Arlington, VA

Morning Notes

Special County Board Meeting Planned — On Thursday at 6 p.m., the Arlington County Board “will hold a special meeting for a listening session on racial justice, systemic racism and policing. The County Board special meeting will be conducted using electronic means.” [Arlington County]

County Commissions Still Mostly Inactive — “Faced with a growing rebellion over the lack of meetings by Arlington government advisory panels, County Board members and top staff on June 13 offered (slightly defensive) apologies – but not much of a roadmap forward. Board members were responding to a June 9 letter sent to them by 25 chairs of advisory groups, complaining that the local government has been lagging in re-starting meetings that largely have been on hold since the COVID-19 pandemic struck in March.” [InsideNova]

Pandemic Affects College Plans — From a 60 Minutes segment on Sunday: “The struggle extends to those already in college who are laboring to pay tuition and are weighed down by debt like 20-year-old Katherine Trejo of Arlington, Virginia. The daughter of a single mom from Bolivia, Katherine was supposed to graduate from George Mason next year. She is the first person in her family to attend college.” [CBS News]

Summer School Registration Underway — “Registration for distance learning secondary summer school is underway. Elementary students who qualify to participate in the Elementary Summer Learning Program will automatically be registered by APS.” [Arlington Public Schools]

Guilty Plea in Case Involving Arlington Company — “A former Arlington business executive pleaded guilty today to embezzling nearly $8 million that was intended to settle claims by children who alleged they were victims of medical malpractice. According to court documents, Joseph E. Gargan, 59, of Round Hill, was the Chief Executive Office of the Pension Company, Inc., an Arlington business that would execute settlement agreements entered into between civil litigants.” [Dept. of Justice]

ARLnow Operating Remotely — Since the first confirmed local coronavirus case in March, ARLnow’s employees have been working from home. We plan to continue working remotely until 2021, and may continue to have most employees work remotely most of the time after that. [Washingtonian]

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Arlington County Police have charged two juvenile suspects in connection with an alleged burglary in Green Valley that drew national media attention.

Police say the two juveniles broke into the store —  the Arlington Smoke Shop at 2428 Shirlington Road — early on a Sunday morning in late March and were in the process of stealing items when an employee emerged from a backroom with a gun and opened fire.

One of the suspects was shot “point blank in the back,” and the shooting was caught on video surveillance, prosecutors said. The employee, 33-year-old Hamzeh Abushariah, is now facing serious charges including Malicious Wounding. Gun rights advocates have taken up his cause, which has received national attention on Fox News and other, mostly conservative-leaning media outlets.

While Abushariah’s case is pending, police today announced that two of the alleged burglars are also now facing a slew of charges.

“Charges have been sought against two juvenile suspects related to the breaking and entering which occurred on March 29,” ACPD said. “The suspects have been charged with Burglary, Attempted Grand Larceny, Conspiracy to Commit a Felony, Conspiracy to Commit Larceny and Destruction of Property. In accordance with Virginia law, their identities are not releasable.”

An investigation into the role of a third suspect — who has not yet been charged — “is ongoing,” police said.

The individual who was shot was one of the two suspects facing charges, Arlington County Police spokeswoman Ashley Savage tells ARLnow. That suspect “remains in a medical facility,” she said.

Photo via Google

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Morning Notes

VHC Has Supplies, Extra Beds — “Virginia Hospital Center officials said not all of their 394 beds are full at the moment and that the hospital could expand above 400 in the case of a surge… Melody Dickerson, chief nursing officer at VHC, said thanks to changes such as extending the life of personal protective equipment (PPE), under new CDC guidelines, they expect to have enough for at least next month, assuming shipments continue as expected.” [Washington Post]

Bayou Bakery Owner on CNBC — While working to give away food to those in need, Bayou Bakery is facing its own challenges. Chef and owner David Guas appeared on CNBC’s Squawk Box Tuesday morning and discussed his decision to close and lay off all of his staff, while also working to apply for loans and eventually reopen. [CNBC]

Pile Driving Starting Soon at HQ2 Site — “Clark Construction Group, the lead HQ2 contractor, is planning to start a particularly noisy bit of work this week… It does have a solution, of sorts, for those nonessential workers who are sheltering in place. ‘They have provided us with ear plugs to help us deal with the noise, knowing that many of you are working from home,’ Aura management wrote.” [Washington Business Journal]

New Grocery Store Changes — Harris Teeter and Giant stores will be limiting the number of shoppers in their stores, in the interest of social distancing. Giant is also implementing one-way aisles. [Washington Business Journal, WTOP]

Beyer Wants Temperature Checks at Airports — “Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA) today wrote to Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf urging the adoption of stricter measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 at American airports… such as enforcing social distancing, implementing temperature checks for travelers, providing guidance on how to self-quarantine for exiting travelers, and protective equipment for staff.” [Press Release]

‘Virus Vigilantes’ on the Lookout — ARLnow has been getting a deluge of emails, tips and tweets from locals concerned about other people not maintaining social distancing. Surreptitious photos of teens on sidewalks, construction workers at jobs sites, and even unsuspecting people in parks have been sent our way. It’s apparently part of a national trend of “virus vigilantism,” as people take it upon themselves to enforce health guidelines.

Glebe Elementary Choir Performs Online — Barrett Elementary got a shout out from Sir Elton himself for its staff dance video, but Barrett is not the only Arlington school creating music videos. Glebe Elementary made its own video recently, featuring the school’s fifth grade choir together performing “We Want to Sing” from their homes. [YouTube]

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The owner of a local store went on Fox News’ Tucker Carlson Tonight last night to discuss the arrest of a store employee for shooting a would-be robber.

Jowan Zuber, owner of Arlington Smoke Shop in the Green Valley neighborhood, said 33-year-old Hamzeh Abushariah was sleeping in the store’s back office when he was awoken by loud noises. He encountered three masked suspects breaking in and fired three shots to scare them off, Zuber claimed.

One of the suspects, a boy under 18 years of age, was struck and suffered serious but non-life-threatening injuries, police said.

To Zuber’s surprise, police and the Commonwealth’s Attorney decided to level felony charges against Abushariah that could land him in prison for upwards of two decades, if convicted. Abushariah was denied bond, Zuber said, leading to concerns for his health while confined during the coronavirus epidemic.

“We thought we’re in the right. Three masked men at 4:30 on a Sunday morning,” Zuber told Carlson. “This is very sad for America today, as American citizens practicing the Second Amendment to protect the store and the lives.”

Zuber claimed that police asked Abushariah, “why didn’t you run out the back door?”

“This [tells] the criminals out there, hey we can rob stuff, kill people, hurt people, and guess what — people have to run out the back door,” Zuber said. “This is mind boggling.”

The Commonwealth’s Attorney Office, led by reform-minded prosecutor Parisa Dehghani-Tafti, defended the decision to charge Abushariah earlier this week.

“There’s evidence we are not at liberty to share that support the charges, the decision was not made lightly,” the office said on Twitter.

Update at noon — The Arlington County Republican Committee has weighed in on the controversy via Twitter, calling for charges against Abushariah to be dropped.

Update on 4/24/20 — Two of the break-in suspects are now facing charges.

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(Updated 1:30 p.m.) Fledgling media production company WBITN is moving into a Rosslyn condo building basement after approval at an Arlington County Board meeting on Saturday.

The approval allows WBITN — which stands for We Build It New — to move into a 4,172 square foot audio-visual studio on the lower level of the River Place South complex (1011 Arlington Blvd). The arrangement includes 15 parking spaces.

In a video tour, Chief Editor Diane Kim said the new studio will include two TV studios, photography studios, a DIY studio, a video editing room and audio room, and a room for hair and makeup.

“Great things are coming for WBITN,” Kim said. “Thanks for watching and I’ll see you here.”

The item was approved as part of the Board’s consent agenda with no objections or discussion.

Photo via WBITN/Facebook

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If you’re sheltering in place at home and need something to do tonight, you could root on an Arlington resident as she competes on Jeopardy.

Emmy Crawford, a program officer from Arlington, will appear as a contestant on “America’s Favorite Quiz Show” tonight. She’ll compete against a research compliance manager from Silver Spring, Maryland and — the winner of Tuesday night’s episode — an adjunct professor from New York City.

The show is taped in advance, which explains how it is still airing new episodes after yesterday’s announcement that it was suspending production. Jeopardy’s Alex Trebek has continued to host the show despite his battle with stage 4 pancreatic cancer.

Jeopardy airs locally at 7:30 p.m. on WJLA (ABC 7).

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Progress is being made on an expansion plan for public broadcaster WETA’s Shirlington offices.

The plan is to construct a four-story addition between the existing office building, at 3939 Campbell Avenue, and its above-ground parking garage. The 17,000 square foot addition would then house the WETA studios — and the approximately 130 employees, according to county documents — that produce the national PBS NewsHour broadcast.

The current NewsHour studios, on 27th Street S. near the Weenie Beanie, are set to be sold to Arlington County and eventually torn down to expand the soon-to-be-renovated Jennie Dean Park.

Arlington County is expected to pay WETA $8 million for the property while also providing economic development incentives for the broadcaster to stay in Arlington and expand its offices, the Washington Business Journal reported in December.

“The goal is to bring the Purchase and Sale Agreement for the WETA Studio property, and the Economic Development Incentives agreement between WETA and the County, to the Board concurrently,” a county spokeswoman told ARLnow this afternoon. “We anticipate these items will go the County Board this spring — April or shortly after.”

The site plan amendment for the WETA expansion is set to be discussed by Arlington’s Site Plan Review Committee on Monday. Public hearings and County Board consideration is expected later this spring, “shortly after the two aforementioned agreements are approved,” the spokeswoman said.

Photo (2) via Google Maps

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Morning Notes

Lane Closures Near Ballston — Sewer relining work is closing the right-hand lane of portions of Fairfax Drive and Wilson Blvd in the Bluemont neighborhood, near Ballston. [Twitter]

Arlington’s Young Population Drives Trends — “One of the reasons Virginia’s Arlington County is consistently rated highest for health and fitness is because of its young demographic. Take Ballston, for example, where 47.7% of the adult population is between 25 and 44 years old.” [WTOP]

Courthouse Metro Rescue Makes National News — “We would like to thank @ABCWorldNews for broadcasting our rescue of a @wmata rider last Friday. The patient is in stable condition. If you find yourself on the tracks and are unable to exit, roll towards the platform side to the area of refuge.” [Twitter, ABC News]

Fort Myer Gate Temporarily Closed — “Attention DoD ID card holders: @JBMHH’s Old Post Chapel Gate that provides entry onto the base from Arlington National Cemetery will be temporarily closed beginning today through the end of April for construction.” [Twitter, Twitter]

Nearby: Proposed Arlandria Redevelopment — A “D.C. developer filed preliminary plans with Alexandria earlier this month for the project, looking to completely overhaul a Mount Vernon Avenue shopping center near Four Mile Run Park, now called Del Ray North. It’s currently home to a MOM’s Organic Market, but has seen a variety of retail vacancies recently.” [Washington Business Journal]

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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:

https://www.facebook.com/AbingdonElementaryPTA/photos/a.576958229028424/2740930249297867/?type=3&theater

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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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