Press Club

Morning Notes

“Bike route sign at the intersection of 15th Street N. & Taylor Street directing bikes onto Taylor Street, which is a dead end” (Flickr pool photo by Cyrus W.)

‘Conservation’ Nixed in New Name — “The Neighborhood Conservation Program has a new name: Arlington Neighborhoods Program. [Three county departments] announced the new name for the interdepartmental program after almost a yearlong renaming process… The Neighborhood Conservation Program Review (NCPR) Final Report recommended changing the program name because the word ‘conservation’ often evokes a negative connotation and suggests exclusivity.” [Arlington County]

Big Scholarship Match for WHS Grads — “A newly announced dollar-for-dollar match could net the Wakefield High School Educational Foundation’s scholarship fund as much as $2 million over the coming year. It was announced June 2 that Henry ‘Ric’ Duques, a 1961 graduate of the high school, and his wife Dawn had made an up-to-$1 million pledge to the foundation, which will match funds raised by the organization for the year ending June 30, 2023.” [Sun Gazette]

Remembering Local Desegregation Efforts — “Our racial history commemorators have thoroughly marked the 1959 integration of Stratford Junior High School, a first for long-segregated Virginia. But those four African American student pioneers stood on the shoulders of a select group of older peers, whose legal efforts have gone relatively unsung.” [Falls Church News-Press]

New Monument at Arlington Nat’l Cemetery — “A monument now stands in memory of the first astronauts to die in their spacecraft, 55 years after a fire on the launchpad claimed their lives. Family members of the fallen Apollo 1 crew came together with NASA officials, space industry leaders and members of the space community to dedicate the new monument during a ceremony(opens in new tab) held Thursday (June 2) at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia. The memorial is located… in Section 3 of the cemetery.” [Space.com]

ARLnow Cartoonist’s Work Highlighted — “But the father of two has long been a fan of the art form and in the past year, he has become a community cartoonist. [Mike Mount] creates weekly cartoons for an online news outlet in his Northern Virginia county, capturing within those scribbled squares the weird, comical and relatable parts of living in one of Washington’s suburbs.” [Washington Post]

Nature Center Advocate Keeps Advocating — “Look up ‘indefatigable’ in an online dictionary, and a photo of Duke Banks might pop up. Recently given the brushoff – politely but for the second time – by the County Board, Banks is not stopping in his efforts to restore hours that were cut at Arlington’s two local nature centers during the pandemic. Banks pressed his case at the May 24 meeting of the Arlington Park and Recreation Commission.” [Sun Gazette]

It’s Monday — Clear throughout the day. High of 80 and low of 61. Sunrise at 5:45 am and sunset at 8:32 pm. [Weather.gov]

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A number of Gunston Middle School students appeared on national TV yesterday.

The students went on air Thursday during the fourth hour of NBC’s Today Show to ask questions of former NASA astronaut Dr. Mae Jemison, the first Black woman to go into space.

The students asked how to become an astronaut, what it was like in space, and about how difficult it was for Jemison to break racial barriers in her career path.

Arlington Public Schools spokesman Frank Bellavia tells ARLnow that a parent helped to coordinate the appearance for nearly a dozen Gunston students.

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(Updated at 11:10 a.m.) The mid-century rambler near Williamsburg Middle School that was home to astronaut John Glenn and his family has been torn down.

The demolition came just days after the death of Annie Glenn, widow of the former U.S. senator and first American to orbit the earth. She died on Tuesday, May 19 from complications of COVID-19, as a backhoe sat in the front yard of the place she called home for nearly five years, including during John’s history-making Friendship 7 mission in 1962.

During the lead-up to the mission, reporters camped outside the house on N. Harrison Street and Vice President Lyndon Johnson tried to visit, but was rebuffed by Mrs. Glenn. After, Glenn continued working in D.C., and at one point hosted at his home a cookout with special guest Gherman Titov, the Russian who was the first person to orbit the earth multiple times, according to an Arlington Public Library history.

Glenn moved with his family to Texas in 1963, but his presence in Arlington is still felt. In 2012, the home’s owners told WUSA 9 that people still stopped by to gawk at the space hero’s former house. John Glenn died in 2016 and was interred at Arlington National Cemetery.

The property was sold in October for $1 million and the house is being torn down to make way for new construction. Local preservationists objected to the demolition, but nothing could be done legally to stop it and most respondents to an ARLnow poll last year said that the new owners should be allowed to tear down the house if they so chose.

Photo (3) via Google Maps

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It’s T-minus 15 hours until voting closes on a contest for students to name NASA’s next Mars rover.

One of the submission happens to be from an Arlington fourth grader.

Barrett Elementary student Oliver (a last name was not provided) submitted a name that has become a finalist in the contest: ENDURANCE.

Here’s what Oliver wrote about the name in an essay:

“Endurance” is the right name for the Mars 2020 Rover. The Endurance was the ship of Ernest Shackleton, a great leader and one of the first Antarctic explorers. Antarctica and Mars both have a harsh and unforgiving surface and environment. The Endurance was on a scientific mission, just like Mars 2020. No matter what went wrong, Shackleton stuck with it. I know the NASA team will do the same for the Mars 2020 mission.

I think about space all the time. I love watching NASA TV. My favorite events were New Horizons, ISS space walks, and the Mars Insight landing. My school was the first NASA Explorer School in the state of Virginia.

Shackleton’s journey inspired kids to explore over a century ago, but “Endurance” needs a second chance to survive! Today, we are so excited for Mars exploration and soon, the first human to step foot on Mars.

Oliver’s was among more than 28,000 essays submitted. Other finalists include CLARITY, TENACITY, INGENUITY, VISION, PROMISE, PERSEVERANCE, FORTITUDE, and COURAGE.

Voting closes at midnight tonight.

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Astronaut John Glenn was the first American to orbit the earth. He was also an Arlington resident for about 5 years.

The group Preservation Arlington points out that Glenn’s former home, a mid-century rambler near Williamsburg Middle School, is now for sale with the listing hinting — “the value is in the land,” it says — that it will likely be a tear-down. The property is listed for $1,050,000.

During the lead-up to Glenn’s historic Friendship 7 mission, reporters camped outside the house on N. Harrison Street and Vice President Lyndon Johnson tried to visit, but was rebuffed by Mrs. Glenn. After, Glenn continued working in D.C., and at one point hosted at his home a cookout with special guest Gherman Titov, the Russian who was the first human to orbit the earth, according to an Arlington Public Library history.

Glenn moved with his family to Texas in 1963, but his presence in Arlington is still felt. In 2012, the home’s owners told WUSA 9 that people still stopped by to gawk at the space hero’s former house. Glenn died in 2016 and was interred at Arlington National Cemetery.

There’s likely little that could be done to legally prevent the house from being torn down at this point, if that’s what the eventual buyer wants to do. But if you could call the shots regardless, what would you do? Would you allow the owner of the property to do whatever they want with it, or prevent demolition on the basis of the house being historic?

Photo via Washington Fine Properties

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(Updated at 10:55 a.m.) The space shuttle Discovery made its final rounds today, flying over Arlington on its way to Dulles International Airport.

The Shuttle Carrier Aircraft had Discovery attached to its back, and made a number of passes over the area, before heading to Dulles.

Spectators trying to catch a glimpse snarled traffic on many of the major thoroughfares in Arlington, including I-395, I-66 and Rte 110. Many drivers scrambling to find a spot left cars parked in tow away zones, on shoulders or on lawns in their haste. Police appeared to be temporarily lenient during the once-in-a-lifetime event, as long as the traffic violations didn’t harm public safety. Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck said that with all of the people filtering in the streets to watch the shuttle, pedestrian safety was the top priority.

Hundreds of people showed up to the Marine Corps Memorial and Netherlands Carillon in Rosslyn. During the second flyover, spontaneous rounds of “The Star Spangled Banner” broke out.

Discovery is scheduled to be moved from Dulles to the National Air and Space Museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center on Thursday, where it will go on public display.

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Eyes will be on the skies tomorrow, when the space shuttle Discovery flies to its new home at the National Air and Space Museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center near Dulles International Airport. There are actually some spots in Arlington that are being touted as great places to watch the flight.

NASA listed of some of the top places to see the shuttle in the DC metro area. Long Bridge Park and Gravelly Point in Arlington both received mentions. The Memorial Bridge, which covers ground in both Arlington and DC, is also on the list.

The shuttle is expected to pass near a number of landmarks in the area, including Reagan National Airport. Although not on the official list, some places like the Air Force Memorial and Mount Vernon Trail might also make decent viewing locations.

The shuttle will depart from the Kennedy Space Station in Florida around 7:30 a.m., and is expected to fly over Arlington between 10:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m., before landing at Dulles. The exact route and timing of the flight will be weather dependent.

Discovery will be mounted on the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft, which is a modified Boeing 747, during its journey. On Thursday, the shuttle is scheduled to be moved from Dulles to the Udvar-Hazy Center for permanent public display.

Discovery was retired after completing its 39th mission in March 2011. NASA’s final space shuttle mission ended with Atlantis on July 21, 2011.

The Air and Space Museum will be updating its website regularly to list the shuttle’s locations. Those who don’t have internet access can receive updates via a phone hotline. Information about receiving updates can be found on the museum’s website.

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