Week in Arlington

Week in Arlington

<sh>Affordable Housing Bill Set to Pass

<bt>The General Assembly is close to codifying the affordable housing compromise the county forged with developers and community activists in November.

The bill, introduced by Sen. Mary Margaret Whipple (D-31), easily cleared the House Committee on Counties, Cities and Towns last week by a vote of 38-0. It is expected to come before the entire House of Delegates in the coming days.

The measure sailed through the Senate at the end of January, in a 38-0 vote.

The plan requires developers to provide affordable units, or otherwise contribute money to a housing fund, whenever the county board grants projects additional density beyond what is permitted by-right.

The amount of money, or units, supplied by developers would be according a sliding scale based on the project’s size.

—Seth Rosen

<sh>Board Members Close to Authority to Raise Salaries

<bt>County Board members will soon have the authority to raise their own salaries.

On Feb. 20 the Senate unanimously approved the measure, which was first introduced by Del. David Englin (D-45). Englin’s bill passed the House of Delegates 87-8 earlier last month.

Arlington is one of two jurisdictions in the state that have to specifically ask the General Assembly for a raise, and the only one that has a cap on how much board members can earn.

The chairman of the board, currently Chris Zimmerman, earns $32,474.02 a year and the other four members make $29,521.83. The board members are seeking the authority to raise their annual salary "in the mid-40s," County Board member Jay Fisette said in an interview in December.

Though salaries are adjusted annually on a cost-of-living formula, with an increase of approximately $1,000 last year, the board’s last official pay hike was in 1997.

—Seth Rosen

<sh>Students Win “I Have a Dream” Contest

<bt>Six Arlington Science Focus third and fourth grade students were recognized on Mon., Feb. 27, as winners of the “I Have a Dream Too” essay contest sponsored by the Equal Rights Center in Washington.

Sixty-five students participated and three students from each grade level were recognized as first-, second-, and third-place winners.

The third grade winners were Harry Smith, Emma Tayloe and Zachary Lightfoot. The fourth grade winners were Nathan Fajtar, Elaine Sheehan and Courtney LaPenta.

In the contest, students were challenged to write about their dreams for the future based on inspiration from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

Dozens of entries from Mrs. Kniseley’s, Ms. Sleeper’s, Mrs. Herman’s, and Mrs. Well’s classes included dreams for peace, a better environment, universal education, an end to bullying, war, hunger, poverty,homelessness and racism. Some, howeve,r were more light-hearted, as one dreamt of a two minute-long school day and another for a kids appreciation day.

Originally established in 1983 as the Fair Housing Council of Greater Washington, the Equal Rights Center is a private, not-for-profit, civil rights agency that is now a product of mergers with both the Fair Employment Council and the Disability Rights Council of Greater Washington.

<sh>Kaine Adds Arlingtonians

<t>Governor Timothy M. Kaine added two Arlington residents to the offices of Commerce and Trade.

Vivek Kundra will serve as the assistant secretary of commerce and Trade. He was the CEO of Creostar and prior to that, Kundra served as Director of Infrastructure Technologies for Arlington County. He has extensive international experience and has worked on economic development in the private, public and non-profit sector for over 9 years.

Nicholas A. Kessler will serve as deputy commissioner of the Virginia Employment Commission. Kessler previously served in the political office of Kaine’s gubernatorial campaign, and then in the Governor-Elect's transition office. He practiced international trade law in Washington D.C. for several years.

<sh>Harvest for the Hungry Food Drive

<bt>For the second year in a row, U.S. Postal Service letter carriers will pick up nonperishable food donations left by customer mailboxes throughout the Northern Virginia area. Food will benefit the Capital Area Food Bank and local needy organizations such as daycare centers, nursing homes and faith-based organizations.

The food drive will begin Saturday, March 4 and continue through Saturday, March 11. The food items will be consolidated and then delivered to the Capital Area Food Bank Warehouse in Lorton. Customers may also drop off items for the food drive at local post offices.

<sh>Call for Artists

<bt>The Arlington Arts Center is seeking artists from the mid-Atlantic states to apply for exhibitions. Artists may apply for solo exhibitions running between January and December of 2007 in one of the Arlington Arts Center galleries, which include hanging wall space and two experimental galleries designed to accommodate installation, video or other work requiring a complete environment. All media will be considered. The grounds surrounding the building can accommodate outdoor sculpture. Applicants must submit a proposal, images (CD or slides), an application fee and an application form. Deadline is July 1.

Artists may also apply for "New Art Examined," consisting of works by 2006 M.F.A graduates in the mid-Atlantic region. Any visual artist who has or will receive an M.F.A degree in 2006 from an institution in the Mid-Atlantic states is eligible. All media will be considered. Artists must submit 10-20 images of recent work, an application form, resume, and an application fee (free to Arts Center members). This exhibition will be held from June 13 through Aug. 5. Deadline is May 1. More information and the application forms for both exhibits may be downloaded at www.arlingtonartscenter.org, under Exhibitions/Artist Opportunities.

<sh>Curves Food Drive

<bt>Curves of Arlington is collecting groceries for the Arlington Food Assistance Center through March 31. Curves is supporting this food drive by accepting a bag of groceries in lieu of the normal $149 service fee charged to women who join as new members through March 11. Nonperishable groceries can be dropped off by prospective Curves members, current members, or anyone interested in contributing to this food drive at the Curves locations in Cherrydale, Clarendon, Crystal City, Shirlington and Virginia Square. Visit www.curvesofarlington.com.