Newsletter

It’s been more than a month after the school resource officers were placed on leave at Alexandria City High School, and police have yet to replace those officers.

The officers were placed on leave shortly before the winter break after a former student alleged having “sexually inappropriate conversations” while she attended ACHS, according to the Washington Post.

Police said that the investigation of the officers is ongoing, and were vague as to what the plan is for the future.

SROs continue to work in the city’s two middle schools, and the memorandum of understanding between the police and schools remains in place. But there are no SROs at ACHS, which has more than 4,000 students and is the largest high school in Virginia.

“The SROs for ACHS have not returned, but we will continue working with the ACHS staff, to ensure students and staff are safe,” APD public information officer Marcel Bassett told ALXnow. “The plan is what it always has been for APD, which is to protect and serve all members of the Alexandria community.”

SROs are police officers with sidearms who receive 40 hours of specialized training with the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Service’s Center for School Safety. They work alongside unarmed security personnel, and are trained in deescalation, seizure and arrests on school grounds, operating during active shooting incidents and working alongside kids with emotional and behavioral issues.

SROs were briefly defunded by City Council last year, and were brought back after outcry from the school system after a number of incidents with weapons in and around schools.

ACPS deferred all questions to the police department.

2 Comment

Alexandria City Public Schools received 88,000 KN95 face masks for all students and staff last week, not long after newly installed Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin issued an executive order removing face mask mandates in public schools.

Alexandria, along with Arlington and Fairfax County, defied that order and are still requiring students, staff and visitors wear masks indoors. The Alexandria City High School athletic department has also reinstituted mask wearing during practices and competition.

“The Universal masking, of course, is critical in all of our ACPS buildings and on our vehicles,” Julie Crawford, the ACPS chief of student services and equity, told the School Board last Thursday night. “We want to stress how important properly secured masks are to decreasing the transmission rate, especially for in-person activities.”

The 88,000 KN95 masks consist of both adult and student-sized masks, according to Alicia Hart, the ACPS acting chief of facilities and operations.

“Due to the limited supply, the first priority for the KN95 mask distribution is for ACPS students and staff,” Hart said. “As additional masks arrive, provisions for visitors will be considered. Please note that there are no non-essential visitors to our schools at this time.”

Hart could not say how long the shipment will last, but said ACPS will make more orders if necessary.

“We will continue to make additional orders as necessary, which is our standard practice with all PPE (personal protective equipment) needs,” Hart said.

2 Comments

Alexandria Sheriff Sean Casey says the recent actions of a deputy against a YouTuber outside the city jail are “inconsistent” with its policies and procedures.

In a video that posted today (Jan. 20), an Alexandria Sheriff’s Deputy asked that “Constitutional activist” Sean Paul Reyes of Long Island Audit not film outside the city jail. Reyes tells the deputy that he is an independent journalist exercising his First Amendment rights, and then refuses to provide the deputy with his full name.

“This is a public area,” Reyes tells the deputy. “I haven’t committed a crime.”

After refusing to provide his name, the deputy says, “Well, I can also detain you, if you like.”

Casey said that he is aware of the video, and that a full inquiry is underway.

“The Alexandria Sheriff’s Office is aware of the Youtube video posted on January 20 documenting an interaction between a deputy and a member of the public,” Casey posted on social media. “We are actively investigating this incident and understand the public’s concern. Based on our initial review of the video, the actions of the deputy are inconsistent with our policies and procedures. A full inquiry is underway.”

Reyes, who has 182,000 subscribers, and filmed dozens of other videos with law enforcement around the country.

“We’re here today to peacefully exercise our First Amendment right to film in public and publicly accessible areas to promote transparency and accountability within our government and to ensure that our public servants respect our rights and treat us with respect,” Reyes said.

The deputy later drove away from the jail.

“Oh, thank you for leaving, deputy,” Reyes says as the deputy drives away. “Appreciate it. Please just go.”

The Sheriff’s Office did not comment further.

Via Youtube

6 Comments

Alexandria went to the dogs long ago, and has been listed as one of 70 cities in the country as a Better City for Pets by Mars Petcare.

The certification takes a number of factors into account, including the number of dog parks, veterinarians, and pet-related businesses. There are an estimated 80,000 pets in the city with a population of 160,000.

“As the operator of the city’s only open-access animal shelter and a resource for domestic and wild animals as well as pet owners, we’re thrilled by this designation and will continue the efforts to keep Alexandria the amazing community it is, for both pets and people,” Animal Welfare League of Alexandria spokesperson Gina Hardter told ALXnow.

Mars Petcare also gave AWLA also received awarded a Vision Award grant, which will fund housing opportunities for pets in their shelter.

“On behalf of the people and pets in the City of Alexandria, we are grateful to be recognized as a BETTER CITY FOR PETS,” Mayor Justin Wilson said in a statement. “The grant received from Mars Petcare will help the AWLA discover how it can better help all pets and families in our city.”

Alexandria was also named a Top 5 Best City for Dog Lovers in the U.S. 2021 by LawnStarter and one of the Most Dog-Friendly Vacation Destinations in the U.S. 2019 by Expedia.

0 Comments
A simulation of in-person schooling in Nov. 2020. (Photo via ACPS)

Alexandria City Public Schools is sticking with its proposed 10.25% salary increase for all employees, and Superintendent Gregory Hutchings, Jr. says that number will not change based on potential guidance from Governor Glenn Youngkin.

“Regardless of what the governor says or does, we have positioned ourselves to continue to increase compensation for our staff,” School Board Chair Meagan Alderton said at a budget retreat last week. “This is the type of proactive intentional work that will, I think, makes us successful to be able to sustain what it is we’re trying to do right now.”

Last month, outgoing Governor Ralph Northam, a Democrat, proposed raising teacher pay by 10.25% in Virginia’s new two-year budget, all made possible by billions in federal Covid relief funds. Youngkin, a Republican who was sworn in earlier this month, said he wants raises for teachers.

Youngkin is under fire for ending the mask mandate in public schools, and Alexandria and neighboring Fairfax and Arlington Counties have rejected that order.

“Whether (Northam’s proposal) continues to move forward or not, we will still be proposing the actual market rate adjustment and step increases,” Hutchings told the Board.

Should Youngkin accept Northam’s plan, it’s likely that localities throughout the state will try to hit that 10.25% increase over the next two years or else risk losing significant state revenues, ACPS Chief Financial Officer Dominic Turner told the Board.

The fiscal year 2023 $345.8 million combined funds budget is comprised of the $316.2 million ACPS operating fund, $17.6 million from the grants and special projects fund, and a $12 million school nutrition fund.

ACPS will conduct a public hearing on the Combined Funds Budget on Jan. 21, followed by a joint City Council/School Board Subcommittee meeting on Jan. 24. The School Board is expected to pass it (with revisions) on Feb. 18, and then go to City Council for deliberation until it passes the city’s budget in early May.

Image via ACPS

2 Comments

Sixteen months after being forced to closed due to bankruptcy reorganization, Seattle-based kitchenware retailer Sur La Table is planning to reopen at 326 King Street.

The company won’t say exactly when the reopening will happen, but ALXnow was tipped off after Sur La Table posted a $70,000 a year job for a full-time manager for the store.

“We can confirm that Sur La Table is reopening in the area, but we do not have a timeline we can share at this time,” the company told ALXnow in an email.

Sur La Table, which opened at 326 King Street in 2013, had to close approximately half of its 121 stores around the country. The Old Town store closed at the end of September.

Via Google Maps

5 Comments

A new acquisition will preserve some affordable housing in Alexandria’s Arlandria/Chirilagua neighborhood for nearly 100 years. Wesley Housing has acquired the six-building Parc Square Apartments buildings.

Wesley Housing will now make immediate safety repairs, with a long-term plan to redevelop the property. The 1940s-era properties were acquired after Wesley Housing got a $2.3 million grant from the Amazon Housing Equity Fund, and conditionally will reman affordable for at least 99 years.

Wesley Housing will likely start construction on the major phase of redevelopment in 2025.

Amazon’s HQ2 has raise concerns in the area of gentrification, and the purchase establishes the path for a multi-phased redevelopment plan. The $2 billion Amazon Housing Equity Fund is intended to create and preserve upward of 20,000 affordable housing units in Arlington, Alexandria, and in Washington State’s Puget Sound region — three areas experiencing Amazon’s growth.

“Committing these units to long-term affordability and making critical repairs will greatly benefit existing residents and the community at large,” said Wesley Housing Vice President of Real Estate Development Kamilah McAfee. “Our ultimate goals are to reduce the economic burden of housing in this community, improve the quality of living for residents, contribute to income diversification, and attract private and public investment to generate economic opportunities and access to desirable amenities and services.”

As a condition of Amazon funding, the 66 units will remain affordable for at least 99 years.

“We are so pleased to be a part of the solution by addressing the affordable housing shortage,” said Catherine Buell, Director of the Amazon Housing Equity Fund. “By teaming up with organizations such as Wesley Housing, we are able to help grow the housing stock for moderate- to low-income households as well as support our communities of color whose diverse contributions help make Northern Virginia such a wonderful place to live, work, and thrive.”

Alexandria is currently experiencing an affordable housing crisis, and lost 90% of its affordable housing stock between 2000 and 2017. Consequently, the city has pledged to produce or develop thousands of units to meet 2030 regional housing goal set by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments

Via Wesley Housing

2 Comments

Ready for a Mangorita? Tiki, a new pop-up bar will open next week at 2312 Mount Vernon Avenue.

The former longtime home to The Sushi Bar was briefly converted into the Christmas-themed pop-up bar Joy On The Avenue, and more pop-ups at the location are being planned as plans for the final concept fall into place. For now, bamboo decorations are being put in place and Tiki masks have been painted on the walls.

Next month, Homegrown Restaurant Group owners Mike Anderson and Bill Blackburn will transform Tiki into the Valentine’s themed “Love Shack” pop-up next month, followed by a yet-to-be-named Mardis Gras pop-up after that.

“We’re transforming the space formerly known as kid-less Sushi, formerly known as Joy On The Avenue to new bar cocktail bar called Tiki,” owner Bill Blackburn told ALXnow. “There is no single person in Alexandria more qualified to open a tiki bar than mango. Mike Anderson.”

Anderson owned Mango Mike’s for 18 years on the West End.

“It’s about creating an experience, an escape,” Anderson said. “People need a bright spot in their day, and haven’t been able to take vacations. We’re giving them a vacation on the avenue.”

Tiki will serve tropical drinks, as well as food from HRG’s Holy Cow Del Ray.

Blackburn says HRG is ironing out a permanent fast-casual concept for the space, which he hopes to unveil in the spring.

0 Comments

Alexandria’s Covid numbers are going down, but the numbers of new reported cases continues to rise by the hundreds on a daily basis.

There have been 26,907 total cases reported by the Virginia Department of Health as of today (Monday, Jan. 18), and the number of deaths has climbed by two since last week to 163. Sunday, Jan. 17, saw the the fewest single day number of cases reported so far this year with 191 new cases.

There have been 7,406 cases reported in Alexandria so far this month alone. The city’s transmission rate went from “Substantial” to “High” last month.

By the numbers

  • The seven day average of daily new cases is now 337, down from 409 this time last week
  • The seven-day average of positive COVID-19 tests is now 27.4%, down from 28.6% last week
  • There have been 37 cases reported within Alexandria City Public Schools so far this month

Vaccine stats

  • There are 28,503 unvaccinated Alexandria residents
  • About 70% of residents (107,033 people) are fully vaccinated
  • 82% (125,377) of residents have gotten at least one dose
  • 44,419 residents have gotten a booster shot

Find vaccine providers in Alexandria here. If you feel sick, get tested.

3 Comments

On New Year’s morning, Luke Shlagel of Shlagel Farms was among a handful of vendors at the weekly Del Ray Farmer’s Market. Some customers asked why he wasn’t hanging out with his family and taking the day off, and he had a simple answer.

“If I hadn’t come on New Year’s Day, that would have been 20 days since the last market,” Shlagel said. “Christmas was on a Saturday, New Year’s Day was on a Saturday, and if I waited for the following Saturday, the eighth, that’s too long for the community to be without us.”

The Waldorf, Maryland, farm raises approximately 150 acres of fruit, vegetables, meat, dairy products and flowers through a variety of avenues. Their bread and butter has been a 29-year-long contract supplying vegetables to Giant Food with vegetables, followed by directly selling their products to consumers at half a dozen farmers markets in Maryland and Virginia.

Del Ray is their biggest market, and customers can pick up pre-ordered boxes or shop in-person every Saturday from 8 a.m. to noon. Getting to this point, though, took a lot of work. Farmers markets were not deemed essential in Virginia at the onset of the pandemic in March 2020. Within weeks, though, Shlagel Farms was back in Del Ray with a new e-commerce site, and selling pre-ordered and boxed products for pickup.

“Maryland deemed farmers’ markets as essential, but not Virginia, and that hit us like a ton of bricks,” said Russell Shlagel, the company patriarch. “But now, thanks to our online sales, we have surpassed 2019 numbers. We were able to pivot, and we get emotional about it, how people said they needed us to supply them with fresh fruits, vegetables, and meat.”

More than half (54%) of Virginia farmers market vendors started or expanded an online platform after the onset of the pandemic, according to the Virginia Farmers Market Association.

“The COVID-19 pandemic had far reaching effects on farmers market managers, vendors and customers during the 2020 market season,” the association reported. “Amidst supply chain shortages and panic buying, farmers markets were deemed non-essential infrastructure by the state during the pandemic.”

Sales are good, but there’s a catch, Russell Shlagel said.

“Within the last year, fuel costs have gone up drastically,” he said. “Crop protected costs, fertilizer, and labor have gone up drastically.”

Luke Shlagel said he compiled a customer email list before March 2020 in Del Ray, and that the company was ready. After all, his mother, sisters and wife are all ER nurses, and they warned the family of what was coming. For many Saturdays after Covid hit, the vendor was alone at the Del Ray market.

“We has a notebook and we asked customers to jot down their emails for us,” Luke said. “Then it was unbelievable. All of a sudden we have more than 300 orders coming in, and all of a sudden I’m in the position of shopping for your family, making sure that the product that I’m putting in these boxes is the very best. Really, it was the support of the people of our people in Alexandria that made the whole thing successful and made it come together and work well.”

Via Shlagel Farms/Facebook

0 Comments
×

Subscribe to our mailing list