Sunday, May 31, 2009

Barrett Bus Drivers Heading to Richmond "Rodeo"

This from the APS "News Tips Kudos" site:

K.W. Barrett Elementary School bus driver and bus assistant Rosa Smith and Temir Belchek placed first in the APS school bus rodeo in mid-April. Smith and Belchek will compete at the state competition in Richmond in June.

I'll admit to not even knowning of the rodeo--it's a national event. Idaho, for instance, had to cancel their state tourney this year, so winners of the the local events have the shot directly at the national title. --ST:

  • Here's this year's story from Roanoke, Va.: Roanoke County School bus drivers compete in Regional School Bus Rodeo
  • Here are photos from Tennesee: Sumner County school bus rodeo. I'm not sure which year this is, though.

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  • Friday, May 29, 2009

    The Memorial Day Pride of "Four American Veterans"

    "What I'm most proud of," said the tatooed man on the left, is that I'm an American." He paused and then said, "We are the American race, by ideal, not by blood."

    His friend who he'd met an hour before (in the center of the photo) said, "We, as Americans, those who are veterans, know what war is."

    He brought up a theme that the rest of the men shared, of a country too interested in things, kids too interested in new cars and stereos and not interested in history and the lives lost: people not interested in the sacrifices others made so the rest of us could have those luxuries.

    Veterans keep the country safe, "So you can do what you want to do," he said.

    These four veterans (one isn't pictured) shot the breeze on the grounds of the Arlington Assembly of God church, last Sunday, and they let me listen in. It was an emotional conversation with some tears, and words caught in throats, but also a lot of laughs, that circled around a few ideas including the heroic nature of the men who died, and the need to remember. They believe that America makes mistakes, but its overall history is in the right direction.

    They were in town, of course, having made the annual “Run for the Wall” motorcycle trip from California and Florida, for the Rolling Thunder rally and remembrance on the National Mall.

    “It’s a trip to bring attention to those who are missing,” said the man in the middle. “The accountability is not there.”

    Untrusting of the press, and annoyed by how the ride and stories about veterans are treated, they did not give their names. With a friend, who isn't pictured above, they wanted only to be called "Four American Veterans."

    When the man on the right said he never actually served, the rest insisted he was a veteran since he lived through the Viet Nam war, and since he spent a good deal of time thinking about, and worrying about, his brother, the man in the middle of the photo.

    “I didn’t serve, and I wanted to give something back,” said the man on the right. And he wondered aloud why people in the area are so bothered by the motorcycles.

    They told stories of riding through towns where the mayors came to meet them, where the riders were given keys to the city, where people cheered the route.

    The man on the left said, “Ask them [people in this area] about the motorcycles, and then ask them, ‘Do you like living free?’”

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    Church to Hold Annual Strawberry Fest.

    Save the date -- Bethel’s Annual Strawberry Festival is Saturday, June 6, from 3 to 7p.m. this year.

    Please plan to attend ~ and bring your neighbors and friends ~ to enjoy hot dogs with all the fixings, cool side salads, soda and our traditional “Bethel Strawberry Special.” We’ll also have plenty of other home-made desserts for sale at our Bake Sale Table, and lots of games available to entertain the kid in all of us.

    A portion of the proceeds from the festival will be donated to the American Red Cross (Arlington Branch).

    Bethel Church is located at 4347 Arlington Blvd. (Northeast corner of Arlington Blvd. and George Mason Dr). Free parking is available in the Red Cross parking lot next door (access to lot off Trenton or Arlington Blvd). Church driveways are reserved for those with special needs. Bethel Church is handicapped accessible.

    For more information about the event, please call Bethel’s main office at (703) 528-0937.

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    Police Notes May 22 to 28

    Man sought for “enticement” of 5-year-old boy at Ballston Commons Mall…

    Police are investigating an “enticement” of a five year old at the Ballston Commons Mall (read the press release here).

    “It’s being investigated as an enticement” (as opposed to ¬a kidnapping) said Det. Crystal Nosal, the public relations spokesperson for the Arlington County Police Department. “It’s tough to know, when you’re dealing with a five year old, what the intent was.”

    Kidnapping is when the attacker forcibly takes a person; enticement is when, as here, the attacker lures a child away. She did not know off-hand what the difference in charge would be between “kidnapping” and “enticement.”

    They have not found the man, Det. Nosal said, and they have not had any other incidents.

    “It doesn’t appear to be a pattern,” she said. They are checking surveillance tapes and talking to potential witnesses, the detective said.

    Last week they closed for motorcycles, this week it’s bicycles in Clarendon and Crystal City…

    Clarendon Cup Invitational: The Arlington County Police Department will close several streets in Clarendon on Saturday, May 30 for the 2009 CSC Invitational bicycle race. The street closings in Clarendon are listed here and can be found on the map, below:

  • Wilson Blvd., from 10th St. to N. Edgewood St.
  • Clarendon Blvd., from Washington Blvd. to N. Edgewood St.
  • Washington Blvd., from 13th St. to N. Highland St.
  • N. Highland St., from Wilson Blvd. to Washington Blvd.
  • N. Garfield St. and N. Filmore St., from Wilson Blvd. to Washington Blvd.

  • U.S. Air Force Cycling Classic in Crystal City: The Arlington County Police Department will close several streets in the Crystal City area on Sunday, May 31, for the United States Air Force Cycling Classic. Click here to find the closed streets. (None of the streets are in or adjacent to the HeraldTrib area.)

    Police Are Looking for a Few Good Volunteers…

    Arlington County Police are seeking volunteers interested in becoming sworn Auxiliary Police Officers to help satisfy this mission while giving back to their community. The support of volunteers has become a critical component of the Arlington County Police Department’s mission to improve the quality of life for every county resident.

    Arlington County has maintained a strong Auxiliary Police Officer (APO) program since 1942 to supplement full-time officers during times of need and by providing routine operational support. APOs are trained for a variety of duties that may include uniformed patrol, traffic direction, crowd control and special events. Auxiliary Officers undergo a significant amount of training similar to full-time officers to help prepare them for the duties they are assigned. The police department provides uniforms, body armor, equipment and on-duty insurance. APOs must perform 180 hours per year to maintain their status within the department.

    Arlington County plans to hold its next Auxiliary Police training session in the fall of 2009 which takes place during evening hours and weekends over a period of several months. To be considered, applicants must live in Northern Virginia, be at least 21 years of age with at least 60 college credit hours, have a good driving record, be in good health, and have no history of drug use or criminal activity. Selection of candidates is based on overall assessment of the individual’s qualification, background, interpersonal skills, and availability to support the department during periods of greatest need.

    To apply or learn more about this extraordinary opportunity to serve your community, please contact Auxiliary Lieutenant Heather Hurlock at 703-228-4057 or by visiting the county web site at

    Crime Report…

    These notes are compiled from Arlington County Police Department crime reports. They cover the reports from the Buckingham, Arlington Forest and Ashton Heights neighborhoods. The crime reports since May 21 have not been added to the Arlington County Police Department web site, so there are no hot links with these reports.--ST

    May 26: Robbery, 3800 block of N. 5th St. At 1:30p.m., a woman was walking when an unknown male approached her from behind. The suspect pushed her to the ground and stole her purse. The suspect is described as an African-American male between 30 to 40 years of age, 5 feet and 150 pounds. He was dressed in all black clothing.

    May 25: Indecent Exposure (Arrest), 3800 block of N. 7th St. At 1p.m., a man knocked on a window to attract the attention of people walking by and exposed himself to them. Brady Humphry, 20, of Arlington, was charged with Indecent Exposure and released on a summons.

    May 23: Possible Enticement, 4200 block of Wilson Blvd. At 11:50a.m., a woman was shopping at the Ballston Common Mall. Her five-year-old son was approached by an unknown African-American male. The man asked her son to walk away with him, and offered him ice cream. When the child declined, the suspect left the area. The suspect is described as an African-American male in his 20s, 5 feet 6 inches to 5 feet 8 inches with a medium build. The suspect had short hair and was wearing a bright yellow shirt and long black shorts.

    Click the icons and lines for more information. Red=Person-to-person crime; Yellow=person-to-structure/vehicle crime; Blue=stolen vehicle; Purple=vehicle-to-vehicle crime; Aqua=miscellaneous. A dot in the icon indicates more than one suspect or victim. Click here to view larger map.

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    Thursday, May 28, 2009

    Police Investigate Possible Enticement of 5-year-old

    Arlington County Police Department's Special Victim's Unit is investigating an enticement of a juvenile that occurred last week at the Ballston Commons Mall

    From a press release:

    On Saturday, May 23, at 11:50a.m., a woman was shopping at the Ballston Common Mall in the 4200 block of Wilson Boulevard. Her five-year-old son was approached by an unknown African-American male.

    The man asked her son to walk away with him, and offered him ice cream. When the child declined, the suspect left the area. The suspect is described as an African-American male in his 20s, 5 feet 6 inches to 5 feet 8 inches with a medium build. The suspect had short hair and was wearing a bright yellow shirt and long black shorts.

    This is being investigated as an isolated incident. The police department has not received any other reports of this nature, but parents should remain aware of their children's surroundings when in public.

    Anyone with any information that may be relevant to this investigation is asked to call the Arlington County Police Department Tip Line at 703-228-4242, or Det. Dan Borrelli at 703-228-4052. Det. Borrelli can also be reached by email at

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    Sunday, May 24, 2009

    Letter: Better Markings Should Be "Normal Practice"

    Dear Steve,

    Concerning your article on the work being done on the corner of N. Henderson Road and North Thomas St. [See Roadwork Begins on Henderson and Thomas, May 11, 2009. --ST.]

    It is of course long over-due, particularly when you are going northwest on Thomas crossing Henderson from the southeast corner. I have long felt that between the signage and the poles Henderson Road traffic was dangerously blocked from seeing pedestrians.

    However in the initial stages of the construction the affirmation "The work will make a dangerous intersection a little more pedestrian friendly” was perhaps misplaced.

    I am visually impaired and was rushing for a county birding trip leaving Lubber Run at 7.00a.m. on May 12, not having known about the project. When I rushed across Henderson on the west side of Thomas, I found a ditch, almost falling in to it. I was close to the corner, but there were no construction barriers, (ribbons or plastic barrels) warning me of the situation. I went down the North side of Henderson a little way, and decided to go to the other side, jumping over the ditch that had been dug along Henderson and crossing to the other side before going on my way.

    It was nice to see, when I next visited the general area this past Tuesday, that they had placed barriers on the southwest corner where they had dug a new ditch.
    Hopefully the later case represents the normal practice.

    Louis Quay

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    Letter: Apt. Buildings Not Hospitable to Candidates

    Hi Steve,

    Interesting reading about issues campaigning in apartment buildings. [See HeraldTrib Today May 22, 2009 --ST] In the 1990s, I was precinct captain in Rosslyn and Wilson. At the time there used to be a lot more garden apartments, and I would enter (if I could) and drop literature for candidates.

    Problem was, virtually every building had a sign banning soliciting or a locked front door. Often I did it anyway if I could get in. In the larger, often fancier buildings, however, delivering lit or going door to door would get you thrown out -- fast. If there was a doorman, forget it.

    ACDC has struggled for years to develop a high-rise initiative (using the mail and folks who live in the buildings) and it has paid off, but the fact is apartment buildings aren't hospitable to candidates. And that's quite likely why candidates avoid them, even though you could quickly meet more people faster than going door to door in a single family neighborhood.

    Jason Rylander
    The writer is the Press and Public Relations Chair for the Arlington County Democratic Committee --ST

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    Friday, May 22, 2009

    HeraldTrib Today, May 22, 2009

    How to reach voters in apartments…

    One distinct difference between owning a single-family home and a garden-style townhouse, I’ve found, is the number of times people knock on my door politicking for something.

    I lost count of the number of times someone tried to get me to vote for Obama. And three of the five candidates for the House of Delegates race for the 47th have made their appearance, though I was only home for one of them (Alan Howze). Andres Tobar has not made it, as far as I know, and Adam Parkhomenko told me after the ACDC debate that he skipped my house because he knew I was Patrick Hope’s friend, and he did not want to take time talking with someone he was sure wouldn’t vote for him anyway.

    When I lived in the Arlington Oaks townhouse, Josh Ruebner the Green Party candidate running for County Board at the time, was the only candidate in 10 years to show up at my door, as far as I recall. I wasn't home, so he left a flier.

    All that got me thinking a month ago, so I started sending out emails to people I know living in apartments, and those people have had largely the same experience that I had—no one came calling.

    In a recent interview, Miles Grant, who is one of the five running for the House of Delegates' 47th seat, said that he did not get any serious contact from Obamites in the run-up to last year’s primary though, as a member of Arlington Young Democrats, he was a likely primary voter!

    Miles lives in Historic Ballston Park (near the Eastern Carry-Out), and swung by my house about a month ago.

    Alexandra Morrow, of Arlington Oaks, wrote me an email about a month ago:

    “I have not had anyone and personally am thankful I have not. After a long day, I really don't want to contend with people buzzing and trying to gain access to the units. They may avoid us because you do have to gain access not only to the units but then to the doors, and no one wants to be that one person who let's them in!

    “I never had anyone knock on my door for the presidential election either, nor did I see anyone around the neighborhood. My guess is they know their time is better spent on communities where they don't have to work as hard just to get to the front door.”

    It’s interesting to me, given that it shows off two of the concerns the candidates expressed to me: they don’t want to appear pushy or as though they are somehow invading privacy, and they don’t want to spend time just trying to get through the main door only to find hostile people at the apartment door.

    People at the Buckingham Outreach Center, on the Gates of Ballston property, said they had not heard of candidates canvassing there. Writer, HeraldTrib columnist, and Chatham resident Vic Socotra said no one had knocked on his door, ever.

    The only person in a complex who said they did get activity was Tom Lauria, in Hyde Park Condominium. They are a rather politically active bunch (I went to a meeting with Sen. Mary Margaret Whipple there a couple years back). The way the meetings were described, however, was that someone invited the candidate in to the community room, and people came from apartments to meet that person.

    That fits more with what the candidates say they do. They tell me they find friends in the different places and ask those friends to set-up meet-and-greets of different sorts, breakfasts, happy hours, and such.

    For instance, Pat Hope had a “Latinos for Hope” rally at the Buckingham Community Center.

    Miles Grant said he gives fliers to supporters in apartment complexes and asks that they distribute them to a list of likely voters who also live at that place. He said he has a volunteer who coordinates that activity.

    If that doesn’t work, he joked, “What we’re doing is renting fire engines with ladders that will go up to about the 10th floor and [we’re] just sticking our fliers to the outside of people’s windows.”

    The group experience has a different feel than that of someone knocking on your door.

    When Alan Howze stopped by, I told him that I write this blog and that I’m a friend of Pat Hope’s and have every intention of voting for him. Alan looked at me with a kind of curious smile and said, “Let’s get coffee.” It was a face that said, “I can change your mind.” I was happy for the opportunity.

    He and I have had coffee; in fact, coffee with him made me think of asking the other candidates the same. I have met with four of the five candidates (Adam Parkhomenko’s campaign said they didn’t have time in his schedule). Transcripts of those taped interviews will be out next week.

    While we’re on politics…

    Nick Benton, the Editor/Publisher of the Falls Church News Press, gave $200 to Adam Parkhomenko’s campaign at some point during the first three months of this year. Just letting you know.
    Along those lines, Pat Hope asked me if I’d put a lawn sign in my yard, and, citing my role here at the HeraldTrib, I said no. Pat asked if Cathy, my wife, would be willing to do it, and I said he would have to ask here.

    We have a lawn sign.

    I’m a journalist, but I don’t see why my wife must give up her right to free speech. (I know this will rub some of you the wrong way, but at least I’m up front about these matters.)

    Don't stereotype tent caterpillars...

    The naturalist and TV persona, David Mizejewski, (featured in a story, below) told me that the eastern tent caterpillar is not invasive, nor is it harmful to the environment and backyard (it leaves behind a few holey leaves).

    These are the good ones.(Click to enlarge the image.)

    What I didn’t write was that he and I (we’re about the same age) remember the late 1970s in the northeast when the gypsy moths came in and defoliated entire forests. Since the gypsy moth is also a tent-builder, many people (I’ll include myself here) believe all tent caterpillars are bad.

    They’re not, and you can fairly easily tell them apart. Gypsy moth caterpillars have a series of blue and red spots along their bodies, whereas the eastern tent caterpillars have a golden squiggle, with blue stripes.

    Here’s a couple images to help:

  • Gypsy moth caterpillar
  • Eastern tent caterpillar

  • I missed the BCCA meeting last week...

    I was sick. It has been some combination of head cold and allergies that has been laying me low for about two weeks. (That is part of why the Police Notes, below, are so delayed.)

    Anyway, if someone was at the meeting and can give a nice emailed round-up, I'd sure appreciate it. I know American Service Center detailed their redevelopment plans, and apparently someone else was coming, but I do not have details, though I'd love them!

    Have a good holiday weekend...

    And remember that Rolling Thunder will be rolling and thundering down Arlington Blvd this weekend, with campers no doubt already filling the Assembly of God field. Look for pictures next week. (The police traffic alert is here.)

    Bill Francis at the Arlington Assembly of God, last year.

    The Week’s Headlines…
    As always, you can scroll down to see all the recent stories, or simply click the links below (if the link doesn't work, scroll down to find the story, and email to tell me what's busted: --Steve Thurston).

    Today's Headlines:

  • Man held (but not charged) in incident with Swanson students (Police Notes May 5 - 21)

  • Headlines from Earlier in the Week:

  • County and Telesis Prep for June Meeting. (Buckingham Village 3 update.)
  • ASC Switches to Water-based Paint (but a neighbor is not sure that will pass the smell test.)
  • From Animal Planet to Lubber Run (TV personality checks out the neighborhood's "backyard.")
  • Whipple and Brink Endorse Patrick Hope
  • Road Work Started on Thomas/Henderson Intersection
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    Police Notes May 5 - 21

    These notes are compiled from Arlington County Police Department crime reports. They cover the reports from the Buckingham, Arlington Forest and Ashton Heights neighborhoods. Sorry it covers so much time; I fell behind during finals week. --ST

    Man held, but not charged…

    The man who accosted several Swanson Middle School students at a bus stop in Buckingham yesterday afternoon has been held under a mental detention order, but has not been charged with a crime.

    He is known to police and has a history of mental disorder, said Arlington County Police Detective Crystal Nosal, the public information officer for ACPD. The incident occurred on the 4100 block of N. 3rd St., according to an email sent from Arlington Public Schools.

    Police do not believe that the person was attempting abduction, as was first feared, but he may have tugged on the shirt of a boy, which is “scary for a 14-year-old,” Det. Nosal said.

    He might be charged with assault and battery for the shirt-tugging, but police are waiting for a health evaluation before proceeding, the detective said. They are not releasing his name at this time since he has not been arrested and because police do not want to run afoul of the Health Information Privacy Act.

    The email from the school thanked police for quick action and commended the students for following some basic safety tips such as walking in groups and telling adults quickly so that appropriate action could be taken.

    Crime reports…

    May 4: Robbery, 4200 block of Wilson Blvd. At 4:45p.m., a man was walking when two unknown men approached him from behind. The suspect pushed the victim into a wall and demanded money. They then ran from the area. Both suspects were tall, muscular, African American males in their late teens. They were wearing sweatshirts with scarves covering their faces.

    May 1 (delayed reporting to police): Robbery, 4300 block of N. Henderson Road. At 11p.m., a man was standing in front of a building talking on a cell phone. Two unknown men approached him, assaulted him and took his cell phone. The suspects were both African-American men in their early 20s. They were wearing dark clothing.

    May 1 (delayed reporting to police): Attempted Robbery, 4300 block of N. 4th St. At 8:30p.m., a man was leaving a laundry room and two unknown men attempted to rob him. The suspects were unsuccessful and fled the area. Both suspects were African-American males in their 20s wearing dark clothing. The victim did not report the incident for six days.

    May 9: Destruction of Property, Drunk in Public (Arrest), 900 block of N. Kenmore St. At midnight, a person witnessed a man damaging windshield wipers on several vehicles. Police apprehended the suspect. Kevin Chan was charged with Drunk in Public and held until sober.

    May 10: Assault and Battery, 200 block of N. Glebe Road. At 9:45p.m., a man entered a store and assaulted an employee. He attempted to get the employee to leave the store to fight with him in the parking lot and left. The employee called the police. The suspect is a bald African-American male in his 40s, 6 feet tall with a heavy build. He was wearing dark jeans and a checkered patterned long sleeve shirt.

    May 19: Filing a False Police Report (Arrest), 3800 block of N. 7th St. At 4:30p.m., a woman reported that her ex-boyfriend abducted and assaulted her. During the investigation officers found the event was fabricated. Leyla S. Kampman, 19, of Arlington, was charged with Filing a False Police Report. She was held on a $1,000 bond.

    Click the icons for more information. Red=Person-to-person crime; Yellow=person-to-structure/vehicle crime; Blue=stolen vehicle; Purple=vehicle-to-vehicle crime; Aqua=miscellaneous. A dot in the icon indicates more than one suspect or victim. Click here to view larger map.

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    Wednesday, May 20, 2009

    County And Telesis Prep for June Meeting

    This story was adjusted from its post yesterday to include "The Finances," a breakdown of the money spent on this project (see it near the bottom of the story). --ST

    The Arlington County Board met with senior staff and members of Telesis Corporation yesterday primarily to discuss whether to make Buckingham Village 3 all-rental or rental with some ownership. If there is ownership, the consensus, with some balking, was that it should be a condominium, not a co-operative. This is the last meeting of these groups before the board votes on the issue at their June meeting.

    Telesis, with an impressive packet of information, recommended condominium ownership of 48 of the 140 units in 16 buildings, with the other 92 units renting at different levels of affordability.

    The cost to the county for this is $14.5 million—or almost $17 million if buyers use the county’s Moderate Income Purchase Assistance Program. That’s about $103,000 to $120,000 per unit, according to the documents.

    Under this plan, all the units would be fully renovated.

    The county board, however, was not sure that the mix of 92/48 was the best and questioned Telesis about that ratio. Perhaps the best ratio would be rental on all 140 units.

    Bert Mason, a principal at Telesis, ran through the numbers, explaining that full rental would mean the project would lose some tax incentives.

    And the question of co-op versus condo was the point of largest contention, though “contention” might be too strong.

    Board member Chris Zimmerman is a proponent of co-ops because the lower purchase costs generally associated with co-ops would make the units more affordable. Plus, the Latino community most likely to take advantage of the purchases are more familiar with the more communal co-op structure rather than the condo.

    “I do think it’s a tool we should have in the box,” he said after the meeting, but he admitted that the financial structure in this country gives the advantage to condos.

    “A co-op would be more helpful to us in achieving the goals we set in the first place,” Mr. Zimmerman said during the meeting. Those goals include keeping the entire Village 3 affordable, and allowing as many people who already live in Buckingham to stay in Buckingham.

    County board Chair Barbara Favola said, however, that a condo, which would appreciate more than a co-op, would potentially allow more families to move up the economic ladder.

    Mr. Mason estimated an additional $3 million would be needed from the county if the project went co-op. As well, the financing for a co-op is a couple percentage points higher than that of a condo, he said.

    Board member Walter Tejada reiterated the need to keep the community together and wondered how likely it was that people would buy.

    Mr. Mason said a “substantial number” in Buckingham wanted to buy. “I don’t think we’ll have any trouble selling these units,” he said.

    In the end, the board seemed satisfied with the rental/ownership ratio and that the condo was the best option, but they asked that Telesis provide a more clear comparison of the differences for their June meeting.

    Ultimately, Mr. Tejada expressed what seemed to be the feeling at the table. “Let us not get that point lost,” he said, that a large number of affordable housing units are being saved by this measure.

    That the board was helping to save a housing complex built in the depression during the worst economic downturn since that time was significant, said Mr. Zimmerman after the meeting. “On so many levels, this is exciting.”

    Village 3, a six acre site, sits on N. Pershing Drive between N. Thomas St. and N. George Mason Drive. This is part of project that started in 2006 when the county entered a memorandum of understanding with Paradigm Development Corp and its partners, the former owners of the property. In that agreement, Village 3 fell under the protection of the county’s Historical Affairs and Landmarks Review Board; its redevelopment and that of Village 1, across N. George Mason from Village 3, has fallen under a great deal of county scrutiny.

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    Tuesday, May 19, 2009

    ASC's "Environmentally-Sound" Choice Has Not Convinced B'ham Neighbor

    American Service Center is the first body shop in Arlington to make the switch to waterborne paints, a switch that may be mandatory in the future.

    The heat was pushing 100 degrees, and the weather was dry July 9, 2007. Buckingham felt just a bit like an oven. As well, the corner of N. Glebe and N. Carlin Springs roads smelled of chemical solvents at about quitting time that Monday.

    One person in the neighborhood told the county that the American Service Center Body Shop where workers painted up to 250 cars a month on N. Glebe Road, was illegally dumping noxious fumes into the air.

    An employee stands next to the open doors of the American Service Center Body Shop on a smelly day in September, 2007. (Click to enlarge the image.)

    The double-wide, glass doors on the Glebe Road side of the building on that day were wide open, and two, newly painted, black Mercedes sat just inside. The sidewalk in front of those doors was dusted with paint from the shop floor. The stench was incredible.

    “I don’t deal with air quality,” said Richard Freeman at that time. He is a county code enforcer. He said air quality is much more a job for the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, which said some of those issues were the concern of the federal Environmental Protection Agency.

    In the late summer of 2007, Mr. Freeman said he was only concerned with overspray on the property, and he had seen the booths that the painters used and the certificates from the state saying that they were in compliance. He said he had gone by a few times to smell and hadn’t noticed anything that bad. As well, the fire marshall conducts an annual audit of the location and has found nothing wrong.

    In 2006, the EPA checked out the site and found nothing wrong. In a recent interview, Body Shop Manager Jim Bergin denied having illegally dumped fumes.

    At the time, you could not have told that to Mick Pulliam, the resident of The Carlin, an apartment high rise at 4300 N. Carlin Springs, who was trying to get the county to investigate. He said the stench in his building’s backyard, which sits adjacent to ASC’s backyard, was overwhelming.

    “Nothing can be done unless the inspector actually sees the infraction,” Mr. Pulliam wrote in an email in 2007. “It seems that the paint trail coming from inside the building, and going almost out to the road, is not proof of where the paint is coming from.”

    Code inspectors checked the paint on the sidewalks and determined it was allowable, as it was not overspray, but dust from the sanding room floor that the tires tracked outside with them.

    The good news for Mr. Pulliam is that these arguments may be moot.

    Last November, ASC switched their paints from solventborne to waterborne, and they have finished a renovation of the building at 640 N. Glebe that includes air conditioning, so the door should not need to be opened. They are first in Arlington to make the switch to waterborne paints.

    "American Service Center has made an environmentally-sound decision to convert its shop from a solventborne system," the company wrote in a press release last April.

    (The person who could speak to these issues at Specialty Auto Body, the other paint shop on nearby N. Quincy Street, was out of the office until next week, the manager said.)

    Carlos Gomez applies paint using the new waterborne paints. The air in the paintbooths is filtered, and the filters are changed monthly, said Mr. Bergin, the body shop manager. (Click to enlarge the image.)

    “Waterborne paint is almost odorless,” said Matthew Shaffer, the BASF paint sales representative at ASC.

    Paints are roughly 80 percent liquid. That liquid makes it possible for the paint to be sprayed onto a surface. The liquid dries off and the pigment remains. Waterborne paints shift the liquid from a chemical solvent—such as xylene, toluene or methyl ethyl ketone—to water, and therefore the smell from the evaporating liquid changes from chemical to virtually nothing. As well, the air in the paint booth goes through "two or three filtering systems" before being released to the atmosphere, Mr. Bergin said. "It emits less...contaminants."

    ASC Body Shop Manager Jim Bergin. (Click to enlarge the image.)

    “This one was painted 45 minutes ago,” Mr. Bergin said. He stood in the finishing area of the paint shop where the cars get buffed after painting. If it were going to smell, it would smell the worst right where he was standing he said.

    “Eventually, [the use of waterborne paints] is going to be mandated,” he had said earlier.

    That’s what happened last year in Canada. California has already made the shift.

    It’s more than a quality-of-life issue for people living around a body shop. The solvents are Volatile Organic Compounds, which, when loosed into the air and bombarded by sunlight, can create ozone and other pollutants. According to the EPA, one category of the solvents, diisocyanates, is the number one cause of workplace asthma.

    In January 2008, the EPA issued rules that required many industries, including auto paint shops, to lower their VOC emissions, but they did not require a switch to waterborne paints.

    Mick Pulliam is not so sure about any of this.

    “We shall see if there is an improvement. However, I am not sure that the type of paint is going to change much. The idea of having paint fumes in my lungs does not make me happy. (No matter what kind of paint they use.),” he wrote in a recent email.

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    Friday, May 15, 2009

    From Animal Planet to Lubber Run

    Turns out the host of the old Animal Planet show “Backyard Habitat,” who appears regularly on national TV, is a resident of the Columbia Forest neighborhood in south Arlington. The author of “Attracting Birds, Butterflies and Other Backyard Wildlife,” checked out Buckingham’s backyard, Lubber Run Park, on Wednesday. Although a resident of Arlington for about a decade, it was his first time in this park, and he was pleased with what he saw.

    David Mizejewski in Lubber Run Park, Wednesday. (Click to enlarge the image.)

    “Urban natural areas have a different sort of stressors on them,” David Mizejewski said. The impermeable roofs, roads, driveways and parking lots in the area send a lot of water into storm drains which empty into streams like Lubber Run. But overall the streams in Arlington are OK, he said.

    “We do have such a great, green infrastructure in Arlington,” he said.

    The county supports a program to protect Lubber Run from invasive plant species. The county has three nature centers inside its borders, staffed by professional naturalists. It says a lot about the county government and the citizens who support these, he said.

    “You just don’t see that in a lot of other places,” he said. (Gulf Branch Nature Center was saved in the county largely through citizen activism when the county budget was approved just weeks ago.)

    Strolling in jeans and flip-flops, he stopped near the rest room building and looked to the hillside that rises behind it. He noticed how much undergrowth the park has, and attributed part of that to the few deer in the county. He said that hillside was the perfect habitat for the mountain laurel that grows there. With the old growth trees, mountain laurel and the oak seedlings sprouting through the dark, leaf-strewn soil, he said,

    “We could be in the Shenandoah.”

    The mountain laurel on the hillside is one sign of a rather healthy park. (Click to enlarge the image.)

    Lubber Run might not have the invertebrate life—snails and crayfish—of a truly healthy stream, but it does support dace, those minnow-like fish, in the deeper pools of the stream. The streambed is gravelly, rather than silty, which allows plants to grow and fish to spawn.

    A pair of mallards was eating and resting in the stream. Near his house, he said, on Four-Mile Run, he has seen kingfishers and great blue herons which means they must be finding something to eat.

    “On the whole, these urban ecosystems are in pretty good shape,” he said.

    His show which ran a couple seasons, (and can be purchased on DVD) was a “Trading Spaces” sort of show for the backyard. It focused on making-over backyards to attract wildlife. Landowners, however, must recognize the limits to this: they have to plant native plants to attract native animals and insects.

    These eastern tent caterpillars are not invasive, but are good for the ecosystem. (Click to enlarge the image.)

    “You need bugs for birds,” he said.

    Take the eastern tent caterpillar. It is not invasive, nor is it bad for area trees. It feeds off plants in the rose family, which include a number of fruit trees, such as the black cherry Mr. Mizejewski found in the park, a nice web of caterpillars stuck to the “Y” of a branch.

    They might look ugly and leave a few holey leaves in their wakes, but they might also attact the yellow-billed cuckoo. Those birds like the fuzzy bugs.

    An employee of the National Wildlife Federation in Reston, he is promoting their new “Be Out There” program which encourages families to spend more time in nature in order to grow healthier and appreciate nature more. He also has a new blog on the Animal Planet site called “Animal Oddities.”

    Mr. Mizejewski is not against bringing home wildlife from t he park; his old show often made habitats for critters like pollywogs. But practice “catch-and-release” he said, returning the animals to the place where they were found, and do not keep animals captive too long.

    “Parks are hugely valuable,” Mr. Mizejewski said. “They are the community’s backyard.” Parents can teach their children to be respectful of the parks. “It’s for everybody, including the wild animals, including the streams.”

    Related sites…
  • NWF's "Be Out There" program.
  • Animal Planet's "Animal Oddities" blog.
  • Animal Planet's Backyard Habitat

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  • Whipple and Brink Endorse Hope

    Patrick Hope's campaign for the House of Delegates released this statement earlier today. --ST

    On June 9, Democrats in the 47th District will choose a candidate to succeed our friend and colleague Al Eisenberg. It’s a testament to the vitality of the Arlington Democratic Party that five Arlingtonians with a wide range of qualifications have stepped forward to seek the nomination. Miles Grant is an articulate and forceful advocate for the environment. Alan Howze has a deep understanding of how policy is formulated in Richmond. Adam Parkhomenko is youthful and enthusiastic. Andres Tobar’s longstanding efforts to promote an inclusive and progressive community have made Arlington a better place.

    We are supporting Patrick Hope because he offers a unique combination of personal, professional and community experience that will make him an effective member of the House of Delegates from Day 1. Patrick has shown leadership, compassion, and commitment on behalf of Arlington’s most vulnerable citizens. He is a consensus builder and a creative problem solver. His civic activism is in the finest tradition of “The Arlington Way.”

    For many years, Arlington’s delegation to the General Assembly has worked as a team to advance our community’s interests in Richmond and to promote Arlington values. We are confident that Patrick Hope will contribute significantly to our delegation’s effectiveness, and we urge the 47th District’s Democrats to vote for Patrick on Tuesday, June 9.

    Sen. Mary Margaret Whipple (D-31, Arlington/Falls Church)

    Del. Bob Brink (D-48, north Arlington)

    Full disclosure: I have known Pat for years and consider him a friend. --ST

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    Thursday, May 14, 2009

    BCCA Meeting Monday May 18

    Buckingham Community Civic Association Members - The BCCA will be holding its regular meeting on Monday, May 18, 7:00p.m.

    We'll be meeting at our usual meeting place at the Arlington Oaks Community Center located at 4490 N. Pershing Drive.

    We've confirmed the developer for American Service Center to discuss their project under review located on the east side of N. Glebe Road. We'll also provide updates of various projects around the neighborhood.

    Next week's meeting will also include an update from Rolda Nedd, one of Arlington County's planners, to discuss future community needs. We're asking Buckingham residents to take this opportunity to weigh-in on community needs through this survey (click here).

    I hope to see you at next week's meeting.


    Patrick Hope
    President, BCCA

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    Monday, May 11, 2009

    Road Work Begins on Henderson and Thomas Intersection

    A backhoe works on the sidewalks at the intersection. The sidewalks "bump" into the streets, to slow turning drivers and shorten walking distances for pedestrians. (Click to enlarge the image.)

    Construction crews began work renovating the N. Henderson Road at N. Thomas Street intersection, Friday.

    The work will make a dangerous intersection a little more pedestrian friendly. The changes will “bump” the sidewalks a little into the travel lanes, slowing drivers as they turn, while shortening the distance pedestrians will have to travel to cross the streets. "Zebra stiping" of the crosswalks for greater visibility over N. Henderson is part of the plan.

    The project will also improve drainage and lighting at the intersection. As well, the sidewalk in front of the Hyde Park Condominium’s pool, just east of the intersection, will get curb cuts for better wheelchair, scooter and bicycle accessibility.

    According to Patrick Hope, Buckingham Community Civic Association president, the work should be completed in about two weeks. This was the first project in Buckingham to be completed under the Neighborhood Conservation Project process.

    The plans include four new streetlights, but one will be installed only when Paradigm Development builds the townhouses planned for the southwest corner of the intersection. N. Thomas Street runs vertically in this image. (Click to enlarge the image.)

    Related stories…
  • Pedestrian Safety and Visibility Is Aim of Henderson/Thomas Renovation

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  • Friday, May 08, 2009

    HeraldTrib Today: May 7, 2009

    Glad to see the Sun Gazette report on its parent company...

    I had a snarky piece already to go about how tough it was to find the Sun Gazette's coverage of its parent company's troubles on its web site.

    (The parent, American Community Newspapers Inc., filed for Chapter 11 protection at the end of last month.)

    But I see the coverage is on page 10 of the current print edition. Good. (I don't actually like being snarky it just makes us all defensive, and that's not a good position for journalists to be in.)

    Scott McCaffrey, the Sun Gazette editor, has been covering his parent company's troubles, but only on his blog, which no doubt gets far less readership on the main news pages.

    Here’s the really interesting part: in one of the blog posts, there’s a link to “read the story here”. It’s an actual news story that has a date stamp of April 29, but I went back to find it on the main site, and not there! So, the story exists, you just have to know to look for it. When you click the story, it says it is archived in "hot news." Was it posted there? Here, and only here, is the Sun Gazette story on line.

    I wrote about the story last week. After I covered the story, I sent it to some area newsies who hadn’t heard (though I was nearly a week late in my coverage), and then I sent it along to my realtor (who I talk with or email daily) who said he hadn’t heard anything. He also said he would have liked to have known this as his office does a lot of advertising with the Sun Gazette (no kidding!).

    People, in other words, seem interested in this as news, not banter, Scott. You probably should have made sure this story stayed on the main News site, not just on your blog.

    By the way, Scott, I liked the first blog entry you posted yesterday with the headline: “That’s why you shouldn’t let amateurs loose in the newsroom." It got my snark way up! I was happy it hadn't been aimed at me. (In fact, you've been very nice to me and my blog lately. I'll admit it makes me nervous.)

    And so that this joke isn't only inside baseball, Scott was poking at the Loudoun Times-Mirror which quoted its own staff in a story about the Sun Gazette's parent company filing for Chapter 11 protection. Unfortunately, the Loudoun paper apparently did not mention that the people quoted were their staff--reason enough to poke them.

    When I went back to find the post for my own snark-filled reasons, at 9:13a.m., I found the post was was gone! At noon it came back on-line with a different headline and different content. (As Scott would say,“Whoopsie” —we’ve all hit “post” when we don't mean to.)

    Today, the blog covers the same story (I think) but gets angry at the misspelling of the Sun Gazette's name.

    Container love...

    If you read the actual newspaper, drink beer, and feed your kids beans from cans, you know what joy it is to get the big, blue recyclable canisters.

    The writer, with a love bordering on the unnatural. (Click to enlarge the image.)

    My family and I recycle everything we can—newspapers, envelopes, sheets of paper (including the 80 or more that come home every Friday in the kids’ folders), bottles, cans, plastics. We’re still unpacking, so we have corrugated and flat cardboard. Tissue boxes, toilet paper rolls, milk jugs. Everything. Pull the cardboard tag off a new shirt? Yup, into the recycle bin.

    This is something I’ve taken from Arlington Oaks.

    I was on the board and active in the community while there, so I know that recycled waste was cheaper to haul away than garbage destined for the landfill. So I did my part to save the condominium a few bucks a year.

    When I arrived at the new house about six blocks away (in Arlington Forest, aka “West Buckingham”), I found the yellow recycling bucket on the back porch, lacking.

    The old container is "a sorry excuse."

    The sorry excuse for a container worthy of saving the environment had broken sides and was, at best, half the size of what we required. Because of its small and lidless design, on Wednesdays (just before garbage day) our back porch looked like a small landfill. I think the squirrels (stupid squirrels!) even took out some of the items hoping to find remaining food.

    But now, now we have reached recycling Nirvana! I am at peace and in love!

    While we’re on love…

    The students that I mention in my essay, below, are back together (didn’t see that coming). I was rather surprised, I’ll admit, that they broke up just in time for me to write the essay!

    Adam Parkhomenko wins the Bill Clinton endorsement…

    The race for the House of Delegates’ 47th District gets weirder by the minute. The chatter I have heard and read seems to leave people in the dark as to what the endorsement by POTUS-42 means. Turn out on June 9 for the Democratic primary will be the key, I’m guessing. Will an endorsement by the former Commander-in-Chief be enough? We’ll see…

    The Week’s Headlines…
    As always, you can scroll down to see all the recent stories, or simply click the links below (if the link doesn't work, scroll down to find the story, and email to tell me what's busted: --Steve Thurston).

    Headlines from Earlier in the Week:

  • Police Notes: April 24 to May 4
  • Sun Gazette Parent Co. Files Chapter 11.
  • Essay: Beating Hearts (Lousy headline, I'll admit.)
  • Letter: New Money Blog in the Neighborhood.

  • Public Service Announcements

  • County to Premiere "Arlington's Smarth Growth Journey"
  • Committee of 100 to Discuss Diversity Implementation
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    Thursday, May 07, 2009

    Police Notes April 24 - May 4.

    These notes are compiled from Arlington County Police Department crime reports. They cover the reports from the Buckingham, Arlington Forest and Ashton Heights neighborhoods. --ST

    April 23: Attempted Commercial Burglary, 500 block of N. Glebe Road. Between 8p.m. on April 23, and 9a.m. on April 24, an unknown subject attempted to break into a business but was unable to gain entry. There is no suspect description.

    April 27: Burglary (Arrest), 4300 block of N. Pershing Drive. At 5:30a.m. a man broke into an apartment through a window. The resident called police and the suspect was located. Ismar Orozco-Bautista, 21, of Arlington was charged with Burglary. He was held without bond.

    April 28: Robbery (Arrest), 4100 block of N. Henderson Road. At 4:50p.m., a man reported that a man walked up to him, assaulted him, and then stole the bicycle the victim had been riding. The suspect rode off on the bike. Officers found the suspect fighting with a different subject in the general area. (See the report below. April 28: Assault and Battery 700 block of N. George Mason Drive.) Gerald McFarland, 27, of Arlington, was charged with Robbery and held without bond.

    April 28: Assault and Battery (Arrest), 700 block of N. George Mason Drive. At 5:20p.m., a man was walking when a subject ran toward him and assaulted him. The victim ran away and the suspect followed him. Officers checking the area for a robbery suspect stopped the assault in progress. (See the report above. April 28: Robbery (Arrest), 4100 block of N. Henderson Road.) Gerald McFarland, 27, of Arlington, was charged with Assault and Battery and held without bond.

    Click the icons for more information. Red=Person-to-person crime; Yellow=person-to-structure/vehicle crime; Blue=stolen vehicle; Purple=vehicle-to-vehicle crime; Aqua=miscellaneous. A dot in the icon indicates more than one suspect or victim. Click here to view larger map.

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    Wednesday, May 06, 2009

    Essay: Beating Hearts

    I have been thinking of a pair of students in one of my classes. They are in their late teens and they are in love. They sit in the back of the class, talking low, or touching, sharing a book. When they might not know I see, she will sneak glances with eyes that ask for a response, and he, well, he might be a little older; maybe he has been through this before, or just keeps his emotions close.

    I have been thinking of them since Friday when my dog and I heard what we thought was a bark, an odd bark, and it stopped my dog, almost. Her gait changed, and she slowed, wary, but ears forward, head up, the point position, if she knew what that was. I called her to me, and she came, but she looked as though she might bolt, on a chase, and at the same time like she might bolt away.

    We heard it again, but I was talking to my dog, so the sound wasn’t clear. A dog, maybe, a ways off, in a backyard. It might be upset, or it sees something.

    Or it could be—and just as I thought this, I heard clearly, a deep, guttural, hooting.

    The owl.

    I’d seen owl feathers in Lubber Run Park over the past month, and then, last week, I spotted an owl in a tree, down near Arlington Boulevard. I shot a picture of the owl with my cell phone, too far from the tree to get a good shot. But it was fun to watch the owl’s head twist around to see me. I’ve never seen a grown, healthy one in the wild.

    Last year my dog spotted an injured barred owl hiding itself behind a rock on the shoreline of Lubber Run creek, and we waited until animal welfare came to take it away. And a month or so after that, we saw the cutest little owl at the base of a tree about a foot from the paved path.

    We were out early that morning, the sky still dark, and my dog was yanking me down the hill into the park off N. Columbus Street. I couldn’t see what she was so excited about, neck stretched through the collar, straining, until I was just about on top of the poor little thing. The eyes were so wide, and the pupils so large and its body so small that it looked frightened, more than wise. I never knew if it was an owlet that was too afraid or incapable of flight, or if it was a full-grown, but injured owl. Now I’m guessing it was young.

    And here we were, just my dog and me last Friday, walking through the woods, stopped by the unfamiliar sound. The sun was just up on an overcast morning, and the renaissance of underbrush was shadowless in that way that happens when the dull light comes from everywhere. Where we stood, with new leaves on the giant, old-growth trees, I couldn’t see the houses I knew were there.

    Despite all the dire environmental news, for a moment, the forest, this little forest in dense-packed Arlington, with its towering oaks and maples, felt primordial and verdant, huge yet intimate, as though I could walk forward and see the owl, as though it were calling to me. But of course, it wasn’t.

    A startling moment later, a second owl called from behind us, but closer, maybe a hundred yards away. The first called again and it went like that for a minute or more. Call and response, longing and desire, public yet intimate.

    During student conferences yesterday I asked the young woman in my class where her boyfriend was, since he had missed his conference that ran just before hers.

    “I don’t know,” she said, “I haven’t talked to him in days.”

    “Oh!” I said. “Sorry.”

    “It’s alright,” she said, and her eyes looked like she meant it, as though she wisely understood that this was how it goes sometimes, that the odds of survival in this environment are long.

    Through the canopy, I saw, just as I was wondering if I’d be lucky enough to see, the second owl, beating the air with desire—thuketathuketathuketa—its voice disrupted by the strain of beating wings and the fierce pounding of its heart.

    Related sites…
  • For a quick introduction to the barred owl, click here; to hear the barred owl, click here.
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    Monday, May 04, 2009

    Sun Gazette Parent Co. Files Chap. 11

    American Community Newspapers, Inc., announced that it voluntarily entered Chapter 11 reorganization on April 28. The heavily-leveraged, Addison, Texas-based company which owns northern Virginia's Sun Gazette, Middleburg Life and Leesburg Today newspapers among others nationwide, was delisted from public stock exchanges last fall, and recently, the stock was trading for pennies per share privately.

    "ACN will continue to operate its businesses, during the reorganization process. There will be no change in the Company's day-to-day operating activity and its newspapers will continue to serve their local communities, readers and advertisers without interruption," ACN said in a statement on April 28.

    “A difficult economic environment and weak advertising market have created a number of challenges for our industry and our company,” said the company Chairman, Gene Carr, in the statement.

    In separate statements, the company wrote that it would consider selling papers, but closing them is not likely, and that the restructuring should not affect readership or advertising clients.

    Within 90 days, the company plans to pull out of the reorganization stronger their statements say.

    The Sun Gazette nearby covers the northern Virginia communities of Arlington and northern Fairfax counties.

    Related sites…
  • American Community Newspapers press release about the filing.
  • Leesburg Today's coverage of the story (Leesburg Today is a sister paper to the Sun Gazette).
  • A little history on the troubles

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  • Friday, May 01, 2009

    County to Premiere "Arlington's Smart-Growth Journey"

    The county has produced a full-length documentary about its history in Smart Growth development, and they are holding a public screening of the film (which can also be found on the county's web site) later this month.

    "Arlington's Smart Growth Journey"

    Central Library Monday, May 11, 7p.m.

    The event is free and open to the public.

    The 53-minute documentary will be followed by a panel discussion featuring three of the people interviewed in the documentary: Dr. Zachary Schrag, a historian and George Mason University; Hank Hulme, a former Arlington County staffer and Jay Ricks, a former Board member.

    Peter Hill, of AVN, and county Spokesperson Mary Curtius were the co-producers of the project which took 18 months. They conducted 25 hours of interviews with some of the key decision-makers who fought to ensure that Arlington got Metro lines, lots of Metro stops, and development along them.

    The Washington Post wrote about the movie in last Thursday's Arlington/Alexandria Extra section.

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    Committee of 100 to Discuss Diversity Implementation

    How Will Arlington Implement the Recommendations of the Diversity Dialogues?

    This will the be the topic of the May monthly meeting of the Arlington Committee of 100 (a public affairs/civic education program in the county).

    Regular Monthly Dinner Meeting

    Wednesday, May 13, 2009

    Macedonia Baptist Church

    3412 S. 22nd Street, Arlington, VA 22204 (at the corners of Shirlington Road, Kenmore and 22nd Street.)

    Dinner 7:00p.m.; Program 7:30p.m.

    Sixteen recommendations were developed by the Diversity Dialogues. Our May program will help create options for implementing these recommendations. We are pleased that the Committee of 100 will be part of the follow-up for the Arlington County Diversity Dialogues, held in the fall of 2008.

    You may have participated in them and wondered “what’s next?” Reverend Leonard Hamlin, senior pastor of Macedonia Baptist Church and Chair of the Diversity Dialogue Task Force, has invited us to his church on May 13th to discuss how to implement the 16 recommendations. Our members will be joined by some of Rev. Hamlin’s congregation, along with other Dialogue attendees, and other interested community members.

    For more information, click here.

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    Bedbugs: Treatment and Information

    The Buckingham neighborhood (and much of the country), is dealing with bedbug infestations, so the county's Housing Services Section is holding a informational session on bedbug characteristics, signs, treatment and prevention

    Date: Thursday, May 7

    Time: 10:00a.m. – 11:00a.m.

    Location: Gates of Ballston Community Center, 4108 N. 4th St.

    Also featuring: Connor’S Pest Protection and the Lady Bug’s K-9 Team

    Sponsored by Arlington County Housing Services Section and Historic Preservation Program.

    Letter: A Money Blog in the Neighborhood

    Hi Steve,

    I live in Arlington Oaks and I'm a big fan of your blog (I particularly liked your article about Ballston Station, even though I think it's ridiculous they didn't call it Buckingham Station). I just started blogging again after something like a seven-year break, and was wondering if you wouldn't mind taking a look and giving me some feedback? I'd like to trade links as well if you're interested.

    The URL for my site is


    Keith McClellan

    For this and other blogs in the area, check out the "local bloggers" link at the right. (It has been updated.) --ST

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