Arlington, VA

Morning Notes

One Year Since HQ2 Announcement — “I cannot believe it’s been one year since I had the privilege of announcing our Arlington, VA HQ2! It’s been amazing to work with all of the government officials and the community on this project. It’s just Day One and I look forward to many more successful years together!” [Twitter]

Crystal City Office Market Tightening Up — “There’s still an awful lot of empty office space in Crystal City, but a year after Amazon.com Inc. picked National Landing for its second home, conditions have already started to become less favorable for non-Amazon tenants in the Arlington County submarket.” [Washington Business Journal]

Lots of Amazon Employees Elsewhere in the Region — “Amazon’s biggest base locally is miles from HQ2. Some 2,500 corporate employees, not connected to the second headquarters, work in its D.C. and other offices. In Herndon, where the company already has a significant and growing footprint, there are nearly 800 job openings. For much of this year, many of Amazon’s Arlington job openings were allotted for Ballston, where the company leases some 52,000 square feet.” [Washington Business Journal]

Video of the Big Water Main Break — “Dramatic early footage from Friday’s break. Fast-acting crews were able to restore pressure to the water system within a few hours through a bypass. Repairs starting tonight” — N. Glebe Road is closed near Chain Bridge during the morning rush hour — “will allow renewed use of the main and then long-term resurfacing of Glebe Road.” [Twitter]

Rosslyn Renovation Mean Changes for Local Barber — “When it’s done, Rosslyn City Center will boast a new food hall, reimagined workspaces and experiential activated environments. And Rosslyn Metro Barber Shop will move to a highly visible, first-floor location where would-be customers are sure to take notice.” [Rosslyn BID]

W&OD Trail Upgrades Proposed in Arlington — “Arlington County Board members on Saturday will be asked to add their voices in support of a request from the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority (NOVA Parks) for $5.65 million in regional funding to improve and expand the Washington & Old Dominion Trail over a two-mile stretch in the western part of the county. NOVA Parks aims to replace the existing 12-foot-wide, shared-use trail with a 12-foot-wide bicycle trail and an 8-foot wide pedestrian trail.” [InsideNova]

New Scanner for County Jail — “A new security measure that will help prevent the smuggling of prohibited items into the Arlington County Detention Center by people who are arrested is now in use, Sheriff Beth Arthur announced.” The announcement follows the death of a homicide suspect in the jail. [Arlington County]

Photo courtesy Yung Chen

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Jeff Covel really wanted to go to a World Series game. A fan since the Expos came to town and became the Nationals, going to a World Series game was a “bucket list” dream.

The retiree and Nottingham Elementary crossing guard of 6 years made a sign saying “Need World Series Tickets” and placed it near his post at N. Ohio Street and 29th Street N.

Unbeknownst to Covel, who was lauded as one of Virginia’s most outstanding crossing guards in 2015, parents in a Facebook group decided to raise money to buy Jeff two tickets to Saturday’s Game 4 at Nationals Park. Within 24 hours they raised enough to purchase two tickets.

Colleen Wright, one of the organizers, presented the tickets this morning to Covel, surrounded by other parents and school children.

“He’s just so great with the kids, learning everyone’s name and always greeting everybody with a smile,” Wright said.

Staff video by Jay Westcott

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Morning Notes

Cards Coach Has Good Day in Arlington, At Least — “Cardinals pitching coach Mike Maddux hit not one, but two holes-in-one during a morning round of golf at the Army Navy Country Club, manager Mike Shildt revealed to reporters on Monday. The country club later confirmed the achievement to ESPN’s Alden Gonzalez.” [Yahoo]

Real Estate Market Awash in HQ2 Hype — “As of the first week of October, there were nearly 70 active listings for single-family detached homes in Greater Washington that mentioned Amazon’s HQ2 in their description… The median driving distance for the homes was about 7.4 miles.” [Washington Business Journal]

County to Sponsor Marine Corps Marathon Again — “Arlington County Board members on Oct. 19 are expected to ratify a sponsorship agreement for the Marine Corps Marathon, and allocate $85,000 in funding. The marathon, to be held this year on Oct. 27, is ‘the largest annual event held in Arlington, driving significant spending at local businesses and generating related tax revenues for the county.'” [InsideNova]

Video Shows Cars Stopped in Bike Lane — A video posted to Twitter shows numerous cars stopped, blocking the bike lane along Crystal Drive in Crystal City. In addition to voicing frustration about the blocked bike lane, the video poster wrote: “why are all these drivers doing pickups, dash-ins, etc, not given space, in favor of people street-parking adjacent to a huuuuge underground garage?” [Twitter]

No In-School Flu Vaccines This Year — “Arlington Public Schools students will not have access to free, in-school flu vaccinations this fall, county school officials said. Last school year, the school system partnered with Healthy Schools (CareDox) to offer the in-school service.” [InsideNova]

WeWork Phone Booths Emitting Fumes — “Colleen Wong, a director with the Global Entrepreneurship Network, said she noticed a pungent smell in the phone booths at WeWork’s Rosslyn location in Arlington, Virginia, where she’s a tenant. ‘I always noticed, from the first time I entered a phone booth, a strong chemical odor,’ Wong told Business Insider.” [Entrepreneur]

Reminder: Voter Registration Deadline Is Today — “The Voter Registration Deadline for the November 5, 2019 General Election is… Tues. Oct 15.” [Twitter]

Flickr pool photo by Tom Mockler

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Morning Notes

Amazon Tweaking HQ2 Heating Plan — “Amazon.com Inc. confirmed it will tweak some elements of its HQ2 plan in Arlington County to eliminate a carbon dioxide-emitting system. The news comes a little more than a week after CEO Jeff Bezos announced in D.C. plans to end the company’s reliance on fossil fuels in a decade.” [Washington Business Journal]

County Tax Deadline Coming Up — “Taxes are due soon! If you have moved or sold your car, you may still owe taxes for the months when your car was in Arlington. If you are waiting for account adjustments, still pay your bill in full by Oct. 5. Overpayments will be refunded.” [Twitter]

Video: Ovi at ATS — Arlington Public Schools has released a video from Caps star Alexander Ovechkin’s recent visit to Arlington Traditional School. “Hi kids, I think it’s breakfast time for you, no?” Ovechkin asked as he pushed a grocery cart full of Ovi O’s cereal into a classroom. [Vimeo]

Dorsey to Talk Racial Equity at Church — “Christian Dorsey, Chair of the Arlington County Board, will be speaking about racial equity at Rock Spring Congregational United Church of Christ, 5010 Little Falls Road, at 7:00 p.m. Monday, October 7.” [Press Release]

New Daycare Center Near Fairlington — “As Alexandria struggles with affordable daycare, a new facility is in the works near the Fairlington neighborhood. A special use permit has been filed for Our First Step Daycare Center, a new daycare center planned for 2500 N. Van Dorn Street.” [ALXnow]

Ever Have a Dream Like This?Updated at 8:35 a.m. — “Scanner: Police responding to S. Four Mile Run Drive for a report of a naked woman who walked on to an ART bus then walked right back off.” [Twitter]

Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman

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A string of vehicle break-ins in north Arlington is continuing, but this time a suspect might have been caught on camera.

Someone stole a cell phone from an unlocked car in a garage on the 4700 block of N. Carlin Springs Road late Thursday night or early Friday morning, according to Arlington County Police.

“Between 11:00 p.m. on September 12 and 3:10 a.m. on September 13, an unknown suspect entered an unlocked vehicle inside a garage and stole a cell phone,” ACPD said of the theft. “The investigation is ongoing and detectives will work to determine if this case is linked to any others reported in Arlington County.”

An anonymous resident in the same area as the break-in, a few blocks from Ballston, contacted ARLnow with video footage (above) of a man looking into a vehicle behind a house, taken that same night. Nothing appears to have been taken in the video, however, and police declined to confirm whether the person seen is a suspect in the theft.

ACPD was notified about the video, the resident said.

The video was taken with an Ring video camera. Arlington County Police are considering a public safety partnership with the Amazon-owned company, the Washington Business Journal reported last week, despite concerns nationally about the privacy implications of such partnerships.

On Ring’s Neighbors app, at least a half dozen car break-ins have been reported in and around Arlington over the past week — mostly involving unlocked vehicles. ACPD has been reminding residents to lock their cars and homes at night as part of a public safety initiative dubbed the “9 P.M. Routine.”

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Morning Notes

Spotted: Leading Edge of Dorian — The “exhaust” of Hurricane Dorian could be seen over the D.C. area yesterday afternoon, in the form of a large sheet of cloud. [Twitter]

Arlington Name Centennial Approaching — “Arlington government officials currently are in the brainstorming phase on plans to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Arlington becoming ‘Arlington.’ It was on March 17, 1920, that Gov. Westmoreland Davis signed legislation formally changing the county’s name from Alexandria County to Arlington County.” [InsideNova]

Bloomberg BNA Changes Name — Crystal City-based news organization Bloomberg BNA has changed its name to Bloomberg Industry Group. [Twitter]

Video: APS Staff Gets School Year Started — Arlington Public Schools staff starred in a music video to the tune of the Black Eyed Peas Hit “Let’s Get It Started,” created for start of the new school year. The video also features now-former superintendent Patrick Murphy dancing while getting off a school bus at the end. [YouTube]

Local Startup Raises $51 Million — Arlington-based telecom startup Federated Wireless has raised $51 million in Series C funding, the company announced yesterday. [Federated Wireless]

What Long-Time Residents Like About Arlington — “Judy and Raoul Wientzen have owned their home in North Arlington since 1984. Judy told us what they love about their home.” [Washington Post]

Flickr pool photo by Eric

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Tebebe Makonnen, charged with murder after a woman’s death at the Embassy Suites in Crystal City, avoided a lengthy jail sentence on a previous charge thanks to a plea deal earlier this year.

The victim, who fell from an upper floor of the hotel onto the interior lobby restaurant below around 1:30 a.m. Tuesday, was identified as Makonnen’s mother, multiple news outlets reported. According to WUSA 9, Makonnen and his mother, 63-year-old Zelalem Abedje, were living in the hotel.

Makonnen was arraigned Wednesday morning before Judge George Varoutsos in the Juvenile & Domestic Relations District Court, prosecutors say. He’s due back in court for a preliminary hearing on Wednesday, Sept. 18.

In January, Makonnen struck a plea deal with prosecutors in connection to an incident last year, in which he was accused of inappropriately touching an employee at Virginia Hospital Center’s Behavioral Health Unit. The original charge of sexual battery was downgraded to disorderly conduct, and a Circuit Court judge agreed to a recommended 12-month jail sentence, with the entire sentence suspended — making Makonnen a free man, on the condition of treatment for mental health issues.

“The Commonwealth felt it was important that mental health treatment be a component of any disposition in the Circuit Court,” outgoing Arlington Commonwealth’s Attorney Theo Stamos told ARLnow.

Stamos continued:

Our office agreed to amend the sexual battery to disorderly conduct (also a Class 1 misdemeanor) with an agreed recommendation of 12 months in jail, all suspended for one year, with the added conditions that the defendant remain compliant with his mental health treatment under the supervision of [Arlington’s Dept. of Human Services] as well as refrain from any contact with the victim. Judge Louise DiMatteo ordered the defendant to return to court on January 10, 2020 to review his compliance. Defense counsel made a strong argument that the amendment to disorderly conduct would allow the defendant to avail himself of a broader range of treatment options as programs often don’t allow individuals with sex-related convictions in their programs.

However, in a video posted in March 2018 (below), two months before the Virginia Hospital Center incident, Makonnen talks into a camera and argues that antipsychotic medication has ruined his life.

Makonnen says in the video that he was diagnosed with schizophrenia and bipolar, but asserts that he was not experiencing any symptoms. He says forced hospitalization is “ridiculous,” the medication he was given “would make me a zombie,” and forced medication is an “injustice.”

Arlington County Police are aware of the video, spokeswoman Ashley Savage told ARLnow yesterday.

Stamos and Savage declined to comment further on the pending murder charge. In addition to murder, Arlington Circuit Court records indicate Makonnen is also being charged with disobeying a court order.

Photo via Google Maps

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Morning Notes

New Coworking Space Coming to Ballston — “Piedmont Office Realty Trust signed a 29K SF lease with WeWork at its Arlington Tower office building at 901 North Glebe Road in Ballston, the REIT said in its Q2 earnings release Wednesday evening. The coworking giant will take the entire fifth floor and plans to open before the end of the year, Piedmont Director Chris Poppell tells Bisnow.” [Bisnow]

Disaster Declaration May Be Coming Soon — “A disaster designation based on damage assessments in Arlington County would allow homeowners and businesses in Alexandria, Arlington and Fairfax County to apply for low-interest federal loans beginning as soon as next week to help pay for repairs. Fairfax County Emergency Management Coordinator Seamus Mooney expects the designation to be approved within the next two weeks.” [WTOP]

Changes Proposed for Pentagon City Hotel — “The owner of the DoubleTree by Hilton in Crystal City is gearing up for a play to capitalize on the 627-room hotel’s proximity to Amazon.com Inc.’s second headquarters. Tom Baltimore, CEO of the hotel’s owner, Park Hotels & Resorts (NYSE: PK), told analysts on its second-quarter earnings call Thursday that the hotel is one of several the company is evaluating as possible redevelopment opportunities.” [Washington Business Journal]

Video: Dark Star Park Day — A timelapse video captured the moment on Thursday morning when the shadows lined up at Rosslyn’s Dark Star Park, as happens once a year on Aug. 1. [Twitter]

Arlington Boy Lives Dream in Boston — “There was a special visitor to the WBZ Weather Center on Thursday. Noah Coon from Arlington, Virginia is a big weather fan and stopped by the studio thanks to Dream On 3. Noah has cerebral palsy and was in Boston to visit the Red Sox. Because he’s also a fan of meteorology, he came to visit the WBZ weather team.” [WBZ]

Video: Yorktown vs. W-L — Just published online: “Long-lost footage of the famous Nov. 5, 1970, mud bowl football game between the Yorktown High School Patriots and the Washington-Lee Generals. Yorktown was favored with a 9-0 record but W-L won 12-0 and earned the Potomac District championship. [YouTube]

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Weeks after flooding ravaged homes and businesses in Westover, nearly a dozen neighbors came together to help one family get at least one piece of their life back together.

After Wendy Naus put out a message on the neighborhood’s group-text chain asking if anyone was available to help move her shed, which was washed across the yard by floodwaters, around ten people showed up and spent two hours gradually shifting the large, blue shed back into its former position.

Some of those who came to help still have not moved back into their own flood-damaged homes, said Naus.

“On the one hand I’m in awe of these people, many of whom still aren’t living in their homes,” she said. “On the other hand, I’m not surprised,” given the close-knit nature of the community.

“I’m more shocked that it worked,” Naus added. “The look on everyone’s face when we moved it… we were shocked that it worked.”

Naus jacked the building up onto cinder blocks, and the neighbors laid planks down across the yard like tracks to slide it back into position. A time-lapse video she shared (below) shows the painstaking work in progress.

Naus said this is just the latest example of how the neighborhood has rallied and helped each other in the days and weeks after floods swept through many local homes. When Naus needed some help dismantling the damaged tiles in her basement, five locals showed up to help clear away the rubble.

“The same group of neighbors on this one small block have all been helping each other out over the last few weeks,” Naus said. “I’ve been hashtagging ‘#BestBlockInAmerica’ for weeks.”

But for the residents of Westover, normalcy is still out of reach.

“It’s been slow,” Naus said. “The air conditioning has been replaced and our missing door and windows have been boarded up. It’s safe, but not it’s just the waiting game for longer-term things. We’re still waiting to hear back from the County on mitigation plans for the future since everyone’s reluctant to work on their basements. It’s still livable, but there’s a long road ahead.”

In the meantime, Naus said it was nice to see everyone smiling and happy at a small celebration after the shed was moved back.

“We all just needed a win,” Naus said. “The shed symbolizes a tangible thing that’s sort of a positive in the aftermath of this flood. It was a morale boost for us.”

Photos 1 & 2 courtesy Wendy Naus

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An Arlington teenager has been selected to be featured in a video about Down syndrome, which will be shown in New York City’s Times Square.

Suzanne Garwood says her 14-year-old daughter Sloane was among the 500 chosen to be featured in the video by the National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS), out of 3,000 people who submitted photos nationwide.

The video is part of the advocacy organization’s annual Buddy Walk Program, which celebrates people with Down syndrome and fundraises for NDSS programs.

Garwood has two children with Down syndrome, Connor, 16, who attends Yorktown High School, and Sloane, who attends the newly re-named Shriver Program. She said her desire for both of them to have the rights and opportunities of any other kid led to her involvement with a local chapter of NDSS.

“I think that they’re making a real impact on Capitol Hill,” she said of the organization. “There are a few bills that they’ve actually gotten passed in the past year. In the context of this environment is really, really impressive.”

NDSS has previously lobbied for a bill allowing people with disabilities to save money without losing Medicaid benefits. The bill ended up passing.

Sloane, who is nonverbal, wasn’t phased when she heard she was picked for the video.

“She was like, yeah whatever,” Garwood laughed, adding that her brother, who is verbal and enjoys social media, was more excited.

The video will air in Times Square on September 14, per the NDSS website.

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Two Arlington institutions — one well established, the other new to town — recently clashed in Falls Church, in an incident caught on video.

Infamous trespass towing titan Advanced Towing can be seen in the YouTube video towing an Amazon delivery van as the driver was mid-delivery at an apartment complex, just across the Arlington border in Falls Church.

In the video, the Amazon delivery driver can be seen hurriedly approaching the apartments to make his deliveries. Then, an Advanced tow truck driver — along with two helpers on foot — work to tow the driver’s van, which was parked in front of several empty parking spaces, with its hazard lights on. The tow truck quickly drives off with the van in tow, the big Amazon swoosh soon well in the distance.

Shortly thereafter, the somewhat confused Amazon driver can be seen talking to another Advanced tow driver in the parking lot.

“The new ‘King of the Hill’ is playing out in Arlington,” quipped a tipster who sent the video to ARLnow.

“How are we supposed to get our Amazon Prime deliveries at all?” asked the video poster, a resident. “They’d probably do this to USPS, FedEx, and UPS trucks too.”

Ballston-based Advanced Towing is contracted by property owners to tow vehicles trespassing in lots where parking is restricted to customers, residents or other permit holders. But its reputed aggressiveness in towing has earned the ire of TV personalities, online reviewers and voters.

This was not the only recent unhappy greeting for Amazon and its new HQ2. Across the river in D.C. today, protesters demonstrated in front of Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos’ house.

Video via TheFPStraveller

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