Alexandria, VA

Morning Notes

City Hotlines Available to Stem Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault — “During a crisis like COVID-19, the risk for intimate partner and domestic violence increases. The City of Alexandria Sexual Assault Center and the Domestic Violence Program want survivors and victims to know they are not alone. Both programs are open during the COVID-19 health crisis, hotlines are available 24/7 and advocates are ready to listen and help.” [Facebook]

Gov. Northam Extends Executive Order by Two Weeks — “That means that gatherings of more than 10 people will remain banned, and entertainment and recreation and personal care businesses will remain closed, until at least May 8. In addition, restaurants are limited to carry-out or delivery orders only.” [Alexandria Living]

West End Business Association Hosting Online Happy Hour at 4 p.m. — “Each person will be able to give their one-minute introduction and should also answer two questions: 1) What do you have to offer that might help other businesses through these times? 2) As your own bartender, what cocktail (or mocktail) are you drinking?” [WEBA]

Alexandria Hospital Staff Working Out to Stay Healthy — “Dr. West leads a team of Inova Health System nurses in some quick exercises you can do throughout the day. Try 10 of each and increase as you can.” [Facebook]

Alexandria Library Offers Temporary Access to Rosetta Stone — “The award-winning interactive approach has been used by millions of learners around the world and now is accessible in the library–or anywhere, anytime. This vital resource includes 30 languages to meet a range of cultural interests. Learning is structured around core lessons to build reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills and also includes focused activities to refine grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation, and more.” [Zebra]

Restaurant Teams With Carpenter’s Shelter to Give 60 Families Meals — “We are committed to raising $600 weekly to provide meals for 60 local families every week over the next three months, at cost to us. This initiative helps us keep the lights on and provides badly needed hours for our employees! Donate today and become part of the solution!” [Facebook]

Alexandria Author Publishes Children’s Book — “Alexandria author J.R. Becker has a new children’s book coming out in June, called “This World Was Made for Me!” that deals with the environmental issues in an informative but whimsical way.” [Alexandria Living]

Office Assistant/Bookkeeper Job Available — “Join a small, stable IT consulting business where you can apply and expand your accounting, finance, and business operations skills. We are looking for a capable, proactive, detail-oriented person with a can-do attitude to support the day-to-day operations of our business. Excellent opportunity for growth as your capabilities develop.” [Indeed]

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Alexandria officials have voted to allow mobile carriers to start installing what’s billed as a faster, and smarter, cellular network.

The Alexandria City Council voted during its meeting this past Saturday, October 19 to approve a 5-year agreements with Verizon and AT&T, allowing the company to install small wireless equipment on street poles to boost 5G cell networks to the city.

Experts say that 5G technology promises data speeds ten times as fast as the existing 4G network. The technology also has the potential to make real-time data sharing things like for “smart city” infrastructure possible, potentially enabling drivers to connect autonomous vehicles to the city’s infrastructure. However, 5G requires cellular companies install many backpack-sized signal devices with antennas across an area to form a network.

The city’s newly-approved agreements require the cellular companies to pay a one-time $750 fee to the city to host the cellular equipment on the public land next to streets, and requires companies pay for whatever electricity is used to power them. The poles themselves can be light, traffic signal, or utility poles — as long as the small equipment doesn’t interfere with existing utilities.

Members voted 6-0 in favor of the contracts after a quick deliberation, with Councilman Mohamed Seifeldein abstaining.

“Alexandria business, residents, visitors, and commuters depend on this enhanced service and connectivity during normal communication use and emergencies especially in critical services in fire, police, and ambulance, and hospital calls,” said Verizon Wireless Real Estate Manager Jeff Ott on Saturday.

The vote makes Alexandria the third Northern Virginia community to permit 5G small cell technology.

“We look forward to deploying the next generation of wireless technology throughout the city, and working again on future collaborations,” said Genelle Newhard, AT&T’s senior real estate and construction manager.

Residents elsewhere have opposed the technology over concerns about health effects of low levels of 5G radio wave emission. Paul Dugan, a Pennsylvania-based consulting engineer at Millennium Engineering, P.C. who testified Saturday, noted there was “a lot of misinformation being circulated among communities” regarding health effects from small cell technology and emphasized that studies have not shown the radio waves cause harmful effects.

“There’s nothing that suggests that the introduction of these small cells is going to elevate the electromagnetic exposure around these facilities,” he said. “These facilities are transmitting on the order of five watts or less. We’re talking about the power of a residential nightlight.”

The permit given to Verizon and AT&T specifies that the companies’ technology installation can “not result in human exposure to radiofrequency radiation in excess of the applicable safety standards specified in Federal Communications Commission regulations.”

When asked by City Councilwoman Redella ‘Del’ Pepper who benefits from the technology, Dugan replied that anyone who lives in Alexandria will be served by the stronger, faster network. Dugan also added that industries like healthcare may be able to innovate with systems like telemedicine systems thanks to 5G.

“It’s going to revolutionize whole industries, healthcare, agriculture, you name it,” he said. “It’s going to transform society.”

“I think we want to see new technology deployed too,” Mayor Justin Wilson told the Alexandria Times last week. “The last thing we want is to be left behind again on broadband deployment. This is the next step to that.”

Pepper thanked the Verizon and AT&T representatives for their work with the city on the initiative and urged them to continue to “work very closely with the city” on 5G going forward.

“In Alexandria, we have an opinion on everything right down to the last curb and last curb cut,” she added. “In your case, it will be every pole that gets removed.”

Image via Christoph Scholz/Flickr

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Morning Notes

T.C. Grad Sets Sprinting Record —  “T.C. Williams High School graduate and adidas professional athlete Noah Lyles is your new IAAF World Athletics champion at 200 meters. His winning time in Doha, Qatar, was 19.83 seconds, with a reaction time of 0.168 seconds.” [MileStat]

5G Antenna Applications Streaming In — “#AlexandriaVA received 50 applications for small cell wireless facilities this year. Green dots on this map show the 43 applications that were approved. Ten were in the historic district, and the Board of Architectural Review approved three applications.” [Michael Pope/Twitter]

Port City Goes Czech — “We had a wonderful evening @CzechEmbassyDC with @evanrail, we goulashed, we picked sausaged and we pilsnered four ways: @Pilsner_Urquell on draught and in bottle, Czechvar and @PortCityBrew Bohemian Pilsner brewed with Czech hops.” [DC Beer/Twitter]

New Headstone for Former Fire Chief — “For over 100 years, Alexandria Fire Chief George Pettey lay in an unmarked grave in Bethel Cemetery, located on Wilkes Street in Old Town. But that changed August 30, when a headstone was dedicated to Chief Pettey, who died April 15, 1911 while carrying out his firefighting duties.” [Zebra]

Video: Salvadoran Refugees and ACPS — “On the morning of December 24, 1980, 12-year-old Ana Bonilla-Galdamez boarded an airplane from El Salvador for the US, fleeing the terrors of civil war… In the 1980s, nearly 5,000 people from just one Salvadoran village, Chirilagua, settled in Arlandria. Ana now works for ACPS as a Family Engagement Specialist at T.C. Williams.” [ACPS]

Note on What We Cover — You might notice that we do things a bit different here on ALXnow. In addition to our local government and community coverage, we focus a bit more closely on businesses opening and closing, with periodic updates on businesses that are of particular local interest. Also, you can expect us to do more breaking news coverage, from fires to crashes to significant police incidents. Two things we won’t do much of: general obituaries or school sports coverage, except when something is really big news locally.

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