The moment you all have been anxiously awaiting is here.
That’s right, for all five of you who are actually at work this afternoon, it’s time to reveal the top ten most-read Arlington articles of 2015. Be sure to check out #11-20 and #21-30 from earlier this week.
And now, on with the countdown.
10. Ballston Mall Prepares for Mass Closures By Year’s End (17,164 views)
In preparation for the start of major renovations next year, many stores within Ballston Common Mall will be closing. Replacing the mall will be a more open-air shopping center, to be called Ballston Quarter. Hopefully, it will do better than the current mall’s two-star Yelp rating.
9. Oakridge Elementary Gets Desks With Pedals to Help Fidgety Kids Learn (17,626 views)
Once in a while, a genuinely great idea comes along. Earlier this year, we reported on one such idea: an Arlington elementary school that was experimenting with desks that doubled as exercise bikes, giving fidgety students something to do while sitting in class. If it ever catches on (and readership on the article suggests it could) pedal desks could enhance learning and fight childhood obesity.
8. Cussing Law Fears Are Bullshit, Say Arlington Police (17,464 views)
We took a bit of editorial liberty with the headline, but it was in the service of setting the record straight. News outlets both local and national piled on with a false narrative about Arlington “banning cursing.” The confusion stemmed from a minor technical update of the county’s public drunkenness and profanity statute. The law is on the books statewide and had been active in Arlington for years. The public cursing prohibition is rarely enforced, but is used in certain cases of disorderly suspects yelling curse words in public.
7. Video: ESPN Reporter Berates Advanced Towing (17,972)
ESPN and former ABC 7 sports reporter Britt McHenry found herself on the wrong end of a national news story after Deadspin published surveillance video of her saying mean things to an Advanced Towing employee. ARLnow.com actually was sent the video several days before Deadspin published it. We declined to release it at the time due to legal and privacy concerns. Deadspin, part of the Gawker Media empire, apparently was unconcerned despite the company facing a high-profile lawsuit for publishing a video of questionable origin.
6. Barcroft Kindergarten Teacher Found Dead (19,083 views)
A beloved 30-year-old Barcroft Elementary School teacher was found dead in her Cherrydale home in April, after she didn’t show up for work. The woman was believed to have suffered a medical emergency and no foul play was suspected.
5. Wakefield High School Football Player Dies (20,258 views)
4. Restaurant With Questionable Spanish Name Opening on Glebe Road (21,407 views)
The exact translation is still up for debate, but the fact that a new N. Glebe Road chicken restaurant’s name could be interpreted as “big f-cking chicken” attracted quite a bit of attention. As plenty of readers pointed out, the slang word in “Chingon Pollo” could also translate more innocently to “damn good chicken” or “hardcore chicken.”
3. Ebola Response in Clarendon (24,770 views)
As the hype over Ebola in the U.S. began to peter out, there was one last high-profile Ebola scare in Arlington. A sick person with “a travel history and symptoms consistent with a case of the deadly virus” prompted a hazmat response at a Clarendon apartment building. Ultimately, the individual was not diagnosed with Ebola.
An early holiday gift for snarky commenters who had jokes about a “white Christmas” at the ready, this article was published on Dec. 21, usually an exceedingly slow time for local news and readership. The story of this 26-year-old Vienna, Va. resident — who allegedly snorted cocaine off a table at Goody’s pizza in Clarendon and then tried to fight the arresting police officer — traveled across social media faster than Santa’s sled on an icy night.
1. Morning Poll: Doing Their Job or Preying on You (177,903 views)
It started innocently enough. Britt McHenry tweeted one night that Advanced Towing was “corrupt” and we tweeted back, asking what happened. We incorporated that into a poll, asking what folks thought of trespass towing firms in Arlington. A whopping 84 percent of respondents said the tow companies were “shady predators.” Then, when video of Britt berating an Advanced employee was released (see No. 7, above), Deadspin and other national outlets linked back to this post to give some background about what happened. That traffic catapulted this simple poll into our most-read post of all time. (The number two most-read ARLnow post of all time is last year’s Ebola Scare at the Pentagon scoop, with more than 132,000 views.)
Today we continue to count down the biggest Arlington County news stories of 2015.
Crime and restaurant stories account for 8 of the 10 articles on today’s list. See yesterday’s list of the #21-30 stories here. Below are #11-20.
20. Body Found on Rocks Near Chain Bridge (15,007 views)
During the evening rush hour, a body was spotted on the cliffs along the Potomac River, near Chain Bridge. An Arlington County technical rescue crew rappelled down to the body and confirmed the man was dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.
19. Parents Livid at Decision to Open Schools (15,862 views)
Arlington Public Schools apologized for making a disastrous call to open schools on time during a morning rush hour snowstorm. At least a half dozen school buses were involved in crashes and more became stuck, leaving students stranded at bus stops. Parents, needless to say, were not pleased.
18. Police Arrest Serial Sexual Assault Suspect (16,217 views)
A man suspected of sexually assaulting women on several occasions as they walked down the street in Arlington was arrested. The seemingly random crimes had the community on edge since mid-summer.
16 (tie). Police Investigating Possible Homicide in Aurora Highlands (16,250 views)
The stabbing death of 42-year-old mother of two Bonnie Delgado Black, a psychologist who worked for the FBI, shook the communities of Aurora Highlands and Arlington Ridge. Black’s estranged husband, who continued to live in Arlington Ridge even after the crime, was arrested six months later and charged with her murder.
16 (tie). Homeowner Finds Stranger Covered in Vomit in Dining Room (16,250 views)
A highly intoxicated 22-year-old Arlington man was arrested after an Ashton Heights resident found him lying on his dining room floor, covered in vomit. The man admitted to drinking at Mister Days the night before but said he wasn’t sure how he got into the house. He was charged with destruction of property for ruining an expensive rug. That charge and a trespassing charge were later dismissed.
15. Clarendon Named One of the 12 ‘Bro-iest’ Neighborhoods in U.S. (16,270 views)
In what can only be described as a gift to our traffic stats, Thrillest named Clarendon the No. 10 “Bro-iest” neighborhood in the United States. While we would argue that Clarendon is more “yuppie” than “bro,” at least during the 360 days of the year when there’s not a bar crawl going on, the ranking surprised no one and instead served to solidify the community’s reputation for “obnoxious partying males.”
14. Ri Ra Irish Pub Closes in Clarendon (16,467 views)
It might not have been the flashiest place in town, but Ri Ra’s closing affected quite a few because of the Irish bar’s status as a popular group meeting place. The Liverpool FC boosters club and the Arlington Falls-Church Young Republicans were among those left searching for a new hangout after Ri Ra quietly closed its doors.
13. Duck Donuts to Open Fairfax and Arlington Locations (16,498 views)
News that beloved donut chain Duck Donuts was coming to the Lee Harrison Shopping Center spread like rainbow sprinkles in a stiff breeze.
12. Two More Shirlington Restaurants Closing, Businesses Blame Landlord (16,694 views)
It was a tough year for small businesses in Shirlington Village as a number of restaurants closed their doors in the shopping center. In one of his last major articles with ARLnow.com, Ethan Rothstein, now an editor at Bisnow, reported that high rent and lower-than-hoped-for foot traffic contributed to the closures. Despite the closures, other restaurants have since opened and still others are in the process of opening in Shirlington.
11. Officer-Involved Shooting in Buckingham (16,990 views)
A man attacked officers and was shot and killed by police in his apartment in Buckingham, following a call reporting a possible domestic violence situation. The officer who fired the fatal shots was later cleared by prosecutors, who concluded that the use of deadly force was justified in self-defense.
Arlington County released its year end video this week, highlighting how the community has progressed over the last twelve months.
The video, titled “Our Path Forward,” begins with County Board members reflecting on a difficult 2014 and being able overcome various challenges — unspoken but implied: the cancellation of Arlington’s planned streetcar project.
“Last year, we had some distractions,” said Jay Fisette. “We had a lot of angst in the community.”
Libby Garvey shared concerns over whether the Board could effectively address those tensions this year.
“There were a number of challenges facing us,” she said. “Can we properly manage change? That was a reasonable concern and definitely a challenge.”
One of the most prominent of those is housing. In the video, Board members cited the recent approval of the redevelopment of Arlington Presbyterian Church into affordable housing and the opening of the Homeless Services Center as major improvements in that category.
“Being there for the opening of that center was one of the highlights, by far,” Walter Tejada said in the video. “Frankly, if there’s a community in the United States of America that has a chance of ending homelessness, Arlington is it.”
The video also highlighted public-private and public-public collaborations the County established in the last year, including the Ballston mall renovations those that are still developing, like the land sale or swap with Virginia Center Hospital.
“It is all about partnership and how we can work together in a cooperative and synergistic fashion,” John Vihstadt said. “The County Board and the School Board are also working much more collaboratively than they have in the past.”
“That process was the epitome of what we can do and do well as a community,” Fisette said.
Arlington TV, the county-run television channel, has released its annual year in review video.
This year’s video is titled “Prosperity Through Change.” It includes highlights such as the election of County Board member John Vihstadt, the launch of TandemNSI, the completion of the new Courthouse Road/Route 50 interchange, the opening of 400 new affordable housing units, the approval of major school renovations and the redesign of the county website, among other 2014 milestones.
“Through all this growth and change, we’ve maintained the very best characteristics of a small town,” County Board Chair Jay Fisette says in the video. “Our community is strong, diverse, caring and incredibly civic-minded. Together we will build a promising future for the generations of Arlingtonians who will follow us, and we will remain the place that other communities look to for inspiration.”
Fisette also talks about the surprise cancellation of the county’s streetcar project.
“It was the most difficult decision I’ve ever had to make,” Fisette says. “It was a realization that the support that had existed when these plans were developed was no longer there, to the point where it was immobilizing and distracting our community.”
We’re looking forward to continuing to serve our readers and our community in 2014. In the meantime, here’s the full list of the top 25 most-read articles on ARLnow.com in 2013.
- Man Beaten for Drawing Genitalia on Roommate’s Face (76,657 views)
- Air Force Officer Accused of Sexual Battery (51,830 views)
- Police Respond to Huffing Disturbance (38,445 views)
- Teen Killed in Skateboarding Accident (32,054 views)
- Shutdown Changes 10-Miler Route, Puts Marathon in Jeopardy (25,304 views)
- Key Bridge Shut Down Due to Jumper (25,123 views)
- Man Breaks Into Courthouse Apartment, Rubs Sleeping Woman’s Arm (24,806 views)
- Office Worker Falls Through Grate in Ballston (21,200 views)
- Planned Redevelopment Will Demolish Watergate Garage (20,674 views)
- Video: Race Official Hurt in Crystal Cup Crash (18,144 views)
- Ray’s Hell Burger Closes Due to Landlord-Tenant Dispute (18,057 views)
- Woman Falls From Ballston Building, Lands on Car (17,431 views)
- Police Bust Rowdy Teen Drinking Party (17,041 views)
- Man Shoots Self Outside Union Jack’s (17,013 views)
- Young Driver Killed in Rosslyn Accident (16,803 views)
- Person Struck By Train at Ballston Metro (15,602 views)
- Cost of New Bus Stop: $1 Million (15,459 views)
- Trolley Pub Rolling Into Arlington (15,305 views)
- ‘Metal House’ Rankles Neighbors With ‘Kegger’ Ad (14,398 views)
- Ray’s Hell Burger Kicked to the Curb (14,332 views)
- Arlington Ranks as Richest County in America (13,589 views)
- Police: Chicken Stolen From Crock Pot (13,448 views)
- ‘Bachelorette’ Star to Open ‘Female-Friendly’ Sports Bar in Clarendon (12,823 views)
- Union Jack’s Shut Down By Health Department (12,609 views)
- Union Jack’s Reopening, Only To Close (12,169 views)
Looking back at the top stories of 2013 in Arlington (full list to be published Tuesday), the majority of the most-viewed articles fall into one of two categories: tragedy or comedy.
While sometimes comedy can beget tragedy, depending on your perspective, the numbers don’t lie — articles ripe for humorous interpretation are among the most popular.
1. Man Beaten for Drawing Genitalia on Roommate’s Face (76,657 views, #1 overall) — In March, a 31-year-0ld Lyon Village resident awoke on his couch after a night of drinking. What could have been a quiet Saturday morning turned into anything but when the man, James Watson, discovered a penis drawn on his face in permanent marker. Watson’s reaction to the prank landed him in jail, charged with a felony, and the subject of a now-infamous mugshot. He was found guilty in Arlington General District Court and earlier this month was sentenced to 12 months in prison with 11 months suspended.
2. Police Respond to Huffing Disturbance (38,255 views, #3 overall) — Normally, that someone arrested for huffing chemicals to get high doesn’t make the news. But this January incident in Ballston is a notable exception. Arlington’s finest had their hands full when the suspect, an 18-year-old man, resisted arrest. Wearing only a t-shirt, the man “was reportedly hissing, speaking in tongues, shaking uncontrollably, trying to eat coins and had attempted to set his mattress on fire.” Even after being Tased and handcuffed, the pantless man was defiant, using his backside and a choice one-liner to taunt the cops.
3. Metal House Rankles Neighbors with ‘Kegger’ Ad (14,133 views, #19 overall) — One sure-fire way to get the attention of your Lyon Park neighbors: build a house with a shiny, steel exterior and advertise it to prospective residents as “kegger, flip cup, corn hole-friendly yard” and a “short stumble home from [Mister] Day’s, Spider Kelly’s, Clarendon Ballroom, Clarendon Grill, Ri Ra, etc.” No word yet on whether any takers were found at the advertised $7,500/month rental fee, nor whether the residents turned out to be the drinking game aficionados the owner was seeking.
4. Police: Chicken Stolen from Crock Pot (13,327 views, #21 overall) — We will perhaps never know the true story behind the notorious chicken theft of February 2012. But we do know that someone was upset enough about a chicken disappearing from their crockpot that they called police. Investigators evidently found it odd that the presumed thief took the chicken and not the vegetables, which were also cooking at the time. “We suspect fowl play,” a police spokesman quipped.
5. Video: Colbert Reads Yelp Review of Arlington Jail (10,495 views, #30 overall) — In April, comedian Stephen Colbert had fun reading Yelp reviews of the Arlington County Detention Facility. “If you’re going to get arrested, do it in Arlington County,” read one of the typically glowing reviews of the county lock-up. “I think Arlington tourism just found its new slogan,” Colbert told the national TV audience.