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Pickleball being played outside at Walter Reed Community Center (staff photo by Matt Blitz)

More neighbors are threatening legal action because of the infamous pickleball pop.

A resident living near the Walter Reed Community Center tells ARLnow that the noise coming from the nearby pickleball courts is “excessive” and constant, to the point that that a group of neighbors is “contemplating a lawsuit of our own” against the county.

“Our community center, with its 9 courts, has become ‘pickleball central,'” Ashley, a resident who lives near the community center, wrote to ARLnow in an email. “We believe the excessive playtime that generates a loud, constant popping sound negatively impacts our quality of life and property value.”

ARLnow received an additional call from a nearby resident, reiterating many of these claims and decrying the loud “pop” made when a pickleball hits a paddle.

The eight households involved all live on 16th Street S., across the street from the community center. They have joined together in asking the county to do something about the crowds and noise coming from the pickleball courts, per Ashley. She’s asked that her last name be withheld for privacy reasons.

In recent weeks, the residents met with Arlington’s Dept. of Parks and Recreation, a couple of County Board members, and the Columbia Heights Civic Association to make their concerns known.

So far, discussions haven’t produced the outcome they are hoping for: enforcing court hours, closing some pickleball courts, and reconsideration of plans to potentially add more courts. They believe that the noise coming from the courts is in violation of the county’s noise ordinance.

The group says they’re considering legal action along similar lines to what the Old Glebe Civic Association has discussed, as previously reported by ARLnow.

“None of us want to put an end to pickleball. Everybody has a right to use the park and its services,” Ashley said. “It’s just excessive. It’s loud and it’s very intrusive.”

Earlier this month, Old Glebe Civic Association also began considering legal action due to the ending of a pilot program that had closed a pickleball court at Glebe Road Park. The court’s recent reopening has made the noise issue even “more contentious,” with the civic association’s leadership saying that “a solution short of litigation appears unlikely.”

Ashley said when she and her neighbors read that story, it seemed like confirmation that their situation also would not be resolved without some sort of legal action. Ashley has lived in her home on 16th Street S. for about five years, but it was this past summer when the noise became “maddening.”

Pickleball has taken Arlington — and the U.S. generally — by storm over the last few years. This year, however, the sport seemingly grew beyond the county’s current capacity, prompting a tug-of-war between those who want more pickleball facilities, neighbors concerned about noise, and the players of other sports — particularly tennis — who stand to lose courts to the pickleball juggernaut.

Ashley said that there were times over the summer and into the fall when she could hear the pop of the ball hitting the paddle starting at 5 a.m. and not stopping until 11 p.m — 18 hours a day.

Reading the comments on previous ARLnow pickleball stories, she knows her complaints can seem ridiculous to some, but she insists they are legit.

“It sounds really comical, but when you live across the street from an endless stream of just popping, it’s not funny,” she said.

Ashley and other neighbors met with local parks and rec officials in October, a meeting the department confirmed to ARLnow. The neighbors asked DPR to limit court hours, close some courts to pickleball to allow other sports to be played, and better monitor the noise coming from the courts.

They also expressed their disappointment in not being formally consulted about the possibility of new courts coming to Walter Reed.

“We were not consulted as a community, nor do we support this plan,” she said.

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Blue Angels/Thunderbirds flyover in 2020 (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Don’t be alarmed if the sky over Arlington fills with low-flying aircraft and smoke tomorrow morning.

Arlington National Cemetery says residents can expect U.S. Air Force aircraft performing “low-level aerial demonstrations, which will produce smoke and noise.” The flyover will take place around 9 a.m. Wednesday.

Military aircraft frequently fly over the area as part of funerals at the cemetery. The flyovers are almost always loud and often unannounced, though the cemetery does provide a heads up on some — as in this case — via social media.

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The banging metal covers on Wilson Blvd near the intersection of N. Randolph Street (staff photo)

A set of utility covers in the middle of Wilson Blvd that have bothered residents for nearly a decade may finally get a permanent fix.

For Alex Korolkoff, the banging noise from cars and buses driving over the covers is so loud — even on the 10th floor of his Ballston apartment building — he’s resorted to fans and white noise machines to drown it out.

Carlos Moran said the “constant heavy banging” coming from near the corner of Wilson Blvd and N. Randolph Street, across from Ballston Quarter mall, “affect our quality of life” and prevent him from sleeping in his home.

Another nearby resident compares the situation to war.

​”It feels as if we are being held hostage, like POWs, in our very own apartments, bound by our leases and forced to live with the continual banging,” they wrote ARLnow. The noise happens day and night given that the metal covers are along one of Ballston’s most highly-trafficked corridors.

The banging is particularly loud when bearing the brunt of buses and trucks, with the noise bouncing off Ballston’s high-rises.

“There’s such disruption that we deal with 24/7, while trying to work from home, we can’t sit on our small balcony without it being even louder, and sleeping is difficult,” one nearby neighbor wrote ARLnow. “The noise is truly endless because traffic never ceases.”

And it’s been a problem for nearly a decade. ARLnow first reported on the loose plates in 2013, when they were deemed a “temporary measure” and would be fixed soon. The covers were also listed as one of Arlington’s most wanted road repairs.

Nine years later, though, they are still there, loose, and driving some neighbors nuts.

The plates are the responsibility of nearby apartment building Ava Ballston, both Arlington County and the building’s parent company AvalonBay — which happens to have its headquarters across the street — confirmed to ARLnow. The flat sheets of metal are protecting Dominion Power equipment that help provides electricity to the building.

Over the years, ARLnow has received periodic emails from Ballston residents complaining about them.

One 2019 note speculated that the surrounding apartment complexes might have a hard time renting out units because of the noise. Another from October 2021 called the plates “steel drums.”

Another annoyed neighbor wrote in November 2021 that they put together a petition with more than 110 signatures of neighbors asking the county to do something to “right the wrong for a longstanding steel plate noise issue… it is distressing for those residents who need to rest, sleep, and work from home.”

ARLnow’s initial 2013 story was also spurred by an email from a reader.

“The noise within the apartments is now incredibly loud,” wrote a resident of the building that was then-called Archstone Ballston Square in March 2013. “This is a project that residents and the county were told would go on a few weeks — it’s [now] nearly 18 months later.”

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Airplane overhead at Gravelly Point (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) is addressing a key constituent concern — airplane noise — through the just-signed CHIPS Act.

The $280 billion bill is primarily focused on boosting domestic semiconductor manufacturing, but contains other scientific research provisions. Among them is wording from Beyer to “bolster NASA’s efforts to reduce emissions from the aviation industry while also reducing the impact of airplane noise in airport-adjacent communities.”

“Climate change and aircraft noise have always been two of the most consistent constituent concerns in my district,” Beyer said in a statement yesterday. “I wrote a bill to address both problems – the Cleaner, Quieter Airplanes Act – which President Biden just signed into law.”

The legislation “authorizes NASA to accelerate its work on electrified propulsion systems and the integration of multiple technologies and airframe concepts to achieve noise and emissions reductions,” Beyer’s office said in a press release.

The roar of jet engines from airliners arriving at and departing from National Airport has long been a concern of Arlington and Alexandria residents, particularly those who live along the flight paths near the Potomac River. Beyer has frequently pledged to address the noise issue from commercial airliners and military helicopters, writing letters to top federal officials about flight paths and attaching legislation to larger bills.

The full press release is below.

President Joe Biden yesterday signed the CHIPS and Science Act into law, which included the first NASA authorization passed by Congress in over five years. That section of the Act, Title VII of the science division, included the full text of Rep. Don Beyer’s Cleaner, Quieter Airplanes Act. Beyer chairs the House Science Committee’s Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics; he introduced the Cleaner, Quieter Airplanes Act to bolster NASA’s efforts to create the next generation of climate-friendly aviation while also reducing the impact of airplane noise in airport-adjacent communities.

“Climate change and aircraft noise have always been two of the most consistent constituent concerns in my district. I wrote a bill to address both problems – the Cleaner, Quieter Airplanes Act – which President Biden just signed into law,” said Beyer. “As the climate crisis continues to harm American communities, ensuring we are also tackling aviation emissions is vital. This piece of legislation does just that by making the necessary investments to develop the technology to make cleaner flight a reality in addition to driving innovation that would reduce aircraft noise pollution.” 

This legislation sets a goal for cleaner, quieter airplanes, accelerating NASA’s aeronautics work on reducing greenhouse gas and noise emissions. Specifically, this bill:

  • Establishes the ambitious goal of commercial airplanes emitting 50 percent less greenhouse gas compared to the highest performing aircraft in 2021 as well as being net-zero by 2050.
  • Challenges NASA to work with industry partners to carry out flight tests by 2025 that will enable industry to bring a new generation of more sustainable airplanes into service between 2030 and 2040.
  • Authorizes NASA to accelerate its work on electrified propulsion systems and the integration of multiple technologies and airframe concepts to achieve noise and emissions reductions.
  • Requires NASA to provide data and insight on new technologies to help the FAA’s work to ensure the safe and effective deployment of these technologies.

Text of the Cleaner, Quieter Airplanes Act is available here.

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Arlington County police want you to know that loud mufflers are against the law, and they’re now using electronic signs to get the message across.

The department has deployed four electronic signs in various parts of the county amid an effort to get the word out about a change in state law.

On July 1, Virginia police were again authorized by the state legislature to pull over vehicles for excessively loud exhaust systems. That followed a year in which, in the hopes of reducing racial disparities in traffic stops, state law had been changed to prohibit pulling drivers over for noise alone.

The 2021 law backfired when complaints about loud cars dramatically increased.

An Arlington County Police Department spokesperson tells ARLnow that the department has deployed electronic signs with the message “No Loud Mufflers… It’s the Law” to the following locations:

  • Route 110 near Memorial Bridge (2)
  • S. Joyce Street and Army Navy Drive, in Pentagon City
  • 500 block of S. Glebe Road, between Arlington Heights and Alcova Heights

“The signs are used to enhance ACPD’s efforts to educate motorists on Virginia’s [law] governing exhaust systems,” said Alli Shorb.

As we reported last month, ACPD is seeking to inform members of the public about the change before issuing citations.

With its enforcement authority restored, the Arlington County Police Department says it will start with a public education campaign. After that, spot enforcement will take place, and the department will evaluate whether “other traffic enforcement efforts are needed.

“With changes in legislation, ACPD first begins with a period of education as our goal is to seek voluntary compliance with the law,” department spokeswoman Ashley Savage tells ARLnow. “ACPD is sharing information regarding the legislative change through social media, listservs and with community members and organizations. Once sufficient public messaging is completed, the department will evaluate if random rotating enforcement of observed violations as part of our routine patrol duties, is sufficiently addressing the issue or if other traffic enforcement efforts are needed.”

“Community members can report an ongoing and recurring loud exhaust issue using our ongoing transportation complaint enforcement request,” Savage added. She noted that this is essentially a return to the same rules that were in place prior to the 2021 law.

“It’s important to note that the language of the legislation has not changed,” Savage said. “The provision restricting officers from stopping a vehicle for this violation is being removed effective July 1, 2022 which will essentially move this to a primary offense, rather than a secondary offense.”

The police department has used its fleet of electronic signs for different purposes over the years.

A pair currently up along Langston Blvd in northern Arlington are advertising a public safety block party and imploring residents to lock their homes at night, respectively. In 2013, a sign placed near the crash-prone Route 50 and Washington Blvd interchange famously flashed “Don’t Hit the Car in Front of You.”

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Morning Notes

Amazon HQ2 reflected in a puddle in Pentagon City (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

New Way to Complain About Helo Noise –Those with concerns about helicopter noise in the local area now have a new outlet to provide feedback. A new helicopter-complaint pilot program was announced June 24 by U.S. Rep. Don Beyer (D-8th) in collaboration with the Helicopter Association International and Eastern Regional Helicopter Council. Residents will be able to submit noise concerns online at https://www.planenoise.com/dcmetro/, or by voicemail at (877) 209-3200.” [Sun Gazette, Press Release]

Arrest After Crash on the Pike — From ACPD spokeswoman Ashley Savage, responding to an ARLnow inquiry about this crash: “At approximately 12:10 p.m. on June 27, police were dispatched to the report of a crash with injuries at the intersection of Columbia Pike and S. Quincy Street. The preliminary investigation indicates the driver of the striking vehicle hit two vehicles and a tree before fleeing the scene on foot. Responding officers canvassed the area, located the driver and took her into custody. One patient was transported to an area hospital with injuries considered non-life threatening. The investigation is ongoing and charges are pending.”

Amazon Eyes Greenhouse for HQ2 — “The greenery proposed for Amazon’s second headquarters in Arlington is so extensive that the company needs a greenhouse to keep it going. According to plans submitted to the county, Amazon hopes to convert Meadow Farms Nurseries and Landscapes (10618 Leesburg Pike) in Great Falls into a greenhouse to provide a ‘permanent operation to provide for the continuous maintenance of the extensive landscaping elements’ at HQ2.” [FFXnow]

APS Website Redesign Coming — “We are in the early stages of redesigning our website. Can you spare 15 minutes to help make sure the new Arlington Public Schools website will be easy for everyone to use? We’ve set up an online exercise to gather feedback, and we’d love for you to participate.” [Arlington Public Schools]

It’s Tuesday — Partly cloudy throughout the day. High of 79 and low of 61. Sunrise at 5:47 am and sunset at 8:39 pm. [Weather.gov]

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A police traffic stop in Rosslyn in 2021 (file photo by Jay Westcott)

Thanks to a change in state law, cops in Virginia can again start pulling over the drivers of vehicles with loud, modified exhaust systems.

But it’s not going to happen right away.

A change in state law that is going into effect on July 1 will reverse 2021 legislation that prevented officers from pulling over drivers just for having an excessively loud exhaust system. That law, sponsored by Arlington’s Del. Patrick Hope (D), was intended to reduce pretextual traffic stops and racial disparities, but the months that followed saw an uptick in noise complaints from those living along highways and busy roads.

The noise got bad enough that Arlington County included reversing the legislation in its 2022 state legislative priorities.

With its enforcement authority restored, the Arlington County Police Department says it will start with a public education campaign. After that, spot enforcement will take place, and the department will evaluate whether “other traffic enforcement efforts are needed.

“With changes in legislation, ACPD first begins with a period of education as our goal is to seek voluntary compliance with the law,” department spokeswoman Ashley Savage tells ARLnow. “ACPD is sharing information regarding the legislative change through social media, listservs and with community members and organizations. Once sufficient public messaging is completed, the department will evaluate if random rotating enforcement of observed violations as part of our routine patrol duties, is sufficiently addressing the issue or if other traffic enforcement efforts are needed.”

“Community members can report an ongoing and recurring loud exhaust issue using our ongoing transportation complaint enforcement request,” Savage added. She noted that this is essentially a return to the same rules that were in place prior to the 2021 law.

“It’s important to note that the language of the legislation has not changed,” Savage said. “The provision restricting officers from stopping a vehicle for this violation is being removed effective July 1, 2022 which will essentially move this to a primary offense, rather than a secondary offense.”

An informal ARLnow poll in March found that 64% of respondents supported automated noise enforcement for vehicles, instead of or in addition to enforcement via traffic stops.

More from ACPD:

https://twitter.com/ArlingtonVaPD/status/1540048237473673222

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Morning Notes

Along Columbia Pike at twilight (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Dispute Leads to Violence, Vehicular Mayhem — “The victim pulled the suspect out of the vehicle and he pushed her, causing her to fall to the ground. A security guard intervened and separated the parties. The suspect then reentered his vehicle, described as a white van, and fled the scene. While fleeing, the suspect allegedly struck the victim’s vehicle, a sign on the property, and drove towards the security guard, causing him to dive out of the way.” [ACPD]

Beyer Wants Quieter Airplanes — “As the representative for the area around Reagan National Airport, one of the most common concern heard by Rep. Don Beyer is airplane noise. On Friday, Beyer is reintroducing the Cleaner, Quieter Airplanes Act to seek study on reducing airplane noise and emissions.” [Patch]

Top ACPD Official Retires — “Per a tribute that just went out on ACPD’s dispatch channel, Deputy Chief Michael Dunne is retiring today after 38 years of service.” [Twitter]

Arlington Ranks No. 15 for Solo Affordability — “Rent prices are rising rapidly in many of America’s largest cities. Nationally, average rent increased by 11.3% between the start of 2021 and 2022… In this study, we compared the 100 largest U.S. cities across topics such as rent costs, earnings, living costs and employment to uncover where renters can afford to live alone.” [SmartAsset]

Major Delays at DCA — “At Reagan National Airport in the Washington, D.C. region on Thursday, more than 200 flights — roughly 43 percent of scheduled departures — were delayed, and 79, or 16 percent, were canceled. At Dulles International Airport, only 4 percent of scheduled departures were canceled, but 30 percent of flights were delayed.” [Washington Post]

Flyover for Tuskegee Airman — “Memorial events for Brigadier General Charles E. McGee, one of the last surviving members of the famed Tuskegee Airmen, were held Friday… McGee’s funeral took place at Arlington National Cemetery with a flyover.” [WJLA, WRIC]

Chance Connection Turns into Emotional Bond — “An Arlington, Virginia, family recently met someone who has an indelible connection to their deceased father that was forged in the chaos and smoking debris at the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001.” [NBC 4]

It’s Monday — Partly cloudy throughout the day. High of 77 and low of 57. Sunrise at 5:45 am and sunset at 8:38 pm. [Weather.gov]

Editor’s Note — Our staff has the day off due to the federal observation of the Juneteenth holiday. Barring breaking news, we will only be publishing in the morning today.

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Cannons being fired for a Twilight Tattoo show (Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall PAO Photo by Rachel Larue)

The Army’s annual Twilight Tattoo events are open to the public again and just as loud as before.

The military pageantry includes a booming accompaniment from the Presidential Salute Battery, which might be heard in parts of Arlington tonight between 7-9 p.m.

The Twilight Tattoo events, which are held on Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall’s Summerall Field, were closed to the public in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic. This year the public is again invited and the Army expects a full house tonight and for at least the next month.

Twilight Tattoo show at Fort Myer (Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman)

The free events are scheduled on Wednesdays through July 27. Pre-show music starts at 6:30 p.m. Attendees are encouraged to arrive after 5 p.m. but well before the 7 p.m. start time.

While tickets are not required, attendance is limited and some people may be turned away, particularly if inclement weather prompts organizers to move the show indoors.

More on the event, below, from the Army’s website.

The U.S. Army’s Twilight Tattoo is an action-packed military pageant featuring Soldiers from the U.S. Army Military District of Washington’s ceremonial units, the 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) and The U.S. Army Band “Pershing’s Own.” The show features performances by The U.S. Army Blues, The U.S. Army Band Downrange, The U.S. Army Voices, The Commander-in-Chief’s Guard, The U.S. Army Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps, and The U.S. Army Drill Team. Twilight Tattoo is appropriate for school-age children and enjoyed by all ages! Learn more about the participating units and Twilight Tattoo history.

https://twitter.com/MDW_USARMY/status/1524435913522221058

https://twitter.com/MDW_USARMY/status/1522937901989912576

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Morning Notes

Walking in Rosslyn (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

More on the Weird Chime Sound — “Janae Bixby first heard the sound near Pentagon City, where I-395 and Glebe Road intersect, as she picked up her kid from daycare on Monday evening around 5. She described it as ‘some sort of clock or doorbell chime that you would hear — very digital.’ She assumed the noise was coming from the building and started heading home. But then, in her car ride home to the southern edge of the Del Ray neighborhood in Alexandria, she kept hearing it, again and again.” [DCist]

Parents Group Wants Smaller Class Sizes — “A group of parents in Arlington, Virginia, is urging the county’s board to allot additional funding to its school system in the next fiscal year’s budget. The group Arlington Parents for Education said in a letter to the board this week that more money should be provided so that class sizes can be smaller, teacher pay can be competitive with surrounding school districts and student mental health and learning loss can be addressed.” [WTOP]

TR Bridge Work Could Wrap Up in June — “A section of the Theodore Roosevelt Bridge that was closed abruptly for emergency repairs two months ago is likely to reopen to traffic in June, according to officials with the District Department of Transportation. Crews began work on the 58-year-old bridge after an early-February inspection found steel support beams had continued to deteriorate, prompting the closure of three middle lanes and restrictions on heavyweight vehicles.” [Washington Post]

Operator Shortage Behind Bus Delays — From MetroHero: “For most of the morning, only one #WMATA 16Y bus has been in service where at least 5 are supposed to be running right… Previously-unannounced operator shortage was the cause of poor 16Y service this morning.” [Twitter]

School Bus Crash Yesterday Afternoon — “A crash involving several vehicles including a school bus has snarled southbound traffic on S. Carlin Springs Road, near Campbell Elementary… No injuries have been reported and one lane of traffic is squeezing by the crash scene. This is the same stretch of road where a group of residents recently called for safety improvements. [Twitter]

Video: Adorable Baby Squirrel — From the Animal Welfare League of Arlington: “We’ve definitely got the cutest thing on the internet today! This baby squirrel came to us underweight and hungry, so after a snack she was transferred to a local wildlife rehabber who will care for her until she can be released back into the wild!” [Twitter]

Arlington GOP Ramps Up Outreach — “They are still on the lookout for local candidates, but the Arlington County Republican Committee also is working to connect with prospective supporters. ‘There are thousands of Republican voters who turn out on Election Day but who are otherwise unengaged with the Arlington GOP,’ party communications chair Matthew Hurtt said. ‘We can change that.'” [Sun Gazette]

FBI Warns of Moving Scam — “The FBI Washington Field Office is warning the public about increasingly prevalent moving fraud schemes and providing information about how to avoid being victimized by them. A typical moving fraud scheme begins when a customer is enticed into entering into a contract with a moving company to transport their household goods by offers of extremely low-cost estimates from a sales representative or broker.” [FBI]

It’s Friday — Partly cloudy throughout the day. High of 72 and low of 52. Sunrise at 6:23 am and sunset at 7:53 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Morning Notes

Cranes above construction between 18th and 20th St. S. in Crystal City (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Police Looking for Missing Teen — “MISSING: ACPD is seeking assistance locating 14-year-old Anahi… Described as a [Hispanic] female, 5’4″ tall with brown hair, brown eyes and a nose piercing. She was last seen at approximately 12:30 p.m. today in the 400 block of S. George Mason Drive.” [Twitter]

Amazon Banana Stand in Crystal City — “Amazon has operated a stand in front of 1770 Crystal Drive, one of the office buildings it occupies in Crystal City, since July. The banistas give away bananas, individually or by the bunch, every weekday between 7:30 a.m. and 3 p.m., Anderson said. And anyone can take them, from Amazon employees to residents to passers-by. The stands have dog treats, too.” [Washington Business Journal]

Reports of Strange Sounds Last Night — “Locals: anyone know what that annoying chime / doorbell thing is that goes off every 10 minutes? I’ve seen reports of hearing it from Arlington to Alexandria.” [Twitter, Twitter]

Power Outage Last Night — “Just over 600 Dominion customers are without power tonight in the Columbia Forest and Claremont neighborhoods. Restoration expected within a few hours.” [Twitter]

Metro Wants to Develop Housing — “Metro has released a 10-year joint development plan that’s chock-full of big projects to extend the agency’s reach and increase ridership… The agency says it could produce 26,000 new housing units and 31 million square feet of new development through joint development projects at 40 stations. This could create a projected $50 million in yearly lease revenue.” [Axios]

It’s Tuesday — Partly cloudy throughout the day. Breezy, with wind gusts of up to 31 mph. High of 50 and low of 40. Sunrise at 6:27 am and sunset at 7:50 pm. [Weather.gov]

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