Press Club

Morning Notes

ART bus in traffic in Ballston (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Crashed Car Still Along Riverbank — “Two months after a man’s car careened two hundred feet off George Washington Parkway in Virginia, the National Park Service is developing a plan to remove the vehicle from an embankment next to the Potomac River… Police tape surrounds the car, which remains resting upside down. The driver’s papers and personal belongings are still scattered next to the car, which has graffiti painted on it.” [Patch]

February Rents Up Slightly — “The median monthly rental for an apartment in the county last month was $1,982 for a one-bedroom unit and $2,399 for two bedrooms, according to data reported March 1 by Apartment List. Compared to the period immediately preceding the arrival of the pandemic in March 2020, Arlington rents are up 0.5 percent.” [Sun Gazette]

Clarendon-Based Axios Expanding — “This year, Axios is pouring $30 million into expanding its footprint, said Jim VandeHei, the chief executive. It is spreading into cities (Axios Local), industries (Axios Pro) and workplaces (Axios HQ)… It now has more than 400 employees, with 150 in its newsroom in Arlington, Va., and 2.2 million subscribers across its 34 national and global newsletters.” [New York Times]

Arlington Man Arrested for Abduction — “Victim One stated that she had been at an establishment in the 500 block of 23rd Street S. with the known suspect when they became involved in a verbal dispute. When Victim One attempted to leave with Victim Two and another witness, the suspect approached Victim One and allegedly began physically assaulting her before being separated by additional witnesses. The victims then went to retrieve Victim One’s vehicle from a garage in the 500 block of 12th Road S., when the suspect approached them, brandished a firearm and made threatening statements… A struggle ensued, during which the suspect attempted to prevent Victim One from leaving.” [Arlington County]

Comcast Upping Broadband Speeds — “Comcast announced today that it has increased speeds for its most popular Xfinity Internet tiers, providing an extra boost for millions of residential customers across 14 northeastern states from Maine through Virginia and the District of Columbia.” [Comcast]

Va. Tornado Drill Today — “Join us for the Statewide Tornado Drill TOMORROW at 9:45 AM! Practice sheltering from a #tornado: Go to a lower level of your home or office, away from windows. Get under sturdy shelter like a desk if you can.” [Twitter]

Record High Temperature Set — “For the second day in a row, record highs were set across the area. Highs of at least 80 in Washington, 76 at Dulles, and 78 at BWI are all records for the date. That 80-degree reading in the city is 10th-earliest on record.” [Capital Weather Gang]

It’s Tuesday — Mostly cloudy throughout the day. High of 56 and low of 41. Sunrise at 6:31 am and sunset at 6:10 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Looking down Lynn Street in Rosslyn toward Georgetown, in the snow (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

(Updated at 10 a.m.) A frigid night is on tap and the refreezing of melting snow could make roads and sidewalks extra slippery.

The National Weather Service on Monday issued a Special Weather Statement about the ice concerns overnight:

…Icy Patches Likely Overnight Into Tuesday Morning… Falling temperatures and water from melted snow will result in patchy ice on area roads overnight into early Tuesday. This will be especially problematic on untreated roadways. Motorists should exercise extra caution overnight into early Tuesday, and assume that any surfaces which look wet or slushy may in fact be icy.

Adding to the driving danger in Arlington: many neighborhood roads have yet to be touched by a snow plow. As of Monday night, the county remained in “Phase 2” of its snow removal plan, during which crews focus on primary and secondary roads only.

Arlington snow plow map as of 10:15 p.m. The roads in red have not yet been plowed. (via Arlington County)

Arlington’s Dept. of Environmental Services says that crews will “work throughout the night to clear roadways,” but the county said Monday night what some had suspected: that Covid has reduced snow plow staffing.

“The County’s snow removal is currently impacted by COVID-19 related staffing shortages,” the county said. “Roads are being cleared as quickly and safely as possible. Thank you for your patience and understanding.”

Monday’s winter storm was one for the record books.

The 6.9 inches of accumulation recorded at Reagan National Airport is a new official D.C. record for Jan. 3 and the first major snowfall event in about three years. In Arlington, storm spotters reported between 6.5 and 9.2 inches of snow, with higher amounts generally to the south.

The storm’s impact will be felt Tuesday and perhaps beyond.

As previously reported, Arlington Public Schools will be closed while trash collection has been cancelled for both Monday and Tuesday. Additionally, Arlington County government offices, recreation centers, vaccination clinics, and — as of Tuesday morning — Covid testing booths will be closed on Tuesday.

The federal government will be opening on a three hour delay on Tuesday, the Office of Personnel Management said tonight.

While unnecessary travel is being discouraged, particularly overnight, limited bus service is now available.

After being suspended for most of the day, some Metrobus service started a gradual return as of 6 p.m. ART bus service in Arlington is currently expected to be restored at 11 a.m. Tuesday.

It’s going to be a cold night, meanwhile, for more than a thousand households around Arlington.

As of 10:30 p.m., 1,240 homes and businesses were without power in Arlington, according to Dominion. It could be days before the outages, scattered across the county, are fully resolved.

“Please prepare for the possibility of being without power for multiple days,” power company spokeswoman Peggy Fox said tonight. “This is a multi-day restoration effort.”

Dominion reported more than 90,000 customers without power across Northern Virginia — and even more statewide — Monday night.

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Morning Notes

Holiday decorations now on sale at the Pentagon City Costco (photo courtesy John Antonelli)

Local Pet Rescue Orgs Take in Hurricane Evacuees — “One of the first transports of dogs arrived Sunday with Lucky Dog Animal Rescue, which was able to find fosters to take in evacuated dogs from Mississippi shelters… Homeward Trails Animal Rescue is another rescue urgently working to take in dogs and cats in Hurricane Ida’s path… ‘Fostering or adopting an animal NOW will save more than that one life. It will save dozens. Please donate, foster and adopt NOW.'” [WUSA 9, WTOP, WJLA]

Arlington Girl Hooks Record-Setting Fish — “If you happen to meet 5-year-old Caroline May Evans, she may want to tell you about the fish she caught. It’s a story worth hearing: She and her mom and dad hiked 12 miles into the remote Wind River Mountains of Wyoming, where she swung a red worm over the outlet of a lake with no name and caught what turns out to be a world-record golden trout. Caroline’s fish, landed on July 8, a few days before her 5th birthday, weighed 2 pounds, a remarkable size for a golden.” [Field and Stream]

Young Dems Blast Arlington Bishop — From the Arlington Young Democrats: “In a letter penned to his church community, Bishop Michael F. Burbridge of Arlington made heinous statements about trans folks and even trans children, where he stated that “no one is transgender.” Not only is this statement harmful to the hundreds of thousands of trans people that live in this country, many of whom live here in Arlington, but it is categorically false.” [Twitter]

APS to Punish Less, Teach More — “The Arlington County, Virginia, public schools are reimagining discipline, in the hope that teaching valuable life lessons will benefit students more than punitive consequences. On the first day of the 2021-2022 school year, Superintendent Francisco Duran, standing outside the newly opened Cardinal Elementary School, in North Arlington, said the school system is shifting the focus of discipline from punishment to making amends.” [WTOP]

Glebe Road Over Pimmit Run Back Open — “After more than two weeks, N. Glebe Road between Military Road and Chain Bridge Road/Virginia Route 123 in Arlington reopened Monday morning after delays caused by storm damage. The stretch was was originally set to be closed for nine days beginning Aug. 13 and ending Aug. 23, but an additional week was added on because of the impact of severe weather.” [WJLA]

Police Make Credit Card Theft Arrest — “The officer located the owner of the wallet, contacted him, and learned the wallet was previously stolen and there were fraudulent charges on the victim’s credit cards. The officer initiated a follow-up investigation and developed a suspect description. At approximately 8:22 a.m. on August 29, the officer was on patrol in the area of Wilson Boulevard and N. Randolph Street, observed the suspect on foot, and took him into custody without incident.” [ACPD]

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Morning Notes

Early Morning Fracas in Va. Square — “At approximately 1:09 a.m. on February 24, police were dispatched to the report of a fight in progress. Upon arrival, it was determined that the suspect entered a business and allegedly began selecting merchandise. The victim refused the suspect service citing restrictions on the sales of alcohol during the overnight hours. The suspect and victim became engaged in a verbal dispute that escalated to a physical altercation, during which the victim was able to recover the merchandise. The suspect re-entered the business… at which point a witness intervened.” [ACPD]

Developers Selected for GMU Expansion — “George Mason University has picked a team of developers to manage the construction of the Amazon-induced expansion of its Arlington campus… The university hopes to finalize a development agreement with Edgemoor and Harrison Street by December and start construction by spring 2022. It plans to open the building by summer 2025. The Arlington campus, is located on Fairfax Drive just west of Clarendon.” [Washington Business Journal]

YHS Swimmer Breaks Two Nat’l Records — “US National Teamer Torri Huske made her mark on the final day of the 2021 VHSL Class 6 State meet, breaking two National High School records. Huske, a senior at Yorktown High School, began her meet by swimming a time of 1:53.73 in the 200 IM, chopping a tenth of a second off of Dagny Knutson’s National Public High School record of 1:53.82 that had stood since 2009.” [Swim Swam]

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Morning Notes

Arlington Spots with Great Fried Chicken — Washington Post food columnist Tim Carman lists three Arlington eateries among the seven serving some of the best fried chicken sandwiches in the D.C. area. The Arlington locations on the list are Queen Mother’s Fried Chicken, Etta Faye’s Fried Chicken, and Fuku. The latter two are “ghost kitchens,” available via delivery only. [Washington Post]

Regional Real Estate Record — “Average home-sales prices across Northern Virginia reached an all-time high in 2020, and total sales volume was second only to the pre-recession boom of 2005, as the market shrugged off COVID and the resulting government-imposed lockdown to see its first year-over-year sales increase since 2017.” [InsideNova]

DCA Still Struggling During Pandemic — “Only three states in the nation are faring as poorly in an aviation rebound as Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, according to new data. In December, the year-over-year passenger count at the airport was down 74.3 percent from December 2019, according to figures from the U.S. Transportation Security Administration.” [InsideNova]

Nearby: Atlantis Restaurant Closing — “After nearly 40 years in business, Atlantis Pizzeria and Family Restaurant will close on Jan. 24… The Greek and Mediterranean restaurant at 3648 King Street in the Bradlee Shopping Center has been open sporadically throughout the pandemic, and has only served carryout.” [ALXnow]

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Despite record-setting levels of early and mail-in voting, the final 2020 general election turnout in Arlington slightly underperformed that of 2016.

Last week’s election set a local record in terms of votes cast, but a rise in population and voter registration meant that the final turnout figure was a few points below the 82% turnout from 2016.

“In all, 131,518 voters, or about 79 percent of 166,416 registered voters, cast ballots on Nov. 3,” Arlington County revealed yesterday in a press release, after all the votes were tallied. “In 2016, turnout was 82 percent (122,023 of 148,032 registered voters).”

“Absentee turnout this year was record-breaking, with more than 108,394 Arlingtonians (65.1% turnout) casting their ballots by mail, drop box, or in person before Election Day,” the press release continues. “With so many Arlingtonians voting before Nov. 3, turnout remained light throughout Election Day, with only 23,124 people voting (14% turnout).”

Mail-in voting accounted for 29% turnout — just under 50,000 votes — an unprecedented number, albeit not unexpected this year due to the pandemic. In the end, now-president-elect Joe Biden prevailed in Virginia and in Arlington, with 80.6% of the county’s vote to 17.1% for President Donald Trump.

Although the general election did not set turnout records, about 45% of registered voters cast ballots in the March presidential primary, held just before the pandemic prompted widespread lockdowns, exceeding the primary turnout from 2016. Biden received 48.3% of the Democratic primary vote in Arlington, well exceeding that of Elizabeth Warren (20.0%) and Bernie Sanders (18.8%).

County officials say there were “no reports of significant technical issues” at the polls last week, noting that more than 750 election officers and about 100 high school students helped to staff the county’s 54 voting precincts and the central absentee vote counting center.

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(Updated at 3:50 p.m.) Almost two-thirds of active voters in Arlington have already voted.

That’s according to the latest totals released by Arlington County’s elections office, following the end of in-person early voting on Saturday.

As of Sunday, 104,988 votes had been cast in Arlington, according to the county: 45,108 via mail and 59,880 via in-person early voting. That represents about 63% of active voters, far exceeding the record-breaking, pre-Election Day turnout of the 2016 presidential election, during which 26,947 voted in-person early and about 10,000 cast mail-in ballots.

Although in-person early voting and supervised ballot drop-off has ended, those who still have outstanding mail-in ballots — nearly 6,000 residents, according to the county — can either place them in one of the Arlington’s 24-hour ballot drop boxes or drop them off at a local polling place on Election Day.

Polling places will be open from 6 a.m.-7 p.m. on Tuesday. All voters are being encouraged to wear a face covering.

To make sure things go smoothly at the polls, Arlington says it is deploying extra police patrols.

“The County is monitoring election-related activities to ensure that voters can get to the polls and exercise their right to vote in a safe and uninhibited manner,” the county said in a press release today. “[The] Arlington County Police Department will have increased patrols in the community, with polling place awareness, but will not have officers stationed at polling places.”

Arlington also reminded residents that Tuesday is an official county government holiday, meaning that metered parking will not be enforced.

Asked about possible delays in counting ballots on election night, Gretchen Reinemeyer, the county’s Director of Elections, suggested that the deluge of early and mail-in ballots shouldn’t slow things down here — as those ballots have already been counted.

“We consider a ballot is counted when it is read by a scanner. When you vote early, you insert your ballot into the scanner. It is counted at that point in time,” she told ARLnow today. “We’ve been processing mail ballots since early October.”

Reinemeyer noted, however, that election officials will not tabulate the results of the early votes until the polls close at 7 p.m.

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The upcoming election is setting up to be one for the record books in Arlington.

We’re around the halfway point between the start of early voting in September and Election Day on Nov. 3. Yet as of last night, 39,202 mail-in and early ballots had already been cast in Arlington, according to election officials.

That already exceeds the 37,869 mail-in and early ballots during the entire 2016 presidential general election.

“We’ve never seen volumes this high,” Gretchen Reinemeyer, Arlington’s Director of Elections, told ARLnow this morning. The ballots cast so far represent about 24% of active voters, she noted.

“In 2016, we received a total of 10,922 Mail Ballots and 26,947 voted early,” Reinemeyer said. “As of last night, we have received 20,852 Mail Ballots and 18,350 have voted early.”

The total number of votes cast in Arlington in the 2016 presidential general election was 121,339, a record that seems likely to fall this year given interest in the race and population growth in the county.

Arlington opened a new early voting location this year, in the former Wells Fargo bank (2200 Clarendon Blvd) near county government headquarters in Courthouse, in order to accommodate social distancing and long outdoor lines — which came to fruition on the first day of early voting. Four community centers will also open for early voting next Saturday, Oct. 17.

Yesterday the county also unveiled a secure, 24-hour ballot drop-off box in Courthouse, for those who might be concerned about their ballots being lost or delayed in the mail.

Reinemeyer said any voter who is not already registered should do so soon. Voter registration in Virginia for any given race closes 21 days before the election — in other words, this coming Tuesday for the 2020 general election.

“The most common question we’re getting is from voters who can’t get a DMV appointment,” Reinemeyer said. “You don’t need ID to register. They can drop their application in the mail or our drop box or stop by in person. We’re open Monday.”

As noted on the county elections website, Virginia residents can also register to vote online.

Voters who don’t want to show up to the polls in person, for fear of COVID-19 or otherwise, can request mail-in ballots through Oct. 23.

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Arlington’s own extreme endurance athlete Michael Wardian is comfortable on a treadmill. Comfortable enough to play Madden while running. Comfortable enough to do an interview while running. And, he hopes, comfortable enough to reclaim the 50K treadmill world record tomorrow.

Starting at 6 p.m. Saturday, Wardian says he’ll start running with an aim of breaking the 50K record (around 31 miles) in around two hours and 57 minutes.

For Wardian, it’s an attempt to take back a record he previously held, but one that he says has been broken a few times since quarantine started and more runners looking for records to beat have taken to treadmills. Wardian says he’s not worried.

“I’ve set a bunch of world records on the treadmill, I’m pretty confident,” Wardian said with a laugh. “There’s nothing you have to worry about other than picking your feet up.”

It would not be the first record Wardian, 45, has set during the pandemic. In April, he ran 262.52 miles in a loop around his neighborhood as part of a quarantine ultramarathon challenge.

Wardian said he enjoys the treadmill because it feels like the most “fair” kind of running, without other factors in the course that can give runners an advantage or disadvantage. He noted that at marathons people only usually see the runner at the start and the finish, but on a treadmill run they can watch him or her the whole time through the race.

“There’s going to be a live stream,” Wardian said. “We’ll send a link out later today and people can Zoom or they can go to my Facebook, Instagram or Twitter and can make requests during the run. I think it will be awesome. We’ll have announcers and people there going for other records.”

For aspiring treadmill runners, Wardian also offered a little advice.

“Like a lot of things, it takes a lot of practice,” Wardian said. “A big part is just knowing where all the buttons are and changing the inclines. If you are running, you may want to put it at one percent grade because it mimics being outside. I also recommend changing the incline if you’re on a long run so your feet don’t hit at the same place every time.”

Photo courtesy Michael Wardian

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Morning Notes

New Trail Bridge Work Progressing — “Bridge girder installation is occurring this week during daytime hours for the new Washington & Old Dominion Trail Bridge over Route 29 (Lee Highway) in Arlington. This work is taking place west of Lee Highway, and will not impact roadway or trail users. Work will continue the week of Oct. 28, and will require nighttime hours and an additional trail detour.” [Press Release]

Chick-fil-A to Blame for Blocked Bike Lane? — Delivery drivers picking up orders from Chick-fil-A in Crystal City may be at least partially to blame for frequent bike lane blockages along Crystal Drive. [Twitter]

Netherlands Carillon to Get ‘Grand’ Upgrade — “The National Park Service (NPS) and the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands today celebrated the start of a project to restore the Netherlands Carillon and add three bells to elevate its status to ‘grand carillon.'” [Press Release]

E-CARE Sets New Record — This past Saturday’s E-CARE recycling event recorded record turnout, as Arlington residents showed up en masse to drop of tons of old bikes, scrap metal and household hazardous materials. [Twitter]

Yorktown Golfer Wins State Championship — “He was the last player to tee off in the round, then at the end of the 18-hole competition, Benjamin Newfield was standing No. 1 on the leaderboard. The Yorktown High School freshman carded a 4-under-par 35-33-68 on Oct. 14 to win the Virginia High School League’s Class 6 individual state golf championship by one stroke.” [InsideNova]

Ceremony for New Elementary School — “This past weekend, the APS and [Fleet Elementary] communities celebrated the opening of the new school with ribbon cutting and fall festival.” [Twitter]

Woodbridge Development Claims HQ2 Proximity — “The radius of Northern Virginia buyers citing Amazon HQ2 in their plans continues to expand, with a developer in Woodbridge now citing the tech giant as a catalyst for a large-scale shopping center redevelopment.” [Bisnow]

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Morning Notes

New Grocery Store for Crystal City — “D.C.-based Dweck Properties is pitching a nearly 16,000-square-foot ‘urban format grocery store’ for the base of its Crystal Plaza apartments, according to plans filed with Arlington County this summer. Dweck is hoping to add roughly 38,000 square feet of retail to a plaza in front of the apartments, located at 2111 Richmond Highway.” [Washington Business Journal]

New Record High at DCA — “Washington is experiencing a beastly hot October day, unlike anything it has previously observed. The city exceeded its hottest October temperature ever previously observed, hitting 98 degrees, surpassing the mark of 96 degrees set on Oct. 5, 1941.” [Washington Post]

WaPo Interviews Dog About Hot Day — “Skippy, a golden retriever from Arlington, said: ‘I haven’t relieved myself outside in months. A dog of my standing cannot relieve himself in these offensively hot conditions.’ Skippy’s owner, Bill, rolled his eyes and confirmed this before heading back downstairs to scrub the carpet.” [Washington Post]

Joint Arlington-Alexandria Meeting — “In a rare joint meeting of top Alexandria and Arlington officials, the two communities laid the foundation for a closer collaboration on affordable housing… Despite the lofty goals for collaboration, little was decided in what amounted to a lengthy icebreaker between the two governing bodies.” [ALXnow]

Opening at Crystal City Art Gallery — “The Gallery Underground’s focus gallery theme this month is Chaos in which the artists strive to capture the feeling of instability and chaos. In addition to the focus gallery, we’re celebrating the opening of the newest Fotowalk Gallery.” [Crystal City]

Septuagenarian Still Playing Hockey in Ballston –“Paul Mason, 76-years-old, knows that age is just a number. WUSA9 caught up with him at the Medstar Capitals Iceplex, playing in a pick-up game with others who were many decades his junior.” [WUSA 9]

Press Conference in Rosslyn Area Driveway — Attorney and oft-discredited conspiracy theorist Jack Burkman is planning to hold a press conference in the driveway of his home near Rosslyn this afternoon to present new, thus-far uncorroborated allegations against Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren. [Twitter]

Photo courtesy Dennis Dimick

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