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The proposed scoreboard at the Kelley Cares Miracle Field outside the Nannie J. Lee Memorial Recreation Center at 1108 Jefferson Street (via City of Alexandria)

A local nonprofit is donating a $50,000 scoreboard at the Kelley Cares Miracle Field outside the Nannie J. Lee Memorial Recreation Center in Old Town.

The scoreboard is a gift to the city from the Miracle League of Alexandria and it will be presented to City Council for approval on April 2. Additionally, the $3,000 installation for the scoreboard’s support beams is being donated by the Simpson Development Company.

MLA built the synthetic baseball diamond in partnership with the Kelley Cares Foundation in 2012. The field is next to the Ruthanne Lodato Memorial Playground for people with special needs.

Kelley Cares Miracle Field is named in honor of Kelley Swanson, a T.C. Williams High School student who died after a graduation trip in 2005.

The scoreboard was paid for by Sheri and Mark Jessell in honor of their 18-year-old son, Dan, who loved baseball and died in 2018, and Sheri Jessell’s sister, Loey Seligman, who died in 2020.

“The scoreboard will enhance the experience for players in the Miracle League, as well as for others who use the field,” MLA Board Chair Mac Slover wrote in a letter to the city. “The scoreboard will be installed beyond the right field fence and will be 10-feet-wide and 16-feet-tall. It will be raised another six feet so that it can be above the sightlines of the existing fence.”

The Jessell family lives in Florida and were inspired to donate to the Alexandria nonprofit after seeing an MLA video. At first, MLA received a $50 donation from the Jessell family in last year’s Spring2ACTion fundraiser, and after corresponding with the family, Slover was informed months later that the family wanted to make a substantial donation.

“In 2020, we had done a video about how much we missed our players because of Covid, and it brought her (Sheri Jessell) to tears,” Slover said. “She and her family wanted to donate $50,000, and we were able to get the scoreboard, which has been a dream of mine since we built the field in 2012.”

Slover wants to install the scoreboard in August and dedicate it in early September.

Don Dinan (center) with Pat Malone (on left) and Brian Malone on opening day at Nationals Park in 2018 (courtesy photo)

Don Dinan, the cofounder of the Alexandria Aces summer collegiate baseball team, died after a period of declining health on Monday. He was 74.

A D.C. resident, Donald Robert Dinan spent decades as an international trade and intellectual property attorney. He was born in Nashua, New Hampshire, and was raised in Ellicott City, Maryland, and met his future wife Amy at Mt. St. Joseph High School in Baltimore. Dinan earned degrees from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania in 1971, Georgetown University Law Center in 1974, and the London School of Economics in 1975. In addition to being a practicing attorney, for 30 years he taught a course in international trade law at Georgetown University.

Dinan was active in local politics, volunteering as president of D.C.’s Ward 6 Democrats and as General Counsel for the D.C. Democratic State Committee. He also represented D.C. as a superdelegate at three Democratic National Conventions and served on the DNC’s rules and bylaws subcommittee.

In 2006, Dinan founded the Alexandria Aces with Alexandria’s Pat Malone and was the executive director of the nonprofit for more than a decade.

“Without Don there would be no Alexandria Aces,” Malone said. “He was an amazing guy, the kind of person you could call up any time to pick up a conversation that you’d had with him weeks before.”

Malone said that Dinan contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars toward the Aces, and that he’ll be thinking of him at the first Aces game this summer.

“Losing Don is a gut punch for me personally,” Malone said. “He loved Alexandria and being a part of the community with the Aces. It was his pride and joy. He bought all the equipment for the team, and he paid for the dugouts. The dugouts at Frank Mann Field are 55-feet-long. They’re huge, and he paid for them.”

Dinan is survived by his wife, his daughter Emma Ellenrieder and her husband, Matthias, his siblings James Dinan and his wife Elizabeth Miller, William Dinan, Mary Anne Dinan and Barbara Guiltinan with her husband Edward.

A visitation will be held at DeVol Funeral Home (2222 Wisconsin Avenue, NW) from 2 to 4 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 11. A mass will be celebrated in his honor at St. Peter’s Church in D.C. (313 2nd Street, SE) on Monday, Feb. 12 at 9:30 a.m., followed by an internment at Congressional Cemetery (1801 E Street, SE). Dinan’s family asks in lieu of flowers that donations be made in his name to Mount St. Joseph High School in Baltimore, or to The Society to Preserve H.L. Mencken’s Legacy.

Del Ray residents form a chain around a tree in Eugene Simpson Stadium Park in Del Ray, June 22, 2023 (staff photo by James Cullum)

A number of Del Ray residents locked arms around an oak tree slated for removal at Eugene Simpson Stadium Park in Del Ray on Wednesday, only days after City Council approved a plan to renovate the park.

Gisele McAuliffe, a 30-year Del Ray resident, says that the city’s approved plan to renovate the park will come at too great a cost — the removal of 40 trees. The age of the trees is in dispute, as the city says the oldest trees on the property were planted in the 1940s, while McAuliffe and her friends measured the trees and claim they are upward of 100 years old.

“The reason for tearing down these beautiful trees is that they want to expand parking and put in bleachers,” McAuliffe said. “A park that has to accommodate cars when there’s plenty of street parking and other parking in the area just doesn’t make sense.”

The approved plan calls for the removal of 41 trees around the 16-acre property to make way for an expanded parking lot, new lighting and pedestrian improvements. The city says that there is no chance for the trees slated for removal to be saved.

“To mitigate the 41 trees being removed, the City is planting of 110 native trees and over 350 shrubs,” Jack Browand, the city’s deputy director of Parks Services. “The design doubles the total tree canopy currently in the park.”

The land for Simpson Park was donated to the city in the 1940s and the two baseball fields at the park were built in 1953.

“The City has not identified a tree that is reportedly 150 years old,” Browand said. “Historical area photos show at least back to the late 40s, the site was primarily open space with an informal baseball field.”

The new trees, combined with the trees that will be preserved, will provide 25.3% crown coverage within the site area, meeting the 25% minimum requirement and doubling the amount of 12% of crown coverage that exists today, according to the city.

The approved plan for Eugene Simpson Stadium Park in Del Ray (via City of Alexandria)

Sharp words are being batted around Alexandria, as the fifth annual Del Ray vs. Old Town Softball Battle is intended to settle a few scores.

Thursday’s contest pits a number of Old Town businesses against neighborhood rival Del Ray, and the series is tied at two apiece. Del Ray won the first year, followed by two consecutive Old Town wins, and then Del Ray took back the John Porter cup in a win last year. The cup, which was created by Old Town metal artist Chris Earny, now sits behind the bar of Pork Barrel BBQ, which is owned by Del Ray’s coach Bill Blackburn.

Mayor Justin Wilson will throw out the first pitch at 6 p.m. at Little Simpson Field (426 E. Monroe Avenue), and City Manager Jim Parajon and retired Sheriff Dana Lawhorne will be the umpires.

Chadwicks owner Trae Lamond is the Old Town coach, and says that his team doesn’t need to practice.

“We don’t need to practice to beat Bill and the softies in Del Ray,” Lamond said. “I know they’ve probably been brushing up on their yoga. We’ve been eating steak and bullets and gunpowder and we’re ready to win.”

Blackburn is questioning whether the former sheriff is a fair umpire after being spotted eating at Chadwicks on Mother’s Day with his family.

“I have some people in Old Town who said they saw Trae Lamond treat Dana Lawhorne to a Mother’s Day brunch,” Blackburn said. “I don’t know if Dana paid, but I question the integrity of an umpire who’s eating at a participating restaurant. I don’t know if anything improper happened, but knowing Trae I wouldn’t be surprised.”

Lawhorne confirmed to ALXnow that he took his wife and family to Chadwicks, but insists that he got no special treatment.

“I will confirm that my family was at Chadwicks on Mother’s Day,” Lawhorne said. “But anybody who knows Linda (Lawhorne’s wife) knows that she would never allow me to not pay. By the way, if anyone thinks Bill Blackburn would ever offer me a free meal doesn’t know Bill very well. Bill wouldn’t comp his own mom on Mother’s Day.”

Lawhorne added, “You can always count on me to be fair and impartial, but you can also count on me throwing Bill Blackburn out of the game if he so much as raises an eyebrow in my direction. And don’t worry about my eyesight, either. This time I’ll remember to bring my glasses.”

Lamond said that Lawhorne must’ve paid for his meal with coupons, and that he is a “100% Del Ray guy,” and that “Bill knows it, I know it, everyone knows it.”

Proceeds from the game will benefit Alexandria Little League. The event will include food trucks, raffles to Old Town and Del Ray businesses and is sponsored by Yates Automotive, the Port City Brewing Company and Simpson Development Company.

Safe! An Old Town run. Old Town businesses beat Del Ray businesses in the third-ever Del Ray vs. Old Town Softball Battle at Simpson Field on June 30, 2021. (Courtesy Elijah Walter Griffin Sr/Griffin Vision Photography)

Among the changes being considered for Eugene Simpson Stadium Park is a refit of the field itself to take it from natural grass and dirt to astroturf.

Park enthusiasts typically have mixed feelings on astroturfing, but the change would make the park more usable in various weather conditions and comes as the city is facing a dire shortage of park space for various sports.

The change is part of a broader plan to upgrade the park, adding new trails across the park space, new bleachers, an expanded parking lot and more. The dog park at the field is also slated to undergo significant renovation, with construction on that project scheduled to start next spring.

The Park and Recreation Commission is scheduled to hold a virtual public hearing on Thursday, Nov. 18, to discuss the option to convert the two Eugene Simpson Stadium Park baseball fields to synthetic turf.


Morning Notes

Mayor and family attend Nats game canceled after shooting outside stadium Saturday — “We’re okay and on the Metro home, but baseball games should not be called because of a shooting. This is effed up and we all know it. We just don’t want to do anything about it.” [Twitter]

Intertribal Creatives Collective provides home for native artists — “Step into the new Intertribal Creatives Collective in Old Town Alexandria, and you’ll find yourself in a Western-style trading post with a touch of modern-day cool.” [Northern Virginia Magazine]

Internet cost assistance available for Alexandria residents — “Need help paying for internet access? The Emergency Broadband Benefit gives discounts up to $50/month for those eligible and discounts on computer/ tablet purchases.” [Twitter]

Today’s weather — “Cloudy skies early, followed by partial clearing. High 89F. Winds WSW at 5 to 10 mph… A few clouds (in the evening). Low 69F. Winds SSW at 5 to 10 mph.” []

New job: Nose model — “I am looking to hire someone to model her nose while rubbing it, picking it, and making silly faces. Must be 18.” [Indeed]


It was a quick week in Alexandria. Here’s the rundown.

With summer in full swing, three Alexandria athletes have made it on the U.S. Olympic Team — sprinter Noah Lyles, high-jumper Tynita Butts-Townsend and boxer Troy Isley.

In other sporting news, Old Town businesses beat Del Ray in a controversial softball game Wednesday, adding fuel to the fire of an intense rivalry.

It’s been super hot out lately, and the City urged caution and reminded residents to take advantage of special cooling centers.

On the COVID front, the city’s DASH bus service announced that one of its drivers passed away from complications from the virus.

Meanwhile, Mayor Justin Wilson believes that the city has met its 80% vaccination threshold, while Virginia Department of Health data says about 65% of residents over the age of 16 are partially vaccinated. The Alexandria Health Department, which just launched a COVID-19 test and vaccine pilot at T.C. Williams High School, says the data does not take into account city residents vaccinated in Washington, D.C., and Maryland.

It’s also July 4 weekend, and in this week’s poll we asked whether readers plan on traveling, with 67% of respondents voting to stay home, 27% opting to travel by car and just 6% traveling by air.

Important stories

Top stories

  1. Researchers call out shoddy craftsmanship in buried 18th century Alexandria ship
  2. Man suspected of raping 12-year-old stepdaughter in Landmark area flees to El Salvador
  3. Landmark Mall plan approved as Planning Commission demands better environmental considerations
  4. Alexandria leaders acknowledge serious security issues with elimination of school resource officer funding
  5. Shortened Alexandria Birthday celebration is still on for July 10
  6. Alexandria eyes bus rapid transit and bike lanes for Duke Street
  7. Parker-Gray tiny lot home moves forward with some unique challenges
  8. Alexandria woman dies after veering off road on Interstate 95
  9. City talks strategy on making Chirilagua/Arlandria neighborhood Amazon-proof
  10. UPDATE: Man taken into custody as West End apartment barricade situation ends peacefully
  11. BREAKING: California man arrested for West End murder, indicted with 16 others in massive racketeering conspiracy

Have a safe weekend!


Amid questionable calls and weather-related issues, Old Town businesses are claiming victory in Wednesday night’s softball battle against Del Ray.

Old Town Team Captain Trae Lamond of Chadwicks said his team won in a text message to ALXnow, and that he put the John Porter Cup in the trunk of his car after everyone scattered to avoid bad weather.

“We won,” Lamond told ALXnow. “The cup is ours.”

The score at the bottom of the fourth inning was 20-14 when storm clouds gathered, the wind picked up and the game was called at Little Simpson Field. The winner was still unclear for hours after the game, as Del Ray cried foul after being pitched a practice safety ball, or sponge ball, the entire first inning.

Old Town scored six runs in the first and Del Ray was scoreless for the first two innings.

Del Ray team captain Bill Blackburn of Pork Barrel BBQ initially said that the game was a no contest, since Old Town got four at-bats and his team only got three. He also said it was strange that the game was called not long after a home run by Del Ray’s Jesse O’Connell.

“The real injustice was for the fans of Alexandria, who lost out on what was shaping up to be the softball game of the century,” Blackburn said. “Del Ray was getting into a groove and was mounting a comeback to make up for the questionable ball issue in the first inning.”

Blackburn conceded after the umpire, Alexandria Sheriff Dana Lawhorne, called it for Old Town in a text to ALXnow.

“Blackburn is complaining because he couldn’t hit the ball over the fence on a little league field,” Lawhorne said, adding that the “sponge ball” incident was beyond his reach. “I don’t provide the balls. I just provide a fair and balanced judgement of the actions of the players.”

As previously reported, Del Ray won the first competition in 2018, Old Town won in 2019 and the contest was postponed in 2020.

The team rosters are below.

Old Town

Del Ray


  • Sam Youngblood
  • JoeMonroe Blackburn
  • Lily Youngblood

Courtesy Elijah Walter Griffin Sr/Griffin Vision Photography


Morning Notes

New Virginia laws on marijuana, death penalty take effect today — ” Virginia lawmakers voted earlier this year to end executions, marking a dramatic change in direction for a state that has executed the most people in the nation’s history. Only two men remain on death row in Virginia. Their sentences will be commuted to life in prison without parole. The state will also legalize simple possession of marijuana, effective July 1, and allow adults to grow up to four marijuana plants per household.” [Patch]

Rare bird visits Huntley Meadows Park — “A Roseate Spoonbill, which the Audubon Society describes as “gorgeous at a distance and bizarre up close,” landed in Huntley Meadows this week, drawing hundreds of local nature photographers. The bird is far from its normal home in Florida, Louisiana, Texas and other parts of the far Southeastern United States. No one is sure why this spoonbill came so far north, but a recent tropical storm in the Southeast may have sent many birds flying for safer locales.” [Alexandria Living]

New lights installed at Armistead Boothe Park — “The existing pole lights at Armistead Boothe Park’s tennis and basketball court were removed and replaced with a modern energy savings LED lighting system. Work started in June 2021 and is anticipated to be completed in mid-July 2021. Take a moment and check them out!” [Twitter]

Fire Department says fireworks are illegal and unsafe — “Did you know it’s illegal to use or sell any fireworks, including sparklers, in the city limits of Alexandria? Nationwide, fireworks cause thousands of injuries and fires each year, and 36% of those injured are under 15 years old.” [Twitter]

Today’s weather — “Scattered thunderstorms in the morning becoming more widespread in the afternoon. Storms may contain strong gusty winds. High 87F. Winds WSW at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 90%… Showers and thundershowers in the evening, then overcast overnight with occasional rain. Low 67F. Winds WSW at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 90%. Locally heavy rainfall possible.” []

New job: Temporary COVID POD flow staff — “Are you a hardworking individual who is eager to join our efforts to augment and expedite vaccinations in the community? Does your passion drive you to commit to a cause that could have a positive impact on many? If this is you, we invite you to apply to one of our temporary City of Alexandria Vaccination site opportunities.” [Indeed]


What was an intense week in Alexandria. Here is the rundown.

History was made, as the new marquees at Alexandria City High School and Naomi L. Brooks Elementary Schools were unveiled this week, and the name changes to T.C. Williams High School and Matthew Maury Elementary School will go into effect July 1. It’s a victory for civil rights, as the namesakes of both old schools had backgrounds steeped in racism. Maury was a Confederate leader and Williams was an ACPS superintendent who worked intently against racial integration.

City Manager Mark Jinks on Tuesday also announced his intention to retire at the end of the year. Jinks, who made the announcement to City Council, hinted to ALXnow last month that he was seeking retirement. Today (Friday, June 25) is also the last day for retiring Alexandria Police Chief Michael Brown, who will be moving to the West Coast to deal with family matters. Assistant Chief Don Hayes is taking over as acting chief until a national search narrows down a preferred candidate for the job.

Law enforcement events also dominated this week’s coverage. On Tuesday, first responders saved a woman experiencing a mental health crisis who was dangling perilously off the Monroe Avenue Bridge, followed by news Wednesday that a suspect was arrested for a West End murder along with 16 others in a massive racketeering conspiracy. On Thursday, a barricade situation in the West End ended peacefully.

In this week’s poll, when asked whether transit improvements would make residents more likely to take the bus, 48% said they don’t take the bus often and won’t likely change their habits; 38% said they don’t often take the bus, although transit improvements might change that; and 14% said that they already frequent the Metro and DASH bus systems.

Important stories

Top stories

  1. Alexandria woman dies after veering off road on Interstate 95
  2. Man suspected of raping 12-year-old stepdaughter in Landmark area flees to El Salvador
  3. JUST IN: Thieves break into more than 60 vehicles in West End
  4. JUST IN: Rarity as American Viper Rattlesnake found in Old Town
  5. Massive redevelopment of West End apartment building has neighbors worried about street parking impact
  6. UPDATE: Alexandria first responders save suicidal woman on Monroe Avenue Bridge
  7. City Council emphasizes marketing funding for Alexandria’s ‘Hot Girl Summer’
  8. Mother and boyfriend allegedly beaten by knife-wielding ex in Old Town North
  9. With eviction moratorium expiring, city pushes renters and landlords toward rental assistance
  10. Shortened Alexandria Birthday celebration is still on for July 10
  11. BREAKING: California man arrested for West End murder, indicted with 16 others in massive racketeering conspiracy

Have a safe weekend!


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