NAFTA Talks in Arlington — A round of talks among the U.S., Canada and Mexico about updating the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is taking place in Arlington. “The Trump administration,” according to reports, “has presented a series of hard-line proposals that partners Canada and Mexico say will be tough to accept.” [CNBC]
Arlington Co. Makes New Acquisitions — Rosslyn-based tech company Higher Logic, which describes itself as “an industry leader in cloud-based community platforms,” has acquired a pair of marketing automation software companies, Informz and Real Magnet. Higher Logic now has over 340 employees and 2,600 customers, the company says. [Real Magnet]
Nearby: Alexandria Considering Nixing Water Park — The City of Alexandria is considering not renewing the lease of the Great Waves Waterpark along Cameron Run. Also, of particular concern to Arlington and other local jurisdictions, it is reportedly considering pulling out of the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority. [Washington Post]
Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley
Car Fire on 23rd Street N. — A car was engulfed in flames on 23rd Street N. near the Overlee pool last night just before 6:30 p.m. The fire department arrived on scene and quickly extinguished the fire. [Twitter]
Local Tech Firm Benefiting from Trump — Giant Oak, a low-profile data mining firm based in Clarendon, has been awarded nearly $3 million in contracts from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) since President Donald Trump took office. Most of the contracts are for “social media data analytics.” [Forbes]
Arlington On-Time Grad Rate Dips — “Arlington Public Schools’ on-time-graduation rate dipped slightly in 2017, remaining roughly on par with the state average, according to figures reported Sept. 27. The school system’s on-time-graduation rate of 90.8 percent was down from 91.1 percent a year before and the lowest since 2012.” [InsideNova]
No ‘Code Red’ Days This Year — Summer is over and the D.C. area got through it with no “code red” and fewer “code orange” low air quality days. “We’ve seen a dramatic improvement in the region’s air quality thanks to more than a decade of action and coordination at all levels of government,” said Hans Riemer, chair of the Metropolitan Washington Air Quality Committee. [MWCOG]
Road Closures for Shirlington Oktoberfest — Campbell Avenue and part of S. Randolph Street in Shirlington will be closed most of the day Saturday for the annual Shirlington Oktoberfest, which runs from noon to 7 p.m. [Arlington County]
County Awarded for Economic Development Efforts — “Arlington Economic Development (AED) has been honored with three Excellence in Economic Development Awards by the International Economic Development Council (IEDC). The awards were presented at a ceremony earlier this month during the IEDC Annual Conference in Toronto.” [Arlington County]
Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley
County Board Approves Construction Contracts — At its meeting Saturday, the Arlington County Board approved a pair of contracts: a $2.5 million contract to build phase two of the Washington Blvd Trail project and a $6.6 million contract to remove an elevated roadway through part of Crystal City. [Arlington County]
Firefighters Save Kittens — “A passerby heard the kittens crying from a compost box and saw one of them with its neck stuck between the posts. The Good Samaritan flagged down a nearby firetruck and the firefighters were able to free the kittens. Animal Control was then called to the scene to help locate all of the kittens and bring them to safety.” [WJLA]
Lubber Run Community Center Design OKed — The County Board has given its approval to the conceptual design for the new Lubber Run Community Center and park, which will replace the original community center, built in 1956. The next steps in the $48 million project are for the design to be completed and the facility to be built. [Arlington County, InsideNova]
Arlington Company Raises $42 Million — Ballston-based Federated Wireless, which creates shared spectrum technology for the wireless industry, has raised $42 million in Series B investment. [VC News Daily]
‘Kayaktivists’ Protest Near Pentagon — A group of ‘kayaktivist’ protesters raised banners that said “Stop War on Planet” and “No Wars for Oil” in the Pentagon Lagoon, near the Pentagon and Columbia Marina, yesterday. [Facebook]
Victories for Yorktown, Wakefield — The Yorktown (3-0) and Wakefield (2-1) varsity football teams both won at home this weekend. Washington-Lee (0-3) lost and remains winless. [InsideNova]
Flickr pool photo by Jim Webster
Arlington Nonprofit Gets State Grant — “Governor Terry McAuliffe today announced a $175,000 grant to La Cocina VA, a nonprofit workforce development organization in Arlington County, to enhance its culinary skills training facility, create a business plan training course, and develop a small business competition.” [Gov. Terry McAuliffe]
Actual Driverless Car in Arlington — Moving beyond vans with people dressed as car seats, an actual driverless car has now taken to the streets within Arlington County. An autonomous vehicle developed by Carnegie Mellon University drove itself around Ft. Myer yesterday as part of the military base’s Industry Day event. [Facebook]
Nestle Buys Blue Bottle — Nestle, which is still moving into its new U.S. headquarters in Rosslyn, has bought Oakland, Ca.-based hipster coffee brand Blue Bottle. Could that mean that a Blue Bottle location in Arlington is around the corner? Possibly, but the company already has a location across the river in Georgetown. [Washington Business Journal, Nestle]
Arlington Gets Gigabit Internet — Comcast announced earlier this week that “it has launched a new Internet service in Arlington that will deliver speeds up to 1 Gigabit-per-second (Gbps) to residential and business customers.” According to a press release, “these speeds will be among the fastest and most widely available,” utilizing DOCSIS 3.1 technology. The cost of the service is $79.99 a month with a one-year contract or $104.95 a month without.
Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman
Lost Dog Reunited With Owner — A dog that disappeared under mysterious circumstances is back at home this morning, her owner says, after the man who picked her up as she was wandering around North Arlington saw a sign with the dog’s photo and dialed the phone number on it. [Facebook]
County Lauded for Digital Prowess — Arlington has been named one of the “top 5 counties for digital government” by StateTech magazine. The county was lauded for “embracing open data and transparency” in decision making and citizen outreach. [StateTech]
Death at Belvedere Condos — A man reportedly jumped to his death at the Belvedere Condominiums near Rosslyn on Friday. The complex’s pool and pool deck were closed Friday as police investigated the incident.
Priest Who Admitted KKK Past Still Venerated Confederacy — A priest in the Catholic Diocese of Arlington might not have been totally forthcoming when he admitted and renounced his KKK activity as a young man. Even after becoming a priest, in the early 2000s, Rev. William Aitcheson “was a ‘fervent advocate of the Confederacy’ who would joke about ‘Saint Robert E. Lee’ in homilies at the church,” one former student of his recalled. [Washington Post, Washington Post]
Nearby: Two Men Jump From Aqueduct Bridge — One man is dead and another in grave condition after both jumped from the Aqueduct Bridge in Georgetown, near the Key Bridge, into the Potomac River. A friend of the men said they were hanging out on the bridge when one decided to jump, then the other jumped in to save him. Boats and and a helicopter were used as part of the subsequent rescue operation. [NBC Washington]
As noted this morning, Virginia has made it legal to test self-driving car technologies in the Commonwealth.
That policy is getting additional attention after a seemingly driverless van was spotted driving around Clarendon last week and, this week, was revealed to be a human-driven Virginia Tech research project.
While the mysterious van was not self-driving, automated vehicle testing is expected to take place in Northern Virginia, as we wrote last week.
VDOT and FHWA recently announced that Virginia Tech would be conducting automated vehicle testing along I-95, I-495, I-66, Route 50 and Route 29. The announcement did not mention testing on primary streets along Metro corridors, however WTOP reported in May that “self-driving cars already on Virginia roads, even if you don’t realize it.”
Self-driving vehicles have the potential to save thousands of lives each year by reducing human-caused crashes while also freeing up drivers to focus on other tasks during their daily commute. Such technology could also become an economic engine for the region, should Northern Virginia become a leader in the field.
On the other hand, testing a new technology in a heavily populated region certainly comes with risks. And many fear the unknown with self-driving cars: what if the tech has flaws and causes crashes?
What do you think of automated vehicle testing in Northern Virginia?
The McDonald’s on Arlington’s western end of Columbia Pike has reopened after a renovation.
The fast food restaurant at 5005 Columbia Pike closed on June 20 for the refit, and reopened to the public on this past Monday, a spokeswoman said, with updated decor and fixtures and the addition of some new ordering technology.
During the closure, workers added self-service kiosks for customers to place their orders electronically. A spokeswoman said that technology has been rolled out in more than 2,500 McDonald’s restaurants, which includes the recently-opened one at Central Place in Rosslyn.
The restaurant also introduced table service as part of the revamp, which a spokeswoman said “provides a more relaxing and custom dining experience.”
A grand re-opening ceremony is planned from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday (Aug. 5), and will include face painting, games, food and drink and music by local Spanish language radio station El Zol.
Complaint Begets No Parking Signs Begets Complaints — Residents of a dead-end street in the Woodmont neighborhood are complaining after Arlington took eight street parking spaces away, and WaPo is on it. The no parking signs went up in response to a resident’s complaint about the street being too narrow. [Washington Post]
Driverless Van Update — Who or what is behind the driverless van spotted cruising around Clarendon yesterday evening? We still don’t know for sure, but a Virginia Tech spokeswoman offered “no comment” this morning in response to our inquiry. [ARLnow]
Route 110 Lane Closures — “Route 110 at the Route 27 interchange and local ramps will have nighttime closures from Monday, Aug. 7 to Thursday, Aug. 24 in order to install bridge beams, according to the Virginia Department of Transportation.” [VDOT]
Yelp Says Nope to Arlington — Online review site Yelp has leased 52,000 square feet of office space near the Verizon Center in D.C. for a new East Coast hub. The company was also considering office space in Rosslyn but, despite its CEO’s Arlington connection, decided against it. [Washington Business Journal]
Photo courtesy Ed S.
Honeygrow, a healthy fast-casual eatery that serves custom salads and stir-fry dishes, has started to incorporate virtual reality when training its new employees in Arlington.
“The company is expanding so much but we still want to keep our core values,” said a spokeswoman for Honeygrow, which opened its Pentagon City mall location in 2016.
Honeygrow uses virtual reality for training to ensure that each new employee learns the company’s core values, which can be left in the dust once businesses undergo rapid expansion. Honeygrow’s first location opened in 2012 in Philadelphia but the company has grown so quickly that by the end of 2017, Honeygrow will have expanded to approximately 25 stores, spanning from Boston to Chicago and as far south as Pentagon City, which is one of two locations in the D.C. area
“This [virtual reality] has enabled us to be able to consistently train everybody,” said Brennagh Tourigney, a district manager for Honeygrow.
The virtual reality program was launched in May 2017. Honeygrow’s founder and CEO, Justin Rosenberg, was inspired to use virtual reality at his company when he received a cardboard virtual reality with his Sunday New York Times.
“It engages the team members,” said Tourigney. “This kind of keeps people excited, it sets us apart from our competitors.”
The virtual reality training does not replace hands-on training, but is an additional component. On orientation day, new workers are given the goggles and taken on a tour of a typical Honeygrow restaurant.
The video teaches trainees what the different roles of the workers are: they watch somebody make a salad, they observe a “noodler” carefully prepare noodles so they are a Goldilocks-approved “just right” — not too hard or too soft — and they see how cashiers ensure each order was correctly made. The video even has an interactive part when the goggles take trainees into the Honeygrow refrigerator.
Trainees are taught how to place food in the refrigerator, as foods served raw always go on the top. They must then use a clicker to place the different meats in correct order on the shelves and cannot go on to the next part of the video until they put fish on the top shelf, then beef, then pork and finally, chicken on the bottom shelf.
“I’ve never been in a working kitchen before, but I understand it is a very tough environment so this is a great way to assimilate new hires into a fast-paced kitchen environment, where a million things are going on at once,” said the spokeswoman.
The video was filmed in Honeygrow’s Cherry Hill location in New Jersey. Not a single person featured in the video was an actor, but were employees. Rosenberg introduces the video and gives closing remarks at the end.
“Because it’s led by our CEO and founder, it’s a great way to bring people into the community. You really feel like you’re part of the Honeygrow family from the minute you start,” said the spokeswoman.
A local YouTube personality waited at a red light near Virginia Hospital Center for 20 minutes earlier this week, and posted his experience to his channel.
Angelo, who describes himself as the creative director of the FlyingOverTr0ut channel, says he makes “sketches, commercial parodies, music videos, short films, drama, 9 hour videos of me sleeping, unauthorized T-Mobile commercials, and videos about my easily confused Greek mom.”
But a video posted July 18 shows him having a more troubling experience. It shows Angelo waiting at a red light at the intersection of Washington Blvd and N. George Mason Drive in Waycroft-Woodlawn for more than 20 minutes.
A timer in the bottom-right corner shows he waited 20 minutes and 30 seconds for the light to change at approximately 2:30 a.m.
The full video is below, although be warned there is strong language and it may not be suitable for viewing at work.
— Mike Lewan (@mlewan3) July 21, 2017
And for those with slightly less time to spare, Angelo posted an edited version of what he describes as his “expose of this intersection,” edited by fellow YouTube user gr18vidz14kidz.
A spokesman for the county’s Department of Environmental Services said they responded to his inquiry on Twitter, and that crews “improved the signal timing this week and will continue to monitor the timing at the intersection.”
Photo via Google Maps.
The award recognizes the use of technology in areas of open government, transparency, citizen engagement, cyber security and operations. Arlington was the winner among counties with a population of 150,000-249,999 people.
Its open government program won recognition for its work using technology to make government transactions, planning and decision-making more accessible and transparent. The program introduced an app this year allowing access to the Arlington Public Library catalog, and helped establish an Open Data Advisory Group that uses data-driven analysis to inform policy.
The county also received credit for live-streaming County Board meetings, work sessions and some commission meetings as part of the open government program.
The award recognized the Department of Technology’s “Defining Arlington’s Digital Destiny Campaign,” which hosts a series of public discussions with residents, businesses and industry leaders to explore how Arlington can use technology to enhance the quality of life for all.
The county’s dark fiber network, ConnectArlington, also received credit for supporting government operations and links to Arlington Public Schools, along with its expansion to include Arlington businesses. The network initially linked all county and APS facilities with high-speed broadband.
“This award acknowledges not only the county’s commitment to open, accessible and transparent government and to encouraging engagement, but also the creativity and hard work of a county staff that is innovative in its approach to digital services,” Arlington County Board chair Jay Fisette said in a statement.
County representatives will be presented with the award at the National Association of Counties’ annual conference on Saturday (July 22) in Columbus, Ohio.
Arlington Independent Media’s content is now available online on demand.
It is a part of AIM’s effort to make local productions more accessible to those around Arlington or elsewhere.
With the on demand option, AIM programs can be viewed online, from home or elsewhere. The move is intended to help expand AIM’s viewership beyond those who have access to the network’s cable channel via Comcast or Verizon.
The website update also features a more detailed schedule of AIM’s public access programming.
More from an AIM press release:
A new web platform has arrived for video programming at Arlington Independent Media. For the first time in its history, starting on July 14th, 2017, AIM will launch a video-on-demand capability for content produced through its facilities. It will also offer a more detailed lineup of scheduled programming, specific to the very minute that a program airs on its television channels, Comcast 69 and Verizon 38. Together these resources will improve Arlington County’s access to view and enjoy a wide array of diverse content created by local producers, including public forums, newscasts, and talk shows.
All video programming applications have been enhanced and freshly synchronized on the Arlington Independent Media website, www.arlingtonmedia.org. A live stream is available for every viewer living within and outside of Arlington County to watch, along with updated information about current programs. Keep an eye out for the stream’s slideshow graphics, which include notices on training workshops, events, and announcements from AIM.
These additions enhance AIM’s longtime mission to bring independent voices together, to make people into producers, not just consumers, of media, and to facilitate freedom of expression in the community. Now AIM welcomes you to experience the next level of enriching that goal. Raise your voice!
DOE Highlights Discovery Elementary — The U.S. Department of Energy has profiled Arlington’s Discovery Elementary in a new video. DOE lauds the school for its net zero energy design, which “saves $100,000 per year in utility costs, enough to cover the salaries of two teachers” and was implemented under-budget. [YouTube, Blue Virginia]
Hackathon in Clarendon — Capital One is holding a Women in Tech hackathon at its Clarendon “lab” office next week. “Attendees will have the opportunity to ‘create a technical solution for Women Who Code that empowers girls and women to stay in the tech field.'” [Technical.ly DC, Women in Tech Demo Day]
Arlington Native Pens New Bodice Ripper — On the heels of the success of her debut novel, Seven Days, Arlington’s Ariel Atwell (the pen name of Leslie Aun) has written a follow-up, Twenty-One Nights. The Regency romance is No. 28 on Amazon’s chart for that category. [Amazon]
Nearby: JBG Announces New HQ in Bethesda — In a bit of a blow to Arlington, JBG has announced that it will be opening a new headquarters in downtown Bethesda. JBG has numerous properties in Arlington and will soon be merging with Vornado’s D.C. division, which includes extensive holdings in Arlington. [Bethesda Beat]
Flickr pool photo by Bekah Richards
Arlington County’s public libraries offer free access to online learning service Lynda, home to video tutorials on software, business, creatives skills, computer programming and more.
Now owned by Linkedin, Lynda offers more than 9,000 courses for use by individuals, schools and companies. Subscriptions start at $19.99 per month, but anyone with an Arlington library card can access it for free by setting up an account using their card number and PIN.
(On the library homepage there is also a link to the Lynda sign-in page that can be accessed by clicking on “Learning Tools” via the “Explore” tab.)
After an account is set up, users can fill in a profile and their interests, which enables Lynda to recommend relevant videos under its “My Interests” tab. Videos can also be found on the homepage or by using the search feature.
For those having trouble local library branches can provide assistance or you can call the Central Library for more information at 703-228-5959. The library offered an in-person tutorial on using Lynda Monday.
Alamo Drafthouse Coming to Crystal City — An Alamo Drafthouse Cinema will be coming to Crystal City to anchor a residential redevelopment by the JBG Smith. The redevelopment will convert the aging office building at 1750 Crystal Drive to a gleaming glass-and-metal residential building while topping it with a six-story addition. Also planned is an as-yet unsigned “specialty grocer” — think: Trader Joe’s or something similar. [Washington Business Journal]
Home Prices Rise in Arlington — “Long & Foster Real Estate Inc. says the median selling price in Arlington County last month was $613,500, up 15 percent from May of 2016. The change was based on 350 closed sales in Arlington in May.” [WTOP]
County Looking for More Tech Grant Recipients — Arlington Economic Development is looking for more tech companies to lure to Arlington with its $1 million “Gazelle Grant” program. AED is seeking another 8-13 companies that are growing by at least 30 percent over a three year period and are willing to commit to at least a three year lease. [Technical.ly DC]