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Zen kitty Callie is looking for a new home in Alexandria.

The 13-year-old female domestic longhaired brown and gray tabby cat is up for adoption with the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria.

“Callie has gorgeous long fur, and would love the help of a personal stylist who can help her keep it brushed and fluffy,” said AWLA spokesperson Gina Hardter. “Callie is the ultimate zen kitty, who would love to be by your side for a variety of calming activities, from reading a book to taking in a movie marathon to watching the world go by outside the window.”

November is National Adopt a Senior Pet Month, and Callie’s adoption fees are waived for the rest of the month. Schedule time to meet her by emailing [email protected] or calling 703-746-4774 (opt. 2).

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The Alexandria City Council unanimously approved a collective bargaining agreement with the Southern States Police Benevolent Association, ushering in a new era of collaboration with city employees.

If likely approved in the fiscal year 2024 budget this May, the agreement means substantial pay increases for new officers, sergeants and lieutenants. The current base salary of $54,698 for an officer would be increased by 11% to $61,503 at the beginning of the next fiscal year, July 1, 2023. After next year, salaries for officers would increase 2% annually.

Mayor Justin Wilson said that the collective bargaining agreement is historic, since it’s the first of its kind to be approved in Virginia.

“This is a really important step.,” Wilson said. “We came to a place that that was mutually agreeable one that I think moves the needle forward and recognizes our hard working police officers for the work that they do every day for our residents at work that is greatly valued by the community, but does so in a constructive way in partnership with the city, recognizing that we’re all in this together.”

Damon Minnix, president of Alexandria chapter of the Southern States Police Benevolent Association, said that the agreement creates a new pay scale based on years of service.

“We’ve spent countless hours working towards this agreement,” Minnix said. “Most importantly, this process and agreement opens the lines of communication between the interests of our officers and city management.”

Compensation issues has plagued the Alexandria Police Department for years.

The collective bargaining agreement includes:

  • A one-time payment to employees who will not get at least a 10% pay increase in the agreement
  • A $1,000 longevity bonus for well-seasoned officers in July 2024 and July 2025
  • A 5% pay boost for officers in specialized units, including academy instructors, motorcycle officers, field training officers and K9 handlers
  • Formation of union committee

The agreement also asks the city to conduct a “cost-neutral, 20-year retirement option with an immediate payout and no minimum age requirement” for officers.

City Manager Jim Parajon said that coming to an agreement was an exhausting process.

“This agreement is not without disagreements, and is a I think an excellent start,” he said. “It really does value our police officers at a very significant level.”

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Facing inflation, a $17 million budget shortfall and fewer federal economic recovery funds, the Alexandria City Council will consider a tax increase in its upcoming fiscal year 2024 budget.

City Manager Jim Parajon has been tasked with presenting Council with two budget alternatives — one with a tax increase and another without.

“This year’s budget is going to be tight,” Parajon said at a recent Del Ray Business Association meeting. “We’re also predicting a much slower growth rate than we’ve done in the past. As you can imagine, property tax and the growth in our real estate is what drives a lot of our revenue. And we projected that’s going to be a little slower this year.”

Parajon said that city staff is expecting a shallow recession to impact the city this spring, and is eyeing expenditure reductions. So far, the $17 million shortfall is mostly attributed to an increase in city operations, the annual transfer to Alexandria City Public Schools and city debt service.

Mayor Justin Wilson hopes to not increase taxes, and said that inflation pressures impact city government, just like everyone else.

“We have not increased the tax rate in six years and I am hopeful we can avoid any increase this year,” Wilson told ALXnow.

The city is also contending with collective bargaining agreements with the police and fire department unions. Additionally, ACPS faces a $12 million budget shortfall, and wants to give employees raises.

The current FY 2023 budget saw a $445 (6.5%) increase to residential real estate taxes, although the tax rate of $1.11 per $100 of assessed value did not change.

City staff are also working on re-timing projects in the city’s 10-year $2.7 billion Capital Improvement Program to “better align with ability of operating budget to absorb costs increases and City’s ability to execute projects,” according to a presentation to Council on Tuesday night (Nov. 22).

Parajon will present his proposed budget on Tuesday, Feb. 28 — a week-and-a-half after the School Board approves its budget request. The budget will be approved in May and go into effect on July 1.

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Police car lights (file photo)

A 61-year-old Arlington man is behind bars for the alleged abduction and brutal rape of a woman in the Skyline area in 1988.

George Thomas, Jr., was identified by a Fairfax County Police Department fingerprint examiner, who matched a fingerprint found on the victim’s vehicle in 1988 to a fingerprint from a 2020 concealed weapons charge that was on file in Alexandria. He would have been 26 years old when the incident occurred.

“In this case, justice was delayed but justice was not denied,” Fairfax County Police Chief Kevin Davis announced in a press conference on Tuesday (Nov. 22). “Closure is really not a representative description of how victims feel, even many, many years later. This is another chapter for the victim in this case.”

On the evening of August 24, 1988, the 22-year-old victim was walking to her car in the mall parking garage when she was abducted by two men.

“The victim was forced into her vehicle and made to drive to a secluded location in the Northern Virginia area here in the DMV,” said Major Ed O’Carroll, the commander of the Fairfax County Police Department’s Major Crimes, Cyber and Forensic Bureau. “The victim was led to a wooded area. Both men raped her before, again, forcing her back into her car to drive to yet another secluded location and raped her again.”

O’Carroll continued, “This is a horrible, tragic and profoundly horrifying series of events. The victim thankfully was able to escape in her car and fled the scene following the second assault.”

After discovering the fingerprint match, Fairfax County Police then identified the second suspect as Gregory Allen Thomas, the suspect’s deceased younger brother. He died in 2009.

“As the years passed, the FCPD never forgot about this case,” O’Carroll said. “We always hoped for a forensic development.”

Thomas was charged with two counts of rape, one count of sodomy and one count of abduction. He is being held without bond in the Montgomery County Detention Center and goes to court on Dec. 21.

The case was investigated by the U.S. Marhals Service, the Metro Transit Police and the Fairfax County Police Department.

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Children sit in a circle at a Celebree School location (via Facebook)

A new day care center to accommodate 190 children is planning to open in the new Carlyle Crossing development in January.

There are 750 luxury apartments in Carlyle Crossing, and the Celebree School of Alexandria will be located within the 1 million-square-foot luxury residential development, on the ground floor of the brand new 13,648-square foot space at 2450 Mill Road.

The daycare franchise will be located in the same building as the Wegmans (150 Stovall Street), which opened in May. Its hours will be 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and it will be able to hold up to 190 children and 30 staffers working on-site at any given time, according to a special use permit filed with the city.

Founded in 1994, the school provides early education and childcare service-based programs for children aged six weeks to 12-years old.

The company has 26 corporate locations (24 in Maryland and two in Delaware), as well as 10 other franchises, and is “aggressively” expanding to open 150 new locations and franchises within the next three years.

“After developing successful schools in our home state of Maryland, Virginia was a natural next step as a target growth area for our continued franchise expansion,” said Richard Huffman, founder and CEO of Celebree School. “With a 25-plus-year history, we’ve built an incredible infrastructure for growth. By partnering with like-minded franchisees who believe in our brand and our mission, we’re poised for long-term success.”

There are four other Celebree Schools in Virginia — in RestonHenricoAshburn, and Tysons-Jones. Sixteen new locations are also planned to open next year, including the Celebree School of National Landing, at Metropolitan Park in Arlington, in Herndon and Dulles.

Via Facebook

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Burgers, fries and drinks from Five Guys (via Facebook)

Five Guys is moving its corporate headquarters to Alexandria’s Carlyle neighborhood, according to the Washington Business Journal.

The burger chain, which opened its first location in Arlington in 1986, has been headquartered in Lorton for nearly a decade. It is moving to a 40,000-square-foot space on the fifth floor of 1940 Duke Street in the Carlyle Crescent building.

Contractor L.F. Jennings lists the project on its website, and says that the interior construction schedule will run from January to June 2023. The work includes new flooring, drywall and tile installation.

The building is located by the intersection of Duke and Delaney Streets, near the Whole Foods Market (1700 Duke Street).

Five Guys opened its second and third locations in Alexandria before experiencing explosive growth by franchising in 2003. There are now more than 1,600 locations around the world and more than 1,500 in the works.

Five members of the Murrell family started Five Guys in 1986 with a simple concept — fresh burgers and fries without all the frills. All their food is free of trans fats, the restaurants use fresh ground beef, the fries are cooked in peanut oil and the food is not stored in freezers.

Via Facebook

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Old Town just got a little brighter.

On Saturday (Nov. 19), Santa Claus made his way to City Hall on the King Street Trolley to help members of City Council light the holiday tree at Market Square in front of City Hall.

Town Crier Ben Fiore-Walker started things off with a proclamation, followed by speeches by Santa and Mayor Justin Wilson.

There are 40,000 lights on the 40-foot-tall tree at Market Square.

Coming up, the Del Ray holiday tree and Menorah lighting is on Sunday, December 4. Santa is also expected to make an appearance at the annual event.

Photos via Elijah Walter Griffin, Sr./Griffin Vision

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No one was injured after shots were fired in a neighborhood near Potomac Yard on Sunday night.

The incident occurred at around 11:30 in a residential area in the 100 block of Luna Drive, which is near Cora Kelly School for Math, Science and Technology.

No arrests were made and police are investigating the incident.

The last incident with gunfire in the area occurred on the evening of September 11, when a 50-year-old man was shot in the 3800 block of Old Dominion Boulevard.

Anyone with information on this incident can contact the Alexandria Police Department’s non-emergency number at 703-746-4444. Callers can remain anonymous.

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6300 Stevenson Avenue, where a sexual assault allegedly took place (via Google Maps)

(Updated at 5:15 p.m.) A West End man was arrested and charged with a parole violation, on Sunday (Nov. 13).

The 44-year-old man, a violent felon, was arrested after an incident at around 1 p.m. in an apartment in the 6300 block of Stevenson Avenue in the Landmark area. An allegation of sexual assault against the suspect is ongoing, according to police.

The adult female victim did not go to the hospital, and reported that no weapon was used.

The man posted a $1,000 bond the next day (Nov. 14).

The Alexandria Sexual Assault Center and Domestic Violence Program is available 24/7 to listen and help at 703-746-4911.

“If you are a neighbor and know that an abusive incident is occurring, call the police immediately,” the city said. “Calling the police is simply the most effective way to protect the victim and children from immediate harm.”

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Santa Claus will ride into Old Town on the King Street Trolley this Saturday night (Nov. 19) for the annual holiday tree lighting ceremony in front of City Hall.

The party starts at 6 p.m. at Market Square (301 King Street), where Santa and Mayor Justin Wilson will do their part to reduce seasonal darkness by lighting the 40,000 lights on the city’s 40-foot-tall holiday tree.

Town Crier Ben Fiore-Walker will cap off the event, which will include a program of holiday carols.

Admission is free, and the event will occur rain or shine.

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