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The playground outside the Lubber Run Community Center (Staff Photo by Jay Westcott)

Arlington is the No. 3 most family-friendly locale in the country, according to a new set of rankings.

Online real estate platform Opendoor compiled the “best cities for families” list, which is based on the presence of various amenities like playgrounds, community centers and pools.

“We found that most family friendly cities like Arlington have quite a few common features — whether that’s a small-town feel or plenty of outdoor spaces to explore,” said Opendoor’s Beatrice de Jong, the author of the rankings.

De Jong said Arlington gets high marks for schools, local businesses, family-friendly amenities and transportation.

“Many young professionals live here and the public schools are highly rated,” she said, listing the county’s selling points. “Good public transportation and a mix of urban and suburban. Very walkable and bikeable… Lots of restaurants, coffee shops and parks… Close to D.C. with great museums for kids. Local museums include: Arlington Arts Center, Arlington Historical Museum, etc. Parks include: Rocky Run Park, Lubber Run Park, Fort Barnard Park, etc.”

Per Opendoor, the top 15 family-friendly cities and towns are:

  1. Cambridge, MA
  2. Cliffside Park, NJ
  3. Arlington, VA
  4. Chandler, AZ
  5. Tracy, CA
  6. North Richland Hills, TX
  7. Denver, CO
  8. Portland, OR
  9. Boulder, CO
  10. Anaheim, CA
  11. Coral Gables, FL
  12. Kent, OH
  13. Ann Arbor, MI
  14. Mission, KS
  15. Avondale Estates, GA

The study’s methodology leans heavily on a user-editable mapping project.

The best cities for families are identified by analyzing and averaging the number of OpenStreetMap ‘family friendly’ tags that are within 3 miles of all addresses in a city where Opendoor Brokerage operates. These tags include: bench, community center, drinking water, garden, kindergarten, museum, park, picnic site, playground, school, swimming pool, supermarket, and waste basket.

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Morning Notes

New signage on Crystal Drive warning drivers to not block vehicle or bike lanes (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Flyover This MorningUpdated at 9:15 a.m. — “The US Air Force reports 2 flyovers in the NCR consisting of 4 military aircrafts (in both flyovers) at Arlington National Cemetery today, July 14… at 9:55AM and 11:43AM.” [PoPville]

Arlington Again No. 1 ‘Digital County’ — “Arlington County continues to be a national leader in technology, once again being recognized as the No. 1 Digital County by the Center for Digital Government and the National Association of Counties. The 2022 award marks the fifth time that Arlington has received the top honor in the 150,000-249,999-population category.” [Arlington County]

County Seeking Funding for Crash-Prone Ramp — “Arlington County officials are slated to apply for $10 million in federal funding to improve an interchange at Arlington Boulevard and Washington Boulevard, while seeking a similar amount from the state government as a backstop in case the federal cash never materializes. The proposal aims to reconfigure two existing interchange ramps and create a straighter, two-directional ramp with signalization.” [Sun Gazette]

Another Group Backs ‘Missing Middle’ — “Count Habitat for Humanity on board with the Arlington government’s Missing Middle housing proposal. The proposed zoning change ‘is not the answer to the affordability crisis, but it is one answer, that the county [government] could and should implement,’ John Smoot, co-president and CEO of the organization’s D.C./Northern Virginia chapter, said in a recent letter to County Board members.” [Sun Gazette]

Jewelry Robbery on the Pike — “Columbia Pike at S. Four Mile Run Drive. At approximately 1:50 a.m. on July 13, police were dispatched to the report of a robbery by force. Upon arrival, officers made contact with the victim who stated he and the witness were in a parking lot when the unknown male suspect approached them. The suspect became confrontational and a verbal dispute occurred during which the suspect implied he had a weapon. The suspect then forcibly removed the victim’s necklace and fled the scene of foot. The witness recovered the chain of the necklace from the suspect as he fled.” [ACPD]

Prosecutor: Long Sentences Not Always the Answer — From Commonwealth’s Attorney Parisa Dehghani-Tafti: “I understand the easy answer is to simply say: keep people locked up for as long as possible because if they’re locked up they can’t commit any crime. But, what about if doing so increases the chance they will reoffend once released, thereby decreasing public safety?” [Twitter]

Local Neighborhood Profiled — “Madison Manor is composed primarily of brick ramblers and ranchers, some with recent additions, interspersed with larger contemporary homes. Most of the original homes maintain the red brick facade; a few have been painted white or partially covered with siding.” [Washington Post]

Two Charged in Rare Liquor Scheme — “In the search for hard-to-find bottles of bourbon at Virginia ABC stores, some liquor enthusiasts have been worried about leaks of a more serious kind… The conspiracy theories apparently weren’t wrong. An ABC investigation led to four felony indictments against two men who were arrested last month and charged with computer trespass and embezzling ABC’s inventory list.” [Virginia Mercury]

It’s Thursday — Partly cloudy throughout the day. High of 87 and low of 72. Sunrise at 5:56 am and sunset at 8:35 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Runners in Long Bridge Park in Crystal City (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Arlington has ranked No. 1 on the American Fitness Index for a record fifth year in a row.

The county topped the list, published by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and the Elevance Health Foundation, after placing first in the nation in six separate fitness and health categories. The new rankings were announced this morning.

“Arlington, Virginia, earned its No. 1 designation for the fifth time, a Fitness Index record, by ranking first in six indicators and scoring among the top 10 cities in 19 of the 34 categories,” ACSM said in a press release. “Arlington was ranked No. 1 in both the personal health and community/environment sub-scores.”

The categories for which Arlington received top marks, out of the 100 U.S. localities indexed by ACSM, are below.

  • % exercising in the last 30 days (Arlington 93.8%, city average 77.6%)
  • % in excellent or very good health (Arlington 70.1%, city average 55.9%)
  • % physical health not good during the past 30 days (Arlington 16.1%, city average 27.5%)
  • % with high blood pressure (Arlington 15.2%, city average 30.4%)
  • % with stroke (Arlington 0.4%, city average 3.2%)
  • % with diabetes (Arlington 5.2%, city average 10.3%)

Arlington’s overall rank was 85, compared to an average of 51.7, while the county’s personal health rank was 86.8, compared to an average of 50.5.

2022 Fitness Index Top 10 Infographic (courtesy ACSM)

There was good news for a nation in as a whole in this year’s rankings, with ACSM reporting an “increase in the percentage of Americans exercising in the previous month (77.6%); sleeping 7+ hours/day (68%); and reporting excellent/very good health (55.9%), since last year’s Fitness Index.”

An excerpt from this morning’s press release is below.

Read More

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Morning Notes

Twilight on the W&OD Trail (Flickr pool photo by Tom Mockler)

Lots of Rain from Wednesday Storms — Most parts of Arlington saw 2-3 inches of rain from Wednesday’s onslaught of storms and downpours, with one weather station in a southwestern portion of the county reporting 3.41 inches. [National Weather Service, Twitter]

No ‘Missing Middle’ Cost Analysis — “Staff leading the effort acknowledge there has been no cost-benefit analysis of exactly how such a major zoning change would impact the local government’s bottom line. Nor is there likely to be one. ‘We typically don’t do analysis of this nature. It’s hard to even capture all of that,’ said Richard Tucker, one of a number of county-government housing personnel dispatched to the June 14 meeting of the Arlington County Civic Federation to address an issue that is fast becoming the most contentious Arlington battle since the Columbia Pike streetcar fight of a decade ago.” [Sun Gazette]

Millions for Local Housing Nonprofits — “Two Arlington-based groups will receive a total of $7 million in federal funding to help provide affordable housing and services to low-income people, U.S. Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine of Virginia announced Thursday… Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing Inc. will receive $5 million from the fund and Arlington-based AHC Inc. will receive $2 million.” [Patch]

ACPD Pride Event Next Week — “In recognition of Pride Month and the significant contributions of Arlington’s LGBTQ+ communities, the Arlington County Police Department (ACPD) will host the 2nd Annual Pride with the Police… Pride with the Police will take place on: Wednesday, June 29, 20225 p.m. to 7 p.m. [at] Freddie’s Beach Bar and Restaurant, located at 555 23rd Street S.” [ACPD]

F.C. Outranks Arlington for ‘Healthiest Community’ — “The City of Falls Church has been recognized as the second healthiest community in the country by U.S. News & World Report… The City earned an overall score of 98, and is the only community to receive a score of 100 in both education and population health.” Arlington ranked No. 13. [City of Falls Church, U.S. News & World Report]

It’s Friday — Partly cloudy throughout the day. High of 83 and low of 63. Sunrise at 5:46 am and sunset at 8:39 pm. [Weather.gov]

Flickr pool photo by Tom Mockler

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Walking a dog in Ballston (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

New York City. Portland. San Francisco. Seattle. And now Arlington.

Arlington County just joined the highest level “Walk Friendly Communities.” After previously becoming one of 15 U.S. communities to reach the program’s gold level, Arlington is now one of five at the platinum level.

More from a county press release:

According to WFC, the designation reflects Arlington’s success “in transit-oriented planning, remarkable promotion and outreach, and educational offerings for staff and residents.” It’s the first time the County has achieved platinum-level status from WFC after receiving a gold-level rating in 2010 and once again in 2015.

“Being recognized with a platinum rating by Walk Friendly Communities highlights Arlington’s ongoing commitment to increasing walkability throughout our neighborhoods,” said Arlington County Board Chair Katie Cristol. “We are committed, through many infrastructure projects and County-wide initiatives, to continuing to make walking a viable, enjoyable and safe way for both residents and visitors to get around Arlington.”

Arlington has 527 miles of sidewalks, more than 50 miles of paved, multi-use trails and 14.5 miles of hiking/natural trails. The County’s acclaimed multimodal Master Transportation Plan makes its Pedestrian Element a key feature in integrating growth around public transit lines, with special emphasis on sidewalks and multi-use trails.

Among its transportation outreach services, the County’s WalkArlington program offers abundant resources and events to encourage foot travel as a sustainable, healthy way to commute around and explore Arlington. One such effort is the more than two dozen highly detailed Walkabout map tours developed for discovering Arlington’s mix of neighborhoods as well as their unique features and histories.

In addition, an all-volunteer Pedestrian Advisory Committee helps County leadership and transportation planners visualize and achieve a more walkable Arlington through policy and infrastructure changes–from the busiest urban corridors to charming residential greenways.

An examination of the continued challenges faced by pedestrians is among the key components of Vision Zero, the County’s major transportation safety initiative to ensure that everyone traveling across Arlington arrives safely to their destination. In the first year of Vision Zero, almost 240 crosswalks were updated to display high visibility markings while speed limit zones around 13 schools were reduced to 20 miles per hour to protect walkers.

Four people died in crashes in 2021, the first year of Vision Zero. None of the fatal crashes involved a bicyclist or pedestrian.

While apples-to-apples comparisons are difficult given changes in driving and commuting patterns during the pandemic, Arlington has seen a decline in crashes — including those involving pedestrians and cyclists — from pre-pandemic levels.

The Walk Friendly Communities program is run out of the University of North Carolina and recognizes places that have “shown a commitment to improving and sustaining walkability and pedestrian safety through comprehensive programs, plans, and policies.”

“Managed by the University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center (HSRC), the program distinguishes communities leading the way in walkability and seeks to share their stories to inspire other communities to move toward their own innovative solutions,” the program website notes.

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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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Jennie Dean Park is expected to open to the public in May following renovations (staff photo by Matt Blitz)

Arlington County’s park system has leveled up.

The county just ranked No. 3 in the U.S. on the Trust for Public Land’s ParkScore index, after several years of being stuck at No. 4. D.C., meanwhile, ranked No. 1 in the nation this year.

In announcing the higher ranking, the county touted that 99% of Arlington residents live within a 10-minute walk to the park.

“Our parks and recreation opportunities are a key contributor to quality of life in Arlington County,” Arlington County Board Chair Katie Cristol said in a statement. “From livability, bikeability, fitness, health and more, our community benefits from our parks.”

In a press release, the county also noted that the ParkScore index just started factoring equity — a key county priority — into its rankings. The county received top marks for accessibility to park space among people of color, but received some demerits for people of color and lower income residents having less total nearby park space compared to white residents.

More from the county press release, below.

Arlington County’s Park system is ranked third in the nation by the Trust for Public Land’s ParkScore® index.

With 99% of Arlington residents living within a 10-minute walk to a park, the importance of the County’s parks was acutely felt during the COVID-19 pandemic. Arlington’s more than 150 parks served as places to connect and exercise, and they were integral in strengthening our community’s mental and physical well-being. The past several years, Arlington has ranked fourth in the country.

“Our parks and recreation opportunities are a key contributor to quality of life in Arlington County. From livabilitybikeabilityfitnesshealth and more, our community benefits from our parks,” said Arlington County Board Chair Katie Cristol. “And during the challenging recent pandemic years, our Department of Parks and Recreation proved that recreation is a core service by delivering food to those in need, providing and coordinating facilities to administer COVID-19 tests and vaccines, and offering all of us respite and connection to community.”

Arlington scored 79.1 points out of 100 in the ParkScore® index. The calculation is based on an average of five categories reflective of an excellent city park system: access, investment, amenities, acreage and equity. Arlington scores near the top in the community’s investment (both dollars and volunteerism) and access. The County scored about average on the percentage of the city’s overall area that is dedicated to parkland and below average on park size.

“Our community’s commitment to its parks makes a difference,” said Parks and Recreation Director Jane Rudolph. “They have supported us by voting for park bonds. They steward our parks as volunteers. They provide great input as we develop new programs and facilities.”

Arlington’s park amenities score indicates the relative abundance of six park activities popular among a diverse selection of user groups (kids, teenagers, adults and seniors). Overall for this category, Arlington scores among the highest in the nation for its availability of basketball hoops, dog parks, playgrounds, recreation and senior centers, permanent restrooms and spraygrounds.

Read More

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Morning Notes

A cherry blossom with a few raindrops (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Two Local Spots on Best Bagel List — Arlington’s homegrown Brooklyn Bagel has ranked No. 4 on a list of the D.C. area’s best bagels, while Bethesda Bagel, which has an outpost in Rosslyn, ranked No. 1. [Washingtonian]

Dems Set School Board Caucus Rules — “The 2022 Arlington County Democratic Committee School Board caucus will be an in-person-only affair with the controversial party-loyalty oath retained, based on rules adopted by the party’s rank-and-file on April 6. Democrats will select their School Board endorsee during four days of voting in June, using the instant-runoff format that has been a familiar feature of Democratic caucuses in recent years.” [Sun Gazette]

Ukrainian Ambassador Lauds Local Donation — From County Board Chair Katie Cristol: “It was profoundly moving to have Ambassador Markarova join us as we send off pallets of emergency protective equipment and kit to Ukraine. With these supplies, we also send our solidarity and commitment to help our sister city and the Ukrainian people however we can.” [Twitter, Twitter]

Preservationists Push Pols for Protection — “The trigger for the discussion was the possibility that the circa-1949 Joyce Motors building in Clarendon could be torn down to make way for new development, even though it was one of just 10 commercial buildings, and just 23 properties overall, that were designated ‘Essential’ (the top tier) in the 2011 HRI. That 2011 document was the culmination of a study of 394 properties – garden apartments, shopping centers and commercial buildings – completed in 2009.” [Sun Gazette]

Va. Senators on Supreme Court Confirmation — From Sen. Mark Warner: “Justice is served! I voted to confirm Ketanji Brown Jackson as our next Associate Justice of the Supreme Court because she’s qualified, brilliant, and honest. And for the first time in two centuries, the court will contain the voice of a Black woman.” [Twitter, Twitter]

Arlington 9/11 5K Returns — “The Arlington Police, Fire, Sheriff and ECC 9/11 Memorial 5K is currently planning on having an in-person 20th Anniversary race on September 10, 2022. However, there is a possibility that some restrictions on runner capacity, social distancing measures and mask use may be in place in September due to COVID-19.” [Arlington 9/11 5K]

Fairlington 5K Returns — “After a 2 year pandemic hiatus, the 7th annual Fairlington 5K will take place on Saturday, May 7th. There is a new canine competitor entry this year! Here is the map route. The race will start at 8:30 AM.” [Twitter]

It’s Friday — A sunny morning, followed by a cloudy afternoon and possible rain later. High of 59 and low of 45. Sunrise at 6:43 am and sunset at 7:40 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Morning Notes

Layers of buildings and fog in Rosslyn (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Arlington Ranks in New ‘Best’ Lists — “Niche, a platform for community and school ratings, released its 2022 Best Places to Live rankings this week, and Arlington and its neighborhoods ranked high on the lists. This year, Arlington County ranked No. 3 in Best Cities to Raise a Family in America, No. 4 in Best Cities to Live in America, and No. 5 for Best Cities for Young Professionals in America.” [Patch]

NAACP Asks for Civil Rights Investigation — “The Arlington County, Virginia, jail is the subject of a civil rights complaint by the Arlington Branch of the NAACP. The civil rights agency wrote a letter Monday to the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division asking for an investigation into the patterns and practices at the Arlington County Detention Facility.” [WTOP]

Ebbin Bill Heads to Governor — “A proposal to repeal a Virginia law that requires adult children to be financially responsible for their parents is headed to the governor’s desk. Senator Adam Ebbin, who is behind the bill, says while it is rarely enforced it can be misused and abused.” [Fox 5]

It’s Friday — Partly cloudy throughout the day. High of 71 and low of 47. Sunrise at 7:16 am and sunset at 7:19 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Morning Notes

An aircraft taking off from Reagan National is distorted by raindrops on a windshield (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

W-L Wins District Hoops Tourney — “Sometimes the hardest way to win a championship is being the favorite, as the Washington-Liberty Generals were in the Liberty District boys basketball tournament, with opponents motivated to knock off the top seed. Knowing that, the Generals were ready for the challenge. They played well and hungry, eliminating any chance for upsets with strong starts in winning their two games.” [Sun Gazette, Twitter, Twitter]

NAACP Blasts VLP Pause — From the Arlington branch of the NAACP: “It is a travesty that the educational future of 558 students – the equivalent of an entire school – has been decided based on an unclear budget process and fueled by a myriad of obscure decisions, outright incompetence at times, and mismanagement. Moreover, the VLP experiment was conducted at the expense of the most vulnerable students, which is unconscionable.” [Press Release]

Per Sq. Ft. Price Declines — “The District of Columbia, Arlington and Alexandria all saw declines in average per-square-foot sales prices in January, while other localities posted increases, according to figures reported by MarketStats by ShowingTime, based on listing data from Bright MLS.” [Sun Gazette]

Local FICO Scores Good, Not Great — “The median FICO credit score of Arlington residents is 754, according to new figures from Wallet Hub, which looked at credit scoring in nearly 2,600 U.S. communities. That puts Arlington in the 87th percentile nationally and 334th out of the 2,572 communities surveyed. Pretty good, but not as good as Arlington (Mass.) at 772, which ranked 49th nationally, and Arlington Heights (Ill.) at 763, which ranked 170th.” [Sun Gazette]

It’s Tuesday, 2/22/22 — Rain later today. Winds could gust as high as 30 mph. High of 66 and low of 49. Sunrise at 6:52 am and sunset at 5:55 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Morning Notes

The Theodore Roosevelt Bridge, the Memorial Bridge, and the 14th St. Bridge over the Potomac River in fog (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Free Outdoor Wi-Fi at Libraries — “During the month of January, 2022, two new free outdoor Wi-Fi hot spots were installed at the Cherrydale and Glencarlyn Libraries. Library patrons and Arlington residents have now 24×7 access to the free Arlington County Wi-Fi network ‘ArlingtonWireless’ at all library branches, both outdoor and indoor, and at various locations around the County. No ID or password is required for the free service.” [Arlington Public Library]

Four Arlington Joints on Best BBQ List — Post food critic Tim Carman’s new “best barbecue” list includes a number of Arlington favorites: Texas Jack’s (9), Smokecraft Modern Barbecue (6), Smoking Kow (5), and Sloppy Mama’s (3). [Washington Post]

W&OD Bridge Work Complete — “The re-decking of the bridge east of Wilson Blvd in Arlington is completed!” [Twitter]

County Conducting Satisfaction Survey — “Arlington County is conducting its sixth County-wide, statistically valid community survey to measure satisfaction with major County services and gather input about issues facing the community. The results enable County officials to assess performance across many County agencies and services.” [Arlington County]

AWLA Selling Pentagon Chicken Shirts — From the Animal Welfare League of Arlington: “No-one asked for this but we did it anyways – get your official #PentagonChicken shirt now! With the Henny Penny stamp of approval, proceeds will go to help keep other wayward poultry out of government buildings.” [Twitter]

Beyer Delivers Boxes of Protective Equipment — “A constituent reached out notifying U.S. Rep. Don Beyer (D-8th) that Restart Partners, a West Coast-based charity involved in planning for and procuring PPE, learned of a significant amount of it available in a local warehouse. Partnering with the owner (who wishes to remain anonymous), Beyer identified two charities (Doorways and PathForward) that needed the items for those they serve and for their staffs.” [Sun Gazette]

De Ferranti Makes It Official — “County Board member Matt de Ferranti kicked off his bid for a second term on Feb. 2 with a call for Arlington leaders to accelerate efforts to enact Democratic priorities and serve as a bulwark against the new Republican majority in Richmond.” [Sun Gazette]

It’s Friday — Rain before today 5 p.m., then a chance of rain and snow. Patchy fog before 1 p.m. Temperature falling to around 37 mid-afternoon. Winds could gust as high as 22 mph. Little or no snow accumulation expected. Sunrise at 7:09 a.m. and sunset at 5:35 p.m. This weekend will be sunny with highs in the 30s. [Weather.gov]

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