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A road near Penrose Park is once again a hot spot for Mexican food, with the opening of a new truck serving up gorditas.

It was during the pandemic when the corner of S. Courthouse Road and 6th Street S. became the home of La Tingera, a popular birria taco food truck that would often see long lines. Then, in late 2021, it moved to a permanent location in Falls Church and started earning regional recognition.

But owner and chef David Andres Peña had always said that Arlington was home, and now he’s helping another food truck stake its claim to that unassuming street corner in South Arlington just off Columbia Pike.

Las Mexican gorditas, as the name suggests, serves up hand-made, on-the-spot gorditas, elote (Mexican corn), and aguas frescas (fruit drinks). It started serving in August, employees told ARLnow, and will be open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends.

And it’s run and operated by Peña’s mother.

The gordita truck is separate from La Tingeria, but employees from the brick-and-mortar location in Falls Church are helping the truck get on its feet. Several employees were donning La Tingera t-shirts when ARLnow stopped by Saturday afternoon. Peña also gave his mom his old trailer.

This isn’t the first time Peña and his mom have worked together. During La Tingera’s days along S. Courthouse Road, his truck was often accompanied by an aguas frescas stand which his mom operated.

La Tingera first got started more than a decade ago, serving up tacos from a truck that traveled around Arlington, primarily in Ballston, Courthouse, and Rosslyn. In July 2020, after closing for several months due to the pandemic, he began to serve again, this time in a stationary spot along Courthouse Road near Penrose Park.

The truck became the talk of the neighborhood, and Peña looked to expand. After securing the Falls Church location, he signed a contract with Audi Field to serve tacos at all D.C. United, Washington Spirit, and D.C. Defenders games. Peña also began looking to open more eateries, including potentially in Woodbridge, Fairfax City, and, now, Fredericksburg.

But, for the moment, he’s helping his mom again make S. Courthouse Road the home of some of the most popular Mexican food in Arlington.

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Arlington County police are investigating a death in the Penrose neighborhood.

The incident was first dispatched as a fire department call for a dumpster on fire near the intersection of 2nd Street S. and S. Veitch Street. Arriving firefighters then requested police after finding a person dead on scene.

The person is preliminarily believed to have set the dumpster on fire and then jumped in, according to scanner traffic.

“At approximately 11:42 a.m. on September 1, the Arlington County Fire Department responded to the report of a dumpster fire in the 200 block of S. Veitch Street,” Arlington County police spokeswoman Ashley Savage tells ARLnow. “Upon extinguishing the fire, an adult female was located deceased.”

“The Arlington County Police Department is conducting a death investigation and the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner will determine cause and manner of death,” Savage continued. “The preliminary investigation has not revealed an ongoing threat to the community. Anyone with information related to this incident is asked to contact the Arlington County Police Department’s tip line at 703-228-4180 or [email protected] or anonymously through the Arlington County Crime Solvers hotline at 1-866-411-TIPS(8477).”

Hat tip to Alan Henney. If you or someone you know is in immediate danger of self-harm, call 911. You can also call the 24/7 National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988, Arlington Dept. of Human Services’ emergency services line at 703-228-5160, or CrisisLink at 703-527-4077.

(Updated at 08/29/23) Get ready for a symphony of local sounds and savory pies.

ACME Pie Company in Penrose is set to host its third annual music event, featuring musicians from across Northern Virginia, this Saturday from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. at 2803 Columbia Pike.

Admission is free, but Sol Schott — a former fine-dining pastry chef turned pie shop owner — says he’s asking for a $10 donation. This will be divided between the bands at the show’s end.

“It’s been a difficult time for musicians,” Schott told ARLnow, adding that several musicians performing at the event rely on music as their primary source of income.

“There’s a lot of different ways people can make money with music, and it just seems like over the last four years or so, since the pandemic, a lot of those options have kind of gone away,” he said. “I also want to do something nice for South Arlington.”

Of course, attendees will also be able to enjoy Schott’s assortment of pies, including quiche and pot pies, as well as seasonal fruit pies such as blackberry, peach and blueberry.

Schott said the show — held in the parking lot behind the pie shop — starts out “more blues and jazz,” then as the evening progresses, “it will become more rock and roll.”

The pie maker will also make an appearance on stage as the drummer for the act MF Grumbler.

Here is the lineup:

  • 2 p.m. — Rick Franklin and guests
  • 3 p.m. — Swingamajig
  • 4 p.m. — Coronal Josh & Paisley Tonk
  • 5 p.m. — Ex Motorcycle Couriers
  • 6 p.m. — Karl Straub Quartet
  • 7 p.m. — Delicate Whip
  • 8 p.m. — MF Grumbler
  • 9 p.m. — Jackie & the Tree Horns
The event poster for this Saturday’s music event at Acme Pie Company on Columbia Pike (via Acme Pie Co./Instagram)
Arlington police car (file photo)

A 30-year-old Lorton man is being charged with involuntary manslaughter after a fatal Arlington overdose.

A man died in a Penrose home last June after overdosing on drugs that contained fentanyl and mirtazapine, according to Arlington police.

An investigation led police to “the individual suspected of supplying the deceased with controlled substances.”

More, below, from a just-issued ACPD press release.

The Arlington County Police Department’s Organized Crime Section is announcing charges have been obtained following an investigation into a fentanyl overdose death. Armand Navarro, 30, of Lorton, VA is charged with Involuntary Manslaughter and Distribution of a Schedule I/II Controlled Substance (2nd Offense). He is being held on unrelated charges in the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center.

At approximately 10:06 p.m. on June 29, 2022, police were dispatched to the 700 block of S. Courthouse Road for the report of a medical emergency. Upon arrival, officers located an adult male inside a residence suffering from an apparent fentanyl overdose. Despite lifesaving measures attempted by officers and the Arlington County Fire Department, he was pronounced deceased on scene. An autopsy conducted by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner determined cause of death to be acute fentanyl and mirtazapine intoxication.

Detectives assigned to the Organized Crime Section initiated a comprehensive investigation which included witness interviews and the review of evidence. As a result of the review, detectives identified the individual suspected of supplying the deceased with controlled substances and warrants were obtained for his arrest.

The Arlington County Police Department remains committed to thoroughly investigating narcotics incidents and holding accountable those who traffic dangerous and deadly narcotics into our community. This remains an active criminal investigation and anyone with information related to this incident is asked to contact the Arlington County Police Department’s tip line at 703-228-4180 or [email protected] or anonymously through the Arlington County Crime Solvers hotline at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477).

If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, there are numerous resources available through the Arlington Addiction Recovery Initiative. For additional community resources and contact information, visit our website.

This year, Arlington County and Arlington Public Schools have been undertaking a number of measures to combat the opioid crisis after a spate of overdose deaths.


Growing community concerns and a visit from county code enforcement have prompted a local property manager to clean and secure its vacant storefronts on Columbia Pike.

Some retail bays at the Fillmore Gardens Shopping Center, on the 2600 block of the Pike, have stood empty for a year as the strip mall awaited redevelopment. That includes the former spaces of Atilla’s restaurant, apparel store Legends Kicks and the Black Heritage Museum of Arlington.

The retail strip was set to become an apartment with a ground-floor grocery store — rumored to be an Amazon Fresh — as well as a new location for the existing CVS, which is still open. When the grocery tenant pulled out in December, developer Insight Property Group struggled to secure loans for the project. The work is paused until economic conditions improve.

The vacant storefronts attracted break-ins, graffiti and vermin — adding insult to the injury of millions of dollars spent on the project so far, according to Harald Mangold, a representative for the property owner. These conditions led the code enforcement division of Arlington County to condemn the buildings earlier this month.

Mangold tells ARLnow they got to work in response to the neon orange notice stickers.

“We hired someone to clean out all the old buildings,” he said. “They’re empty and clean versus empty and dirty — and boarded up properly.”

When the tenants moved out last May, Mangold said they were not required to clean out their storefronts completely because they were set to be bulldozed soon. As a result, flammable items were left inside, including furniture and old kitchen equipment.

People began breaking in and some slept inside the buildings sporadically, prompting the owners to hire off-duty police officers to keep watch over the property.

After work over the last week, Mangold said, the issues raised in the condemnation notice are “essentially resolved.”

“There’s nothing dangerous,” he said. “We just need to keep people from getting in and breaking in.”

While, Mangold says workers have been washing away graffiti — only for it to return a few days later. Although it is a chief complaint for some neighbors, he disputes the notion that it is worse here than other parts of the Pike or the region.

Penrose Civic Association Alex Sakes has been following goings-on at the shopping center closely and fielding concerns from neighbors about the blighted conditions.

He says he is meeting with leadership at the Arlington County Police Department, county staff and the Columbia Pike Partnership leadership to discuss the “State of the Pike,” particularly as it relates to buildings defaced by spray paint along the corridor.

The meeting will “get everyone up-to-speed on this ever-evolving situation and work together to put together an actionable game-plan and next steps regarding the 2600 block and graffiti mitigation,” he said.

As for the future of the Fillmore Gardens Shopping Center, Sakes says local leaders are still brainstorming whether to fill the buildings with pop-ups. With the condemnation notices, that would depend on the buildings being deemed safe, he said.

“Regarding the funding mechanisms, maybe the county can step in and help subsidize alongside various nonprofit entities like [Columbia Pike Partnership] and others,” he said. “But, again, that’s all in the brainstorming phase at the moment, first step would be getting the building deemed fit for occupancy.”

Mangold says the owners are working on that.

“We’re trying to find solutions,” he said. “It’s not ideal but we are committed to the neighborhood and we remain good neighbors.”


One inevitability of running a local news outlet is that you’ll get plenty of people contacting you with complaints about stuff, some more newsworthy than others.

In general, we’re disinclined to use our limited reporting resources as a cudgel against pet peeves that lack greater significance or safety concerns to the community at large. More often, the better stories tend to be those that come from tips sent because something seems interesting, not because it bothers the tipster personally.

Recently, though, there has been a noticeable uptick in a certain type of tip: those complaining about noise.

Noise is a constant concern in a place like Arlington, which has no shortage of noisy things from airliners to helicopters, bars to buses.

Noise complaints abound in our 26 square miles, but those that have a more limited local impact and fall into a category that might be described as “annoying but to be expected where you live” often do not rise to the level of local coverage.

Arguably, the following three noise complaints could get that categorization. But after receiving each in notably short succession, we’re going to let readers decide which, if any, has the most merit and might deserve additional scrutiny.

First up: (1) the use of leaf blowers in Ballston when there are, in fact, few if any leaves on the ground.

You folks should do a story on excess use of gas powered leaf blowers in [Ballston]. I live off Welburn Square, and when I work at home I hear pairs of workers with leaf blowers frequently, like every few days. This happens literally year round, every month,–80% of the time there are no leaves!

Are these county workers? It seems like a waste of taxpayer money plus unneeded air pollution and sound pollution.

I’ve attached a photo from this morning. No leaves!! Yet two guys with gas powered blowers wailing.


Welburn Square apartment resident.

Next: (2) nightly runway closures at DCA steering late flights closer to residential towers in nearby Crystal City.

As a longtime resident of Crystal City, my high-rise building, and others on the northern end of Crystal Drive, are directly along the flight path of aircraft currently departing the 15/33 runway that’s being used during the evenings while the main runway is worked on. Since the project started,  aircraft depart that runway perhaps 1000′ from my building regularly during the late evening until nearly 3AM … and then resume a few more times before 6AM when the main runway is cleared for regular daytime traffic. (It’s intolerable for us in Waterford House and Crystal Gateway, but likely is worse for the residents of Crystal City Lofts and Water Park Towers.)

In addition to working professionals, several buildings in this part of Crystal City count many senior citizens as homeowners and/or renters. Taken together, we are all directly – and adversely – impacted being in such immediate proximity to the overwhelming noise of aircraft taking off on 15/33 that pass so close to our buildings during the overnight hours. I think you’d agree that long-term sleep deprivation and the related health consequences – at any age – certainly is not the answer. :(

According to a 2022 airport diagram[1], DCA runway 15/33 is 5200×150′ while 4/22 is 5000×150. Runway 4/22 is another ‘cross’ runway but departs over the Potomac River and does not put departing aircraft so close to residential buildings during their initial climb-out from DCA. Given the nearly identical length of these runways, it would be nice to know why DCA is not able to use that runway instead and therefore prevent disrupting the residents of northern Crystal City.

Finally: (3) the daily playing of the National Anthem at a Navy facility in the Penrose neighborhood, which allegedly “started last fall” and “can be heard from several blocks away, through windows, and is played every day.”

I am writing in about the Naval Support Facility at 701 S Courthouse Rd, Arlington, VA. Several months ago, the facility began playing the National Anthem every morning at 8am.There are speakers pointed directly into the neighborhood. While it may have simply been an oversight, I wanted to bring Arlington County’s noise ordinances to your attention.

According to Arlington County, the Naval Support Facility is located in Zone S-3A. Arlington’s noise control regulations require that noise for Zone S-3A is below 95 decibels for “impulsive noise” during daytime hours (7am – 9pm weekdays, 10am – 9pm weekends) and below 90 decibels during nighttime hours. Please note they also define impulsive noise as lasting less than 1 second [Noise Ordinance, page 2]. All other noise needs to remain below 60 decibels during daytime hours and 55 decibels during nighttime hours. The Naval Support Facility plays the National Anthem at an audio level far beyond the permissible levels.

Additionally, I would like to bring your attention to the prohibited acts in the Arlington County noise ordinance. [Noise Ordinance, page 6]. I live approximately 600 feet from the Naval Support Facility, and the noise is extremely loud, even with the windows closed. This is a direct, clear violation of Arlington County’s noise ordinances.

“My neighbor has tried bringing this to Arlington County, but they won’t preemptively come out to the facility to witness the noise, so they won’t enforce their own rules,” the anthem tipster told ARLnow.

Which of the above complaints do you think has the most merit?

Map via Google Maps

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An apartment redevelopment proposed for a strip mall on Columbia Pike is stalled for the foreseeable future after the anchor tenant — a grocery store — fell through.

But some of the existing tenants, including the restaurant Atilla’s, have already moved out. And now, the Fillmore Gardens shopping center on the 2600 block of the Pike, which includes a still-operating CVS, is attracting graffiti artists and other signs of blight, according to neighbors.

Penrose Civic Association President Alex Sakes says the development was “slated to become a new crown jewel” but is now “an unbelievable embarrassment.”

“The never ending graffiti and garbage is truly appalling and gets worse by the day,” he said. “My residents and I don’t just work here or drive past this site — we live here. We take great pride in our neighborhood and are happy to step up to help beautify this site once again. I’m not here to point fingers or place blame, but the condition of this site cannot and will not continue to perpetuate.”

The Arlington County Board approved the plans to build a a 247-unit apartment complex with a ground-floor grocery store, rumored to be an Amazon Fresh, in March of 2022. Some tenants have already moved out, anticipating the project starting in late 2022 or early 2023.

Progress halted in late December, however, when the grocery store tenant told the developer it would not be moving in. Without a major tenant guaranteed for the space, the developer — Insight Property Group — could not borrow the money it needed to proceed with the project, Insight’s Sarah Davidson told the Penrose Civic Association earlier this month.

She confirmed that an unnamed retailer pulled out of the space with ARLnow, adding that “economic conditions will determine a revised project timeline.”

The grocery tenant, Davidson said in the civic association meeting, told Insight “they were pulling out of a significant number of pipeline deals, of which this was one.”

That sounds quite similar to what is happening with Amazon Fresh: across the country, proposed locations of the tech company’s grocery store are falling through, with at least one ending in a lawsuit against Amazon.

For Sakes, watching the shopping center struggle is a “worst-case scenario” for “once a thriving hub for diverse, Black and Brown-owned small businesses, including Atilla’s, Salsa Room, Legend Kicks, and more.”

Graffiti keeps popping up. Some drawings found on Monday were apparently scrubbed off only for markings to return today (Tuesday). Davidson says they’re trying to stay on top of it.

“The property owners are committed to keeping the property in clean and presentable condition,” she said.

Insight is also trying to crowdsource ideas for how to fill the storefronts for the next few years, until redevelopment plans can be revived.

“We would love to offer pop-up space for some of the local artist communities, provide space for activities that might be supplementary to CPP’s initiatives, and business incubators as well as find ways to activate some of our parking areas,” Davidson said. “Currently, we feel fortunate to have CVS and Burrito Bros who remain as tenants of the Center.”

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File photo

A robbery attempt in the Penrose neighborhood did not go as planned, after the would-be victim reportedly grabbed and broke a suspect’s replica handgun.

That’s according to scanner traffic and an Arlington County Police Department crime report today.

The incident happened Sunday afternoon on the 2800 block of 8th Street S., two blocks north of the intersection of Columbia Pike and S. Walter Reed Drive.

“At approximately 2:35 p.m. on March 5, police were dispatched to the report of an attempted robbery,” said the crime report. “Upon arrival, it was determined the male victim and two unknown suspects arrived at this location for the prearranged sale of a computer. The suspects showed the victim the computer before brandishing what was later determined to be an air soft gun and demanding the victim’s money.”

“The victim handed the suspects cash and took control of the air soft gun,” the crime report continued. “The suspects then fled the scene on foot, dropping the money in the process. No injuries were reported.”

Scanner traffic at the time suggested that the black handgun, which looked like a Glock, broke when the victim snatched it away from the young suspect.

The suspects — described as in their teens or early 20s — showed up to the sale wearing hoodies and masks, according to ACPD. The computer in question was described as a Mac in a police dispatch.

“The investigation is ongoing,” police said.

Hat tip to Alan Henney


Pock, pock, pock. The local controversy over pickleball continues.

After strongly anti-pickleball flyers were distributed to residents who live around the Walter Reed Community Center, which is set to become a local hub for the noisy but increasingly popular sport, some tongue-in-cheek propaganda posters have started proliferating.

Over the last week, meme-y pickleball posters of presidents Ronald Reagan and John F. Kennedy talking about pickleball have taken over a signboard on the other side of Columbia Pike, in Penrose Park, as well as in other parks.

The posters have generated some bemusement on Twitter.

One person called the bulletin board “unhinged” and expressed admiration for the “old school insanity” in real life. Another said that, because it’s Arlington, she genuinely “isn’t sure whether this is pro- or anti-pickleball.”

The chief poster creator, tracked down by ARLnow, said it is in support of the ability to play pickleball.

“The entire ‘pickleball wars’ is ridiculous,” says the poster creator, known on Twitter by the handle @ARLINGTONAF. “I’ve never played, don’t plan to, but I’m pro-pickleball because I’m pro-public park.”

The enthusiastic embrace of pickleball during the pandemic led Arlington County to set aside some $2 million to add dedicated pickleball courts. The enthusiasm has soured slightly, with some neighbors complaining about the incessant “pock” sound made when the ball and paddle make contact.

But @ARLINGTONAF says it angers him to see people distributing over-the-top flyers — accusing pickleball supporters, among other things, of bullying children — or threatening to sue the county over the issue.

The volley of posters in Penrose Park, on Columbia Pike and in other parks with community sign boards feature Cold War-era U.S. presidents JFK and Reagan, as well as the anthropomorphic spokes-animals behind fire and crime prevention, Smokey the Bear and McGruff the Crime Dog.

Reagan is included in a number of posters. One quips “It’s true pickleball never killed anyone, but I figure, why take the chance?” in reference to a self-deprecating joke Reagan made about his work habits and the Iran-Contra affair.

One satirical poster utilized AI-generated art and a false history of pickleball’s supposedly Soviet origins. (It was actually invented in 1965 as a children’s backyard game in Washington state.)

“I think the prompt was ‘art nouveau Soviet pickleball players,'” @ARLINGTONAF said.

But the signboard has long been “unhinged,” part of a neighborhood tradition of putting up wacky posters.

“There’s been a culture of whimsy on the Penrose Park bulletin board for a while, with classics like ‘cats on a lake’ and ‘ladder lessons,'” Twitter user @Pulp&Politics tells ARLnow.

That’s in reference to a mid-aughts Baltimore meme for the “3rd Annual Cats on the Lake” event, in which people are told to bring their cats to the Inner Harbor and “say Bon Voyage to a friend!” @ARLINGTONAF says he first saw this idea on a flyer in a building in Baltimore some 15 years ago.

“I’ve been putting random posters on the community boards and the like for decades,” he says. “I’ve made them all, sans the classified ones — that’s somebody’s else,” he says.

The classifieds advertise for pet ventriloquy — “I will make your dog talk at a party, or cat or bird: a surprise your guests might actually want” — as well as rentable safes and yard work.

@ARLINGTONAF has been making posters and chalking sidewalks for “as long as I can remember,” and has even sold prints. One oil pastel painting won him a prize at the Arlington County Fair.

Arlington County Fair-winning artwork (courtesy of @ARLINGTONAF)

And, because no Arlington debate is complete without a reference to the Missing Middle housing proposal — up for a vote by the County Board next month — the following is what JFK might have to say about duplexes and triplexes.

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File photo

Arlington County police responded to several shots fired calls on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.

No one was reported to have been injured in any of the three incidents of gunfire. The first happened in the Arlington View neighborhood, between Columbia Pike and I-395.

From an ACPD crime report:

SHOTS FIRED, 2022-12310180, 1500 block of 11th Street S. At approximately 6:10 p.m. on December 31, police were dispatched to the report of shots fired. Upon arrival, it was determined the victims were inside their residence when they heard what appeared to be shots fired. Responding officers recovered evidence confirming shots had been fired and located property damage to the exterior window and interior wall of the residence and a vehicle parked outside. No injuries were reported. There is no suspect(s) description. The investigation is ongoing.

The next incident happened 24 hours later, on New Year’s Day, in the Long Branch Creek neighborhood just south of I-395.

SHOTS FIRED, 2023-01010187, 1400 block of 28th Street S. At approximately 6:10 p.m. on January 1, police were dispatched to the report of shots heard. During the course of the investigation, responding officers recovered evidence confirming shots had been fired in the area. No injuries or property damage was reported. The investigation is ongoing.

The third happened later that night in the Penrose neighborhood, between Columbia Pike and Route 50.

SHOT FIRED, 2023-01010233, 500 block of S. Veitch Street. At approximately 9:34 p.m. on January 1, police were dispatched to the report of suspicious circumstances. Upon arrival, it was determined the victim had returned home after an extended absence and observed damage to a bedroom. Responding officers recovered evidence confirming a shot had been fired and located property damage to a ceiling within a bedroom. No injuries were reported. There is no suspect description. The investigation is ongoing.

Separately, a juvenile female suspect is alleged to have shot two people in the Crystal City area with a water pellet gun on New Year’s Eve, in yet another drive-by incident.

ASSAULT & BATTERY (Significant), 2022-12310181/12310186, 1200 block of Crystal Drive/3500 block of S. Ball Street. At approximately 6:12 p.m. on December 31, police were dispatched to the report of a suspicious vehicle. The investigation indicates unknown female suspect(s) discharged a water pellet gun from a vehicle, striking at two victims. The victims did not require medical attention. The suspect vehicle is described as a silver or gray sedan.

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Power outage in Arlington as of 10 a.m. (via Dominion)

Update at 3:05 p.m. — Numerous small, scattered outages have been reported around Arlington. The number of Dominion customers in the dark is now down to just over 800, with the larger earlier outage since largely resolved.

Earlier: Today’s frigid wind storm is just getting underway — complete with a recent bout of snow flurries — but many are already without power in Arlington.

As of 10 a.m., more than 1,500 Dominion customers are in the cold, according to the power company’s website.

The following outages were reported on Dominion’s map.

  • 718 customers, in Penrose and Lyon Park
  • 715 customers, between Ballston and Westover
  • 114 customers, in Glebewood
  • At least two smaller outages in Bellevue Forest and Ashton Heights

The Penrose outage has closed Arlington’s Dept. of Human Services offices at Sequoia Plaza, the county announced this morning.

“Dominion Energy continues to closely monitor the extremely cold, windy weather and its potential to impact our Virginia and North Carolina service territory,” the company said in a statement today. “Our crews are positioned and ready to respond to any damage or power outages that may be caused as a result of the ice storm.”

“If you experience a power outage, please make sure you report it to Dominion Energy immediately,” the company added. “Please stay at least 30 feet away from all downed wires and damaged equipment. If you need to report an emergency or a downed wire, please call us at 1-866-DOM-HELP (1-866-366-4357)… We appreciate your patience.”

The county is under both a Wind Advisory and a Wind Chill Advisory today. More outages are possible throughout the day, with 50 mph wind gusts expected.


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