Arlington, VA

Update at 7:45 p.m. — The county website is back up, though some users who accessed the site while it was down may still have their visits redirected to the temporary page, for now.

Earlier: Bad news: More than 24 hours later, Arlington County’s website is still down as of Wednesday afternoon. Good news: the county’s voting information pages and payment portal are among the things currently up.

As of 3 p.m. the county website was still reduced to a temporary, static page with a few links. That’s despite Arlington Public Schools recently announcing that its tech troubles, caused by a fiber optic line cut, had been resolved.

A county spokeswoman told ARLnow that the county was, in fact, also affected by the fiber cut, but it was not the reason for the website outage.

“Arlington County Government’s fiber was cut as well yesterday,” said Shannon Whalen McDaniel. “However, we are not experiencing a disruption due to a redundancy in our system.”

There is still no estimate as to when the county’s full website might be back online.

“We can’t provide an estimate at this time, but staff are working to resolve it as quickly as possible,” Whalen McDaniel said.

In addition to the CAPP payment portal, library website, service request pagereal estate search and County Board meeting agendas, the Arlington voting and elections sub-site remains up. Whalen McDaniel said that is due to some good planning.

“Given the criticality of the voting site, we had a back-up site for it already in place for redundancy sake,” she said. “Yesterday, we simply expedited the move to this replacement site to ensure there would be no impact on voting information.”

The county’s last major update to its website was made at the end of 2013, when it switched to a more flexible WordPress-based system — the same underlying Content Management System as ARLnow and millions of other sites — for most pages.

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(Updated at 10 p.m.) Arlington County’s website has been down for most of the day and remains down as of Tuesday night.

The county is working to fix the technical difficulties, which brought down the website completely. The homepage was working this morning, while many interior pages were bringing up error messages, before the entire site went down.

Those hoping to participate in today’s County Board meeting, which starts at 3 p.m., should be able to do so on YouTube or on local cable TV. Those hoping to speak at the meeting are being asked to call 703-228-3130 to register to do so.

A county spokeswoman said that there are no signs, at least so far, that the outages are the result of hacking.

“We are actively investigating the current technical issues related to the County website,” said Shannon Whalen McDaniel. “At this time, it is too early to offer a conclusive statement about the root cause of the issues, however we do not see any overt signs of malicious activity. We will provide an update as soon as it is available and appreciate the public’s patience at this time.”

The county previously posted a page on the site explaining the technical difficulties. That page is now inaccessible. Later Tuesday, the county homepage was replaced by a static page, explaining the outage and providing links to online services that were still available, like the library website, the service request page and the county payments portal.

Shortly after 3 p.m., Arlington Public Schools also announced to families that it was having tech troubles.

“APS is experiencing an internet outage that is affecting applications and services, such as MyAccess, on the APS platform,” APS said. “We are working with our vendor to address the issue and will let families know when it has been resolved. Thank you for your patience.”

Despite the problems, the main Arlington Public Schools homepage was still operable. Later Tuesday evening, APS said that the disruption was caused by “a major fiber [optic line] cut in Vienna.”

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In time for the holiday season, but before there’s any measurable snow in the forecast, Arlington officials have unveiled a new snow plowing map intended to track snow clearing activity in the county.

The map is the successor to a previous online snow cleaning map — which didn’t work correctly, caused confusion following a blizzard in 2016 and was ultimately removed from the county website.

The new map is not perfect, County Manager Mark Schwartz acknowledged during a presentation at Tuesday’s County Board meeting, but should prove useful and reflects an “innovation culture” in county government.

The map does not represent whether a street is clear of snow, but instead shows snow plow activity down to the street level. It also links to Arlington’s traffic cameras.

The map is not currently active and will have other limitations during snow events. It displays data on a 15 minute delay, for instance, and will not reflect activity by plows contracted by the county to respond to major snowfalls.

County officials touted other snow response changes during the meeting, including the use of new electric salt spreaders, which are said to be easier to use and maintain while also being more environmentally friendly than the old gasoline-powered spreaders.

The full Arlington County press release about its Winter 2019-2020 initial snow preparations is below, after the jump.

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Morning Notes

ACPD Cameo on ‘Homeland’ — The Arlington County Police Department made a brief appearance last week on the TV show “Homeland.” [Twitter]

High Wind Watch Upgraded to Warning — The threat of a damaging wind storm Friday has become more likely. The National Weather Service has upgraded the previous High Wind Watch to a warning. [Twitter]

EFC Development Stalled — “Seven years ago, the county blessed a vision of new ‘transitown’ development of stores, greenery and new pedestrian access around the East Falls Church Metro. But that utilitarian commuter site is largely unchanged.” [Falls Church News-Press]

New Logo, Website for AAC — Thanks to a philanthropic grant, the Arlington Arts Center has new branding and a “new, mobile-friendly site reflecting our enduring commitment to excellent contemporary art, quality educational programs, and our artist residency program.” [Arlington Arts Center]

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A D.C.-based startup is helping parents find daycare options in Arlington County, even those not usually easy to find online.

Maternie, founded by Meghan McCarthy, describes itself as a service to “empower pregnant women and new parents with the best information on life’s most important decisions.”

And its Daycare Directory lists licensed child care providers in Arlington, Alexandria and D.C., including commercial and in-home daycare, some of which it says are “not easily found online.” The directory can be sorted by zip code, and will soon include information that used to require a phone call to determine, including pricing, operating hours, waiting lists and registration costs.

It lists 101 commercial and in-home child care providers in Arlington, sourced from state data obtained in September.

(On its child care website, Arlington County has its own lists of child care centers and in-home child care. The county’s lists appear to have more child care options than Maternie’s, but do not have the same level of detail Maternie is planning.)

In addition to its child care directory, Maternie offers quick guides on picking a health care provider, and will soon offer another on maternity leave. It provides expectant mothers struggling with “morning” sickness, disturbed sleep and heartburn guidance on symptoms, why they might be feeling that way and how to deal with it.

And there is also a section for women to anonymously share their stories of being in labor, with another to follow in the future about postpartum depression.

“This is a collection of stories from women in their own words,” the section on labor reads. “It includes the good, the bad and everything in between about labor and delivery. Nothing can quite capture the experience of giving birth, but hopefully these stories can demystify as much as possible.”

Images via Maternie

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Morning Notes

Arlington Startup to Appear on Shark Tank — SmartGurlz, an Arlington-based company that makes “a line of dolls that ride robotic scooters, controlled by an app built to teach girls to code,” is set to appear on an episode of ABC’s Shark Tank next month. At least one other Arlington startup has pitched investors on the show, successfully: Zoobean received an investment from Mark Cuban after appearing on the show in 2014. [Washington Business Journal]

Pop-Up Food Venue to Open in Crystal City — What was once an unassuming concession stand in the Crystal City Water Park on Crystal Drive has been renovated and is reopening on Wednesday, Nov. 1 as “The Stand,” featuring a “rotating lineup of pop-ups from the hottest local food vendors.” Among the vendors expected to take up temporary residence are La Columbe coffee, Cookie Dough & Co., B Doughnut, Capital Chicken & Waffle, Timber Pizza Company and Pinch Chinese dumplings. [Eater, The Stand]

Arlington Launches New Tourism Website — Arlington County has relaunched its tourism website. Per a press release: “The new website has the latest features, including responsive design… an enhanced regional events calendar integrating community events from Virginia.org and EventBrite; persistent mapping tied to local business listings; intuitive social media integration; HTML5 full-screen video and more.” [Arlington County, StayArlington]

Gutshall Endorsed by GGW — The urbanist website Greater Greater Washington has endorsed Democrat Erik Gutshall in the upcoming Arlington County Board general election. “Erik isn’t just for smart growth, he has deep experience and a strong track record from his time on Arlington’s Planning Commission and Transportation Commission,” the website wrote. “He’s a strong advocate for missing middle housing, bike infrastructure and transit-oriented development.” [Greater Greater Washington]

Clement Supports ADUs at Board Meeting — Independent County Board candidate Audrey Clement spoke in favor of loosening regulations on Accessory Dwelling Units at this past weekend’s Board meeting. “As a tenant in one of the few remaining affordable garden apartments in Westover Village, I welcome the prospect of moving to an ADU as opposed to a flat in an outlying suburb once my building is demolished,” Clement said. [Audrey Clement]

‘Breakfast With the Chief’ — Arlington County Police Chief Jay Farr will be hosting a breakfast for member of the local business community Monday morning in Rosslyn. “The event will provide information on the police department’s engagement with the business community to resolve public safety concerns, crime prevention and safety tips and a presentation by the FBI Cyber Security Task Force,” said ACPD. [Arlington County]

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Arlington County says it is stepping up its efforts to get millennials involved in local government and civic life.

Arlington was just named the best city for millennials in the U.S. by the website Niche. Depending on how you define the millennial generation, it makes up between 30-40 percent of the county’s population of just over 220,000.

Yet when it comes to involvement with county government and civic organizations, millennials are underrepresented. Attend a County Board meeting, or a meeting of an Arlington commission or working group, and it is older residents typically speaking out or helping to shape policy.

To get millennials more involved, last month Arlington County partnered with the Ballston Business Improvement District (BID) and hosted a happy hour with County Board Vice Chair Katie Cristol, herself a millennial. More then five dozen young people attended the happy hour and discussed local issues with Cristol.

Along with the event, Arlington County launched an interactive forum called Engage Arlington where people can publicly post and discuss county issues. Focused on feedback from millennials, Engage Arlington has a voting system, similar to Reddit.com, where posts that receive “likes” from other users move up the list.

Within Engage Arlington there is a separate forum specifically for Arlington millennials to engage and discuss. Popular topics include expanding transit options and affordable housing solutions. As of today (Friday) at noon, the last post on the forum was 14 hours ago.

In a press release, the county said its goal is to “determine the areas of civic interest to residents in their twenties and thirties and connect them with convenient ways to engage — online or in-person– with plenty of time commitment options.”

“The common misconception is that millennials don’t care about government,” Melissa Riggio, a millennial living in Ballston, is quoted as saying. “What, to me, is more accurate, is that we connect to government in different ways than the generation before us, so it can go unseen by those who are unaccustomed to it.”

“Young people inject new life and energy into Arlington’s neighborhoods, businesses, culture and nightlife,” concluded the county’s press release. “By getting involved, millennials can help shape and develop the kind of Arlington they’ll want to call home for a long time to come.”

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Morning Notes

Bronx Pizza owner Mike Cordero teaches Arlington students how to make pizza (photo courtesy Alexis Fedoroff)

It’s Groundhog Day — Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow today, suggesting that we’re in for six more weeks of winter. The meteorological scolds at the Capital Weather Gang, however, think the prognosticating groundhog is wrong and that spring may arrive early. [Capital Weather Gang, Accuweather]

More Details on Nestlé DealLanding Nestlé is a huge win for Arlington County, for Rosslyn and for 1812 N. Moore Street owner Monday Properties, which stuck to its plan of keeping the skyscraper’s top floors empty as it awaited a big tenant. As part of the deal, Monday will put the company’s logo on two sides of the building, will nix a restaurant space to build a separate entrance for Nestlé’ employees, and will “more than double the size of the building’s wellness center to include space for spinning, yoga and pilates.” [Washington Business Journal]

Towing Bill Fails in Senate — A legislative effort to sandbag Arlington with state-mandated towing regulations that are friendlier to towing companies has failed in the state Senate. But a similar bill is still alive in the House of Delegates. [InsideNova]

Library Tells Story of Stratford Desegregation — Arlington Public Library is launching “a unique online exhibition and searchable database – built from thousands of photos, documents and recordings – surrounding the legal and moral battles that culminated with four courageous African American students taking their seats on Feb. 2, 1959 at Arlington’s Stratford Junior High School.” Dubbed “Project DAPS,” the collection will debut Feb. 25. [Arlington County, Project DAPS]

Catholic Diocese Launches New Website — The Catholic Diocese of Arlington has launched a new website. The new bishop, Bishop Michael Burbidge introduced the redesigned website in a video. [Catholic Diocese of Arlington, YouTube]

Arlington Men’s Club Turns 10 — Arlington has a “secretive and haphazardly organized” group called the Men’s Development Club. The club, formed 10 years ago, is basically an excuse for dads to get out of the house and drink beer with other dads. [Falls Church News-Press]

Photo courtesy Alexis Fedoroff

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Screenshot of new Arlington Public Schools (APS) website

Earlier this month, Arlington Public Schools relaunched its website with an updated design and new technology.

There are still some minor bugs evident — many older links to specific pages on the site are not working — but for the most part the transition appears to be complete.

Here’s what APS said about the relaunch, in a press release.

The multi-year redesign will relaunch the APS website with improved functionality and technological integration for the future.

After a rigorous search, APS selected local vendor Materiell to custom-build the new website using the WordPress platform, which was chosen for its adaptability to new technology, and its potential for future development as an open-source platform.

APS invited staff, families and the community to provide feedback in three rounds of user testing over the past year; the most recent was completed mid- April. Their comments and suggestions have been incorporated into the site functionality and design

When the site launches, it will feature:

  • an intuitive user interface
  • seamless integration with our back-end systems
  • improved video and social media integration
  • an elegant new design

Among other features, the APS homepage now includes academic highlights from the previous school year at the bottom of the page.

Screenshot of new Arlington Public Schools (APS) website

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Morning Notes

Creepy Netflix ad for House of Cards in the Rosslyn Metro station

Lawmakers Ask Gun Store Landlord to Reconsider — Seven state legislators who represent Arlington have written to the landlord of a planned gun store in Lyon Park, asking her to reconsider the lease. The letter cites Virginia’s 1990s reputation for being the “gun-running capital of the East Coast” and says the new store, which is located near a private preschool and daycare center, “could be the site for potentially nefarious and illegal activities.” [Washington Post]

Three Arlington Bars Make D.C. Dive List — The website UpOut has compiled a list of “10 Ridiculously Cool Dive Bars in Washington D.C.” Among them are three Arlington favorites: Galaxy Hut, Cowboy Cafe and L.A. Bar and Grill. [UpOut]

More Millennials Coming to Arlington? — In Arlington, 35-40 percent of the population is of the Millennial generation. That makes Arlington one of the most Millennial-heavy places in the country. But the county’s demographer doesn’t think the county’s Millennial boom has peaked yet. “Whether Millennials choose to stay or leave Arlington could have a major impact on schools, since the bulk of that population group has not yet embarked on creating families,” notes the Sun Gazette. [InsideNova]

Memorial Bridge May Close in Five Years — After years of deferred maintenance, the 84-year-old Memorial Bridge is in such bad shape that the National Park Service could be forced to close it by 2021 unless it can get funding for a $250 million complete reconstruction. [Associated Press, Twitter]

Where You Might Bump into an Arlington Trump VoterChris Slatt has again compiled some interesting Arlington election data into map form. Slatt’s maps show Democratic turnout by precinct, Republican turnout by precinct and the population density of Donald Trump voters — the highest concentration of which are along the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor. Separately, another sage election watcher, Carrie Johnson, estimates that 5,500-6,000 voters who usually vote Democratic in Arlington voted Republican in Tuesday’s presidential primary, thus in part explaining why John Kasich and Marco Rubio outperformed here compared to the rest of the state. [InsideNova]

New Rosslyn-Based Online Publication — Rosslyn continues to cement its reputation as Arlington’s media hub. ABC 7 (WJLA) parent company Sinclair Broadcast Group is launching “D.C. Refined,” a new online-only local culture magazine. The publication will “fall under the umbrella” of Rosslyn-based WJLA. [Washington Business Journal]

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Morning Notes

UPS trucks overloaded with packages, at the Pentagon Row shopping center

More Metro Delays — A disabled train outside of the Farragut West Metro station produced big delays for those heading into Virginia via the Orange, Silver and Blue lines this morning. [Twitter]

Local Credit Card Holiday Spending — Arlington residents are charging an average of $718.43 on credit cards for holiday gifts this year, estimates the website Nerd Wallet. While that seems like a high number, collectively those in Arlington buying holiday gifts without using a credit card are missing out on $138,846.46 in rewards points, the website says. [Nerd Wallet]

Arlington Still Tops for Va. Tourism — Arlington remains the top tourism destination in the Commonwealth of Virginia. The county attracts more than 6 million people who spend nearly $3 billion here and generate some $81 million in local taxes annually. The tourism industry accounts for about 25,000 jobs in Arlington. [Arlington County]

County Unveils New Online Calendar — Arlington County has rolled out Arlington Today, a new and improved calendar of local events. First up this morning on the calendar: a performance by The Rocking Chairs, the “in-house band” of the Lee Community and Senior Center. [Twitter]

Local Startup Raises $16 Million — Want to start a company in Arlington that can raise big bucks? Do so in the cybersecurity field. Data security software maker ThreatConnect, which recently moved from Shirlington to the Ballston area, has raised $16 million in a new round of funding. [DC Inno]

Arlington Recognized as Bike Friendly Community — Arlington has been named a Silver-level “Bicycle Friendly Community” for the third time since 2007. We’re one of 75 communities in the U.S. to achieve that rating. [Arlington County]

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