Volunteers needed for ACPS food distribution — “Kids should ask ‘What’s for lunch?’ not ‘Is there lunch?’ Help distribute two days worth of meals for @ACPSk12 students on Mondays, Wednesdays, or Fridays. Volunteers are needed for both mobile pop-ups and curbside locations.” [Twitter]
First half of real estate taxes due today — Real estate taxes can be received at City Hall until noon. [City of Alexandria]
Passionately Pets expands to treats and apparel — “Passionately Pets has been offering quality dog walking and petsitting services since Jenna Gotch founded the business 14 years ago. But it wasn’t until recently that Gotch added a line of branded pet products and tasty treats for cats and dogs.” [Alexandria Living]
Craft beer festival at Mount Vernon estate on July 19 and 20 — “Experience Mount Vernon after-hours and taste beers from across the region. Sample craft beer from local breweries, hear live music, and explore the historic area after hours. The Mansion will be closed during this event.” [Visit Alexandria]
Today’s weather — “Mostly sunny skies (during the day). High 81F. Winds NW at 10 to 15 mph… A few clouds from time to time (in the evening). Low 61F. Winds NW at 5 to 10 mph.” [Weather.com]
New job: Dog store manager — “We are a holistic doggie daycare, boarding, grooming and retail spot looking for a store supervisor. You will need to love dogs, and adhere to our holistic and natural approach to dog care. We offer only healthy food, supplements, as well as unique toys, gifts and other dog products.” [Indeed]
The final graduating class of T.C. Williams High School celebrated their final Titan victory Saturday morning, as 888 graduates were handed diplomas at Chinquapin Park.
Alexandria City Public Schools Superintendent Gregory Hutchings, Jr., said that the students have witnessed a profoundly difficult period, including COVID deaths, social unrest following the murder of George Floyd and the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.
“Remember to stand up for your beliefs, but do it with civility and civil discourse,” Hutchings said. “It takes time to build dialogue while understanding our differences. We can still be bold and we can still be courageous, while practicing kindness as the hallmark of our advocacy.”
With the pandemic winding down, the graduates were asked to look at the bigger picture.
“Always remember, the greatest tragedy is not death, but life without purpose,” said T.C. Black Student Union President Fina Osei-Owusu, who quoted both Myles Munroe and Mark Twain. “Because the two most important days of your life are the day you were born and the day you find out why. Every single one of you has been equipped with passion and created with a purpose… Your essential element is your purpose, and the very reason why you exist. It is what you’re here to fulfill. So, I asked all of you to look within.”
“It’s amazing to see how far we’ve come together,” Humphrey said.
This year, equity reared its lens on T.C., which is the largest high school in Virginia. The school is known around the world for the 2000 movie Remember the Titans, which focused on its 1971 state championship-winning varsity football team that found greatness by working through racial adversity. However, the school’s namesake, former ACPS Superintendent Thomas Chambliss Williams, was an ardent segregationist.
“What gives me hope is you,” school Principal Peter Balas told the sea of graduates in red, white and blue caps and gowns. “You have the voice and the means to change this world. You are Titans, and Titans rise up and take action. You’ve righted the wrongs of history and I know you won’t stop there.”
T.C. Williams High School graduated its first class in 1967, and will change its name to Alexandria City High School on July 1.
— Alexandria City Public Schools (@ACPSk12) June 12, 2021
Lining up and getting ready for the @TCWTitans Graduation!
— Justin Wilson (@justindotnet) June 12, 2021
ACPS wants input on how to spend COVID relief funds — “Feedback on use of the American Rescue Plan Act’s Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief can be provided through June 18, while the Equity for All Climate Survey is open through June 20.” [Patch]
Memorial bike ride Sunday at for bicyclist killed — “Join FABB’s memorial ride in honor of Fatima Del Carmen Alvarez Romero this Sunday, June 13, at 10:00 am at Huntington Metro kiss and ride lot. Ride to crash site for a moment of remembrance and to call for much-needed safety measures. Please wear white and bring signs.” [Twitter]
Karma Modern Indian Eyes Expansion into Old Town — “Karma Modern Indian, a Michelin-recognized destination for fine Indian cuisine in downtown Washington, D.C., is opening a sister restaurant in Alexandria. Dubbed Kismet Modern Indian, the restaurant will be at 111 N. Pitt St. and is set for a fall opening. The location was formerly home, for a short time, to BurgerFi and before that, Ireland’s Own. The late Pat Troy presided over the legendary spot for more than three decades.” [Alexandria Living]
Mayor Wilson named president of Virginia Transit Association — “VTA is a nonprofit corporation of transit professionals from public and private organizations; it includes transit systems from across the state, businesses that serve transit systems and local government officials and organizations concerned about transportation, mobility, affordable access to employment and quality of life issues.” [Zebra]
Alexandria to start nominating committee for collective bargaining labor relations administrator — “The City has been notified that each of the following groups are interested in having a representative on the nominating committee: American Federation of State; County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF); International Union of Police Associations (IUPA); and the Southern States Police Benevolent Association (PBA). To participate on the nominating committee, any employee organization interested in representing a bargaining unit must notify the City Manager by email at [email protected] by 5 p.m. on Wednesday, June 16.” [City of Alexandria]
West End Business Association hosting COVID meeting for restaurants — The Alexandria Health Department will update restaurant owners on how to open post-COVID. Homegrown Restaurant Group’s “Mango” Mike Anderson will also speak at the event, which will be held from noon to 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday, June 23, at Glory Days Grill. [Facebook]
Today’s weather — “Rain (during the day). High near 70F. Winds E at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 100%. Rainfall near a half an inch. Locally heavy rainfall possible… Rain early (in the evening)… then remaining cloudy with showers late. Low around 65F. Winds NE at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 70%.” [Weather.com]
New job: Dog daycare playroom attendant — “If you are a hard and reliable worker looking for a fun and rewarding job, we encourage you to apply. We are also offering a limited-time signing bonus to those who can reliably commit to the job for at least 4 months.” [Indeed]
Despite the unanimous vote of approval to install a new pool at the Alexandria City High School’s Minnie Howard campus, even the most positive of voices on City Council last night were lukewarm about how they got there.
The Council voted 7-0 in favor of setting aside $12 million in funding, down from $19 million proposed earlier, with Alexandria City Public Schools diverting some funding from a solar panel project.
Like a parent scolding his child for reckless spending, City Manager Mark Jinks warned that the pool proposal is coming in after the budget has already been approved.
“This is a project that is not in the CIP (Capital Improvement Program),” Jinks told Council. “When the School Board made its request, we all acknowledged that pool capacity needs to be expanded… my proposal is to renovate Chinquapin, change the depth of the pool, and shorten it slightly for the right competitive length.”
Jinks said this would allow the city government and ACPS to determine, at a later date, whether to put a pool in somewhere else with greater access — considering the proposed school would be just a few blocks away from the existing Chinquapin Park Recreation Center and Aquatics Facility (3210 King Street), the only other indoor aquatics center in the city.
Jinks also warned that diverting up-front funding from the solar panel projects and opting instead towards privatized sources of funding is a short term budget trick that doesn’t save money in the long term, because the business investing in those solar panels up-front will want that money back from output in the future.
“This is using money that was supposed to be used to buy solar panels and put that into the pot,” Jinks said. “It won’t save us money long-term. It’s a budget tactic that works in the short-term but doesn’t help long-term.”
ACPS would also, Jinks said, face an additional annual operating cost of $1-1.5 million and likely up to $5,000 in capital maintenance expenses. While some pools make some of that cost back in fees and being rented out for private events, Jinks says that complicates the idea that this pool is being funded with equity in mind.
Ultimately, the timing of Chinquapin’s announced closure for cleaning– from June 26-Sept. 6 — helped sway some on the City Council toward funding another pool. City Council member john Chapman said angry public emails have flooded in after the closure was announced.
“I do understand and do believe the city has a number of other priorities,” Chapman said. “If we are forced to push, we will push a pool out of the way like we have before. Whether revenues are down or another project that will require our more immediate attention… I’ve seen that be done. That’s what’s leaning me to support a pool. It’s not that this is the perfect thing. I’m not overly excited for the late addition… but I don’t see another tangible alternative to say ‘we’re not going to do one at Minnie Howard, but instead of that we’re going to do this.'”
Jinks said funding for the pool would come in large part from issuing general obligation bunds for a set amount of money, with the City putting its foot down and saying that’s as much as it will provide.
The move was met with praise from ACPS leadership.
“I am truly overjoyed and thankful with the unanimous vote from City Council to provide funding for the aquatics facility at the Minnie Howard Campus,” School Board member Jacinta Greene told ALXnow. “For far too long Alexandria’s aquatics facilities have not met the needs of our ACPS student athletes or the overall community. Now our swim teams will be able to practice and compete in their own regulation size pool and the community can benefit from an additional pool for aquatics activities.”
Photo via T.C. Williams High School/Facebook
The Scholarship Fund of Alexandria gave away a record $525,000 in college scholarships this year to 183 graduating seniors from T.C. Williams High School.
The nonprofit made the announcement this week after conducting a virtual ceremony to congratulate the awardees.
“We are so very proud of the next generation of nurses, doctors, business leaders, computer scientists, biologists, and professors who are heading off to college this fall thanks to the generosity of this community,”said SFA Executive Director Beth Lovain. “What I want to convey most is that in a year wrought with challenges, our Class of 2021 SFA Scholars have not only endured, but they have triumphed. They are truly ‘Generation Resilient.’ Through all of the adversity and through all of the challenges of COVID and 2021 they have remained poised and focused; their college dreams would not be pushed aside.”
SFA will also award $550,000 in renewal scholarships to help previous recipients from the 2018, 2019 and 2020 graduates who are now in college.
“I am so grateful and so honored to have been awarded a scholarship and I’m so proud of each and every one of you for being awarded one as well,” said Karam Burjas, T.C. senior class president. “I also want to give a big thank you to all of the donors and people who supported the Scholarship Fund of Alexandria this past year; without your gracious support none of this would’ve been possible.”
The nonprofit has awarded $17 million in scholarships since it was founded in 1986. Last year, SFA awarded $504,000 in scholarships to 181 graduating seniors, in addition to the $550,000 in renewal scholarships.
Photo via ACPS/Facebook
Alexandria City Public Schools will continue providing free meals this summer.
“Meals will be served on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays,” said Cynthia Hormel, the ACPS director of school nutrition services. “Each day, families will pick up two
days-worth of meals, with three on Friday to cover Saturday and Sunday.”
There will only be one holiday over the summer break — on July 5. Curbside breakfast and lunch deliveries and pop-up locations will be closed that day. The service will reopen on July 6 and all distribution sites will resume on July 7.
“Please know that if numbers drop at any ‘pop-up’ location at any point during the summer, we will re-evaluate continuing that service,” ACPS said on its website. “Families will be notified of changes.”
Hormel said free meals will be continued next school year, although the fate of curbside and pop-up distribution sites are yet to be determined.
“It is too early to say, but if there is an opportunity, we will continue to provide the (pop-up) service,” she said.
Hours of operation
- June 24 to July 2 — 7:30 a.m. to noon
- July 7 to July 30 — 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.
- August 2 to August 20 — 7:30 a.m. to noon
- Alexandria City High School (T.C. Williams High School)
- Francis C. Hammond Middle School
- Cora Kelly School for Math, Science and Technology
- William Ramsay Elementary School
- Jefferson-Houston PreK-8 IB School
Demolition complete at Douglas MacArthur Elementary School — “It’s official, the Douglas MacArthur Elementary School of old is now fully demolished, and we are on our way to a new building, opening January 2023! Watch the construction on the project website from Skanska: https://bit.ly/3bXgncs” [Facebook]
ACPS in early stages of developing safety plan without school resource officers — “Alexandria is not alone in re-evaluating its relationship between police and schools, but it is the only Northern Virginia jurisdiction to remove SROs from schools so far.” [Alexandria Living]
Alexandria Police Department reopens headquarters for public services — “Starting Tuesday, June 1, 2021, the lobby doors at Alexandria Police Department Headquarters are open for public access to services in the Property Section and Information Services Section (Records), as well as Public Fingerprinting services. At this time, everyone entering the building must wear a mask and check in with security staff at the front desk. The Information Services Section window will be open from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. On Wednesday, the window is open from 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Mail-in requests are still available as an alternative. Public Fingerprinting is now available on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.” [City of Alexandria]
Council candidate Kevin Harris signs pledge — On May 29, City Council candidate Kevin Harris signed the Alexandria Constituents’ Bill of Rights, joining former Mayor Allison Silberberg and Council candidates James Lewis, Bill Rossello, Florence King, Darryl Nirenberg, and Mark Leo Shiffer. [ALXnow]
Roy Rogers reopens at Belle View Shopping Center — “Located at 1506 Belle View Blvd., the restaurant closed in October 2019 following a devastating multi-alarm fire that spread along the roofline of the shopping center. An investigation by the Fairfax County Fire Marshal’s office determined that fire began in a walk-in cooler at Yido Ramen and Sushi, which had opened just days before.” [Alexandria Living]
Today’s weather — “Cloudy skies (during the day). High 82F. Winds S at 10 to 15 mph… Scattered showers and thunderstorms (in the evening). Low 66F. Winds SSE at 10 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 50%.” [Weather.com]
New job: Seasonal marina dock assistant — “The Seasonal Marina Dock Assistant works on the City’s Historic Waterfront at the City Marina. The City Marina provides for recreational and commercial boating operations while receiving more than 2,000,000 visitors annually. The Marina Dock Assistant performs journey-level tasks of more than ordinary difficulty and must be able to perform heavy physical labor safely and efficiently. This position works under the immediate supervision of a lead worker who lays out the details of each specific assignment and constantly checks the work in process and upon completion; or performs routine tasks independently after initial instruction. This position performs duties under the general supervision of the Dock Master and Assistant Dock Master. A candidate selected for this temporary part time position would be expected to work varying hours per week base on the business need, not to exceed 1500 hours per calendar year.” [Indeed]
With no more mayoral debates, now it all boils down to the Democratic primary on June 8.
Like the main event at a boxing match, Mayor Justin Wilson and former Mayor Allison Silberberg on Thursday night maneuvered through a series of questions in the final of four Seminary Ridge Civic Association candidate forums.
This is the final debate or forum for the two candidates until the June 8 Democratic primary.
Wilson is leading in fundraising and endorsements, while underdog Silberberg has gotten support from groups like the Bring Integrity Back to Alexandria Facebook page for agreeing on a number of its pet issues, including government transparency, reversing the Seminary Road Diet, and curbing developments.
Fifteen City Council candidates participated in the Seminary Ridge conversations, opining on density, affordable housing, government transparency, flooding, and, their opinions on making changes to the controversial Seminary Road Diet.
After a 4-3 Council vote in 2019, the road, which is next to Inova Alexandria Hospital, was reduced from four to two lanes in exchange for a center turn lane, bike lanes and sidewalks on both sides of the street, crosswalks and medians. A majority of Council candidates are now in favor of taking a look at bringing travel lanes back from two to four lanes on the 0.9 mile stretch of roadway between N. Quaker Lane and Howard Street.
Wilson said that he is in favor of tweaking the plan, although has been accused of ignoring the opposition of 13 civic associations.
“It’s unfortunately we couldn’t get everyone in the community on the same page on this issue,” Wilson said. “I believe the improvements that we made were good ones. I’m hopeful that in the future we can continue to tweak as necessary.”
Silberberg said she would restore the four lanes.
“This is a major arterial road that leads to our only hospital,” she said. “I’ve seen it and many residents have seen it and told me about it that they’ve seen ambulances stuck. I think we have a chance to right this wrong, and, of course, keep the pedestrian improvements, but I wouldn’t have voted for it and I will restore the travel lanes if I can get everyone together on that.”
Silberberg said she’s been saddened to hear reports of residents not trusting their government, and defended recently pledging herself to an accountability pledge labeled the Alexandria Constituents’ Bill of Rights. Silberberg lost to Wilson in the Democratic primary in 2018, and says that she worked 16 hours a day, seven days a week during her single term.
“I think they [City staff] should sign the pledge as well,” she said.
Silberberg also criticized the performance and six-figure salary of City Manager Mark Jinks.
“It is a lot of money, frankly. I brought this up (when mayor) but nobody agreed with me, but for the City Manager to have a car allowance. It sounds minor, but I don’t think we should have that for him. I think we should revise that.”
Wilson said that Jinks’ salary was in the middle of the pack when compared to the salaries of neighboring jurisdictions, and that he is appropriately paid given the organization that he runs.
Colocation of affordable housing
Wilson said he does not want to colocate affordable housing on the grounds of Alexandria City Public Schools, a position echoed by Silberberg on another controversial issue.
“I don’t support putting affordable housing on our existing school properties,” he said. “We need more instructional space.”
Silberberg said that the school system is bursting at the seams as it is.
“I would certainly support an ordinance to say no to putting housing on our limited school properties,” she said.
Wilson said that the city’s Environmental Policy Commission is full of “good science minds” that can look into the city’s stream restoration projects, including at Taylor Run, Strawberry Run and Lucky Run. Last month, Council opted to send aspects of the projects back to the drawing board in light of widespread public criticism.
Silberberg says that Alexandria has few forests left, and that she has long been opposed to the plans, as well as Wilson’s “unending pursuit of overbuilding”.
Transit lanes on Duke Street
Speaking of road diets, Wilson and Silberberg agreed that the Duke Street Transitway project should not result in fewer traffic lanes between Landmark Mall and the King Street-Old Town Metro station.
“I personally don’t think the volumes on Duke street would allow us to remove any traffic lanes on Duke Street,” Wilson said. “We’re gonna have a lot of community engagement to figure out the best alignment, as well as looking at the intersections to try to reduce some of the cut-through traffic that we see in a lot of our neighborhoods.”
The city is embarking on the public engagement part of the project next month.
On $60 million in federal COVID funding
Silberberg said that the nearly $60 million in COVID relief funds coming to the city should be handled carefully, and after all of last year’s flooding that the funds should be spent on stormwater infrastructure.
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime investment from the federal government, and we need to be extremely careful and good stewards of this money,” she said. “Think about what is mission critical. First and foremost, I think we clearly have to focus like a laser beam on this flooding, the sewage and stormwater flooding that’s attacking, and stalking, really, our residents every time it rains.”
Wilson said he’s proud to have led the city through the most significant public health crisis in a century, and that the city needs to invest more in the social, emotional and academic losses experienced by Alexandria children.
“We have an opportunity to make generational investments in our community around our infrastructure, around our facilities, around some of the systems around workforce development and things that are going to ultimately benefit our community for generations,” he said. “We got 1,300 suggestions from the community, and we’re going to be working in June and July to apply those suggestions in figuring out how to use that first tranche of money.”
Image via Seminary Ridge Civic Association/Zoom
James K. Polk Elementary School paraprofessional Nadine Brown dies — “It is with great sorrow and sadness that we share late Sunday night, our beloved Nadine Brown, Kindergarten and Special Education Para-Professional passed away. For years, she served as a one-on-one for one of our students; the two were inseparable and had a genuine love for each other. Ms. Brown was a loved and valued member of the JKP Family and knitted countless blankets and quilts for the staff. Ms. Brown exuded a very quiet demeanor, but she was a fighter and battled cancer for years. For years, she came to work ill and often said, ‘The kids inspire me, I need to be here.’ Ms. Brown was an inspiration to us all. She always brought joy and she will forever be in our hearts. We send our deepest condolences to her family and friends. Rest in peace, Ms. Brown.” [Facebook]
Community invited to meet two candidates for principal of John Adams Elementary School — “Parents and Community members are invited meet the two finalists for the position of principal via a Zoom virtual meeting on Thursday, May 27, 2021. You can submit your questions for the candidates via the online Q&A during the session. There will be a form for you to offer feedback after the session. The Zoom link and more information can be found on the John Adams Class Dojo page. Thank you for participating in this selection process.” [Facebook]
AHDC updates design of Seminary Road development — “Plans for new, affordable townhomes and condos are in the works for a development on Seminary Road.” [Alexandria Living]
Alexandria’s 43rd Annual Jazz Festival in Old Town Saturday is sold out — “Thanks for ordering! Remember, all guests must be on named the list to be admitted, including children. If you need to edit or amend your order at any time, please log into Eventbrite to make changes.” [Eventbrite]
Today’s weather — “Generally sunny (during the day). High 86F. Winds NW at 10 to 15 mph… A few clouds from time to time (in the evening). Low near 65F. Winds NE at 5 to 10 mph.” [Weather.com]
New job: Newspaper carrier with The Washington Post — “Looking for people interested in delivering newspapers in Alexandria, VA.” [Indeed]
Alexandria Black History Museum director speaks on anniversary of George Floyd’s murder — “Yes, there have been changes – Diversity and inclusion training are being taught in universities and the American workplace, some racists are being held accountable, corporations have promised new more transparent hiring procedures that would add African Americans to leadership positions, TV shows and advertisers have hired people of color in record numbers and The Oscars are not quite so #OscarsSoWhite anymore. All of this is meaningful, but it must be more than a quick fix. Everyone needs an ally, but being a true ally goes deeper than the protests. To be a real ally, you need to be there for the hard work, the messy work, and the unpleasant conversations about race and racism. You need to turn the mirror inward and make the personal changes that will help make your community a better place.” [Zebra]
Local chef appearing on FOX baking competition tonight — “Erinn Roth still can’t believe she was chosen to compete on FOX’s new baking competition show. ‘Crime Scene Kitchen’ premieres this Wednesday at 9 p.m. ET… The contestants are allowed to explore a kitchen that was recently used to bake a specific treat. They must use their baking skills and the clues left behind to determine what was baked and then they have two hours to recreate what they think it was. At the end of each episode, after two rounds, a team is eliminated.” [Alexandria Living]
Roy Rogers to reopen year and a half after Belle View Shopping Center fire — “The Roy Rogers in the Belle View Shopping Center will celebrate its long-awaited grand re-opening on June 1, the Mount Vernon Chamber of Commerce announced. Located at 1506 Belle View Blvd., the restaurant closed in October 2019 following a devastating multi-alarm fire that spread along the roofline of the shopping center. An investigation by the Fairfax County Fire Marshal’s office determined that fire began in a walk-in cooler at Yido Ramen and Sushi, which had opened just days before. [Alexandria Living]
Old Hat Bar opening delayed in Old Town by staffing challenges — “Residents eager to see Old Hat Bar open its doors in Old Town Alexandria will have to wait a little longer. The gastropub was set to open Friday, May 21 at 112 N. Saint Asaph Street, the former location of King Street Blues. But like other businesses in the food service industry, Old Hat Bar faces staffing challenges.” [Patch]
City to Host Town Hall on Anti-Asian Violence — The City of Alexandria invites the public to attend a virtual Asian-American Pacific Islander Heritage Month Town Hall, “Contextualizing Anti-Asian Violence in the Age of COVID,” on Thursday, May 27, at 7 p.m. The virtual panel discussion focuses on the wave of racial incidents and attacks directed toward Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The panel features Elisabeth Chan, Sue Jean Cho, John Min, and Alexander Purrugganan, faculty members of Northern Virginia Community College. Their presentation will be followed by an interactive question and answer session. The presentation is free, but attendees must register.” [City of Alexandria]
PHOTOS: Alexandria Fire Department train on the Potomac River — “Yesterday, some of our first responders participated in swift water boat operator training. #traineveryday #stayready” [Twitter]
Today’s weather — “Partly cloudy in the morning followed by scattered thunderstorms in the afternoon. Gusty winds and small hail are possible. High 93F. Winds SW at 10 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 40%… Scattered thunderstorms in the evening. Partly cloudy skies overnight. Low 68F. Winds WNW at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 40%.” [Weather.com]
New job: Crew at AMC Theatres — “AMC amazing. That’s the promise we deliver to nearly 35,000 associates, 240 million guests domestically, and 350 million guests worldwide each year. AMC has propelled industry innovation since 1920, and we continue to innovate by delivering premium sight and sound, new and improved food and beverage options, and diverse content in our state-of-the-art theatres.” [Indeed]