Alexandria Hospital President Dr. Rina Bansal asks residents to get vaccinated — “A healthy person can get COVID and survive, and if you have already had it, you may still have the antibodies to keep you safe for a period of time. But what about your community? It may not be readily apparent that a family member, friend or neighbor has an underlying health condition that puts them at higher risk for hospitalization or even death from COVID-19. Your choice to not be vaccinated isn’t just putting you at risk, it can impact so many others around you.” [ALXnow]

Historic Building that inspired ‘Mercy Street’ to be private residence, museum offices — “The building was converted into the Mansion House Hotel and served as a Union Hospital during the Civil War. Green and the hospital were depicted in the TV drama series “Mercy Street,” which aired on PBS from 2016-2017. NOVA Parks has owned the property since 1970, using it as office space and leasing the rest of the space to other companies. In 2019, NOVA Parks announced that it was marketing the sale or lease of the building.” [Alexandria Living]

Barkhaus expands outdoor play area for pets — “The new off-leash dog park attached to Barkhaus, at 529 E. Howell Ave., is more than twice as large as the old park and is furnished with umbrellas, lounge chairs, ice baths, mist and is partially turfed. This meant moving the parking to 516 E. Bellefonte Ave., behind the restaurant.” [Alexandria Living]

Today’s weather — “Some clouds in the morning will give way to mainly sunny skies for the afternoon. High 79F. Winds NW at 10 to 15 mph… Partly cloudy (in the evening). Low 57F. Winds NNW at 5 to 10 mph.” [Weather.com]

New job: Full-time assistant store manager at Aldi— “When you join our team as an Assistant Store Manager, you’ll take on key store management responsibilities including assisting with supervising day-to-day store activities, ensuring overall store performance, managing schedules, and developing operational action plans while identifying training opportunities to develop and grow the team.” [Indeed]

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Alexandria’s COVID-19 numbers are still trickling in.

There have been 11,854 cases, and of the City has not reported a death since May 25. There have been 137 total deaths.

Across Virginia there have been 11,318 deaths and 677,812 cases.

Below is the VDH breakdown of cases over the last six week in Alexandria:

  • Zero cases reported Sunday, June 13
  • Eight cases reported Saturday, June 12
  • Zero cases reported Friday June 11
  • Zero cases reported Thursday, June 10
  • Two cases reported Wednesday, June 9
  • Zero cases reported Tuesday, June 8
  • Zero cases reported Monday, June 7

On the vaccine front, 69,561 residents have been fully vaccinated, and 86,387 residents have been partially vaccinated. Alexandria has a goal of fully vaccinating 110,000 residents, which is 80% of the population.

Find vaccine providers in Alexandria here. If you feel sick, here is how to get tested.

Courtesy VDH

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Morning Notes

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]

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Alexandria is planning on spending a portion of its American Rescue Plan Act funding on supporting a childcare wellness program, commercial business districts around the city, flooding mitigation and hiring bilingual city staffers to help residents facing eviction.

Those are just four of nine prioritized recommendations that the Alexandria City Council received Wednesday night on how to spend its first tranche of funding. After getting more than 1,300 recommendations from the community, spending has been categorized into tiers, with projects scored by staff. The Tier 1 and 2 projects would be handled with the first allocation, followed by the Tiers 3 and 4 with the second.

“This is a fast-moving but very, very significant effort that the City has been undertaking the last several months,” said Mayor Justin Wilson, who tweeted the list of prioritized projects.

The U.S. Treasury transferred $29.8 million to the City on May 17, according to a staff presentation. Alexandria was approved for $59.6 million, and got double ARPA funding after being recognized as both a city and a county. There are 37 independent cities in the U.S., and 34 of them are in Virginia. The extra designation for cities to receive dual funding resulted in more than $450 million additional funds distributed around the country.

The exact cost of the projects is not listed. Instead, they are accompanied by dollar signs — one $ indicating little expense and $$$$ being very expensive. The list includes “shovel-ready” projects.

“I know, it looks a little bit like how you choose which restaurant to go to, but as I said many of them are scalable,” said Dana Wedeles, special assistant to the city manager.

The Out of School Time Program would employs vendors or teachers for project-based and social/emotional learning programs.

“These enrichments will assist with learning loss and will increase academic and social supports to vulnerable children in addition to traditional recreational activities that maintain physical and mental health and wellness,” the staff report said. “The programs will be held at five locations across the City in FY2022 and FY2023. Children considered most vulnerable will be provided with financial assistance funds to attend OSTP programs free of charge.”

The Alexandria Economic Development Partnership is also planning to provide matching grants to a number of existing business organizations that represent geographic areas in the city, including the Old Town Business Association, Del Ray Business Association, West End Business Association, the Eisenhower Partnership and “any group that would form in the Arlandria area,” said AEDP CEO Stephanie Landrum.

“The idea is that each group could potentially qualify, depending on how much money ended up being allocated, for $50,000 to $100,000 twice,” Landrum said. “Over the course of two years… they would start to do things that would prove their value, and would eventually then allow for those groups to exist more on membership or voluntary contributions… It’s also a recognition that many of these groups do rely on membership dues, and a lot of businesses have struggled to pay those membership dues.”

Funded projects in those business districts include trial street closures, and coordinated design services for commercial and public access parklets. It could also mean more Virginia ABC-licensed special events.

Additionally, Vice Mayor Elizabeth Bennett-Parker said that support for the hospitality industry needs to be moved up from a Tier 3 project to Tier 1.

“I would support moving that up,” she said. “I think we need that sooner rather than later.”

Staff also prioritized the maintenance of existing stream channels with debris removal.

“Specific projects include Four Mile Run Control sediment removal/maintenance and Holmes Run Stream and Channel maintenance,” staff wrote in the recommendation.

The city is limited in how can spend the money.

“As stated in the law, there are several uses for this ARPA funding,” Wedeles Said. “The first is to respond to the public health emergency and its negative impacts; The second is to respond to workers performing essential work during the COVID-19 public health emergency by providing premium pay to eligible workers; Third is for the provision of government services to the extent of the reduction in revenue due to the COVID-19 public health emergency relative to revenues collected in the most recent full fiscal year prior to the emergency; and then fourth is to make necessary investments in water, sewer, or broadband infrastructure.”

The second allotment will be transferred next year, and the spending deadline for the first chunk is December 31, 2024. Additionally, the Alexandria City Public Schools system has also received its own allocation of $35,407,000.

City Council will make its final decision in July.

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Morning Notes

Sheriff Dana Lawhorne to receive Lifetime Valor Award — “In recognition of his retirement, we are pleased to honor Sheriff Dana Lawhorne with a Lifetime Valor Award at this year’s Valor Awards. Join us virtually, on June 22nd, to honor Sheriff Lawhorne’s 43 years of law enforcement service to Alexandria.” [Chamber ALX]

West End Business Association hosting 1 p.m. conversation with Mayor — “Take this opportunity to ask questions and connect with Mayor Justin Wilson about how he would continue to serve the city of Alexandria.” [WEBA]

Chinquapin Recreation Center closing for improvements June 26 — “The City of Alexandria’s Chinquapin Park Recreation Center and Aquatics Facility (3210 King St.) will close Saturday, June 26 through Monday, Sept. 6, for several planned facility improvements and annual cleaning.” [Zebra]

Vaccine Equity Clinic on Route 1 in Fairfax County offering free transportation — “The Health Department and Fairfax Connector have partnered to offer free transportation to those who want to get vaccinated at the clinic, located in the former Safeway site at 7451 Mount Vernon Square Center in Alexandria. Fairfax Connector’s Free Vaccine Shuttle will run along Fairfax Connector’s line in that region.” [Fairfax County]

Annual Waterfront Commission walk is today — “The walk will be in person starting at (5 p.m. at) the intersection of Oronoco and South Union Streets and will proceed south to Robinson Landing. The walk is anticipated to end at 6:30 p.m.” [City of Alexandria]

Fire Department conducting community meeting on restructuring today — “The Alexandria Fire Department (AFD) will implement an organizational restructure, effective Saturday, June 12, 2021. The goals of the changes are to improve service efficiency and response times across the City; reduce cost; increase safety on the roadways; and improve response preparedness for specialty teams such as the Technical Rescue, Hazardous Materials, and Inland Water Rescue teams. AFD Representatives will present the upcoming changes to the community and answer questions.” [City of Alexandria]

Today’s weather — “Rain showers in the morning with numerous thunderstorms developing in the afternoon. High 81F. Winds ENE at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 90%… Thunderstorms in the evening, then variable clouds overnight with still a chance of showers. Low around 65F. Winds E at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 70%.” [Weather.com]

New job: Ghost tour guide — “US Ghost Adventures, a national tour operation is seeking energetic storytellers to lead 90-minute walking tour groups downtown. This part-time position is ideal for self-motivated candidates looking for a fun way to make extra income in the evenings.” [Indeed]

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After a series of partial reopenings and reclosings, the Charles E. Beatley Jr. Central Library (5005 Duke Street) is scheduled to mostly reopen on Fridays, but with some coronavirus restrictions still in place.

The library will be open to the public starting this Friday, June 11, and will offer in-person services from 11 a.m.-5 p.m., though some things like reference services and passport services will be limited due to staffing shortages.

The reopening is just for the Beatley Central Library. The Barrett, Burke and Duncan branches are all still curbside-only service on Fridays.

The libraries across Alexandria have somewhat sporadic hours at present, with the Barrett and Burke branches open Monday, Wednesday and Saturday — and the Duncan branch open Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.

In addition to the new Friday hours, the Beatley Central Library is open from 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday through Friday, and from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. on Saturday.

The library also included a note that they will be closed next Friday, June 18, in observance of Juneteenth.

Masks are still required to be worn inside the library for anyone over five years old, and temperatures will be checked upon entering. No food or drink is allowed inside the library.

The press release said visitors are also only allowed to remain in the building for up to two hours of time on computers, and staff cannot provide technology assistance.

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Alexandria has nearly hit 50% of its total population being fully vaccinated, but Mayor Justin Wilson said in a monthly town hall meeting that closing the gap to the city’s goal of 80% could be more of a challenge.

While much of the current percentage of vaccinated residents sought out the vaccine and signed up on waitlists, Wilson said many in the remaining half of the city could take convincing.

“Getting to a higher rate of vaccination is going to be a lot of work,” Wilson said. “If you know people who [aren’t vaccinated], go to Alexandriava.gov/vaccines. There’s a long list of clinics, including both sign up and walk-in clinics and pharmacy partners.”

Wilson said the vaccine should be fully accessible to any Alexandrian over 12.

“It is widely accessible,” Wilson said. “There is nobody 12 or above who should be unable to quickly get a vaccine right now. The 12-15 [age] is the newest category. I don’t suspect we’ll have authorization to do anyone under 12 until sometime in the fall.”

Today (Monday) the City of Alexandria announced relocated vaccine clinics for the Potomac Yard and George Washington Middle School sites.

AHD is now operating vaccine clinics at Francis C. Hammond Middle School (4646 Seminary Rd.) and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (600 Dulany Street). Due to the transition to the new clinic locations and the Memorial Day holiday, a single vaccination clinic was held this week and the number of vaccinations administered by AHD was significantly reduced.

Graphs via VDH

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Alexandria Police Chief Michael Brown says that he’s on the level about his surprise retirement announcement, and that he and his wife will soon pulling up stakes for the West Coast in the near future to take care of urgent family business.

“This was a personal decision that my wife and I came to manifest in me having to retire,” Brown told ALXnow.

Brown has given a recommendation on who should be the acting chief until a permanent replacement is chosen at the conclusion of a national search. His last day is June 25. Right now he’s worried about summer crime, although says that crime levels are now returning to pre-pandemic levels.

The department is currently dealing with critical staffing issues, namely temporarily filling available street assignments for patrol officers by reassigning other officers.

“We’re meeting our staffing needs on the street,” Brown said. “We’re very concerned about what may happen this summer.”

APD is funded for 311 positions, and effective July 1 the department will have 305 officers on duty. Of those, six are on administrative duties pending the outcome of an investigation after a chase suspect died in D.C., and there are a number of officers on family medical leave and other various reasons, Brown said.

“In order to supplement provide some stability for those temporary shortages, we pulled other officers in to kind of fill the gaps for patrol,” he said. “And that’s normally customary in this business when you have these kinds of situations taking place.”

Brown added, “We’re seeing crime revert back to what was normal, with some minor suggestions to prior to the pandemic. We’re not seeing the same thing in terms of, for example, auto thefts, that we once saw. The shootings are also lower in number than we had last year, especially towards the summer.”

On the bright side, he said, three APD officers who were previously on administrative duties after a shootout in Old Town North have been cleared for duty by Commonwealth’s Attorney Bryan Porter. Additionally, APD will be reassigning six officers previously assigned to the School Resource Officer program, which Council eliminated last month.

As for the SROs, Brown said that he supported the program, but would not offer an opinion on Council’s decision.

“I thought there was value in the SRO program,” he said. “But then again, I don’t have the authority to make that decision. My job is to carry out the decision that was made by our elected officials.”

Brown also left six months before being vested in the city’s retirement system, although Brown says it doesn’t bother him and that the decision wasn’t about money. After a 46-year career in law enforcement, this isn’t his first retirement.

“The fact of the matter is, I’ve had several retirements,” he said. “I took this job because I cared about this police department.”

Brown started as a police officer in Los Angeles in 1977, and was the Commissioner of the California Highway Patrol from 2004-2008. He was later California’s deputy secretary for public safety from 2008 to 2009, and then for six years was the director of the Office of Impaired Driving and Occupant Protection at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration before being hired as Alexandria’s police chief in 2017.

Brown led the police department through a restructuring, as well as social unrest after the 2020 murder of George Floyd, the COVID-19 pandemic, and an uptick in shooting events and other crime throughout the city. He restructured the department from four to three divisions, and took away deputy chief of police positions and added an assistant chief. He also says that under his leadership the department made strides with its 21st Century Policing effort.

“Some would argue differently, but we became very transparent ,” Brown said. “We put all of our policies, we put all of our reports on use of force on our website so that people could see that information and be critical of it.”

Brown continued, “Policing is never stable. Policing will always change, and it will change based upon events; it will change upon public discourse; it will change because the community, or… the nation at large has other questions, or other expectations… The real challenge for the law enforcement community is to be able to listen and to be able to adapt in order to survive, because if we don’t survive the public will get rid of you.”

Brown’s tenure was punctuated by dramatic events, starting with the Simpson Field Shooting, and culminating with the pandemic and social unrest after the murder of George Floyd. He would later pen an op-ed saying that the video of Floyd’s death appalled him, and he spoke with city leaders to the public and later joined protestors at a demonstration outside police headquarters.

Brown said his laundry list of people to thank is long.

“I admire this department for what it does,” he said. “It’s a good department, filled with great people, and they are out there every day taking care of the citizens, the residents of this city. It was a blessing to have the opportunity to work with them.”

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What a week in Alexandria. Here’s the rundown.

Our top story was on President Joe Biden stopping by the Sportrock Climbing Center in Alexandria last Friday with First Lady Jill Biden and Governor Ralph Northam.

Seeing the president around town is getting to be a regular thing. The president, who also visited in April, discussed “the state’s progress against the coronavirus pandemic” and the celebration of “summer as Virginia lifts all COVID-19 distancing and capacity restrictions.”

This week, we also followed up on a New York Times report about the Virginia Theological Seminary making reparations payments to slavery descendants. The program was launched in 2019, and the school issued $2,100 in annual payments to 15 families in February.

On Wednesday, the Fire Department released its restructuring plan, which goes into effect June 12, and is intended to help emergency response times by shifting resources. AFD will conduct community conversations on the restructuring on Saturday, June 5, at 10 a.m.; Monday, June 7, at 2 p.m. and Thursday, June 10, at 7 p.m.

Closing the short workweek, on Friday Alexandria Police Chief Michael Brown announced that his retirement. Brown’s last day is June 25, and the City Manager is soon expected to name an acting chief to lead the department while the city’s undergoes a national search for a permanent replacement.

Election stories

Important stories

Top stories

  1. UPDATED: President Biden and Gov. Northam visited Alexandria this morning
  2. JUST IN: Virginia State Police chase U-Haul pickup truck through Alexandria
  3. Bennett-Parker says Levine mailer on Commonwealth of Virginia letterhead is ethics breach
  4. Goodie’s Frozen Custard & Treats opens in Old Town
  5. Hank & Mitzi’s Italian Kitchen closes for the foreseeable future in Old Town North
  6. Volunteers needed this weekend to help clear dangerous stretch of Mount Vernon Trail
  7. Wilson and Silberberg mayoral debate finale opens possibility of ‘tweaking’ Seminary Road Diet
  8. Homegrown Restaurant Group gives employees raise to $15 an hour, will ease COVID restrictions at 6 restaurants
  9. ‘Rock It Grill’ eyeing karaoke expansion, bringing back Halloween party
  10. Here’s the order that City Council candidates will appear on the ballot for the June 8 democratic primary
  11. Ownership of Landmark’s streets could make a big difference down the road

Photo via White House/Twitter

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Morning Notes

Alexandria reducing COVID-19 news release updates to twice a week — “With nearly 54% of Alexandrians ages 12 and up partially vaccinated and considerable progress in the past five months toward the state’s goal of 70% and Alexandria’s target of 80% of the eligible population fully vaccinated, the frequency of this COVID-19 news release will reduce to twice per week. Going forward, this news release will be published on Tuesdays and Fridays, unless there is a major announcement to share. Daily COVID-19 case, death and vaccination data will continue to be available at alexandriava.gov/Coronavirus. The seven-day moving average of cases in Alexandria is now at its lowest point since the start of the pandemic.” [City of Alexandria]

King Street-Old Town Metro station bus loop to open — “On June 6, DASH and Metrobus will move to the new bays in the Metro station’s bus loop off Diagonal Road. Bus bays and the station entrance kiosk will feature new digital screens with real-time bus arrival information. New crosswalks and redesigned station lighting have also been added to boost pedestrian visibility.” [Patch]

Taste of Del Ray starts this Friday — “One of Virginia Living Magazine‘s top food festivals in the state, the Taste of Del Ray, will open this weekend, on Friday June 4. As events have had to adapt throughout the pandemic, the Taste of Del Ray is no exception. The new event format will look like a weekend-long event from Friday, June 4 to Sunday, June 6.” [Zebra]

Carlyle House hosting Juneteenth celebration — “The event is free to attend and will be held from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. Attendees will have a chance to speak with the three poets, Jamal Rashad, Simply Sherri and Mysfit, who will be performing a live poetry reading. In addition to the poets, the event’s live music will be performed by cellist Benjamin Gates.” [Zebra]

Today’s weather — “Cloudy early with thunderstorms developing later in the day. Storms could contain damaging winds. High 82F. Winds SSW at 10 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 60%… Scattered showers and thunderstorms. Storms may contain strong gusty winds. Low 67F. Winds SSW at 10 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 40%.” [Weather.com]

New job: Shampoo assistant — “Salon Virage is looking for an energetic shampoo assistant. Prior experience is REQUIRED. At least 2 years experience. Must be able to work Tuesday-Sunday and some holidays. Saturdays and Sundays a must. Hours are flexible.” [Indeed]

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