Local Commentary

Our Man in Arlington

The county fair last year was de-scheduled due to the coronavirus. This week it returns, but still not free from the pandemic’s tentacles.

“We are asking everyone to MASK up when indoors at the fair,” says county spokeswoman Bryna Helfer. “The fair will also host a Vaccination Clinic — so folks can get VAXED up too. As always, we encourage everyone to wash their hands, social-distance where possible, and stay home if they are sick.”

The county’s Complete Vaccination Committee will be at the fairground at Thomas Jefferson Community Center Aug. 20 – 22 to continue outreach for the jab. Many valiant community groups, for-profit, nonprofit and political, will be present for exposure — and fund-raising.

I’ll be there, not on the tilt-a-whirl, but to help man the booth for the Arlington Historical Society. There you can test your local history knowledge, find your home’s site on an 1898 map, and perhaps be inspired to donate toward the society’s upgrading of its museum at the Hume School.

The Historical Society provides a daily broadcast “On This Day in Arlington History’’ for Arlington Independent Media’s WERA (96.7 FM).

AIM, as I was recently reminded by longtime folkie radio host Mary Cliff, has been concerned about a budget crunch since the county manager announced a coming cutoff in funding. Cliff’s Saturday Night “Traditions” show moved to AIM after decades at WAVA, WETA, and WAMU (I’ve been her fan since the 1980s).

My own WERA experiences in the studio at Wilson Boulevard and Franklin Street include appearances on the real estate show “This Sold House” and Andrew Schneider’s local affairs discussions.

But for the past 15 months, “AIM was forced to suspend most of our revenue producing activities,” I was told by longtime producer Jackie Steven.

Those frozen activities included “in-person media production classes and camps, facility rentals and commercial production work, causing the loss of essential streams of operating income for the organization.

“Even in the face of these challenges,” she said, “AIM remained committed to our core mission of providing people access to media education and production technology so they may produce content that informs, educates and entertains the community.”

The good news is that AIM received two loans, totaling $176,390, under the Small Business Administration Payroll Protection Program, as AIM president Lynn Borton said in a recent report.

But a balanced budget depends “on our ongoing fund-raising efforts and members’ continuing support” ($60,000 in individual contributions this fiscal year).

The search is on for a new executive director, and the building is under discussion for a sale, though that doesn’t necessarily mean a move. Scouts are identifying potential locations in Green Valley, along Columbia Pike and Lee Highway (now Langston Boulevard).

On the upside, Borton added, “several shows are back live on WERA, with more coming on each week. We’re retraining folks to return to the studios and enjoying having a few more people around the building now!”


Arlington (plus Falls Church, Fairfax and Loudoun) got a mention on the HBO live comedy-commentary show “Real Time with Bill Maher,” Aug. 13.

Examining the nothing-but-bad news coming out of Afghanistan, the host noted Census Bureau numbers showing that the wealthiest counties in the country are nearly all in D.C. suburbs.

Local defense contractors, during the 20 years of U.S. presence in that war-ravaged nation, continued to do well.


At a funeral service at Columbia Gardens Aug. 15, attendees watched two bicyclists riding the cemetery paths.

The deceased was Arlington-to-the-bone Rosemary Trone Lewis, 97, the mother of my good friend Todd. She grew up in Clarendon, attended Henry Clay Elementary, graduated in 1941 from Washington-Lee High School, was active for 64 years at Clarendon United Methodist and taught girls’ gym at several Arlington schools.

As the officiant mentioned during the ceremony, Rosemary also rode her bike through Columbia Gardens — nine decades before.