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The Week In Arlington

Students Held After Dismissal

Students at Gunston Middle and Oakridge Elementary Schools were held after dismissal on Thursday because of a bank robbery in the area.

According to police officers, an armed man stole an undisclosed amount of money from the BB&T bank at 2947 S. Glebe Rd at approximately 2:15 p.m. At around the same time, students from the two nearby schools were getting ready to go home for the day.

The police had the students stay in the schools until around 3:35 p.m. because they did not want the students to have any contact with the suspect. They also did not want students to interfere in the investigation, which involved K-9 police dogs.

"I can’t think of another instance of this happening recently," Public Information Officer Steve Gomez said of the move to keep the students in the schools. "But this is a normal precaution to take. We have done it in the past."

The suspect was not apprehended. He was described as light skinned, about 5 feet 5 inches tall and was wearing a black jacket, black boots, khaki pants and a black mask. No one in the bank was injured.

Foundation Celebrates Gardner-Quinn's Birthday

Michelle Gardner-Quinn, the Arlington native who was abducted and murdered while attending the University of Vermont last year, was honored at Fort C.F. Smith Park on what would have been her 22nd birthday.

The Michelle's Earth Foundation (MEF), which was created in Gardner-Quinn's memory and is focused on dealing with environmental issues, held the ceremony. A small group of Gardner-Quinn's friends and family along with several foundation members gathered Sunday morning under a gazebo at the park and lit candles.

Rachele Huennekens, director of communications for MEF and a close friend of Gardner-Quinn's, said that, despite the rain, the event was a success. "There isn't a day that goes by that I don't intensely miss Michelle's friendship," she said. "But it makes me feel better that we [celebrated] her birthday by filling the world with joy and light."

Huennekens also said that the MEF deals with environmental issues because "that is the spirit of what Michelle wanted to do in her life. We're trying to get [the foundation] off the ground by continuing the work the Michelle was so committed to."

The Michelle's Earth Foundation can be contacted at 703-300-9569 or at michellesearthfoundation@yahoo.com

County Board Approves Hotel In Shirlington

The Arlington County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a plan to build a new hotel in Shirlington at their public meeting on Saturday.

The hotel, which will be located at Arlington Mill Drive and Stafford Street, will have approximately 142 rooms and an illuminated sign on its roof that would be lit from 7 a.m. until 11 p.m.

The discussion between the board, the hotel developers and the citizens at the meeting was, for the most part, amiable. Ed Hilz, president of the Fairlington/Shirlington Neighborhood Conservation Association, said that he was "glad that the [developers] had lots of contact with the community before applying."

The only major concern the board had with the hotel was its sign, which would face west towards Randolph Street. Board Member Chris Zimmerman said that it "seemed curious to me that [the developers would] want the sign facing west. I have a hard time seeing how it would be visible."

The board also raised the issue that the sign could be illuminated too late in the evening and asked the hotel developers if it could go dark earlier. The developers agreed to consider this issue.

They also said that, if everything goes according to schedule, the hotel could open as early as the fall of 2008.

<1b>— David Schultz