Alexandria, VA

A 17-year-old Alexandria male was shot in the upper body on Tuesday evening on a basketball court in the 300 block of Tancil Court in Old Town, according to police.

“We got there and found a male subject with a gunshot wound and he was transported to a local hospital and suffered non-life threatening injuries,” police spokesman Lt. Courtney Ballantine told ALXnow.

Police were called at 7:18 p.m. after the victim was short in the upper torso, according to police.

The victim was accompanied by other people when he was shot, and the suspect was reportedly not known to them. The suspect fled the scene on foot and no description is available.

Police would not release any more information since the investigation is ongoing.

 Map via Google Maps
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The COVID-19 pandemic has forced T.C. Williams High School to not have a traditional prom or graduation this year, and Alexandria City Public Schools are working on alternatives.

Schools Superintendent Gregory Hutchings, Jr. and T.C. Principal Peter Balas broke the news to more than 700 graduating seniors last week that the ceremony at George Mason University’s Eagle Bank Arena on June 13 has been canceled.

“Graduation… is not going to happen as it traditionally does because of the large gatherings that graduation or a commencement ceremony requires,” Hutchins said in one of his daily videos. “But we are still working with our seniors and also with our staff members to develop an innovative approach to actually have some form of a commencement ceremony or graduation ceremony for the class of 2020 and we’re going to have more information for you all about that soon.”

The 2020 yearbooks are also nearly complete and will be sent to students.

T.C. senior Peter Moser told Theogony, the school newspaper, that while it’s disappointing to miss prom and graduation, “I would rather have my grandparents alive.”

“There’s a huge risk to having both of those events, so canceling them was the right choice,” Moser said. “Hopefully, we will still be able to have a graduation ceremony in the summer or something.”

Governor Ralph Northam on March 23 ordered all schools to be closed for the remainder of the year. Alexandria’s public schools were already shut down until the end of spring break, and ACPS staff are currently working on a continuity plan for the rest of the year.

“We’re working right now with the Virginia Department of Education,” Hutchings said. “They will be submitting a waiver to the U.S. Department of Education to waive some of the graduation requirements, so that we can ensure students are not penalized for the school closures that will occur for the remainder of this year.”

The state department of education is also submitting an application to the U.S. Department of Education to wave requirements for students who still need to take standards of learning exams or earn industry credentials.

“Once that application is approved, we will be able to still have our seniors, graduate with a standard or an advanced diploma from TC Williams,” Hutchings said.

T.C. will also not have its traditional National Decision Day, where seniors commit to colleges with letters of intent.

Balas sent a letter to students informing them of the decisions and said that advanced placement exams will still be taking place, but will be shorter and online. The exam schedule will be available on April 3 from the College Board.

“I know this is going to be hard on you,” Balas wrote. “These events are rights of passage as you complete your senior year at T.C. Although we know we won’t be able to recreate the experience in the traditional manners, I plan to work with my Titans to come up with alternatives. Our students have been sending me some great ideas about how we can still celebrate this time in your lives.”

Photo via ACPS/Facebook

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Whether you’re actively searching for your new home or are just beginning to consider making a move, open houses are the perfect way to start your search.

Open houses allow you to get a feel for things such as neighborhood, how far your budget will go, must-haves in your new home, and some design inspiration.

As the #4 expansion team in the country, HergGroup Greater Washington’s website has a comprehensive list of open houses and homes for sale in Alexandria and beyond. Contact the HergGroup for virtual tour options. Here’s a sampling of the local open houses this week:

The preceding feature was sponsored by HergGroup Greater Washington and John Lam of Go Homeside Financial. Go Homeside Financial is located at 4000 Legato Road, Suite 550 Fairfax, VA. (571)212-4812, jplam.gohomeside.com.

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A planned screening of a film covering the history of the Torpedo Factory is being turned into an online viewing party tonight.

“A Brush with History” is a film by local director Nora Kubach about the Torpedo Factory’s 100-year history.

“The Art Center is an early example of placemaking in the country,” the Torpedo Factory Art Center said in a Facebook post, “a structure that went from making weapons of war, to now producing meaningful works of art by inspirational artists, and serving its community in a different way.”

The online premiere is tonight (Thursday) at 7 p.m. and will be followed by a live Q&A session with the filmmakers and participants in the movie. The event listing said viewers will be able to write in questions and have them answered during the video chat.

A link to the video page is not available yet but will be posted on the Facebook page.

The Art Center itself, meanwhile, remains closed until at least May 18.

Photo via Torpedo Factory Art Center/Facebook

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City Manager Mark Jinks presented the City Council with preliminary estimates for a $743.5 million fiscal year 2021 budget on Wednesday night — a $56.4 million reduction from the budget he unveiled in February.

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced Alexandria to drastically change its budget over the course of the last month. Preliminary cuts include eliminating the previously proposed 2 cent real estate tax increase, implementing a city hiring freeze [except $2 million to hire new Health Department staff], deferring raises for city staff and reducing the multi-million dollar transfer to Alexandria City Public Schools.

The budget would be an $18 million reduction over the current FY 2020 budget of $761.5 million.

Mayor Justin Wilson, who presided over the meeting with his colleagues via conference call, said that the impact will be felt in the city for years.

“The seven of us [on council] as well as the staff need to communicate to the public and make sure our residents are prepared and ready for the types of choices that we’re going to have to make about the role and scope of government in the city of Alexandria over the next several years,” Wilson said. “I think it’s right that it’s not just a one-year [or] two-year conversation. This is a multiple-year conversation.”

The previously approved budget also covered the $241.4 million transfer to the Alexandria City Public School system and fully funded the renovation of Douglas MacArthur Elementary School and the expansion of T.C. Williams High School. City and ACPS staff will now have to iron out which projects will get deferred and where budget reductions can be made.

“I don’t have a number yet. We have to have discussions with the schools,” said Jinks, who asked staff to make $100 million in cuts. “If the city’s budget goes down by $56 million, that means that every part of the budget needs to be looked at and I think that means reducing the ACPS operating transfer is something that’s going to need to occur to some degree.”

The uncertainty of COVID-19 will likely also impact the state’s budget, including millions to the city for its Combined Sewer Outfalls project.

“We had a conference call with the governor with mayors and chairs in the region on Friday, and he made it very clear that the budget that he sends back to the General Assembly for the reconvened session would be radically different than the budget that was approved by the General Assembly,” Wilson said. “That certainly means that money that is in there for the city and specifically for the CSO project may be very well at risk… Obviously there’s an expectation that that pretty much anything that’s in the General Assembly’s approved budget is at risk.”

City Council will receive the budget proposal next Tuesday and then will have a meeting on the proposed budget on April 14. The budget will be adopted on April 29.

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Landmark Mall Redevelopment Uncertain — “An official from Howard Hughes Corp., a Texas-based company that owns the 51-acre property and has been working on redevelopment plans for several years, said in response to email inquiries from Alexandria Living Magazine: “Sorry, no update for now, but we’ll let you know when we have a good update.” [Alexandria Living]

Volunteer Alexandria Needs Volunteers — “For those who are eligible to volunteer, we encourage to take measures and bring their own sanitizer, wipes, and keep distance from other people.” [Volunteer Alexandria]

Alexandria Restaurant Partners Donating 50% of Gift Cards to Staff — “Purchase a gift card today and 50% of all sales will be donated directly to an ARP employee relief fund. Plus, you’ll receive a 20% bonus gift card with all gift card purchases of $25 or more as a thank you for your support. Gift cards can used immediately at both Lena’s Wood-Fired Pizza & Tap and Mia’s Italian Kitchen.” [Facebook]

City Asks Spring Cleaners to Leave Big Stuff Alone — “It is certainly a tempting time of year to start “spring cleaning” but we ask you to help protect our workers and not overwhelm the waste stream. Please hold on to bulky or excess household items and help us reduce excess waste generation as much as possible during this time.” [Facebook]

Inova Assures Safe Conditions to Deliver Babies in Hospitals — “We’re still delivering bundles of joy to families at Inova every day. We understand you might be concerned if you’re expecting in these rapidly changing times. But, please be assured Inova is leading the way to help you bring your little one, or ones, into this world as safely as possible.” [Facebook]

Alexandria Wedding Showcase Pushed to June 28 — “One lucky couple will win 250,000 Marriott Bonvoy Travel Points, good for a week-long honeymoon to one of thousands of locations worldwide from The Westin Alexandria Old Town.” [Alexandria Wedding Showcase]

Old Newspaper Clipping Documents Spanish Flu in Alexandria — “Spanish influenza is increasing in the city at an alarming rate. There are few houses in the city where there is not a case of the disease… Doctors are working overtime but are performing their duties heroically. Druggists are doing their share for the general good filling prescriptions.” [Facebook]

VIP Alexandria Magazine Going Digital in April — “Does this mean we are going ALL DIGITAL? HECK NO!  We LOVE print! And VIP Alexandria Magazine will be back, in your beautiful hands, by May when we release our Annual Health & Beauty Issue! Hang in there, Alexandria! We’re all in this together!” [Facebook]

Del Ray Creates Stuffed Animal ‘Zoofari’ — “The idea is for homeowners to put out stuffed animals in their front yards, porches, trees, flower boxes, gardens, and places where they can be seen. The kids and parents can then walk around the neighborhood locating them and checking off, creating a safe Zoofari scavenger hunt walk.” [Zebra]

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There are now 55 positive cases of COVID-19 in Alexandria, the city’s Health Department Director Dr. Stephen Haering told city council on Wednesday night.

The new figure is an increase of 11 cases since yesterday.

The full breakdown in Alexandria is below:

There are now more than 1,400 COVID-19 cases and 34 deaths related to the virus in Virginia, according to the Virginia Department of Health.

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By now, homes across the city have received forms and information regarding the 2020 Census.

An accurate count of residents helps Alexandria receive federal aid, redistrict jurisdictions, gather statistics for grant applications and apportion congressional seats.

The City Council budgeted $80,000 to get the word out to residents, and the U.S. Census Bureau estimates $20,000 in federal funding in the city is lost with every person left uncounted over the course of 10 years.

According to the city:

The online Census form will be available in 12 languages other than English, and language guides are available for 60 languages.

The 2020 Census asks:

  1. How many people are living or staying in your home on April 1, 2020
  2. Whether the home is owned or rented
  3. Each person’s sex
  4. Each person’s age
  5. Each person’s race
  6. Whether each person is of Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish origin
  7. The relationship of each person to the householder

Today is 2020 Census day! It takes less than 10 minutes to complete your Census and ensure our community gets the…

Posted by Vice Mayor Elizabeth Bennett-Parker on Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Today is #CensusDay! All #AlexandriaVA households received a mailing in the past few weeks with directions- it takes…

Posted by Alexandria Economic Development Partnership on Wednesday, April 1, 2020

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With restaurants in Virginia now relying on take-out and delivery for their survival through the pandemic, Alexandria is joining other localities in urging the state government to allow restaurants to make cocktails to-go.

“I am writing to express support to authorize the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) to allow the selling of mixed beverages for delivery and pickup by restaurants in the City of Alexandria and across the Commonwealth of Virginia,” Mayor Justin Wilson said in a letter to Gov. Ralph Northam.

Two weeks ago, the state did loosen up on its restrictions regarding selling beer and wine to-go.

Wilson said in the letter that alcohol sales in take-out and delivery options could help offset other revenue losses — at least a little. Alexandria’s bar and restaurant scene has already seen closures as a result of the statewide restrictions.

“Alexandria restaurant owners have indicated that the sale of mixed beverages provides healthy margins that keep them afloat during this time,” Wilson said. “They believe that the ability to offer these beverages for delivery and pickup as part of the new limitations on restaurants is vital to their ability to remain in business in the current environment.”

The letter is in support of a request by Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney to the Virginia ABC. The letter was shared by other members of the City Council who echoed the mayor’s sentiment.

California, Kentucky, Colorado, Vermont and Nebraska have similarly loosened restrictions on mixed beverages.

“In states that have loosened restrictions on mixed beverages, these new provisions have promoted a sense of normalcy to their clientele, have increased sales and allowed some staff to continue working,” Wilson said. “The COVID-19 pandemic has required all of us in the Commonwealth and the nation to think innovatively in order to assist those who need the most. Small businesses and their personnel are no exception.”

Photo via Dave B/Flickr

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A new deli is in the works for a building on S. Washington Street that was once Union officers’ quarters during the Civil War.

The site is planned to be turned into Delicious Deli Inc., a full-service, 1,600 square foot restaurant. The restaurant will be a neighbor to Ally & Indy Pet Boutique, which shares the ground floor of the double-house.

While the official title in the documents is Delicious Deli, it is also listed as Manna Chicken and Burger in the application. The owner could not be reached for comment.1

In an application for a Special Use Permit, the restaurant was described as a small, eight-seat restaurant. Menu options will include burgers, chicken and sandwiches.

Somewhat less appealing cuisine was likely served in the 1860s, when the then-recently built double-house was used as Union officer’s quarters, then contraband lodging, and later a medical dispensary, according to its listing on LoopNet.

The restaurant is also planning to apply for permits to serve beer and wine on the premises.

Top photo via Google Maps, plans via KMIN Design Consulting

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Alexandria Police Chief Michael L. Brown says there has been a marginal increase in domestic violence calls for service over the last three weeks, and is concerned that Gov. Ralph Northam’s stay at home order will mean a more significant uptick.

“We’re not seeing a real huge spike, but as time goes on the pressures inside the homes of the residents may increase as everyone’s now sheltering in place,” Brown told ALXnow. “We’re very concerned about the stress that causes within the household or within the home and we want to make sure that our community gets the assistance it needs to get through this process.”

Brown added, “We would rather do that than respond to a call for service involving some kind of a fight or domestic violence issue.”

The city’s Sexual Assault Center and Domestic Violence Program are 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.

There are currently 44 cases of COVID-19 in Alexandria, and no officers have exhibited symptoms yet, Brown said. Additionally, no one has yet been charged with violating the governor’s order, although police have been dispatched to speak with a number business owners who have illegally opened. Police have also prioritized non-emergency calls and taking care of as many as possible via phone to limit exposure to officers.

“It’s been a very stressful period for our folks. So far right now we’re doing fine and we hope the trend continues, but this is an invisible problem that we hope doesn’t affect our people,” he said. “We’re meeting our calls for service, and we hope that trend continues and we certainly hope that everyone uses the direction given to us by the CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention], which we promulgated to our folks, and that is social distancing, washing your hands, not touching your face and the like.”

Brown said that officers have been issued initial supplies of personal protective equipment and that the department is working on getting more.

“It’s a challenge. We have backorders in place working through the Virginia Department of Emergency Management to get additional assets,” he said. “Those are all being prioritized for medical professionals as well as first responders. We have a supply that’s already been issued we have a small reserve and we’re hoping that that will get us through until we get the additional equipment that we need.”

Brown said flexibility will be key for his officers in the days ahead, and that in his experience the only thing this pandemic comes close to is during the 1980s when he was a California Highway Patrol officer.

“I think the closest thing in my career that I recall is back in 1983, in California when the AIDS virus appeared, and there were a lot of unknowns with regards to that when it first came out, and we were always very concerned about protecting our law enforcement personnel, but this is different,” he said. “This is a different kind of virus, and it’s transmitted differently. It presents unique challenges for all of us first responders in terms of protecting our people and still making sure that we are able to respond to the needs of the community.”

Photo via Alexandria Police Department/Facebook

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