members are off the grid, the company offers Sandboxx Letters. There are some points — in basic training, initial summers at the military academies, officer candidate school, certain training scenarios and during deployments — that those in the military have little to no access to phones or the Internet.
“When our military is off-the-grid, the only method of communication is handwritten mail. Sandboxx Letters allows you to send a physical piece of mail directly from the app,” Meek said. “The letter includes your message, a photo, a piece of paper to write on and a pre-stamped and addressed return envelope for swift turn around to the original sender. As I’m sure you can imagine, our biggest customers here are mothers, spouses and girlfriends.”
So far, about 17,000 letters have been sent through Sandboxx.
In keeping with the company’s military roots, Sandboxx’s headquarters is only a short distance from the Pentagon, at the Eastern Foundry incubator in Crystal City.
APS Mulls Background Checks for Parents Who Work in Schools — Arlington Public Schools is considering requiring background checks for parents who provide enrichment services in schools. The School Board has sent back a staff proposal, however, which calls for parents who are paid for their time to receive background checks. Parents who volunteer would not get such screening. School Board members said the amount of staff supervision, not money, should determine who should gets background checks. [InsideNova]
Clarendon Eatery Offers 50 Percent Off for Military — Through the Sunday, Brixx Pizza in Clarendon (1119 N. Hundson Street) is offering 50 percent off food for those with a valid military ID. [Facebook]
Arlington Dems Predict Landslide Against Trump — If Donald Trump is the Republican nominee for president, local Democrats believe they could run up a 50,000 vote margin against him in Arlington alone, perhaps enough to win Virginia. Arlington Democrats also believe it’s possible that nationally, a Trump nomination could swing Democrats back into the majority in the House of Representatives. [InsideNova]
Arlington Home Show Returns — The annual Arlington Home Show and Garden Expo is back for 2016. The huge hometown event will take place Saturday, April 9 at the Thomas Jefferson Community Center. [Arlington County]
County Creates Veterans Committee — Arlington County is creating a Military and Veterans Affairs Committee, to “identify, prioritize and implement programs and initiatives to recognize and support our active duty military population, our veterans, and their families.” The committee will also serve as the county’s liaison to the Vietnam War 50th anniversary commemoration. [Arlington County]
Pot Legalization Advocates Meeting in Arlington — The 2015 International Drug Policy Reform Conference is being held in Crystal City today through Saturday. The group holding the conference is planning to lobby Congress for laws that would make it easier for states to legalize marijuana and decrease penalties for non-violent drug offenders. [Associated Press, Drugpolicy.org]
Arlington Startup Gets $2 Million Investment — Arlington-based cybersecurity startup TruStar Technology has raised $2 million in seed round funding, led by Silicon Valley-based investors. [Washington Business Journal]
Weather Gang, Topper Predict Less Snow — Contrary to NBC4’s Doug Kammerer, who predicted a snowier-than-average winter, the Washington Post’s Capital Weather Gang and WUSA9’s Topper Shutt both are predicting less snow than usual and warmer than usual temperatures. [Washington Post]
The incident happened Saturday afternoon. Police say the men broke into a house on the 2100 block of 2nd Street S., near the entrance to the base, and stole an 18 pack of beer and a NASCAR sweatshirt.
The men were arrested and held at the Arlington County jail on a military detainer. From the Arlington County Police crime report:
BURGLARY, 151114050, 2100 block of S. 2nd Street. At approximately 4:45 p.m. on November 14, two subjects entered a residence and stole an 18 pack of beer and a NASCAR sweatshirt. Benjamin Wilson, 21, of Ft. Myer, VA and Alexander Heintz, 19, of Ft. Myer, VA were arrested and charged with burglary, destruction of property and larceny from auto. Both were held on a military detainer.
(Updated at 10:55 a.m.) A new Arlington-based nonprofit is looking to make the lives of female military personnel overseas more comfortable.
Spa Swag for Warriors is a women-owned charity that sends high-quality bath products — such as lavender-scented face wipes, skin creams, loofahs, shampoo, conditioner and lotion — to female service members serving abroad.
CEO and founder Lacey Chong said she started the organization after speaking with her friend Becca, a Marine Corps officer who was helping with the Ebola crisis in West Africa. The Marine told Chong about the limited access to bath products, which prompted Chong to collect items and send them over for Becca and other women to use “after a hard day of work serving our country.”
“Female soldiers put up with a lot overseas — unsanitary conditions, post-traumatic stress disorder, sexual assault and long hard days,” Chong said in a press release. “I think women instinctively understand that providing restorative products to deployed female service members can have an immediate impact on their morale and well-being.”
The nonprofit’s goal is to bring comfort to female service members, Chong said.
“We… aim to improve the morale and well-being of deployed female service members by providing high quality bath and body products,” she said.
The organization has mailed care packages across the world, including to countries in West Africa, East Africa, the Middle East and Southeast Asia.
“The items are hand-picked from socially responsible companies,” said the press release. “So far, the organization has been successful in securing donations of most-wanted items from companies such as Cate McNabb, Tom’s of Maine, Murad and Arbonne.”
The non-profit is looking for donations of the most-wanted bath products, including dry shampoo, eye cream, makeup remover and sleep masks. Donations can be mailed to Spa Swag for Warriors at P.O. Box 17207, Arlington, VA 22216.
Photos via Spa Swag for Warriors
NORAD Flyover Exercise Tonight — NORAD will conduct a flyover exercise tonight that may be noticed by Arlington residents. The exercise will take place between midnight and 2:00 a.m. [Twitter]
Bean Kinney Attorney’s Attack Detailed in Court — In court testimony in Fairfax County, attorney Leo Fisher and his wife, Susan Duncan, described the vicious home invasion attack allegedly carried out by the husband of an attorney Fisher fired at the Arlington law firm of Bean, Kinney & Korman. Fisher said the man “slit my throat” and Duncan described being stabbed repeatedly in the upper body and being nearly shot in the head. [Washington Post]
No ‘Real Solution’ Yet for Pike Transit — An urban design and transportation writer is alleging that Arlington County Board member John Vihstadt has yet to propose an effective alternative to the planned Columbia Pike streetcar system he helped to scuttle. [Greater Greater Washington]
More School Board Endorsements — In the race for the Democratic endorsement for Arlington School Board, candidates have picked up some key endorsements in the past week. Former School Board member and current County Board member Libby Garvey says she’s endorsing Sharon Dorsey, as is former School Board member Frank Wilson. Reid Goldstein, meanwhile, has picked up the endorsements of County Board Chair Mary Hynes and former School Board member Ed Fendley.
Flickr pool photo by Alves Family
New Democratic County Board Contender — A field of six has been finalized for the Democratic Arlington County Board primary. The candidates include all five who spoke before the Arlington County Democratic Committee earlier this month, plus Bruce Wiljanen, “who is largely unknown to the Democratic political establishment.” [InsideNova]
New Tenant for Fmr. Marvelous Market Space — Empty for years, the former Marvelous Market storefront at 888 N. Quincy Street in Ballston has a new tenant. The space is being built out as an office for the real estate sales and marketing firm Smith | Schnider.
Coming Soon: More Dedicated Bus Lanes — A mile of dedicated bus lanes for the new Metroway route are set to open in Arlington this summer. Another 1.3 miles of peak-hour bus lanes are also planned. The route runs from the Braddock Road Metro station in Alexandria to Crystal City. [Washington Post]
Medal of Honor Recipients in Arlington — On Tuesday, 26 living recipients of the Medal of Honor flew in to and then attended a luncheon at Reagan National Airport. The following day, on national Medal of Honor Day, they gathered for a ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery. [Army Times, Stars and Stripes]
Grant for APS Program — Arlington Public Schools has received a $25,000 grant from Rosslyn-based Graham Holdings to support the school system’s award-winning Traveling Trolley summer reading initiative. [Arlington Public Schools]
Chuy’s Eyes Arlington — “Quirky Austin-based Tex-Mex restaurant chain” Chuy’s is reportedly eyeing a possible Arlington location. The company is hoping to nearly a dozen restaurants in the D.C. area by 2017. [Washington Post]
System Upgrades at Library — Due to system upgrades, Arlington Public Library’s online catalogs, account information and research databases are not accessible today. [Arlington Public Library]
ACPD Chief Defends Use of Military Gear — As a national debate continues over the use of military hardware by local police departments, Arlington County Police Chief Doug Scott tells CNN that such gear is necessary for ACPD and can save lives. [CNN]
Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick
APS To Use ‘Big Data’ to Prevent Dropouts — Arlington Public Schools held a contest this summer for “big data” companies to analyze its student performance data, and plans to use the newly-released results to predict which students are at risk of dropping out of school. The winning company, Deep Learning Analytics, found that APS should refine its data collecting techniques. In addition, it found that, along with attendance, behavior and coursework, socioeconomic standing is a predictive indicator for school dropouts. [Arlington Public Schools]
Military Jet to Land at DCA — The Scorpion, a new military fighter jet, will land at Reagan National Airport on Saturday. The jet — manufactured by Textron AirLand LLC — will stay in a DCA hangar for a week, for marketing purposes. [InsideNova]
County Launches New Blog — Arlington County has launched “Natural Arlington,” a new blog to discuss environmental issues in the county. Recent topics include a discussion of green frogs, the environmental issues with dog poop, and a post about the sale of native plants at local nurseries. [Natural Arlington]
Road Closure for Street Fair — Part of 9th Street S. will be closed in the area of Walter Reed Drive for the annual Prio Bangla Potho Mela street fair. The event is taking place Saturday morning. [Arlington County]
Photo courtesy Bill Ross
Traffic Impacts Due to Military Funeral — Military officials are warning of possible traffic impacts in Arlington due to a full honors funeral at Arlington National Cemetery. Army Maj. Gen. Harold Greene will be laid to rest today beginning at 2:00 p.m. A Falls Church resident, Greene was killed on Aug. 5 in Afghanistan; he’s the highest-ranking U.S. military casualty since Vietnam. Officials say Greene’s funeral could impact traffic on Washington Blvd at the Fort Myer exit and on Route 110 at Marshall Drive.
Partisans Support Nonpartisan Redistricting — Democrat Rip Sullivan and Republican Dave Foster, candidates for the 48th District House of Delegates seat, agree on at least one thing: that Virginia’s redistricting process should be nonpartisan. While support for nonpartisan redistricting may be growing, it is unclear if it could pass the General Assembly. [InsideNova]
Capriotti’s Opening Nears — Originally slated to open on July 29, the new Capriotti’s Sandwich Shop at 1500 Wilson Blvd in Rosslyn now has a new opening date. A spokeswoman says the shop — the Delaware-based chain’s first in Virginia — will first open to the general public on Monday, Aug. 25.
County Fair Carnies Profiled — Who are those smiling carnival workers working the rides and games at the Arlington County Fair? They’re fun-loving nomads who sleep in bunkhouses and travel throughout the East Coast and the South during fair season. [Washington Post]
Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick