APS Parents, Superintendent At Odds Over Crew Funding

(Updated at 5:05 p.m.) Parents and Arlington Public Schools are at odds over funding high school crew, and whether the sport should be left to sink among system-wide budget cuts.

Superintendent Patrick Murphy’s $662.7 million budget proposal for the school’s next fiscal year budget proposes $8.9 million in cuts, though those cuts could be scaled back should the county increase its funding transfer to the school system.

Among the proposed cuts is eliminating money for high school rowing teams, a decision sparking criticism from parents who argue the sport helps their children’s development.

School spokesman Frank Bellavia told ARLnow today (Friday) that APS did not want to propose any cuts, and continues to hope the county will find to “fully fund” the school’s budget. The county would save $120,000 by cutting crew, according to Murphy’s budget.

In the event that cuts have to happen, Bellavia said the Superintendent’s Office chose to prioritize “our instructional programs and the critical support provided to schools, students and families.”

A petition asking APS to keep funding crew has gained over 1,300 signatures in the last five days.

The petition argues that teams at Wakefield, Yorktown, and the recently-renamed Washington-Liberty, promote “wellness” and “reduce stress and anxiety.” The petition states that “in the current climate where we see an uptick in anxiety and depression among kids and an increase in obesity and sedentary lifestyles, we should not be cutting support for programs that help improve students’ lives.”

Many parents that signed touted the benefits of physical fitness and mental tenacity the sport gave their children, with several noting that crew offers equal opportunities to girls and boys.

“My daughter is short stature, she physically can’t participate in high school sports such as softball or lacrosse because it’s too dangerous. Her short stature is embraced as a coxswain,” one petition signer wrote on Wednesday.

W-L crew coach Wilson DeSousa also signed the petition, writing that in his years teaching the sport to APS high schoolers he’s seen it has “changed their lives and made them stronger young adults. Readied then for life through the hard work and challenges of being part of a team.”

Former crew members, several of them APS alumni, also signed the petition and shared what the sport meant to them.

“This is a wonderful sport which was THE best part of my high school experience,” a W-L alum wrote on Thursday. “Please keep supporting crew for kids who need it!”

County officials originally warned APS could be facing a $43 million budget gap next year, which Murphy said would have been the largest budget deficit for the school system in its entire history. County Manager Mark Schwartz later revised the estimate thanks to unexpected real estate assessment growth and lower-than-expected employee healthcare costs.

However, the increases are not enough to offset APS deficit, meaning some spending cuts are still needed. Murphy said earlier this month he expects to cut 23 staff positions due to the budget cuts, which will increase class sizes slightly next year. The budget also eliminates funding for some local travel, field trip travel, and laboratory collaboration.

“There’s a very clear reason we’re in this situation: more families are moving here, more businesses are moving here,” Murphy said at the time. “We must be doing something right.”

The Arlington School Board is set to vote on the final APS budget on April 11.

The full statement on cutting crew from Superintendent Patrick Murphy is below.

The Superintendent and APS does not want to take any of the proposed budget reductions. To present a proposed budget that was balanced, however, $8.9 million in reductions had to be proposed. Staff focused on preserving our instructional programs and the critical support provided to schools, students and families, but many difficult decisions had to be made about possible reductions. We continue to hope that the APS budget will be fully funded by Arlington County Government through funding strategies including an increase in the tax rate.

Photo via Yorktown Crew

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Don’t Just Watch the Grass Grow this Spring… Get Out and Get Active with DC Fray

Got Spring fever?

DC Fray has just the remedy… Spring sports leagues! Join one of our various social sports leagues and channel your energy into having fun and staying fit this season.

DC Fray is on a mission to make fun possible, and registration in Arlington is open now until March 26. Sign up for a league by yourself, with friends or even make a team of your own. But no matter what, get ready to meet other go-getting people looking to make new friends through good, old-fashioned fun.

What do people find appealing about social sports?

Endless Sport Options

There are over 15 leagues to choose from including kickball, soccer, volleyball, cornhole and flag football, so there’s something for everyone to have fun with. Each league also partners with a local Arlington bar so you can keep the party rolling and make hanging with DC Fray the best part of your week.

Meet New People

It’s no secret that Washington D.C. locals thrive off the connections they make, and meeting teammates on social sports teams is no different. Making friends at work isn’t as easy as it seems. That’s where DC Fray can help. Game time is the time to leave work behind and make new friends who challenge you to do just that: let loose!

Fall in Love

Yes, that’s happened! We’re not matchmakers, unless you’re at one of our speed dating events, but there are countless stories of players meeting on the field and creating history of their own. There’s even more stories of lifelong friendships growing out of DC Fray leagues, so don’t miss out on the opportunity to find your people.

Diversify Your Workouts

Are you getting tired of your same, old gym routine? Sports games are a great substitute. With loads of friendly competition, you’ll sweat enough to really feel like you’re putting in work. Working out alone can become boring (and expensive), so save money and make working out something you look forward to every week.

Get Perks

Here’s an extra reason to love DC Fray a little more… Sporting DC Fray gear can get you some pretty cool perks you don’t want to miss out on. Ranging from discounted memberships at Balance Gym to discounted tickets for Washington Nationals Games, if you weren’t sold on the whole social sports thing before, you definitely should be now.

Start Your “Weekend” Early

Stop living for the weekend and make your weeknights just as fun by joining a social sports league. You’ll have set plans with cool people once a week, so you won’t have to go through the trouble of trying to round up your friends for a last minute night on the town.

Sports leagues aren’t all we have to offer. Every month we host super fun events to keep you busy as the warm weather rolls in and you grow restless waiting for summer.

And when summer comes? Summer leagues!

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Letter to the Editor: Demand for New Sports Fields in Arlington is Growing, Not Shrinking

The following letter to the editor comes from Craig Esherick, a former chair of the Arlington County Sports Commission, former coach of the Georgetown Hoyas and husband of Commonwealth’s Attorney Theo Stamos.

Esherick writes to express his support for the county’s recommendations in a draft of an updated Public Spaces Master Plan, a process otherwise commonly known as a “Plan for Our Places and Spaces” or POPS.

The draft has come under fire from some county residents in recent months, who have argued that the document demands more land for new athletic fields than the county actually needs, particularly as Arlington grapples with a lack of land for all manner of public facilities. The Arlington Civic Federation also recently passed a resolution overwhelmingly urging county staff to withdraw some of their recommendations involving athletic fields. 

But Esherick argues that sports have a vital role to play in the county, and urges the County Board to consider their importance as it prepares to adopt a final version of the plan in the coming weeks.

As a longtime resident of Arlington County and one who has dedicated my life’s work to sports as a coach, author, TV commentator and academic, I felt compelled to weigh in on a subject that is getting lost in the current debate about sports fields versus open spaces: the many benefits of sports to a vast cross-section of our community.

My views are shaped by decades of county involvement through a period of tremendous growth and change. When I moved to Arlington in 1990, the population was 171,000. Today, it is 235,000 and expected to grow to 290,000 by 2030, but our footprint isn’t getting any bigger.

Over the years, I’ve seen recreational and youth sports evolve to reflect the times. Both my sons played several sports in the county-sponsored leagues and for Arlington school teams. Demand for field space has exploded as our youth population grows and new sports have entered the scene. Compared to just 10 years ago, this demand had resulted in less weekly practice time, smaller practice spaces, and bigger teams in order to share limited field space among so many users. And this trend is likely to continue.

Adults in Arlington are active field users as well. Adults of all ages enjoy playing soccer, softball, Ultimate Frisbee, kickball and other sports near where they live and work, and then socializing together afterwards in nearby parks or at area restaurants.

Are these sports activities important to our community? As a lifelong sports enthusiast, the answer seems obvious. Yes, sports teach kids about leadership, teamwork, and working hard to perfect your craft. I’ve seen first-hand how character is built from lessons learned on the sports field. Yes, sports lure kids away from electronic devices and keep them physically active.

Sports also provide myriad health benefits to young and old alike.

But I would argue that the most important role that sports plays in our modern world is that it connects us to each other, and that is good for the community. As our kids participate in sports, they make friends from across the county which expands their world and breaks down barriers. Many of these friendships endure throughout high school and into adulthood. Studies show that the more young people play sports, the more they are engaged in school and in their community. These community benefits transfer to parents, who make new friendships and engage with others through the sports participation of their children. Sports also offer new residents a way to make friends and become part of the Arlington fabric.

As Arlington continues developing its new 10-year Public Spaces Master Plan – a comprehensive, long term plan that provides direction on how the county should develop and maintain public spaces to serve a growing population – it is important not to lose sight of why this matters to the health and vitality of Arlington over the long term. Arlington values trees and parks and trails and dog parks, and it values its sports fields.

Sports provide a community good and making room in our limited acreage to accommodate them is in the community interest.

ARLnow.com occasionally publishes thoughtful letters to the editor about issues of local interest. To submit a letter to the editor for consideration, please email it to [email protected]. Letters may be edited for content and brevity. 

Photo courtesy Dennis Dimick

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Plan Your Winter Escape with DC Fray

Already tired of being cooped up in the house this winter? DC Fray has 3 reasons for you to get out of your dang house:

Bar Sports

If you’re going to leave the house, you might as well head to a bar where you can socialize and play cool games like Shuffleboard and Skeeball. *Hint hint: Winter registration is OPEN*

Speed Dating

If you need another excuse to head to a bar, there’s plenty of Speed Dating coming up. Let #DCFray play Cupid, so you have someone to do fun, festive, winter activities with.

Glow Tubing

Put on your best neon gear and all the glow sticks you can find, and hit the slopes. This *bright* spin on a classic winter activity will be so much fun you won’t even be thinking about the cold.

For more fun happenings, follow along on the #FrayLife blog, here to help you conquer all there is to eat, drink, and do in the District.

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Crystal City Startup Acquires Holographic Football Training Program

Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

A Crystal City-based startup’s new acquisition will start to move the company toward offering hologram technology.

ByteCubed, a startup ARLnow first profiled in 2015, launched a new subsidiary, ByteCubed Labs, LLC, in November. The new subsidiary’s first offering will be “Pre-Game Prep,” technology from Maryland-based developer Mixed River that uses holograms for sports training.

The technology is currently being used by the Baltimore Ravens, who use the technology to simulate the opposing team on the field and react to real-time data, according to a release. Microsoft’s “HoloLens” glasses allows users to play-back recent plays and simulations.

“The acquisition of Pre-Game Prep and the launch of ByteCubed Labs allows us to expand our leadership in complex data analysis and advanced engineering to a new market of professional and college football teams,” ByteCubed CEO Ahmad Ishaq said in a statement.

Troy Jones Jr., who had helped oversee the product at Mixed River prior to acquisition by ByteCubed, was also hired as vice president of business development and operations at ByteCubed Labs.

“Pre-Game Prep” will now be offered through ByteCubed Labs, although the working relationship with the Baltimore Ravens will continue. The company’s specific plans for the holographic technology haven’t been announced yet, but the Washington Business Journal reported that security planning for events was one of the potential uses cited for the tech as it shifts from sports to government use.

ByteCubed also recently acquired InterKn, a data analytics and machine learning platform, and CHIEF, a branding and marketing agency.

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Morning Notes

Emergency Water Main Repairs — Work is scheduled from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. today to repair a 20-inch water transmission main along 7th Road S. from S. Florida Street to S. Dinwiddie Street and Columbia Pike. Upwards of 200 customers are expected to lose their water service during the work. [Twitter]

Stamos Picks Up Challenger — Parisa Tafti, a “lifelong public defender and innocence protection attorney with a more than 18-year record of defending the indigent and speaking for the innocent,” has announced that she will be running against Arlington Commonwealth’s Attorney Theo Stamos in her bid for reelection to the top prosecutor job. [Blue Virginia]

Kanninen Calls for Kaepernick — Arlington School Board member Barbara Kanninen is among those calling on social media for the Redskins to “#BringColintoWashington” amid a rash of season-ending injuries at the quarterback position. [Twitter]

Fisette Launches Consulting Firm — Former Arlington County Board member Jay Fisette has started a consulting firm to “advise business, nonprofits and local governments throughout the Washington region” with former Montgomery County Council member Roger Berliner. [Bethesda Beat, Maryland Matters]

Office Rent Expected to Rise in Crystal City — “Crystal City is at risk of losing its status as the low-cost alternative for nonprofits and others on the hunt for office space in Northern Virginia as Amazon.com Inc. rolls out its headquarters plans… Colliers projects rental rates in Crystal City could jump by 17 percent in five years and by 37 percent in a decade.” [Washington Business Journal]

Amazon Effect on Residential Real Estate — “Any immediate impact on the local housing market is expected to be muted… Long & Foster predicts the Amazon effect will add an additional 3 percent to appreciation the Washington area would otherwise experience.” [WTOP]

Harper Leaving Rosslyn? — Possibly outgoing Washington Nationals star Bryce Harper “has chosen not to renew his lease at his penthouse condo in the Rosslyn neighborhood of Arlington, VA, according to a source.” [Real House Life of Arlington]

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‘Santa Bowl’ Flag Football Games to Touch Down in Long Bridge Park

DC Fray, a social sports organization in DC, will host its fourth annual Santa Bowl Flag Football Tournament Saturday at Long Bridge Park.

Players can head to 475 Long Bridge Drive on Dec. 1 to play in the seven-on-seven co-ed tournament. Registration — $49 per player and $450 per team of at least 12 players — closes on Wednesday (Nov. 28), or when the tournament fills up.

The Santa Bowl will benefit the local non-profit Bridges to Independence, which offers assistance to help people out of homelessness.

Teams are asked to donate at least five grocery bags worth of the items, including:

  • nonperishable food, excluding peanut butter
  • new, full-size toiletries
  • diapers and wipes
  • paper products including toilet paper and paper towels
  • gift cards to Giant, Shoppers, Safeway or Target
  • Metro SmartTrip cards

Prizes will be given to the top placing tournament winners and also to the team that collects the most donations.

Photo via DC Fray/Facebook

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Arlington Sports Hall of Fame Adds Four New Inductees

The Arlington Sports Hall of Fame has added four new inductees, including a decorated gymnastics coach, some track stars and a jack-of-all-trades triathlete.

The organization, which has recognized Arlington athletes since 1958, welcomed the new members last Wednesday (Oct. 10). The honorees include:

  • Joe D’Emidio
  • William Duryee
  • Mary O’Connor Schade
  • Peter Weilenmann

D’Emidio is described as a “force in Arlington gymnastics for over 46 years” in his Hall of Fame biography. He’s coached gymnasts at all three county high schools over the years, and worked for a decade as the head coach for the Virginia High School Mens’ Gymnastic Team, where he won a national title in 2002. D’Emidio also founded YMCA Arlington Woodmont Gymnastics Center.

Schade is honored as an “Arlington women’s sports legend over the past 37 years” in her bio. As a competitive swimmer, Schade earned 25 gold medals at the Virginia Senior Games, repeatedly qualifying for the National Senior Games, and swum across the Potomac River and even the San Francisco Bay. She’s completed 16 triathlons since starting the races at age 50, and is even a 36-year youth soccer coach.

According to the Hall of Fame, Duryee was a record-setting track star at Bishop O’Connell High School, where he graduated in 1961. He went on to receive a track scholarship from LaSalle University, where he led the team to a series of Mid Atlantic Conference (MAC) track championships from 1964 to 1966, and participated in the Penn Relays Invitational.

Weilenmann, a lifelong Arlington resident, became a track stand-out during his time at the Landon School in Maryland, according to his bio. He won a series of cross country conference championships in his time at James Madison University, then competed on five U.S. national teams from 1991-1996, including two World Half Marathon Championships.

The new inductees bring the total number of Arlington Sports Hall of Fame members to 44.

Photos of Joe D’Emidio and William Duryee via Arlington Sports Hall of Fame

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Arlington Travel Baseball Uses Tournament to Honor Sam Fox, A 50-Year Youth Sports Coach

When Richie Pacheco started thinking about a namesake for Arlington Travel Baseball‘s new fall tournament a few years back, he says it was a “no-brainer” to turn to longtime coach Sam Fox.

As a youth sports coach in Arlington since 1966, Fox is as close to an institution as it comes in the county. He’s been coaching so long, in fact, that Pacheco, the president of the travel baseball league’s board, says he got the chance to learn from Fox when he was a kid decades ago.

Even still, tournaments are often designed as memorials to legends of the past, so Pacheco wasn’t quite sure how Fox would react to the suggestion. Apparently, it was quite well received.

“I think his words were that he’d rather be around to enjoy it than to have a memorial when he’s not around anymore,” Pacheco told ARLnow.

The rest is history. The travel baseball league held its second “Coach Fox Fall Classic” this past weekend, with seven teams and roughly 100 kids from ages 9 to 13 competing. Though it may be just a small gesture, Pacheco hopes it helps make people aware of Fox’s legacy in Arlington.

“Sam has given so much to the community, this is just something simple we could do to recognize that,” Pacheco said.

Fox himself says the tournament was a “very nice honor,” but wasn’t willing to cast his influence in the county in such grand terms.

He says he grew up in Arlington, and first started playing baseball in Barcroft Park. He even went on to get a job working for the county maintaining its athletic fields, but he says it wasn’t until one fateful day in Bluemont Park that his coaching career got going.

“I had practice with some kids in the neighborhood there, and a coach asked to see if I could help out with the team, so I agreed,” Fox said.

He’s been coaching ever since. Back when he first started, Fox was a coach for the Arlington Little League, which was run by the county until the mid-1980s.

Yet, over the years, Fox watched as the baseball scene in the county changed, with the original league splitting in two groups affiliated with national youth leagues: one with Babe Ruth baseball, one with Little League. Pacheco helped started the travel baseball league a few years back, as a way for all Arlington ballplayers to play together and bridge the gap between the two.

But even as the teams and leagues shifted, Fox’s coaching style didn’t.

“I coach kids to have fun, and if we win doing it, that’s fine,” Fox said. “And, if not, the sun will come up tomorrow.”

Fox says he normally focused on pitchers, and has thrown more than his fair share of batting practices over the years. Pacheco’s enduring memory of his coaching style is simple: “When he talks, people listen.”

“He knows the game and he knows how to teach,” Pacheco said. “It’s about doing your homework, tuck in your shirt, that sort of thing. He’s teaching kids life lessons on and off the field.”

When asked if any particular memory stands out over his 50 years of coaching, Fox was direct: “No,” he answered plainly. But he says the totality of his experience over the years, which also included lengthy stints coaching basketball and football, is what really stands out.

“I love seeing where the kids start on day one and where they finish at the end of the season,” Fox said. “It’s been fun.”

Fox says he’s slowing down a little, particularly after suffering a mild stroke this summer. Yet he fully plans to keep working with the travel league where he can, and make a few more memories in the process.

“As long as it’s still fun, and my health is still good, I’ll keep coaching,” Fox said. “And it’s still fun.”

Main photo via Arlington Travel Baseball. Photo of Sam Fox via Facebook

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Add More Fun To Your Week & Meet New People This Fall with DC Fray

DC Fray has 130+ leagues across 15+ sports in 20+ neighborhoods this Fall so you can find the perfect league for you.

No team is needed to sign up. This is your excuse to go out on a week night, make new friends and enjoy happy hours with your teammates. Leagues are selling out and registration closes soon, so don’t wait to sign up! Join as an individual, small group or full team at dcfray.com/leagues.

PLUS *get lit* with GLOW Sports! Light up the field at dcfray.com/glow.

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Arlington Babe Ruth Baseball Team Clinches State Title

Arlington Babe Ruth Baseball’s eight-and-under travel team journeyed to Haymarket to compete for a state title last week, and they came home victorious.

The 8U team, Storm, clinched the championship in their age group with an undefeated run through the tournament, including a 13-12 victory over a Fluvanna County team in the final game.

The team will represent the state of Virginia in the Babe Ruth Southeast Regional Tournament, set to kick off in Ocala, Florida this coming Wednesday (July 18).

Three other Arlington Babe Ruth travel teams also participated in state tournaments last week in the 9U, 10U and 11U age groups.

Photo courtesy George Thompson

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Make Your Summer as Fun as Possible With DC Fray

Summer is here and DC Fray has a jam packed line up of fun sport leagues and events to keep you busy having fun during the long, warm days.

On their mission to make fun possible, DC Fray has everything ready for you from kickball on the National Mall to river floating day trips in Virginia to great deals on games at Nats Park!

Feel like a kid again with grown up perks at DC Field Day. There’s even time to find your zen in the city with rooftop meditation or glow yoga amongst the monuments.

The sports don’t stop at just kickball or softball. There are leagues for over 15 sports (yes, cornhole counts as a sport) that start with getting active and end with making new friends with a beer in hand.

Leagues are located in Ballston, Clarendon, Tysons and beyond. Search in your neighborhood to find the league closest to your work or home and start filling your schedule with summer fun today! Visit dcfray.com.

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Caps to Host Stanley Cup Sendoff in Ballston

The Washington Capitals are encouraging fans to flock to Ballston on Saturday to help send the team off to the Stanley Cup finals.

The event will be held around noon at Kettler Capitals Iceplex (627 N. Glebe Road).

More from a media advisory:

Practice is scheduled for 10:30 a.m., with players beginning to exit the building in front of fans on their way to Las Vegas at approximately noon.

The 8th floor parking deck will be closed. Fans are encouraged to take the metro (Ballston-MU station) and access the facility from the elevators and stairwell located on Glebe and Randolph.

The Caps will face off against the Las Vegas Golden Knights at 8 p.m. eastern on Monday.

File photo

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DC United Players to Flip Chickens at Rosslyn Nando’s for Charity

Six D.C. United soccer players will be taking over the grills in the Rosslyn new Nando’s Peri-Peri on Thursday (April 12) to benefit the team’s charity partner, D.C. Scores.

All of the proceeds earned that day at Nando’s will go towards D.C. Scores, a non-profit that offers free after school soccer and literacy programs to at-risk D.C. youth.

The players will be using Nando’s grills from 2-8 p.m. The team and Nando’s will also be raffling off a signed team item and a pair of tickets to the D.C. United v. Columbus Crew SC match on April 14.

The location at 1800 N. Lynn Street opened almost a month ago and is one of the chain’s now 41 U.S. locations.

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Morning Notes

First Responders Say Starting Pay Is Too Low — “Patrick Gorman was just beginning to enjoy his job as an Arlington, Va., police officer when he decided to quit. His wife was pregnant with twins, and they already had a 2-year-old. Even with both working full time, he said, they couldn’t afford to live in the area. Two months out of training, he left the department in February and moved to North Carolina.” [Washington Post]

Large Arlington Contingent for Boston Marathon — Some 77 runners from Arlington are set to compete in the prestigious Boston Marathon a week from today. [InsideNova]

Public Safety Personnel Recognized for Crisis Interventions — “Four Arlington County police officers, two sheriff’s deputies, and a 9-1-1 dispatcher were honored this week for their exemplary work in responding to people in a mental health crisis when on a call or on the job.” [Arlington County]

Spotted: Michael Irvin — Former Dallas Cowboys great Michael Irvin was spotted hanging out at Champps on Pentagon Row over the weekend. [Twitter]

Rosslyn Hotel Opening Brings Up HQ2 — It’s difficult to find an economic development event in Northern Virginia these days that doesn’t spark discussions of Amazon’s HQ2. At an opening for the new Homewood Suites hotel in Rosslyn, Arlington Economic Development Director Victor Hoskins remarked that “you’d have to build, like, 10 more of these” if Amazon were to come to Arlington. [Washington Business Journal]

ARLnow Doesn’t Have a Wikipedia Page — Did you know that despite being around for more than eight years, and being cited as a source in plenty of Wikipedia pages, ARLnow does not have its own page? With Facebook now starting to use Wikipedia as a signaling mechanism for trustworthiness, now would be a great time for someone to finally give ARLnow its own Wikipedia entry. Pretty please?

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