Newsletter

DASH ridership up 26% — “[DASH] says its Sept ridership was up 26% (215,963 vs 171,589 in Aug) after it launched revamped bus route network, made fares free. Probably got a bump from more reopening/activity.” [Twitter]

Mount Vernon Trail marked for bump removal — “The trail bumps were marked by spray paint with care with hopes that our volunteers would remove them from there. Volunteer to remove trail bumps on 10/23 or 10/30.” [Friends of the Mount Vernon Trail]

Magistrate fired over comments to Times — “Magistrate Elizabeth Fuller, the woman who filed the complaint that ultimately led to the bondsman in the Karla Dominguez homicide case
losing his license, has been fired for comments she made to the Alexandria Times earlier this month.” [Alexandria Times]

Where to drop off unused prescription drugs in Alexandria — “If you have expired or unused prescription drugs taking up space in your medicine cabinet, Alexandria residents will have an opportunity to safely get rid of them later this month.” [Patch]

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A new report from DASH shows that the bus network has received significantly fewer angry public calls about the new bus network overhaul than had earlier been expected.

A report made at a meeting of the Alexandria Transit Company’s Board of Directors last week indicated that the bus systems’ new DASH network has been a success in terms of recent complaints. According to the network’s customer service report call volumes and complaints regarding DASH operations have fallen below projections for the month of September. 

The report breaks down the number of calls and complaints made in the first four weeks after the networks’ launch on Sept. 6. The projections forecasted 1,050 calls to be made over that time period, however, the actual call numbers were 524 which is slightly less than half of the projected number. The best number came in at week 2 where the actual call volume came in at 93 calls down from a projected 250 calls.

All the calls made to DASH were in regards to questions about bus routes and schedules. 

Another encouraging number from the report was the number of complaint calls made to the customer service line. The total amount of calls for the four weeks came in at 43 which fell far below expectations.

The report also contained a rare sight of four commendations made to the customer service line about good performance from buses. It was noted in the meeting that this number of commendations was over the usual of what they would normally receive in a month which had been one to two at most. This number of commendations is also considered a rare occurrence by DASH authorities, especially when major changes such as the launch of the DASH network occur.

Board Chair David Kaplan reported that DASH received recognition for the network at an event held at the Van Dorn Street Station on Sept. 22. Alexandria City Mayor Justin Wilson presented the recognition to DASH Director of Planning and Scheduling Martin Barna, who was touted by Kaplan as being a longtime proponent in the development of the network.

At the same meeting, the bill for the new fare-free policy also came in.

The board was presented with the General Manager’s Proposed Operating Budget for Fiscal Year 2023 which showed the Dash network’s operating costs for that year to be projected at a combined $637,578 for the network’s operations and maintenance. The projected budget shows an increase of $3.1 million or 13.5 percent for a total of $26.9 million.

This increase comes not just from the Dash Network itself but from the change over to 24/7 service, expansions funded by the Interstate 395 Commuter Choice Program, and operating at a fare-free status. The Alexandria City Council has applied for funding from the Virginia Transit Ridership Incentive Program which if accepted could bring in $7.2 million over the course of four years. 

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

Our top story this week was on a plan to completely close off the 100 block of King Street as a pedestrian-only zone. The plan has been in the works since 2019, and was put into action last year. ALXnow’s poll on the subject had very one-sided results, showing 91% (791 votes) in favor of a permanent change.

There was a momentous groundbreaking this week, as city leaders converged for the $454.4 million RiverRenew Tunnel Project. The project is a major overhaul to replace Old Town’s combined sewer system and prevent 120 million gallons of combined sewage from flowing into the Potomac River.

School violence has become a major issue in Alexandria, as videos of fights at schools are surfacing on the internet, there have been arrests at Alexandria City Public Schools, and protests in front of City Hall on Monday and Tuesday this week.

As for the Alexandria juvenile who was shot in the upper body at the McDonald’s in the Bradlee Shopping Center last week, police say that there have been no arrests yet.

Important stories

Top stories

  1. City looks to permanently ‘pedestrianize’ a block of King Street
  2. UPDATE: Alexandria man charged with homicide after stabbing at BJ’s Wholesale Club in Landmark area
  3. Total Wine is taking shape in Potomac Yard
  4. ALXnow’s top stories this week in Alexandria
  5. Man buys luxury car with fake driver’s license at Lindsay Lexus of Alexandria
  6. Protestors rally to return police to Alexandria schools, but officials say behind-the-scenes talks have stalled
  7. Man arrested for posting lewd photos of Alexandria stepsister on Twitter
  8. Firecracker shuts down Alexandria City High School football game
  9. Adoptable Chihuahua Dory only weighs 3.5 pounds
  10. Mayor Wilson: Potomac Yard construction delay ‘could have nothing to do with Metro station’
  11. Police: Juvenile shot at shopping center near Alexandria City High School

Have a safe weekend!

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If you ever feel bad about getting on the bus in Alexandria and realizing too late you’re on the wrong one, don’t fret. Apparently some of the people who run the city’s bus system do the same thing.

The new DASH bus network launched on Sept. 5, but city leaders and transit administrators met last week to celebrate.

“The first time I rode the new network was the night of our DASH board meeting,” said David Kaplan, chair of the Alexandria Transit Company Board of Directors. “There are two routes that come down King Street to the Metro Station and I needed the 30. I boarded the first bus that came to Market Square which happened to be a 31.”

Kaplan said he rode the bus to the King Street Metro station and the ride was going smoothly until the bus took a left where his should have gone right and Kaplan realized his mistake.

“I very sheepishly went up to the driver and asked if I could get off so I could run back to King Street and get onto the correct bus,” Kaplan admitted.

Kaplan’s error was one example of the adjustment needed as city bus service DASH works to implement its biggest change since the system launched in 1982. Josh Baker, CEO of the Alexandria Transit Company said the goal of the project is to modernize the transit network. The new system enhances the frequency of service in high-density parts of the city. Some adjustments were made to the plan after local residents having their routes scrapped expressed concerns, and some parts of the city hoping for high-frequency service aren’t getting it.

Along with the change in transit structure, the new program made headlines for going fare free and the city is currently seeking more state funding to implement that change on a longer-term basis.

“This is a long time coming,” Wilson said. “I know this has been a long process of getting public input and getting consensus of the community to ultimately make DASH more successful for riders. When riders are surveyed on what they want, they want transit to go to more places they want to go to and that arrives and leaves more frequently. Today, we’re improving the accessibility of transit by doing exactly that… providing that service more frequently than we did before throughout the day.”

Wilson also said that one of the bizarre windfalls of the pandemic has been giving the city not only a chance to restructure the bus system, but watch patterns of usage as bus ridership steadily goes up as the city works toward recover.

“We’ve been conducting a massive, unplanned experiment about transportation behavior over the last year and a half,” Wilson said. “That data has been very constructive about who rides transit and when. Look right now at how different modes have recovered. Look at how people are getting back on buses and back on Metrorail. You see an object lesson in who rides transit and where.”

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Electric DASH bus, photo via DASH/Facebook

The city’s DASH bus network recently went fare-free, and the city is looking for more funding from the state to help it stay that way.

An item at the upcoming Tuesday, Sept. 14, City Council meeting includes an application to the Transit Ridership Incentive Program (TRIP) to help finance the city’s free bus ridership program.

The application has already been supported by the DASH Board of Directors. According to the docket item, the city is planning to submit an application of funds up to $8 million over the next four years. In the report, city staff said they expect to be awarded a maximum of $7.2 million through TRIP with the city committing $9.83 million in local funding between FY 2023 and FY 2025 to operate DASH fare-free, in addition to $1.47 committed in FY 2022.

The city isn’t alone in this. The application notes that $12.5 million in TRIP funding goes to subsidized fare or zero fare programs.

Photo via DASH/Facebook

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Morning Notes

First Lady Jill Biden is teaching at Northern Virginia Community College — “Starting the week of Labor Day, Biden will be spending every Tuesday and Thursday for 13 weeks on the Alexandria campus of Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA), according to a class schedule available to students.” [Washington Post]

ACPS needs crossing guards — “Volunteers are needed immediately to help our elementary students get to school safely due to a shortage of crossing guards. Can you help? If so, complete this volunteer application!” [Twitter]

Chinquapin pool reopens — Chinquapin Park Recreation Center and Aquatics Facility staff members are thrilled to welcome back customers! Following an extended summer closure for facility improvements, the center is now open for public use. For more information, visit alexandriava.gov/12352. [Facebook]

DASH sets up pop-up teams outside bus stops — “Our pop-up teams are still out at stops throughout our network and ready to help you make your trips on the #NewDASHNetwork or answer your questions. Come see us!” [Twitter]

Here’s the calendar for dog swims at Alexandria pools — “Treat your pooch to an end-of-summer dip in a City of Alexandria public pool. Alexandria Annual Dog Swims allow friendly dogs of all sizes to enjoy swims on Saturday, September 18 from 11 a.m. to 2:45 p.m. at Warwick Pool (3301 Landover St.) and on Sunday, September 19 from 11 a.m. to 2:45 p.m. at Old Town Pool (1609 Cameron St.). Tickets are required for all dog handlers to attend.” [Zebra]

Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Museum needs volunteer tour guides — “Training is free but completing this online application is required. Following submission, a staff member will make contact to provide more details.” [Zebra]

Today’s weather — “Partly cloudy (during the day). A stray shower or thunderstorm is possible. High 87F. Winds SSW at 10 to 15 mph… Thunderstorms during the evening followed by occasional showers overnight. Low 67F. SSW winds shifting to NW at 10 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 90%.” [Weather.com]

New job: Temporary bilingual COVID-19 vaccine promoter — “The Vaccine Promotor(a)/CVN will engage with residents of underserved communities to provide education about COVID-19 and the importance of vaccination. The Promotor(a) will work with Neighborhood Health’s COVID-19 Outreach team to plan an overall outreach strategy and provide support to other vaccine-related activities.” [Indeed]

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Morning Notes

Police assist in chase Friday night — “There is a heavy police presence in the area of North Latham Street and Taney Avenue due to a Virginia State Police pursuit that originated from out of the city. APD assisted and suspects have been taken into custody for non-violent offense(s).” [Twitter]

Alexandria Library eliminates fines for overdue items — “Here’s some great news for library patrons. Alexandria Library has decided to eliminate fines for overdue items. What is the reason for the change?” [Zebra]

DASH bus eliminates fares — “The changes come as part of the city’s broader Alexandria Transit Vision Plan and after City Council approved the elimination of bus fares in its FY2022 budget. The aim of these changes is to expand the services’ accessibility for residents, particularly low-income residents and residents of color, who need and use this aspect of the city’s transit network.” [Alex Times]

Today’s weather — “Sun and a few passing clouds. Slight chance of a rain shower. High around 85F. Winds NW at 10 to 15 mph… Mostly clear skies. Low 62F. Winds WNW at 5 to 10 mph.” [Weather.com]

New job: Security officer — “Securitas plays an essential role for our clients and in society. TheSecurity Officer position helps maintain a safe and secure environment for our clients by actively monitoring the premises, including patrolling a variety of locations.” [Indeed]

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This coming Monday, September 6, is Labor Day and a number of city government offices and facilities will be closed.

The biggest event of the three-day weekend will be the day before Labor Day — Sunday, September 5. The annual Old Town Festival of Speed & Style will bring crowds to marvel at classic and beautiful rides along King Street.

City services will shift to a holiday schedule the next day. Trash collection will move to Tuesday, parking enforcement at metered spaces will be lifted, and it will be your last chance to enjoy public pools.

The city has listed the following closures and other changes planned for the week of September 6.

Resource Recovery: Residential refuse and recycling will not be collected September 6. Collection services will be delayed by one day during the week of September 6: Monday’s collection will be on Tuesday; Tuesday’s collection, on Wednesday; Wednesday’s collection, on Thursday; and Thursday’s collection, on Friday. Visit Resource Recovery for more information. The Household Hazardous Waste and Electronics Collection Center (3224 Colvin St.) will be closed Monday, September 6.

Animal Shelter: The Animal Welfare League of Alexandria (4101 Eisenhower Ave.) will be open weekend hours by appointment on September 6. To make an appointment, visit AlexandriaAnimals.org/Adopt-By-Appointment or call 703.746.4774. For an animal emergency, call 703.746.4444.

Health Facilities: The Alexandria Health Department (4480 King St.), the Flora Krause Casey Health Center (1200 N. Howard St.) and the Teen Wellness Center at Alexandria City High School (3329 King St.) will be closed September 6.

Historic Alexandria: On September 6, the Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Museum (105-107 S. Fairfax St.) will be open regular hours, from 1 to 5 p.m. All other City museums will be closed. For more information, visit alexandriava.gov/Historic and follow Historic Alexandria on social media or call 703.746.4554.

Hotlines: All emergency hotlines operate 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, including the child protective services hotline at 703.746.5800; the domestic violence hotline at 703.746.4911; the emergency services for mental health or substance abuse crisis hotline at 703.746.3401; the adult protective services hotline at 703.746.5778; and the sexual assault hotline at 703.683.7273.

Libraries: All Alexandria Library branches and the Alexandria Law Library (520 King St.) will be closed September 6. Visit the Alexandria Library website for more information.

Parking: On September 6, the Alexandria Police Department will suspend enforcement of parking restrictions at metered spaces, residential permit parking districts and other areas with posted parking time limits. This suspension of enforcement applies only to the restrictions at legal parking spaces and does not permit parking in any location normally prohibited (for example, no-parking zones, loading zones or spaces for persons with disabilities). Temporary no-parking signs will be enforced September 6.

Impound Lot: The City’s Impound Facility (5249 Eisenhower Ave.) will be closed September 6. The Impound Facility is closed every Saturday and Sunday and on all observed City holidays. Fees will continue to accrue on Saturdays and Sundays but not on holidays.

Recreation and Arts Centers: On September 6, the Charles Houston (901 Wythe Street) and Patrick Henry (4653 Taney Ave.) recreation centers will be open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The Torpedo Factory Art Center (105 N. Union St.) will be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Chinquapin Park Recreation Center & Aquatics Facility (3210 King St.) and all other facilities will be closed. Visit alexandriava.gov/Recreation for more information.

Outdoor Pools: Old Town Pool (1609 Cameron St.) and Warwick Pool (3301 Landover St.) will be open from 10 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. September 6. Visit alexandriav.gov/Aquatics for more information.

Schools: All Alexandria City Public Schools and administrative offices will be closed Friday, September 3 and Monday, September 6.

Courts: On September 6, the Alexandria Circuit Court Clerk’s Office, Alexandria Circuit Court, Alexandria General District Court, Alexandria Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court and Court Service Unit (520 King St.) will be closed.

Department of Motor Vehicles: All Virginia DMV locations in Northern Virginia (including 2681 Mill Rd.) are open by appointment only. Many DMV services are available either online or by visiting dmvNOW.com/appt to schedule an appointment. Walk-in services are not available at this time.

Transit:  On September 6, the Alexandria Transit Company’s fare-free DASH bus service will operate on a Sunday schedule. The free King Street Trolley will operate from King Street Metro to Alexandria City Hall/Market Square, with service every 15 minutes, from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Visit dashbus.com for more information.

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There are dozens of volunteering opportunities in Alexandria.

“We need hundreds of people per week,” Volunteer Alexandria Executive Director Marion Brunken told ALXnow. “More people are in need now than ever.”

Here’s Volunteer Alexandria’s list of new and upcoming opportunities.

  • Alexandria Dept. of Community and Human Services Volunteer Guardian — “Looking for individuals who can assure the well-being of an incapacitated Alexandrian living in an Assisted Living Facility or Nursing Facility. Volunteer Guardians are appointed by the Court to make decisions for older Alexandria residents who have lost the capacity to understand the consequences of their decisions. The volunteer will visit the resident monthly and follow the person’s wishes as much as possible. To express interest, click HERE.”
  • ALIVE! — “Volunteers are needed to assist with multiple programs relating to their Food Program, ALIVE! House, and Alexandria Eviction Prevention Partnership Program will distribute food at Mobile Pop-ups and Truck to Trunk events, etc. Click HERE to learn about each opportunity and to register.”
  • ALIVE! Thursday Warehouse Volunteer — ALIVE! is looking for volunteers every Thursday. The role will consist of accepting deliveries, crating fruits and vegetables, shelving boxes, and all other tasks that may need to be done. Some tasks require lifting and/or moving possibly heavy items. Commitment to at least one Thursday a month is required. To express interest, click HERE.
  • Help Provide Meals to Children — “Alexandria City Public School (ACPS) will provide two days worth of breakfast and lunch meals with a snack pack free for any enrolled ACPS student on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Friday distribution will include a meal(s) for Saturday. Volunteers will meet at various schools to assist with packing boxes and loading buses with boxed meals. Then, volunteers will ride the bus along to distribute the meals while on site at a few ACPS mobile pop-up locations. Click on each location to sign up: Francis C. Hammond Middle School, Alexandria City High School, or Jefferson Houston School.”
  • ALX Fit Fair Volunteer — “Join in the ALX Fit Fair, a fun day in the park connecting the community of health and wellness businesses with fitness brands in mini-workouts and tasty samples! The event will begin at 10am and go until 2pm, but volunteers will be needed to set up an hour earlier and break down for up to 3pm. Energetic, health- focused individuals 16+ years of age who have a passion for fitness and the outdoors are needed to assist with registration, traffic control, directing people, and assigning raffle tickets. Click HERE for more information.”
  • Casa Chirilagua — “Casa Chirilagua needs volunteers to help tutor/mentor children and adults virtually and in-person during their Kids Club, Teen Club, Mentoring program, Spanish Tutor program, and Adult English Classes. To learn more click HERE.
  • Volunteer for the new DASH Network Launch — “DASH is looking for volunteers 18+ to interact and share
    information with riders about the New DASH Network during in-person pop-up events! After nearly two years of planning, outreach and community discussion, the New DASH Network is set to launch fare free on September 5th! The New DASH Network introduces more frequent, all-day service on major transit corridors in Old Town, Arlandria, Potomac Yard, Parkfairfax, the West End and the King Street corridor, and serves more low-income and minority residents. This new network will also provide access to 50,000 additional residents and nearly 25,000 additional jobs in Alexandria. Bilingual volunteers with conversational Spanish and Amharic would be a great help. All CDC mask wearing guidelines must be followed while participating in this event. To volunteer or find out more information about the new network, click HERE.”
  • Emergency Preparedness Outreach — “Help us recruit more passionate volunteers like you for our upcoming National Preparedness Month in September, our Snowbuddies Program in the winter, and all of our other emergency preparedness training programs! For more information or to sign up, click HERE.”
  • FACETS – Front Desk Volunteer at Alexandria Location — “Volunteers are needed to work at the front desk. Tasks include assisting clients, answering phone calls, receiving donations, data entry/filing, and maintaining the front desk and lobby of the office. Register HERE.”
  • Teacher positions at Friends of Guest House — “Friends of Guest House – Various Teacher Positions Dedicated volunteers needed to teach various subjects and skills classes to women. The ideal volunteer will be patient and interested in the success of these women as they further their knowledge. Volunteers are also needed to assist with vaccination pods and instruct substance abuse, addiction, and recovery classes. To register and learn more click HERE.”
  • National Preparedness Month Volunteers – “Interested in helping us plan, organize and execute events for National Preparedness Month? Join our planning team! No experience necessary just a passion for emergency preparedness. Click HERE to sign up!”
  • Repair Coach at Fixit Clinic – Kate Waller Barrett Library — The Barrett Branch Library is seeking volunteers to join in our first Fixit Clinic on Saturday, September 11 between 11am and 3pm. The Fixit Clinic is an opportunity to help your neighbors, teach skills for living all while keeping items out of the landfills and pushing against throwaway culture. We’re looking for skilled professionals and amateur craftspeople who work within the categories of small appliances, furniture, computers, electronics, clothing, jewelry, book and paper, bicycle repair and blade sharpening. Repair coaches not only will attempt to fix the items brought in, but will work with visitors to explain the process or encourage owners to attempt repairs themselves. To express interest, click HERE.
  • Create Salvation Army care packages — “We are collecting items for seniors and vulnerable populations. You can help by creating care packages from the security of your own home and safely dropping items at our locations. To express interest, click HERE.”
  • Senior Services of Alexandria’s groceries to go – “Shop for and deliver groceries every other week to home-bound seniors who live within the City of Alexandria. You will be paired with a senior, who will provide you with their grocery list. Further instructions will be provided to you once you've filled out the application, which involves a background check. To register click HERE.”
  • Senior Services of Alexandria’s Meals on Wheels — “Meals on Wheels provides meals to seniors who are unable to leave their homes to shop, or have difficulty preparing a meal, to have two healthy meals a day delivered to their homes. Click HERE to learn more and to register.”
  • Long Term Client Intake Case Workers — “Provide financial and logistical assistance to those in need of a Virginia state ID, needed to access housing, food assistance, jobs and more. While helping clients get IDs we also register them to vote and help others restore their voting rights. To register, click HERE.”
  • Space Of Her Own (SOHO) Mentoring for Girls — “SOHO is returning in-person for the 2021-2022 school year with a brand new class of 5th grade girls from under-resourced communities in Alexandria, Virginia, each waiting for a caring adult female mentor like you! Join us for an information session on either August 24 or 25 from 5:30-6:30 pm at The Art League Annex, at 1055 North Fairfax Street. To learn more, click HERE.
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Morning Notes

Bowl America agrees to sale — “Shareholders of Bowl America Inc. voted Wednesday to approve its $44 million sale to Bowlero Corp., which in turn, plans to go public through its own marriage with a blank-check company that values the larger company at about $2.6 billion. Bowl America (NYSE: BWL-A), the Alexandria-based operator of 17 bowling centers in the Greater Washington, Baltimore, Richmond and Jacksonville, Florida, areas, said it expects its sale to close Monday.” [Washington Business Journal]

McAuliffe and DNC Chair visit Alexandria — “Great event this morning at Port City Brewing Company with Terry McAuliffe and DNC Chairman Jaime Harrison! It’s clear that if we want to see Virginia’s economy continue to rebound we need Democratic leadership to build on President Biden’s Build Back Better Plan.” [Facebook]

DASH launching new bus network, going fare-free Sept. 5 — “The network changes include the implementation of frequent, all-day service on major transit corridors across the city – in Old Town, Arlandria, Potomac Yard, Parkfairfax, the West End and the King Street corridor. These improvements mean buses will run every 15 minutes or less, throughout the day, seven days a week.” [Zebra]

Homegrown Restaurant Group honored by Beautification Commission — “CONGRATULATIONS to the winners of this year’s special Beautification Awards celebrating businesses that creatively embraced their outdoor environment during unprecedented times. These businesses represent the best of beautification by bringing the indoors outdoors in Alexandria during COVID-19. The combined presence of Tequila & Taco and Sweet Fire Donna’s has helped bring the Carlyle neighborhood to life this year.” [Facebook]

The Rainbow Rock Band is playing at the upcoming Sidewalk Sale — “We are SO EXCITED that Rainbow Rock Band will be back in Del Ray for a live outdoor show on Saturday at 10:30am outside the Mt. Vernon Rec Center… After a morning of fun, visit The Purple Goose and Bellies & Babies Consignment Boutique for back-to-school shopping at bargain prices — the Alexandria Sidewalk Sale in Del Ray takes place August 14-15!” [Facebook]

Today’s weather — “Partly cloudy skies (during the day). A stray shower or thunderstorm is possible. High 97F. Winds WSW at 5 to 10 mph… Partly to mostly cloudy skies with scattered thunderstorms before midnight. Low 74F. Winds SW at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 60%.” [Weather.com]

New job: Entry level maintenance technician ($3,000 signing bonus) — “The Mechanic C is an entry level position with the Hertz Corporation and is the launching point for our maintenance team. In this role you will be performing preventative maintenance, with a focus on Oil and Tire Changes. Must be a quick learner, and have an assortment of tools, including oil filter wrenches, socket set, and a toolbox to keep them in.” [Indeed]

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