Alexandria, VA

What a week it’s been in Alexandria.

The pandemic seemed inescapable this week, and much of our coverage was related to dealing with the coronavirus.

Five more fatalities related to the virus were reported by the Virginia Department of Health, and the death toll now stands at 67. There are now or have been 3,671 cases in the city since the first case was reported in March.

The week also began with our coverage of City Council’s passage of a face mask ordinance requiring residents to wear masks in public places. While there is no fine for noncompliance, the new law takes effect on October 1.

There was some heartwarming news. City residents helped a Del Ray business owner raise more than $10,000 after her house burned down on September 12.

We also covered the Little Theatre of Alexandria’s newest COVID-friendly in-person show. Additionally, Alexandria restauranteur Bill Blackburn participated in a COVID-19 vaccine trial this week, and Alexandria resident Ann Samuels safely celebrated her 100th birthday.

The Alexandria City School Board also accepted a name change proposal for Matthew Maury Elementary School. Now with the virtual school year in full swing, we also published a poll on how folks think school is going so far and saw mixed results.

Here are our top stories this week in Alexandria.

  1. ‘Lipstick On A Pig’: BAR Rejects Heritage Old Town Proposal
  2. Just Listed in Alexandria
  3. ThePoopBrothers: ‘Fearless’ Del Ray Kids Created New Business Over Summer Break
  4. UPDATED: Flooding Reported in Parts of City After Heavy Rain
  5. Man Struck by Bullet While Driving in West End
  6. Alexandria Hospital Nurse Wins First-Ever Nightingale Award
  7. Juvenile Arrested After Shots Fired in Arlandria
  8. City Council Passes Mask Ordinance, and There’s No Fine for Noncompliance
  9. New Alexandria Boxing Club Works Out Every Sunday at Jones Point Park
  10. Monte Durham’s New Hair Salon is Opening Saturday in Old Town
  11. Alexandrian Ann Samuels Turns 100 Years Old

Have a safe weekend!

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The Alexandria City School Board next month will hold a bi-annual review on its memorandum of understanding with the Alexandria Police Department.

“We’re looking at our collaboration with the Alexandria Police Department,” ACPS Executive Director of Communications Helen Lloyd told ALXnow. “We’re making sure that it’s a public review process.”

School resource officers were reassigned to the APD patrol division when the pandemic shut down the school system in mid-March for the remainder of the school year. The MOU would continue the agreement to provide officers at T.C. Williams High School and other ACPS schools when buildings eventually reopen.

“As a general practice, unless there is a clear and imminent threat to safety, requests from school staff for SRO or other law enforcement assistance are to be channeled through a school administrator,” according to the 2018 MOU. “SROs are responsible to lead the investigation and questioning of students related to suspected violations of criminal law.”

In 2018, a SRO was fired after discharging his firearm inside his office at George Washington Middle School. The officer was later rehired by Police Chief Michael Brown. The officer is no longer an SRO.

The MOU continues, “Whenever practical, arrests of a student or staff member should be accomplished outside of school hours in order to not disrupt the educational process or school setting.”

Sometimes that isn’t possible. In February, a T.C. Williams High School student was arrested during school hours and charged with murdering two people.

The public hearing on the MOU will be held virtually at 4 p.m. on October 1, and the updated document must be signed by Brown and the superintendent by November 2, 2020.

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Hundreds of Alexandrians, including U.S. Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) went to the polls for in-person early voting on Friday, September 18.

There were 518 cast ballots as of 12:30 p.m. at the city’s Office of Voter Registrations and Elections. There were reportedly around 50 people waiting in line for the office to open at 8 a.m.

Warner, who is running for reelection against Republican Daniel Gade, said that the long lines and turnout are indicative of the importance of this election.

More than a quarter of Alexandria’s 107,000 registered voters have already applied by mail to vote in the upcoming election.

Paul Alan Friedman, an alternate delegate to the Democratic National Convention for former Vice President Joe Biden, was in the front of the line to vote and said that the nation is facing a crisis.

“Trump is a barrier to our ability to tackle climate change, COVID-19, creating jobs and fixing our infrastructure in an environmentally sound way, which would address climate change and jobs,” Friedman said. “That’s why I made a special effort to be the first person to vote against Trump and Pence in Alexandria, and vote for the wonderful alternative team of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.”

The ballot for the November 3 election includes races for president and vice president, one U.S. Senate seat, the 8th Congressional District and two Virginia Constitutional amendments.

The deadline to vote in-person absentee is 5 p.m. on Saturday, October 31.

IN-PERSON EARLY VOTING begins today Virginia! You have several options to vote safely and securely this year. However you choose to cast your ballot, it’s critical that you vote and make your voice heard.

Posted by Senator Mark Warner on Friday, September 18, 2020

About 500 at noon and 786 at about 2:15pm, and this line hasn’t signed in yet. Things are going steady and well for the first day of early/absentee voting in Alexandria.

Posted by Jack Powers on Friday, September 18, 2020

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Bill Blackburn is feeling fine after participating in the second round of a COVID-19 clinical trial.

The Alexandria restauranteur says he felt a sense of duty by being one of 30,000 people tested in the Phase 3 study to see whether mRNA-1273 can boost immune systems and create antibodies to kill the coronavirus.

“I was motivated by helping the greater good,” the 42-year-old Blackburn said. “Somebody has to do this.”

Blackburn’s wife works in clinical trials and signed him up.

“I told her I’d love to be involved in that, that I’d be a guinea pig,” Blackburn said. “I got a phone call about six weeks ago and they did some phone screening about my health, my weight, occupation and my lifestyle. Then they called me the next day and said that I met the profile for this study.”

Blackburn, who is a co-owner of the Homegrown Restaurant Group, twice drove out to Meridian Clinical Research in Rockville to get injections. Half of the participants received a placebo.

Dr. Brandon Essink, principal investigator and medical director at Meridian, called the study one of the most “important and impactful clinical research studies in our lifetime.”

Blackburn says he’s feeling healthy, and isn’t experiencing any side effects, which include headaches, swelling glands, fevers and joint pain.

“They call me twice a week, and I have an app on my phone where they send me messages to check my temperature and other things,” Blackburn said. “I am feeling 100% normal. I am experiencing no side effects.”

Courtesy photo

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Just Listed in Alexandria

Just Listed highlights Alexandria City properties that came on the market within the past week. This feature is sponsored by the Jen Walker Team (Licensed in VA) of McEnearney Associates Realtors®. 

Welcome Back!

Jen Walker here with The Jen Walker Team! We are a real estate group based out of Alexandria, Virginia. I, along with my two rock-star team members, Sue Kovalsky and Micki MacNaughton, have more than 35 years of experience in real estate and sold over $103 million in 2019.

Click here for more Just Listed properties in Alexandria and call The Jen Walker Team to schedule a home tour at 703-675-1566 or email [email protected].

In this midst of COVID-19, we will not be hosting any in-person open houses. We will, however, be going live on our Instagram every weekend for our virtual tours. Stay updated with our virtual tours by following us on our Instagram page for updates.

Happy House Hunting!

In our highly competitive Alexandria market, the Jen Walker Team has the insider knowledge to connect you with homes that are not even public yet. With more than 35 years of experience, the Jen Walker Team has the expertise to answer questions, calm fears, and streamline your transaction. Want to see other homes not featured in this article? Contact our team today!

Please note: While The Jen Walker Team provides this information for the community, they may not be the listing agents of these homes. Equal Housing Opportunity.

McEnearney Associates Realtors®, 109 S. Pitt Street, Alexandria, VA 22314 #WeAreAlexandria

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October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and all next month, the Alexandria Department of Community and Human Services will light up City Hall (301 King Street) purple in honor of domestic violence victims.

“It’s really beautiful to see,” said City Hall engineer Matt Wise. “We lit up City Hall in purple at the end of August through September 1 to raise awareness of substance use disorders, and next month we’re going to honor and raise awareness for domestic violence victims.”

Last year, there was a candlelight vigil at Market Square to honor the 22 people in Alexandria who have lost their lives to acts of domestic violence since the mid-2000s. The annual event is hosted by the city’s Domestic Violence Intervention Project, and is being put off this year because of the pandemic.

“COVID-19 is having a dramatic effect on our daily lives,” states the city’s Domestic Violence Program. “During a crisis like this, the risk for intimate partner and domestic violence increases and may happen at higher rates. Survivors are also at an increased risk for violence and may need additional service.”

The city’s Sexual Assault Center and Domestic Violence Program is open, and hotlines are available 24/7 at 703-684-7273 [Sexual Assault Hotline] or 703-746-4911 [Domestic Violence Hotline]. Online support is also available with The National Sexual Assault Online Hotline.

City Hall was previously lit up at the end of August in recognition of International Opioid Awareness Day.

To raise awareness and understanding of addiction prevention and treatment on International Overdose Awareness Day,…

Posted by Department of Community & Human Services, City of Alexandria, VA on Sunday, August 30, 2020

Photo via DCHS/Facebook

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Twice a year, an engineer checks the clock mechanism at the Alexandria City Hall clock tower to make sure everything is running on time. Above the machine sits is a relic of a bygone age — a cast iron bell that has been silent for decades.

The clock tower is accessible via a small door next to City Council Chambers.

According to a report from the National Park Service, the bell first rang on New Year’s Eve – Jan 1, 1873. An old bell hammer sits in one of the corners of the clock tower.

“I think these days the bell ringing can be done electronically,” said Bill Miner, the city’s division chief for capital improvement projects, who led ALXnow on a tour of the bell tower.

Inside the tower there is 50-year-old graffiti from construction workers who put in steel reinforcement beams in the 1960s.

The inscription on the bell reads, “Steeple, clock and bell presented to the City of his nativity by an esteemed citizen. Alexandria, VA, A.D. 1872.”

The bell was made by the Meneely Bell Foundry in 1871, according to the Office of Historic Alexandria. The New York-based foundry made bells from 1826 until 1952.

Photos via Office of Historic Alexandria and ALXnow

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Morning Notes

Beyer Co-sponsoring Legislation to Impeach U.S. Attorney General — “Accusing political opponents of “sedition” then morphing into an arch libertarian when Trump cronies are indicted. Attacking career prosecutors for doing their jobs. AG Barr is a menace to the rule of law–I’m cosponsoring legislation to begin impeachment proceedings against him.” [Twitter]

Absentee Voting Begins Today in Alexandria — “The ballot includes contests for President and Vice President of the United States, one member of the U.S. Senate, the member of the U.S. House of Representatives from the 8th Congressional District, and two amendments to the Constitution of Virginia.” [Patch]

King & Rye Opens in Alexandria — “Check out @Alexandrian_VA’s new restaurant, King & Rye. This downtown restaurant opened earlier this month, and features a large outdoor patio, intimate terrace, and full bar serving specialty cocktails. The perfect location for a private event.” [Twitter]

Douglas MacArthur Elementary School Rebuild Comes in Over Budget — “City Council approved a development special use permit on Saturday for the Douglas MacArthur Modernization Project, which is currently $5 to $7 million over budget. The project, which involves demolishing the existing Douglas MacArthur Elementary School and rebuilding a new one, will increase the school’s capacity from 558 to 850 students.” [Alex Times]

Alexandria Police Conduct Deescalation Training — “Yesterday APD’s Tactical Training and Response Unit conducted officer safety and deescalation training with the Traffic Safety Section. These training’s teach ways to stabilize situations so that more time, options, and resources can be called upon.” [Twitter]

Murphy’s Grand Irish Pub Celebrates Half-Way to St. Patrick’s Day — See Irish music on a Facebook Live performance from Thursday night. [Facebook]

Today’s Weather — “During the day, partly to mostly cloudy. Slight chance of a rain shower. High 74F. Winds N at 10 to 20 mph. At night, a few clouds. Low 49F. Winds N at 10 to 15 mph.” [Weather.com]

New Job: Marketing Manager — “Develop and manage strategic, comprehensive marketing campaigns for NSBA (National School Boards Association) revenue- generating products, services and events.” [Indeed]

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The Old Dominion Boat Club (ODBC) will present the Alexandria Planning Commission in November (Nov. 5) with a plan to build a floating wharf and pier outside its clubhouse at 0 Prince Street.

“The floating pier will provide facilities for transient boat mooring for larger boats due to the water depth along its expanse and for rowing crew shells and chase boats either for planned events/regattas or emergency needs,” according to an application for the special use permit.

The application continues, “The ODBC also proposes to add a floating wharf over the shallow water in its riparian rights to allow and support current and new uses that include small boat mooring and launch and retrieval of crew shells and kayaks to support increased recreational use of the Potomac River.”

The total square footage for the project is 2,688 square feet, and the club noted in its application that it will remove the floating structures if the city needs the space for flood mitigation infrastructure improvements.

“The proposed new floating wharf at the site would encourage increased recreation use of the site and support ODBC water dependent uses,” notes the application.

The city issued a certificate of occupancy for the ODBC Clubhouse at 0 Prince Street in 2017. The club was previously located at the foot of King Street. That property was exchanged with the city for a number of nearby lots downriver in order to build a public walkway and make flood mitigation improvements.

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The second round of the Alexandria Back to Business (ALX B2B) grant program opens at the end of September, and $2.4 million is available for qualifying small businesses and nonprofits to cope with financial losses related to the pandemic.

“The program criteria for Round Two has been expanded so additional types of businesses and nonprofit childcare providers will be eligible to apply for a grant,” according to the Alexandria Economic Development Partnership, which is receiving the applications. “Grants will be awarded in amounts ranging from $5,000 to $20,000 depending on the number of employees working for the business.”

City Council approved the funding at its meeting on Tuesday, September 8. The application period will start on Wednesday, September 30, at 8 a.m. and end on October 5 at noon. All submissions must be made online and businesses that received a grant in round one are ineligible.

To qualify for a grant, businesses must meet the following criteria:

  • 25% negative revenue impact attributable to the COVID-19 health emergency
  • Licensed business in the City of Alexandria
  • Physical location within the City of Alexandria
  • In operation as of March 14, 2020
  • For-profit small business
  • Any entity (for-profit or nonprofit) that provides full-day or part-day childcare services to children 0-13 years of age and is licensed or regulated by a local ordinance or state licensing body
  • Business is current on all local business taxes or is on a payment plan with the City
  • Not currently involved in business bankruptcy proceedings
  • Intend to remain operating in Alexandria through December 31, 2020
  • Between 0 – 100 employees
  • Locally owned and operated
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