Alexandria Police are investigating thefts from more than 60 vehicles that were made between June 14 and 15 in the West End.

The thefts from 11 areas occurred in the overnight hours, and the suspects broke car windows, and stole wallets, keys, money, and other personal items.

No one has been arrested in connection to the incidents and no suspect descriptions are available, according to APD senior public information officer Amanda Paga.

“This investigation is ongoing,” Paga said in a press release. “Anyone with information or video of these break-ins should call the Alexandria Police Department’s non-emergency number at 703-746-4444. No detail is too small.”

The Arbors on Duke apartment complex on Duke Street was one of the areas that was hit, and a resident told ALXnow that numerous complaints that their parking garage is routinely left unsecured have been ignored by property management.

Police are asking residents to take personal items from their vehicles, not to park them in the same spot for extended periods and to keep them locked.

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For the second year in a row, T.C. Williams track and field stars Wisdom Williams has taken home the state championship in the shot put.

The Virginia High School League’s State Championships were held at Todd Stadium in Hampton, Virginia, on Saturday.

Williams, a junior, set the state record in shot put with a throw of 47:00-50 — beating her winning throw last year by nearly five feet. She also won in the discuss, throwing 137 feet and four quarters of an inch.

T.C.’s athletics director James Parker says to expect big things from Williams, who started making waves with big throws in her freshman year.

“We’re hoping that Wisdom will be an Olympian,” Parker said.

Titan jumpers David Coles and Joshua Peterson also won top honors.

Coles, who will run at Virginia Commonwealth University this fall, won the triple jump with a jump of 48 feet and two-and-a-half inches; and Peterson won the long jump with a 24-foot-9-inch jump.

 

Courtesy ACPS

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420 S. Columbus Street

Welcome to your regular recap of recently sold properties in Alexandria.

This past week, 66 homes were sold, according to Homesnap. Although the median sales price for the past four weeks is $649,900, a number of properties are selling for well over $1 million — even $1.5 million.

Take a look at a few of the homes sold last week for over $1.5 million:

In the market? Check out Just Listed properties in Alexandria.

Image via Google Maps

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It wasn’t easy having a famous sister, and that’s why Mia Humphrey chose art over science.

The T.C. Williams High School graduate spent years pouring her soul into her red composition notebooks, and last fall released her first album “Project Red Notebook“. Put together, the songs read like a diary.

Two years ago Humphrey’s sister Ana won a $250,000 scholarship for her work in locating planets in distant solar systems. Ana is now at Harvard.

“It was a little hard,” the 18-year-old Humphrey said. “I was a sophomore and my sister was a senior when she started doing all of the crazy science stuff. But we do actually get along very well. We really don’t fight over much things except, like, we share a room, so we go to bed at different times and she’ll be in the room really late and I’ll be trying to sleep. Stuff like that.”

That coming-of-age message is something the younger Humphrey repeats throughout her work, like in her song Summer 17, which Humphrey sang at her high school graduation earlier this month.

Humphrey started writing music in middle school, and for years would play her latest collections of songs for her friends.

“I would say my songs are very heavily focused on lyrics and the music is kind of an afterthought,” she said.

She says that she will continue playing music this fall at Brown University, but will be majoring in modern culture and media studies to pursue a film career.

“Writing is like my therapy,” Humphrey said. “I feel so clouded if I’m not writing and getting out the emotions. Sometimes it’s not through writing music, but maybe it’s poetry and just writing in a journal, but I prefer the songwriting. I don’t know if there’s really a world where I’m not songwriting in the future, at least in some capacity.”

She cites Taylor Swift as her major artistic influence, as well as the 2012 coming of age film The Perks of Being a Wallflower.

“There’s this one scene where they go and they’re going through a tunnel in the car, and ‘Heroes‘ by David Bowie is blasting and they stand up in the car and they’re going through a tunnel and the lights are flashing,” Humphrey said of the movie. “I remember when I saw that scene I was going on a road trip somewhere. It was dark and I was just watching the movie on an iPad and I just like felt so many emotions at one time.  I was overwhelmed, and now I want to be able to make something to make people feel  just like that.”

Courtesy ACPS

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The Alexandria City Council on Tuesday (June 22) will consider accepting the transfer ownership of of two residential properties that were acquired as part of the Douglas MacArthur Elementary School modernization project.

The two residential parcels on the western portion of the property are located at 1201 and 1203 Janney’s Lane. The parcels, which were approved by the School Board on June 3, include a single family home and an undeveloped parcel that add together to give Alexandria City Public Schools an additional 24,661 square feet of wiggle room.

“This parcel consolidation step is necessary to allow ACPS to complete the Site Plan approval process for the Douglas MacArthur Elementary School modernization project,” City staff said in a report.

The new MacArthur school will be three stories with a synthetic playing field and outdoor play areas. While the project is in development, MacArthur students are using the old Patrick Henry Elementary School as swing space.

Demolition began in April at the school, and the project is scheduled to open in January 2023.

Courtesy ACPS

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220-year-old garden wall at Lee-Fendall House collapses — “About 69 tons of 220-year-old bricks are lying in a pile behind the Lee-Fendall House Museum & Garden after the property’s thick, historic garden wall collapsed following a torrential downpour earlier this month. This weekend, volunteers carefully moved bricks to make space for a temporary, protective wall around the rubble — and launched a fundraising campaign for the $125,000 or more it will take to rebuild the historic structure.” [Alexandria Living]

Retiring police chief to be recognized by City Council Tuesday — Retiring Police Chief Michael Brown will be recognized Tuesday by City Council, and the city proclamation says that Brown has “dutifully served for four-and one-half years.” [ALXnow]

School Board resumes in-person meetings — “Beginning Thursday, June 17, 2021, School Board Meetings will be held in person and up to 20 members of the public may attend. (This will allow for 6-foot distancing between seats.) Please note: all those in attendance must wear a mask. Please contact the Clerk of the School Board for more information at 703-619-8316 or via email at [email protected]” [ACPS]

Fire Station 203 reopens — “The City has officially completed the new Station 203.The up-to-date facility provides better support for modern fire/EMS apparatus, equipment and operations.” [Twitter]

Today’s weather — “Partly cloudy (during the day). Hot. High 94F. Winds SSW at 10 to 15 mph.. Chance of an isolated thunderstorm in the evening, then variable clouds overnight with more showers at times. Low 72F. Winds W at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 40%.” [Weather.com]

New job: Tennis coach — “At Advantage Tennis we are looking for coaches/teachers who like working with all ages, and particularly children, for part-time and seasonal positions. These are hourly positions with potentially as much as 20-35 hours per week in the 3 busy seasons (about 9 months), at multiple locations.” [Indeed]

 

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A 54-year-old Alexandria woman died at the scene of a crash Friday, after veering her Dodge Ram off Interstate 95 in Hanover County and into a Volvo being repaired by its owner on the shoulder of the road. (Courtesy VSP)

“Candace S. Fields-Rogers, 54, of Alexandria, Va., was driving the Ram,” Virginia State Police reported. “She was wearing a seatbelt. She succumbed to her injuries onscene.”

The driver of the Volvo was underneath his car making repairs when the crash occurred near the 93-mile marker. He was sent to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries. No one else was injured, and an investigation into the crash is ongoing, police said.

Fields-Rogers leaves behind a husband and two children. Last year, she launched a GoFundMe campaign to help her husband, a U.S. Army veteran with a traumatic brain injury. She raised $10,000 of her $50,000 goal for the still-open fundraiser.

Courtesy VSP

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It was a surprising week in Alexandria.

Our top story by far was on the venomous rattlesnake found in Old Town on Sunday. The timber snake, which also goes by the name American Viper, was discovered in the 400 block of Gibbon Street — a few blocks from the waterfront. It didn’t bite anyone, and was apprehended by the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria’s Animal Services team and later moved to a wildlife facility in Northern Virginia.

This Saturday, June 19,  is also Juneteenth, and the new federal holiday recognizes the end of slavery in the U.S. The City recognized Juneteenth on Friday, and most government offices and facilities were closed. This weekend, the Alexandria Black History Museum is partnering with Washington Revels Jubilee Voices — a group that preserves local Black traditions through a cappella music, dramatic performances and dance — for a virtual Juneteenth Celebration.

Meanwhile, in-person dramatic and musical performances are being planned for July. The Little Theatre of Alexandria is expanding capacity with their new lineup of shows, and the Alexandria Symphony Orchestra will resume in-person performing in a reduced program at the City’s birthday celebration on the waterfront on July 10.

In other good news, a pair of T.C. Williams High School Titans raised more than $4,800 to attend the Outdoor Nationals at the University of Oregon on July 1.

In this week’s poll, we asked readers how they think the millions of first allocation of American Rescue Plan Act funds should be spent, as City Council will conduct a public hearing on how to spend it on Saturday. After a rash of flooding incidents last year, a majority of the respondents want the funds prioritized for waterway maintenance.

This Sunday is also Father’s Day, and a number of Alexandria businesses are offering unique specials.

Important stories

Top stories

  1. JUST IN: Rarity as American Viper Rattlesnake found in Old Town
  2. Captain Sean Casey wins Democratic primary and is running unopposed for Sheriff in November
  3. Woman assaulted by mob and pepper-sprayed in Old Town North
  4. Man dies of apparent overdose at coworking office in Old Town
  5. T.C. Williams High School’s final graduating class walks the stage
  6. Alexandria Fire Department rescues woman from stalled car, Flash Flood Watch in effect
  7. City launches Duke Street transit overhaul process
  8. For Taco Bamba owner, newly announced Landmark location is a homecoming
  9. Shortened Alexandria Birthday celebration is still on for July 10
  10. Here’s what to do when you find dead birds amid recent epidemic
  11. Java Grill closed until further notice in Old Town

Have a safe weekend! 

Courtesy AWLA/Twitter 

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If you’ve traveled along Duke Street during rush hour, you probably recognize the intersection above, and might even have a visceral reaction to it. The one-late turn from Duke Street onto Telegraph Road, and by extension to the Beltway, faces frequent backups not only along Duke Street, but in surrounding neighborhoods packed with cut-through traffic.

The bad news: the Duke Street transit overhaul isn’t going to touch that intersection.

The good news: the city says the intersection will be considered as part of a separate project launching later this year.

Jill Hoffman, a resident of the Taylor Run neighborhood just north of Duke Street, said that over the last several years navigation apps have diverted traffic off the crowded Duke Street onto smaller, residential streets that can’t handle the traffic.

“If you live on West Taylor Run, you cannot get out of your driveway during rush hour,” Hoffman said. “What has happened over the years is a lot of cut-through traffic has bailed off arterials and is using our neighborhood as a cut-through to get to that Beltway entrance. The reason they do that is because if you come down Quaker or Duke streets, the chokepoint is that intersection.”

In a presentation from 2019, city staff identified the intersection as a “high crash location” as part of the city’s Vision Zero crash analysis. In addition to the backup onto neighborhood streets, the city recognized issues of weaving through intersections and illegal left turns out of the right-turn only-lane of West Telegraph Road.

“We want to have an engineer assess the problems — or the problems,” Hoffman said. “During rush hour, this area of Alexandria comes to a standstill. It has significantly affected the quality of life… I want an engineer. Not BPAC, not constituents who think they know what’s going on, I want engineers to review that intersection and see if it can flow better — and to do that before anything changes on Duke Street, since it’s the single biggest problem on Duke Street.”

But for those hoping the Duke Street In Motion project — which launches its community outreach phase next — might help solve the problem: no dice.

“The scope of this project is not addressing the cut through and Telegraph Road interchange,” Alexandria communications officer Andrea Blackford said. “Duke Street In Motion, per grant funding, is focusing on transit (bus) improvements. Those other two topics are part of a separate project called Duke Street and West Taylor Run Project.”

The city said the troubled intersection will see progress later this year, however. The Duke Street and West Taylor Run Project will be conducting transportation analysis to determine short-term and long-term improvements for both the Duke Street and Telegraph Road interchange and the Duke Street and West Taylor Run Parkway intersection.

“In addition, the project includes design plans for the preferred alternative, which will lead to construction in 2024,” Blackford said. “Community outreach for the project is anticipated to start in fall 2021. For more information or for regular updates, please visit the city’s Duke Street and West Taylor Run Project Webpage.

Still, for Hoffman, putting the intersection improvements after the transit project casts a pall over the process.

“For me: if we want to have that conversation fine, but I’m opposed to having the conversation without addressing the root cause of the pain which is making the problem worse,” Hoffman said. “We’re just trying to get relief. We want the city to finally prioritize the root cause of the problem.”

Via Google Maps

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Despite a year of setbacks that included vocal community disagreement with Superintendent Gregory Hutchings, both from the community and within the school system, the School Board rallied around him and approved renewal of his contract.

The new contract renews Hutchings’ role in ACPS through June 30, 2025. During the discussion Thursday night, School Board members repeatedly praised his handling of the Coronavirus pandemic over the last year.

“I wanted to take a moment to acknowledge Dr. Hutchings,” said School Board member Michelle Rief. “He had to grapple with uncertainty of COVID and changing guidance from CDC… There’s no precedent or playbook on how to lead school division through global pandemic. Dr. Hutchings, you got us through this.”

Rief praised Hutchings’ work on helping to provide meals, laptops, and internet service for students who needed it.

“The past year has not been easy on anyone,” Rief said, “but we have made it to the end of the school year and are on a path to full reopening in the fall.”

The rest of the School Board more-or-less mirrored Rief’s comments, with some noting Hutchings’ present at the school as a relief from the school system’s frequent struggles with turnover.

“It’s easy to say in hindsight what this year could have or should have been,” said School Board member Veronica Nolan. “For context, this time last year, we were looking for eggs and toilet paper… I think it’s amazing what this team at ACPS has done together. That continuity is so important.”

Ramee Gentry noted that Hutchings’ tenure comes after a time when ACPS had three superintendents over five years. Another Superintendent was dumped by the School Board in 2007 in the wake of a DUI and rapidly increasing operations costs.

“ACPS has not had continuity [of leadership] for years,” Gentry said. “Turnover in superintendents leads to turnover in staff. When you do not have staff continuity, where they feel sure about where they are going, that ship isn’t going anywhere because it’s not steering in any direction.”

Hutchings’ faced his own turnover in staff — most notably the from former ACPS Chief Operating Officer Mignon Anthony who retired and published a damning letter about ACPS leadership in the Alexandria Times.

At the Board meeting, Hutchings passed the praise onto his staff.

“I need our community to know I am nothing without our team,” Hutchings said. “We are not able to accomplish anything in ACPS without our team. I am probably the most blessed superintendent in the world. I have people on my right, my left, my front my back. Our team comes together and we make it happen. We encourage each other and support each other. Thank you for continuously doing that on our behalf.”

Hutchings also thanked the board for their work over the last year, recalling individual memories and qualities of each Board Member.

“This is the best board that I’ve ever worked with, and I’ve worked with several boards in the past eight years,” Hutchings said. “This board, when you talk about courage, boldness, vision, integrity, passion: that is exactly what we have here. I tell our staff that every opportunity we get how thankful we are to have that. This is a second contract for me in the place that made me who I am today. The ultimate gift in my life is this job. I appreciate that and I thank you all.”

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