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Former Arlington Education Association President Ingrid Gant delivered remarks during a press conference in September 2021 (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

(Updated at 5:45 p.m.) A former president of the Arlington teachers union, who was ousted last spring, has been charged with embezzling more than $400,000 from the organization.

Ingrid Gant, 54, of Woodbridge, was arrested yesterday (Monday) in Prince William County on four counts of embezzlement. She was taken to the county’s jail and later released on an unsecured bond, according to a press release from the Fairfax County Police Department today (Tuesday).

Fox 5 first reported the arrest.

Gant led the Arlington Education Association (AEA) for six years before being ousted last spring along with her executive board.

FCPD says it was notified of her potential theft last September after an internal audit determined she had “failed to provide financial reports and failed to file tax returns,” raising concerns from Arlington Education Association board members, per the release.

“Calibre CPA Group was hired to conduct an audit of the funds. After six months of reviewing the activity, it was determined Gant embezzled $410,782.10 throughout her tenure as president,” the release said. “Detectives were notified and began their investigation, while working closely with the accounting firm and AEA to review the documentation. Detectives determined Gant provided herself with multiple bonuses and used debit cards for unauthorized purchases.”

Gant was terminated on March 30, 2022, according to police. By April, the National Education Association, which represents educators and staff from public school through higher education, was temporarily leading the AEA under an emergency “protective trusteeship,” ARLnow first reported.

At the time, sources said they were frustrated that the organization had effectively stopped operating, just as the collective bargaining process was starting to ramp up. No one would answer the phone, the website was down for two months and the meeting when members were supposed to launch their executive board campaigns was canceled, raising doubts among members about the fairness of the election.

Meanwhile, a lawyer for the Virginia Education Association said in a memo that the union’s finances were in disarray and not communicated to members. Local leaders admitted the disorganization in a memo to members, saying AEA began the 2021-22 fiscal year without a budget and owed $732,000 in dues to the state and national unions.

AEA had also picked up some negative press that year for publishing a press release with a number of grammatical and stylistic errors.

Detectives are asking anyone with information about this case to please call the FCPD Major Crimes Bureau at 703-246-7800. Tips can also be submitted anonymously through Fairfax County Crime Solvers by phone at 866-411-8477 and by web.

AEA headquarters is located in the Bailey’s Crossroads neighborhood of Fairfax County, just over the Arlington border.

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Employees at the Courthouse Starbucks went on strike in November (staff photo)

(Updated at 2:25 p.m.) A major rally is being planned for later this week in front of the county government headquarters, in a show of solidarity with recently-unionized Starbucks employees.

The president of the AFL-CIO and Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) are both expected to attend, among others.

The rally is one of ten across the county, organized as part of a National Day of Action by Starbucks Workers United. It’s set for this Friday, Dec. 9, at 5 p.m. outside of the Bozman Government Center at 2100 Clarendon Blvd.

Workers at the nearby Courthouse Starbucks who voted to unionize last month and went on strike a week later.

Organizers say Liz Shuler the president of the AFL-CIO, the largest federation of unions in the country, will be there and speaking. Plus, a number of state and local elected officials are planning to attend, including Beyer, State Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-30), and Del. Alfonso Lopez (D- 49).

Several County Board members are also expected to attend, including Christian Dorsey, Matt de Ferranti, and Takis Karantonis.

Speeches are planned from Shuler, Beyer, and several regional union leaders — including Arlington and Fairfax County teachers union presidents, who will say they will be rejecting Starbucks gift cards as holiday presents for this year in protest.

This “Day of Action” is also meant to ask Starbucks to stop “bullying” unionized employees and to highlight its workers’ right to organize.

“The purpose of the Day of Action is for the entire community to tell Starbucks to stop its union-busting and respect its workers’ right to organize,” says a press release.

Dec. 9 marks the one-year anniversary of the first Starbucks union election victory in Buffalo, New York. Since then more than 260 stores have voted to unionize, involving more than 7,000 workers.

Over the last year, the coffee behemoth has been hit with hundreds of unfair labor practice charges, including retaliatory firings, closing union stores, and withholding benefits from employees. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is investigating more than 300 of these accusations.

On Nov. 9, Starbucks employees at the Courthouse Plaza location voted to unionize and join Starbucks Workers United. It was the second D.C.-area Starbucks to do so. Union members told ARLnow at the time they were seeking better pay, more consistent hours, and uniformly enforced rules and regulations.

Employees went on strike shortly thereafter.

“Starbucks has been dragging its feet coming to the negotiation table,” employee and union member Sam Dukore said at the time. “And even when they do, their lawyers stand up after like a minute and a half or so and just leave. And that is not negotiating in good faith.”

Since the strike several weeks ago, “the company is still not coming to the bargaining table” a union spokesperson told ARLnow.

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Arlington Coalition of Police president Randall Mason at the Arlington County Board meeting on Nov. 18, 2022 (via Arlington County)

Arlington’s fire and police unions are poised to lose a battle to change the pay scale the county uses — one that union representatives say contributes to ongoing staffing shortages.

This year, the Arlington County Police Department has hired 29 officers and lost 52 officers, Arlington Coalition of Police (ACOP) President Randall Mason told the Arlington County Board in a meeting earlier this month. It will lose five more by February 2023.

“This is the worst staffing crisis we’ve had in 30 years,” Mason said. “Our overtime to make minimum staffing was at 7,000 hours in 2021. It’s on pace to break that this year. The year before that, it was 4,000 hours. We’re right on the verge of mandatory overtime.”

The attrition, due in part to burnout and low morale, has forced ACPD to scale back some services. Amid this trend, last summer the Arlington County Board voted to reinstate collective bargaining for the first time since the 1970s.

For ACOP and the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) Local 2800, the vote meant a chance to renegotiate pay scale structures to keep officers from going to better-paying jurisdictions.

Currently, Arlington County uses an open-range system, which union reps say results in officers with less experience earning more than people of the same rank with more experience. In October, 204 out of 304 ACOP members were paid less than at least one person in their same rank with fewer years of service, Mason said.

“That’s a direct result of the open range system,” he said.

For this reason, ACOP and IAFF are asking for a step scale, which they say is used by most municipalities and more fairly rewards years of service. But this year, the unions and the county reached an impasse regarding this change, among others, and had to go to arbitration.

Unions asked the county to make the switch in one year — a pricy ask the county rejected due to inflation and high commercial vacancy rates putting pressure on its tax revenue and expenditures. ACOP estimates making the switch in one year for police would have cost the county $9 million.

“Just like the fire department, we shot too high,” Mason said. “[But] 66% of officers being paid in an unfair manner isn’t an aberration — it’s something that needs to be addressed.”

Arbiters sided with the county in both negotiations because making the change in one year would be financially unreasonable, but they did indicate their support for a step scale.

“Overall, the weight of the evidence supports the Union’s proposal to move to a step wage structure which will address the problem of salary compression and is in other comparable departments,” writes Samantha Tower, who was the arbiter for the negotiations with the fire department.

IAFF President Brian Lynch told the county Tower did not have the power to provide a middle-ground solution.

“She went out of her way to say there is a better path,” he said.

The Arlington County Board could make a decision on the public safety employee contracts next month. If members approve them as is, they would cement the current pay structures for three more years. The Board could also force county staff and unions to go back to the table and renegotiate.

That’s the path Lynch says he hopes the Board takes.

“With time, your support and the guidance that arbitrator provided… we can make the promise that collective bargaining holds for firefighters in the community we protect a priority we hope you join us in that effort,” he said.

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(Updated at 10:25 a.m.) The employees at the Courthouse Starbucks have gone on strike, days after unionizing.

The reason for the strike, per Starbucks employee and union member Samuel Dukore, is that the company is not negotiating “in good faith” when it comes to a contract.

“Starbucks has been dragging its feet coming to the negotiation table,” Dukore told ARLnow, outside of the Starbucks at Courthouse Plaza, near county government headquarters. “And even when they do, their lawyers stand up after like a minute and a half or so and just leave. And that is not negotiating in good faith.”

Unionized employees are asking for better pay, more staffing, and more concern over the health and safety of workers.

It appears that the employees are among the more than 1,000 Starbucks employees that have reportedly gone on strike today, on one of the company’s busiest days.

Earlier this month, on Election Day, Courthouse employees voted to become the third D.C.-area Starbucks to unionize (behind one in D.C. and in Merrifield) and the first in Arlington. The employees have joined Starbucks Workers United.

The Starbucks in Courthouse Plaza remains open. It currently appeared well-staffed with un-unionized employees and managers, and a greeter at the door welcoming customers.

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(Updated, 5:30 p.m.) Yesterday was an election day as well for employees at the Starbucks in Courthouse Plaza, who voted to become the second D.C.-area location of the coffee giant to unionize.

Workers at a local Starbucks won their election to form a union, as first reported by Washington Post reporter Lauren Kaori Gurley. The employees are organizing with and joining Starbucks Workers United.

Arlington Democrats congratulated employees at the Starbucks in Courthouse at 2200 Clarendon Blvd for winning their union election.

Samuel Dukore, a member of the union and a shift supervisor at the Courthouse Starbucks, told ARLnow that he and his colleagues unionized for better pay, more consistent hours, and uniformly enforced rules and regulations.

This marks the 260th Starbucks nationwide to unionize but only the second one in the D.C. area. The other unionized Starbucks is on P Street in the District, which just voted to form its union last month.

As for what’s next, Dukore he would like to see Starbucks come to the bargaining table to “negotiate in good faith” with the union for a contract.

Over the summer, employees at Union Kitchen in Ballston also voted to form a union joining others at Union Kitchen locations across the region. The National Labor Board determined that Union Kitchen management violated a number of labor laws and engaged in illegal union-busting tactics while workers sought to unionize, as DCist first reported earlier today.

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June Prakash, president of Arlington Education Association (via Arlington Public Schools)

Teachers who are part of the Arlington Education Association say there has been a communication breakdown since the School Board authorized collective bargaining in May.

Arlington Public Schools became the second school district in Virginia to do so, after the General Assembly in 2020 repealed a ban on school employees bargaining collectively.

Before that, AEA advocated for public school employees but could not guarantee benefits through legally binding contracts. This month, organization members told the School Board that its approval of the collective bargaining resolution shut out staff, and since then, communication has worsened between employees and APS’s top leaders.

“The collective bargaining resolution that passed in May does not create a fair process,” Arlington Career Center employee Javonnia Hill said at the School Board meeting on Oct. 13. “It is not what you thought it would be.”

As of now, only school administrators have chosen a bargaining unit and elected a representative. Two other employee groups are taking more time to review the resolution language. In the interim, AEA members report not being able to raise concerns directly with Superintendent Francisco Durán and his deputies.

June Prakash, AEA’s new president, said she was prevented from discussing “troubling trends and concerns” with leadership last month because employee groups are still choosing representative bargaining units. She said APS told her that staff should be going to their supervisors or Human Resources instead.

That is not the process AEA members are accustomed to, according to teacher Josh Folb.

“For AEA members, bringing concerns to their union president, who gathers that list to calmly discuss those concerns with the superintendent’s cabinet was the way that we would resolve employee concerns,” Folb said during the meeting. “It prevented the airing of dirty laundry in the public forum.”

He asked the School Board about the appropriate forum to discuss a substitute shortage at the high school level — one so acute that teachers are asked to use their planning periods to teach other courses.

Prakash, who took the helm after AEA’s executive board was ousted following two years of financial difficulties and a drop in membership, said she turned to the Board’s public comment period because of the walls APS put up.

“Did you know our bus drivers, who are required to wear a uniform, are rationed two T-shirts for a five-day work week? Did you know that summer school staff didn’t have keys to the classrooms they were in, leaving our students vulnerable in the event of a lockdown?” she asked. “I look forward to sharing so much more in the coming years. I will not be deterred… I will not fail our members, employees or students.”

APS counters that the collective bargaining resolution was forged with ample feedback, that employees need to move forward with standing up bargaining units, and that employees should discuss concerns with supervisors or Human Resources.

“APS remains committed to working with the Arlington Education Association. AEA continues to voice concerns over the collective bargaining resolution wherein APS met on numerous occasions with AEA and the Virginia Education Association (VEA) to discuss concerns that were brought forth from the associations prior to the final resolution being passed in May 2022,” APS spokesman Frank Bellavia said. “More than half of the requests from AEA/VEA were implemented into the approved resolution.”

Longtime teacher Danielle Anctil told the School Board that its vote in the spring has effectively shut employees out.

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Union Kitchen in Ballston (staff photo)

Union Kitchen employees, including those at the Ballston location, have officially won their election to form a union.

Yesterday (June 21), employees at five Union Kitchen locations announced that a majority voted in an election to unionize with the United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 400. This includes employees at the Ballston retail shop and restaurant located at 4102 Wilson Blvd.

The final count was 20 votes in favor of unionizing and 11 votes against.

The vote comes about five months after employees first announced their intent to form a union. The vote took place back in March, with the election being conducted by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). But results were delayed due, in part, to management challenging the eligibility of a number of ballots, as reported by DCist.

The workers cited pay cuts, lack of sick leave, and staffing shortages as the major reasons for organizing. Also, they’ve alleged that management has retaliated against workers for unionizing, an act that would be in violation of federal law. By unionizing, employees will now be able to negotiate as a unit.

The union’s main requests when they go to the negotiating table will be to start pay at $22 an hour and to increase staffing by 20% due to the stores being “severely understaffed,” union organizing committee member and former Ballston employee Mckenna Willis tells ARLnow.

In a press release, UFCW Local 400 called on Union Kitchen’s owner to come to the negotiating table.

We are pleased to announce that Union Kitchen is now unionized! After management spent the last few months attempting to postpone this result, all votes have finally been counted. We won our union.

We would like to thank all of our customers, elected officials, community allies, fellow union members and supporters everywhere who never stopped believing this day would come. We know we can count on you moving forward.

Now, we call on owner Cullen Gilchrist to respect the outcome of this election, cease his delay tactics, and finally sit down with us to negotiate a union contract.

ARLnow has reached out to Union Kitchen management and Gilchrist, but has yet to hear back as of publication.

Union Kitchen first began as an accelerator a decade ago, helping food startups by providing expertise. It has since grown into being a retail shop and restaurant. The Ballston location opened in August 2020, in the midst of the pandemic, selling a variety of coffees, convenience items as well as a takeout menu with sandwiches, pizzas, salads, and breakfast.

When ARLnow first spoke with Willis back in March, she was working at the Ballston location. She’s now a former employee, after making the decision to leave the about two weeks ago. It had become a “really difficult work environment” and was “taking a toll” on her, she says. Back in March, Willis accused management of cutting her hours after a meeting where she brought up her concerns.

“We’ve all been waiting so long,” she said of learning about the unionization vote. “When I got the text, I almost started crying. So many of us put hours and hours of work into this. For the workers that are there, it means that they have representation and the power to not be scared anymore.”

The effort follows a nationwide and local trend of employees deciding to unionize. Employees at a Starbucks in Merrifield voted to form a union in April. Late last year, employees at the bookstore Politics and Prose in D.C. also voted to unionize. Just last week, Apple store workers in Towson, Maryland became the first employees at the company to unionize.

In recent months, she says that a number of customers have approached her and co-workers at the Ballston location to express their support.

“We’ve had just overwhelming community support from Arlington,” she said. “So many people have just stopped in to say that they’ve heard about the union… that’s what brings us our strength.”

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The Arlington School Board has unanimously passed a resolution allowing teachers and staff to collectively bargain, becoming among the first school districts in Virginia to do so.

Arlington is following on the heels of Richmond in letting employees at public schools unionize, after the General Assembly in 2020 repealed a ban on school employees bargaining collectively.

“I believe we are the second school division to do this,” said Arlington Public Schools spokesperson Frank Bellavia. Richmond was the first school district in the state to grant employees such a right in December last year.

“This particular resolution is not the final conversation, this is not the collective bargaining agreement, this is just setting the rules of the game,” said School Board member Cristina Diaz-Torres during the board meeting Thursday.

The School Board made a few updates to its original draft resolution, published in April, after discussions with the Arlington Education Association and Virginia Education Association, two local unions representing public school employees.

The main changes concerned the way the union would be elected and the functions of the designated neutral third party. Under the adopted resolution, a union needs to obtain signatures from 30% of public school employees to trigger an election, a significant decrease from the 50% needed in the draft resolution.

Moreover, the costs of elections would be split between the School Board and the union under the finalized agreement. The original proposal would have given the union sole responsibility of cost.

Under the final resolution, the elected union will become the exclusive representative to negotiate directly with the School Board for wages and benefits. The union will be representing all public school employees whether they are in the union or not.

“I am particularly glad to see that some of the more significant concessions that were requested by AEA and VEA have been implemented,” said School Board member Mary Kadera, “and I appreciate VEA and AEA flagging that issue and advocating for that.”

She added that she would be committed to “leaning in and listening and working in good faith” with the employee associations in the future.

Not all suggestions from the employee associations were adopted. AEA pointed out several issues it had with the final resolution, chief among them being the School Board’s power to automatically decertify the union if members of the latter were to join any union strikes, according to AEA’s president-elect June Prakash. She further stated that those issues “must be resolved before sitting down at a bargaining table.”

AEA’s UniServ Director Sean Genson, who acts as a liaison with state and national associations, said the power to decertify “should be held with a neutral third party.” He added that this resolution was like “writing the rules to a new game” and should be “difficult to change over time.”

“APS’s resolution does that very well, but not perfectly,” he said.

In the same School Board meeting, the board also appointed Stephanie Maltz as the new director of labor relations. She will be responsible for establishing the guidelines to elect an exclusive representative and handling complaints from public school employees.

Maltz has been an attorney adviser at the D.C. Government Office of Labor Relations and Collective Bargaining and had managed similar job duties at D.C. Public Schools for the past five years, according to an APS news release announcing her appointment.

Before this resolution, the Arlington Education Association could not enter into binding contracts with the School Board. The association could only “meet and confer” with the board on issues regarding wage and benefits.

Under the new resolution, the elected union will be able to put their demands into a legally binding contract with the School Board, according to an infographic from the group.

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Former Arlington Education Association President Ingrid Gant delivers remarks during a press conference (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Arlington’s teachers union will be temporarily led by its national association after the local organization’s executive board was ousted.

The move marks the culmination of a tumultuous year for the Arlington Education Association (AEA). A group of delegates to the AEA from every school site in the county voted last Wednesday to have the National Education Association — which represents educators and staff from public school through higher education — take the helm temporarily.

The interim trusteeship is in charge until the AEA holds an election later this month to select new executive board members. The board was previously led by President Ingrid Gant and had a vice-president, treasurer, representatives from the elementary, middle and high schools, and an executive assistant.

Some members tell ARLnow that frustrations had mounted recently as they were preparing for the upcoming election and for the introduction of collective bargaining. The Arlington School Board is gearing up to consider allowing salary negotiations later this spring.

The organization, sources said, effectively had stopped operating. Screenshots indicate the AEA’s website was down for most of February and March. (It now redirects to the Virginia Education Association website). They couldn’t reach anyone by phone or leave a message — a problem ARLnow has also run into — as the mailbox for the phone line was full. The meeting during which members were supposed to launch their executive board campaigns was canceled, raising doubts among members about the fairness of the election.

AEA had also picked up some negative press this year for publishing a press release with a number of grammatical and stylistic errors.

That these frustrations occurred as the possibility of collective bargaining drew nearer led the delegates to place their organization under a “protective trusteeship” on an emergency basis. In an email provided to ARLnow, the interim trustee from the NEA reassured union members that little would change with the new administration.

“We want to assure you that as members of the Arlington Education Association this trusteeship will not have an impact on your member benefits such as legal representation, liability coverage, or affect our ability to advocate for our students as part of the nation’s largest union, the National Education Association,” interim trustee Mark Simons wrote.

Problems plaguing the AEA go back even further, according to internal documents shared with ARLnow, which some AEA members said they also received. These documents reveal a battle between the AEA and the state union — the Virginia Education Association — over local control. The AEA and the VEA did not return a request for comment.

The Virginia union’s president, James Fedderman, told Arlington local members that he had concerns about governance and finances and was “committed to rectifying this situation with integrity and transparency.”

Former president Ingrid Gant had outlasted her tenure of two two-year terms and several executive board seats were appointed without a vote by delegates, he said, citing opinions he solicited from the NEA and someone certified to interpret parliamentary procedures.

He added that the union’s finances were in disarray and not communicated to members. Local leaders admitted the budget was disorganized in a memo to members, saying AEA began the 2021-22 fiscal year without a budget and owed $732,000 in dues to the state and national unions. Amid this, the treasurer resigned and a new treasurer was installed.

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Morning Notes

Heavy rain along the Potomac River, with Rosslyn in the background (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Mysterious Bug Bites Reported — Arlington residents are against dealing with red and intensely itchy bug bites, the cause of which is so far unclear. One theory is that last year’s scourge of oak mites are back. [Facebook, WUSA 9]

Catalytic Converter Thefts in Fairlington — “A resident has reported that the catalytic converter on their Toyota Prius was stolen during the night March 21, 2022. The converter was physically cut away from the vehicle. There have been 7 similar thefts of catalytic converters reported from the Fairlington neighborhoods.” [Twitter]

Man Pistol Whipped By Intruder — “2000 block of S. Kenmore Street. At approximately 2:15 p.m. on March 22, police were dispatched to the report of trouble unknown. Upon arrival, it was determined that the victim was inside his residence when the three known suspects forced entry inside and struck him with a firearm. The victim then deployed pepper spray and the suspects fled the scene. The victim sustained non-life threatening injuries and was transported to an area hospital for medical treatment. Warrants were obtained for one suspect.” [ACPD]

Gym in Crystal City Unionizes — From Washingtonian’s Andrew Beaujon: “Movement Crystal City is the US’s first unionized climbing gym. We wrote about this place when it was called Earth Treks.” [Twitter, Twitter]

Help for Arlington’s Ukrainian Sister City — “That partnership, which came to fruition after years of advocacy by Sonevytsky, has mostly focused on cultural and professional exchanges. But the unprovoked Russian attack on Ukraine last month changed all that. Now, the Arlington Sister City Association and the volunteer group that runs the Ivano-Frankivsk relationship are focused on a new mission: helping send humanitarian aid to their partner city and educating Arlington residents about their community’s ties to a place now in a war zone.” [WAMU]

Reminder: Free Observation Deck in Rosslyn — “If you’re looking for views of the blossoms at the Tidal Basin and beyond, head to The View of DC, located at 1201 Wilson Boulevard! This 360-degree observation deck is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (with evening hours until 9 p.m. on Mondays!) and admission is free with a valid government ID.” [Rosslyn BID]

Injunction Against Va. Mask-Optional Law — “Preliminary injunction granted by the federal court preventing defendants from enforcing EO 2 and SB 739 (the mask-optional law) in schools where the plaintiffs & their children are enrolled.” [Twitter, Washington Post, WJLA]

Pappy Is Back at Virginia ABC — “Good news bourbon lovers: Virginia’s annual Pappy Van Winkle lottery is back — this year with two types of Van Winkles… Anyone 21 and over with a valid Virginia driver’s license (you have to prove it when you show up to purchase) can enter the lotteries on Virginia ABC’s website from Wednesday, March 23 until Sunday, March 27 at 11:59pm.” [Axios]

It’s Thursday — After early morning storms, light rain throughout much the day. High of 66 and low of 58. Sunrise at 7:06 am and sunset at 7:25 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Morning Notes

A military helicopter flies along the Potomac River and National Mall, as viewed from near the Netherlands Carillon (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Wet, Windy, Snowy Saturday on Tap — “A powerful storm system will cross the region Saturday. We are likely to see winds gusting over 50 mph Saturday, along with very low wind chills by Saturday night. We remain uncertain about snowfall, as the cold air will be chasing the precip — a wide range remains possible.” [Twitter, Capital Weather Gang]

Firefighters Union Wins Vote — “For the first time in more than FOUR DECADES — a public sector union will have the right to negotiate a contract with Arlington County. And it wasn’t just a win — it was a BLOWOUT.” [Facebook, Twitter]

PSA: Don’t Leave Keys Inside a Parked Car — An auto theft near Upton Hill park: “At approximately 12:40 a.m., a witness observed three unknown suspects rummaging through a vehicle. The witness yelled and the suspects fled the scene on foot. The suspects then entered into the victim’s car, located the keys inside and drove away from the area. The vehicle is described as gray in color, 2015 Honda CRV bearing VA license plate VKX2844.” [ACPD]

Marymount Adding Wrestling Teams — “Marymount University is moving forward on plans to add both Men’s and  Women’s Wrestling as varsity sports, expanding the institution’s athletic offerings to 22 different varsity-level teams. Men’s competition will begin in the 2022-23 academic year, as Marymount currently searches for a head coach who will begin recruiting for the program immediately. Women’s competition will debut during the 2023-24 academic year.” [Marymount University]

How Arlington Landed HQ2 — “If you’re interested in how Amazon could reshape our region, it’s worth understanding what our region had to build to land them. It’s an underdog story that starts with a small team of local business-improvement officials who had neither the clout nor the cash of most of their competitors. Instead, they figured out what Amazon was really looking for and quietly began the process of shaping a city to fit those needs.” [Northern Virginia Magazine]

An Irish Tale on a Local Stage — “Tis the time of the year that everyone wants to be Irish, if only for a wee while, and Encore Stage & Studio has joined the celebration of all things Eire with the world-premiere production of ‘Riley O’Brien and the Lost Leprechaun.’ While aimed at the younger set, the show is inventive in its conception and solid in its execution, making it a treat for all ages.” [Sun Gazette]

Fairfax County Local News — ARLnow’s latest sister site, FFXnow, is providing up-to-the-minute coverage of Fairfax County following its recent official launch. Sign up for the email newsletter or follow on Facebook or Twitter. [FFXnow]

It’s Friday — Sunny most of the day, then rain overnight. High of 59 and low of 37. Sunrise at 6:27 am and sunset at 6:13 pm. [Weather.gov]

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