Arlington, VA

The Arlington County Board is set to vote this weekend on a new Memorandum of Agreement with Arlington National Cemetery, ahead of work on a new cemetery expansion project that will bring major changes to the eastern end of Columbia Pike.

The project, which has taken shape over the past four years, would add 70 acres to the southern portion of the cemetery, including 37 acres of additional burial space, intended to help the nation’s most hallowed ground continue burials through at least 2050. The expansion will add another 60,000 burial plots, by converting the former Navy Annex site, as well as current portions of Southgate Road and Columbia Pike, into cemetery space.

The Southern Expansion Project will result in a realignment of Columbia Pike, bringing it south of its current loop toward Southgate Road and reconfiguring both the intersection with S. Joyce Street and the ramp to Washington Blvd. While the reconfiguration may be an improvement for cars and buses, bicycle advocates have worried that the elimination of Southgate Road may make cycling more dangerous on the stretch.

Portions of the land being added to the cemetery are owned by Arlington County. Originally the military proposed a land swap, giving Arlington a chunk of federal land south of Columbia Pike to use for county facilities, but the land swap was called off in 2017. Instead, the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act lets the Army purchase Arlington’s land for fair value, and compel the sale if necessary.

The land south of the Pike will now be used to house a cemetery maintenance and operations facility, and a parking garage that will serve visitors to the cemetery and the Air Force Memorial, which will become part of the cemetery.

More from an Air Force Magazine article this past summer:

The plan would turn the Air Force Memorial into the centerpiece of a new southern entrance to the facility, potentially bringing thousands more people to the memorial each year.

The change will alter the landscape, traffic flow, and even the way people experience the memorial, which today is accessible 24 hours a day, but under the new plan, it would be contained within the cemetery’s perimeter and only accessible during daylight hours. The memorial entrance would have a multilevel parking facility and an anticipated five-fold increase in visitors, said Maj. Gen. James A. Jacobson, commander of the Air Force District of Washington.

“This will further enshrine the Air Force Memorial as the history and heroism location for our service,” he said. “Tying it in with the cemetery does what it can’t do standing alone.”

Last March, a House Appropriations subcommittee was told that the Army was hoping to break ground on the first phase of the project in 2020, with a second phase starting in 2022 and work completing in 2025. Nearly $300 million of the project cost has already been appropriated.

The Memorandum of Agreement among the cemetery, the county and other stakeholders, under consideration by the County Board this weekend, outlines proposed “mitigation of cultural resources” as part of the project. The agreement calls for repair and reuse of the cemetery’s blue granite Boundary Wall, in the project site; a new historic marker commemorating Freedman’s Village, a village of freed slaves that was built during the Civil War on current cemetery grounds; and some alterations to the grounds around the Air Force Memorial.

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Morning Notes

Scooters Can Officially Ride on Sidewalks, Trails — Details about the new, William Shatner-approved permanent e-scooter and e-bike regulations approved by the County Board over the weekend: “Motorized scooters and skateboards will have a top speed of 15 miles per hour, and e-bicycles will have a top speed of 20 miles per hour on streets and trails. When operating on public sidewalks, the top speed of all the devices is restricted to six miles per hour. The devices will not be allowed to operate on sidewalks where a protected bicycle lane is available and may be prohibited from other sidewalks.” [Arlington County]

Progress on Second Ballston Metro Entrance Plan — “At long last, Arlington seems to be making real progress on building a western entrance to the Ballston Metro station — and that includes finding a path to fund the stalled project. County officials plan to set aside an extra $25 million for the Metro station entrance, then ask for $33.5 million in regional transportation funding for the project.” [Washington Business Journal]

Ballston Harris Teeter Development OKed — “A mixed-use redevelopment approved today by the County Board will replace the Harris Teeter and the American Service Center on N. Glebe Rd. with apartments, a new grocery store, other ground floor retail and a new public open space… community benefits will include a $4.1 million contribution to affordable housing; new public street connections; improvements to the traffic signals at Randolph Street and Glebe Road, and the replacement of a large water main under Glebe Road.” [Arlington County]

Talento Not Seeking Reelection — “I have decided not to seek reelection to my School Board seat. Fulfilling my duties as a public servant take first priority for me and, while it is an honor to serve on the School Board, running a campaign while simultaneously fulfilling these responsibilities is not the best way for me to ensure our students have the future they deserve.” [Blue Virginia]

Jennie Dean Park Project Approved — “The Arlington County Board today approved a $15.5 million contract with MCN Build, Inc. to begin Jennie Dean Park’s long-awaited transformation.” [Arlington County]

Caps Host TAPS Families at Iceplex — “Late Thursday afternoon, family members of fallen soldiers got a chance to skate with Capitals players in Arlington, Virginia. The Capitals hosted the event with an organization called TAPS – the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors.” [WJLA]

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Morning Notes

Renegade Opening Today — “The Renegade, the new two-story coffee shop, restaurant, and live music venue from chef Patrick Crump is opening this Thursday, Oct. 24 at 3100 Clarendon Blvd. in Arlington.” [Press Release]

Hoskins Questions Amazon’s Arlington Location — “[Fairfax County Economic Development Authority CEO Victor] Hoskins helped land corporate giant Amazon for Arlington, but now says the company probably should have located in Fairfax County, with its larger, more diverse, pro-business environment. The county’s 120 million-square-foot office market is three times larger than Arlington’s, he noted.” [InsideNova]

ACFD Collects Supplies for Shelters — “More than 1600 pounds of supplies for shelter animals have been collected by Arlington County firefighters in the past four years in what has been dubbed ‘Operation Firepaws,’ with the donations going to the Animal Welfare League of Arlington.” [WJLA]

Nats Rally at Long Branch ES on TV — “The students and teachers at Long Branch Elementary School in Arlington, Virginia [were] showing off their Natitude” during a rally on Wednesday. The Nats won big last night, by the way. [Fox 5]

Century-Old Sentinel Gets Big Welcome at DCA — “This morning we welcomed Jack, the oldest living retired Sentinel at 100 years young, on a special trip to DC to see his name posted on a plaque of the Wall of Honor in the barracks. Jack danced his way off the flight and into everyone’s hearts.” [Twitter, CBS News]

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Morning Notes

Arlington Is Top Destination for Young Adults — Arlington County is one of “the 40 places where young people are moving… based on the number of 18 to 34 year-olds who moved there in 2017 as a share of the total county population.” [USA Today]

Local Team Notches ‘World Series’ Win — “With their bats coming alive, the Arlington Senior Babe Ruth All-Stars improved to 1-2 in pool play Aug. 10 to win for the first time in the 15-under Babe Ruth World Series in Bismarck, N.D.” [InsideNova]

Arlington Firm Fined — “A military contractor has agreed to pay $4 million to settle an overbilling case. The U.S. attorney’s office in New Jersey announced the settlement with Mission1st Group on Friday. The Arlington, Virginia-based company specializes in systems engineering, information technology and telecommunications.” [Associated Press]

Why the Crashed ART Bus is Still ThereUpdated at 9:25 a.m. — “The vehicle at Columbia Pike and George Mason Drive can’t be moved until the building structure is stabilized. Once repairs are made to the structure, the bus & the other vehicle pushed into the building will be moved and County Police will finalize their investigation.” [Twitter]

Photo courtesy @netforceone/Instagram

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If you worked at the Pentagon, the man behind the clippers at Blades Like New, a new barber shop at 2461 S. Clark Street in Crystal City, might look familiar.

For 14 years of the 25 total he’s spent working as a barber, Delonta James was working at a barber shop inside the Pentagon. But now, James is striking out on his own.

On April 11, James opened up Blades Like New as his own barber shop inside a Crystal City office building, right in the center of a military contracting hotbed where military uniforms are as common as suits and sundresses in the hallway.

James said his goal is to bring some of his military hair-cutting experience into a civilian atmosphere. For years, James worked in the Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) branch of the military, and both his father and sister were in the military. But now, James said he’s excited to do something new.

“It’s been awesome and it’s getting better,” James said. “We do all kinds of hair, but I’m focusing on military [haircuts].”

To that end, James said he’s planning to bring on another barber sometime soon to handle a broader range of haircuts.

Prices range from $18 to $22.

The barber shop is open Monday through Friday, from 7 a.m.-5 p.m., with appointments available by email ([email protected]) on weekends.

James said his favorite thing about being a barber is the new stories and lessons people bring with them into the store.

“I love the communication,” James said. “You get different people in here all the time and you’re learning new things. People teach you new things. You find out about a lot of stuff barbering.”

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Morning Notes

Crystal City BID Proposes Expansion — “The Crystal City Business Improvement District has submitted its proposal to Arlington County to officially expand its borders into Pentagon City and the county’s portion [of] Potomac Yard as Amazon.com Inc. prepares to establish its second headquarters in the area collectively branded as National Landing.” [Washington Business Journal]

County Planning More Housing Initiatives — “Even by its own estimation, the Arlington County government’s success rate in stemming the exodus of affordable housing in Arlington has been hit-or-miss, and the local government at times has been viewed as unimaginative and overly bureaucratic by those who want to see more aggressive efforts at building and retaining housing accessible to lower- and middle-income residents.” [InsideNova]

Twilight Tattoo Begins Tonight at Ft. Myer — “Our 2019 Twilight Tattoo season is scheduled to begin on Wednesday, May 1, 2019, and run through Wednesday, July 31, with exception to July 3 and July 10, 2019… Twilight Tattoo is an hour-long, live-action military pageant featuring Soldiers from The 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) and The U.S. Army Band ‘Pershing’s Own.'” [Military District of Washington]

Stressed Out Judges at Crystal City Immigration Court — “One of the most backlogged immigration courts in America is in Arlington… 7 on your side witnessed and heard of additional tense exchanges in court from multiple judges stressed with the ever-increasing caseload.” [WJLA]

Nearby: ‘Woodchuck’ Scam in Falls Church — “The City of Falls Church Police are investigating a “woodchuck” scam that has cost a victim thousands of dollars. Police caution City residents to be aware of predatory services, especially for tree removal, landscaping, roof and chimney work, and other home services.” [City of Falls Church]

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The USS Arlington, named for the victims of the Sept. 11 terror attacks, is soon bound for its second overseas deployment.

The U.S. Navy vessel is currently at sea preparing for the deployment, away from its base at Naval Station Norfolk, according to a news release. The ship is one of three named for the victims of 9/11, and was commissioned back in 2013.

Members of the county’s Military and Veterans Affairs Committee visited the ship in Norfolk two weeks ago before it went out to sea, in order to meet with its commander, Navy Capt. Todd Marzano. According to the county,  “the group discussed opportunities for greater interaction with Arlingtonians, both virtual and in-person.”

They settled on forming a new partnership where a county school will “adopt” the ship, with students getting a chance to stay in regular communication with its crew. The group picked Oakridge Elementary School as the first school to participate in the program, and the county says “work is underway to plan the first activities.”

A small team of the ship’s crew members not set to be deployed also recently traveled to the county to run in this past Saturday’s Police, Fire & Sheriff 9/11 Memorial 5K.

The USS Arlington has a crew of 360 sailors, and is one of the Navy’s 11 San Antonio-class amphibious transport docks.

Photo via Facebook

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(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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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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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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