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by ARLnow.com — March 16, 2017 at 10:15 am 0

Crowds gather in Courthouse for same-sex marriage press conference on 10/6/14With a few exceptions — like breaking news — ARLnow does not publish on weekends.

We also only sparingly cover things like high school sports or do long human interest feature stories, things which readers have told us — in surveys and in their actions — are a lesser priority than news about core topics like crime, fire, local government, local businesses, weather and traffic. At the same time, readers frequently ask for us to “investigate” various topics, but true investigative journalism is time-consuming and expensive and hard to do while on the daily local news grind.

So what’s the solution to this for those readers who have emailed us and asked for more weekend coverage, more in-depth features and more investigative stories?

One possibility is for ARLnow to launch a membership program as part of a larger community journalism project.

Services like Patreon allow fans to support, with a small monthly contribution, the creators who are making content they’re passionate about. Similarly, we’re wondering if Arlingtonians would be interested in supporting local content that goes above and beyond ARLnow’s core news mission.

Those who sign up as members would get to weigh in on what kind of content their contribution should be funding — features, investigative pieces, coverage of local arts and nonprofits, etc. The new content would run as an ARLnow “weekend edition” — so as to not overwhelm readers who follow our weekday news coverage.

At the same time, members could get other benefits. We’re considering exclusive discounts from local businesses, access to exclusive ARLnow member events, access to a members-only online forum and perhaps the occasional ARLnow schwag (if NPR has totebags, we can have totebags).

That all said, maybe a $6 a month for local news isn’t something that people want to pay, or you’d rather we just stick with our core mission. Tell us what you think in the poll below and in the comments.

by ARLnow.com — March 15, 2017 at 9:15 am 0

Snow plow 3/3/14 (file photo)The first significant snowstorm of the season was the first big test for Arlington’s new snow removal policy.

Approved this past summer, the new policy had snow crews clearing major roads and neighborhood streets concurrently, a change from the previous practice of only tackling neighborhood streets after arterial streets were totally clear.

The old policy led to complaints (and snow vigilantism) from residents that by the time crews got to their neighborhood, the snow had become so compacted or icy that it was hard for the plows to fully remove.

So how did the snow crews do? Let us know below. (As of 8 a.m., the snow clearing effort was still underway, with crews in the fourth and final phase, cleaning up remaining trouble spots.)

For reference, check out the previous grades for the snow removal effort after winter storms in 2015 and 2016.

by ARLnow.com — March 8, 2017 at 10:00 am 0

Aerial view of Arlington residential neighborhood (screen capture via Arlington TV)(Updated at 12:50 p.m.) It’s hard to dispute that Arlington is a great place, which is why it winds up near the top of a lot of lists of various place rankings.

For instance, Arlington was crowned the Best City to Live in America last year by the website Niche.com.

Just a week later, however, Arlington was only No. 7 on the list of Best Suburbs to Live in America, behind No. 4 ranked Merrifield. And that’s not to mention the fact that Niche also ranked Arlington the No. 11 “Best Place to Live in America” last year.

Mashing together U.S. Census data sets and other info to rank places on various dimensions is a popular activity among publicity-seeking companies, since news outlets often pick up such stories and readers, in turn, love reading and sharing ranking articles. But the rankings — ARLnow.com is sent dozens of such lists each year — are often contradictory, nonsensical or, at least, highly questionable.

In the spirit of ranking things, today we’re letting our users arbitrarily rank “the most questionable rankings involving Arlington.” Here are the contenders and the organizations that compiled each respective list:

  • Arlington is the No. 3 “super cool U.S. city” (Expedia)
  • Arlington Heights and Yorktown are the No. 2 and No. 3 “hottest neighborhoods” in the D.C. area (Redfin)
  • Arlington is the No. 5 “Worst City to Own a Car” (SmartAsset)
  • Arlington is the No. 33 mid-sized city for “cultural diversity” (WalletHub)
  • Arlington is the No. 985 “Most Liberal Place in U.S. (Crowdpac)
  • Arlington is the No. 1 “Hardest Working City in America” (SmartAsset)
  • Arlington is the No. 1 “Best City to Retire” (Bankrate)
  • Arlington is the No. 162 “Best City to Retire” (Niche)
  • Arlington is No. 4 for “Best U.S. City Parks” (Trust for Public Lands)
  • Arlington is No. 64 for “Best Cities for Outdoor Activities” (Niche)
  • Arlington is the No. 8 “Best City to Train for a Marathon” (Competitor)
  • Arlington is the No. 1 “Best City to Live in America” (Niche)
  • Arlington is the No. 7 “Best Suburb to Live in America” (Niche)
  • Arlington is the No. 11 “Best Place to Live in America” (Niche)

Feel free to vote for as many entries as you like, because why not.

by ARLnow.com — February 22, 2017 at 10:30 am 0

Blossoms on a tree in Arlington 2/22/17

It’s February on the calendar but the weather forecast for the next three days looks more like May.

Arlington — and indeed much of the country — is experiencing what could be described as an early spring, despite what the groundhog said. Blooms are forming on trees, outdoor restaurant patios are open and it’s not uncommon to see shorts and short sleeves being worn outdoors.

It’s unclear whether winter will try to make a comeback next month, but how would you feel if the weather stayed springlike until… the actual calendar start of spring?

by ARLnow.com — February 1, 2017 at 10:00 am 0

Valentine's Day heart candy by Chris RiefValentine’s Day is only two weeks away.

Whether you’re single or in a relationship, V-Day is a day to plan.

For those in relationships, do you stay home and plan a romantic dinner, or go out and pay a premium at a nice restaurant?

For those who are single, do you stay in or join your single friends for a night on the town?

Which are you planning to do on Feb. 14?

Flickr pool photo courtesy Chris Rief

by ARLnow.com — January 19, 2017 at 9:30 am 0

Cloudy sunrise behind the Capitol on 9/18/16 (Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf)

Inauguration Day is almost here, and a new administration will soon be establishing itself in Washington’s halls of power.

How will Arlingtonians be marking the occasion? Let’s find out.

Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf

by ARLnow.com — January 11, 2017 at 10:10 am 0

Question markWe’re in the second full week of 2017 and it’s already shaping up to be quite the year.

While it’s impossible to know how the year will end, we do know a bunch of the milestones — including local events and openings — that will be taking place along the way.

Which of the following 20 things are you most looking forward to this year?

Wondering about one of the items? Here are some links to help: Drafthouse, Artomatic, G.O.A.T. Sports Bar, District Taco, Continental.

by ARLnow.com — December 28, 2016 at 10:05 am 0

Clarendon Grill New Year's 2017New Year’s Eve is only three days away.

While one might think of New Year’s as a time to get dressed up and head into the city — or, if you’re a parent, stay home and go to sleep at 12:05 a.m. — it seems that going out here in Arlington is also a popular choice.

Already, NYE parties at Don Tito and A-Town are completely sold out, according to their respective Eventbrite pages. Another big local NYE event at Sehkraft Brewing is nearly sold out, as of 10 a.m. Wednesday.

(There are more Arlington options, as detailed in our previous NYE article and on our event calendar.)

So do more Arlingtonians stay home, go out in Arlington or go out elsewhere in D.C.? Or are most people heading out of town? Let’s find out.

by ARLnow.com — December 12, 2016 at 10:10 am 0

Unmeasurable snow (Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf)An Arctic blast will drop temperatures into the teens and 20s in the D.C. area starting mid-week.

The cold air is expected to push into the area Wednesday night, and will bring with it wind and the possibility of some light snow.

The last time we saw snow in Arlington was when the remains of a giant snow pile in Ballston, left over from the January blizzard, finally melted. Unlike some past years, to our knowledge no flakes fell in November this year.

Are you looking forward to the first flakes of the season?

(See some local tips for preparing for winter weather, published last week, here.)

Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf

by ARLnow.com — November 22, 2016 at 10:00 am 0

A decorative Thanksgiving turkeyJudging by the multiple Washington Post articles about it this year (and another from last year), it seems that some sizable percentage of the population is dreading their Thanksgiving dinner conversation following Donald Trump’s election.

Especially when the family is divided politically, such conversations can apparently go downhill fast.

Are you among those who cringe at the idea of Uncle Bob passing along his political views with the gravy and stuffing? Or is that not a concern for you?

by ARLnow.com — October 17, 2016 at 10:00 am 0

Arlington County Board on 9/27/16Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey is floating the idea that Arlington County Board members should be paid better.

Currently, County Board members are paid between about $51,500 and $56,500. The position is considered part-time, and three out of the five current members have other jobs, but in practice Board members end up working full-time hours in service of the county.

As reported by the Washington Post, Garvey wants to start a discussion about raising County Board member pay closer to the county’s median family income of $110,900, which would be more in line with what Fairfax and Montgomery counties pay their elected officials.

Board member John Vihstadt, a partner with a D.C. law firm, says he does not favor a pay raise and thinks it’s better for County Board members to have other jobs.

What do you think?

by ARLnow.com — October 3, 2016 at 11:45 am 0

“Some cities are taking another look at LED lighting after AMA warning.”

That was the headline from a Washington Post article last Sunday, discussing the pushback against modern Light Emitting Diode streetlights in local communities. While the new streetlights are more energy efficient, last longer and save money compared to older sodium lights, some say they are too bright or cast to harsh of a light.

The American Medical Association warns that excessive blue light from certain LED streetlights could “disturb sleep rhythms and possibly increase the risk of serious health conditions,” according to the Post. Localities, however, say LED streetlights are not only more economical and more ecological, but are safer for drivers as well, helping to improve visibility on streets.

In Arlington, 85 percent of the more than 7,000 county-owned streetlights are now LED, according to Arlington Dept. of Environmental Services spokeswoman Katie O’Brien. Arlington’s streetlights operate at 5500 Kelvin, she said, casting a bluer tint than the warmer 3000K color temperature recommended by the AMA. The blue tint has been compared to that cast by natural moonlight.

When LED streetlights were first rolled out in Arlington neighborhoods, there were loud complaints from some groups of residents. Since then, O’Brien said, many of the complaints about lighting technology — more than 50 formal complaints between 2013 and 2016 — have been addressed.

“The County has installed shields on county-owned LED streetlights to help better direct the light towards the sidewalk and street,” she said. “Most LED streetlights are also on a dimming schedule to decrease in brightness throughout the course of the night, dimmed as low as 25% of full brightness.”

Nonetheless, the county is studying the AMA report.

“Arlington County streetlights meet current federal standards,” O’Brien said. “The County is studying AMA’s report that LED lights may have negative health and environmental impacts. We are researching this issue and will consider this report, industry standards, and other factors in making a final decision around LED streetlight temperature as part of the County’s Street Light Management Plan that will be completed in 2017. Additionally, our staff will work closely with Arlington’s Public Health Division throughout this process.”

LED streetlights are 75 percent more energy efficient than older models. Arlington expects to save $1 million annually once all county streetlights are converted to LED technology.

What do you think about LED streetlights in Arlington?

by ARLnow.com — September 20, 2016 at 10:45 am 0

Pumpkin beer in the Clarendon Whole FoodsPools might close after Labor Day but summer has been very much still in effect over the past couple of weeks.

With high temps in the 80s and 90s, one does not exactly get the twigs and acorns crunching pleasurably beneath one’s boots feeling that traditionally prompts a craving for fall-related items — you know, the ever-popular pumpkin spice latte or a malty Oktoberfest beer.

Starbucks has been offering the “PSL” since the end of August (McDonald’s now has a version, too) and Oktoberfests and pumpkin beers started hitting local store shelves even earlier than that.

We know that such seasonal beverages are popular choices when the air gets crisp and the days shorter. But are they popular now before the official start of fall? (The autumnal equinox is Thursday.)

Given the proliferation of Starbucks and the crowds at our fall beer tasting event over the weekend, it seems like the answer might be yes. But let’s see whether actual consumption so far this season actually bears that out.

by ARLnow.com — August 31, 2016 at 10:05 am 0

Clarendon MetroIt’s the week before Labor Day, which — in our experience — is the runner up for slowest week of the year in the D.C. area, second only to the week between Christmas and New Year’s.

There’s not a whole heck of a lot going on locally and lots of people are out of town. The weather is nice for outdoor activities, but otherwise it’s a pretty boring week.

On the plus side, traffic is noticeably lighter than the usual terribleness, everything is less crowded and it’s easier to get a table at popular restaurants.

Do you prefer a slow week like this to busier, more traffic-clogged but less exciting weeks?

by ARLnow.com — August 30, 2016 at 10:20 am 0

The polling place at Barrett Elementary School is slow for the 2014 special electionThe presidential election showdown between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton has been endlessly covered on cable news, online and in print this summer. The Arlington County Board race — considerably less so.

Next week, the week of Labor Day, is the traditional kickoff of the local election season, with such landmark events as the Arlington County Democratic Committee chili cook off and the Arlington County Civic Federation candidates forum.

The rule of thumb is that most voters aren’t paying much attention to local races between the primaries and Labor Day.

But that hasn’t stopped certain local candidates from doing some campaigning this summer. Independent County Board candidate Audrey Clement, for instance, just sent out a press release detailing a number of campaign pledges, including building more school capacity at a lower cost.

Clement is facing off against Democratic incumbent Libby Garvey in November.

Republican congressional candidate Charles Hernick, meanwhile, sat down for a Reddit Ask Me Anything session in July. And Mike Webb, who’s running as an “independent conservative” write-in candidate in the congressional race, has blasted out some 100 press releases since he lost to Hernick in the Virginia 8th District GOP convention. (During that time Webb also accidentally made national news.)

Hernick and Webb will face incumbent Democratic Rep. Don Beyer and little-known independent candidate Julio Gracia in November.

Our question for readers: what has been your level of interest in these general election races so far? Is it even worth trying to campaign in the summer, or should candidates perhaps stick with the Labor Day conventional wisdom?

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