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Women’s Equality Day is around the corner, and Alexandria is included in a regional historic bike ride to recognize the fight for women’s rights.

The free bike ride is sponsored by the Alexandria Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee, Alexandria Spokeswomen and Alexandria Celebrates Women.

Perhaps Susan B. Anthony put it best when she said:

Let me tell you what I think of bicycling. I think it has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world. It gives women a feeling of freedom and self-reliance. I stand and rejoice every time I see a woman ride by on a wheel…the picture of free, untrammeled womanhood.

The ride starts at the Braddock Road Metro station at 9 a.m. on Saturday, August 27 — the day after Women’s Equality Day.

The initial 6.2-mile route goes through Annie Rose Avenue and Ruby Tucker Park in Potomac Yard, Judy Lowe Neighborhood Park and Pat Miller Neighborhood Square in Del Ray, the Nancy Dunning Memorial in Potomac West, Shirley Tyler Unity Park in Lynhaven and Cora Kelly School in Arlandria.

In 1917, 32 suffragists were freed from the Occoquan Workhouse (now the Workhouse Arts Center in Lorton) after a trial at the federal courthouse in Alexandria. The women were tortured and force-fed while in prison.

In recognition of their struggle, the bike ride continues at 10:45 a.m. from the Franconia-Springfield Metro station to the Lucy Burns Museum at the Workhouse Arts Center. Admission to the museum is $5 and includes a guided cellblock tour.

“The round-trip route is approximately 23 miles, with a mix of bike lanes and roads,” event organizers said. “Participants are encouraged to wear (and/or decorate your bike) with the colors of the women’s suffrage movement — purple, gold and white.”

The final segment of the ride starts at noon,and runs 1.3 miles between the Lucy Burns Museum and the Turning Point Suffragist Memorial. The cyclists will then get lunch at Brickmakers Cafe before returning to the Franconia-Springfield Metro station.

Photo via Pedego/Facebook

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One of the very first stories on ALXnow discussed — maybe too snarkily in hindsight — the distinction between the City of Alexandria and the areas of Fairfax south of Cameron Run sometimes referred to as Alexandria.

This past week, two businesses opening this month — a cannabis dispensary and a metal supermarket — identified themselves as “Alexandria” branches of their respective chains despite the fact that both are opening in Fairfax.

The root of the issue is that the Post Office’s broad zones identify neighborhoods like Fort Hunt or Mount Vernon as “Alexandria” despite the fact that they fall outside of the city’s borders. Critics say the misnomer has created several problems, from misunderstandings about where a crime or fire took place to a Target accidentally sending $1 million in tax revenue to the wrong locality. But defenders of “Alexandria, Fairfax” have repeatedly chimed in saying the name is a point of pride for many south of Cameron Run.

At any rate, it’s a slow news week and we’re trying to fill story slots in the rundown, so chime in below with your thoughts:

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Metal Supermarkets (image via Metal Supermarkets Alexandria/Facebook)

A new metal shop opening just outside the city means Tiki Bar patrons won’t be the only things getting hammered by the end of the month.

While Metal Supermarkets is technically opening just beyond Alexandria proper’s borders, like the cannabis dispensary before it, it’s interesting enough to be worth ‘steeling’ from FFXnow.

Metal Supermarkets is exactly what it says on the tin: a one-stop shop for all metal needs for professionals ‘ore’ hobbyists.

“Metal Supermarkets stores specialize in the sales and distribution of all types and ranges of metal,” the shop said in a press release, “including hot and cold rolled, aluminum copper, brass and stainless in bars, tubes, angles, channel, sheet and plate to meet the needs of a wide and diverse variety of customers that require these essential products.”

The release said Metal Supermarkets aims to be an ironclad metals supplier for local manufacturers, machinists, maintenance and repair shops and more.

The new shop is scheduled to open at 6460 General Green Way on Monday, Aug. 29. The store will be open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The new Fairfax location is the fourth Metal Supermarkets in Alexandria.

“I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to open a second Metal Supermarkets location,” Theresa Lora, owner of Metal Supermarkets Alexandria, said in the release. “The pandemic made running our first Metal Supermarkets store in Beltsville, Maryland a little challenging, but we had a great staff that helped make things easier. Now, we have an incredible staff at the Alexandria location that will provide the same tremendous support to area businesses and the Alexandria community.”

Image via Metal Supermarkets/Facebook

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Burke & Herbert Bank has been an iconic institution in Alexandria since 1852, but the financial institution has been cozying up to the city’s southern neighbor with a new centralized office.

Similar to how the city is consolidating its services in a new West End facility, Alexandria’s Burke & Herbert Bank is planning to centralize just south of the border with Fairfax.

While the bank’s headquarters will remain at the historic building in Old Town (100 South Fairfax Street), much of the rest of its operations will be shifted to a new headquarters at 5680 King Centre Drive in Franconia.

The bank said in a release that the local workforce is currently scattered around the region, and the new building will allow it to become more centralized.

“Consolidating our team under one roof allows us to improve collaboration, work much more efficiently, and continue to strengthen and build the Bank’s signature culture of community as we embrace future expansion,” said David P. Boyle, the Bank’s President and Chief Executive Officer, in the release. “The acquisition of this building is consistent with our plans for growth as we continue to execute our strategic priorities.”

The release said the new office will bring together the several branches within the bank under one roof.

“The new office will house employees from several departments, including commercial, treasury management, retail banking, human resources, operations, finance and accounting, credit risk management, marketing, digital strategy, and information technology,” the release said. “The new location is more centrally located for its expanding workforce; is certified as a LEED Gold level building, and provides additional visibility for the Bank.”

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Alexandria firefighters say the city and its mutual aid partners in neighboring jurisdictions were left unprepared in the event of an emergency last week, but the Alexandria Fire Department says everything was covered.

In a tweet on July 7 (Thursday), the International Association of Firefighters Union 2141 issued a public safety announcement that the city had only two fire trucks and no rescue apparatus in operation.

The union also says that the city is gambling with the lives of its residents by depending too often on its mutual aid partners in neighboring jurisdictions — the Arlington, Fairfax and Prince George’s County Fire Departments.

AFD confirmed that on July 6 (Wednesday), a heavy rescue squad vehicle went out of service for a day-and-a-half and was replaced during that time by a reserve vehicle. The following day, July 7, a ladder truck went out of service for repair and was briefly replaced by a spare engine sitting in Old Town’s Station 201, which has been closed for floor repairs.

According to AFD:

The Alexandria Fire Department maintains state-of-the-art frontline and reserve apparatus fleet. These apparatus are specialized vehicles that can require repair from time to time. On July 6th, a heavy rescue squad vehicle required a repair that was completed in a day and a half and then was back in service. During this time, another reserve vehicle was placed into service. A ladder truck went out of service for repair on July 7th and was back in service on the same day. During that time a reserve vehicle was placed into service until the ladder truck was repaired. At no time was there a safety risk to our residents or city personnel.

The department uses National Fire Protection Association Standards to meet service demands. Regionally, we also share automatic and mutual aid capabilities to maintain public safety within the region, in which various jurisdictions rely on each other for calls for service. The department continues to evaluate the growth of the city and make deployment adjustments to address the community’s needs.

One Alexandria firefighter who works in operations, and did not want their name posted out of fear of retaliation, said that the heavy rescue squad vehicle was replaced by an empty reserve engine, which only had fire hoses on it.

“A truck broke down and we didn’t have a current reserve truck,” the firefighter said. “That truck company was actually put onto an engine. You can’t swap ladders and all the bigger tools and chainsaws onto an engine, because there’s not the space for it.”

The firefighter continued, “They were capable of running certain calls, like they were able to reset fire alarms, they were able to run EMS calls because they had their EMS equipment with them. But they weren’t able to act as a truck, they weren’t able to ladder a building — other than one 24-foot ladder and the 14-foot ladder that comes on the side of engines. They weren’t able to operate as a truck company. Luckily for the rescue, we had an engine, because we have Station 201 that’s currently out of service, and the engine is fully stocked, sitting there and waiting to be used for when that station goes back in service.”

Mayor Justin Wilson spoke with AFD after the tweet was posted, and said that the Department “didn’t miss a beat.”

“My understanding in talking to AFD last week is that this related to a mechanical issue with two separate pieces of apparatus that were quickly repaired, and that they had backup apparatus available to ensure we didn’t miss a beat,” Wilson told ALXnow.

Union organizer Jeremy McClayton says that the public doesn’t know the difference in the fire department’s jargon — between a truck or an engine.

“Tell someone who lives in a high-rise that an engine and truck are the same,” McClayton said. “The truck, using the truck ladder, can get up to the tenth floor in the event of a high-rise rescue or fire, while an engine can go up two stories. Same thing with engines and the rescue – the rescue apparatus has the vehicular extraction on it (jaws of life). An engine can’t hold that, so replacing a rescue with an engine means we don’t have the same response capabilities.”

In the meantime, the City Attorney’s Office and the union are hammering out the rules of their collective bargaining negotiations. The union frequently tweets about firefighters working too many hours of forced overtime, equipment failure and more.

Firefighter Megan Ellzy, a former IAFF Local 2141 president, has been with the department 12 years, and says that the city is playing a dangerous game.

“We’re really hoping that (new City Manager Jim) Parajon comes in with his planning background and that he kind of has some forethought and encourages our department to be proactive and preventative, versus waiting until a catastrophe happens,” Ellzy said. “And you know that whole ‘thoughts and prayers thing,’ right? Our leaders are gonna take pictures with us and come to the funerals and all, but it could have all been avoided.”

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Police car lights (file photo)

A 33-year-old Alexandria man is being held without bond after allegedly stealing thousands of dollars worth of vehicle parts in residential parking garages in Fairfax County and Fairfax City.

Dustin Bradley Drake was apprehended by Fairfax County Police.

Drake, who is a multiple felon, was charged with grand larceny, eluding police, possession with intent to manufacture a schedule I/II substance, destruction of property possession of burglarious tools, and driving on a revoked license.

The first theft was reported on April 19 in the 5800 block of Trinity Parkway in Centreville.

“The victim went out to their vehicle earlier in the day and it wouldn’t start,” police said in a search warrant affidavit. “The victim saw that the hood of the car had been tampered with, and that he couldn’t close it properly. When he opened the hood, he found that his car batter was missing and that the wires to the vehicle’s horn were cut.”

Security footage showed two cars — a Nissan Murano and Jeep Cherokee — piggyback behind residents who drive into the secured parking garage. The suspects then parked on the fourth floor of the garage, parked and started pulling on door handles, according to a search warrant affidavit.

Three days later, on April 22, another person reported a theft from their vehicle in Fairfax County. Among the items stolen were a car battery, an air intake system and air filter — amounting to about $7,000 in damages, police said in the search warrant affidavit.

Then, on April 29, Fairfax County Police responded to the 4400 block of Market Commons Drive in the City of Fairfax after a man reported that his truck was broken into and that two handguns were stolen.

“Security footage of the parking garage sowed a Nissan Murano enter the parking garage and exit a little over an hour after,” police said in a search warrant affidavit.

The suspect’s vehicle was soon spotted and the suspect was arrested. The Nissan Murano is being held as evidence by the Alexandria Police Department.

“During an interview after his arrest, Mr. Drake admitted to law enforcement officers that there were stolen items contained inside his vehicle,” police said in the search warrant affidavit.

Drake has multiple court dates this month.

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DNA evidence has linked a stolen handgun left in a car to a 32-year-old Alexandria felon, who now faces upward of two years in prison.

The .45 caliber Para Ordnance 1911 pistol was reported stolen from a car in Centreville on August 28, 2021, according to a search warrant affidavit. The same gun was recovered September 2, 2021, by Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority Police in an abandoned car that was reported stolen from Arlington.

The gun owner told police that he owned the gun for years, had not shot it in more than two years and did not allow anyone else to handle it, according to a search warrant affidavit.

More than six months later, on March 11, the Virginia Department of Forensic Science returned a certificate of analysis with a DNA profile of the suspect.

The suspect, who has more than 10 felony convictions, was arrested on April 11 — eight months after the gun was reported stolen. He was charged with petit larceny and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. The latter charge carries a minimum sentence of two years in prison.

The suspect is being held without bond in the William G. Truesdale Adult Detention Center and goes to court on June 18.

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There’s a new grocery store in the area. Juana Supermarket officially opened its doors on Saturday (April 23).

The new store replaced the La Latina Market at 5838 N. King’s Highway in the Huntington Station Shopping Center. The shop is managed by Pino Gibson, Jr., and it’s his only location.

The store is fully stocked, and is the only grocery store in the shopping center, which is located in the Jefferson Manor neighborhood of Alexandria in the Lee District of Fairfax County. They sell fresh meat, vegetables, spices, cheeses, snacks, canned food, and general grocery store items.

“We have spices from Africa, South and Latin America, the Caribbean and more,” the manager told ALXnow. “The prices are low and we haven’t had supply issues getting food.”

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Flyer calls for help for Ukrainians (via Northern Virginia Regional Commission)

Northern Virginia is coming together to help Ukrainians struck by war.

Local leaders and community members, organized by the Northern Virginia Regional Commission, will launch a donation drive at the Fairfax County Government Center on Wednesday (March 23), collecting items through April 15 to send to refugees in Ukraine and Poland.

Alexandria Vice Mayor Amy Jackson will be among others at the donation drive’s launch on Wednesday, along with Fairfax County and Manassas leaders, according to a media advisory.

The donations will be accepted at over 30 locations — from libraries to supervisors’ offices and more — starting Wednesday (March 23). The event will be broadcast at 10 a.m. on the Fairfax County government’s Facebook page.

Requested items include new and gently used coats as well as new blankets, gloves, and pairs of sweat or heavy socks. More information about the drive, including a list of collection sites, can be found at helpukrainenova.org. In Alexandria, there will be two sites — one at City Hall and the other at Beatley Central Library.

The items will be boxed together with help from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ Oakton congregation. Paxton Companies, a North Springfield moving business, will then shrink wrap boxes and transport them to Wilmington, North Carolina.

A business that wishes to remain anonymous will ship the donations overseas, bringing the supplies to trucks in Antwerp and a non-governmental organization that has a supply chain on the ground, NVRC executive director Bob Lazaro said.

The campaign came together after local elected leaders reached out to NVRC, seeking to replicate a similar effort by the area in 2013 to help Syrian refugees who fled a civil war that’s still continuing.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began on Feb. 24. The war has now killed thousands of people — including at least 902 civilians — destroyed cities, and threatened the country’s sovereignty, causing over 3 million refugees to flee to neighboring countries.

The United Nations’ human migration agency reported that 3.3 million people in Ukraine have been displaced. Every minute, 55 more Ukrainian children become refugees, the United Nations Children’s Fund has estimated.

“Our residents don’t want to stand by — they want to help,” Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay said in a statement. “As we uplift and offer support to our residents of Ukrainian descent here in the County, we can also aid in efforts abroad, sending much needed supplies to the millions of displaced Ukrainians taking refuge in Poland.”

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Morning Notes

Pandemic sounds death knell for Alexandria dry cleaners — “Gary and Chong Whitesides had for the past three decades run a dry-cleaning business in Alexandria… but the pandemic eventually shut them down, too.” [Washington Post]

Robots take over Hybla Valley Denny’s — “A handful of Denny’s restaurants nationwide, including one in the Alexandria area, has hired robots.” [Alexandria Living Magazine]

One dead, two badly injured in Duke Street crash — “One person died and two others were badly hurt in a five-vehicle crash that closed a section of Duke Street in Alexandria, Virginia, for more than eight hours in the overnight hours.” [WTOP]

IndoChen opening on King Street — “IndoChen is opening a second location inside the Hyatt Centric Hotel at 1625 King St. near the Old Town metro station.” [Zebra]

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