Lee Raynes has been humbled by community support after her Del Ray home burned down on Saturday, September 12.
At around 7 p.m., Raynes, who owns Bellies and Babies Consignment Boutique on Mount Vernon Avenue, was on her front porch when she smelled smoke. At first she thought it was her dinner burning in the oven, but knew it was more serious after opening the front door of her house.
“The fire marshal told me that it was my drier in the basement, which wasn’t even on,” Raynes told ALXnow. “The biggest problem is that the structural integrity of the house is compromised, because the cross beams on the main level are charred. It looks like I will have to tear down to foundation and rebuild.”
Raynes’ 10-year-old son was not home at the time, and their 16-year-old cat died in the fire.
Within 48 hours, the Del Ray Business Association organized a GoFundMe campaign for Raynes that has since raised more than $11,000.
“Thankfully, Lee and her 10-year-old son are both safe,” the DRBA said. “However, Lee left the house with only the clothes on her back; the family lost their cat in the fire; and their home suffered significant damage in the floorboards on the main level and smoke damage on the third floor… We are in awe of Lee’s constant upbeat attitude despite everything 2020 has thrown at her.”
Raynes said she’s looking at silver linings.
“This community raised $10,000 in less than 12 hours, and I don’t even know 75% of people on that list,” she said. “It’s been very humbling. I started my store to help the community and to feel like they have a village, and it’s me who’s now thriving from the village.”
NOTIFICATION :: The 2600 block of Randolph Avenue and cross streets are closed due to a structure fire. Please avoid the area and watch for police direction. Expect police and fire personnel in the area. @AlexandriaVAFD
— Alexandria Police (@AlexandriaVAPD) September 12, 2020
A candle that fell on a bed has left nine residents and three animals displaced from a West End apartment building.
The Alexandria Fire Department was called on Tuesday night to an apartment building in the 4700 block of West Braddock Road at 10:40 p.m. on Tuesday (Sept. 15), and quickly extinguished a fire in a second floor bedroom.
“The unit where the fire originated was condemned due to fire and water damage, and residents were able to find alternative accommodations,” AFD reported in a news release. “An adjacent unit was also condemned due to water and overhaul damage, and the Red Cross assisted the residents in finding alternative accommodations.”
The fire caused an estimated $75,000 in damage, according to AFD.
A West End apartment fire on Tuesday night displaced 9 residents and 3 pets. Upon arrival, crews discovered fire in a bedroom of an apartment on the second level of the building. https://t.co/mLrp05aBa6
— Alexandria Fire-EMS (@AlexandriaVAFD) September 17, 2020
Beyer Condemns Trump for Coronavirus Statement on Blue States— “This is quite simply one of the most appalling and inhuman statements ever uttered by an American President.” [Twitter]
Chewish Deli Set to Open First Permanent Location — “When Linzey stumbled upon the Pendleton Carryout Co. space for sale this summer at 807 Pendleton St., he wasn’t exactly looking for a store location. But, Linzey knew that if a spot in Old Town ever opened up, he would want to take it.” [Alexandria Living]
Alexandria EMS Captain Appointed to State Board — “EMS Captain Lisa Simba was recently appointed to the State EMS Advisory Board by Gov. Ralph Northam. Capt. Simba has been with AFD for more than 30 years.” [Twitter]
Art League Offering Online Classes — “All skill levels are welcome. Select from more than 50 classes.and workshops. They range from basic painting and drawing instruction to computer-based digital illustration and GIF creation. Classes meet via Zoom. In between sessions, students can stay in touch through Google Classroom or by email. And because classes are virtual, students do not have to be in the Alexandria area to participate.” [Zebra]
Today’s Weather — During the day, cloudy with occasional showers. High 74F. Winds S at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 70%. At night, periods of rain. Low 63F. Winds ENE at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 90%. Rainfall near a half an inch.” [Weather.com]
New Job: Foundation Relations Manager — “Supports the National Military Family Association Development department in the development and implementation of a comprehensive foundation grants development program.” [Indeed]
There are no injuries after a two-alarm fire that displaced a family in Old Town early on Wednesday morning (September 16).
Traffic was briefly closed around the three-level home in the 600 block of South St. Asaph Street. Responding units arrived at around 6 a.m. and found the family safely outside their home and saw “heavy fire at the rear of the building near the roofline,” according to Alexandria Fire Department spokeswoman Raytevia Evans.
“Firefighters were unsure if the fire was in the rear or in the attic, so they did a complete 360 and found the fire in a third story addition,” Evans said. “Within 10 minutes crews made entry and completely extinguished the fire. The residents were outside the home when we arrived, and they confirmed that their smoke alarms went off at the time of the incident. “
The home was heavily damaged by smoke and fire, and the roof of one neighboring home was damaged. The family is currently displaced and made their own arrangements, Evans said.
Fire investigators are at the scene determining the cause and origin of the fire.
NOTIFICATION :: The 600 block of S St. Asaph St is closed due to a structure fire. Several intersections are closed including Gibbon St & S Washington St and S St Asaph St & Franklin St. Expect police and fire personnel in the area. @AlexandriaVAFD
— Alexandria Police (@AlexandriaVAPD) September 16, 2020
Four more COVID-19 deaths have been reported in Alexandria, bringing the death toll from the virus to 66. Three of the deaths occurred last month, and the most recent casualty was reported today by the Virginia Department of Health.
Three of the fatalities occurred in August and went unreported for a month until a periodic review of vital records, according to the city.
There are now or have been 3,628 cases and 305 hospitalizations in the city since the first case was reported on March 11.
Demographic, Age and Sex Breakdown
Latino residents are the hardest hit with 1,704 reported cases, followed by Black residents with 743 cases, white residents with 705 cases, Asian or Pacific Islander residents with 130 cases, 83 cases classified as “other” and four native American cases.
There are or have been 1,885 women (with 34 deaths) and 1,731 men (with 32 deaths) in Alexandria with the virus. The only age group that has not experienced a death so far are children and teenagers.
- 80+ — 29 deaths, 116 cases
- 70-79 — 19 deaths, 128 cases
- 60-69 — Three deaths, 276 cases
- 50-59 — 12 deaths, 459 cases
- 40-49 — One death, 640 cases
- 30-39 — One death, 847 cases
- 20-29 — One death, 667 cases
- 10-19 — Zero deaths, 259 cases
- 0-9 — Zero deaths, 225 cases
There have also been 35,474 (polymerase chain reaction) tests administered in the city so far, 4,462 antibody tests and the city’s seven-day positivity rate is now at 5.2% and stands behind Arlington County.
- Arlington County has 3,779 cases, 146 deaths and a 3.8% seven-day positivity rate
- Fairfax County has 20,035 cases, 585 deaths and a 6.3% seven-day positivity rate
- Loudoun County has 6,532 cases, 119 deaths and a 8.3% seven-day positivity rate
Beyer Says Trump Supported Murder of Portland Protestor — “In televised comments yesterday Donald Trump called for extrajudicial murder and later expressed his desire to remain in office past term limits imposed by the Constitution. Today members of the party that supposedly backs ‘limited government’ pretend not to know what he said.” [Twitter]
Second Round of Business Grants Available — “Applications for a second round of Alexandria Back to Business grants will begin Sept. 30 for qualifying small businesses and nonprofits to offset costs related to reopening or rescaling.” [Twitter]
Free COVID-19 Testing Today in Alexandria — “Free COVID-19 testing in Alexandria,VA on September 16, 2020.Please read flyer for more details. [Twitter]
Braddock West Developers Seek Community Input — “During their presentation, the team behind Braddock West provided details of their proposed plan for the lot located at 727 N. West St. directly across the street from the Braddock Road Metro Station. They intend to tear down 10 existing single-family homes and replace them with a 7 story residential building with retail space on the ground level and an underground parking garage.” [Alexandria Living]
Lena’s Wood Fired Pizza and Tap Selling Kits for National Pizza Day — “On Sept. 20 only, Lena’s will offer their Family DIY Pepperoni Pizza Kit for families to make together at home to celebrate the holiday commemorating this crowd-pleasing favorite food. The kit is available for take-out or delivery via LenasWoodfire.com.” [LenasWoodFire.com]
Today’s Weather — “During the day, a mainly sunny sky. High 77F. Winds S at 5 to 10 mph. At night, a few clouds from time to time. Low 62F. Winds light and variable.” [Weather.com]
New Job: Police Officer — “It’s your lucky day! APD has added new dates for police tests: 9/22 at 5 PM, 9/26 at 9AM, and 9/26 at 12PM. You must register in advance Bring your drivers license and a second original ID- US passport, social security card or birth certificate.” [Twitter]
New Job: Part Time Office Assistant — “Del Ray Artisans nonprofit is seeking an Office Assistant. This is a paid position for 12 hours per week, with a set schedule (Thursday and Friday 12-6pm). Position entails assisting the Office Manager with general office work with emphasis on organizational skills. Working knowledge of Microsoft Office / Google Docs required in an all-Mac OS environment. Del Ray Artisans strictly follows the ALX Promise Program, keeping visitors and staff safe during this pandemic.” [Facebook]
The ongoing exterior renovations at Alexandria’s City Hall should be wrapped up by the end of October, and now staff are thinking about the future of the building’s interior.
For the last several weeks there has been scaffolding at City Hall, which has been all part of a $900,000 exterior renovation, which includes dozens of new double-glazed windows, painting and other small repairs.
“We are targeting Halloween for the conclusion of the exterior work,” Bill Miner, the city’s division chief of capital projects told ALXnow. “You want to finish it before the winter months come, because you can’t really do a lot with brick and stone once the weather gets too cold.”
The renovation of City Hall has been an ongoing project since 2014, and is slated to be completely renovated in 2025. In a staff report that was released to City Council last year, the city manager’s office said that the building needs “major updates and repairs.”
“The building is crowded, and space is inadequate for workplace activities,” according to the report. “Office spaces do not reflect the image of a vibrant, efficient workplace.”
The interior renovation, which will cost $80-$100 million, is currently being planned as the pandemic has left the city with few options but to spread out and use space more efficiently. Approximately 80% of city staff are still teleworking from home, Miner said, and each office has been told to have a minimum of two employees in the building.
“This building needs a total rework, but funding comes in chunks,” Miner said.
City hall was built in 1873 and saw its first major renovations in the 1940s and 1950s. There were additions in the 1960s and then another renovation in the 1980s. The most recent interior work has largely been structural, with repairs made to the building’s tower and smokestack, which were damaged by a small earthquake in 2011. There were also immediate repairs made to the roof of the building and trusses in the attic above Council Chambers.
“There’s been some modifications related to COVID,” Miner said. “The world changed, and with that the interior planning strategies have changed. The whole design industry is rethinking and revising the way office interiors are laid out, short term and long term. So, a lot of what we have planned in terms of interior renovations within the home we are now rethinking in light of COVID protection.”
A 33-year-old man was struck by a bullet as he was driving in the 4600 block of W. Braddock Road early on Sunday evening.
The shooting occurred at around 5 p.m., and the victim was shot by a suspect in a vehicle driving in the same direction, according to police.
“The driver and victim was struck by a bullet and was transferred to a local hospital with non-life threatening injuries,” Alexandria Police spokesman Lt. Courtney Ballantine told ALXnow.
The incident occurred not far from a shooting incident that occurred on August 17. It is near Interstate 395, the Southern Towers apartment complex and a number of businesses.
The incident occurred about a mile-and-a-half from a residential community where the city’s first murder was committed at the end of July.
NOTIFICATION :: The Alexandria Police Department is investigating a felonious assault call for service in the area of West Braddock Road and Van Dorn Street. Expect police activity in the area.
— Alexandria Police (@AlexandriaVAPD) September 13, 2020
Mayor: Council to Accelerate Sewer Capacity Projects — “Our ’16 Storm Sewer Capacity Analysis identified 90 areas where the system does not meet our CURRENT design standard of a 10-year storm. Our Stormwater Utility Fee was implemented in ’18 to fund capacity and environmental compliance. Council will now discuss how to accelerate.” [Facebook]
Beyer Attacks Trump’s Environmental Stance — “Trump’s climate change strategy is the same as his pandemic strategy: play it down and pretend it isn’t happening. There are a record number of named storms in the Atlantic and the west coast is on fire.” [Twitter]
Anonymous Donation Helps Expand SNAP Double Dollars Program — “A $10,000 anonymous donation to help fight food insecurity during the pandemic will help the City expand SNAP Double Dollars program, which allows SNAP customers who visit participating Alexandria farmers’ markets to receive up to $20 in double dollars to purchase eligible food products at the markets.” [Facebook]
Environmental Council of Alexandria Decries Taylor Run Restoration Plan — “We’ve got our work cut out for us to make sure that the City doesn’t continue to promote so-called “eco” policies that actually come at the expense of the environment and efforts to reverse global warming.” [Facebook]
Tall Ship Providence Sails Away for Inspections — “And, they’re off… Bright and early this morning, Providence headed out on a voyage to Georgetown, MD for a scheduled haul out and Coast Guard inspection. They’ll inspect the hull, complete any necessary maintenance, and she’ll get a new coat of bottom paint. Please join us in wishing our Captain and crew “Fair winds and following seas.” Providence will return home by the end of September. We look forward to welcoming you back aboard for tours and cruises!” [Facebook]
Classic Car Show in Old Town September 19 — “This Saturday you can head to the parking lot of the Alexandria History Museum at The Lyceum for a classic car show featuring a variety of Packards and other ‘orphan’ vehicles.” [Zebra]
Today’s Weather — “During the day, mainly sunny. High 73F. Winds NE at 5 to 10 mph. At night, clear. Low 54F. Winds light and variable.” [Weather.com]
New Job: Spanish Language Teacher — “You must have previous tutoring/teaching experience, and minimum Bachelor’s degree.” [Indeed]
Alexandria has seen an increase of 86 cases since this time last week, and the city’s seven-day positivity rate is no longer the lowest in the region, according to the Virginia Department of Health.
There have been 62 deaths in the city due to the virus (unchanged since last week) and there are or have been 3,613 cases of coronavirus in the city since the first case was reported on March 11.
There have also been 34,982 (polymerase chain reaction) tests administered in the city so far, 4,442 antibody tests and the city’s seven-day positivity rate jumped from being the lowest in the region at 4.3% to 5.8% and stands behind Arlington County.
- Arlington County has 3,741 cases, 145 deaths and a 3.8% seven-day positivity rate
- Fairfax County has 19,854 cases, 582 deaths and a 6.1% seven-day positivity rate
- Loudoun County has 6,449 cases, 118 deaths and a 8.0% seven-day positivity rate.
“The City of Alexandria and the Alexandria Health Department (AHD) remind everyone that you are safest at home,” according to a city news release. “Older adults and persons with underlying medical conditions are at greater risk for severe disease and are advised to minimize potential exposures as much as possible.”
Demographic, Age and Sex Breakdown
Latino residents are the hardest hit with 1,702 reported cases, followed by Black residents with 738 cases, white residents with 698 cases, Asian or Pacific Islander residents with 129 cases, 82 cases classified as “other” and three native American cases.
There are or have been 1,881 women (with 34 deaths) and 1,721 men (with 28 deaths) in Alexandria with the virus.
- 80+ — 27 deaths, 116 cases
- 70-79 — 18 deaths, 126 cases
- 60-69 — Three deaths, 276 cases
- 50-59 — 12 deaths, 457 cases
- 40-49 — Zero deaths, 637 cases
- 30-39 — Zero deaths, 841 cases
- 20-29 — One death, 666 cases
- 10-19 — Zero deaths, 258 cases
- 0-9 — Zero deaths, 225 cases
Cases By ZIP Code
The areas of the city with the leading number of cases are the 22304, 22305 and 22312 ZIP codes, which include the West End and Arlandria, Potomac Yard and Potomac West neighborhoods.
Some of the areas share jurisdictions between Alexandria and Arlington and Fairfax Counties:
- 22301 — 132 cases, 2,820 people tested (Estimated population 15,171)
- 22302 — 379 cases, 5,016 people tested (Estimated population 20,238)
- 22304 — 1,113 cases, 10,592 people tested (Estimated population 54,003)
- 22305 — 751 cases, 4,445 people tested (Estimated population 16,095)
- 22311 — 661 cases, 5,393 people tested (Estimated population 16,898)
- 22312 — 946 cases, 6,369 people tested (Estimated population 6,901)
- 22314 — 360 cases, 6,713 people tested (Estimated population 47,826)
Photo via CDC/Unsplash
The Alexandria City Council on Saturday passed an ordinance requiring everyone in the city to wear a face mask in public.
The measure passed 5-2, and a $100 civil penalty for not wearing a mask was removed from the ordinance before passage after it was universally agreed at the meeting by council and city staff that it will not be enforceable. The city manager must now designate city staff to hand out masks and citations to lawbreakers.
The ordinance will go into effect on October 1 and expire when Alexandria’s local emergency declaration ends.
“I think it’s good in the sense that it signals our intent to the community,” City Councilman Mo Seifeldein said. “I did not think this is actually going to be enforced at all, but there there are many laws or ordinances that have binds that are not enforced because we use our discretion and common sense me since in doing them.”
City Councilman Canek Aguirre and Councilwoman Del Pepper voted against the mask ordinance. Aguirre said that the matter was never brought forward to council by The Partnership For A Healthier Alexandria, the Public Health Advisory Commission, Neighborhood Health or the Inova hospital system.
“I’m in opposition to this,” Aguirre said. “I strongly feel that an ordinance is not the way to go, especially when there’s absolutely no way to enforce this.”
A number of city residents spoke against the ordinance.
“I come to you as someone who’s already been physically assaulted by two men for requiring them wearing face masks in my business,” said Alan Pounders, who runs a restaurant along the waterfront. “Myself and my staff, we’ve been verbally assaulted over this on almost a daily basis.”
There are exceptions. Children under the age of 10 will not be required to wear a mask, nor will people with disabilities that can’t wear them for health reasons and athletes falling within the governor’s executive order on COVID-19 restrictions.
There are 62 COVID-related fatalities and there are now or have been 3,613 cases of COVID-19 in Alexandria, according to the Virginia Department of Health.
A 32-year-old Alexandria man faces 10 years behind bars for allegedly possessing child pornography from 2016 to 2018.
Sean Michael McLaughlin, a registered nurse at Virginia Hospital Center at the time of his arrest last October, was convicted in federal court of child porn possession on September 11. According to court records, McLaughlin downloaded videos with prepubescent children “engaging in sexual activity” and being restrained with bondage and being sexually assaulted by adults.
“McLaughlin admitted to repeatedly searching for, downloading, viewing, and possessing child pornography,” according to the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia’s office.
The videos were downloaded on the eDonkey2000 peer-to-peer network, according to a search warrant affidavit. The first videos were downloaded in 2017 from McLaughlin’s mother’s house, according to the affidavit.
“McLaughlin stated that after he downloads the material he deletes the files and then uninstalls the program,” the affidavit noted. “McLaughlin estimated that he had downloaded 50 videos that contained child sexual exploitation material in the past year.”
McLaughlin will be sentenced on January 20, 2021.