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ARLnow.com – Arlington, Va. Local News    
News, Views, Weather, Traffic and Events in Arlington, Virginia
Last updated: Mon, 16 Jul 2018 23:30:53 GMT

 Arlington Agenda: July 16-22 Mon, 16 Jul 2018 20:45:33 +0000
Arlington Agenda is a listing of interesting events for the week ahead in Arlington County. If you’d like to see your event featured, fill out the event submission form. Also, be...

Arlington Agenda is a listing of interesting events for the week ahead in Arlington County. If you’d like to see your event featured, fill out the event submission form.

Also, be sure to check out our event calendar.

Tuesday, July 17

Adult Game Night
Westover Branch Library (1644 N. McKinley Road)
Time: 6-8 p.m.

Classic games like Life, Pictionary and Taboo will be available for a night full of friendly competition at the Westover Branch Library. No registration necessary.

Wednesday, July 18

History Talk: Julia Rhinehart: WWI Navy Yeomanette
Aurora Hills Library Branch (735 18th Street S.)
Time: 7-8:30 p.m.

Come learn about the life of Julia Rhinehart, a Glencarlyn resident who was one of the first women to enlist in U.S. Navy as a yeomanette during World War I. The event is free.

Thursday, July 19

Gentle Fitness in the Garden
Glencarlyn Branch Library (300 S. Kensington Street)
Time: 10-10:45 a.m.

Registered nurse and certified fitness trainer Kathleen Bardo will lead the fourth and final installment in this exercise series for older adults. Register here.

Friday, July 20

Columbia Pike Movie Nights: Toy Story
Arlington Mill Community Center (909 S. Dinwiddie Street)
Time: 8:30-10:30 p.m.

The Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization’s summer movie series continues this week with Toy Story. In case of inclement weather, check Facebook or Twitter for any cancellation announcement.

Saturday, July 21

Crystal City Twilighter 5K*
2121 Crystal Drive
Time: 8:30-10:30 p.m.

Race through the streets of Crystal City while avoiding daytime heat. Registration is open through race day, though there is a discount available through Wednesday.

*Denotes featured (sponsored) event

 BREAKING: Firefighters Extinguish Blaze in Virginia Square Mon, 16 Jul 2018 20:00:46 +0000
Arlington firefighters have been called to the scene of a kitchen fire at an apartment building in Virginia Square. First responders managed to extinguish a blaze at a two-story garden...

Arlington firefighters have been called to the scene of a kitchen fire at an apartment building in Virginia Square.

First responders managed to extinguish a blaze at a two-story garden apartment building along the 3600 block of Wilson Blvd around 4 p.m. today (Monday).

The work has prompted the closure of one block of Wilson Blvd in both directions as firefighters secure the scene, according to a tweet from county police.

There’s no word yet on the cause of the fire or if anyone was inside the building.

Photo via Google Maps

 County Board Signs Off On $3.4 Billion Construction Spending Plan, Complete With Some Deep Cuts Mon, 16 Jul 2018 19:45:45 +0000
Though it comes with some painful cuts and delays a variety of anticipated projects, a 10-year, $3.4 billion construction spending plan won the County Board’s approval this weekend. The Board...

Though it comes with some painful cuts and delays a variety of anticipated projects, a 10-year, $3.4 billion construction spending plan won the County Board’s approval this weekend.

The Board unanimously signed off on a new Capital Improvement Plan, commonly known as the CIP, at its meeting Saturday (July 14), marking an end to its months-long work to wrestle with the county’s budget pressures and lay out a new blueprint for major construction projects through 2028.

Ultimately, Board members made relatively few changes to County Manager Mark Schwartz’s proposed CIP, but did manage to find an extra $1 million for the Neighborhood Conservation program.

That means the program, designed to fund local infrastructure projects like sidewalk improvements or new landscaping, will have $37 million to work with over the next decade instead of $36 million, even though community leaders still fear the $23 million funding cut will imperil Neighborhood Conservation’s future. The Board also formalized plans to study potential reforms to the program, in order to ensure its long-term survival.

By and large, however, the Board didn’t have much leeway to pump much additional money into the CIP, considering that the county remains constrained by challenging factors like a decrease in commercial tax revenues and an increase in the amount of cash it needs to send to Metro as part of a deal to provide the service with dedicated annual funding.

“It’s kind of a carrots and peas CIP, rather than a steak and asparagus CIP,” said Board member John Vihstadt. “It’s a realistic one for where we are at this point in time, given our economic circumstances and near-term challenges ahead.”

Board generally members struck an optimistic tone about the CIP Saturday, but there is little doubt that they’re already looking ahead anxiously to 2020, when the Board will revise the spending plan once more. By then, the county’s revenue picture could improve, or lawmakers in Richmond could answer Arlington’s pleas and tinker with the Metro funding deal to free up more money for Northern Virginia transportation projects.

“In two years, we’re either going to have a lot more money or we’re going to have a lot less,” said Board member Libby Garvey.

That’s why Board Vice Chair Christian Dorsey stressed that he looks at the CIP as “a two-year document and an eight-year math exercise.” He was particularly adamant that parents concerned about school funding shouldn’t view this spending plan with trepidation, even as debate simmers over how the school system builds new space for high schoolers at the Arlington Career Center.

The Board’s CIP includes $614 million to fund the school system’s own construction plan, and the county wasn’t able to find much in the way of additional money to fund some of the more ambitious construction plans the School Board considered. Yet Dorsey is broadly optimistic that this new, limited CIP is far from the end of Career Center discussions.

“When our needs become more clear in the coming years, whether it’s schools or county facilities as well, and we’re able to price them out more, we’ll figure out how to pay for it,” Dorsey said.

There are certainly plenty of other cuts in the CIP the Board hopes to someday revisit. For instance, the plan pushes out the construction of second entrances at the Ballston, Crystal City and East Falls Church Metro stations far into the future, and cuts funding for improvements on some of the county’s arterial roads.

The CIP also contains only limited funding for planning at the Buck and Carlin Springs Road properties, a pair of sites officials have long eyed as potential homes for new schools or county facilities someday.

However, the plan does maintain funding for previously approved capital projects like a new Lubber Run Community Center and a replacement for Fire Station 8 on Lee Highway.

Board members were also eager to reiterate their support for the Long Bridge Park aquatics center. The project isn’t funded as part of this CIP, yet the county’s strained financial picture has nonetheless convinced some in the community to agitate for the pool’s delay or cancellation, in favor of sending its funding elsewhere.

“To try to cancel the contract now is not reevaluating past decisions in light of new information,” said Board Chair Katie Cristol. “To cancel a contract that breaks ground in a week would be setting a toxic precedent.”

Vihstadt, the lone Board member to vote against a slimmed-down version of the project last fall, reiterated his belief Saturday that the project should be delayed. Yet he also signalled that he was willing to let the matter go, for now.

“We had a vote last December, I was in the minority, I acknowledge it and I accept it,” Vihstadt said. “But I have no doubt if this process were going forward today, or if there were a vote on this particular issue today by the voters of Arlington, it would fail.”

 County Spends $23.9 Million on Future Home for ART ‘Operations Center’ Mon, 16 Jul 2018 18:45:40 +0000
Arlington is shelling out $23.9 million to buy land that will someday become home to a new bus “operations center” in Nauck, marking an end to years-long negotiations over the...

Arlington is shelling out $23.9 million to buy land that will someday become home to a new bus “operations center” in Nauck, marking an end to years-long negotiations over the property’s future.

The County Board voted Saturday (July 14) to purchase the site, located at 2629 and 2633 Shirlington Road. Arlington Transit plans to eventually store about 90 buses on the property, and eventually develop the space “as a base for ART operations,” according to a county staff report.

The county already leases about 2.5 acres of the roughly 3.5-acre property to use as bus storage, but it was paying $60,000 a year for the privilege. The remaining section of the land was once used as storage by the towing company Redman Fleet Services.

County leaders have eyed the property as an ideal site for additional bus storage for several years now, and considered acquiring it as part of a swap involving another in-demand piece of land: the Buck property near Washington-Lee High School.

The Arcland Property Company proposed trading its Shirlington Road property for a portion of the Buck site, which the county bought for $30 million several years ago, in order to build a self-storage facility on the property. But that proposal attracted pushback from the community, particularly as the county eyed the Buck site as one that could become home to a school someday.

Arlington’s budget pressures means officials still haven’t been able to plot out a long-term plan for the property, though the county did recently agree to allow some school system employees to use it for parking. The county plans to wrap a study of the property’s suitability for some sort of school building this winter.

Yet the Board was able to afford the Shirlington Road site without giving up any of the Buck property thanks to a mix of state and regional funding. Some state grants will pay for nearly $7 million of the $23.9 million price tag, with some recently awarded money from the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority adding another $2.7 million or so.

The NVTA doled out $39 million to help pay for the operations center’s construction as well, in addition to a new “heavy maintenance facility” in Springfield. ART recently opened a new “light maintenance” facility in Crystal City.

Photo via Google Maps

 BREAKING: Body Found in Potomac River Off Gravelly Point Mon, 16 Jul 2018 17:50:10 +0000
Police discovered a body in the Potomac River just off Gravelly Point this afternoon (Monday). A D.C. police spokeswoman says the department’s Harbor Patrol made the discovery, but did not...

Police discovered a body in the Potomac River just off Gravelly Point this afternoon (Monday).

A D.C. police spokeswoman says the department’s Harbor Patrol made the discovery, but did not have any additional details on the incident. Arlington County police spokeswoman Ashley Savage added that her department is assisting in the investigation, as are the U.S. Park Police.

The area is located just off the G.W. Parkway and sits across the river from Reagan National Airport.

Photo via Google Maps

 Legal Insider: Tips for Social Media and Employment Mon, 16 Jul 2018 16:45:11 +0000
Social media is one of the most unique and changing areas of employment law today. This weeks Legal Insider provides some basic tips for employees in Virginia.

This is a sponsored column by attorneys John Berry and Kimberly Berry of Berry & Berry, PLLC, an employment and labor law firm located in Northern Virginia that specializes in federal employee, security clearance, retirement and private sector employee matters.

By John V. Berry, Esq.

For the last few years, we have been advising employees on the proper use of social media in connection with their employment. Social media is one of the most unique and changing areas of employment law today. This article provides some basic tips for employees and a summary of their current rights in Virginia.

Social Media Tips — Things to Avoid

  1. Friends & Supervisors: Avoid (where possible) becoming friends or connected with supervisors (and sometimes co-workers). It has often been the case that we have had employees face discipline resulting from Tweets, Facebook or Instagram posts that even well-meaning individuals forward to the employer. For instance, we have seen posts ridiculing a supervisor eventually make it to the supervisor. It tends to create an atmosphere ripe for retaliation and discipline.
  2. Avoid Workplace Criticism: Avoid mentioning problems or other issues that arise at work. We have usually found that even a well-meaning friend can pass on information to a supervisor or company official that can lead to discipline or, at minimum, a less comfortable work environment.
  3. Don’t Discuss Company Clients or Projects: Avoid mentioning clients or other work specific information from your employer in your social media posts. Sometimes these clients get word of the post, see it online, or it makes the news. As a result, the employer often then takes disciplinary action against the employee.
  4. Avoid Social Media During Work Hours: While this may or may not be feasible for everyone, it is a good idea to avoid social media posting while at work. We have seen employees written up for social media posting during work hours or when using employer computers. In some cases, employers have argued, where social media posts include the time and date posted, that they have not been working their duties while getting paid.

Social Media Employee Protections in Virginia

Some states have begun to legislate initial protections for social media accounts held by employees. This is the case in Virginia. While the relatively new law in Virginia doesn’t protect an employee from the content that they post online, it offers some protection for employees. Specifically, it bars employers from demanding or requiring access to an employee’s social media information as part of their employment.

Virginia Code § 40.1-28.7:5 protects employees from employers (1) requesting their sign on information to media accounts; and (2) requiring an employee to add a company manager or representative as a friend or contact on the social media account. I suspect that we are only at the initial stages of the laws that will define employee social media protections in the workplace with more to come.

Conclusion

Keep in mind that not all companies take offense to social media posting and can have lax policies. The best idea is to find out company policy from the employer as early as possible. When facing employment issues it can be important to have the assistance and advice of counsel.

If you need assistance with an employment issue, please contact our office at 703-668-0070 or at www.berrylegal.com to schedule a consultation. Please also visit and like us on our Facebook page.

 Crystal City-Based Eminent IT Aims to Revamp Aging Technology Mon, 16 Jul 2018 15:45:12 +0000
Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies...

Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

Government agencies rely on technology for daily operations and to plan for the future, just like any business these days. But the applications they use can be so outdated that they’re no longer effective, and leave agencies vulnerable to cyber threats.

“Every organization has the equivalent of their own app store, but they don’t update those apps,” Isaac Barnes said. “Imagine having a phone where all your apps are still from 2007 or 2008.”

Barnes is the chief technology officer and vice president of Eminent IT, a software and services firm with clients in the Department of Defense, the intelligence community and elsewhere in the executive branch.

“The primary focus is on IT modernization and transformation,” Barnes said. “And that’s a very big way of saying we help organizations fix their aging technology.”

Keeping old systems in place is like “if you have a lock on the door at your house and it’s been proven that lock has been picked many different times and… you’re still leaving that lock,” Barnes said.

Because they can offer clients “initial building blocks,” Eminent IT is able to modernize systems in much less time than without their platform, Barnes said.

“If you’re building a blog, you can use WordPress,” Barnes said “We built… a WordPress-like framework.”

The company also works with technology partners in fields like blockchain to “help bring emerging technologies to these agencies,” Barnes said. And a product entitled Revamp acts as “a foundation for us to build applications quicker for our customers,” Barnes said.

Eminent IT was founded in 2009, but it wasn’t until 2013 that they started working to scale up their operations, Barnes said. The company is entirely owned by Barnes and José Risi, both Marine Corps veterans.

“José and I the same day decided to start businesses and the plan was [whenever] we get the first contract, we’re just going to merge those companies into one company,” Barnes said. That merger happened around 2011.

With a team of about 24 people, mostly millennials, the company is focused on continuing to grow.

“Most of the federal workforce is focused on improving their technology and they’re looking to our generation to help them do that, and that’s what we’ve honed in on,” Barnes said.

Coming off a recent contract with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency — “one of the strategic organizations for us, because they’re at the heart of a lot of new technology that’s coming out,” Barnes said — they’re looking to become a large business.

“From a size perspective… we want to be a large business, that’s the focus,” Barnes said. “From an impact perspective, I want us to be known as the modernization experts.”

Photos via Facebook

 Ballston Construction Projects Continue to Progress Mon, 16 Jul 2018 14:45:55 +0000
Construction is ongoing for several major projects in Ballston, though at least two should be up and running by the end of the year. Ballston Quarter, a transformation of Ballston...

Construction is ongoing for several major projects in Ballston, though at least two should be up and running by the end of the year.

Ballston Quarter, a transformation of Ballston Common Mall, plans to open its shopping and entertainment center in the fall, according to a news release from the county. The completion of a pedestrian bridge that will connect Ballston Quarter to 4201 Wilson Blvd and the Metro station has been pushed back to 2019, however.

Ballston Business Improvement District CEO Tina Leone said Ballston Quarter will likely be fully leased within a year. So far, several eateries, retailers and entertainment-oriented tenants have signed on to the development. Retailers including Macy’s and Regal Cinemas have remained open during construction.

“That property has just been critical to how Ballston has developed over the last couple of generations,” Leone said. “Ballston Quarter really catalyzed these other developments to occur.”

Ballston Exchange, located in the former headquarters of the National Science Foundation at 4121 and 4201 Wilson Blvd, plans to include collaborative workspaces and first-floor retail.

That project is slated to be completed near the end of 2018, according to the Ballston BID. Restaurants already committed to Ballston Exchange include Shake Shack, We The Pizza and CAVA. A New York-based coworking space became the development’s first new office tenant last month.

A number of the current projects in Ballston include residential space — Ballston Quarter, for instance, will include a 393-unit residential tower, according to Ballston BID.

And 4040 Wilson Boulevard, the final piece in Liberty Center, will feature office, retail and residential space. The Shooshan Company, that site’s developer, plans to wrap up construction by January 2020.

Also set for delivery in early 2020 is The Waycroft (750 N. Glebe Road), to include residential units and an on-site Target and Silver Diner.

As Ballston continues to develop, “what we really want to achieve is a greater sense of neighborhood and a greater sense of community,” Leone said.

A full list of developments in Ballston can be found here.

 S. Eads Street Construction Set to Snarl Traffic Near Pentagon Parking Mon, 16 Jul 2018 13:45:35 +0000
Construction around one of the Pentagon’s parking lots kicking off this week could produce some big headaches for drivers and bus riders alike. Starting this morning (Monday), work will shut...

Construction around one of the Pentagon’s parking lots kicking off this week could produce some big headaches for drivers and bus riders alike.

Starting this morning (Monday), work will shut down the west side of S. Eads Street from Army Navy Drive to where it nears the Pentagon’s south parking lot at S. Rotary Road.

That will shift both northbound and southbound traffic to the east side of the street. In the mornings, from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m., that will cut off access to I-395’s northbound HOV lanes and Army Navy Drive from S. Rotary Road. Crews will post a detour and drivers should follow signs. In the same time period, access to northbound S. Eads Street from the right lane of S. Rotary Road will be reserved for anyone heading for I-395’s southbound HOV lanes.

Construction will include “median reconfiguration, road widening, pavement and drainage work,” according to VDOT, prompting some major traffic snarls.

“As current traffic volume along Eads Street is near capacity during peak periods, we expect significant traffic congestion and delays along Eads Street,” VDOT wrote in an advisory. “Periodic nighttime/weekend closures may also take place to complete the construction activities.”

VDOT is recommending that drivers looking to reach the I-395 HOV lanes during the construction to use the ramps near the Pentagon’s north parking lots at Boundary Channel Drive instead.

Arlington Transit is also warning bus riders looking to reach the Pentagon to expect “significant delays for ART buses entering and exiting” the facility’s lots. ART plans to issue service advisories as needed.

VDOT says work will shift to the east side of S. Eads Street sometime this fall, then last for an additional two months. The construction is included as part of the broader project focused on the I-395 express lanes.

Photo via VDOT

 Morning Notes Mon, 16 Jul 2018 12:45:49 +0000
Metro Workers’ Union Threatens Strike — The rail service’s largest union could launch a three-day strike, as it continues to tangle with GM Paul Wiedefeld. The union provided no timeline...

Metro Workers’ Union Threatens Strike — The rail service’s largest union could launch a three-day strike, as it continues to tangle with GM Paul Wiedefeld. The union provided no timeline for when the strike might occur, but workers have launched two previous actions in recent weeks. [Washington Post]

School Board Candidate Levels Racism Accusations — Independent Audrey Clement, a frequent candidate for Arlington offices, accused the School Board of using the debate over the renaming of Washington-Lee High School to “dredge up Civil War history to divert attention” from the school system’s other problems. She’s squaring off against incumbent Democrat Barbara Kanninen this fall. [InsideNova]

Arlington Democrats Honor Longtime Activist — The county’s Democratic committee plans to name Herschel Kanter as the “senior Democrat of the year” on Sept. 30. His fellow Democrats say the move was a “no-brainer.” [InsideNova]

Nearby: Alexandria High-Rise Fire Hospitalizes Three — A blaze broke out at a high-rise along the 5000 block of Holmes Run Parkway around 2 a.m. this morning. [WTOP]

Photo via @thelastfc