Alexandria, VA

Lee Raynes has been humbled by community support after her Del Ray home burned down on Saturday, September 12.

At around 7 p.m., Raynes, who owns Bellies and Babies Consignment Boutique on Mount Vernon Avenue, was on her front porch when she smelled smoke. At first she thought it was her dinner burning in the oven, but knew it was more serious after opening the front door of her house.

“The fire marshal told me that it was my drier in the basement, which wasn’t even on,” Raynes told ALXnow. “The biggest problem is that the structural integrity of the house is compromised, because the cross beams on the main level are charred. It looks like I will have to tear down to foundation and rebuild.”

Raynes’ 10-year-old son was not home at the time, and their 16-year-old cat died in the fire.

Within 48 hours, the Del Ray Business Association organized a GoFundMe campaign for Raynes that has since raised more than $11,000.

“Thankfully, Lee and her 10-year-old son are both safe,” the DRBA said. “However, Lee left the house with only the clothes on her back; the family lost their cat in the fire; and their home suffered significant damage in the floorboards on the main level and smoke damage on the third floor… We are in awe of Lee’s constant upbeat attitude despite everything 2020 has thrown at her.”

Raynes said she’s looking at silver linings.

“This community raised $10,000 in less than 12 hours, and I don’t even know 75% of people on that list,” she said. “It’s been very humbling. I started my store to help the community and to feel like they have a village, and it’s me who’s now thriving from the village.”

Image via GoFundMe

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Alexandria Police are investigating reports of a man performing lewd behavior in an alleyway in the 2200 block of Mount Vernon Avenue in Del Ray.

The suspect was seen allegedly masturbating in an alleyway near a number of businesses at around 10 p.m. on Thursday, August 13 and Tuesday, August 25. In the second incident, a woman reported that the suspect ran from the alley and fled the area in a black flatbed tow truck.

Police said the suspect is a bald man in his 30s.

Police also said this is not the same person as the man who was arrested in for public indecency near the Alexandria Commons Shopping Center on August 22.

Map via Google Maps

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Alexandria Police are investigating a robbery from a person that occurred in the Del Ray/Rosemont area at around midnight on Tuesday morning, September 8.

According to police, a person was robbed in the area of West Mason Avenue and Russell Road. The area is mostly residential and surrounded by churches.

Alexandria Police did not respond to ALXnow’s questions on the incident.

Map via Google Maps

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Morning Notes

Beyer: We Must Protect the U.S. Postal Service —  “I have been in touch with local postal officials, who express their commitment to ensuring the timely delivery and return of all ballots. This could be an issue in many parts of the country, however, and I will be working with my colleagues to exercise constant vigilance and ensure that elections are fair and safe. My Northern Virginia colleague, U.S. Rep. Gerry Connolly, serves as the chair of the Oversight Subcommittee on Government Operations, and with his tireless leadership the House will do all it can to fix these problems and restore operations and service at USPS.” [Gazette]

Three City Parks Scheduled for Improvements — “Projects at or near Powhatan, Hooffs Run, and Brenman Parks to occur over next two months.” [Zebra]

City Holding Virtual 9/11 Remembrance Ceremony Online — “Alexandria’s ceremony is prerecorded and virtual to avoid a large gathering during the pandemic. It will include remarks from Mayor Justin Wilson, City Manager Mark Jinks, and representatives from the Alexandria Fire Department, Police Department, and Sheriff’s Office. There will also be a “Return to Quarters” bell-ringing ceremony.” [Patch]

Alexandria Wedding Showcase Goes Virtual — “Tune in virtually on Sunday, Sept. 13 to hear from a variety of vendors on trends, wedding industry changes, and what you need to know while planning your wedding during a pandemic.” [Alexandria Living]

Carlyle Concert Series Starts Friday — “Enjoy the Carlyle Farmers Market while you attend the Concert! Alcohol is available for purchase at select vendor stands and bar as well BYOB-Bring Your Own Beverage will be observed in designated area.” [Facebook]

Harvest Moon Yoga Tonight in Del Ray — “Shine on Harvest Moon! Free outdoor yoga in Del Ray returns every Wed. Sept. 9 – Oct. 14, 6:00 – 7:00 pm at the Del Ray Psych & Wellness lot, 1900 Mt. Vernon Avenue (Corner of E. Bellefonte) in the Heart of Del Ray.” [Facebook]

Today’s Weather — “Cloudy early. Scattered thunderstorms developing later in the day. High 81F. Winds ENE at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 50%. Scattered thunderstorms in the evening, then mainly cloudy overnight with thunderstorms likely. Heavy and torrential downpours at times. Low 72F. Winds ENE at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 80%.” [Weather.com]

New Job: Dog Walker and Pet Sitter — “Are you a veterinary technician who has been pet-sitting under the table to supplement your income? Have you worried about your lack of insurance or back-up plan if you got sick? If so, then joining Cat Nanny Jess might be the answer to all your worries!” [Indeed]

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Morning Notes

Today’s the First Day of School for ACPS — “Let’s focus on getting connected this week! Make sure you have access to technology and have completed your back-to-school forms.” [ACPS]

West End Development Could Add Hundreds of Affordable Housing Units — “Wesley Housing is requesting a pre-development loan of $400,000 to start the development process on ParcView II, a new affordable rental project on Holmes Run Parkway in Alexandria’s West End.” [Alexandria Living]

Child Abuse Reports Go Down 40% — “Typically, Alexandria Child Protective Services receives more case reports in the spring than any other time of the year. However, this spring reports were down 40 percent from the average in recent years.” [Alexandria Living]

Gong Meditation Today in Del Ray — “Join us each Tuesday from 6-7pm, September 1 through October 20. Relax and support your body, mind and spirit through sound, yoga and meditation. Take a break from today’s hectic and stressful environment and see how you can benefit from sound therapy.” [Facebook]

Volunteers Needed for Food Distribution This Thursday — “Help serve meals and groceries this Thursday, September 10 at the Charles Houston Recreation Center. A project from the Washington Street UMC, ALIVE!, ARHA, and Charles Houston Recreation Center – this event generally serves more than 150 families!” [Facebook]

Alexandria Drive-In Shows ‘Back To The Future’ —  “Remembering you have one of the sold out spots for Back to the Future this Saturday …  ” [Facebook]

Today’s Weather — “During the day, mainly sunny. High 88F. Winds ESE at 5 to 10 mph. At night, partly to mostly cloudy. Low 69F. Winds E at 5 to 10 mph.” [Weather.com]

New Job: Keyholder at FatFace — “Our Alexandria store is looking for a passionate supervisor to lead the team and establish the brand in the local area.” [Indeed]

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(Updated at 4 p.m. on September 11) The driver experienced a medical emergency and was sent home the following morning after the crash without any injuries, according to police.

The driver of a red Toyota SUV suffered life threatening injuries in after crashing into parked cars on Mount Vernon Avenue between E. Windsor and E. Howell Avenues in Del Ray.

No one else was injured in the accident, which flipped over the red Toyota. The driver, who has not been identified, was transported to the hospital, according to Alexandria Police spokesman Lt. Courtney Ballantine.

The Crash Reconstruction Team is investigating the crash and will release information on the cause within 48 hours, Ballantine said.

DASH buses have stopped running northbound at Windsor Avenue and southbound at Custis Avenue.

The accident occurred across the street from Evening Star Cafe and a number of other local businesses.

Courtesy Photo/ Map via Google Maps

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When one door closes another opens, and that’s definitely the case with The Company of Books, Del Ray’s new used book store is turning the page and replacing the Book Bank in Old Town. The new store opened at 1712 Mount Vernon Avenue in Del Ray a little less than two weeks ago.

The Del Ray location is still a little empty, and books and shelves are being brought in daily. Readers might find a few noticeable differences between the new and the old book stores. For one thing, the Company of Books is a nonprofit and its founder and Executive Director Rachel Baker wants to use future profits toward community events.

“We definitely are not looking at expanding into more locations, and our goal is to give back to the community in a way that can be helpful, and mean something,” Baker told ALXnow.

The Book Bank, which is an Alexandria staple that has sold used books for decades at 1015 King Street, will be closing its doors for good on September 20. The store will be offering sales of up to 50% off before the closure, and even before discounts the average cost for a book is $6.

There was some controversy with the new store, as a neighbor in Del Ray reported that one of its board members was taking books from little free libraries to sell in the store. Baker said that the books were recycled back into the little free libraries and that she has thousands of books for sale.

“The profit margin on a secondhand bookstore is incredibly small, and it definitely requires volume and you cannot make any kind of income taking books from little free libraries and reselling them,” she said.

The store will also start accepting used book donations on October 15.

Come visit us !!!!

Posted by The Company of Books, Inc on Saturday, August 29, 2020

Photo via The Company of Books/Facebook

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Alexandria has put another summer work week to rest.

As the City Council enjoys a legislative break, the School Board conducted a virtual meeting to discuss the renaming process for T.C. Williams High School. Superintendent Gregory Hutchings, Jr., and the board advocate a public engagement process that could result in the board voting to change the name this December, followed by a vote on a specific name next spring. A group of community activists, however, believe that the name should be taken off immediately, since ACPS acknowledged Williams was an avowed racist and segregationist.

This week, readers also responded to stories about public safety, local businesses, entertainment, real estate listings and an update on absentee ballot requests.

Not included in this week’s list is Friday’s story about an increased police presence in Old Town after an uptick in violent crime.

What stories impacted you this week? Let us know in the comments.

Here are our top stories this week in Alexandria.

  1. Fire Department Says $1 Million in Damages and 21 People Displaced in West End Fire
  2. Lena’s in Del Ray Applies for Large Second-Floor Expansion and To-Go Alcohol Sales
  3. New Convenience Store ‘Old Town Mini Mart’ Coming to King Street
  4. Police Investigating ‘Shots Fired’ Report in West End
  5. Man Arrested for Forging Over $10,000 in Checks from Alexandria Dentist
  6. Del Ray Shell Station Robbed on Saturday
  7. ACPS Still Cutting Down 150-Year-Old Tree, Preparing for Parker-Gray Stadium Renovation
  8. Drive-In Movies Coming to Alexandria on August 29
  9. Truck Lit on Fire, Stripped of Identification at City Impound Lot
  10. Listing of the Day: 428 N Washington Street
  11. Alexandria Sees Record High Absentee Ballot Requests

Have a safe weekend!

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Morning Notes

COVID-19 Cases up 21 to 3,186 in Alexandria — “The latest update from the City on COVID-19: Positive tests up 21 to 3,186 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]

Ebbin Bill Would Require Landlords Offer Tenants Payment Plans — “Senator John Bell and my bill to require landlords to offer payment plans to tenants who miss a payment due to COVID-19 rather than evicting them reports unanimously from the General Laws committee. This bill is a win-win and will stem the potential tide of evictions in Virginia, and has consensus support from tenants and landlords alike.” [Facebook]

Irish Festival Goes Virtual — “The Alexandria Irish Festival, an annual tradition promoting Irish heritage, won’t happen in person this year due to the pandemic. Instead, the festivities will go virtual for the first time on Saturday, Aug. 29.” [Patch]

Pizza Restaurant Opens in Del Ray — “The site, 2419 Mt. Vernon Ave., has been home to several restaurants in recent years.” [Alex Times]

Today’s Weather — During the day, mostly cloudy skies; a stray shower or thunderstorm is possible; high near 85F; winds S at 5 to 10 mph. In the evening, isolated thunderstorms, then cloudy skies overnight. Low 71F. Winds SSW at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 30%. [Weather.com]

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. Strong understanding of residential and commercial process.” [Indeed]

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Lena’s Wood-Fired Pizza and Tap could be undergoing a bit new expansion if its special use permit gets approved.

According to the application, new plans would expand Lena’s into the second floor of 515 Mount Vernon Avenue. The expansion would add 180 additional indoor seats to the restaurant.

The restaurant owners, Yates Restaurant Group LLC, are also requesting that the permit be amended to allow off-premise sale of beer and wine.

This isn’t the first time Lena’s has worked to try to accommodate larger crowds at the popular pizza restaurant near the Braddock Metro station. Lena’s also converted the rear parking deck into a tropical oasis-themed bar in June to facilitate more outdoor dining at the height of the pandemic.

The application is scheduled to be reviewed at a Planning Commission meeting on October 6.

The restaurant was the only location in the Alexandria Restaurant Partners group that didn’t close in March when the city entered an emergency shutdown.

Photo via Google Maps

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A man walked into a Del Ray gas station on Saturday and robbed the location, according to police.

The incident occurred at a Shell Station on the 1600 block of Mount Vernon Avenue on Saturday afternoon, police said.

Lt. Courtney Ballantine said a man walked into the service station and displayed a gun. He took cash from the gas station and left, Ballantine said. There were no injuries and no suspect description was released.

Photo via Google Maps

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These summer weeks are flying by, and another one is in the books in Alexandria.

This week, readers responded to a number of issues in the city, including the tragic story behind the city’s first murder, crime in Arlandria and another protest outside of the acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary’s home.

There was some fun news, too, like the official announcement that drive-in movies will make their way to the city at the end of the month, and that Holy Cow Del Ray made a new burger of the moment, “The Alexandria HS,” in an effort to add its two cents in a community discussion on what to rename T.C. Williams High School.

What stories impacted you this week? Let us know in the comments.

Here are our top stories this week in Alexandria.

  1. BREAKING: Murder Suspect Was Released After COVID-19 Court Delay, Allegedly Kills Former Girlfriend Before Trial
  2. Friends and Neighbors Seek to Name Alley After Retired Judge Nolan Dawkins
  3. Man Arrested for Attempted Rape Behind Arlandria 7-Eleven
  4. Drive-In Movies Coming to Alexandria on August 29
  5. Protestors Promise to Keep Demonstrating at Acting DHS Secretary’s Alexandria Home
  6. Alexandria Summer Camp Closed Early Due to Coronavirus Exposure
  7. BREAKING: Alexandria Police Ask for Public Help in Finding Man Wanted for Murder
  8. Here’s the Latest on Development Projects on Beauregard Street in the West End
  9. Another Protest Planned This Weekend Outside DHS Secretary’s Home
  10. West End Development Returns to City with Scaled Down Density and More Open Space
  11. Alexandria’s COVID-19 Death Count at 60, Hospital Concerned About Rising Cases
  12. Holy Cow Del Ray Wades Into Another Local Controversy With Another Burger

Have a safe weekend!

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