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Morning Notes

It’s the End of Summers — The former Summers restaurant in Courthouse was torn down yesterday, making way for a new apartment development. Video of the demolition shows water being sprayed to control dust as the building was razed. [Twitter]

Staffing Concerns At 911 Dispatch Center — “The head of Arlington, Virginia’s Emergency Communications Center is addressing concerns that its current setup is problematic and even potentially dangerous. ‘We are like every other 911 center in the country, which has traditionally struggled with staffing,’ center administrator Dave Mulholland told WTOP. ‘We’re going to be very honest in acknowledging not every shift has optimal staffing.’ However, Mulholland maintains that crucial positions have always remained filled, and that more people are being trained to fill needed roles.” [WTOP]

Lebanese Taverna Helping to Feed Refugees — “When word came that thousands of Afghan refugees would be landing at Dulles in late August after their country fell to the Taliban, World Central Kitchen mobilized to make sure those reaching the U.S. after a harrowing journey would be greeted with a hot meal. The nonprofit’s first call was to Grace Abi-Najm Shea, one of five siblings behind Lebanese Taverna… Of the 61,298 meals WCK served there between Aug. 25 and Sept. 10, 5,037 came from Lebanese Taverna.” [Washington City Paper]

County Board May Modify Hotel Tax — “Arlington County is weighing whether to tax hotel guests for the total cost of their stay, including fees and other charges, and not just the cost of the room. The potential change to the transient occupancy tax — the revenue from which has collapsed amid the pandemic, affecting Arlington’s incentive arrangement with Amazon.com Inc. — follows changes to the tax definition in the state code adopted by the Virginia General Assembly.” [Washington Business Journal]

Much of Crystal City Is Now Carbon Neutral — “JBG SMITH, a leading owner and developer of high-quality, mixed-use properties in the Washington, DC market, today announced it has achieved carbon neutrality across its entire 16.1 million square foot operating portfolio. Building on this accomplishment, JBG SMITH intends for its properties to maintain carbon neutral operations annually.” [BusinessWire]

Tucker Rants About Beyer — Fox News opinion host Tucker Carlson called Rep. Don Beyer “a fashionably radical car dealer from Arlington” on his show earlier this week, in a segment about vaccine mandates. But Beyer’s communications director says that the local congressman, who is actually an Alexandria resident, “does not own any auto dealerships and has not for years.” [Twitter]

Harris Teeter Stores Cutting Hours — “Harris Teeter stores nationwide will be reducing their store hours until further notice, citing the shortage of labor caused by the COVID-19 pandemic… Starting Wednesday, Sept. 15, all Harris Teeters will be open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Stores in Northern Virginia have previously been open 24 hours, or until 11 p.m.” [InsideNova]

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Morning Notes

Some Automatic Ped Signals Ending — “The County will be rolling back automatic pedestrian phase activations at several signalized intersections across Arlington. This measure was enacted in 2020 in response to low traffic volumes due to the COVID-19 pandemic and to minimize the need to press push buttons to trigger the pedestrian phase at a signal. This initiative was accompanied by ‘Do Not Push’ signage posted at various intersections.” [Arlington County, Twitter]

Mostly Back to Usual for School Buses — “APS will operate with normal bus capacity and follow normal procedures. Properly fitted masks are required for everyone on school buses and inside schools. There will be no temperature checks or verification of health screening completion upon arrival at the bus or school. Families will continue to receive the daily Qualtrics Symptom Screener as a reminder to complete health screening with their children prior to arrival at the bus, and to check temperatures daily. Please keep students home if they are sick.” [Arlington Public Schools]

Armed Robbery of Phone in Penrose — “The victim and suspect connected online regarding the sale of a cellphone. When the male victim arrived at the agreed upon location, he approached the two suspects and asked if he could see the cellphone prior to purchasing. Suspect One reached into his backpack, brandished a firearm and demanded the victim give him all of his money while Suspect Two brandished a knife. The victim gave the suspects an undisclosed amount of cash and the two fled the scene on bikes.” [ACPD]

AWLA Caring for Cat Hit By Car — “Last week, Gomez was hit by a car and needs eye removal surgery, a weight -gain diet and monitoring for neurological symptoms. You can make sure Gomez, and more pets like him, get the lifesaving care they need by donating.” [Twitter]

County Mulls Joining Sports Event Consortium — “Should Arlington government leaders wish to join an emerging regional consortium aimed at jointly promoting sports facilities in Northern Virginia, they’d be welcome to do so, officials with the new group said. In return, Arlington officials said they would be interested in being part of the effort down the road, if opportunities present themselves.” [Sun Gazette]

Free Cuts for Kids at Local Barbershop — “Moore’s Barber Shop in Arlington is part of the initiative, ‘Kuts For Kids,’ with Building Blocks Mentoring Program… giving kids free back-to-school haircuts.” [Fox 5]

Segment Draws Customer from a Distance — From barber James Moore: “Yesterday, @fox5dc @gwenfox5dc did a story at the barbershop. A man 70 miles away saw it and came in for a haircut today. My new friend Mike gave me tomatoes, peppers, apricot preserve and a FD patch for our ‘good deeds.’ It was so cool!” [Twitter]

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Arlington resident Brianna Weck with Joe Buck on Jeopardy (courtesy Jeopardy Productions, Inc.)

Another Arlington resident will compete on Jeopardy tonight.

The classic TV quiz show has hosted a number of Arlington contestants over the years and at least one clue about our fair county. Tonight, it’s up to Brianna Weck to do us proud.

Weck is a community engagement manager for D.C. nonprofit HER Resiliency Center and a 2020 graduate of American University, according to an online biography and LinkedIn profile. She also volunteers as an English as a Second Language teacher with Catholic Charities and has a black belt in Judo.

The guest host for this week’s episodes is sportscaster Joe Buck. Longtime host Alex Trebek died in November after a battle with stage 4 pancreatic cancer.

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Morning Notes

Arlington Traffic Still Way Down — “New numbers provided to 7News by the Virginia Dept. of Transportation (VDOT) show… weekday traffic in Arlington County in June 2021 was still down 26% versus June 2019. But that was an outlier – in Fairfax County traffic was only down 12%, Loudoun County just 8%, and Prince William County was basically back to normal, falling just 3% versus June 2019.” [WJLA]

A-SPAN Rebrands — “What began life three decades ago as the Arlington Street People’s Assistance Network, or A-SPAN, has assumed a new identity: PathForward… ‘We came to the conclusion that we needed a new name to match all that we do,’ the organization’s board chair, Tim Denning, said.” [Sun Gazette]

Route 1 Makes NYT List — “The New York Times this May compiled a list of ’50s-era American highways being re-thought in an age when environmental concerns and past racial injustices in land use are at the national forefront. Arlington’s section of Route 1, that elevated structure that pierces Crystal City, made the cut.” [Falls Church News-Press]

AWLA Reunites Raccoon Mom and Baby — From the Animal Welfare League of Arlington: “Officer Elpers got some amazing footage of this mama raccoon reuniting with her baby this morning.” [Facebook]

Local NAACP Awards Scholarships — “The Arlington branch of the NAACP recently awarded nearly $60,000 in college scholarships to Arlington high-school students.” [Sun Gazette]

Big Donation to VHC — “Virginia Hospital Center (VHC), a community-based hospital providing medical services to the Washington, DC metropolitan area for 75 years, has received a transformative gift of $5 million from long-time donor Lola ​C. ​Reinsch to promote the Hospital’s campus expansion efforts.” [Press Release]

Darby Family Visits ACFD Station — “Ashley Darby is having plenty of family fun with her kids this summer. The Real Housewives of Potomac cast member [and Arlington resident] recently took to Instagram to capture their latest outing that left her two-year-old son, Dean, completely ‘lost for words’… ‘What a fun time we had at the Arlington County Fire Station 4 with our friends!’ she wrote in the caption.” [Bravo]

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Morning Notes

Bye Bye, Brood X — “Have you noticed dead cicadas on the ground, or that the bugs are not chorusing as loud as during past weeks? It’s because cicadas reached peak numbers last week in and around the D.C. area and are starting to die at a rapid rate. In some places, you may be smelling them as they rot away.” [Washington Post, Washingtonian]

Firefighters Awarded for Daring Rescue — “On October 31, 2020, Arlington County Fire Department units, including the technical rescue team, were dispatched to Windy Run Trail for an injured person. Communications reported that a female hiker had sustained injuries after falling approximately 30 to 40 feet down an embankment. Initial reports were unclear as to the exact location of the injured person.” [WJLA]

Arlington Man Sentenced for Fraud — “An Arlington businessman was sentenced today to 21 months in prison with three years of supervised release for making false statements to multiple federal agencies in order to fraudulently obtain multimillion-dollar government contracts, COVID-19 emergency relief loans, and undeserved military service benefits.” [Dept. of Justice]

Reminder: Pike Blues Fest This Weekend — “This year a hybrid three-day Columbia Pike Blues Festival Weekend (Friday to Sunday, June 18, 19 and 20) combines live-streaming concerts and ticketed outdoor performances that will get you back into your summer groove.” [ARLnow]

Update on Local Reality Show Contestant — “What is Bachelorette [contestant] Jason from Arlington up to right this very second? Well, last night he crossed the river into DC to host Zac Clark, his friend and fellow former Bachelorette contestant.” [Washingtonian]

Amazon Helping to Fund Housing — “Amazon will provide $125 million in financing to build or preserve an estimated 1,000 units of affordable housing on Metro-owned land in the D.C. region, the company announced Wednesday. The online retail giant, which stands to receive up to $750 million in cash grants from Virginia if it hires at least 37,850 workers at its new corporate headquarters in Arlington, says it will commit below-market loans, lines of credit, and grants to developers who have joint development agreements with WMATA.” [DCist, Washington Post]

Rent Still Below Pre-Pandemic Levels — “In the D.C. region, rents rose 20.1 percent from March 2020 to May 2021 in Fredericksburg, Va.; by 16.4 percent in Frederick, Md., and by 9.6 percent in Laurel, Md. But rents declined by 7.8 percent in D.C., year-over-year, by 10.5 percent in Chevy Chase, Md., and by 5.2 percent in Arlington, Va. Clearly, the flight to the suburbs meant increased rents in areas farther from D.C.” [Washington Post]

Fairfax County’s Namesake Questioned — “The [Fairfax County] seal is of a different time. Adopted seven decades ago, it bears a version of the coat of arms belonging to Thomas Fairfax, the sixth Lord Fairfax and a slaveholding British loyalist who once owned much of the land that makes up Fairfax County today. As neighboring counties and cities reexamine their logos and symbols, it seems like only a matter of time before Fairfax County faces its own questions.” [Tysons Reporter]

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Arlington’s own Torri Huske has set a new American swimming record and secured a spot on the U.S. Olympic Team in Tokyo this summer.

The 18-year-old phenom, who’s graduating from Yorktown High School and is set to attend Stanford University, posted a time of 55.66 seconds in the 100-meter women’s butterfly at last night’s Olympic trials. It was the second night in a row in which Huske set an American record in the event on national television — she did so in the semifinals on Sunday night as well, with a time of 55.78 seconds.

“It was just really surreal, I just feel that it hasn’t even set in yet that I’m at Olympic trials,” Huske said in an interview. “So the fact that I’m now going to be part of the Olympic team and representing our country is just unbelievable. It hasn’t really sunk in yet… it was kind of just like shock when I touched the wall.”

Congratulations flowed in after Huske’s record-setting swim — down to Huske’s former elementary school in Arlington.

The swim cap worn by Huske and seen across the country was that of the county-run Arlington Aquatic Club (AAC), which is coached by Alexandria native Evan Stiles.

Huske has been smashing records during her high school career at Yorktown and at AAC. As of last year before the pandemic, she had yet to lose an individual race on the high school level. NBC Sports reports that she “used the extra Olympic year to become one of the U.S.’ fastest swimmers.”

Huske may yet have other events in which to compete in Japan. She is also competing at in the 50-, 100- and 200-meter freestyle races at the Olympic trials this week, as well as the 200-meter individual medley, according to the Washington Post.

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Tomorrow (Saturday), the County Board is slated to extend an agreement it has with Verizon so the company can continue providing its fiber optic-based TV and internet service in Arlington.

The current franchise agreement with Verizon — called a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity — expires on Tuesday, June 22. According to the county, the pandemic derailed its efforts to negotiate a new agreement with Verizon and this one-year extension would maintain Verizon’s services through that renegotiating process.

Arlingtonians can watch the county’s public programming, which includes announcements, COVID-19 education and certain public meetings, by tuning into the stations hosted by the two local TV providers — Comcast and Verizon — or by streaming online. During the pandemic, more people have relied on televised meetings, as they could not attend in-person meetings.

The franchise agreements grant Verizon and Comcast a duopoly on wired TV and internet service to Arlington homes, in exchange for certain service standards and public benefits, like local access channels.

Before the county can consider its renewal request, it “must assess its needs for public, educational and government television facilities, institutional network, technology, and other general requirements,” according to a county staff report.

When the pandemic hit in March 2020, it “significantly impacted the county’s ability to commence good-faith face-to-face negotiations,” the report said.

“Accordingly, the proposed resolution extends the period available for negotiation beyond the expected duration of the pandemic,” the report said. If approved by the Board, the Certificate will be extended to June 22, 2022.

Verizon has provided cable television services within the county since June 2006.

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Morning Notes

ACFD Vaxed to the Max — “Of the public safety departments surveyed by the I-Team, the Arlington County Fire Department has the most vaccinated, with 82 percent of its roughly 360 employees receiving the shot. Alexandria’s fire department, Frederick County, Maryland’s fire department and Montgomery County police are close behind, reporting about 70 percent of their members vaccinated.” [NBC 4]

Law Enforcement Memorial Day — Today starting at 8 a.m. “[t]he Arlington County Police Department and the Arlington County Sheriff’s Office will host a virtual Observance of Peace Officers Memorial Day to honor and pay tribute to the memory of Arlington’s seven fallen law enforcement officers.” [ACPD]

Covid Testing for APS Athletes — “Beginning the week of May 10, APS will begin providing daily free COVID-19 testing for student athletes. The testing is optional and will be conducted at the three comprehensive high schools with written parent/guardian consent. These efforts are put in place to prevent and mitigate transmission of COVID-19 among athletes.” [Arlington Public Schools]

DJO Grad to Kick for UNC — “Bishop O’Connell High School graduate and Great Falls resident Ethan Torres played four years of college football for Bucknell University as a place-kicker, and now will play a fifth season this coming fall for University of North Carolina at Charlotte as a graduate transfer student.” [Sun Gazette]

Runners Enjoy Rainy Crystal City 5K — “They lined up in waves, socially distanced for The Great Inflatable Race: Pacers 5k in National Landing. Only 250 runners instead of the normal 1,500… ‘This is one small step toward normalization,’ says runner Ian Squires.” [WJLA]

Jeopardy Asks Arlington Question — “We made Jeopardy! again. From last Friday. Category was A Whopp’ington’ of a City.” [Twitter]

Nearby: Mosque Knife Incident — “A Falls Church man is under arrest and faces charges after Fairfax County, Virginia, police said he pointed a knife at several people in a Seven Corners mosque.” [WTOP, Annandale Blog]

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(Updated at 2:30 p.m.) In the latest episode of PBS’ Finding Your Roots, historian Henry Louis Gates Jr. helped guide six-time Tony-winner Audra McDonald on a tour of her family lineage — a journey that led her to a golf club in Arlington.

McDonald’s trip through her family tree started with her maternal grandfather, whom she credited as a major influencing force on her life. Her grandfather, Thomas Hardy Jones, was described by McDonald as “born into the depths of the Jim Crow era” but managing to build a respected career as an educator in historically Black institutions.

Her awareness of her mother’s paternal lineage ended there, but Gates took McDonald further to meet her great-grandfather: Clarence Jones.

“After stints as a miner and chauffeur, Clarence supported his family and paid for his son’s education by working in a locker room in a segregated golf club in Arlington, Virginia, where it seems he somehow managed to thrive,” Gates said.

Clarence Jones worked at Washington Golf & Country Club, the first golf club in Virginia and a prestigious regional institution that counted presidents Wilson, Taft and Harding as active members.

The club was segregated, however, and Clarence Jones worked at the club but could never play there. Only starting in the mid-1970s were Black and Jewish applicants granted membership, according to a book by former Northern Virginia Sun publisher Herman Obermayer.

Even so, Gates’ team found a newspaper article from the time that profiled Jones, in which he was described as indispensable and well-loved by the golfing community.

“[He is a] shoe shiner, story teller, match-maker, gambler and good friend all rolled into one,” Gates read from the newspaper. “Wherever you go around the nation’s capital, golfers ask about Clarence.”

McDonald said many of those traits described in Clarence Jones were passed down to his son, her grandfather.

Records showed that Clarence Jones’ parents were both born in D.C. shortly after the Civil War, but the paper trail ended there as their parents were likely enslaved.

McDonald said that learning about her great-grandfather was bittersweet knowing that he was held back by the racist institutions of his era.

“There’s a part of me that’s amazed and proud of my great-grandfather,” McDonald said, “but a part that hurts for him too.”

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Morning Notes

Local Teacher Finalist in TV Contest — From Stacey Finkel, Kenmore Middle School PTA President: “Eurith Bowen, Functional Life Skills teacher at Kenmore Middle School, has been named a finalist for LIVE with Kelly and Ryan’s Top Teacher search. Eurith Bowen is a phenomenal educator who teaches from her heart, and has inspired an entire community to embrace students in a very special way. Eurith teaches students who are identified as having disabilities.” [Live with Kelly and Ryan]

Bridge Repair Work Underway — “Work is underway to rehabilitate the North Glebe Road (Route 120) bridge over Pimmit Run, according to the Virginia Department of Transportation… This summer, North Glebe Road between Military Road and Route 123 (Chain Bridge Road) will be closed for about nine days to efficiently replace the bridge deck and beams.” [VDOT]

Most Choosing In-Person Learning in Fall — From Superintendent Francisco Durán: “Based on preliminary results from the family selection process, an overwhelming number of families are choosing to return in person in the fall… Previous communications stated that we are planning for both normal capacities as well as developing contingency plans should 3-foot distancing be recommended; however, we want to be transparent that 3-foot distancing is not feasible with the enrollment we are anticipating.” [Arlington Public Schools]

Masks for Youth Sports Questioned — “An Arlington County softball dad created a petition to take on the county’s school system on sports and mask mandates. The school system’s spokesperson sent FOX 5 an emailed response on Tuesday, affirming student athletes will be required to wear masks during competition until the end of the school year… Nearly 300 people have signed the petition made for 500 signatures, calling for the Arlington County Public School’s Superintendent to drop the youth sport mask mandate.” [Fox 5]

Milk Spills into Stream from I-395 — “If you see a white substance in Long Branch Creek, don’t have a cow – it’s just spilled milk, according to the Arlington Fire Department. The department said an incident on Interstate 395 led to a milk truck leaking ‘approximately 50 gallons.’ According to a tweet, that milk has made it into Long Branch Creek near South Troy Street.” [WJLA, Twitter]

Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf

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For 375 days and counting, a group of neighbors in Arlington has gotten together for a socially-distanced happy hour.

Residents in the East Falls Church area set up lawn chairs in a ring within their cul-de-sac, with yardsticks to ensure they stay six feet apart. During the winter months, a small bonfire crackled. When it rains, they prop up umbrellas or shelter in the trunk of their cars.

The neighborly effort to combat isolation during the pandemic got the attention of the Today Show, which featured the nightly get-together on national TV earlier this week.

“This started out as a simple, spontaneous idea among neighbors who really didn’t know each other very well,” NBC correspondent Kelly O’Donnell said. “Now, they call it a lifeline. The whole group has been COVID-free and happier getting through this together.”

These neighbors turn a patch of pavement into “a happy hour getaway” far away “from the grind of a world locked inside,” O’Donnell said. The group named its gathering “Six Feet at 6:30” and even made T-shirts and sweatshirts.

One neighbor, Linda Winter, told NBC that when she joins her neighbors, her anxiety subsides.

“There’s just a sense that we’re safe out here,” Winter said.

Longtime resident Rockley Miller said he appreciates the newfound sense of camaraderie.

“I grew up out in this neighborhood and I’ve never known as many neighbors as I do now,” Miller said.

The group celebrates every milestone and birthday — celebrations that could otherwise go unmarked due to gathering limits and COVID-19 risks. They even held a screening of the movie “Hamilton,” which came out last summer.

“It’s amazing to me how just a little bit of energy can go a long way,” resident Andy Cosgrove said.

The neighbors want to keep the happy hour up after the pandemic subsides, O’Donnell said, concluding the segment.

Photos via David Martin/YouTube

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