Alexandria, VA

It was a cold and snowy week in Alexandria.

Our top story this week was on plans to redevelop the GenOn power plant in Old Town North. It looks like deconstruction of the plant will start in 2023 and developers are looking at converting it into an urban, mixed-use property with housing.

The short work week started with news that Alexandria reached 10,000 cases of COVID-19. The latest figures show that there are 10,113 cases and 104 total deaths in the city, according to the Virginia Department of Health. The city’s seven-day moving average is now 35.1 cases.

A 49-year-old homeless woman was found dead in Arlandria on Tuesday morning, and the mayor told us that homelessness is on the rise in the city. ALXnow is following up with the city on the issue.

Tuesday morning also brought news that Alexandria City Councilman Mo Seifeldein abandoned his run for mayor and will not seek reelection to council. Seifeldein was hired as a trial lawyer by the U.S. Department of Labor in Jan. 2020, and while he can finish out his term on council, he can not run unless he files as an independent candidate.

In other election news, the race for city council is starting to get crowded, as Bill Rossello, a co-founder of the Bring Integrity Back to Alexandria Facebook Group, just threw his hat into the ring.

On the vaccine front, the waiting list has surpassed 45,000 and it may be until late summer that the vaccine is widely available in the city. On Thursday, Mayor Justin Wilson also asked the governor to open vaccine eligibility for restaurant, personal care and retail workers.

More than 200 people responded to this week’s poll on power outages. There have been a number of outages over tha last year, and 73% of respondents reported experiencing an outage, while 26% report that their homes haven’t been impacted.

In case you missed them, here are some other important stories this week:

Here are our top stories of the week in Alexandria:

  1. Developers Lay Out Multi-Year Timeline for GenOn Plant Redevelopment
  2. BREAKING: Homeless Woman Found Dead on Mount Vernon Avenue
  3. Alexandria Boxer Troy Isley Goes Pro With Big Fight Next Week
  4. Seifeldein Not Running for Mayor, Leaving Alexandria City Council
  5. ALXnow’s Top Stories this Week in Alexandria
  6. Director of Finance: Alexandria’s Real Estate Assessments Are a ‘Tale of Two Markets’
  7. Local Business Owner Robbed of Car While Pumping Gas at Old Town Gas Station
  8. Torpedo Factory Overhaul Heads to City Council Next Month
  9. Snow: Up to 6 Inches of Snow and Ice Expected in Alexandria
  10. BREAKING: Alexandria Police Investigate Second Car Stolen While Owner Pumps Gas
  11. Local Facebook Watchdog Group Founder Bill Rossello Announces Run for City Council

Have a safe weekend!

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Alexandria boxer Troy Isley has just gone professional and is headed into a fight next Saturday with something to prove.

“I’m feeling good,” Isley said. “I’m ready. I’m eager and getting anxious.”

Isley recently signed a multi-year contract with Top Rank, a boxing promoter, and has his first fight on Saturday, Feb. 13. For Isley, it’s part of a hopeful comeback after narrowly missing a chance to compete at the Olympics.

“I didn’t get to go to the Olympics, don’t have quite the following I would, but I still have a good following with three years on the team,” Isley said. “I’m still well known. Right now, I’m using that chip on my shoulder. I’ve got to win… I’ve been going all out, working hard, and it’s giving me that extra push. It didn’t come through on the Olympic dream, I gotta make this.”

Isley started boxing as a child with the Alexandria Boxing Club but said it wasn’t until late in high school when he started seriously considering it at a career path.

“It’s not that I didn’t believe in myself, I was confident when I got in the ring — but when I got on the team senior year was when [it sunk in],” Isley said.

While coronavirus has shut down athletic activities, Isley got relatively lucky: he needed about a year to recover from shoulder surgeries near the start of the pandemic.

“It didn’t quite impact me as bad,” Isley said. “I had to get two shoulder surgeries, so I was rehabbing and recovering. It didn’t really do anything from me, I had to recover anyway. It really came right in time.”

Isley said boxing gave him an avenue he’d never expected to success, and said he hopes others in Alexandria can come out of the pandemic with similar passions they can believe in and stick to.

Photo via Top Rank Boxing/Facebook

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The classes may be smaller and the boxers may be masked, but local boxer Tony Suggs keeps the hits coming through coronavirus with a new Boxercise class.

Suggs, a local boxing star, has launched a new boxing class to help locals stay fit and focused.

“It started virtually on my own, just to give back to the community, ” said Suggs. “That started going really well, so when we went back to work with the city I was telling my managers how I thought a program like this was working.”

Suggs said the program was seeing active participation from both parents and kids. Suggs started with virtual sessions last summer but the first in-person, 45-minute sessions for local teens and young adults started two weeks ago.

“45-Minute HIT & Cardio” is offered every Thursday from 6-7 p.m. at the Charles Houston Recreation Center (901 Wythe Street). The class is available through the city website as class 313616. Enrollment to the class is $39 for city residents or $64 for non-residents.

Because of COVID precautions, the program is only allowed to have nine participants currently, with some parents exercising alongside their kids. If conditions improve in Alexandria, Suggs said he hopes to gradually open the class up to more participants.

“It’s high intensity training, but it’s really catering to the audience,” Suggs said. “I ramp it up for the kids and tone it down for the parents. We do step work, speed ladder, burpees, ab work, push ups, punching bag and hit the hand mitts.”

Beyond the boxing program, Suggs said he’s spent the last few months helping to train T.C. Williams athletes while school sports aren’t meeting to practice. Suggs says training for boxing can help enhance coordination for any other type of sport.

“It’s shut down and they want to stay in shape,” Suggs said. “I have a couple guys I’ve been voluntarily training.”

Suggs said training with masks on and being distanced can be difficult for young athletes, but ultimately Suggs said it could be a boon to those who get used to training in these conditions.

“It’s hard on the kids sometime,” Suggs said, “but being a boxer — training in high altitudes like Colorado Springs — I know how important it is to have thin air. That makes you better in shape.”

The city website described the HIT and Cardio training class as:

Ages 12 & up. Join us for a workout thats geared to get the heart pumping. This 45 minute class will include exercises like boxing movements, jump rope combinations, and mixed aerobics with resistance trainings. This class is ideal for teens and young adults.

Photo via Tony Suggs/Facebook

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Dawson Saint Jour wants to be the Tony Robbins of boxing. Every Sunday, the coach with Hiit Hard Training is at Jones Point Park with his coaches and boxers, shouting motivational aphorisms while punches are thrown and footwork is improved.

“When life knocks you down, try to land on your back, because if you can look up, you can get up,” Saint Jour recently told ALXnow, quoting motivational speaker Les Brown. “Another favorite of mine is, ‘Don’t just go through it but grow through it.'”

For the last three years, Saint Jour and his team of boxing coaches took their talents to the business world with a corporate wellness program. But the pandemic changed the way offices work, and now with more clients working from home Saint Jour is looking to open a physical location in Alexandria.

For the time being, however, that means weekly workouts at Jones Point every Sunday from 1-4 p.m. It costs $20 for one class and $65 for four classes.

“We’ve been doing corporate wellness since 2017, and due to the COVID restrictions we had to stop offering our program at the on-site facilities,” Saint Jour said. “We wanted to continue offering these programs to individuals, and we’ve been stuck in our homes for months and months with no way to relieve stress.”

Coach Devon Davies started boxing five years ago and has worked with Saint Jour since October.

“I was going through some personal stuff in my life and I was looking for something to sort of wake me up and feel like a part of a community again and that’s when I got into boxing,” Davies said. “Dawson has changed my life. These people become your family and you know they have your back, and you have confidence in yourself to stand up and defend yourself and have passion for people you love.”

Courtesy photos and video

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Dennis Porter, the longtime head coach of the Alexandria Boxing Club, passed away on Jan. 7, 2020.

The trainer of such Alexandria champions as 2016 Olympic Silver Medalist Shakur Stevenson and former IBF World Featherweight Champion Eric Aikens was 59 years old and died of a heart attack.

“He was a demanding guy. He had that force behind him, like a drill instructor. You listened to him, because you could hear him all over the building,” said Alexandria Boxing Coach Jeffrey “Steady” Johnson. “He was one heck of a guy, to give this much of his life to a program. It doesn’t happen often when a guy can do it for 30 years.”

Porter is survived by his wife, Crystel, children Dennis, Jr. and Timothy, and a number of grandchildren. He was memorialized by his fighters in the gym the day after his passing.

“There were guys I hadn’t seen since the ’80s,” Johnson said. “It made me tear up, because around here it’s all about family. It was a beautiful thing to see.”

Iesha Kenney became a national amateur champion under Porter.

“He always pushed me further than I thought possible,” Kenney said. “He was an all-around good guy and he was always here.”

Porter’s funeral will be held on Saturday, Jan. 18, at 11 a.m. at Antioch Church of Christ (1120 Queen Street).

Photos courtesy Alexandria Boxing Club

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