Instant Runoff Bill Fails in Richmond — It appeared to be headed toward potential passage, but a bill to allow Arlington County to hold instant-runoff elections for County Board was referred to another committee on a 51-49 House of Delegates vote and is effectively dead for 2018. [InsideNova]
Arlington Denies Request for 911 Recording — “Arlington County has denied a request from the family of Bijan Ghaisar to release the 911 call made after a hit-and-run crash he was involved in, before a police chase ended with U.S. Park Police fatally shooting him.” [Covering the Corridor, WTOP]
ARLnow on Kojo — ARLnow founder Scott Brodbeck will discussing the state of local news on the Kojo Nnamdi Show today. The show airs at noon on WAMU 88.5 FM. [Kojo Nnamdi Show]
A-SPAN Celebrates Quarter Century — The Arlington Street People’s Assistance Network, which started as a grassroots effort to address local homelessness, recently marked its 25th anniversary with a fundraiser and celebration in Rosslyn. [InsideNova]
Email List Hits 10K — ARLnow’s email newsletter mailing list crossed the 10,000 mark on Monday. Thank you to all of our subscribers, who are receiving our headlines free of social media filters. (ARLnow’s Twitter account reached 40,000 followers in December and our newly-verified Facebook account is on the verge of 24,000.)
Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf
Dog and Owner Help Foil Purse Snatching — Mazel was a very good boy. The miniature bull terrier and his owner chased down a purse thief in Clarendon Tuesday evening, retrieving the purse and all of its contents. The thief remains at large but the purse owner is very grateful to get her belongings back prior to a planned vacation. [NBC Washington]
Arlington Woman Plows Into Falls Church Store — A 41-year-old woman from Arlington drove her car through the sliding doors of a Falls Church Rite Aid store this past weekend, damaging shopping carts and an interior wall. She was arrested and charged with DUI. [Falls Church News-Press]
Planet Money Looks at I-66 Tolling — NPR’s popular Planet Money podcast took a look at the sky-high tolls now in effect during certain times on I-66. There is “a beautiful, econ 101 logic behind a toll that spikes when demand spikes,” the podcast explains. [NPR]
White Christmas Looks Unlikely — The odds are low that the Washington area ends its recent draught of white Christmases next week. However, some snow on Christmas Day appears to be a possibility. [Capital Weather Gang, Twitter]
Flickr pool photo by Jim Webster
Media personality Sarah Fraser has been on the D.C. radio and TV airwaves for a decade. What you might not know about her is that she is a Virginia Square resident and is active locally here in Arlington.
On this week’s 26 Square Miles podcast, we talked with Sarah about her podcast and new media ventures, about the business of broadcasting, and about Arlington restaurants from Oz to Crystal City Restaurant.
High School Boundary Change Petition — Matthew Herrity, the Washington-Lee student who penned a widely-shared open letter to the School Board regarding its recent high school boundary change decision, has now started an online petition. The petition, which calls for increasing diversity at Arlington’s high schools, has more than 1,000 signatures. [Change.org]
Community Center, Gymnastics Contracts Approved — At its meeting on Saturday the Arlington County Board approved a $3.9 million contract to plan and design a new four-story Lubber Run Community Center, with a gymnasium, playgrounds, offices and underground parking. In response to heavy program demand, the Board also approved a $1.7 million addition of a second gymnastics area at the Barcroft Sports and Fitness Center. [Arlington County]
Ebbin on Trump and Other Topics — “Trump is making me nostalgic for Reagan,” said state Sen. Adam Ebbin (D) during a wide-ranging interview on the Kojo Nnamdi Show Friday. Ebbin also discussed casino gambling, with the opening of the new MGM casino in National Harbor, and Confederate monuments in Alexandria, among other topics. [Kojo Nnamdi Show]
D.C. Police Misconduct Story Has Arlington Connection — There’s an Arlington connection to one of the misconduct allegations against Sgt. Jessica Hawkins, the head of the D.C. police Lesbian, Gay Bisexual and Transgender Liaison unit. Hawkins reportedly took two underage summer interns to Freddie’s, the LGBT bar in Crystal City, and laughed about one using a fake ID. She’s now facing possible disciplinary action for that and for allegedly showing the interns a homemade sex tape on her phone. [Fox 5, Fox 5]
New Restaurants Coming to Rosslyn — A bunch of new restaurants and a cafe are coming to Rosslyn as part of the under-construction Central Place project. Fast casual eateries Sweetgreen, Nando’s Peri-Peri and The Little Beet are signing deals with developer JBG. A Compass Coffee is also set to open and negotiations are reportedly underway with Cava Grill. [Washington Business Journal]
Sidewalk Cafe for Pike Beer Garden — The Arlington County Board last night approved a use permit that will allow the future beer garden at the corner of Columbia Pike and Walter Reed Drive to operate a 32-seat outdoor cafe. The outdoor seating will “enliven the restaurant space and provide greater activity on this corner” of Columbia Pike, county staff wrote. County Board members expressed enthusiasm for the business, from the owner of nearby Twisted Vines, with Jay Fisette calling it “a fabulous use for this site.” [Arlington County]
Neighborhood Conservation Projects Approved — Last night the County Board approved $4.7 million in funding for six neighborhood conservation projects. The projects include a neighborhood sign for the recently-renamed Arlington Mill neighborhood; street improvement projects in Yorktown, Waverly Hills and Lyon Park; new LED streetlights in Arlington Heights; and a vegetation and sidewalk project in Boulevard Manor. [Arlington County]
Guas Appears on ‘Chopped Junior’ — Chef David Guas of Bayou Bakery in Courthouse was back on national TV last night, starring as a judge on the Food Network show “Chopped Junior.” [Patch]
WERA Anniversary Nears — Arlington’s own community radio station WERA will be celebrating its first anniversary in just over two months. The low-power FM station is “having an impact,” with some ninety producers generating local programming. Fundraising for the station, however, has been sluggish. [InsideNova]
Fmr. Sen. Warner to Endorse Clinton — At an event in Alexandria this morning, five-term former U.S. Sen. John Warner (R-Va.) is expected to endorse the presidential ticket of Hillary Clinton and Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.). It will be the first time Warner has endorsed a Democrat for president. [Politico]
Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann
With the Arlington County Board primary fast approaching, Democratic candidates Libby Garvey and Erik Gutshall took to the airwaves in their final debate before voters head to the polls on Tuesday.
The candidates went on Kojo Nnamdi’s WAMU-FM radio show, The Politics Hour, Friday afternoon.
Some of the topics covered included the capacity crunch in county schools, affordable housing and the ongoing battle with aircraft noise.
The full debate can be viewed above. Here are some highlights:
Garvey on what she wants voters to know about her time serving Arlington
“I think over the past 20 years I’ve done a pretty good job serving Arlington. Fifteen years on the School Board help make our schools among the best in the country. And in my 4 years on the County Board I’ve done quite a bit to make our government more responsive and more transparent. One of the things we just started to do was video streaming our work sessions. Up until then if you wanted to watch the board actually getting work done at work sessions, you had to sit in the room and that was hard for a lot of people to do.”
Gutshall on why he’s running
“I’m running because I think I’m better qualified to make sure that we are meeting the challenges that we face today with solutions for tomorrow.
We’ve got to make long-term strategic investments. We have a capacity crisis in our school that’s in our sixth year and we still don’t have a plan for getting out in front of rising student enrollment. We have to make sure that we’re making investments in our transportation infrastructure and we’re dragging our feet in moving forward with the capital improvement plan for doing that.
We’ve got a major issue in Arlington County of housing affordability. It’s the issue that’s going to define our time, our day. We are not moving forward in the way that we need to and the way that I believe Arlingtonians want to in order to make sure that the middle class does not get squeezed out of Arlington.”
Garvey on her long-term plan for handling the school issue
“My long-term plan is to be supporting the School Board. I’ve been on the County Board for four years. That’s really the School Board’s job to come forward to us with plans.
I will say that little over a year ago, the School Board came to the County Board asking to build a school on the Thomas Jefferson site. Four of my colleagues unfortunately thought that it needed more of a community process. I was the one vote to go ahead and move forward with that. A year later, the whole board moved to move forward and we lost a whole year in the process. I have always been supportive of moving our schools forward and getting the work done.”
Gutshall on balancing the seat numbers with the growing student population
“I would hope it wouldn’t wait until I took office on January 1 to move forward with the implementation of the Community Facilities Study. Moving forward, what we need to do is we need to make sure that we’re having a conversation with the School Board and we’re going to miss the opportunity on this CIP now. We need to move forward on laying out a comprehensive plan where all seats, elementary, high school, middle school, all neighborhoods, north, south, east and west are accountable.”
Gutshall on housing and development
“What we have here is a problem that’s created by our success. Everybody wants to be here, that’s a good thing. Rising property values, that’s a good thing. But we need to make sure that we are keeping an eye on what we can do for the problem and risk of squeezing out the middle class. What I’ve been talking about is what’s called the missing middle: the idea where you have medium density, not the high rise density of our Metro corridors and not the low density in our single family neighborhoods, but in between that, the missing middle for example along Lee Highway and Glebe Road and other major arterials served by transit where right now you might see a lot of old strip malls, used car lots, basically underutilized land.
We can look at our zoning ordinances. We can open up opportunities for developers to come in and create different housing choices for young families just starting out, for seniors who want to age in the community.”
The Hawk Chronicles is a science-fiction radio drama produced on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. It tells the story of a Baltimore detective who finds herself involved in intergalactic travel to solve crimes in space.
“We are excited about including The Hawk Chronicles in our weekly programming here at WERA-LP 96.7 FM,” said Paul LeValley, executive director of Arlington Independent Media. “It is in keeping with our mission to offer artistically diverse and quality programming to the Arlington community, and we’re excited to have it.”
Steve Long, writer and producer of The Hawk Chronicles, commented on the process of making the show.
“We borrow from the art form of old time radio drama but use today’s production technology to create the series,” he said. “The show is science-fiction complete with sound effects, and we have technical consultants who read each script to verify continuity and scientific feasibility. This, along with exciting storylines and interesting characters, make for great listening entertainment for people of all ages.”
WERA-LP 96.7 has a broadcast area that includes all of Arlington and parts of Washington, D.C. It features local-centric programming and is Arlington’s only local radio station.
The Hawk Chronicles is in its third season and has been airing for the last year and a half on Maryland station WCEM 1240 AM.
“It’s been amazing to witness the evolution of the show,” said Kirsten Strohmer, voice actor for lead female character Detective Kate Hawk. “Our local Eastern Shore listeners, who have been very supportive, still will have access to continuing episodes of the third season, but now we additionally can broadcast the show with a completely different audience from the beginning of season one.”
Photo courtesy Kirsten Strohmer
Groundbreaking for Hotel Project — Developer B.F. Saul broke ground yesterday on a new hotel project. A 10-story Homewood Suites hotel will be replacing the former Colony House Furniture store at 1700 Lee Highway near Rosslyn. Demolition of the store is now proceeding, five years after it closed its doors. [Washington Business Journal]
Kojo Controversy Defused — Arlington County Board candidate Erik Gutshall wasn’t happy with the choice of political operative Ben Tribbett as a call-in guest for a Kojo Nnamdi Show segment on the County Board race — and the candidate made his feelings known via Twitter. Tribbett had done some paid polling work for incumbent Libby Garvey earlier this year, Gutshall pointed out. In the end, Gutshall himself joined the segment as a call-in guest, along with Tribbett and ARLnow.com editor Scott Brodbeck. [Storify]
Arlington Posting FOIA Responses Online — Arlington County is now releasing its responses to Freedom of Information Act requests online, for all to see. The first posted response is documents and emails related to NOVA Armory. Said County Manager Mark Schwartz: “My overarching goal is to increase government transparency. This is one simple way that we can share information that we have already collected… which already has some interest from the community.” [Arlington County]
Dominion Admits Culpability for Potomac Oil Spill — Last week’s mysterious oil spill that ran from the Roaches Run Waterfowl Sanctuary, down the Potomac past Reagan National Airport, came from a Dominion Power substation in Crystal City. The company is taking responsibility for the mineral oil spill, which killed 21 birds, mostly Canada geese, and prompted a large Coast Guard and Arlington County cleanup response. [Washington Post]
Loverde Issues Statement on Scalia’s Death — Diocese of Arlington Bishop Paul Loverde issued a statement on the passing of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia over the weekend. Loverde said “we are all deeply saddened” by Scalia’s unexpected death, lauding him as “a man so deeply rooted in his faith, so brilliant in the law and in jurisprudence, so clear and precise in his judicial statements, so wholly committed to his family, so engaging with colleagues and friends, often with great humor.” [Catholic Diocese of Arlington]
D.C. Denies St. Paddy’s Bar Crawls — The annual Shamrock Crawl bar crawl will be coming to Clarendon next month. Arlington police helped keep a lid on crime and rowdiness associated with the bar crawl last year. In the District, however, concerns about bad behavior prompted officials to deny permit applications for the D.C. version of the Shamrock Crawl and another St. Patrick’s Day-themed crawl. [Borderstan]
Garvey on Kojo Show — On Friday, Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey was a guest on the Kojo Nnamdi Politics Hour, which is broadcast on WAMU (88.5 FM). Garvey spoke to Nnamdi and NBC 4’s Tom Sherwood about the proposed widening of a portion of eastbound I-66, as well as related topics like Metro and transit. [YouTube]
W-L Shot Put Record Smashed — Washington-Lee High School junior Benedict Draghi has convincingly set a new school record for shot put. At a recent track meet, Draghi recorded a throw of 61 feet and 4.75 inches. The performance was good for first place at the meet and it blew away the school’s 50-year-old previous indoor shot put record by nearly 10 feet. [InsideNova]
Old Guard Offers Horses for Adoption — The Army’s Old Guard, based at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, is offering two caisson horses for adoption. The horses, Quincy and Kennedy, have served in military funerals and ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery for almost a decade. [WJLA]
Volunteers Remove Wreaths from Cemetery — Despite bone-chilling cold temperatures, on Saturday volunteers picked up tens of thousands of holiday wreaths that were placed on headstones at Arlington National Cemetery in December. The cleanup was postponed from January due to the blizzard. [WUSA 9]
Flickr pool photo by WolfpackWX
WERA 96.7 FM is an AIM project with a focus to air programming for the local community, by the local community.
“We would really like to reach out to all of Arlington’s communities and have widespread participation,” AIM Executive Director Paul LeValley said. “We’re working to ensure the programming is compelling, and we hope people will be open minded about giving us a shot.”
As a public radio platform, the station’s funding will come from listener and member contributions, as well as local business underwriting.
According to Andrew Rosenberg, member of the AIM Board of Directors and the station’s Program Advisory and Review Council (PARC), the primary means for keeping residents so closely involved has little to do with money.
“We want to create a service that fills a need in the area so people know this is their station,” he said. “My greatest hope is that we become a real fixture for the community.”
Though the schedule itself will be a work in progress as the station grows, Rosenberg said they’ve received several proposals for programs of all varieties. Some of these include:
- music programming (disc jockey, world beat, ska, music collection shows, etc.)
- local news and events
- world news summaries
- school news summaries
- call-in discussions
- content from independent public radio producers
In the beginning, WERA will also air programs sourced from other public radio outlets, if their content is relevant to Arlington listeners. However, Rosenberg said he hoped that over time community programming will displace these.
“We’ll be very much in touch with what the community wants to hear,” he said. “We’ll also be taking proposals on a rolling basis and changing up shows to keep things interesting.”
To celebrate, the station is also hosting a party from 3 to 8 p.m. on the launch day in the WERA control room . There will be refreshments, hors d’oeuvres and drinks provided. The family-friendly event is free open to the public, though all attendees should expect to get involved.
“We’re making this participatory because that’s the whole idea behind community radio,” LeValley said.
In addition to demonstrations of the equipment and facilities, guests can rehearse and record a radio drama, share a short story, or participate in a sing-along to “This Land is Your Land.” These recordings will be some of the first segments to go on the air shortly after the ribbon cutting at 6 p.m.
“The more people, the better,” LeValley added. “We would love to have the whole community come and help us launch.”
Photo courtesy of Paul LaValley/AIM
Investigation into Marine’s Death at Base — The military is investigating the death of a 22-year-old Marine at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall. Cpl. Jon Gee was reportedly found unresponsive in his room on the base Saturday afternoon, after a night out at “a rave in the District.” [Washington Post]
Rousselot Blasts Lack of Pike Transit Plan — The fact that Arlington County has no transit plan yet for Columbia Pike, after the cancellation of the streetcar last year, is frustrating to Peter Rousselot, who helped to lead the charge against the streetcar. “I think it is a failure of management,” he told WAMU. “The answer on the Pike that our group presented all along… was a regional Bus Rapid Transit system, or BRT, involving Arlington, Alexandria, and Fairfax County.” [WAMU]
Tour of New Elementary School — Arlington Public Schools led members of the media on a tour of the new Discovery Elementary School on Thursday. Located next to Williamsburg Middle School, it’s the county’s first new primary school in over a decade. Discovery is designed to be a “net zero” consumer of energy thanks to renewable energy features. [WTOP, Katch]
GMU ‘Welcome Fair’ Today — George Mason University’s Arlington campus is holding a “Welcome Fair” for students between 5:30 and 8 p.m. today. [Twitter]
Library Helps With Business Plans — Arlington Public Library helped the owners of Clarendon Animal Care, an ARLnow.com advertiser, create a business plan and launch their business. The library has a business services librarian and number of resources for entrepreneurs, including access to a premium database that compiles demographic data by ZIP code. [Twitter]
More on Arlington Radio Station — WERA, Arlington’s new community radio station, hopes to launch by December. The station will cost Arlington Independent Media, best known as the nonprofit behind Arlington’s local cable access channel, about $400,000. [Arlington Connection]
Flickr pool photo by Arlington VA
Earlier: The Arlington County Police Department is currently using backup radio channels from neighboring jurisdictions due to technical problems.
Police started noticing issues with radio interference Monday night, according to Arlington Office of Emergency Management spokesman John Crawford.
This morning, as radio traffic increased, that interference got bad enough on the primary police channels for Arlington to implement its backup radio plan for the police department.
ACPD is currently “borrowing” a channel from Alexandria and Fairfax County for dispatches and communication. There has been no interruption in police service as a result of the switch, Crawford said.
“That’s the beauty of this radio system, it’s so robust that we all have spare radio channels that we can grab when needed and you never miss a beat,” said Crawford. “We haven’t lost anything.”
A contractor is currently working to resolve the problem and hopes to have the police radio channels back up by the end of the day, according to Crawford. The cause of the interference is believed to either be an illegal radio amplifier somewhere in the county or atmospheric interference.
The Arlington County Fire Department is still using its main radio channels without any issues.
Crawford said there have been other, recent instances of Arlington and other locales switching over to cross-jurisdictional backup channels without interruption.
Community Pushes Back on Fire Station Plan — Arlington County Board members are hearing an earful from residents who live around Fire Station 8 on Lee Highway. The county is considering relocating the station to improve fire response times in far northern neighborhoods. However, residents say the fire station is historic because it was the first in Virginia to be staffed mostly by professional black firefighters, in the 1950s, and should not be moved. [InsideNova, WTOP]
Kojo and Kaine in Crystal City — WAMU’s Kojo Nnamdi will host a “Kojo in the Community” discussion with Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) tonight. “The discussion will focus on the ways in which the military and defense industry shape our region, ranging from jobs and the economy to infrastructure and traffic,” organizers say. The talk will take place at Synetic Theater in Crystal City. [ARLnow Events]
New Restaurant at DCA — Former “Top Chef” finalist Carla Hall has opened a new 110-seat restaurant in Reagan National Airport’s Terminal A. The menu features contemporary American cuisine with a Southern flair. [Eater, Washington Business Journal]
Now Showing: Shrek, the Musical — Arlington’s Encore Stage and Studio is currently performing Shrek, the Musical at Thomas Jefferson Community Theater. The family-friendly show runs through Sunday. [DC Metro Theater Arts]
Bunnies Galore Near Clarendon — There sure are a lot of bunnies around Clarendon these days, at least according to some concerned bunny spotters who have contacted us about it. Now, there’s some photographic proof. [Twitter]
The low power FM station (WERA-LPFM) is a project of Arlington Independent Media. AIM Executive Director Paul LeValley says he believes the station will provide a much-needed service to the community.
“Radio isn’t dead; radio is doing great,” LeValley said. “We need more local media — this gives us the opportunity to do that on the radio side.”
LeValley expects the radio station to built, tested and ready to air by the Dec. 9 deadline previously set by the Federal Communications Commission. Once the station has been declared functional, WERA will apply to the FCC for a license to broadcast.
A logo for the station has been created and AIM is currently in the process of finalizing the site for their radio tower: 2300 Clarendon Blvd. The FCC has granted approval and the building owner has written a lease which is being executed this week; all that’s left is for Arlington County to give zoning approval for a radio tower, but LeValley does not anticipate any problems.
Once the station is licensed, programs will be selected by an independent Program Advisory and Review Council appointed by the AIM Board, its staff and the WERA committee. The council will have 11 members, four from AIM and seven from the greater community.
“We’re going to try and be as diverse as we can geographically, occupationally and ethnically,” said LeValley.
Although the council will be independent, the AIM Board and staff and the WERA committee have written up a list of five values that the committee will use as “guiding principles” to decide which programs go on the air. Applications will be evaluated based on: service, enrichment, localism, diversity and innovation.
The community seems to have responded to the idea of a hyper-local radio station. LeValley says AIM gets inquiries every day from residents who want to get involved. In AIM’s view, the more, the merrier.
“We believe in a communication democracy,” said LeValley. “As many people as possible should be producers — media should be made up of many voices in conversation with one another, holding each other accountable.”
For those who want to get involved, but don’t know how, classes in basic radio production will be offered in the early fall. Courses will likely run about three weeks and cost around $90.
Although LeValley says there is still a long way to go between now and the Dec. 9 deadline, he is “as confident as any person can be when venturing into new territory.”
Arlington Independent Media‘s low-power FM station was approved by the Federal Communications Commission for 96.7 on the dial, with call letters WERA-LPFM. As part of their FCC approval, the radio station must be broadcast-ready by Dec. 9, according to AIM Executive Director Paul LeValley.
When the radio station does launch — and LeValley has no doubt they will be ready to air by the deadline — it will be a platform for anyone interested in broadcasting to get real, on-air experience.
“We’ll train [the community] on how to do it, how to produce a radio program, and they will produce the programming,” LeValley told ARLnow.com this morning. “There’s an interest group among just citizens, people who for years have been lobbying for low-power FM around the area and just in Arlington. The Arlington portion of that group is starting to coalesce, and they meet independent of my board, independent of my staff. And they’re saying ‘What kind of stuff do we want to do?'”
The FCC requires that any low-power FM station operate only for educational, noncommercial purposes.
LeValley said the low-power FM committee of the AIM Board of Directors is meeting to determine what kind of programming mix the station should have. When it’s live, the station will reach most of Arlington and stretch into parts of the District.
AIM received a construction permit to build a radio tower in June, but it’s still in the process of figuring out where the tower will be located. LeValley couldn’t disclose which sites he was looking at, only that it would be “somewhere toward the center of Arlington, on a multi-story building.”
AIM’s LPFM committee chair Andy Rosenberg has worked for years in public radio and has lived in Arlington for more than 40 years. He said he’s thrilled to see how the community gathers around its own radio station.
“There’s a bit of controversy about whether radio is a dead medium, but I think with these LPFM stations, there’s a chance to build community,” Rosenberg said. “Radio is immediate and flexible and there’s so much you can do with it to engage the community. That’s exciting to think about it.”
WERA-LPFM has the capability to broadcast 24 hours a day and the studio will be in AIM’s headquarters on N. Danville Street in Courthouse. Eventually, Rosenberg said, radio programs will be able to be recorded in satellite offices, sent to the station and transmitted through the tower.
Over the next few months, while the tower site is chosen and construction begins, AIM will hold community meetings to try to determine who and what the community wants to hear on the radio, Rosenberg said.
Photo via Facebook