(Updated at 9:20 p.m.) A man died Thursday afternoon after being found unconscious in his cell at the Arlington County Detention Facility.
Bennie Turner, 40, was released Thursday at 10 a.m. on a court ordered furlough, for an ill family member. He returned from his authorized absence on time at 2 p.m, and returned to his unit just after 2:30 p.m.
Turner was found unconscious in his cell at 4:48 p.m. Deputies and medical staff tried to resuscitate him before the fire department arrived and transported Turner to the Virginia Hospital Center. He was pronounced dead at the hospital at 5:36 p.m.
His family was notified of his death late Thursday night.
An autopsy will be conducted by the Medical Examiner’s Office and the death is being investigated by the Arlington County Police Department, per standard procedure.
More Beds Likely at VHC — Virginia Hospital Center is likely to receive authorization to add more than 40 new beds. That’s less than its original request of 100 new beds, for which it received push-back. [InsideNova]
New Library App — Arlington Public Library has released a new app for iPhone and Android. Users can perform tasks including checking their accounts, searching the catalog, booking meeting rooms and checking operating hours. [Arlington County]
Kaine Staff to Hold Arlington Office Hours — Sen. Tim Kaine’s (D) staff will hold office hours at the Westover Library (1644 N. McKinley Road) on Thursday from 1-3 p.m. They will be available for one-on-one meetings with citizens to answer questions or address concerns. Those interested in speaking with a staff member are encouraged to make an appointment in advance, but walk-ins also are welcome. [Sen. Tim Kaine]
Candidates Largely Favor Land Swap — During a debate, Democratic County Board candidates generally indicated they want the county to move forward with a land swap agreement with Virginia Hospital Center. VHC has offered the county various pieces of land in exchange for a 5-acre parcel of county-owned land on N. Edison Street, just north of the VHC property. [InsideNova]
Impact of Pike Streetcar Cancellation — There’s speculation that the county’s 2014 cancellation of the Columbia Pike streetcar plan may have contributed to stalling revitalization efforts in the Bailey’s Crossroads area of Fairfax County. [Washington Post]
New Assistant County Manager — Arlington County has named Samia Byrd as a new assistant county manager. Byrd has more than 20 years of planning experience and will serve as a senior adviser to County Manager Mark Schwartz. [Arlington County]
Historic District Proposal — Next month the County Board will consider a proposal to designate “The Hermitage,” a home at 4025 N. Randolph Street, as a local historic district. [InsideNova]
Farmhouse Sale Not Certain — Arlington County officials are pretty sure the historic Reeves farmhouse in Bluemont will sell to a private buyer, but it’s not a given. The cost of fixing up the house may be more than it is worth. [InsideNova]
Arlington Healthcare Co. Considering Merger — Ballston-based Evolent Health is exploring a possible merger with D.C.-based Advisory Board Company, a healthcare consulting firm that helped to fund and launch Evolent. [Reuters]
VHC Land Swap Still in Progress — A proposed land swap that would give Virginia Hospital Center 5.5 acres of county government land next to its main campus, allowing it to expand, is continuing “to make its way through procedural steps.” The swap could happen as early as June 2018, with Arlington County getting some combination of land and/or cash in return, though it depends on some regional and state regulatory approvals. [InsideNova]
Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf
Webb Running for School Board — Former candidate for Congress Mike Webb says he’s running for Arlington School Board against incumbent James Lander. “Every problem that we face in Arlington’s public schools can find a solution in opening public charter schools,” Webb wrote in a Facebook post. [Blue Virginia]
Handbag Schemer Led Lavish Lifestyle — Praepitcha Smatsorabudh, the Arlington resident who was just sentenced to 30 months in prison for a fake handbag scheme, led a lavish jet-setting lifestyle that she documented on Instagram while perpetrating the $1 million fraud. [The Sun, Daily Mail]
Metro Installing More WiFi — After a six-station pilot program, Metro has announced that it will be installing public WiFi at all of its underground stations. The work is expected to begin this summer and wrap up by the end of 2018. [The Hill]
VHC to Expand Mental Health Facilities — Virginia Hospital Center is being pushed to expand its behavioral and mental health facilities as part of a proposed expansion of the hospital. Currently, the facilities are located in the hospital’s basement and only include 18 beds. There are an estimated 6,000 people with serious mental illness in Arlington County. [InsideNova]
Arlington Suicide Prevention Survey — Arlington is conducting an online survey about the county’s suicide prevention resources and services. [SurveyMonkey]
Photo courtesy Mark T.
Boards Cooperate on Stratford History — The Arlington County Board voted yesterday to collaborate with the School Board on a historic designation for the Stratford school, cutting the sometimes meddlesome Historic Affairs and Landmark Review Board out of the process to save time and money. Said County Board Chair Mary Hynes: “There is perhaps no building in Arlington more worthy of historic designation than Stratford — both for the seminal events that occurred there in 1959 and the unique architecture of the building.” [InsideNova, Arlington County]
Police: Inmate’s Death Due to Natural Causes — A 53-year-old man who died while being held at the Arlington County jail in October died of natural causes, according to Arlington County Police. Detectives determined that Edward Straughn had an “extensive history of medical issues.” He was originally arrested for being drunk in public. Straughn’s death was the second in-custody death for Arlington in 2015. [Arlington County]
Land Purchase Agreement With Hospital Approved — The Arlington County Board last night voted to approve an option agreement that would allow Virginia Hospital Center to buy 5.5 acres of county-owned property next to its campus for a minimum of $12.5 million. The eventual purchase may include cash and/or a land swap. [Arlington County]
Fundraiser for Local Dad Who Died Suddenly — Nathan Graham, the father of four young sons and a volunteer bishop at the LDS church in Crystal City, died unexpectedly while on a business trip to China. An online fundraiser to help support Graham’s family has raised more than $95,000. [YouCaring]
History Task Force Makes Final Recommendations — Arlington County’s History Task Force has presented its final recommendations to the County Board. The task force says Arlington should devote resources to better preserving Arlington’s history, including via the development of a unified digital archive. [Arlington County]
Board Candidates Debate, Find Agreement — Updated at 12:30 p.m. — The four candidates for Arlington County Board participated in a candidates forum organized by the Arlington Forest Civic Association last night. The candidates found agreement on two notable issue: affordable housing shouldn’t be built on parkland — or, at least, certain parkland — and county property taxes shouldn’t be raised at this time. [Washington Post]
JPod Meeting on the Pike — The man behind a proposal to bring a monorail-like pod transportation system to Columbia Pike made his case to residents and to County Board Vice Chairman Walter Tejada at the Walter Reed Community Center last night. There are still several potential deal-breaking questions about the feasibility of the proposal. [InsideNova]
Teachers Training on Digital Devices — Arlington Public Schools continues to train teachers and educate parents about the use of digital devices like iPads and MacBooks in schools. APS is continuing its rollout of “personalized” devices, with the goal of each student having their own device. [Arlington Public Schools]
Exercise Helped Real-World Response at VHC — Arlington County says that an emergency response exercise at Virginia Hospital Center two years ago greatly helped the real-world response to a fire at the hospital last week. Evacuations of patients went smoothly and no one was hurt. [Arlington County]
GOP Presidential Candidate in Arlington Today — Long-shot Republican presidential candidate and former New York governor George Pataki will be speaking at George Mason University’s Arlington campus this afternoon. The speech on domestic and foreign policy is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. at GMU’s Founders Hall (3351 Fairfax Drive).
Another South Arlington School Site Identified — A county working group is continuing its effort to identify a preferred site for a new elementary school in South Arlington, to be built by 2019, but in the meantime the group has identified a potential future school site. The South Arlington Working Group says a school could be built by 2024 on parcels of land that currently include the Aurora Hills Community Center, Virginia Highlands Park and a portion of the RiverHouse apartment complex. [InsideNova]
Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman
Board Approves Hospital Land Swap Option — The Arlington County Board has taken a first step to completing a deal to swap land with Virginia Hospital Center. The Board unanimously approved a non-binding Letter of Intent giving the hospital an option to purchase five acres of county-owned property adjacent to it. [Arlington County]
Apple iPhone Launch Day — A man has been camped out in front of the Clarendon Apple Store since Wednesday, in anticipation of today’s launch of the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus. The man, whose name is Joe, said it was his fourth year camping out for a new iPhone. [WJLA]
New Play Area Coming to Butler Holmes Park — Butler Holmes Park, which is tucked into a little corner of the Penrose neighborhood near Route 50, is getting a new, $414,000 pre-school play area, to complement the park’s existing playground and rain garden. “Besides whimsical tot lot features like a basket swing, see-saw and fairy tale structure, the project also includes safe play surfaces, a new park staircase and walkway, picnic tables and grills and signage,” said a press release. [Arlington County]
NSF HQ Purchased — An Atlanta-based real estate investment fund has purchased Stafford Place I, the Ballston office building that’s currently headquarters to the National Science Foundation. NSF will be moving out in 2017 and the buyer plans to “aggressively” market the property, which it purchased for $210 million. [Bisnow]
County Board Approves House Purchase — Arlington County will purchase a house at 2827 N. Harrison Street for $728,000, with the intention of knocking it down and using the property to enlarge Chestnut Hills Park. “This is another example of how the County is looking for every opportunity to add to our parks and open space,” said Arlington County Board Chair Mary Hynes. [Arlington County]
Flickr pool photo by Eric
A fire on the sixth floor of the Virginia Hospital Center caused the building to be evacuated and patients to be moved to another part of the floor.
The fire was reported around 3:30 p.m. It was caused by medical equipment, including an oxygen tank, on a stretcher, said Battalion Chief Dan Fitch.
“Patients in that section of the floor were transferred to another section on the same floor, and we protected them in place and secured the rest of the floor,” Fitch said.
No was injured.
Sprinklers extinguished most of the fire before firefighters arrived, but there was smoke on the floor, he said. Firefighters could be seen using hoses, as well, according to one observer.
Firefighters were able to ventilate the sixth floor and patients were moved back to their rooms around 3:45 p.m.
Some people are going back into the hospital. Hose near me is still pumping water. No word from fire officials. That's who I trust.
— Charlotte Volpe (@flautista2011) September 24, 2015
Arlington, VHC Agree to Land Swap Terms — Arlington County and Virginia Hospital Center have preliminarily agreed to terms on a future land deal that would give the hospital extra room to expand. The deal would swap the county’s Edison Complex, next to the hospital, for hospital-owned property elsewhere and/or cash and other considerations. The County Board will vote on a proposed Letter of Intent on Sept. 24. [Arlington County]
Arlington Teen Mauled by Pit Bull — A 17-year-old was mauled by a pit bull in his home on 8th Street S., police said. The house was reportedly being used as a babysitting service for pit bulls and the boy suffered serious injuries after trying to break up a fight between two of the dogs. [NBC Washington]
Artisphere Still in County Hands — Arlington County and Monday Properties have not yet finalized a lease termination for the former Artisphere space in Rosslyn. While there has been some talk of a tech-related use for the massive, airy space — which costs $1 million per year just for heating, cooling and utilities — it’s as yet unclear what, if anything, will actually replace Artisphere. [DCist]
Arlington Loses Large Potential Tenant — Despite a push from Arlington County and Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, The Advisory Board Co. will be staying in D.C. Local and state officials had hoped to woo the publicly traded company to the vacant 1812 N. Moore Street tower in Rosslyn, but in the end a $60 million incentive package offered by D.C. convinced the company to move to a New York Ave NW address near the convention center. [Washington Business Journal]
Tonight: E.T. Showing at the Planetarium — The Friends of Arlington’s Planetarium will kick off their fall fundraising festival this weekend with a movie screening tonight. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial will be showing at the planetarium starting at 7 p.m. tonight. Other events are planned for Saturday and Sunday. [Friends of Arlington’s Planetarium]
Fall Festival at Bluemont Park — On Saturday, Bluemont Park will host its free Fall Festival, featuring activities for all ages, including cornhole, bocce, a moon bounce, relay races and face painting. [Facebook]
Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley
Petition to Rename DCA Nears Goal — A petition to rename Reagan National Airport “Washington National Airport” has gathered nearly 70,000 of its goal of 75,000 signatures. The petition is a progressive group’s response to Republican outrage over President Obama’s renaming of Mount McKinley to its original name, Denali. [CREDO Action, Washington Post]
Fire at Shopping Center — Arlington County firefighters battled a small blaze at the Lyon Village Shopping Center last night. [Twitter]
Meeting on Hospital Expansion — Arlington County and Virginia Hospital Center officials are holding a meeting tomorrow (Wednesday) night regarding a proposed land swap between the county and VHC, which would allow the hospital to expand. [Arlington County]
Back to School, Back to Traffic — Arlington Public Schools students, along with students in other Northern Virginia localities, are returning to school today. Thanks to the influx of school buses and commuters returning from vacation on the roads, the first day after Labor Day is dubbed “Terrible Traffic Tuesday” by AAA Mid Atlantic.
Deal With Hospital Expected — Arlington County is expected to hold a public meeting next month to discuss a land deal with Virginia Hospital Center. The county is reportedly ready to sign a memorandum of understanding with the hospital for a five-acre, county-owned parcel of land adjacent to it, which would then allow the hospital to expand. Details of the deal were not yet available. [Washington Business Journal]
County History Survey — To help county leaders understand which aspects of local history are especially important to residents, Arlington is conducting an online survey, asking for “ideas on collecting, preserving, sharing our history.” An Arlington Historical Task Force will take the survey into account when presenting recommendations for historic preservation priorities later this year. [Arlington County, Preservation Arlington]
When the KKK Marched Through Arlington — In 1922 about 400 members of the Ku Klux Klan, including some prominent local citizens, marched through Arlington neighborhoods like Clarendon, Ballston, Cherrydale and Rosslyn. At the time, the Klan was a powerful organization that claimed 60,000 members in Northern Virginia, sponsored youth baseball teams and owned a field for cross burnings on what is now Ballston Common Mall. The Klan’s message was that of racism and intolerance, but it also advocated for law and order and against corruption in government and vices like drinking. [Falls Church News-Press, Our Redneck Past]
Theodore Roosevelt Island Profiled — USA Today has published a profile of Theodore Roosevelt Island, near Rosslyn. Included in the profile are notable facts about the island, including the fact that what now appears to be a natural forest was “clear-cut, trampled and even bombed by 1931.” [USA Today]
County Touts Smart Growth 2.0 — In Mary Hynes’ recent State of the County speech, and now in a press release, Arlington officials are suggesting that the era of big economic gains from smart growth is over, and a new path forward is necessary. “This is a moment unlike many… it maybe will be comparable in some ways to what happened on September 11 (2001), in terms of being a fundamental questioning of ourselves and a stepping into the space,” Hynes said in the speech. [Arlington County]
Arlington Startup Raises $4.7 Million — Brazen, an Arlington-based startup formerly known as Brazen Careerist, has raised $4.7 million in new venture funding. The company offers an “enterprise-focused chat platform” that “combines event hosting with speed dating.” [Washington Business Journal]
Cinnabon Coming to Pentagon City Mall — A Cinnabon location is coming to the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City this fall. The cinnamon roll seller will be located on the third level of the mall, near Macy’s. On Thursday the Fashion Centre also announced that restaurants Charley’s Grilled Subs and Which Wich will be coming to its food court later this summer.
Hynes Hoping to Strike Hospital Land Deal — Arlington County Board Chair Mary Hynes said she hopes to strike a deal to trade or sell county land to Virginia Hospital Center by the end of the year. The hospital is interested in acquiring soon-to-be-unused county land next to its campus, in exchange for cash or for hospital-owned land elsewhere. [InsideNova]
Anti-Semitic fliers were found on the steps of homes near Virginia Hospital Center today.
The fliers, soggy from the rain, were spotted in front of homes on 16th Street N. and N. Edison Street. Fliers were also left in front of the hospital’s emergency room entrance, according to a tipster.
Within the fliers were hateful messages and conspiracy theories about Jews and Israel.
Chris Williams, a 16th Street resident, picked up two fliers he found lying around. Others nearby were torn up and in scraps on the street.
“I guess it was a good thing it rained,” he said. “[The fliers] were just laying in the yard. It seems like they didn’t want to get caught because they didn’t go put them where the other fliers go.”
Williams said he’s never seen anything like them in the 11 years he’s lived here.
“I prefer not to live near people like that, but you have to,” he said.
It’s not clear, however, who distributed the fliers. Last week it was reported that similar fliers had been distributed to homes in parts of Arlington, Alexandria, Chevy Chase, Md. and various neighborhoods in Northwest D.C.
An Arlington police spokesman could not be reached for comment.
Australian Restaurant Coming to Clarendon — Oz, a new Australian restaurant, will be opening in the former La Tagliatella space in Clarendon late this summer. The restaurant is owned by Australian native Michael Darby, co-founder of Monument Realty, and his wife Ashley Darby, the 2011 Miss District of Columbia winner. [Washington Business Journal]
New Ballston Apartment Project in the Works — Saul Centers, which developed the Clarendon Center project, is planning a new residential and retail development on the Orange Line. The developer is in the early stages of proposing a 12-story, 431-unit apartment building to replace the Rosenthal Mazda dealership at the corner of N. Glebe Road and Wilson Blvd. [Washington Business Journal]
Parking Lot Hit-and-Run Case in Court — A court hearing was held Monday for Alexandra Mendez, the woman accused of running over a man in a Columbia Pike parking lot and then fleeing the scene. Prosecutors showed the court a cell phone video of the incident, which nearly killed 40-year-old Noormustafa “Noor” Shaikh. A doctor testified that Shaikh’s “bones were like shards” after being run over by Mendez in her SUV. [WJLA]
Arlington Highly Ranked by AARP — Arlington County is the 6th most livable place in the U.S. with a population between 100,000 and 500,000, according to a new survey by AARP. Also in the AARP survey, Arlington ranked No. 1 in the “Best Cities for Staying Healthy” category, thanks to an abundance of exercise opportunities. The survey targeted Americans age 50 and older. [WTOP]
VHC and County Considering Land Swap — Virginia Hospital Center and Arlington County have started discussing a possible land swap. The swap would trade soon-to-be-vacated county properties adjacent to the hospital — which would allow VHC to expand — for hospital property elsewhere in the county. Virginia Hospital Center, meanwhile, is getting kudos from the federal government. According to new hospital rankings from Medicare, VHC is the only “four star” hospital in the D.C. area. [InsideNova, Washington Post]
Flickr pool photo by J. Peterson