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This week saw possibly the most contentious meeting between the City Council and School Board in years for a debate over School Resources Officers that ultimately culminated in the Council voting to temporarily restore the program. The reversal has been advocated by school officials and some parents, but was lamented by advocacy group Tenants and Workers United that saw it as a step-backward for racial justice.

The following day, ACPS was also hit with lockdowns at Alexandria City High School’s King Street and Minnie Howard campuses and Hammond Middle School, though police later said initial calls about a school shooting were unfounded. At the same time, a gas leak near Potomac Yard led to two homes being evacuated and the temporary closure of Richmond Highway.

Here are this week’s most-read stories.

Top Stories

  1. Man injured and juvenile arrested after fight at the McDonald’s in Bradlee Shopping Center
  2. In dramatic reversal, City Council brings back school resource officers to Alexandria City Public Schools
  3. Planned bus rapid transit route from Alexandria to Tysons rolls ahead
  4. Alexandria City High School on lockdown after anonymous threat
  5. Police: Call about shooting at Hammond Middle School unfounded
  6. City rethinks waterfront flood mitigation plans after seeing the price tag
  7. Tenants and Workers United upset by City Council restoration of school resource officer program
  8. City Council to consider swapping parking for ‘parklets’
  9. Man attempts to steal $1,850 in merchandise from Restaurant Depot with discarded receipt
  10. Project crowdsourcing Alexandria history aims to go nationwide next year
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Alexandria School Board member Kelly Carmichael Booz (left), Beverly Vick (center), Gregory Hutchings (right), photo via Scholarship Fund of Alexandria/Facebook

The Scholarship Fund of Alexandria has raised enough funding to establish a new scholarship that will be named after a beloved former teacher.

The recently retired Beverly Vick was a highly regarded teacher at Douglas MacArthur Elementary School for 38 years and received the Excellence in Education award in 2009. Vick also worked with children through the American Girl Literature Club.

Dr. Vick officially celebrated her retirement from teaching in early October.

The fund has raised over $6,000 for the Dr. Beverly Vick Scholarship, which will be awarded to a 2022 graduate of Alexandria City High Schools in the spring. The original goal for the scholarship was to raise $3,000 which was then matched by an anonymous donor for a grand total of $6,341. Including the anonymous donor, 30 people lent their support by donating to the new scholarship.

The Scholarship Fund of Alexandria was established in 1986 to provide support for college students who are judged as bright and hard-working. In addition to scholarships, the fund also offers advising on college, financial aid, and readiness support. The fund awards up to $1 million a year in scholarships to Alexandria City High School graduates.

The scholarships range from $12,000 to $20,000 over four years and are funded through donations from the Alexandria community.

Photo via Scholarship Fund of Alexandria/Facebook

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Months after the majority of Alexandria residents were fully vaccinated, coronavirus precautions now turn toward booster shots aimed at keeping those vaccinations effective.

A Pfizer vaccine booster has already been approved and yesterday a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advisory panel authorized booster shots for Moderna’s vaccine.

In general, the boosters are being considered for those who received their second dose at least six months ago. The Pfizer booster is currently available for those 65 or older and those at heightened risk of COVID-19. The Moderna booster is being considered on similar guidelines.

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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. 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 $107 million in 2020.

A new price and this home is looking better than ever! Timeless and sophisticated, this fabulously expanded Cape Cod exudes impeccable curb appeal, charm and modern elements. Nestled in the sought-after and friendly neighborhood of George Washington Park, you’ll experience the luxury of city living with almost 3,500 sq. ft. of finished living space.

Enter into this gorgeous home and you’ll appreciate the character of the hardwood floors, wood burning fireplace, designer lighting throughout and elegant built-ins. The gourmet kitchen features stainless steel appliances, wall oven and microwave, tall plentiful cabinetry and a large island overlooking the great room. Don’t miss the butlers pantry and extra storage off the kitchen which flows right into your formal dining room. Entertain inside or out on the deck overlooking a cheery and fully fenced backyard. Upstairs, you’ll find a huge primary retreat featuring two closets, one which is a walk-in, and a spacious bright primary bathroom with a shower, double vanity and jetted tub. Two additional great-sized bedrooms and a hall bathroom complete this level.

The lower level of this home does not disappoint with a large recreation room, an additional bedroom with en-suite bathroom — perfect for an in-law suite, au pair suite or guest room! This home is complete with a detached garage, providing even more storage. 702 W View Terrace is ten minutes to the King Street Metro and the Amtrak. Take a stroll down to Old Town and enjoy dining, shopping, Farmer’s Markets and more!

702 W View Terrace, Alexandria, VA 22301The Jen Walker Team

Click here for Just Listed properties in Alexandria and call The Jen Walker Team to schedule a home tour at 703.675.1566 or email [email protected].

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

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®.

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Atlas wants to be your only pet, and is up for adoption through the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria.

The seven-year-old black-and-white cat would prefer not to live with other pets, AWLA spokesperson Gina Hardter said.

“Atlas will rub up against you for pets and ear scratches, and he won’t stop until he’s gotten all the attention he so deserves,” she said. “You’ll hear Atlas before you see him, because he lures everyone who comes to the AWLA toward his kennel with a series of loud meows to let you know that he is ready to play.”

Atlas’ adoption fees have already been paid by a generous donor. Visit AlexandriaAnimals.org/Adopt-By-Appointment for more information.

Via AWLA

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StepALIVE! walkers in 2019 (photo via ALIVE!/Facebook)

For those that want to move around and raise money for a good cause but aren’t too keen on long runs: local non-profit ALIVE! is hosting an annual five-mile group walk through Old Town this Sunday (Oct. 17).

It’s the 40th annual StepALIVE!, a group walk for charity that starts and finishes at First Christian Church (2723 King Street). Registration and t-shirt pickup starts at 1:15 p.m. with music from the Alexandria Citizen Band. There’s a post-walk celebration from 3:30-4:30 p.m. with live bluegrass music.

“This year’s StepALIVE! fundraising goal of $65,000 will benefit all ALIVE! programs which have worked extremely hard to respond to increased demand during the ongoing COVID-19  pandemic,” the non-profit said in a press release. “The funds raised by StepALIVE! will allow ALIVE! to continue providing food,  shelter, emergency financial assistance, and eviction prevention to thousands of Alexandrians struggling with poverty and hunger.

Like with charity runs, the idea is that individuals and teams can raise money from supporters on a fundraising page, where people can donate in support of their walker or just to the non-profit in general. There will be prizes for the team with the most walkers and the most money raised.

“StepALIVE! supporters can also walk in solidarity with ALIVE! on their own or in a small group with their congregation, family, or community members in neighborhoods, places of worship,  local parks, or other locations of their choice,” the non-profit said in a press release. “All are asked to maintain safety and health guidelines.”

Photo via ALIVE!/Facebook

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Morning Notes

Mayoral candidates engage in public forum — “Alexandria’s mayoral candidates gathered in a virtual forum on Saturday, kicking into high gear to get their message out ahead of the Nov. 2 general election.” [Alexandria Times]

Amazon backs grant program to spur affordable development near D.C.-area transit — “Amazon will fund a new grant program to help local governments and nonprofit developers pursue affordable projects near transit stations, directing $500,000 of its recently announced $2 billion Housing Equity Fund to this effort.” [Washington Business Journal]

Local group plans Four Mile Run clean-up — “Join us Sat., Oct. 23 for cleanup at Four Mile Run Park from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. to celebrate the Clean Virginia Waterways and Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup.” [Twitter]

Alexandria kid goes viral for love of fire department — “Alotta yuck these days… Please enjoy the delight of my three year old spotting a fire truck. @AlexandriaVAFD, meet your biggest fan!” [Twitter]

D.C. didn’t ask Northam and Hogan to help crack down on ticket scofflaws, despite initial claims it did — “D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser never reached out to the governors of Virginia and Maryland to negotiate reciprocity for automated traffic camera tickets, despite a District government report — signed by the mayor and submitted to the D.C. Council last week — saying that said she did.” [DCist]

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The Alexandria City Council’s reversal on a decision to reallocate funds meant for school resource officers toward mental health programs has upset those who fought for the move.

The council voted four to three to temporarily restore the program after several complaints by parents about violent encounters involving their children in Alexandria City Public Schools since the beginning of the 2021-22 school year. This move was a reversal of the decision made by the council in May 2021 to end the SRO program in favor of school-based mental health programs.

SROs are police officers that are assigned to Alexandria City Public Schools middle and high schools who are armed — unlike school security staff — and fulfill the duties of regular police officers. The program had been in place since 1997 but was recently a source of scrutiny, especially after an officer at discharged his weapon in George Washington Middle School. Further calls to remove SROs came after nationwide protests against police brutality in 2020.

Tenants and Workers United (TWU), an Arlandria/Chirilagua-based organization that advocated for dismantling the SRO program, expressed dissatisfaction in a press release made in response to the council’s decision. TWU had led a multi-year campaign which resulted in the vote for reallocation from the SRO program to mental health programs. TWU pushed for the move citing how SROs affected students of color and contributed to the student-to-prison pipeline.

“It’s deeply disappointing that the communities most impacted by violence and injustice, who know what solutions are needed to best support their communities, are ignored during decision making processes,” Mia Taylor, development lead for TWU, said in a press release. “This is an issue of democracy, racial justice, White Supremacy, and power and privilege. Once again, Alexandria City finds itself on the wrong side of history. Many low-income students of color have been through a year-and-a-half of severely interrupted schooling, loss and grief, severe poverty, lack of adequate food and resources, housing instability, stress, and even trauma. For these reasons, we have long anticipated a difficult return to school this year, but police are not the answer”.

TWU Executive Director Evelin Urrutia said there is a need for the mental health programs over the SROs due to students coming back to school from the coronavirus pandemic.

“We believe that kids deserve better, they deserve to have mental health in place, we have to take into consideration that we are in the middle of a pandemic and that a lot of our students have gone through so much and we need to focus more on positive programs for them,” Urrutia said. “We know that the SROs are not the best thing that we can bring to kids at this moment, not into our schools. We should be focused on how are going to work moving forward.”

Months after the SRO program had been defunded parents protested to restore the program after relating stories of fights, stories of extreme bullying, and other accounts of concerning behavior.

The restoration of the SRO program came after a six-hour city council meeting in which the SRO decision took up most of the time.

The full press release from TWU is available below the jump:

Read More

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It takes less than five minutes to make most orders at Don Taco. The restaurant and tequila bar at 808 King Street also claims to make the best margaritas in Old Town, and that combination of making quick to-go orders with alcoholic drinks to wash it all down has been their secret to success during the pandemic.

“There’s not much of a profit margin on food costs,” Don Taco’s General Manager Tracey Deiderich told ALXnow. “As far as alcohol is concerned, that’s where restaurants make most of their money. Allowing restaurants to do this just weeks after we had to shut down was a huge success.”

Chef Mike Cordero has owned the building for decades, rebooting it several times with new concepts. He launched Don Taco in 2016, after spending years with it as Flat Iron Steak & Saloon and Cafe Salsa.

The restaurant is one of Cordero’s many taquerias in the region. It has a menu with dozens of $3.95 tacos, and was featured on the Cooking Channel’s Cheap Eats with Ali Khan with a number of other Alexandria restaurants.

“In my kitchen, they are beasts when it comes to getting food out quickly,” Deiderich said. “You might even get your tacos in about 60 seconds after you order.”

Best sellers include the Sriracha chicken taco, the pomegranate-glazed skirt steak taco and the fried avocado taco.

Deiderich says most dates can cost an average of $50 at Don Taco.

“You could come in and have a blast for 50 bucks,” he said. “I mean, at $3.95 a taco, and grab yourself a pumpkin spice Margarita or one of our specialty drinks.”

As for the margaritas, Deiderich says they’re made with fresh ingredients.

“I mean, we have the best margaritas in Old Town,” he said. “We don’t use any fillers, it’s all fresh ingredients. Just tequila, fresh lime juice and fresh Agave nectar. There’s no sour mixes or anything like that in there. It’s all fresh and ready and raring to go anytime you need to drink.”

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Metro’s Yellow Line, which runs through Arlington and Alexandria, could see some closures next year as the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) works to repair the Yellow Line Bridge between Virginia and D.C. and bring the Potomac Yard Metro station online.

Yellow Line Bridge and tunnel rehabilitation project will include repairs to the bridge and fix water-caused erosion in the tunnels.

The bridge was built in the 1970s and WMATA’s project website said it’s now showing “excessive wear and corrosion” while the tunnel has been subject to “decades of water infiltration and underground moisture [which] have eroded the steel-lined tunnels.” WMATA warned that long-term repairs are necessary to avoid structural failure.

The project will also upgrade the fire suppression system on the bridge, which is currently past its useful life according to WMATa, and remediation work in the tunnel to repair cracks.

Schedule of Metro station work, including Yellow Line shutdowns, photo via WMATA

The exact timeline for the project is still unclear. Andrew Off, Vice President of Project Implementation and Construction, said a shutdown is expected sometime in fall 2022.  The shutdown would close the bridge between the Pentagon and L’Enfant stations.

“We expect to start sometime at the end of the next calendar year,” Off said. “We’re still working through with our general contractor on the specific construction duration for the Yellow Line Bridge closure.”

Meanwhile, further south on the Yellow Line, Off said a two-week closure is likely as WMATA connects the new Potomac Yard Metro station to the network.

“We’ll have a scheduled two-week or 16-day shutdown in late summer or early fall in support of connecting the new Potomac Yard infill station to our existing system,” Off said.

The station had been scheduled to open next spring but was pushed back to September 2022 after an error was found in the project’s design. Alexandria leaders are still hopeful the project could be moved up to earlier in the year.

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