Arlington, VA

(Updated at 4:05 p.m.) Despite nearly a year’s worth of effort, it looks like a group of youth basketball referees left unpaid by a county contractor are not going to get paid via any kind of governmental intervention.

Instead, an Arlington County Board member is seeking to crowdfund their payments.

Matt de Ferranti, who has “taken on the cause of the referees as his own” and expressed optimism about finding a solution earlier this year, has instead launched a GoFundMe campaign on his own.

De Ferranti told ARLnow today that he launched the campaign in his personal capacity, and contributed $250 of his own money, after being unable to find a way to get the refs paid in his professional capacity.

The issue started after last winter’s rec league sports season, when the owner and sole employee of a company hired by Arlington County to manage referees suffered a stroke and was incapacitated. Most of the 100 or so referees hired by Mid-Atlantic Coast Referees, which received a $163,269 contract from the county, were paid, according to de Ferranti. About two dozen are still owed, in aggregate, somewhere around $12,000.

That money is unlikely to be forthcoming due to “significant financial problems” at the company, which is now reportedly under conservatorship.

De Ferranti’s GoFundMe effort has set a goal of raising $12,500 from the community, to — as the title of the campaign suggests — “Pay the Referees.”

“I think it’s a unique situation that the law, and the right thing to do, do not align,” de Ferranti said. “I think [the campaign] will move us forward as a community.”

De Ferranti stressed that all efforts had been made to find a way for Arlington County to intervene, but the possible legal remedies appear to have been exhausted. The county government can’t pay the refs — many of them teens — because it never employed them directly.

“The fact that we are legally unable to pay the rest is something that not everybody immediately knows,” he said. “It’s the right thing to do, to compensate individuals for work that has been done… This is unfortunately a reality of the law that says public entities cannot provide gifts of public funds to individuals we do not have contracts with.”

“My colleagues and I share the desire to address this,” de Ferranti continued. “We all, in our personal capacities, want to see this addressed. We tried creative ways to fix the problem, that were legally permissible, and in this unique situation we have been unable to address the problem.”

Arlington now has a contract with a different referee contractor, and new policies in place, he noted.

De Ferranti suggested that donations of $25 could make a big difference and help the campaign raise the needed funds “as quickly as possible.” He plans to further promote the campaign, which he launched today, via social media.

“I ask that you join me, as I care about making sure the young people and adults who refereed our County league games last year are compensated for their work,” the GoFundMe page says. “I’m proud that our community pitches in to help where there is a need. I promise if there was another way to get this done, I would do it. Please help.”

Image via Flickr/Karl Baron

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Morning Notes

Big Costco Crowds Over the Weekend — The Pentagon City Costco drew big crowds and long queues of cars over the weekend, as people stocked up on supplies amid the ongoing coronavirus outbreak. There were some reports of the store running low on items like toilet paper. [Twitter, Twitter]

Vets Visit Iwo Jima Memorial — “This February marks 75 years since the American flag was raised atop Mt. Suribachi, depicted in the famous photograph by Associated Press photographer Joe Rosenthal. That photo became the model for the U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial in Arlington, Virginia. This milestone is the reason a group of more than 50 Battle of Iwo Jima veterans descended on the memorial this week.” [WJLA]

Strong Finishes for W-L Teams — Among other action this weekend, the Washington-Liberty boys placed second in the 6D North Region boys basketball tournament — and will now advance to states — while the W-L girls track team placed third at the state track tournament. [InsideNova, Twitter]

Arlington Deploys Mobile Library Truck — “Arlington Public Library announces the arrival of The Truck, a traveling library designed to hold hundreds of books, games, crafts and DVDs for all ages and interests. The Truck’s first outing will be to Plaza Library on Wednesday, March 4 from 11 a.m.-2 p.m.” [Arlington Public Library]

Voice of America Profiles Local Cornhole League — “A number of bars in Arlington, Virginia, offer their customers more than a selection of craft beers and cocktails, they offer them a chance to try their hand at cornhole, a game in which players take turns throwing small bags of corn kernels at a raised platform with a hole in the far end. It’s a unique bit of Americana that’s bringing people together.” [VOA News]

Owners of Bar Bao and The Lot Squabble — “The owners of Social Restaurant Group are accusing one another of fraud, financial mismanagement, and breach of contract in half a dozen lawsuits spanning the past year. The litigation involves at least five restaurants.” [Washingtonian]

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Nicklas Backstrom is loving dad life in Arlington.

Last month Backstrom signed a new five-year, $46 million contract to remain with the Washington Capitals. In addition to being the second all-time scorer for the Caps and one of hockey’s top players, the 32-year-old Swede and father of two is an Arlington resident.

A video from the Caps’ “Beyond Hockey” series was recently posted on YouTube and shows Backstrom at home in his red brick, north Arlington house. He spoke highly of the neighborhood.

“We have lived here for 10 years, actually — or I have lived here for 10 years, and Liza has lived here for 7 or 8,” he said, referring to his fiancée.

“We love it around here, on typical days we usually just — kids go to school until 2 or 3 in the afternoon, and then keep them activated and run around,” he said. “That’s when they get the best sleep too.”

Backstrom purchased the home, near the Fairfax County border, for $2 million in 2010.

In the video, he also reveals that Liza is pregnant with the family’s third child. For her part, Liza says the family “has a lot of good neighbors.”

Backstrom is not the only Arlingtonian on the team to talk up the county on video. In October, Caps winger and Bash Boxing co-owner Tom Wilson, who signed his own $31 million contract extension in 2018, appeared in the Beyond Hockey series and spent much of the video driving around Arlington.

“The offseason always flies by, but when you drive in and Arlington’s buzzing you realize how much you’ve missed it here,” Wilson said. “It’s a great feeling to have a place like that that you’re fortunate enough to come back to every year. There’s lots of stuff to do.”

The Caps may play at Capital One arena in D.C., but the team’s offices and its practices are held at MedStar Capitals Iceplex in Ballston.

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Morning Notes

For Families, $100K Doesn’t Cut it Here — “An analysis by personal finance site MagnifyMoney found that in some pricey cities it’s particularly hard to make it on $100,000. ‘The worst metro area for a family earning $100,000 includes Washington, D.C. and neighboring cities Arlington and Alexandria, Va. After factoring in monthly expenses, families would be $315 in the red.'” [MarketWatch]

AWLA Helps Kitty with Gruesome Injury — “Today we urgently need your support for a young orange tabby with a horrific injury. On Valentine’s Day, we received a call from one of our rescue partners in West Virginia who had just taken in a cat who had been shot in the head with an arrow.” [Animal Welfare League of Arlington, WJLA]

YHS Athletes Prepare for Collegiate Competition — “On Feb. 5, I watched the ceremony in the cafeteria of Yorktown High School, where 20 male and female seniors announced plans to play collegiate-level football, soccer, lacrosse, swimming, baseball, tennis and track. Only 1 in 50 high school athletes play at competitive colleges, said activities director Mike Krulfeld.” [Falls Church News-Press]

New Head of School for DJO — “After an extensive national search, and at the recommendation of the search committee, Bishop Michael F. Burbidge, Catholic Diocese of Arlington, has named Mr. William Crittenberger the new Head of School at Bishop O’Connell High School, effective July 1, 2020.” [Press Release]

Nearby: Opening and Closing in Seven Corners — A new Food Star store has opened in Seven Corners, following the 2017 closure of the Food Star on Columbia Pike. Meanwhile, the Gold’s Gym in Seven Corners is reportedly closing on March 13. [Annandale Blog, Twitter, Twitter]

Flickr pool photo by Eric

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John Mingus, an Arlington youth soccer coach, was named National Volunteer of the Year by US Youth Soccer on Saturday.

Mingus began coaching soccer when his first daughter began playing in the spring of 2001. He coached both of his daughters until they began high school. He continued to coach kindergarten boys, first grade and high school girls even after he stopped coaching his daughters’ teams.

He is currently the club manager of the Northwest Lions, the largest club in the Arlington Soccer Association. As club manager, Mingus places new players in separate teams, he recruits the coaches for each team, and sets policies and procedures for the program.

“I love volunteering because I believe strongly in [Arlington Soccer]’s mission,” Mingus said. “I believe Arlington rec soccer is an incredible program that offers kids of all ages to play soccer. It is important to have a program that provides regardless of their ability.”

Mingus began playing soccer mostly as a neighborhood pick-up player growing up, and later played intramural soccer in college and grad school.

With the prize, Mingus received a pass to get free Chipotle burritos for one year.

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(Updated at 10:35 a.m.) Arlington County has kicked off the renovation project for Gunston Park‘s “bubble.”

Officials have started the design phase of the Gunston Bubble Renovation Project, with the goal of eventually having a more “energy efficient and reliable” facility. The project is expected to start construction in the second quarter of 2020 and be completed by the third quarter, in time for next winter season.

The bubble is an all-weather, heated and covered athletic field that Arlington County describes as “a unique indoor turf facility available to rent for sports training and parties.”

“A lot has changed in building technology since the old bubble was completed,” said project architect Aaron Wohler. “The existing bubble structure is air-supported and needs to be constantly monitored and inflated. It gets hot during the summer, so much so that we limit summer hours.”

The new structure will be frame-supported, according to Wohler, with LED lighting and ceiling fans, windows, vents, and doors available to keep it cool during the hotter months.

Funding for the $1.3 million project was included in the county’s most recent Capital Improvement Plan (CIP). About $1 million will come from bonds.

The county will host an open house at the Gunston Community Center for community members to learn more about the project on Thursday, December 17 at 6:30 p.m.

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Morning Notes

Dorsey Declares Bankruptcy — “Arlington County Board Chair Christian Dorsey, who was penalized Thursday for failing to disclose a campaign contribution to the Metro board in a timely manner, filed for bankruptcy last month after falling behind on his mortgage and accruing tens of thousands of dollars in credit card debt… he attributed his personal financial troubles to a drop in income since he was elected to the five-member Arlington board four years ago.” [Washington Post]

Metro Delays During AM Rush — “Blue/Yellow Line Delay: Single tracking btwn Braddock Rd & National Airport due to a signal problem outside Braddock Rd.” [Twitter]

Arlington Among Best Cities for Frugal Dating — Arlington is No. 17 on a new list of “the best cities in the country for budget-friendly dating.” [SmartAsset]

County Aiming for More Budget Feedback — “This week marks the beginning of the FY 2021 budget season, Arlington County’s process to decide how it will spend County dollars. From now through July 2020, you will have multiple opportunities to provide input and inform decisions about the County’s operating budget and capital budget.” [Arlington County]

County Football Teams May All Make Playoffs — “Depending on the outcome of final regular-season games on Nov. 8, there is a possibility that the Wakefield Warriors, Washington-Liberty Generals and Yorktown Patriots could all end up as district football champions. Wakefield (5-4, 4-0) and Yorktown (8-1, 4-0) are in sole possession of first place currently in the National and Liberty districts, respectively, and are guaranteed at least co-championships if they lose Nov. 8.” [InsideNova]

Yorktown Field Hockey in State Tourney — “It took a while, but when the stakes became the highest, that’s when the Yorktown Patriots started playing their best field hockey of the 2019 campaign, in what has become an historic season for the girls team… By reaching the region final for the first time in program history, Yorktown also earned a Virginia High School League Class 6 state-tournament berth, also for the first time.” [InsideNova]

DJO Runners Win State Title — “After not winning the state championship the past two seasons, the Bishop O’Connell Knights have returned to that throne this fall. The girls high-school cross country team won the 2019 Division I state private-school crown Nov. 7 in Mechanicsville by dominating the field with 46 points.” [InsideNova]

Nearby: Potomac Yard Plan Takes Shape — “Just a few days after submitting plans for the Virginia Tech site near the North Potomac Yard Metro station, JBG Smith has submitted early concept designs for the development that will replace Target and the other Potomac Yard stores.” [ALXnow, Washington Business Journal]

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An Arlington man looks so much like Washington Nationals ace Max Scherzer that he had to be escorted by the police during the team’s World Series parade on Saturday.

Kevin Kramer, who’s lived in Arlington for the last 20 years, had his first fan interaction four years ago in an ALDI grocery store.

“They were shouting ‘Max, Max,’ and asked me to throw the first pitch for their charity baseball team,” Kramer said. “That’s when I realized, oh my god, this person really thinks I’m Max Scherzer.”

Over the next few years, people at Nationals Park would approach him for the occasional selfie or ask him why he wasn’t out on the dugout during games.

Then this year, the Nationals entered the National League Championship Series and “things started to get really crazy.”

Kramer, who’s never met Scherzer in person, attended Game 3 of the NCLS, where he says he was mobbed by fans. Once the team made it to the World Series, he took things one step further with a single blue contact lens to match Scherzer’s distinctively-hued eyes.

“This is all for fun,” said Kramer, who runs an Instagram account, @notmaxscherzer. “I don’t set out to look like him, I’m not an impersonator. I think because the Nats have become so popular, people really want to believe that I am him.”

A videographer accompanied Kramer to Saturday’s parade to capture the scene. As expected, dozens of fans quickly mobbed Kramer, wondering why he wasn’t up on a parade bus celebrating with the team. As a result, D.C. police had to escort them through the streets.

Someday soon, he said, he hopes to transform all of this into a documentary.

“There’s a fascinating psychology behind this,” Kramer said. “For example, a lot more women will ask me for an ID or ask personal questions only Scherzer could answer. Men, on the other hand, just want to take a photo and go.”

For now, he’s hoping to capitalize on the coincidence by booking appearances, including “ad campaigns, parties, or whatever.”

Photos via Timur Tugberk/Designing the District

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The restaurant business has notoriously thin profit margins. Which makes a new promotion from Clarendon sports bar Bracket Room (1210 N. Garfield Street) seem extra risky.

The restaurant, which opened in 2013 and is co-owned by Chris Bukowski of Bachelor fame, says it will refund the checks of every guest for the entire year if the Washington Nationals go back-to-back and win another World Series in 2020.

There’s a catch, however — you have to keep the receipts. From a Facebook post:

We are launching a promotion to celebrate the Washington Nationals winning the #WorldSeries! If the Nats win the 2020 World Series we will refund every check for the entire year! Hold on to your receipts bc if the Nats go #back2back you will receive a full refund on all food, beverages and taxes (excludes tips) from Nov 2, 2019 to when the 2020 champion is crowned!

As unlikely as everything about the offer sounds — but still, go Nats — perhaps an even greater stretch of credulity is the challenge issued by Bracket Room to the entire D.C. area.

“The owners of {Bracket Room}… challenge everyone in the DMV to eat and drink with them 7 days a week over the next year,” the company said in a press release. That might be difficult to achieve: at last check, Bracket Room had a seating capacity of 100 inside and 36 on the outdoor patio.

Congrats to the Washington Nationals! We are launching a promotion to celebrate the Washington Nationals winning the…

Posted by Bracket Room on Saturday, November 2, 2019

Photo (top) via Facebook

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Champagne was spraying, people were jumping around and the whole room filled with deafening shouts.

That was the scene at the Washington Capitals’ annual Halloween party last night, as the Stanley Cup-winning hockey team celebrated D.C.’s newest champions, the World Series-winning Nationals.

The Caps held the team Halloween party at The G.O.A.T. in Clarendon, but the event turned into a World Series watch party. Alexander Ovechkin was among the players partying as the last strike was called in the bottom of the 9th.

The event for the team and spouses was held in a private event space at the sports bar, located across the street from the Clarendon Metro. Video from the celebration was posted online and quickly reposted by the Washington Post, Barstool Sports and local sports blogs.

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A new Arlington Public Schools policy now requires adults to chaperone younger students at high school games.

The new policy was announced in an email to parents last week, and applies to students in 8th Grade or below looking to attending after-school sporting events. It also requires students to show their school IDs to staff at the games.

“We are asking that any students in 8th grade or younger be accompanied by an adult for admission to any Arlington high school sporting event,” APS spokesman Frank Bellavia told ARLnow.

From the APS email to families:

Based on growing attendance at our games as student enrollment has increased, APS is taking precautions to ensure that all spectators have a safe, enjoyable experience at all high school athletic events. Moving forward, any students in 8th grade or younger must be accompanied by an adult for admission to any Arlington high school sporting event. The adult accompanying the student or a group of students needs to be in attendance as a point of contact for the duration of the event. This allows APS staff to respond appropriately if issues arise among younger students who are unfamiliar to high school staff, and can help ensure a safe environment for students and families who are there to enjoy the game.

Families with questions are asked to reach out to their Director of Student Activities at Wakefield, Washington-Liberty or Yorktown high schools.

“As a school division, we take great pride in our school spirit and encourage student and fan participation,” the APS email shared with ARLnow reads. “We also expect our students and fans to use sound judgement and demonstrate appropriate behavior that presents a positive viewing experience for all.”

The new policy comes about a month after the school began requiring all visitors to show identification and log their visit in a database.

Photo via @WakeAthletics/Twitter

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