Alexandria, VA

Morning Notes

Beyer Calls Trump Most Corrupt President in History — “Congress has worked to stop their misconduct; I requested some of these Hatch Act investigations myself. But this administration’s abuses are so widespread that it’s hard to keep track of it all (hence this thread). Trump is the most openly corrupt President in history.” [Twitter]

Are You Eligible for the Grocery Store Gift Card Program? — “Individuals and families whose household incomes have been impacted by the pandemic may be eligible to receive grocery store gift cards in amounts ranging from $100-$400.” [Twitter]

African American Change-Makers Highlighted in New Alexandria Tours — “Alexandria is offering new tours, markers and more to lead residents and visitors through sites and stories highlighting African American change-makers that have shaped the history of Alexandria and the United States.” [Alexandria Living]

Former Delegate and Lawyer Bernie Cohen Dies — “Cohen, along with co-counsel Philip Hirschkop, argued before the U.S. Supreme Court in April 1967 that bans on interracial marriage were unconstitutional in the famous case ‘Loving v. Virginia.’ Two months later, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled in favor of Mildred and Richard Loving, striking down laws in 15 states that banned interracial marriage.” [Alex Times]

VeloCity Bike Co-op Celebrates 10th Anniversary —  “John Patterson and Christian Myers co-founded the community-based, volunteer-run bicycle shop in May 2010. The co-op is known for its community services including its Bicycle Scholarship Program, which helps low-income families obtain bicycles, and its “do it yourself” operations.” [Alex Times]

Today’s Weather— “Mostly cloudy skies early, then partly cloudy in the afternoon. Areas of patchy fog. High 76F. Winds SSE at 5 to 10 mph. Mostly clear skies (in the evening). Low around 60F. Winds light and variable.” [Weather.com]

New Job: Case Manager — “We are looking for a Case Manager to join our team working at a COVID-19 Isolation & Quarantine Shelter Site at the Holiday Inn Express & Suites! This is a a temporary position with the end date to be determined. The individual will work with clients who are quarantined or have the virus, though there will not be a lot of in person contact. This person will also spend some time at our shelter near Pentagon City Mall!” [Indeed]

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Virtual spin classes don’t work too well for Del Ray’s Ascend Cycle. Owner Kathryn Zajac says that her six-year-old indoor cycling and strength training studio is all about making an in-person connection, and that her expanded garage space in a former auto repair shop helps fit the bill.

“We have 11 bikes under cover, and any day it isn’t going to rain we have an additional four bikes,” Zajac told ALXnow. “There’s a lot of competition in the virtual space, so we opened in the garage to make people feel safe during this time and a part of a community.”

Ascend Cycle moved from her small studio at 2413 Mount Vernon Avenue in July to the 1,800 square foot building at 2903 Mount Vernon Avenue. The former home to Anthony’s Auto Center was built in the 1940s, and currently holds 11 socially distanced exercise bikes in an outdoor studio. If it’s not raining, Ascend has four additional bikes that can be put in the parking lot.

Zajac opened the studio as a pop-up, but the property owner abandoned redeveloping the site and Zajac expects to be there for at least a year.

“We used to pack in 25 people in an 800 square foot space,” Zajac said. “My commitment to the garage is really trying to evolve where I think fitness might have to go with more space between people.”

The 45-minute workouts have music playlists curated by the instructor, and riders can go upward of 15 miles.

“I find that riding hard on the bike and just turning up the music helps you deal with stress in a healthy way,” Zajac said. “You have to monitor how many social interactions you have, and there’s a lot of frustration anxiety. Exercise helps to combat those things.”

Zajac said that community support keeps Ascend Cycle spinning.

“I think there’s so much going on with the pandemic, with the political scene, with everything, that there are still these strong small businesses struggling to survive every day,” she said. “I tell them folks all the time when I’m teaching, thank you for being here. You guys are keeping the business alive.”

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Courtesy photos

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Todd Ketch has had a busy summer at his Pedego Electric Bikes shop in Old Town. Six months ago, he was worried that the pandemic was driving away too many locals and tourists, but that business has steadily gained speed as fewer of his customers are commuting to the office and want to get around town fast without parking issues.

“It’s been a busy summer, and I believe it will continue right into the fall,” Ketch told ALXnow. “It’s exhilarating, and fires off
those good endorphins in the brain. It’s addictive.”

Other stores, like Big Wheel Bikes, have seen demand increase so much over the last few months that there’s a waitlist for new bicycles.

Three models are available to buy and rent at Pedego, ranging in price and amenities. Prices range from $1,995 to $5,495 for bikes that can go up to 60 miles on a single charge (without pedaling) and travel at 20 miles per hour. One model can even be retrofitted to travel 28 miles per hour. A single rentals will cost $100 for the entire day, $70 for four hours or $40 for two hours.

Ketch, who is a licensed Pedego dealer and not a franchisee, has been in business at 210 N. Lee Street for two years. He’s a former lobbyist and government affairs executive who left the world of politics behind after getting back surgery and trying out a Pedego bike. He’s married with four children, lives in Woodbridge, and one day wants to move to Alexandria so that he can commute to work on one of his bikes.

“The dream is to open up additional locations in the not-to-distant future,” he said. “I’m very happy to have started here in Alexandria. It was the very right place to be and it’s got the right mix of residents and the proximity to Washington, D.C., and the trails and everything else that you want to have for this kind of a shop.”

Photo via Pedego/Facebook

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Morning Notes

Alexandria Woman Finds Missing $100K Lottery Ticket — “Four months ago she purchased a ticket using some of her favorite numbers, 2-14-15-17-21, and matched all five winning numbers on March 1, but she only just discovered that fact when she cleaned out her purse recently.” [Zebra]

Beyer Says Economic Warning Signs Troublesome — “It’s been a month since Senate Republicans cruelly allowed Americans’ enhanced unemployment benefits to expire amid a pandemic and economic crisis. Don’t be fooled by the stock market: millions of families are experiencing deep hardship. Warning signs for the economy abound.” [Twitter]

Mayor Gets Sneak Peek at ‘The Spire’ Affordable Housing Complex — “Great opportunity to check out AHC Affordable Housing’s latest housing project in the City under construction and arriving early next year. ‘The Spire’ will be 113 units serving 40% – 60% of Area Median Income.” [Facebook]

Ascend Cycle Wins Northern Virginia Magazine Award — “Did you hear?? We won the Best of NOVA: Cycling Studio 2020  ​We are SO excited to win this honor for a 3rd year in a row!” [Facebook]

Firefighters Raising Funds With Virtual Boot — “Ordinarily at this time of year, the men and women of Alexandria Firefighters, Inc. IAFF Local 2141 would be out around our community working to ‘Fill the Boot’ in support of Muscular Dystrophy Association. Join me in helping them Fill the ‘Virtual’ Boot this year!” [Facebook]

Volunteer Alexandria and Senior Services of Alexandria Need Help — “To meet the increased need due to COVID-19, Senior Services of Alexandria urgently needs 10 more volunteers to help deliver meals to local seniors. Volunteers are asked to commit to delivering meals once a week for three months.” [Facebook]

Today’s Weather — During the day, “Mainly sunny. High 88F. Winds WNW at 5 to 10 mph.” At night, “Partly cloudy. Low 73F. Winds SW at 5 to 10 mph.” [Weather.com]

New Job: Virginia Quality Mental Health Specialist — “ACPS serves as a Local Coordinator for the City of Alexandria and is a part of the VQ Northern region. The VQ Mental Health Specialist will increase caregivers/teachers/directors use of strategies and practices to promote the social emotional development of infants, toddlers, and preschool-aged children.” [TopSchoolJobs.com]

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Morning Notes

Beyer Calls Out Minority Leader for Post Office Tweet — “Trump admitted he was sabotaging the US Postal Service to stop people from voting in a televised interview on FoxNews. It was even on a channel you guys actually watch.” [Twitter]

Alexandria Now Has 3,165 Cases of COVID-19 — “The latest update from the City on COVID-19: Positive tests up 19 to 3,165 in the City 7-day Positivity Rate steady at 5.8% 0 new hospitalizations Still safer at home, wash hands, wear masks and support our essential workers.” [Twitter]

Local White Collar Workers Adapt to COVID-19 — “Greg Crist is a D.C. lobbyist who used to wear suits, and go to lunch, and spend his days taking meetings on the Hill, or in his nicely appointed office at 701 Pennsylvania Ave. Now that his office is closed because of the pandemic, Crist is a man who commutes a few hundred feet from his Alexandria, Va., home to his silver Audi, where he spends much of the day taking calls in the only place where the important people on the other end of the line cannot hear his toddler son scream.” [Washington Post]

Colin Powell Was Interviewed for a Documentary in Alexandria — “Secretary Colin Powell was interviewed at the Athenaeum for a segment in “Statecraft: The Bush 41 Team”, that recently aired on PBS.” [Facebook]

Velocity Bike Cooperative Donates Bikes to Community Lodgings — “We’d like to give a special thank you to Vélocity Bicycle Cooperative for donating 15 bicycles which were given to our summer program students. We’d also like to thank our Board member, Marty Devine, for donating new bike helmets, bike locks, and bike bells for all of our summer program students. With their bikes and safety gear, our students can enjoy safe and healthy fun outdoors this summer!” [Facebook]

‘Horses Ate My Dad’ and ‘Splendid Offensive’ Headlining School of Rock Show — “This is what happens when we let students come up with their own band names. We trust that no Dads were harmed in the creation of one of the band names.” [Facebook]

The Alexandria Sock Design Contest is On — “Your sock design could become the Official Sock of Alexandria, be manufactured and go on sale at the Old Town Sock Co. in Old Town this holiday season!” [Alexandria Living]

Alexandria Community Alliance Needs Volunteers to Pack Care Kits — “Help us deliver 250 Care Kits by the end of summer! We’re still accepting Cleaning, Toiletry, Baby Supply, and Basic Meal kits to provide high-demand essential items to families in need in Alexandria.” [Facebook]

Today’s Weather — Sunshine and clouds mixed. High 84F. Winds E at 5 to 10 mph. In the evening, a few clouds from time to time. A stray shower or thunderstorm is possible. Low 68F. Winds light and variable. [Weather.com]

New Job: Police Officer — “You’re awake too? Perfect timing to think about a new career as a police officer. APD is holding a police test THIS FRIDAY (8/21) at APD HQ (3600 Wheeler Ave) at 2PM and 5PM.” [Twitter]

New Job: Reconstruction Estimator — “Review and evaluate cost estimates, communicates with team members regarding new and current projects. Prepare estimates and cost in detail for all products, ensure timely completion of estimates and rebuild jobs, establish and maintain working relation with homeowners and adjusters.” [Indeed]

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The list of pivotal Alexandria women is long, and starting this weekend a new local nonprofit will lead the city in honoring the 100 year anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment.

Living Legend Pat Miller recently founded Alexandria Celebrates Women with the goal of honoring Alexandria’s women of the past, present and future.

“Great women, they never give up,” Miller told ALXnow. “Because if you can’t get it done one way you find another way to do it. That is exactly what happened with the suffragists. They never gave up, even when they were in jail.”

Women’s suffrage came to a head in 1917 when more than 70 women were jailed, beaten and force-fed at the Occoquan Workhouse. Reports of their severe treatment largely influenced the passage of the Amendment, including the story of Lucy Burns, who was force fed through her nose and spent a “Night of Terror” with her hands cuffed above her head.

“Their case was heard at the Alexandria courthouse, and the judge found that they had every right to protest and were released,” Miller said. “They went back to exactly what they had been doing, and they had the political momentum behind them.”

Alexandria Celebrates Women will lead a bike ride on Saturday, August 15. The free, family-friendly event will start at 7:30, 8:00 and or 8:30 a.m. to accommodate small groups of eight riders or fewer. The event will begin near the Office of Voter Registration and Elections (132 North Royal Street) in Old Town. The 14-mile route will go through trails and neighborhood streets.

The 19th Amendment passed on August 18, 1919, and at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, August 18, 2020, Mayor Justin Wilson will issue a city proclamation to mark the occasion in an outdoor ceremony at the Kate Waller Barrett Library. Barrett was a social and voting rights activist throughout her life and was the president of the National Council of Women.

Additionally, artists in the Torpedo Factory Art Center’s Studio 311 are creating an exhibit to honor the centennial, in addition to including a life-size historic picture of suffragists.

“When you just think about the women in the city, how many women head up a department and organization?” Miller said. “It’s overwhelming and we’re not honoring them, we’re not showing how much we appreciate what they do. That’s all changing.”

Courtesy image

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The update on the Transportation Master Plan Pedestrian and Bicycle Chapter wasn’t planned to coincide with a sudden uptick in bicycle ridership and walking around the city, but it could help explain why many Alexandrians exploring their local pedestrian/bike infrastructure might find it different than they remember.

An update prepared for the canceled June 17 Transportation Commission meeting shined some light on the progress the city has made since it a chapter specifically about that infrastructure was added to the city’s Transportation Master Plan in 2016. The primary goals the city laid out at the time were to improve safety, engineering, encouragement and education of bicycle and pedestrian facilities in Alexandria. The move corresponded with a push towards Vision Zero — a project that aims to eliminate all traffic deaths and serious injuries by 2028.

Data shows that crashes and fatalities for pedestrians have generally gone down over the last four years — though the numbers are low enough that it’s impossible to accurately extrapolate trends. Crashes have gone down from 69 in 2016 to 60 in 2019. Fatalities have gone from 4 to 2 in that same timeframe, though not with consistent year-after-year declines. The number of serious injuries has gone up from 6 to 8.

The city has added substantial new infrastructure, though.

“There has been a 43% increase in intersections with pedestrian countdown signals at crosswalks from 68% in 2016 to 97% as of the end of May 2020,” city staff said in the report. “Over 9,000 total linear feet of new sidewalk has been installed and over 1,600 linear feet of sidewalk have been upgraded with widened sidewalks or adjustments to provide improved access for wheelchair users since FY16. Approximately 1,300 linear feet of temporary, protected shared use path space was installed to fill the sidewalk gap on the #9 highest priority sidewalk on Seminary.”

The update also included information about progress made for off-street trails, though noting that flood damage has set back some of the city’s progress on that front.

“One additional off-street trail (a segment of Four Mile Run Trail leading to a future bridge) has been installed since plan adoption, bringing the citywide total to approximately 21 miles,” staff said in the report. “A new 150-foot pedestrian bridge was completed on the Four Mile Run trail that connects the Four Mile Run Wetlands Trail to the larger Four Mile Run trail network. The City suffered a setback with the July 2019 storms that severely damaged the trail and recent completion of a bridge connecting Holmes Run Parkway to N. Ripley Street as well as other bridges along Holmes Run. A 2021 budget request is made for the repair work.”

The report also notes the progress made for new bicycle infrastructure.

“Since 2016, 11.9 miles of shared lane mile markings and 11.4 miles of bike lane miles were installed making for a total of approximately 39 lane miles of on-street bicycle facilities,” staff said. “This is a nearly 46% increase in facilities since 2018.”

Staff photo by James Cullum

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If it has air in the tires, Charles Bennett Moore — owner of the Alexandria location for Big Wheel Bikes — has been selling it.

While businesses across Alexandria have been struggling to pull out of the pandemic, the last few months have been an unusual windfall for Old Town waterfront business Big Wheel Bikes (2 Prince Street).

“It was gangbusters in May and June,” Moore said. “We had quadruple our usual demand. The supply has dwindled to pretty much nothing. If you walk in, we have maybe a half a dozen bikes.”

It hasn’t just been bike sales, either. Moore said service requests have been increasing quicker than the shop can keep up.

“Service has increased tenfold,” Moore said. “We are just going crazy with service still. People are constantly dropping off bikes. That’s been sustaining us. I sold anything that had air in the tires.”

Outdoor bicycling, especially alone, has been cited as one of the healthier exercise activities — especially compared to the risks of an indoor gym.

The business stayed open through the pandemic and Moore said May was particularly busy. Moore said the store has sold half its collection of vintage bikes, usually just items of interest for collectors. Now there’s a waiting list for new bikes coming in.

“People don’t want to be cooped up indoors,” Moore said. “The season hit at the same time as COVID. People feel they can keep six-feet of distance on the bicycle. And with [many] gyms closed… it’s a perfect storm for the bike business”

It’s particularly a boon to the Alexandria Big Wheel Bikes location, which sits on a waterfront spot virtually surrounded by new development and density.

“With all this development and things changing, [this] probably helps to get a lease extension,” Moore said. “A lot of businesses aren’t staying open. So it’s been a good thing for us.”

Staff photo by Vernon Miles

 

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Morning Notes

Large Income Disparities in Alexandria — “White Alexandria is pulling in significantly more money than Hispanic workers and African Americans, according to numbers from the United States Census Bureau. A look at average income shows non-Hispanic whites make more than $85,000 a year. That’s more than three times the average income for Hispanic workers, $24,000, and more than twice the average income for black workers, $37,000.” [Gazette]

Water Taxi Returns to Old Town — “A face mask requirement and other safety measures are in place for the limited water taxi service.” [Patch]

Lee-Fendall House Museum & Garden Hosting Juneteenth Trivia Night — “It’s long been on our calendar to celebrate Juneteenth – marking the legal end of slavery in the United States on June 19th, 1865 – with a trivia night that explores African American culture. We hope you’ll join us on Zoom this Friday night for this special evening! Tickets are FREE, but an optional donation will be split between us, Carlyle House Historic Park, and ALIVE. Pre-registration at our Eventbrite page is required.” [Facebook]

NVTA Recommends Full Funding for Duke Street Transitway — “The Duke Street Transitway was the City of Alexandria’s only request to the NVTA and the cost is estimated at $87 million. Alexandria received $12 million already, so this funding request is for the remaining $75 million.” [Alexandria Living]

North Potomac Yard Virtual Meeting at 7 p.m. — “The Virginia Tech Foundation and JBG SMITH is hosting virtual community meetings to provide information on the design of the proposed buildings and site-wide updates.” [City of Alexandria]

Casa Chirilagua Hosting Fundraiser Sunday — “Casa Chirilagua is a local community nonprofit serving the Central American Latinx community in City of Alexandria zip code 22305 – a hot spot for COVID-19. Because of the health and economic conditions, demand for Casa Chirilagua’s services has become enormous.” [Facebook]

‘Ascend Cycle’ Hosting Virtual Pride Ride — “A $15 minimum donation is requested for this event. 100% of proceeds will be donated. Sign up for the ride online and we’ll text you the Zoom code before class!” [Facebook]

YMCA Reopens in Del Ray — “Your local YMCA at 420 East Monroe Avenue is back in business. It opened for the first time in months this past Monday, June 15, along with the Arlington location. The Y is following a phased approach to reopening so you will see differences when you visit.” [Zebra]

New Job: Assistant Center Manager — “Mathnasium is a highly dynamic and fast-paced and is known for the great care we take with our students and employees alike… We’re looking for an Assistant Center Manager to assist at both our Alexandria City and Mount Vernon centers. The pay range we’re offering is $16-$18/hour depending on center performance.” [Indeed]

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Morning Notes

Beyer Lauds Supreme Court LGBT Decision — “This is such a big step forward. Employers shouldn’t be able to fire people because of who they are or who they love. After a long and difficult struggle by activists and civil rights organization, an historic decision and a great moment for the country.” [Twitter]

Former Mayor Silberberg Marched in D.C. on Saturday — “All around me, there were poignant reminders of all that had transpired in this location in recent days and weeks — handmade signs attached to the remaining fence and bouquets of flowers. And then that evening, there was breaking news about another tragedy, this time in Atlanta. Heartbreaking.” [Facebook]

Twig Junior Auxiliary Donates $100K to Inova Alexandria Hospital — “The Twig Junior Auxiliary of Inova Alexandria Hospital presented a check for $100,000 to Dr. Rina Bansal for the Inova COVID-19 Emergency Preparedness Fund during a May 22 ceremony held outside the hospital’s entrance.” [Gazette]

Feed The Fight ALX Gives Out 5K Meals to Health Care Workers — “Thank you for your continued support, and please continue to follow us in the coming months on Instagram @FeedtheFightALX. We are so grateful to all of our hospital teams and restaurant partners.” [Facebook]

City Recycles 700 Tons of Glass in First Year of Recycling Program — “The City just hit the 1-year mark for the glass recycling program. In that time, 700 tons of glass (1,410,560 lbs) has been recycled through the purple can glass drop-off program. You crushed it Alexandria!” [Facebook]

‘Mind The Mat’ Owner Gets Creative During Pandemic — “I was trying to be this super-serious fitness instructor on camera, and it was not working.” [Washington Post]

Recreation Centers Opening With Modified Schedule June 20 — “These changes are in place to follow the second phase of reopening. Senior-only hours will be introduced to help protect vulnerable persons on the community while providing an opportunity for exercise.” [Zebra]

Scholarship Fund Honoring Awardees With Individualized Social Media Posts — “We’ll be profiling a student each day this week…as they share their joy and gratitude with the Alexandria Community!” [Facebook]

Center for Alexandria’s Children Receives Face Mask Donation — “We received another donation of 100 adult masks and 100 children’s masks for our Learn & PlayGroup families! We are so grateful to Brooksie & Cas and Jenna Adams for investing so much time and energy into making so many great masks.” [Facebook]

Deal: Rent a Pedego Electric Bike, Get Second Rental Half Off — “Pedego Electric Bikes has the perfect solution for cabin fever. Rent one bike and get the second rental 50% off. Enjoy the outdoors, flowers and sunshine with the safest bikes and equipment from Pedego. This offer will be available until further notice.” [Visit Alexandria]

New Job: HR/Office Manager — “Small but busy security company in need of an experienced HR professional who can really multitask. Candidate should be comfortable screening, interviewing and on-boarding applicants.” [Indeed]

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Coronavirus is shutting down one Alexandria workshop, but the bike business is booming across town at a local store.

Velocity Bike Co-op (2111 Mount Vernon Avenue) in Del Ray announced yesterday that, after a period of trying to make do with reduced hours, the non-profit, volunteer organization would be temporarily closed

The co-op said they are completing repairs on bikes that are already in the shop but the co-op would be closed as-of yesterday.

At Big Wheel Bikes (2 Prince Street) in Old Town, however, it’s business as usual. Owner Charles Bennett Moore — who goes by Bennett — said the store has been jam-packed with customers over the last few weeks.

Bennett said people are keeping their distance in the shop and everything is being sanitized, but the store itself remains open and they’re getting hammered with business as the spring season starts to warm up.

While many parks and recreational activities have been shut down, trails remain open and outdoor activities like running and bicycling are among the few physical outdoor activities permitted.

“The only thing that’s slowed down has been rentals,” Bennett said.

Staff photo by Jay Westcott

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Morning Notes

There are Now 36 Cases of COVID-19 in Alexandria — “On March 30, the Alexandria Health Department confirmed four additional cases of COVID-19 in Alexandria, bringing the total to 36. AHD is identifying and contacting individuals who came in close contact with the confirmed cases.” [City of Alexandria]

DASH Further Reduces Service — “As part of a wider effort to protect the health and safety of the Alexandria community and DASH employees, DASH implemented an Enhanced Sunday Operating Plan on weekdays and Saturdays, beginning March 30. No changes are anticipated to Sunday service; however, King Street Trolley service will discontinue until further notice.” [DASH]

Old Town Books Launches GoFundMe Campaign — “You’re making it possible for us to make ends meet while our sales floor is closed and before the new SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans roll out. I didn’t know what to expect when starting this fundraiser – crowd funding is not something I *ever* expected to do for this business. But this fundraiser is helping keep our staff working and our online store open. It’s motivating us to keep trying, to keep working despite the bleak economic projections for the year. We’re not giving up. Thank you for your support!” [Facebook]

Mason & Greens Grocer Opens in Old Town — “It’s not the grand opening they were planning, but the new bulk grocer in Old Town, Mason & Greens, is now open. For now, Mason & Greens is offering online shopping for pick-up or delivery.” [Alexandria Living]

ACPS Unveils Story Hour For Younger Students — “It’s such fun to see all these famous faces reading for America’s children in this time of need and we are grateful that some publishers are allowing us to publish read-alouds on the website at this time.” [ACPS]

Little Theatre of Alexandria Issuing Refunds — “Please submit this form before Friday, April 10. For Moonlight and Magnolias and Blue Stockings, we will not be able to process refunds after Thursday, April 30.” [LTA]

Ascend Cycle Offering Virtual Classes — “Virtual high fives! While we can’t be together in person, this is the next best thing! You see us & we see you! Connect with your favorite instructor and friends live while breaking a sweat! We are offering daily live virtual classes designed to connect our community and provide personalized attention. Drop into class for just $10.” [Ascend Cycle]

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