Press Club

Morning Notes

Bon Air Park azaleas (Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley)

More Bad Driving on I-395 — From Dave Statter: “WATCH THIS! I thought I saw a crash in the distance. Nope. An I-395S driver stopped in the left lane for 30 secs to cross 4 lanes to get to the right hand Boundary Channel exit!” [Twitter]

Drug Take-Back Day Tomorrow — “If you have expired or unused prescription drugs taking up space in your medicine cabinet, Arlington County residents will have an opportunity to safely get rid of them this weekend. National Prescription Drug Take Back Day is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., on Saturday.” [Patch]

Civic Association to Celebrate Anniversary — “The John M. Langston Citizens Association has set a weekend’s worth of activities to celebrate its 85th anniversary, running May 13-15. The association represents residents in the communities of Halls Hill and High View Park, straddling what long was known as Lee Highway but has been renamed Langston Boulevard.” [Sun Gazette]

AHC Honors Volunteers — “Providing services where residents live is AHC’s secret sauce. Volunteers are the key ingredient. This Volunteer Month, AHC is celebrating the nearly 350 individuals and groups who generously contribute their time and talents annually through our education and social services programs.” [AHC Inc.]

Art Truck Marks Five Years — “Not long after I began working for Arlington County, Arlington Arts launched the Arlington Art Truck: a bold new project to take curated and interactive visual art experiences out into the community to where people congregate. Five years in, the program has succeeded beyond our wildest expectations.” [Arlington County]

Rep. Beyer Interviewed — Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) “has cast over 2,100 proxy votes for his colleagues in the last 2 years, by *far* the most of any lawmakers. I spoke w/ him about what that’s like, how it could change, and how he’s cast more votes to impeach Trump (6) than anyone else.” [Business Insider, Twitter]

Va. Requires Digital School Floor Plans — “Every second counts for first responders when it comes to saving lives and now a new Virginia law aims to help those heroes navigate better as they respond to emergencies at schools. Public schools will be required to digitally keep an up-to-date and accurate floor plan for each building.” [Fox 5]

It’s Friday — Clear throughout the day. High of 63 and low of 40. Sunrise at 6:14 am and sunset at 8:00 pm. [Weather.gov]

Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley

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Volunteers at Upton Hill Regional Park removing honeysuckle vines (photo courtesy of NOVA Parks)

A recently-announced partnership between is helping to clear hundreds of invasive plants from Upton Hill Regional Park.

For the past year, work has been ongoing to remove invasive plants from the 27-acre Upton Hill Regional Park located on Wilson Blvd in the Dominion Hills neighborhood. In particular, work has focused on a two acre section of the wooded section of the park with the highest concentration of invasives.

The work is being done by NOVA Parks, the inter-jurisdictional organization that operates Upton Hill, in collaboration with Arlington Master Naturalists, a group of certified volunteers with the mission of protecting local public lands. The partnership between the two organization is being touted by NOVA Parks in conjunction with today’s Earth Day holiday.

Nearly 1,000 volunteer hours were logged in 2021 managing invasive plants at the park, according to a NOVA Parks press release. In particular, volunteers cleared 19 invasive plants that are commonly found in Arlington, including Amur Honeysuckle, English Ivy, Wintercreeper, Rose of Sharon, and Winged Burning Bush.

“Park visitors who know the difference between native and invasive plants will already see a difference, as the natural habitat has been significantly enhanced,” Jill Barker of the Arlington Master Naturalists said. “We are thrilled with the partnership and progress over the last year.”

The work remains ongoing since the removal of invasive plants “is never really done,” notes the release.

Paul Gilbert, the executive director of NOVA Parks, tells ARLnow that the effort is costing NOVA Parks “at least” $100,000 a year in staff time, equipment, and a $60,000 a year contract that brings in “expert contractors to complement the efforts of volunteers and NOVA Parks staff.”

“This work will continue for years,” Gilbert said. “It may scale up or down some based on need over the years.”

Twice a month, the park hosts an invasive plant removal event. Volunteers are encouraged to sign up. The next one is being held this coming Thursday (April 28).

NOVA Parks and Arlington Master Naturalists have recently partnered on other programs as well. In 2020 and 2021 the two organizations, along with the Arlington branch of the NAACP, hosted the “Black and Latin/Hispanic Birder and Naturalist Series.” One of the leaders of that program was noted forestry trailblazer — and Arlington resident — Melody Mobley.

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Morning Notes

As seen along Fairfax Drive in Ballston (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Board Calls Out Youngkin’s Auditor Veto — “The Arlington County Board said Wednesday that Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s veto of its police oversight bill was ‘deeply frustrating.'” [WTOP, Arlington County]

Sen. Kaine Has Long Covid — “Sen. Tim Kaine got covid-19 in the spring of 2020, and nearly two years later he still has mild symptoms.
‘I tell people it feels like all my nerves have had like five cups of coffee,’ Kaine said Wednesday of his ’24/7′ tingling sensation, just after introducing legislation intended to expand understanding of long covid.” [Washington Post]

Volunteers Clean Up Muddy Trail –From the Friends of the Mount Vernon Trail: “Before and after of the Gravelly Point mud puddle which was removed by volunteers on Saturday while edging the trail. Make a difference on the trail when you register for one of our upcoming volunteer events.” [Twitter]

It’s Thursday — Partly cloudy throughout the day. High of 53 and low of 35. Sunrise at 6:39 am and sunset at 6:05 pm. [Weather.gov]

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(Updated on 1/13/22) A number of events around Arlington this weekend will honor Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy.

The county will hold its annual tribute virtually this year, and Volunteer Arlington organized a video challenge and volunteer opportunities on Monday, the federal holiday recognizing King’s birthday.

The county’s annual tribute to King will be livestreamed on Sunday at 5 p.m., featuring music, dance and spoken word.

Kimberly Gordon will sing three songs, including “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” Spoken word artist Kim B. Miller will share her work. Dancer Kamali Hill will perform to “Freedom” and Mahalia Jackson’s version of “Down by the River Side.” Malachi Alexander will dance to “It Ain’t Over” by Maurette Brown Clark.

The Volunteer Arlington’s MLK Day of Service will begin with a virtual ceremony Monday at 9 a.m. followed by a number of opportunities to be civically engaged both virtually and in person.

At the opening ceremony, the winner of the organization’s “Arlington Cares Challenge” will be announced and a $200 donation made toward the local nonprofit they featured in a 1-minute video posted on social media.

Below is a listing of Volunteer Arlington Day of Service opportunities that you can still register for.

The Arlington Regional Master Naturalists have also compiled a list of local environmental service opportunities this weekend.

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(Updated at 11:25 a.m.) The annual wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery is set to take place this weekend.

The event is taking place on Saturday, Dec. 18. It will look a little different due to the pandemic, according to Wreaths Across America, the organization that puts it on. 

Volunteers who wish to help place wreaths on the gravestones of fallen military servicemembers are required to register in advance. They will then show their email confirmation and a photo ID to participate, the event’s website says. Face coverings are required in any indoor part of the cemetery. 

“We are committed to ensuring the safety of all those that want to participate, and as such, will have designated entry gates and times for a limited number of registered volunteers to enter,” Wreaths Across America said. 

COVID-19 almost halted the event last year, as it was initially canceled but later reinstated — as former President Donald Trump rushed to take credit for the reversal. Last year, 1.7 million wreaths from Maine were placed on gravestones at Arlington National Cemetery and more than 2,800 other locations nationwide. 

“As one of the largest veteran cemeteries in the United States, the goal of placing a wreath on every marker is lofty,” the nonprofit said. “Our volunteers are committed to Remembering and Honoring our nation’s veterans through the laying of wreaths on the graves of our country’s fallen heroes and the act of saying the name of each veteran aloud.” 

This past Sunday, family pass holders had the opportunity to lay wreaths at their loved ones’ graves prior to public access.

Wreaths Across America is also accepting individual wreath sponsorships. In the past, the nonprofit has been the subject of scrutiny for its close ties to a Maine wreath manufacturer, both of which are run by the same family.

Arlington County police are planning a number of road closures in the area, associated with the wreath-laying event. More from ACPD:

The annual Wreaths Across America escort of handmade, balsam wreaths destined for Arlington National Cemetery will begin arriving in Arlington County on Friday, December 17th. The annual convoy of wreaths, originating in Maine and ending at Arlington National Cemetery, includes over 75 tractor trailers and numerous support vehicles that will reach the Cemetery at various times throughout the day.

On Saturday, December 18th, several thousand volunteers will descend upon the Cemetery and help lay wreaths on every gravesite throughout the property beginning at 8:00 a.m. The public can anticipate large crowds and heavy pedestrian traffic related to the event. Traffic is expected to be impacted in and around the immediate area and motorists are advised to allow for extended travel times and seek alternate routes to reduce road congestion.

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Morning Notes

Blue and Orange Line Changes Today — “There will be no rail service between Rosslyn and Pentagon stations due to the ongoing investigation into Tuesday’s derailment between Rosslyn and Arlington Cemetery stations. Free shuttle buses will replace trains between Rosslyn, Arlington Cemetery, and Pentagon stations. Blue Line service will operate between Franconia-Springfield and Mt. Vernon Square stations only… Orange Line service will operate between Vienna and New Carrollton stations and Silver Line service will operate between Wiehle-Reston East and Largo Town Center stations, with single tracking between Clarendon and Foggy Bottom.” [WMATA]

Suspicious Object in Pentagon Parking Lot — From the Pentagon Force Protection Agency yesterday afternoon: “At approximately 6:30 a.m., a Pentagon Force Protection Agency (PFPA) Police unit on routine patrol in South parking when they observed a suspicious object. The area was immediately cordoned off, and vehicle and pedestrian traffic was blocked from the area. PFPA Hazardous Device Unit responded and the object was rendered safely at about 6:50 a.m. The all clear was given at 7:35 a.m… There is no threat to the Pentagon and surrounding area. The incident is under further investigation.” [Twitter, Twitter]

Arlingtonian Swims Around Manhattan — “What’s that popular phrase often given as the reason climbers attempt to scale Mount Everest: ‘Because it is there.’ That’s pretty much the same explanation Andie Nelson gave, in addition to being a new challenge, for successfully completing the 28.5-mile 20 Bridges Manhattan Swim around the famous New York City island-borough on Aug. 24. It was the first time the Arlington resident attempted the swim.” [Sun Gazette]

Pair Face Drug, Robbery Charges — “800 block of S. Frederick Street. At approximately 5:43 p.m. on October 10, police were dispatched to the report of a burglary just occurred. Based upon information provided by dispatch and witnesses in the area, a lookout was broadcast and two of the three suspects were located and taken into custody without incident. The investigation determined that the three known suspects allegedly forced entry into the victim’s apartment and physically assaulted her before stealing two cell phones and fleeing the scene on foot. During a search of the two suspects incident to arrest, items consistent with drug paraphernalia were recovered.” [ACPD]

Clarendon Road Closure Today — From the Arlington Dept. of Environmental Services: “Wednesday 9am – 1pm: Temporary closure of EB Washington Blvd between N Kirkwood and Wilson Blvd for roadway infrastructure. Expect detour at Kirkwood to 10th St North, then to Wilson. WB Washington Blvd open but expect delays.” [Twitter]

Volunteer to Remove Trail Bumps — From Friends of the Mount Vernon Trail: “Tired of those bumps on the trail? Volunteer to help us fix them. Volunteer to fix the bumps near Memorial Bridge on 10/16.” [Twitter, Eventbrite]

Video Tour of Local Fire Station — From the Arlington County Fire Department: “Since COVID prevented us from opening up our fire stations to tours during fire prevention week, we hope our community enjoys this video tour of Fire Station 5 given by the members assigned there on C Shift.” [Twitter, YouTube]

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Morning Notes

Board OKs More Small Biz Money — “The Arlington County Board voted 5-0 today to approve the Small Business GRANT 2.0 program, which will provide direct financial assistance to small businesses as they continue to recover from the devastating impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.  The GRANT 2.0 program will provide immediate funds to businesses and nonprofits to aid in their short-term recovery.” [Arlington County]

Amazon Ramps Up HQ2 Hiring — “That job posting is one of roughly 2,700 openings newly unveiled by Amazon for its HQ2 campus, 99% of which are full-time corporate roles. The slew of new openings was added to the company’s jobs site earlier this week, ahead of Wednesday’s annual Amazon Career Day, held virtually… This is one of the bigger hiring pushes by the tech giant, which disclosed this month that its latest HQ2 employee tally tops 3,000, nearly double its last count in December.” [Washington Business Journal]

Amazon Charts Path to Net Zero Carbon — “Amazon.com Inc.’s design for the second phase of its HQ2 development must be carbon-neutral to comply with both Arlington County’s policy, as well as the tech giant’s own climate pledge to reach that status by 2040… The company’s consultant, Seattle-based Paladino and Co. Inc., found that carbon neutrality is “likely feasible” based on the current PenPlace [HQ2] design.” [Washington Business Journal]

Another Video of Columbia Pike Flooding — “We needed some scuba gear out on Columbia Pike” during Thursday’s flash flooding near S. Greenbrier Street. [Twitter]

Lots of Locals Want to Work at the Polls — “Arlington has too many people wanting to serve as poll officials in the upcoming election. Way, way too many. About 440 are needed and more than 1,100 expressed interest in serving, said Eric Olsen, Arlington’s deputy registrar. He called it, without hyperbole, ‘an extraordinary amount of interest.'” [Sun Gazette]

Remembering the Alexandria Canal — “The canal was completed in 1843. It roughly followed today’s Metro blue line and South Eads Street in Crystal City. Canal shipping, though interrupted by the Civil War, continued until 1886, by which time, railroads had rendered it obsolete. In modern times, remnants of the Aqueduct Bridge are visible from both the Virginia and Georgetown sides of the Potomac.” [Falls Church News-Press]

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Civilians prepare to board a plane at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan (via Defense Visual Information Distribution Service)

(Updated at 10:50 a.m.) When the U.S. started evacuating Afghan interpreters on July 30, Arlington-based Ethiopian Community Development Council — better known as ECDC — got to work helping them resettle in Northern Virginia.

The organization, founded to help Ethiopians but which has a more global reach today, is one of three agencies authorized to resettle refugees with Special Immigrant Visas in the region.

“The majority of Afghan SIVs, currently, are being placed in the cities of Denver, Silver Spring, Houston, Arlington, and San Diego,” ECDC spokeswoman Emily Gilkinson said. “In the Arlington area, we have received about five to seven SIV holders, along with their families, per week. There have been a few couples or individuals but generally, family sizes range from 4-10 people. They are staying with their U.S. ties, in hotels or Airbnbs until moving into permanent housing.”

The other authorized resettlement agencies in the area include Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Arlington and Lutheran Social Services.

“Catholic Charities resettles the most refugees in the area, followed by LSS, then by ECDC,” said Bryna Helfer, Arlington County’s assistant county manager for communications and public engagement.

Arlington’s branch of Catholic Charities has welcomed more than 2,600 SIV holders to Northern Virginia in the last six years, and resettled 326 SIV holders — most of whom are from Afghanistan — this fiscal year, said Diana Sims Snider, the deputy director of communications for the diocese.

The organization, based in Arlington with migration and refugee offices in Arlington, Manassas, Fredericksburg and Sterling, is one of about 40 Catholic Charities around the country resettling Afghan families, she said.

For the last three weeks, the military has been facilitating flights from Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul, some of which have touched down at Dulles International Airport. Nearly 2,000 Afghan interpreters and other refugees eligible for SIVs have gone to central Virginia’s Fort Lee military base, which is operating as a temporary host facility.

Catholic Charities got to work on July 30, welcoming several planeloads of evacuated Afghan SIV holders at Fort Lee, Snider said.

“Catholic Charities staff provided legal assistance for paperwork completion, translation, child activities, and other essential resources to men, women and children at Fort Lee, Virginia,” she said. “Many of these SIV-holders then traveled on to destinations elsewhere in the U.S. to settle with family already residing in this country. About 35 of those Afghan SIV-holders who came to Fort Lee in August are settling in the Diocese of Arlington.”

The situation has become more dire and unpredictable with the fall of Kabul.

“We receive notification of arrivals only a few days before, and therefore it is very difficult to predict how many we will receive,” Gilkinson said. “We are doing our best to be flexible and responsive to the requests and information whenever it comes, as we recognize the urgency of the situation.”

How to help

ECDC and Catholic Charities both have listed ways that people can help.

“We greatly appreciate the interest that people from the local community have shown in supporting SIVs upon arrival,” Gilkinson said. “Successfully welcoming and integrating these individuals and other refugees escaping similar dangerous situations across the world is something our agency cannot do alone.”

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Grime-covered wall on the Mount Vernon Trail, (Photo via Friends of Mount Vernon Trail/Twitter)

Like a lot of us, the Mount Vernon Trail has gotten a shabby and unkempt over the last year, and the Friends of the Mount Vernon Trail group is looking for some local help to get it back into shape.

The group is planning to meet this Saturday, Aug. 14, from 8-10 a.m. at Crystal City Water Park (1601 Crystal Drive).

According to the event sign up, volunteers will help remove vegetation blocking visibility along the trail, remove fallen limbs — presumably tree limbs — and remove mud from the trail.

“No special skills are needed,” the Friends of the Mount Vernon Trail said on the post. “We’ll teach you how to help in just a few minutes.”

Those interested in helping out should bring:

  • Work gloves, though some will be available to borrow
  • Pruners or limb loppers, if you have them
  • Sunscreen
  • Water

Long sleeves and pants are recommended.

Other vegetation clearing events are also planned over the next month. Another one is planned for the intersection of the Mount Vernon Trail and Four Mile Run Trail on Saturday, Aug. 21. If arriving by car, the group noted the closest place to park is in the lot at 3920 Potomac Avenue.

The sign up page noted that dense vegetation near the intersection has been a frequent problem for trail users.

“Volunteers will remove vegetation near the trail that is blocking the sight line for people at the junction of the Mount Vernon Trail and Four Mile Run Trail,” the group said. “This area has been identified as a high crash area due to poor sightlines combined with multiple turning movements.”

The group is also planning to power-wash a moldy bridge near the Washington Sailing Marina later this month. Along with the usual vegetation removal, the group is planning to meet on Saturday, Aug. 18, to remove vegetation and debris from a wooden bridge that often becomes slick during inclement weather.

Photo via Friends of the Mount Vernon Trail/Twitter

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Morning Notes

School Reopening Protest Tonight — “Arlington parents frustrated by Arlington Public Schools’ unwillingness to add more in-person instructional days this school year will rally ahead of the next school board meeting to let their voices be heard… [from] 5:30-7 p.m., ahead of the next Arlington County School Board meeting.” [Press Release]

Arlington Gets ‘Tree City USA’ Designation — “The Arlington County government on April 30 will receive its 24th annual ‘Tree City USA’ designation from the National Arbor Day Foundation, honoring the community’s efforts in tree planting and preservation. The award will be presented at the county’s annual Arbor Day celebration, an affair downscaled due to the pandemic but slated to be held at Carlin Springs Elementary School.” [Sun Gazette]

County Thanks Vax Volunteers — “We want to take a moment to say THANK YOU to the staff and volunteers at our vaccination sites. From supply chain management, to organizing a visitor line, to giving the shot itself, we’re grateful for this amazing crew for all they do to make it happen!” [Facebook]

Petition to Rename DCA Goes Viral — A Georgetown University freshman’s online petition to rename Reagan National Airport after teen singer, dancer and actor JoJo Siwa has received more than 3,000 votes. [Change.org, DCist]

Photo courtesy Leslie Koch

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Morning Notes

County Board Approves Several Projects — “The Arlington County Board took action at its April meeting on a number of projects designed to invest in community development and improve infrastructure throughout the County. ‘The Board’s actions today invest in Arlington’s future through a flexible space for the arts, additional flexibility to allow for additional affordable housing, four neighborhood conservation projects, and infrastructure that improves our core utilities and provides essential services for our residents,’ County Board Chair Matt de Ferranti said.” [Arlington County]

Local Group’s Statement on Chauvin Verdict — Black Parents of Arlington issued a statement last night about the verdict in George Floyd’s murder: “This ‘justice’ system, while today handed down a verdict that provides accountability, cannot, and will not, ever restore justice. Justice is when a Black photographer can visit a client without being harassed by both neighbors and law enforcement. Justice is when a pregnant Black woman can deliver her baby with dignity, and not in the captivity of an Arlington County jail.” [Press Release]

More Students Taken Off In-Person Waitlists — “In response to the CDC’s 3-foot distancing update, schools have continued to accommodate more students in person, and nearly half of all APS schools have cleared their waitlists. So far in April, nearly 1,000 students have been added for in-person instruction, and we are working through the remaining students as capacity allows. Additionally, more classes at the elementary level have now transitioned into one classroom, versus the previous split classes.” [Arlington Public Schools]

Candidates Want More APS Transparency — “The two candidates for the Democratic endorsement for School Board say there’s one tangible thing the county school system can do immediately in an effort to address seemingly intractable achievement disparities. Let the sunshine in. The way to address achievement gaps ‘is to know that they’re there – bring them out into the light.'” [Sun Gazette]

Fundraising Advantage for Incumbents — “Two Arlington legislators facing intra-party challenges from their left are maintaining healthy cash-on-hand totals headed toward June 8 primary showdowns. Del. Patrick Hope (D-Arlington) ended the first quarter with $120,853 in his campaign account, while challenger Matt Rogers had $13,180, according to filings with the Virginia Department of Elections… In the 49th District, Del. Alfonso Lopez ended the quarter with $131,117 on hand compared to $30,990 for educator Karishma Mehta.” [Sun Gazette]

County Board Recognizes ‘Notable’ Trees — “Arlington has more than 750,400 trees of at least 122 species that provide $1 million in environmental benefits to the County annually in the form of pollution removal, carbon storage, energy savings, and avoided stormwater runoff, and are valued at $1.41 billion total. On Tuesday, April 20, 32 of these trees will be designated as Notable Trees by the Arlington County Board.” [Arlington County]

Local Park Volunteers Honored — “The Arlington County Board will recognize two winners of the Bill Thomas Park Volunteer Award at its Board meeting on Tuesday, April 20. Elaine Mills and Glenn Tobin will be recognized for their dedication and support of Arlington County natural resources and public open spaces. Mills is the winner for 2019 and Tobin is the winner for 2020.” [Arlington County]

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