Arlington County Raises Taxi Fares to $1.80 Per Mile

The Arlington County Board voted Saturday to repeal a 50-cent fuel surcharge on taxi trips in favor of a fare increase to help taxi drivers cover higher costs for gasoline and operating expenses.

The board's action will raise the mileage-charge portion of taxi fares by 20 cents -- from $1.60 per mile to $1.80 per mile. The changes take effect on Nov. 1.

From December 2003 to late July 2005, the average price of regular gas in the Washington area increased by 85 cents per gallon to about $2.40, according to the U.S. Energy Department. Gas prices continued to rise in August, spiking at more than $3 per gallon after Hurricane Katrina. The board approved the 50-cent emergency fuel surcharge in June and in July voted to extend it.

Breakfast-Food Donations Wanted for Food Pantry

Hecht's at Ballston Common Mall will host a cereal drive for the Arlington Food Assistance Center today through Saturday.

Boxes of cereal or other types of breakfast items may be taken to the cosmetics department on the first floor of the store.

The Arlington Food Assistance Center is the county's food pantry and distributes groceries to nearly 550 needy families each week. Donations account for more than half of the food distributed by the center.

Ballston Common Mall is at the corner of Glebe Road and Wilson Boulevard.

Community Planning Workshops in Alexandria

The Alexandria City Council will hold a workshop on livable communities and smart growth at 7 tonight, in the atrium of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, 600 Dulaney St.

The workshop will focus on community planning and involvement and will feature Ed McMahon, senior resident fellow at the Urban Land Institute and a national authority on sustainable development, land conservation and urban design.

The city's Planning and Zoning Department has taken the City Council's "Strategic Plan for Alexandria 2015" and developed four major planning themes that shape the city's current planning initiatives, finished plans and approved development applications. The four themes are: transit oriented development; creating and preserving neighborhoods; strengthening our main streets; and creating urban villages.

The workshop will provide participants an opportunity to learn more about the community benefits of planning for the city's future and will explore ways in which Alexandria can be a leader in planning for a livable city.

A second workshop on walkable/livable communities is scheduled for 7 p.m. Nov. 14, in the atrium of the Patent and Trademark Office and will feature Daniel Burden, executive director of Florida's nonprofit Walkable Communities Inc.

Information Night Planned For Arlington Schools

Arlington families can learn more about high school programs during the annual High School Information Night at 7 p.m. Monday, at Wakefield High School, 4901 S. Chesterfield Rd.

During the program, families of children entering high school in fall 2006 will be given an overview of the county's high schools and programs, including their focuses, application dates, orientation schedules and transfer procedures. After the opening general session, parents can attend two breakout sessions with high school principals. The breakout sessions will outline unique programs and activities offered at individual schools.

High School Information Night is co-sponsored by Arlington public schools and the County Council of PTAs. Admission is free. For more information, contact Stella Martinez in the School Information Center at 703-228-7667.