Press Club

Morning Notes

Rosslyn at lunchtime (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

County Board’s APS Covid Concern — “Is the Arlington school system inadvertently encouraging parents to not report COVID-like symptoms among students? That’s the concern of a number of County Board members, who say the current testing requirements make it more likely parents will stay mum rather than go to the hassle of getting their children checked out.” [Sun Gazette]

Big Vehicle Fire Shuts Down Route 50 — From Dave Statter on Saturday night: “Some fuzzy traffic-cam video showing a vehicle fire that has all lanes of Route 50 eastbound shut prior to Pershing. @ArlingtonVaFD & @ArlingtonVaPD handling.” [Twitter]

Police Upping Seat Belt Enforcement — “The high-visibility national seat belt campaign, Click It or Ticket, which coincides with the Memorial Day holiday, runs from May 23 through June 6, 2022, and works towards reducing the number of fatalities that occur when drivers and passengers fail to buckle up.” [ACPD]

‘Salt Line’ Makes WaPo Dining Guide — “Well-shucked oysters, fluffy Parker House rolls, a comfortable room staged with nautical mementos: Just about everything that helps pack ’em in at the Salt Line in Navy Yard can be found at its young spinoff in Ballston. Really, the only ingredient missing from the original is a water view, although if you squint from a table inside, you can imagine boats and waves beyond the already-popular outdoor patio.” [Washington Post]

Worries About the Local Water Supply — “A train crash, a power plant discharge, an underwater pipeline rupture — or an act of terrorism — could cripple the drinking water supply of the nation’s capital. And there’s no Plan B. D.C. and its Maryland and Virginia suburbs are dependent on the Potomac River as the main — or sole — source of drinking water.” [WTOP]

Annual Street Sweeping Starting Soon — From Arlington’s Dept. of Environmental Services: “Another round of Arlington street sweeping starts next month. Last year, 9,178 lane miles were cleaned for smoother rides and a healthier Chesapeake watershed.” [Twitter]

Beyer Banned from Russia — From Rep. Don Beyer: “A new Kremlin list of people banned from traveling to Russia just dropped; I am less interested than they might think in traveling to a country that is indiscriminately bombing Ukrainian civilians.” [Twitter]

APS Graduations at Constitution Hall — “Arlington Public Schools plans on having graduation ceremonies for its three main high schools back in their traditional spot – D.A.R. Constitution Hall – for the first time since 2019.” [Sun Gazette]

Lane Closures for Building Demolition — From the City of Falls Church: “From Sun 5/22 thru Thu 5/26, select lanes will be closed 9PM to 5:30AM while the building on the corner of Broad St. and Washington St. is demolished.” [Twitter]

It’s Monday — Partly sunny, with a high near 73 and a slight chance of showers later in the afternoon. [Weather.gov]

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(Updated at 12:40 p.m.) Famed local ultramarathoner Michael Wardian is going full Forrest Gump and running across America.

The 48-year-old Arlington resident and noted athletic adventurer has a new running challenge: to run from sea to shining sea.

The journey begins this Sunday (May 1) at San Francisco City Hall. Wardian will follow U.S. Route 50 to Arlington and, then, onto Dewey Beach, Delaware. His mission is to dip his toes in the Atlantic Ocean on July 4. That’s 3,184 miles in 65 days.

“With no planned rest days,” he tells ARLnow on the phone from San Francisco. “At least, that’s the plan right now.”

Wardian is doing this to raise money for World Vision, an organization that works to provide clean and safe drinking water to families across the globe. His goal is to raise $100,000.

It will be his longest run ever, an attempt inspired by his run across Israel back in 2019.

“It’s something I’ve never done before. I’m looking forward to it,” he says. “But also a little nervous.”

Wardian is known for incredible feats of the foot. That includes running seven marathons on seven continents, setting treadmill records, and logging 260 miles running loops around Arlington Forest. He also has recently set his sights on mastering pickleball.

He was actually planning to run across the country back in 2020, but the pandemic pushed those plans back two years.

“This has been my dream for, like, 20 years. And now it’s finally coming to fruition,” he says.

With him running nearly 50 miles per day, Wardian acknowledges the effort will take a physical and, crucially, a mental toll. This will be the longest he has ever been away from his family, he noted.

But Wardian is not doing this alone. He’ll have support alongside him the whole way, including someone very special. Trailing behind him in an RV will be his dad, there to prepare meals, do laundry, and just be supportive.

“This is a chance to reconnect with my dad… this is the longest I’ve ever been with him since I moved out 25 years ago,” Wardian says. “He’s going to be cheering for me the whole time.”

There are several ways to keep pace with Wardian on his months-long journey from coast to coast. There’s the normal social media channels like Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok. There will also be real-time tracking along with a detailed day to day schedule (including endpoints).

For those who get the bug, runners can also join Wardian on his journey at any point and for any distance — yes, much like Forrest Gump and his running entourage — by reaching out to [email protected].

About 40 people have already committed to joining him at some point one the expedition, including a few Arlington pickleball buddies.

“Hopefully, I can pop in on some [pickleball] games along the way,” he says. “I’d also like to play chess at various places too.”

Oh, Wardian is an avid chess player as well.

Wardian understands why he’s sometimes compared to Forrest Gump: the beard, the long hair, and the jogging across America.

“I have been called ‘Forrest Gump’ about a gazillion times… over the years and across the planet so I completely understand and embrace that,” he says.

But there’s one difference, he says, between him and the fictional character.

“Forrest Gump, to me, wasn’t quite sure why he was running at first but eventually he found what he was looking for,” Wardian says. “Which is different than me.”

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(Updated at 3:55 p.m.) The snowflakes are tapering off across Arlington, but police, firefighters and plow crews are still hard at work.

The heavy, wet snow has made vehicle travel treacherous and nearly impossible in certain hilly parts of the county. Even frequently-plowed highways and main routes like I-395, Route 50 and Columbia Pike were impassable at points during the storm.

Power outages have continued to increase, exceeding 4,500 in Arlington as of 2 p.m. amid numerous reports of falling trees and branches.

Transit issues extend beyond Arlington Transit and Metrobus service being suspended. Blue Line service as suspended between the Pentagon and Rosslyn shortly before 1 p.m. due to a fallen tree on the tracks.

As of 12:30 p.m., Reagan National Airport was under a ground stop, with arrivals and departures mostly paused and numerous flights cancelled.

In addition to schools and Arlington County government offices and facilities, many businesses around Arlington have closed for the day. Among the restaurants not serving tonight are Pupatella Pizza’s two Arlington locations.

The winter storm has exceeded accumulation predictions across the region and the state — and caused gridlock and dozens of crashes on the roads.

“Since 12:01 a.m. Monday (Jan. 3), Virginia State Police emergency communications centers across the state have fielded over 2,000 total calls for service,” VSP said this afternoon. “Of those 2,000 calls, 72 are ongoing traffic crashes and 69 disabled vehicles that VSP troopers are still on scene with or responding to as of 3:30 p.m.

VSP’s Fairfax Division, which serves the inner Northern Virginia suburbs, reported 143 disabled vehicles and 68 crashes as of 3:30 p.m.

https://twitter.com/JWPascale/status/1478063158736691203

“State police is still asking people to avoid driving, unless absolutely unnecessary,” the agency said. “The drive is not worth the risk of a crash, getting stuck, injury to your/passenger, or the cost of a repair.”

With the snow tapering off, reports suggest 6-9 inches of accumulation in parts of Arlington.

As of noon, Arlington’s Dept. of Environmental Services says it is in “Phase 2” of its snow response, treating primary and secondary roads while neighborhood streets remain mostly snow-covered.

VDOT, meanwhile, says it is preparing for a possible refreeze overnight, which could lead to extremely hazardous driving conditions Tuesday morning.

“VDOT Northern Virginia crews will remain on duty this afternoon and overnight to push accumulation, as well as to treat roads overnight for the refreeze of any melted precipitation to the pavement,” the state transportation department said in a mid-afternoon update. “Overnight tonight and tomorrow morning, limit nonessential trips if possible, and remain keenly alert to icy spots if traveling.”

This afternoon, Arlington Public Schools joined Fairfax County and other major D.C. area school systems in announcing that there would be no school on Tuesday.

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A minor typo along Route 50 in the Rosslyn area has been fixed, to the relief of local pedants.

A directional sign along westbound Route 50 (Arlington Blvd), as one travels through the Rosslyn and Courthouse areas, has long read “14Th Street.” Just days after the error was pointed out to VDOT on social media, the erroneous capital-T was finally replaced late last week.

https://twitter.com/VaDOTNOVA/status/1435271461669908489

“The letter was replaced on the sign on Friday, September 10!” confirmed VDOT spokeswoman Ellen Kamilakis, who runs the celebrated VDOT Northern Virginia Twitter account. She said tips from the public help the agency correct minor problems across its expansive transportation network.

“Our Transportation Field Operations (TFO) group handles the maintenance of all signs, signals, and pavement markings in our District,” said Kamilakis. “We have more than 250,000 signs and 1,400 signalized intersections, so [while] crews always keep a look out for items that need to be fixed, we always encourage residents to reach out to us if they see an issue somewhere. People can let our Customer Service Center know via https://my.vdot.virginia.gov/ or 800-FOR-ROAD.”

Social media — Twitter, specifically — is a popular means of reporting issues, but unlike the VDOT website and hotline it’s more of an informal channel.

“We try to be as helpful as possible on social media,” said Kamilakis, who regularly provides safety tips and general, lighthearted life advice in the form of a “Morning MeeMaw Nag.”

“We answer all of the questions that can be reasonably answered on social media,” Kamilakis added. “Our Twitter community mainly reports downed signs, potholes, signals on flash, debris in the road, drainage issues, etc. As these aren’t formal customer service requests through the system, I simply reach out to those in charge of said areas and they are always happy to help.”

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An early morning, single-vehicle crash along Route 50 led to the driver being struck by an oncoming vehicle.

The crash and a subsequent police investigation closed eastbound Route 50 (Arlington Blvd) at the Glebe Road overpass for several hours. The victim suffered serious injuries but is expected to survive, police say.

“At approximately 4:23 a.m. on September 3, police were dispatched to the area of Arlington Boulevard and South Glebe Road for the report of a crash with injury,” Arlington County Police Department spokeswoman Kirby Clark tells ARLnow. “Upon arrival, it was determined that the victim was driving eastbound on Arlington Boulevard when they struck the overpass wall on the right shoulder. The victim then pulled over in the left lane along the median, exited their vehicle and was in the roadway when they were struck by an oncoming vehicle.”

“The victim was transported to an area hospital with serious, but non-life threatening injuries,” Clark continued. “The driver of the striking vehicle remained on scene. Eastbound Arlington Boulevard was closed from Glebe Road to N. Jackson Street while the crash investigation took place.”

The highway reopened shortly before 7 a.m.

Flickr photo by Kevin Wolf

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A serious two-car crash Friday evening on Route 50 has claimed the life of an Arlington woman.

Police say the crash happened shortly after 5 p.m. at the intersection of Route 50 (Arlington Blvd) and N. Manchester Street. Two cars, each with two occupants, collided at the intersection, pinning a 63-year-old woman who was a passenger in one of the vehicles.

“Upon arrival, medics extricated a passenger from one of the involved vehicles and transported her to an area hospital in critical condition,” Arlington County police said in a press release Saturday afternoon. “She later succumbed to her injuries and was pronounced deceased. The driver of that vehicle was transported with non-life-threatening injuries and the passenger of the other vehicle was transported in critical but stable condition.”

“The deceased has been identified as Marilou Jocson, 63, of Arlington,” the press release said.

A nearby resident said people tried to help the woman before medics arrived.

“The person who died was a passenger in the vehicle with the passenger side door destroyed,” the resident said. “Neighbors rushed to her side immediately after the accident but she was unresponsive.”

He added that a local civic association has been pushing for safety improvements at Manchester and Route 50.

“We have struggled for years to get VDOT to do something about this treacherous intersection,” the resident said. “Thus far VDOT has no plans to improve the safety of this intersection.”

“People speed, run red lights, turn into traffic on a ‘flashing yellow,’ and generally do unsafe things at this intersection every day,” he continued. “Unless VDOT takes action (not Arlington County jurisdiction we were told) these tragedies will continue.”

ARLnow has previously reported on several notable crashes at the intersection, which received some safety improvements in 2018.

In 2011, an SUV ran off the road and crashed through an iron fence. In 2019 an 83-year-old pedestrian was struck and killed and, later that year, at least two people were hurt in a crash nearby.

The Arlington County Police Department is asking for anyone with information about Friday’s fatal crash to contact investigators.

“This crash remains under investigation. Anyone with information related to this incident is asked to contact Detective S. Lafley at [email protected] or 703-228-4052,” ACPD said. “Information may also be reported anonymously through the Arlington County Crime Solvers hotline at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477).”

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A Maryland woman is facing charges after police say she lied to 911 following a hit-and-run crash.

The incident happened around 2 a.m. Monday. The woman allegedly told 911 dispatchers in Arlington that she was “being chased and shot at by another vehicle.” Police located the two vehicles involved along Route 50 near N. Fillmore Street, and started chasing the reported suspect vehicle.

The brief pursuit ended at Route 50 and N. George Mason Drive, with both vehicles pulled over. At that time, officers determined that the 911 caller had actually struck the other vehicle in D.C. and drove off, then was followed by the victims. No shots were fired, police said, and the woman is now facing a number of charges including DUI and misuse of 911.

More from an Arlington County Police Department crime report:

DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE (Significant), 2021-07050031, Arlington Boulevard at N. George Mason Drive. At approximately 2:07 a.m. on July 5, police were dispatched to the area of Arlington Boulevard at N. Fillmore Street for the report of a person with a gun. The reporting party advised dispatch that she was being chased and shot at by another vehicle. Responding officers observed the two vehicles and initiated a pursuit. The pursuit concluded at Arlington Boulevard and N. George Mason Dr. with officers making contact with the occupants of both vehicles. The investigation determined that the reporting party allegedly committed a Hit and Run in Washington D.C. and the driver of the other vehicle followed her into Arlington attempting to contact her and exchange information. No weapons were involved and no shots were fired. As a result of the investigation, the reporting party, [The suspect], 25, of Fort Washington, MD, was arrested and charged with Driving Under the Influence, Refusal of Breath/Blood Test, Obstruction of Justice and Misuse of 911. She was held on an unsecured bond.

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Police are looking for a man who allegedly mastubated in the backseat of a rideshare vehicle and then ran off.

The incident happened around 11 a.m. Monday along Route 50.

More from an Arlington County Police Department crime report:

INDECENT EXPOSURE, 2021-05030087, Arlington Boulevard at Glebe Road. At approximately 11:00 a.m. on May 3, an off-duty officer observed a motorist in distress and pulled over to assist. The investigation determined that the male victim was operating as a rideshare driver when he observed the male suspect exposing himself and masturbating in the backseat of the vehicle. The victim pulled over and the suspect exited the vehicle and fled the scene on foot. Responding officers canvassed the area with negative results. The suspect is described as a Black male in his mid-twenties, 5’10” with a slim build. He had long dreadlocks and was wearing a pink shirt. The investigation is ongoing.

File photo

A new tenant could be taking over a vacant church on Arlington Boulevard in Buckingham.

The church sits on a .37 acre-parcel at 4347 Arlington Boulevard that housed Bethel United Christian Church until the congregation moved in September 2018 to the Boulevard Manor neighborhood.

“Due to uncontrollable circumstances related to parking availability, we made the decision to sell our building and move into a shared property relationship with Arlington Church of the Brethren,” according to the church’s website. The church has only tiny lots for drop-off, and there are few available street parking spots within easy walking distance.

The church building has been on the market since then, according to Saul Corral, of Fairfax Realty of Tysons, who represents the church.

“It’s such a beautiful building, inside and out,” he said, adding that there are impressive old beams that are hard to come by in modern architecture.

Contracts have been drafted with potential buyers three times already, “but unfortunately, they’ve fallen through,” Corral said.

The fourth time could be the charm for the church. A potential buyer is studying whether or not the investment is feasible, and this study period expires at the end of April, he said.

Previous buyers have had their contracts cancelled based on what they intend to do with the building, he said.

“That’s where the contracts fall through,” Corral said. “Buyers that have other intentions put a contract on it and they’re not approved” by the Arlington County Zoning Department.

The church lot is zoned for single- and multi-family dwellings, according to a county zoning map.

Although the church is vacant, the founding location of a full-time preschool, Children’s International School, continues to operate on the site.

The preschool school has been housed in the church since it was founded in 1985, and has since expanded to three more locations in Arlington and Alexandria. It expects to be able to continue operating from the building, managers have told parents.

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A man accused of burglarizing homes in the Penrose neighborhood, and in one instance touching a woman inappropriately during a break-in, has been arrested.

The arrest happened around 1 a.m. this morning in the Penrose neighborhood. Police say they were staking out the area around Friday’s sexual battery incident, on the 2500 block of Arlington Blvd, when officers “observed the suspect acting suspiciously as he entered the backyard of residences.”

“While additional units responded to assist with the investigation, the suspect entered his vehicle and attempted to flee the scene,” Arlington County Police said in a press release Tuesday afternoon. “A traffic stop was initiated, and the suspect was taken into custody without incident. During a canvas of the scene, officers located several window screens which had been cut and removed from the frames to include at the address of the original incident.”

“Alijah Hall, 26, of Waldorf, MD, was arrested and charged with Burglary: Break and Enter at Night with Intent to Commit a Felony or Larceny and Possession of Burglarious Tools,” police said. “He is being held without bond in the Arlington County Detention Facility.”

The press release added that “anyone with information related to this incident is asked to contact Detective J. McGrath at 703-228-4244 or [email protected].”

“Information may also be provided to the Arlington County Police Tip Line at [email protected] or anonymously through the Arlington County Crime Solvers hotline at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477),” said ACPD.

Photo courtesy Arlington County Police Department

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A man climbed into a woman’s home via a window, walked into her bedroom and touched her inappropriately last night, police say.

The incident happened around 12:30 a.m. on the 2500 block of Arlington Blvd, in Arlington’s Penrose neighborhood.

The Fairfax County Police helicopter was brought in to search for the suspect, who fled after the woman screamed. An Arlington Alert was sent to residents regarding the police activity.

The suspect remains at large. More below, from an Arlington County Police Department press release.

The Arlington County Police Department’s Special Victims Unit is investigating a sexual battery which occurred during a residential burglary in the Penrose Neighborhood.

At approximately 12:33 a.m. on December 11, police were dispatched to the 2500 block of Arlington Boulevard for the report of trouble unknown. Upon arrival, it was determined an unknown suspect entered the victim’s residence through a window. The victim was awoken to the suspect entering her bedroom where he proceeded to touch her inappropriately. The victim screamed, prompting the suspect to flee from the residence. Responding officers established a perimeter, canvased the area and an aerial search was conducted by the Fairfax County Police Helicopter Unit. The search returned with negative results.

The suspect is described as a male, approximately 6’0″ tall with an average build. He was wearing all dark clothing, a ski mask and gloves at the time of the incident.

This remains an active criminal investigation and anyone with information related to this incident is asked to contact Detective J. McGrath at 703-228-4244 or [email protected] Information may also be provided to the Arlington County Police Tip Line at [email protected] or anonymously through the Arlington County Crime Solvers hotline at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477).

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