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Morning Notes

Family Surprised to Learn Pet Was a Snapping Turtle — “An Arlington family took in a box turtle to be the new family pet recently — only to find out that it was actually a snapping turtle. The Animal Welfare League of Arlington tweeted out a photo of the turtle, noting that their officers had seized the turtle from the unwitting family.” [Patch, Twitter]

APS Delays Release of Construction Cost Report — “Arlington residents will have to wait a little longer for an analysis of the reasons behind the high costs of school construction in the county. The audit committees of the County Board and School Board had been slated to meet Aug. 7 in a joint session to discuss a report by school-system auditor John Mickevice on school-construction costs. That meeting, however, was called off.” [InsideNova]

TSA Keeps Finding Guns in Carry-ons at DCA — Earlier this month, in two separate incidents, TSA agents at Reagan National Airport seized loaded handguns from two men trying to carry them onto planes. The guns were the seventh and eighth seized at the airport so far this year. The men are now facing weapons charges. [Patch]

Jail Holds Creative Writing Contest — A 26-year-old man who’s in jail on a heroin possession charge won the Arlington County lockup’s first-ever creative writing contest yesterday. His prize-winning poem, in part: “I dream about the future. I dream about the past. I dream about the mountains. I dream about the sea. I dream of all the places that I would rather be.” [NBC Washington]

InsideNova Not Available in Europe — More than 1,000 U.S. news websites are blocking users from Europe after the EU implemented strict new privacy regulations known as GDPR on May 25. Among the sites that are no longer accessible from Europe, as seen in this screen shot from last month: InsideNova, which publishes articles from the Arlington Sun Gazette newspaper. [Nieman Journalism Lab]

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Morning Notes

Arlington Named Top Digital County Again — “Arlington County is the No. 1 digital county in the nation for a third straight year. The Center for Digital Government and National Association of Counties 2018 award recognizes Arlington for its best technology practices in areas of open government, transparency, public engagement, planning, cyber security and operations.” [Arlington County]

Robbery in Courthouse — Two men reportedly robbed the Dunkin’ Donuts on Wilson Blvd in Courthouse yesterday evening. The men demanded money and fled the scene with cash but did not display any weapons during the robbery, according to initial reports. [Twitter]

Kaine to Campaign in Arlington Today — Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) tonight “will host a ‘Neighbor to Neighbor’ community conversation in Arlington to engage Northern Virginia voters on the critical issues facing our country and take their questions.” The event is taking place at the Barcroft Park Picnic Shelter (4200 S. Four Mile Run Drive) at 6:30 p.m.

Britney Spears Touches Down in Arlington — Britney Spears arrived at Reagan National Airport ahead of the kick off of her summer tour. Photos and video show her walking through the terminal with a small entourage. [Daily Mail]

Arlington to Pay to Help Retain Federal Tenant — “Arlington taxpayers will be on the hook for nearly $8 million over 10 years to subsidize a lease that will retain the Office of Naval Research in the county. County Board members on July 14 are expected to approve an incentive package that will keep the federal agency in its current 314,000 square feet of office space in Ballston.” [InsideNova]

Suspect Hailed Cab After Pike Burglary — “A burglar made his getaway from a scene in Arlington by hailing a taxi, according to officials. The Arlington County Police Department said the burglar targeted a business in the 3100 block of Columbia Pike near the Westmont neighborhood at about 10:25 a.m. on Sunday.” [Fox 5 DC]

George Mason Drive Detour — A “small detour” will be in place this weekend on N. George Mason Drive “as crews above remove the old half still remaining from the soon-to-be-replaced Carlin Springs Road Bridge.” [Twitter]

White Ford Bronco Profiled — Prolific local 90s cover band White Ford Bronco is the subject of a newspaper profile that dubs it the “undisputed king of D.C. cover bands.” The profile recounts that “at a recent concert at the Clarendon Ballroom, guys in button-down shirts and Birkenstocks pumped their fists to the chorus of ‘Mr. Jones.'” [Washington Post]

Metrobus Delays This Morning — Metrobus passengers reported delays and missed routes this morning, which WMATA says was the result of “bus operators reporting late to work as part of a collective labor action by their union.” [Twitter, WTOP]

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Accenture Opens Rosslyn Cyber Center to Draw on Arlington’s Vast Tech Talent

It might seem odd that the consulting firm Accenture would open a second Arlington office in Rosslyn, just a 10-minute drive from its current location in Ballston and a brief Metro ride away from its office in D.C.

But company executives believe Arlington’s pool of talented tech workers is so deep that such a move makes perfect sense — and state leaders are hoping tech giants from Apple to Amazon are similarly swayed by the strength of the county’s workforce.

Gov. Ralph Northam (D) and Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) helped Accenture christen its new “cyber fusion center” inside the new CEB Tower at Central Place (1201 Wilson Blvd) today (Wednesday), hailing the company for its plans to create 1,000 high-paying tech jobs in the D.C. region by 2020.

Marty Rodgers, Accenture’s metro D.C. office managing director, says the firm ultimately plans to have 4,500 employees at its Arlington locations alone, and they’ll have plenty of company. As of last year, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that more than 17,000 people in Arlington work in IT-focused jobs, and Rodgers adds that 185 cybersecurity startups in the area won outside funding in 2017.

Observers have speculated that those numbers are part of why Jeff Bezos and Tim Cook are eyeing Arlington so closely for expansion. Northam hopes they’re right.

“I’ve always been a big believer that if we bring talent to the area, talent will attract other talent,” Northam told reporters Wednesday. “We’ve made that pitch and we’re excited about that opportunity, and we’ve had those discussions with Amazon. But whether it’s Amazon or Apple or any other company, in order for them to grow or come here, we’ve got to be able to train our workforce.”

Northam credits his predecessor, ex-Gov. Terry McAuliffe, for putting a focus on tech training programs at both the higher education level and in K-12 schools. But it also helps that many of those workers have gained experience in the area’s bevy of federal government tech jobs, making them even more attractive to companies like Accenture that do plenty of business in D.C.

“This is where all the talent is,” Rodgers said. “You need people who have that combination of experiences, with for-profits, with nonprofits, with government.”

Rodgers noted that those sorts of employees will be particularly important at the company’s new Rosslyn center. It’s designed as not only a cybersecurity research hub, but also as a meeting space for Accenture to help its clients, from governments to massive corporations, investigate cyberattacks in real time.

Accenture executives demonstrated for the gathered elected officials and journalists how the company might educate an oil and gas company about how to prevent a phishing attack on a refinery. After hackers tried, and failed, to blow up a Saudi Arabian refinery by breaking in to a company’s networks via a fraudulent email, company officials warned that such a scenario isn’t terribly far-fetched.

Rodgers believes the center will even be innovative enough to help the D.C. region become the top global destination for cybersecurity companies.

“This region is fundamental to cybersecurity for the country and the world,” Rodgers said. “This is a mantle we hope this cybersecurity fusion center can claim here, as compared to Silicon Valley.”

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Morning Notes

FBI Renews Search for Hotel Rapist — A cold case is getting hotter as the FBI steps up the search for a man who raped hotel employees in the D.C. area, including in Arlington, between 1998 and 2006. Authorities still don’t know who the suspect is, but in a first for the region, the man’s DNA profile has been indicted for the crime. [FBI, NBC Washington, WTOP]

‘Unaccompanied Minors’ Housed at Local Facility? — “The feds may use a local juvenile detention center to house some of the nearly 2,000 children they’ve separated from their parents at the Mexican border. Alexandria Mayor Allison Silberberg said she’s expressed ‘strong concerns’ with the board that runs the Northern Virginia Juvenile Detention Center, which has a contract to hold as many as 30 unaccompanied minors. The detention center is jointly run by Alexandria and Arlington.” [WUSA 9]

ACPD Helps Kid’s Dream Come True — “After over 900 days in foster care, Cameron’s wish came true when he found his forever family. During last week’s @Capitals visit, we were able to help him with his 2nd wish-touching the #StanleyCup! Today he stopped by to thank Officer Rihl for helping make his dream a reality!” [Twitter]

Local Tech Firm Signs Rosslyn Lease — As expected after being selected for a $60,000 Gazelle grant from Arlington County earlier this year, local tech firm Higher logic has signed a lease and is moving employees into a new 31,000 square foot headquarters space at Waterview Tower (1919 N. Lynn Street) in Rosslyn. The company, which makes community engagement software, acquired four companies last year. The new office offers “floor-to-ceiling windows with views of the Potomac River, an open, collaborative environment, and much needed room to expand.” [Washington Business Journal]

Firefighters Help Cool Kids Down — Earlier this week, with sweltering temperatures putting a damper on outdoor activities, an Arlington County fire engine helped Patrick Henry Elementary students cool down during their field day. [Twitter]

ACFD Trains for Water Rescues — The Arlington County Fire Department has a water rescue team, and before yesterday’s rains the team was training in the rapids at Great Falls. [Twitter]

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Arlington County’s Digital Destiny Campaign Continues With Discussion in June

Arlington County will host a community event on June 6th to discuss how technology will impact the future of work. Tell us what you think.

For the past two years, Arlington County has been named the Top Digital County in the nation by the Center for Digital Government and National Association of Counties.

A cornerstone of this recognition has been Arlington’s initiative to envision the County’s future through its Defining Arlington’s Digital Destiny campaign.

Arlington’s Digital Destiny is an ongoing series that brings together a broad and diverse group of residents, businesses, technologists and members of the not for profit and higher education communities to discuss what the future might hold for Arlington.

The Digital Destiny series has focused on mobility and transit, learning, aging independently, energy sustainability, and security and privacy in a digital world, among other topics.

These conversations have been a foundation for Arlingtonians to raise awareness of the impact technology will have on their community and to share different perspectives that can serve as guideposts for future visioning and strategic planning.

If you’ve missed some of the earlier discussions, you still have a chance to take part in a new talk titled The Future of Work in Arlington on June 6 at the Arlington Central Library (1015 N Quincy Street).

Panelists for this event will include Anne Khademian, presidential fellow at Virginia Tech; Dr. Yahya Shaihk, an associate at Johns Hopkins University and senior consultant at Connected Health, FCC; Jason Drake, a manager for training and organizational development at Arlington County Government; and Steve Kenny, regional VP at Gartner, LLC.

Guests can arrive at 6 p.m. for networking and light refreshments. The panel and breakout discussions will kick off at 6:30 p.m. All are welcome. Simply register to attend or join us live via Twitter.

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Internet and Email Outage at Arlington Public Schools

Internet connections are down across all Arlington Public Schools.

Both the internet and email systems are experiencing an extended outage, APS announced Monday afternoon. The outage is not expected to be resolved before the end of the school day, APS said.

APS spokesman Frank Bellavia told ARLnow that the school system’s internet vendor is experiencing problems, and they believe that “some cables were cut somewhere.” He added that there’s no timetable for the problem to be fixed.

Anyone who needs to reach school staff is being to encouraged to call rather than email.

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Morning Notes

L.A. Bar and Grill Reopening — After closing for renovations (and because it was late in renewing its state alcohol license) Columbia Pike watering hole L.A. Bar and Grill is planning to reopen this weekend, just in time for Cinco de Mayo. [Facebook, Facebook]

The D.C. Case for the Rosslyn Gondola — “The Gondola will provide anyone within the Metro catchment area a faster trip to Georgetown. With the Gondola, the total travel time to Georgetown drops to less than 30 minutes for a much larger part of the region, including areas of the District with the greatest need for employment opportunities, giving them a faster way to connect with jobs in Georgetown.” [D.C. Policy Center]

Petition Against iPads in Middle School Cafeterias — An online petition, signed by nearly 100 people, seeks to have Arlington Public Schools strengthen its rules regarding iPad use in middle schools. Specifically, the signers want iPads to be used in classrooms and not during lunchtime or recess. Such a policy, the petition creators wrote, would “ensure that APS electronic resources enhance, and do not detract from, the learning process of middle school students.” [Change.org]

More ART Arrival Info IssuesOnce again, Arlington Transit is having problems with its real-time bus arrival system. Officials told ARLnow.com that a technical issue with the contractor that provides the system was to blame. [Twitter]

Native Plant Sale This Weekend — The Long Branch Nature Center will host a sale of “plants that are accustomed to local climate and wildlife” on Saturday afternoon. [Arlington County]

Scott McGeary Lauded — “Decades ago, Scott McGeary’s parents would take him to occasional celebratory dinners at the Key Bridge Marriott, where they would enjoy both the food and the vistas of the nation’s capital… On May 2, McGeary was again at the hotel, this time in the 14th-floor ballroom as he was inducted into the Arlington Business Hall of Fame.” [InsideNova]

Four Mile Run Dye Testing — Arlington County is conducting dye testing along S. Four Mile Run Drive today. Traces of green and red dye may be seen in Four Mile Run as a result. [Twitter]

Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley

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Reaction: Parents Frustrated, Miss Work over APS Tech Failure

Arvaye Robinson, the mother of two elementary school girls she had hoped to enroll in the Arlington Public Schools extended day program, stood in front of the Syphax Education Center this morning during the system’s technical problems that ultimately suspended sign-up indefinitely.

“I’m so disappointed,” Robinson said, exasperated, with her phone in her hand waiting to hear from a school staffer. “I wanted some confirmation.”

After setting an alarm for exactly 7:59 a.m. so she could hop online and enroll her children, Robinson realized that the site was down and that she would have to drive to the center to enroll her children in person. She was told that she would receive a call about placement, but she didn’t feel confident about that.

“They have the means to take payment, but no concrete confirmation,” said Robinson.

A father who overheard ARLnow interviewing Robinson cut into the conversation, calling the situation absurd and saying that it had thrown his work schedule out the window for the second year in a row.

Indeed, this is the second consecutive year that extended day registration has flopped. There are varying reports of exactly how many parents waited in line to secure a spot for their children, but one parent told ARLnow she saw at least 100 people in the Syphax Education Center’s lobby this morning.

The extended day program allows parents “who can’t juggle everything” to leave children in their school’s care before and after classes, according to the program’ director, Bobby Kaplow.

According to Kaplow, after last year’s technical failure with the same vendor, APS spent the year troubleshooting with the contractor, trying to find a solution.

“All year we worked with him, we told him what we needed, we told him what the problem was, can he see it on his end,” Kaplow said, adding that he had demanded that the contractor fly in from Michigan to be on-site for the enrollment rollout today in case any issues cropped up.

“I talked to him 20 minutes before it started today, and said, ‘Are we good?'” Kaplow said. The contractor told the director that there wouldn’t be any problems.

Kaplow suspects that the issue lies in the simultaneous, high numbers of enrollment attempts overloading the system.

Today’s 8 a.m. enrollment start time was just that — a start time. Technically, enrollment is ongoing, but some schools quickly incur a wait list for open spots and parents don’t want their child’s status to remain in limbo. Many wake up and pound the keyboard, as Kaplow put it, hoping to get their child in the right program right away.

He said that this year’s line of waiting parents wasn’t as bad as last year’s, which he recalls went “all the way down the hall and out the door and down the street.”

One mother tried to enroll her daughter in the program both on her computer and her cell phone before eventually going in person to the facility.

“When I tried to, the system was closed off,” she told ARLnow in Spanish. “It was the same last year.”

Typically, she makes $9 an hour as a cleaner. Having to take off the day, without notice, to enroll her daughter this morning was necessary, but it impacts her family financially.

“The worst is that we lost the day and we won’t get paid,” she said, pointing to two friends joining her in line.

Despite the difficulty, that mother values the extended day program, although she added that “when you have a low salary, it’s more or less very expensive.”

“This program is very important,” she added. “It’s just very slow for the people who need it.”

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Arlington School Board Weighs Student Device Policy Changes

The Arlington School Board could soon overhaul the school division’s policy governing how students use electronic devices in classrooms.

Arlington Public Schools officials presented a new version of technology “acceptable use” guidelines for the board to consider on April 19. The policy would create a new set of standards around how students use their own devices in schools, as well as equipment provided by APS.

Though APS has long relied on guidelines governing how students and teachers can use electronic devices and the internet, school staff are in the midst of a wholesale revision of those policies to keep up with advances in technology.

The proposed acceptable use policy for students stipulates that the use of devices is a “privilege, not a right,” and lays out the division’s process for handling incidents where students use electronic devices in inappropriate ways.

“In essence, if you can’t do something off of technology, you can’t do it in technology,” Tara Nattrass, Arlington’s assistant superintendent for teaching and learning, told the board.

The proposed policy also sets limits on how APS can collect student data through electronic devices. Specifically, the document bars APS from collecting “unnecessary personal information by means of its website” and directs the division to only take in data “only to the extent necessary to serve its constituents and the community.”

However, the policy does still allow school officials to archive, read and monitor any content generated on APS-owned devices or networks.

Nattrass stressed to the board that this acceptable use policy does not address issues like screen time limits for younger students or the use of devices at home. However, she noted that officials do plan to release more information on those issues later this summer, and some on the board heartily encouraged Nattrass to keep the community apprised of that process.

“I need to know when the rest of this is going to get done and where this is going to be,” said school board member Nancy Van Doren.

The board is set to vote on the draft policy on May 3.

File photo

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Watchful Mannequin Spooks Residents Near Ballston

Someone placed a mannequin alongside a busy road near Ballston this morning.

The female mannequin was wearing a knit hat, a t-shirt and a sign about being a “DoD based experiment,” a tipster told ARLnow. It was placed at the corner of N. Wakefield Street and N. Carlin Springs Road.

The sign on it referenced Secure Planet, a Ballston-based biometrics and facial recognition technology company. A phone number printed on the sign rings through to a company executive, though it was not answered when an ARLnow.com reporter called Friday afternoon.

At some point, someone placed another typed sign on the mannequin, criticizing the company for alleged privacy violations.

The mannequin, signs and all, appears to have been moved just before the end of the morning rush hour.

“Very bizarre,” the tipster concluded.

Update at 6:30 p.m. — The person who put the second sign on the mannequin discussed it on Twitter yesterday.

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ART Bus Real-Time Information Back Down

Real-time arrival information for ART buses is suffering another outage today (April 5).

The outage comes less than a day after the service was restored from a separate, five-day outage.

Eric Balliet, an Arlington Dept. of Environmental Services spokesman, said that today’s outage was due to “intermittent connectivity issues.” He added that there is not an estimated restoration time at the moment.

An ART service alert was issued at around 1 p.m. today regarding the outage, though commuters were tweeting about the outage as early as 10:37 a.m. this morning.

The repeat outage comes the same day that commuters faced a major WMATA service disruption between the East Falls Church and Clarendon Metro stations. WMATA supplements the ART’s bus service, but is separately operated.

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ART Bus Real-Time Information Restored After Multi-Day Outage

Arlington Transit’s real-time bus arrival information has been restored after being out of service for at least five days.

Arlington County said via Twitter that the ART arrival info was “temporarily unavailable due to technical problems.”

A request for more information relating to the cause of the outage was not immediately responded to by an Arlington Dept. of Environmental Services spokesperson.

Without the arrival times, some riders said they were left waiting for buses that never came.

File photo

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Arlington Youth Have Access to State-of-the-Art Media Training in Clarendon

Much has been written about youth and their media consumption. In Arlington, they have an opportunity to be something more than just consumers — they can become media creators and generate their own high quality content.

Arlington Independent Media (AIM) has offered media training to the community since 1982. In addition to adult and teen programs, AIM offers spring break and summer camps for children as young as eight.

AIM’s Media Production camps are for youth ages 8-13.  Working with expert instructors and media professionals, participants will develop story ideas, write scripts, shoot footage, record audio, act in and edit their own short productions.  In the process, they will be introduced to the basic concepts of media literacy and critical thinking.

All camp sessions run Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. and take place at AIM’s facility in Clarendon.

iPad Movie and Animation Camp

In this one week camp, students learn iPad movie making, stop motion animation and sound effect production while they create several short works.

Spring Break Session — March 26-30
Summer Session — August 6-10

Cost — $299.00

Summer Movie Camps

In this two-week camp, students learn to use professional equipment and work together to develop a story idea, and write, plan, shoot and edit a production that will premiere on the final day of camp.

Session 1 — June 25-July 6
Session 2 — July 9-July 20
Session 3 — July 23-August 3

Cost – $599.00

Radio Production Camp

Campers learn basic audio production, sound effect recording and on-air DJ-ing to create several live and pre-recorded radio programs for air on WERA 96.7FM including a scripted radio play with live Foley sound effects.

Summer Session — August 13-17

Cost — $299.00

For more information, visit www.ArlingtonMedia.org, or phone 703-524-2388.

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Morning Notes

GGW Boosts Gondola — “While [the proposed Georgetown-Rosslyn gondola] might not be the one, most important transportation project in the whole region, it’s a worthwhile way to help people reach jobs and shops and reduce single-passenger car trips.” [Greater Greater Washington]

USB E-Cig Banned at APS — “Schools in Arlington, Virginia, have specifically banned a new type of e-cigarette that has gained popularity among local teenagers: the Juul.” [WTOP]

‘Collision’ to Showcase N. Va. Tech — Arlington and Alexandria’s economic development agencies last week “announced their collaboration in showcasing the brightest and emerging startups on a national platform next month at one of the fastest growing tech conferences in the country.” [Alexandria News]

Beyer Unhappy With Military Helo Report — “A 400-page U.S. Army report on military-helicopter noise in the Washington area has failed to satisfy the member of Congress who authored legislative language requiring its compilation.” [InsideNova]

Snow Predicted for Arlington Tonight — “Expect a sloppy mix of precipitation that slowly transitions from rain to sleet to perhaps snow between early Tuesday morning and Wednesday afternoon.” [Capital Weather Gang]

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Morning Notes

ACFD Black History Month Tweets — The Arlington County Fire Department has been recounting the history of black firefighters in Arlington in commemoration of Black History Month. There were several African-American volunteer fire departments in the county during the first half of the 20th century, serving neighborhoods like Hall’s Hill and “Hell’s Bottom,” which was cleared to make way for the Pentagon during World War II. [Twitter, Twitter]

ARLnow Wins ‘Amazon Thirsty Thursday’ Recognition — Our scoop that an internal Amazon website devoted to its “HQ2” search steered thousands of visits to a two-month-old ARLnow article, has earned us the distinction of being named the “winner” of Washingtonian’s “Amazon Thirsty Thursday” weekly feature. Our article pointing out that Amazon has an office in Arlington was apparently the icing on the thirsty cake. [Washingtonian]

Arlington Among Top Places for Women in Tech — Arlington is tied with St. Paul, Minnesota as the No. 6 best place in the U.S. for women in tech. The District ranks No. 1. [WTOP]

Shamrock Shake Sighting — The Shamrock Shake is back at McDonald’s. We spotted it on the menu at a Lee Highway McD’s yesterday. Some locations have gotten the shake, a harbinger of spring, earlier than others, according to social media reports. [Fox News, Twitter]

Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman

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