Arlington, VA

Morning Notes

Robbery at Lyon Park 7-Eleven — “At approximately 2:30 a.m. on January 3, police were dispatched to the report of an armed robbery. Upon arrival, it was determined that two suspects entered a business and forced two employees behind the counter. Suspect One displayed an object that appeared to be a knife, pushed an employee towards the cash register and forced him to open it, then stole an undisclosed amount of cash and other merchandise.” [Arlington County]

Basketball Refs Still Haven’t Been Paid — “Having been rapped for a lethargic response, Arlington government leaders appear to be ramping up efforts to resolve a lingering dispute over missing payments to referees in the county’s youth-basketball leagues. ‘We will get this done ASAP – by Feb. 1 at the latest,’ said County Board member Matt de Ferranti, who in recent months has been involved in the effort to sort out the situation and get the referees paid.” [InsideNova]

Firefighters Watch ‘Bachelor’ Premiere — “What do firefighters do when it’s late and there’s a break between calls? They have a @BachelorABC viewing party, of course! And in case of any ‘turbulence,’ we are always ready to respond!” [Twitter]

Tracking Bachelor Reaction in Clarendon — Former Bachelorette contestant Chris Bukowski, writing from his Clarendon bar: “At @BracketRoomVA for a viewing party and Hannah B easily got the biggest ovation when she came out of the limo. #TheBachelor” [Twitter]

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ABC’s Good Morning America aired a live segment from Abingdon Elementary in Fairlington Wednesday morning.

The five-minute segment, hosted by meteorologist Ginger Zee, highlighted a donation Amazon made to the nonprofit Rosie Riveters STEM program for girls.

More from the GMA website:

…there are limitations to what the nonprofit can do in terms of free programming for girls without additional funding and resources. The cost of computers, batteries for robots, magnets and more of the supplies required to bring these inventive STEM projects to life add up quickly. In Arlington, the group said their waitlist is approximately 300 girls long.

To celebrate the season of giving, Amazon surprised the nonprofit live on “Good Morning America” by fulfilling their entire wish list with these essential supplies – computers, printers, batteries, magnets and much more — all to continue their mission.

Amazon, which is seeking approval for the first 2.1 million square foot phase of its permanent HQ2 in Pentagon City this weekend, has been particularly active in Arlington recently. The company made a large donation of “wish list” items to local affordable housing provider AHC Inc. earlier this week, while its Amazon Web Services arm has been helping to teach students at Drew Elementary coding this week for Computer Science Education Week.

More on the Abingdon broadcast via social media:

Hurray for Rosie Riveters and Mr Kivitz! Thank you Good Morning America for featuring their wonderful efforts! 🎉

Posted by Abingdon Elementary PTA on Wednesday, December 11, 2019

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A woman who was struck by a dump truck in Rosslyn a year ago, suffering serious injuries and ultimately a leg amputation, is reflecting on her recovery.

Helen Harris was honored at George Washington University Hospital’s 8th annual Trauma Survivors Day earlier this week. Though now able to walk with a prosthetic, Harris is still “on a long road to recovery,” NBC 4 reported.

“I will carry it for the rest of my life,” Harris told NBC 4. “It’s an ongoing struggle, every day gets a little bit better but it’s full of ups and downs.”

Harris was run over by the dump truck on Lee Highway in Rosslyn last December, after pushing her daughter — who was in a stroller — out of the way of the truck while crossing the street.

The truck’s driver, identified at the time as 63-year-old John Washington of Silver Spring, was charged with reckless driving and failure to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk after the crash. The reckless driving charge was dropped and in March he was found guilty on the failure to yield charge, paying a $100 fine and avoiding any jail time, according to court records.

Screen shot (bottom) via NBC 4

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Morning Notes

Silver Spring Man Wins Soggy MCM — “Jordan Tropf just wanted to see what he could do. Turns out, he could win the Marine Corps Marathon. Leading from the start, the 27-year-old Silver Spring resident built a lead of a 1:26 at the halfway point and went on to win by 70 seconds in 2:27:43, much of the second half coming in a driving rain.” [Run Washington, Washington Post, WTOP]

Arlington World Series Surprise on ‘Today’ — The Today Show aired a segment on the Nottingham Elementary School crossing guard who was surprised with World Series tickets from parents and students. [Twitter]

Shirlington Employment Center Moving — “The Shirlington Employment and Education Center (SEEC) is gearing up for a two-digit move – from 22206 to 22204. Facing the need to decamp from its office space (and facility for day laborers to congregate) in its namesake Shirlington, SEEC has worked with the Arlington County government to obtain space in Arlington Mill along the Columbia Pike corridor.” [InsideNova]

Dorsey Pushes for Clearer Metro Refund Policy — “When one Metro train crashed into another soon after a Nationals playoff game, Metro decided to cancel its ‘Rush Hour Promise’ refunds for the following afternoon’s commute… Arlington County Board Chair and Metro Board member Christian Dorsey hopes for more discussion about how explicit the terms should be, even if it is not reasonable to foresee every possible event.” [WTOP]

Nearby: New Bank Near Fairlington — “A new Bank of America location is coming to the Bradlee Shopping Center in Alexandria. The space at 3690G King Street was previously home to Queen Bee Designs.” [ALXnow]

Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf

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Morning Notes

Arlington’s Name Change Centennial — “On Sept. 25, 1919, the Alexandria Gazette published a letter  from the Alexandria County Civic Federation proposing a name change for the County. The letter asserted that Alexandria County was “constantly confused with the City of Alexandria”… Proposed names included George Washington, Arlington, Pocahontas, and Alcova (ALexandria COunty VA).” [Arlington County, InsideNova]

Arlington Nat’l Considering Rule Changes — “Arlington National Cemetery is proposing new rules that would eliminate burial and inurnment eligibility for service members who die on active duty but not in combat, ending a custom that goes back to the cemetery’s founding in 1864. It is one of a series of tough new proposals, requested by the government, that seek to address Arlington’s fast-dwindling space.” [Washington Post]

WJLA May Go Off the Air for Some — Rosslyn-based TV station WJLA (ABC 7) may go dark starting Friday evening for DirecTV, U-verse and AT&T TV Now subscribers. The station’s parent company, Sinclair Broadcasting, is engaged in a heated carriage dispute with AT&T. [FierceVideo. Dallas Morning News]

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Lyon Park barbecue joint Texas Jack’s may be featured in a new reality TV show.

A crew of a new reality show about D.C. area young professionals visited the restaurant’s private dining room last month to film a conversation between one cast member and his father.

The restaurant’s Director of Operations, Remzi Yilmaz, told ARLnow that the cast member himself chose the restaurant as the location.

“This was one of his favorite places,” he said.

Yilmaz said he was not allowed to share details like the name of the show, citing a non-disclosure agreement, but said the crew might be spotted over the next four weeks filming at other area restaurants, as well as landmarks like the Washington Monument

The show is expected to air in January, though the network on which it is airing and other details are murky.

“I think they’re just giving insight into young professionals in this area, and how they live life, and what they go through,” he said.

A camera crew was also spotted last week at Pentagon Row, in Pentagon City, but it’s unclear if the crew was connected with the new reality series.

Texas Jack’s opened in 2015 and replaced the Tallula and EatBar at 2761 Washington Blvd in Lyon Park.

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Morning Notes

‘American Idol’ Bus Spotted in Arlington — The “American Idol” audition tour bus was spotted near Crystal City yesterday morning. The bus is in the area for auditions in D.C. today. [Twitter]

State Change Affecting Arlington Teacher Union — “Arlington School Board members could be gearing up to battle the state government’s powerful Virginia Retirement System (VRS) on a new ruling that impacts the way benefits are calculated for presidents of the Arlington Education Association.” [InsideNova]

Planetarium Closing Next Year — “In September, the David M. Brown Planetarium will once again offer three shows a day for students, plus weekend and select weekday programs for the general public. In January, it will temporarily shut down for more than a year while an adjacent construction project converts the Arlington Education Center into classroom space.” [Arlington Magazine]

Arlington Startup Serving D.C. Schools — “The administration of Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) announced in August that the city would spend $26,400 to partner with LiveSafe, an Arlington, Va., tech company. The move comes in response to students’ repeated pleas to the city to make their commutes safer.” [Washington Post]

Ballston Bar’s Pricey Booze-Free Drinks — “The new Punch Bowl Social in Ballston Quarter mall was designed to cater to millennials (hello photo booths, corn hole, and karaoke). Now they’re jumping on the ‘sober-curious’ trend with a $19 zero-proof punch bowl.” [Washingtonian]

Local Courts Dropping Fare Evasion Cases — “When a rider is cited for not paying the fare to board a bus or train in Northern Virginia, the ticket is more likely to be dropped in the courts than paid. Only 278 of the 1,306 fare evasion citations handled by the Arlington, Fairfax and Alexandria general district courts between July 1, 2017, and June 30, 2019, were paid, according to court records. In those districts, roughly $38,000 in fare evasion fines have gone unpaid in the past two years.” [Washington Post]

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Christian community based in a North Arlington neighborhood is the focus of a new Netflix docuseries called The Family, which alleges that the group is a shadowy right-wing cabal with an immense sphere of influence.

The series premiered on Netflix last Friday (Aug. 9) and has sparked discussion across the internet. The Family alleges that the group called The Fellowship, whose most public role is organizing the National Prayer Breakfast, plays a nebulous role in swaying public policy and government leadership for religious purposes.

The Family is based largely on two books by author Jeff Sharlet, whose time in the organization’s complex in the Woodmont neighborhood is the subject of the first episode of the show. Much of the first episode is reportedly an inside look at the group’s facilities at the end of 24th Street N., near Fort C.F. Smith Park.

At The Cedars — the group’s mansion headquarters — and its grounds, The Fellowship hosts international dignitaries and operates a pair of group homes for young men and women. As in all things, the group has kept a fairly low profile in the neighborhood, though trouble did arise in the early 2000s when some residents of the facility were arrested and pled guilty to two burglaries in the neighborhood.

The show spotlights some conflicts with the neighbors, with members of the Woodmont Civic Association saying The Fellowship has a registry of which neighbors support and which neighbors oppose the organization.

Some of the residents who are critical of The Fellowship have said in the past that the VIP traffic to and from The Cedars is disruptive. Among the high profile visitors to the facility, as detailed by Falls Church News-Press columnist Charlie Clark in 2011:

Hillary Clinton in her memoir wrote of an uplifting lunch in the mansion as a new first lady in 1993; singer Michael Jackson borrowed its rooms soon after the 9/11 attacks; conscience-troubled Republican strategist Lee Atwater and disgraced United Way chairman William Aramony took refuge on its bucolic grounds; so did Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas during his Anita Hill ordeal.

Some attention was focused on the organization in recent years as high-profile sex scandals involving politicians pointed back to The Fellowship. The second episode of the show focuses on the Arlington group’s connection to the C Street Center, a townhouse in D.C. reportedly operated by The Fellowship that housed members of congress at discounted rates.

The show also questions the tax-exempt status of an organization that operates, according to the documentary, more like a private club than a church. According to Arlington County records, the Arlington locations owned by Fellowship Foundation Inc. are considered tax-exempt.

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Arlington resident Roey Hadar, a 23-year-old journalist at WETA-TV in Shirlington, is a Jeopardy champion.

During last night’s episode of the long-running quiz show, which was originally taped in March, Hadar topped five-time champion Sam Kavanaugh, a teacher from Minneapolis, and Jennifer Abel, a graduate student from Vancouver, British Columbia. Hadar walked away with $23,600 in daily winnings, having correctly answered two pivotal Daily Double questions.

Hadar will defend his title on tonight’s episode, facing a teacher from Seattle and a professor from Los Angeles. Jeopardy airs locally at 7:30 p.m. on WJLA (ABC 7).

Hadar live-tweeted during the episode, offering behind-the-scene nuggets like the power outage that almost made him miss the bus to the studio and the quirky ground rules given to contestants before the taping (no wagering $666 or $69). He also revealed that he is still together with his girlfriend, despite host Alex Trebek opining on air that he should “dump her.”

This is not the first time an Arlington resident found success on Jeopardy. Social worker Blair Moorhead notched a victory on an episode that aired in early 2017, while foreign service officer Liz Murphy advanced in the show’s Tournament of Champions following her initial win.

Hadar, a Ballston resident, says he will again be live-tweeting tonight’s episode, offering another interesting show fact: contestants do not receive their prize money until after the episode airs.

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Oz restaurant, owned by “Real Housewives of Potomac” stars Ashley and Michael Darby, is closing after this weekend.

The Clarendon restaurant, which specializes in Australian cuisine and boozy brunches, first opened at 2950 Clarendon Blvd in 2015. Despite some televised internal turmoil, Michael Darby told ARLnow in 2017 that the couple turned things around with the hiring of a new chef, Northern Virginia native Brad Feickert.

In a statement today, Ashley and Michael said the imminent arrival of their first child (Michael has two adult children from a previous marriage) prompted the restaurant’s closure.

Michael and Ashley Darby announce, with regret, that they have decided to close Oz Restaurant and Bar. As you all know, both Michael and Ashley are involved in multiple businesses and are expecting a baby boy in the very near future.  They have decided that there was just not enough time to dedicate the right amount of time to raising their son and continuing to run the restaurant.

‘It has been four years since the restaurant opened and we have had the best employees anyone could ask for and we have made so many new friends who have patronized Oz.’ said Ashley.

‘I’m sad to see my little slice of Australia disappear but I have so many good memories of people enjoying the Australian experience at Oz. We are replacing one Aussie baby with a new one-half Aussie baby.’ said Michael.

Oz will serve its last meal this Sunday with an extended brunch. Please come in this weekend to say goodbye.

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If you tune in to Jeopardy! on Wednesday, July 17, you’ll have a local to root for.

Roey Hadar, a 23-year-old journalist at WETA-TV, represented Arlington during the game show taping in March, though the episode won’t premiere until next month.

Hadar couldn’t say anything about his clues or the results of the game — you’ll just have to see for yourself.

“I had tried out a few times before I got the call, and even then it took roughly two years to get to the point where they called me back,” Hadar said. “I was outside Navy Yard Metro station. It wasn’t a call I was expecting. My girlfriend was there with me, and right before she called the Uber I got the call from L.A. I know my spam calls well, so I picked up and on the other line was a contestant coordinator.”

It had been over 18 months since — the tail end of when you can usually expect to hear back if you got onto Jeopardy! after an audition — and Hadar hadn’t heard anything. And when Hadar said he’d heard about Alex Trebek’s cancer diagnosis, he was worried if he did get to play it wouldn’t be without the legendary host at the helm. Hadar was preparing to take the online test again when the call came in.

The coordinator ran Hadar through some biographical changes. There had been quite a few changes since he first took the test online in April 2017. He moved from New Jersey to Ballston, for one, and he’d gone from a student to working at the WETA show Washington Week.

Because Hadar worked for a TV station, he had to check with his office to see if it would be all right to go, but Hadar said his boss was insistent that he go be on the show. He had two weeks notice, so Hadar binge-watched the show, standing in front of the TV with a spotlight on his face and pressing down on a spring-loaded toilet paper holder to try and get the answers before the contestants.

Hadar said the TV production aspect of the show wasn’t a shock because of his work experience, and years of quiz bowl in high school and at Georgetown University prepared him for handling the buzzer, but seeing the game show from another angle was the biggest surprise.

“It felt like the game had come to life around me,” Hadar said. “It was surreal being up there and actually having to call out clues and facing the wrong way — seeing the board and set in a certain way — there was a bit of a shock seeing everything in a reverse angle.”

Despite being a competition, Hadar said everyone from the staff to the other contestants were incredibly friendly.

After getting home from the show, Hadar said he thought he’d have Jeopardy! fatigue, but instead he’s found himself locked in — watching the rise of fall of James Holzhauer in the time between his show taping and the air date.

“I always had a great respect for contestants, but now I feel like I can better put myself in their shoes,” Hadar said. “I can see how when players are stressing or when they’re trying to frantically hit the buzzer but they rang in too early; things that are a little more subtle that you’d know from playing it.”

But that doesn’t stop Hadar from shouting answers at the television like everyone else, he said.

Photo courtesy Roey Hadar

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