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The Top 10 Stories in Arlington County

Compiled by Lan Nguyen
Wednesday, December 25, 1996; Page V01

1. THE ARTS INCUBATOR, A county program, was hailed as a national model for arts support at a time of declining government funding. The program won an Innovations in American Government Award in November from Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government and the Ford Foundation. Since the program began in 1990, the number of local art groups has doubled, and by 1995, participation in art events in the county tripled to 300,000 people.

2. POLICE CHIEF WILLIAM K. "Smokey" Stover announced his resignation in October. During a 40-year career with the Arlington police department, including 18 years as chief, Stover became a legendary crime fighter. Stover, 66, said he plans to travel after he leaves his job Jan. 17.

3. IN A MAJOR COUP, Arlington attracted LCI International Inc., a fast-growing, long-distance telephone company, which will move from McLean. The company, which announced its project in November, is building a $60 million to $70 million, 14-story building across from the Ballston Metro station and expects to quadruple its work force to 1,500 in the next few years, bringing millions of dollars in taxes and sales revenue to the county.

4. THE SCHOOL BOARD continued to face criticism about the handling of the $96 million school construction program. The program had an estimated $25 million shortfall during the year, leading to the resignation of the school official who had been in charge. A consulting firm was hired to examine the management of the program, and although it found no fraud, it recommended some improvements.

5. SCHOOL Superintendent Arthur W. Gosling, 59, began to close out his 11-year tenure in Arlington. He announced in June that he was stepping down as chief of the 17,500-student school system at the end of the 1996-97 school year. "I have accomplished what I can in Arlington, and it is time for me and the school system to move on to new opportunities," said Gosling, who weathered criticism for the financial woes of the school construction program.

6. ARLINGTON HOSPITAL'S half-century tradition as a nonprofit, community-owned hospital is ending. The hospital announced in September that it will become part of Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corp., the nation's largest for-profit health care chain. The decision came after debate among residents and county leaders, some who feared the merger would leave Arlington Hospital less able to treat indigent patients.

7. THE COUNTY'S FIRST triple murderer was sentenced to death after pleading guilty to killing a distant cousin, a mutual friend and a bystander in a South Arlington boarding house in June 1995. Christopher J. Beck, 22, is awaiting the outcome of an automatic appeal.

8. PLANS TO MOVE THE Demeter House, a group home for drug-addicted mothers, to the Barcroft neighborhood stirred protest among residents. Despite a marathon session in which residents vehemently opposed the move, the Arlington County Board voted to approve it. Barcroft residents filed a lawsuit in November, complaining that the group home would create noise, traffic and other problems, such as declining property values.

9. THE COUNTY ACQUIRED a defunct Safeway store on Columbia Pike in April after company officials agreed to sell the site for $2.35 million. County officials had threatened to take the property by eminent domain. The county plans to use the building initially as a school and later for other purposes, perhaps a community center.

10. LOCAL preservationists cried foul in June when Arlington National Cemetery presented plans to expand its burial grounds. Opponents feared the expansion would destroy a 12-acre area around Arlington House, which contains pottery bits and other artifacts of Arlington's past, but Congress is moving the plan ahead. It has approved $85,000 for an archaeological study.

© Copyright 1996 The Washington Post Company

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