Press Club

(Updated at 5:10 p.m.) The Arlington County Board today called for action to stem the tide of gun violence, while groups of students around the county held walkouts in response to the elementary school shooting in Texas.

The Board condemned gun violence and urged state legislators to tighten gun control in a statement issued this afternoon.

Board members called on state lawmakers to close the gift exemption to background checks and allow local licensing and registration requirements for buying and selling guns, among other measures.

“There is a great deal more to be done to address gun violence, and we call on the Virginia General Assembly and the Governor to make protecting all Virginians a priority and to remove the restrictions that bar the Commonwealth’s localities from implementing the gun safety actions that make sense for our communities,” the statement said.

Meanwhile, students at Washington-Liberty High School, Arlington Career Center, Dorothy Hamm Middle School and Williamsburg Middle School participated in walkouts as part of a national effort led by Students Demand Action.

Around 20 students at Washington-Liberty participated in the demonstration, walking to Quincy Park, where students took turns giving short speeches.

One of the students participating said she had to ask her friends about their safety on three different occasions in a year due to issues related to gun violence.

“We’re so desensitized to our own deaths in this society,” she said, “People are desensitized to them dying, that’s terrible because this has happened so much.”

Students also talked about a shooting threat their high school received in October, which led to the school shutting down for the day. The threat turned out to be false.

“This nationwide walkout is mainly to protest the fact that we go to school, especially with bomb threats and shooting threats, and have to sit there, subconsciously knowing that ‘hey, we may be victim one day,'” Megan, a student, said.

Megan told ARLnow that she heard about the walkout from an email the school principal sent in the morning acknowledging the nationwide walkout, as well as hearing about the effort. Another participant, Grace, learned of the walkout from her friends and her mother. Both students said they had participated in several walkouts against school gun violence in the past.

“I went to this walkout because I think people should protest for things they believe in, and this is something I believe in,” Grace said.

Students at the Career Center walkout held up signs that read “Enough is Enough” and “Thoughts & Prayers are NOT Enough,” according to photos tweeted by CBS News correspondent Natalie Brand.

“We’re out here not because we want to skip class but because we fear for our lives going to school, because anyone can go out and buy an assault rifle and shoot up a school,” one of the students said in a speech, according to a video tweeted by Brand.

Arlington police stepped up patrols around schools in the wake of the mass shooting. Arlington Public Schools, in an email sent to families, said support services are available for students and staff trying to grapple with the horrific crime.

The County Board’s full statement is below.

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Morning Notes

Deer in a local neighborhood (Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann)

Memorial Day Closures — County offices and facilities like libraries and community centers will be closed Monday for the Memorial Day holiday. Metered parking will not be enforced. But trash collection will continue as normal. [Arlington County, Twitter]

Tree Group Opposes ‘Missing Middle’ — “A tree-advocacy group believes proposed changes to Arlington housing policy could have a cataclysmic impact on existing tree canopy in the community. ‘Tell the county ‘no’ – do not enact policies that further reduce our tree canopy,’ the Arlington Tree Action Group (ATAG) said May 20 in response to a county-government proposal on possible zoning changes.” [Sun Gazette]

Chamber Supports New Ballston Metro Entrance — “I am writing to express our strong support for full Authority funding of Arlington County’s $80 million application for the Ballston-MU Metrorail Station West Entrance. This project is a critical improvement to the regional transit network and supports the Authority’s programming goals of modal and geographic balance… As we move forward, its construction will be very important to the success of businesses in Arlington.” [Arlington Chamber of Commerce]

W-L’s Royal Rowing History — “In the spring of 1958, under the guidance of head coach Charlie Butt, a group of teenage rowers from Washington-Lee High School (now Washington-Liberty) performed so well at stateside races that they earned a spot at the Henley Royal Regatta in England–becoming the first public high school in America invited to the iconic race, which dates to 1839. But first, they needed money.” [Arlington Magazine]

County Now Offering Boosters for Kids — “After federal approvals, Arlington County and other providers are offering the COVID-19 vaccine booster to children aged 5 to 11.” [Patch]

County Polling About Pickleball — “As Arlington’s population continues to grow and sports trends change, the Department of Parks and Recreation recognizes there has been a shift in the use and demand for outdoor athletic courts. Our Outdoor Athletic Court Project includes creating criteria to identify existing courts that are candidates for permanent pickleball lines as well as identify an existing amenity to convert into a permanent pickleball facility.” [Arlington County]

Storms Possible Tomorrow — From the National Weather Service: “We’ll stay mostly dry and cloudy for the remainder of today with highs in the 60s across the area. We are monitoring the potential for an unsettled start to the long holiday weekend this Friday with severe storm/flood threats.” [Twitter]

It’s Thursday — Overcast throughout the day. High of 71 and low of 60. Sunrise at 5:49 am and sunset at 8:25 pm. [Weather.gov]

Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann

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Morning Notes

Rainy day in Ballston (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

‘Midsummer’ Starts Next Month — “Synetic Theater, the home of American Physical Theater and movement-based storytelling, announces the return of its acclaimed adaptation of William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, directed and choreographed by company co-founders Paata and Irina Tsikurishvili. The production runs June 30 through July 24.” [Synetic Theater]

Local Donut Shop Expanding — “The owners of a Ballston doughnut shop and cafe are building out a commercial kitchen in Tysons to support a growing wholesale business and its own planned expansion… Charles Kachadoorian, a Good Company co-owner, said the shop has outgrown its capacity at 672 N. Glebe Road in Ballston, from which it produces sweets for its cafe, for other coffee shops to sell retail, and for its own catering business. It plans to expand across all of those avenues, Kachadoorian said, including with a new shop in Crystal City in the shorter term and one in D.C. in 2024.” [Washington Business Journal]

GOP Concern Over ‘Missing Middle’ — “Several Arlington Republicans have expressed your concerns about the County’s proposal to upzone single-family residential plots in neighborhoods across the county. We are passing along information from Arlingtonians for Our Sustainable Future (ASF), should you decide you want to make your voice heard on this issue.” [Arlington GOP]

Planetarium Supporters Look to Future — “Boosters of the Arlington school system’s planetarium are hopeful that new budget funding will enable the facility – shuttered since before the pandemic – to reopen with a permanent teacher attached to it by fall. School Board members in early May overruled Superintendent Francisco Durán and dropped in nearly $150,000 to support the David M. Brown Planetarium for the coming school year. Durán had proposed keeping the facility closed for another year.” [Sun Gazette]

Rosslyn Walk Planned — “When you’re out and about, do you find yourself contemplating how sidewalks, land use, and street connectivity influence your experience and enjoyment of public spaces? If so, make sure to RSVP to WalkArlington’s upcoming “Walk and Learn” focused on street design in Rosslyn on Wednesday, May, 25 from 5:30 – 6:45pm.” [GGWash]

W-L Boys Win District Soccer Tourney — “With the Washington-Liberty Generals hosting the championship match of the Liberty District boys soccer tournament, head coach Jimmy Carrasquillo expressed some pre-game concerns. The top-seeded Generals (15-0-1) entertained the third-seeded Yorktown Patriots in an all-Arlington clash, and Carrasquillo knew the rematch would be much tougher than his team’s 4-0 regular-season victory over its neighborhood rival.” [Sun Gazette]

Some Cicada Stragglers Spotted — “Have you ever been late to a party? I mean really late, so late that by the time you arrived, the party was over and the guests were long gone? If so, then you have something in common with the periodical cicadas that have been popping up in the last few weeks from Maryland to Tennessee. They’re a year late to the raucous party billions of their fellow Brood X cicadas threw last summer.” [Washington Post]

It’s Tuesday — Rain in the morning, ending in the afternoon. High of 65 and low of 56. Sunrise at 5:50 am and sunset at 8:23 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Arlington police car (file photo)

A 53-year-old Florida man is behind bars after being found with a gun, ammunition and drugs on the grounds of Washington-Liberty High School, police say.

Officers were dispatched to a parking garage next to the school, on the 1300 block of N. Stafford Street, around 5:45 a.m. Thursday for what was reported as a “suspicious” parked vehicle.

“Upon arrival, officers located the occupied vehicle and observed the suspect asleep behind the wheel and alleged drug paraphernalia in plain view,” said the latest Arlington County Police Department crime report. “During a search of the vehicle, a firearm, ammunition and controlled substances were recovered.”

The man, a resident of St. Augustine, Florida, was arrested is now facing an array of charges, ACPD said, including: “Possession of Schedule I/II Controlled Substance (x3), Possession of Schedule IV Controlled Substance, Possession of a Firearm on School Grounds, Possession of a Firearm while Possessing Schedule I/II Substance and Concealed Weapon Violation.”

“He was held without bond,” ACPD noted.

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High school students across Arlington staged walkouts Monday afternoon and rallied to demand measures to codify Roe v. Wade.

After a Supreme Court draft opinion to overturn the 1973 decision that protects abortion access leaked last week, youth-led student group Generation Ratify Virginia helped organize walkouts across the state. In Arlington, Washington-Liberty, Arlington Tech and Wakefield High students left their schools and rallied to discuss the implications if the ruling is overturned.

Wakefield organizer Anabelle Lombard said they will not be the “post-Roe generation” and will be vocal to fight for their future. About 300 students gathered on the school’s football field during the walkout, according to Generation Ratify Virginia.

“Today, Virginia students have made it clear that we are going to defend our access to abortion and preserve our rights to reproductive healthcare,” Lombard said in a statement. “We have made it clear that we need these rights supported by a strong legal backing of gender equality that enshrining the Equal Rights Amendment in our constitution would provide.”

“We have made it clear that Gen-Z will not stand idly by as a few conservative judges strip away our right to choose — a right that the majority of Americans agree should be upheld,” she added.

About 100 students at each Washington-Liberty High School and Arlington Tech participated in walkouts, some wearing green to show support for abortion rights.

Washington-Liberty senior Valentina Lopez-Landeo said she organized the walkout at her school to unite and inform students because abortion rights isn’t something talked about in school.

“Roe v. Wade is not something that we ever thought would be overturned so once we got the news of that, I guess most of us, specifically seniors, wanted to rally up against all that,” she said. “We do believe that we are the new generation and we wish for change and we realized that we can ask for more change if we join together.”

Lopez-Landeo was particularly proud to see the number of freshmen and sophomores who attended the walkout.

“Hearing them voice their opinions on it was so inspiring because I felt like we were leaving them in good hands and… they were going to make sure that the school and students in school kept up with trying to search for change,” she said.

Felix Hedberg, Policy Director at Generation Ratify Virginia and junior at Richmond’s Open High School, said students want to have their voices heard.

“It’s time to listen to youth,” Hedberg said in a statement. “Virginia was the 38th state to ratify the [Equal Rights Amendment], shining the spotlight on Virginia in the movement for gender equality and reproductive justice. Generation Z is ready to capitalize on that attention to ensure [Gov. Glenn] Youngkin and Virginia Republicans won’t succeed in rewriting Virginia as a commonwealth against abortion access.”

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Morning Notes

Looking up at a skyscraper along N. Moore St. in Rosslyn (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Va. Hospital Center Changing Name — “Arlington’s Virginia Hospital Center is charging forward with its regional expansion under new leadership — and a new moniker to match. The nearly 80-year-old independent hospital, which had the same CEO for nearly half of that time, is now going forward as VHC Health. The change aims to better reflect its role in the region, said Christopher Lane, the hospital’s new leader since March 28.” [Washington Business Journal]

Auditor Eyes Site Plans — “Auditor Chris Horton has proposed spending about 300 of his 2,000 work hours during fiscal 2023 evaluating past site plans to determine if the benefits that were promised to the public actually materialized. His work plan, which will have to be ratified by the County Board, won a receptive audience at the April 7 meeting of the government’s Audit Committee. ‘I really love this idea,’ said John Vihstadt, a former County Board member.” [Sun Gazette]

Holiday Weekend Changes — “Whether you celebrate the Christian holiday of Easter, the Jewish holiday of Passover, the two holidays will overlap during the weekend of April 16-17. As the Easter holiday falls on a Sunday, closures may be limited.
Arlington County government does not typically close for Good Friday before Easter. However, there are a few service changes for services that do operate on Sundays.” [Patch]

W-L Student Competing in History Bee — “Aaron Lopez, a ninth-grade student at Washington-Liberty High School, will compete in the History Bee national championships after scoring success at the state level.” [Sun Gazette]

Disobedient Dog Infuriates Pentagon City Resident — From Reddit, as highlighted by Monkeyrotica: “I hear you every damn day, twice a day from my apartment window. Your dog acts up around other dogs every [expletive] day. You keep shouting ‘ROBERT’ at your dog every time he acts up. Your dog keeps [expletive] misbehaving. See how your tactic just doesn’t work?” [Reddit]

Newspaper Opposes Ukraine Donation — “Everybody should feel bad for what the Ukrainian people are going through and appalled by the actions of the Russian government. And if people want to donate funds or humanitarian supplies, amen to that. But ballistic-vest donations? That may be a one step too far over the line.” [Sun Gazette]

Good Luck, Jo! — ARLnow’s Jo DeVoe is now on maternity leave. We expect her to return in the fall.

It’s Good Friday — Clear throughout the day. High of 68 and low of 49. Sunrise at 6:33 am and sunset at 7:46 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Amina Luvsanchultem and her family receiving the college scholarship from Amazon (photo courtesy of Amazon)

Amazon surprised a Washington-Liberty student with a $40,000 college scholarship and a paid internship with the company earlier this week.

An Amazon engineer showed up at the door of W-L senior Amina Luvsanchultem on Monday (April 11) with a surprise Amazon Future Engineer scholarship, the company announced in a press release.

The $40,000 scholarship will go towards her studying computer science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) next fall. Additionally, she’ll take on a paid internship with Amazon after her freshman year in college.

A video from the company shows Luvsanchultem answering the door and being in understandable shock while being greeted with the news.

Luvsanchultem is a first-generation Mongolian-American student who hopes to work at NASA one day, Amazon said. She also founded the organization Students for Racial Equity, which works with students, parents, and educators to better understand how race, cultural, and linguistic diversity impacts Arlington classrooms.

The Amazon scholarships were aimed at high school seniors from “underserved and historically underrepresented communities.” Recipients were chosen based on academic achievement, demonstrated leadership, participation in school and community activities, work experience, future goals, and financial need.

Of the 250 scholarships (totaling $10 million) handed out by Amazon, 18 were to students from the D.C. region. Luvsanchultem was the only student from Arlington to receive a scholarship.

More than 70% of recipients identified as Black, Latino, and Native American while half identity as women, Amazon notes.

Construction on the first phase of Amazon’s HQ2 in Pentagon City is coming along while, earlier this month, the second phase of the headquarters was approved by the county’s Planning Commission ahead of County Board consideration.

Rising high school seniors can apply for next year’s round of Amazon Future Engineer Scholarships when the application opens again in the fall. Requirements include completion of an Advanced Placement computer science course in high school, the intent to pursue a computer science degree at a four-year school, and a teacher recommendation.

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Morning Notes

The pedestrian bridge over Wilson Blvd in Ballston (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Police Looking for Missing Teen — “ACPD is seeking assistance locating 15-year-old Alejandro… Described as a Hispanic male, 5’8″ tall, 145 lbs with brown eyes and half yellow/half black curly hair. He has ear piercings, a nose piercing and wears a silver dog chain necklace.” [Twitter]

Another Missing Teen — “ACPD is seeking assistance locating 14-year-old Anderson… He is described as a Hispanic male, approx 5’7 tall and 130 lbs. Last seen wearing a black sweat shirt, gray pants and black sneakers. He is known to frequent Rocky Run Park and CVS (2121 15th St N).” [Twitter]

W-L Name Change Attorney Disbarred — “A Virginia state court has disbarred Jonathon Moseley, an attorney who has represented a slew of high-profile Jan. 6 defendants, including a member of the Oath Keepers charged with seditious conspiracy, as well as several targets of the House select committee investigating the attack on the Capitol.” Moseley also represented opponents of changing the name of Arlington’s Washington-Lee High School to Washington-Liberty. [Politico, ARLnow Comment]

Another Drug Take-Back Day Planned — “On Saturday, April 30, 2022, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., the Arlington County Police Department (ACPD) and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) will provide the public the opportunity to prevent pill abuse and theft by ridding their homes of potentially dangerous expired, unused and unwanted prescription drugs. This disposal service is free and anonymous, no questions asked.” [ACPD]

Fmr. APS Superintendent Leaving WV Job — “Among 75 personnel transactions during Monday night’s Berkeley County Board of Education meeting, district Superintendent Dr. Patrick K. Murphy announced his retirement, which was unanimously accepted by the board along with the other movements.” [The Journal]

Historic Home Reopens — “The Ball-Sellers House, one of the few surviving examples of working-class 18th-century housing in Northern Virginia, reopened for the 2022 season on April 2. Owned and maintained since the 1970s by the Arlington Historical Society, the house will host a number of programs in 2022.” [Sun Gazette]

Nearby: MoCo Wrangles Over Housing — “In the D.C. region, where local governments are struggling to address a severe housing shortage that is driving up prices, elected officials are under growing pressure to push back against civically engaged homeowners who mobilize against new housing construction. Montgomery County, an affluent D.C. suburb that has experienced transformative growth and demographic change in the last 30 years, exemplifies how hard that can be.” [DCist]

It’s Thursday — Rain throughout the day, until evening. High of 56 and low of 48. Sunrise at 6:45 am and sunset at 7:39 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Morning Notes

Looking up while underneath cherry blossoms on Wilson Blvd in Virginia Square as storm clouds move in (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Little League Opening Day This Weekend — “For the first time since 2019, Arlington Little League will host its Opening Day on Sun, April 3 from 1-5:30 p.m. at Barcroft Park.” [Press Release]

Arlington Libraries Highlight Banned Books — “The American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom  recently issued a statement opposing widespread efforts to censor books in U.S. schools and libraries. Unfortunately, Virginia has been subject to these censorship efforts, and in light of this, Arlington Public Library is taking a stand to build awareness of these challenged books.” [Arlington Public Library]

AHC Announces New Leader — From a press release: “AHC Inc.’s Board of Directors is pleased to announce that Paul Bernard has been unanimously selected as the organization’s new President/Chief Executive Officer (CEO). He will join AHC in his new role on April 4.” Bernard fills a CEO seat at the affordable housing provided previously held by Walter Webdale, who retired after controversy over conditions at AHC’s Serrano Apartments. [AHC Inc.]

W-L Holding ‘Pink Games’ This Month — “W-L girls’ soccer is turning PINK for Doorways! Join the players in supporting survivors of domestic and sexual violence as well as families and youth experiencing homelessness.” [Doorways]

It’s April Fool’s Day — Mostly cloudy throughout the day today, April 1. Breezy, with a west wind 14 to 21 mph, with gusts as high as 34 mph. High of 65 and low of 43. Sunrise at 6:54 am and sunset at 7:33 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Morning Notes

Aerial view of the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor at left, the Crystal City-Pentagon City corridor at right, and the Four Mile Run Valley at bottom (staff photo)

Man Tased After Columbia Pike Assault — “The suspect was inside of a business, acting disorderly and aggressive towards other patrons, when he allegedly approached the victim and struck him in the face. The victim sustained minor injuries and did not require medical treatment. Responding officers located the suspect, who continued to act disorderly and resisted arrest. A brief struggle ensued, during which the officer deployed a TASER, and the suspect was subsequently taken into custody without further incident.” [ACPD]

D.C. Also Has Camp Registration Drama — “Hey… it looks like DC is having similar problems with @VermontSystems as @ArlingtonVA had last week.” [Twitter]

Library Reads on the Ukraine Conflict — “Ukraine and Russia are top of the headlines around the world. Dig deeper into the two countries and their history in these books.” [Twitter, Arlington Public Schools]

Marymount Going Mask Optional — “On Monday, Marymount University announced to students, faculty and staff that the institution’s indoor mask requirement will no longer be in effect starting this Tuesday, March 1. This decision is based upon low COVID-19 metrics in Arlington County.” [Press Release]

On to States for W-L Boys Hoops — “The host South Lakes Seahawks played a part in the Generals’ failed attempt, winning that Feb. 25 boys 6D North Region tournament boys high-school basketball title contest, 56-47… Next for Washington-Liberty is the Virginia High School League’s Class 6 state tournament, with a first-round quarterfinal game against the undefeated Hayfield Hawks on March 4 or 5.” [Sun Gazette]

Beyer Wants to Nix Stadium Tax Break — “A Virginia congressman wants to sack a financial incentive package aimed at luring the Washington Commanders’ new stadium to the Commonwealth. U.S. Representative Don Beyer, a Democrat who represents Virginia’s 8th Congressional District in the heart of Northern Virginia, said stadium bond packages like the one working its way through the Virginia state legislature takes needed tax revenue out of the pockets of taxpayers all to benefit people who have more than enough money to build new stadiums on their own.” [WUSA 9]

Cherry Blossom Bloom Prediction — From the National Park Service: “We’re projecting cherry blossom peak bloom to fall between March 22 – 25 this year!” [Twitter]

It’s Wednesday — Sunny skies in the morning become partly cloudy. High of 60 and low of 40. Sunrise at 6:40 am and sunset at 6:03 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Morning Notes

Aerial view of Rosslyn (staff photo)

County Board Wants Camp Revamp — From County Board Chair Katie Cristol: “More from the Board on expectations for reforming summer camp registration, below. Importantly for this year: 6,000 spots are still open for this summer, and families who need DPR camp can continue to register online or w/ customer service team, [email protected]” [Twitter]

Jobs in Arlington Increase Slightly — “Year-over-year employment within Arlington County improved in the third quarter of 2021, according to new federal data, but lagged the overall national rebound. There were a total of 172,600 jobs recorded in Arlington for September 2021 by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics and reported Feb. 23. That’s up 0.4 percent from a year before.” [Sun Gazette]

New ACPD K9 Graduates — From the Arlington County Police Department: “Join us in congratulating Cpl. Doescher & K9 Wilson on their graduation from basic patrol K9 school, which includes training on conducting building and area searches, advanced obedience and tracking!” [Twitter]

Yorktown Hockey Is Undefeated — “With blowout victories in their final two matches, the Yorktown Patriots completed their first undefeated regular season since 2003 with a 10-0 record in high-school club ice hockey. In its final match, Yorktown blanked Flint Hill, 10-1.” [Sun Gazette]

High School Hoops Update — “Two Arlington teams advanced to the semifinals and another lost in first-round action of the girls and boys 6D North Region high-school basketball tournaments the night of Feb. 22. Moving on are the Washington-Liberty Generals in boys action and the Yorktown Patriots in girls, each Liberty District tournament champions. The Wakefield Warriors (11-10) had their season end with a first-round 69-56 loss to the host Madison Warhawks in a boys game.” [Sun Gazette]

Va. ABC Removes Russian Vodka — “In the spirit of Gov. Youngkin’s call for decisive action in support of Ukraine, Virginia ABC is removing 7 Russian-sourced vodka brands from our store shelves. Russian-themed brands not produced in Russia like Stolichnaya and Smirnoff will not be removed.” [Twitter, Axios]

Nearby: Bailey’s Xroads Arson Suspect Sought — “Fire investigators are seeking the public’s help in identifying a person of interest related to a fire that occurred on Tuesday, February 22, at approximately 6:30 a.m., in the 5600 block of Columbia Pike.” [Twitter, Fairfax County Fire/Rescue]

It’s Monday — Clear throughout the day. High of 43 and low of 31. Sunrise at 6:43 am and sunset at 6:01 pm. [Weather.gov]

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