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If you have a friend who buys Powerball at this Safeway at 8646 Richmond Highway, the next round at the bar is on them (photo via Google Maps)

Someone who bought a Powerball ticket at a Safeway south of Alexandria has won the lottery.

Virginia Lottery said a winning Powerball ticket was bought at 8646 Richmond Highway “in Alexandria” — which is a pretty charitable description for a grocery store closer to Fort Belvoir than Fort Ward. The ticket didn’t take in the $1 billion jackpot but will cash in for $1 million — or whatever is left after taxes.

According to the release from the Virginia Lottery:

The winning numbers for the April 1 Powerball drawing were 19-24-40-42-56, and the Powerball number was 23. This ticket matched the first five numbers and missed only the Powerball number.

This ticket was one of only six in the nation to match the first five numbers. No ticket matched all six numbers to win the estimated $1 billion jackpot. That means the jackpot for Wednesday’s Powerball drawing grows to an estimated $1.09 billion.

Whoever has the ticket has 180 days from the drawing date to claim the prize. The Virginia Lottery advises that before doing anything else, the winner should immediately sign the back of the ticket to establish ownership. When the person is ready to claim the million-dollar prize, he or she should contact the Virginia Lottery.

Stores that sell a $1 million winning ticket receive a $10,000 bonus from the Virginia Lottery.

The Virginia Lottery said the odds of matching all six numbers in the jackpot are 1 in 292.2 million and the odds of winning any prize are 1 in 25.

Profits from the Virginia Lottery go to K-12 education.

Photo via Google Maps

Northern Virginia Juvenile Detention Center (Staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Alexandria’s City Council unanimously approved releasing $657,629 to allow the Northern Virginia Juvenile Detention Center to continue operating, but that doesn’t mean they’re happy about it.

Council was told that the detention center (200 S. Whiting Street) has seen a dramatic increase in usage over the last year, and that the center is pursuing a pilot program with National Capital Treatment & Recovery to introduce a substance abuse recovery program to the unit. They were also told that an unused portion of the facility was being studied for future use.

“I would say at least 50% of our children have experimented with fentanyl,” Johnitha McNair, the detention center’s executive director, told council. “It is highly addictive, so many of them come in with needs to have addiction and withdrawal and treatment services provided immediately.”

The fate of the Northern Virginia Juvenile Detention Center has been uncertain for years. Last year, City Council placed the funds into a reserve account until city staff could provide recommendations that:

  1. Optimize capacity within Northern Virginia for Juvenile Secure Detention services
  2. Leverage available physical plant capacity for alternative uses
  3. Pursue new regional partnerships for use of facilities and staffing

Mike Mackey, director of the city’s Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court Service unit, said that the center has reached its capacity of 46 youth over the past year. He also said that detention-eligible cases involving Alexandria youth increased 66% last year, and 100% involving Arlington youth.

“By comparison… in 2020 the average daily population was 12,” Mackey told Council. “In 2022 it was nine, and in this fiscal year the average daily population is 26. The center has seen the population go up to its capacity of 46. Today there are 38 youth 17 of whom are from Alexandria, 10 from Arlington.”

But Mayor Justin Wilson, before Tuesday’s vote to release the funds, chided Earl Conklin, chair of the detention center’s commission and Arlington’s director of court services, for not bringing concrete proposals on new programs and services at the facility to Council.

“Where’s the proposal?” Wilson asked. “If it requires capital investment, bring us something. I, for one, have been yelling asking for that for eight years, and all I hear is, ‘We have ideas. We’re talking about these ideas.’ Where’s a proposal? I mean seriously, if it requires some investment, if it requires something to drive that forward — help me help you —  what are we not doing to make that happen?”

Conklin replied, “I think the primary message the board has gotten was of closing the (detention) center.”

“That’s not true,” Wilson interrupted. “Let me be crystal clear. As the one who has been the instigator on this, I have never said that this is about closing the facility. It has always been about how do we optimize the capacity that we have in the region, and whether that means consolidation in Alexandria, consolidation in other jurisdictions, repurposing part of the facility, whatever, it’s not been about closing the facility.”

Northern Virginia Juvenile Detention center utilization (via City of Alexandria)

The detention center is regulated by the Virginia Department of Juvenile Justice and overseen by the Juvenile Detention Commission, which is made up of two members from Arlington, one from Falls Church, and two from Alexandria. It first opened in 1958 and houses youth with serious offenses and behavioral issues from Alexandria, Arlington County and the City of Falls Church. The center saw a 72% reduction in the number of juveniles in the facility between 2006 and 2019, prompting a reduction of beds at the facility from 70 to 46 in 2016, according to a cost-benefit analysis by the Moss Group.

The facility is also home to an unlocked shelter for up to 14 at-risk children.

Deputy City Manager Yon Lambert told council that any proposed programming changes will be presented this fall. In the meantime, Lambert said that an assessment of the detention center will be submitted to the General Assembly in October.

“If we have any budget requests, then we can process it in the fall so that the staff and the (city) manager and council can determine if its viable,” Lambert said.

Vice Mayor Amy Jackson said that the facility needs to remain open.

We need it now more than we ever did,” Jackson said. “The numbers were decreasing. and then here we are. They’re increasing again more than they have in years.”

New Urgent Care facility south of Alexandria (image courtesy Inova)

Inova-GoHealth opened a new facility to treat common health concerns in Fairfax — just south of Alexandria — yesterday (Thursday).

The new Inova-GoHealth Urgent Care center opened at 6218-B North Kings Highway off Richmond Highway in Belle Haven.

The new facility is open from 8 a.m.-8 p.m. on weekdays and 9 a.m.-5 p.m. on weekends.

According to a release:

The new center treats common health concerns for adults and children six months and older, including COVID-19, flu, fever, asthma, allergies, minor cuts, burns, pink eye, urinary tract infections, fractures, sprains, strains and more. The centers are open 365 days a year, including holidays.

The much larger Inova project in Alexandria was approved last year and is scheduled to be built by 2028.

The Albert V. Bryan United States Courthouse in Alexandria’s Carlyle neighborhood (via Google Maps)

A 32-year-old man from the Groveton area of Fairfax County, just south of Alexandria, pleaded guilty yesterday to defrauding the government of more than $1.4 million in fraudulent pandemic-related PPP loans and unemployment benefits.

George Mensah, Jr., 32, admitted in federal court to wire and mail fraud by collecting fees with two unnamed conspirators through CashApp, Zelle and bank transfers, according to court records. The scheme ran from Oct. 2020 to Sept. 2021, during which time Mensah admitted to preparing dozens of fake PPP loans and unemployment insurance claims under the CARES Act.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia:

Mensah admitted that he and his coconspirators prepared and submitted over 47 applications for PPP loans for fake businesses. At least 21 of these applications were funded by lenders, which caused an actual loss of at least $583,172. In addition, Mensah admitted that he and his co-conspirators obtained the personally identifiable information of others, including identity theft victims, in order to make claims for pandemic unemployment benefits in Virginia and elsewhere. Mensah admitted that he and his co-conspirators obtained at least $658,952 in fraudulently obtained unemployment insurance and pandemic benefits.

Mensah admitted to committing the schemes from three locations — from an apartment in Springfield, an apartment in Tysons Corner and from his parent’s home in the Groveton neighborhood in Fairfax County.

“The defendant and his coconspirators created false tax returns, including Schedule C forms, and fake bank statements to accompany the fraudulent PPP loan applications,” according to court records.

Mensah admitted to collected fees through CashApp accounts and bank transfers, according to court records. Additionally, he admitted to receiving at least 20 Way2Go prepaid debit cards from the Virginia Employment Commission.

The maximum penalty for the offense is 30 years in prison, a $1 million fine, or twice the gross gain or loss, full restitution, forfeiture of assets and a maximum supervised release term of five years, according to court records. Mensah also agreed to pay the government back $1.5 million.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kimberly Shartar and Kathleen Robeson and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Ezra Spiro.

Mensah will be sentenced on Feb. 14.

The victims of a fraud scheme involving Alexandria-area man who pleaded guilty in Nov. 2023 (via PACER)

Image via Google Maps

Foxfire Grill at 6550 Little River Turnpike is closing on Oct. 31, 2023 (via Facebook)

After decades in business, a local restaurant near Alexandria’s West End border will close at the end of the month.

Foxfire Grill owner Terri Fox recently announced the closure on the company website and social media. The restaurant with American fare at 6550 Little River Turnpike has weathered mixed reviews over the years, and even got a makeover in 2019 from celebrity chef Robert Irvine from Restaurant Impossible.

Fox bought the restaurant in 2003 and partner Jackie Coppage joined in 2016. She and Coppage were unable to renew their lease at the Pinecrest Plaza location.

“It comes with a heavy heart to inform you that Foxfire Grill will have to close our doors October 31st,” Fox wrote. “We made it through Snowmageddon, the Derecho, an earthquake, and of course COVID. All with the support of this wonderful community.”

Fox said she enjoyed watching her customers and staff grow over the years.

“I truly want to thank you all for everything you’ve done for us and by extension each other,” Fox wrote. “I hope to see you often in the next couple of weeks!”

Image via Facebook


Good Thursday morning, Alexandria!

⛅️ Today’s weather: There is a 20% chance of brief showers and thunderstorms in the afternoon and evening, with mostly sunny weather and a high of 89°F. Light winds will shift from east to south in the morning. On Thursday night, the chance of showers continues with partly cloudy skies, a low of 73°F, and southwest winds around 8-10 mph.

🚨 You need to know

A little less than a year after Alexandria got its guaranteed income program going, neighboring Fairfax County is following suit.

Fairfax County announced last week that an application portal is opening next month for its Economic Mobility Pilot, which provides payment to eligible households, optional financial coaching, and supportive resources. The goal of the program is to promote economic stability and secure social capital for those in need. The pilot will pay $750 to 180 eligible families for 15 months.

The program consists of:

  • A monthly payment of $750 to 180 eligible families for 15 months.
  • Freedom of choice for the families to use the cash as they deem necessary.
  • Optional financial coaching and the opportunity to increase their social networks through virtual or in-person events.

To qualify, applicants must be employed, have one child 16 or younger living in the household, and have an income somewhere between 150% and 250% of the Federal Poverty Level. Applicants also, obviously, need to live in Fairfax County.

According to the release:

While Fairfax County is a great place to live, work, learn and play, persistent racial and social inequities remain, which result in significant disparities in community outcomes. To confront these realities, Fairfax County has embraced a vision of One Fairfax: A declaration that all residents deserve an equitable opportunity to succeed.

Alexandria started its equivalent, the Alexandria Recurring Income for Success and Equity program (ARISE), earlier this year. Alexandria’s program gave 170 participants $500 per month over a 24-month period.

📈 Wednesday’s most read

The following are the most-read ALXnow articles for Aug 16, 2023.

  1. Woodrow Wilson Bridge opening scheduled Thursday night (6255 views)
  2. Alexandria activating new speed cameras as school year kicks off (6255 views)

🐦 Tweets of note

📅 Upcoming events

Here is what’s going on today in Alexandria, from our event calendar.

  • No events today. Have one to promote? Submit it to the calendar.

Good Friday morning, Alexandria!

☀️ Today’s weather: On Friday, expect a mostly sunny and hot day with temperatures reaching near 100°F and heat index values as high as 107°F. There is a 40% chance of showers and thunderstorms after 2pm, accompanied by a light west wind of 5-8 mph. In the evening, chances of precipitation will drop to 30%, with showers and thunderstorms mainly occurring before 8pm. The night will be partly cloudy with a low of around 76°F and a south wind around 7 mph.

🚨 You need to know

An Arlington man was arrested in Alexandria on Tuesday for a shooting incident that occurred in Bailey’s Crossroads earlier this month, according to FFXnow.

Two women were injured by bullet fragments and debris when the suspect allegedly fired into the floor of the Lion’s Den Lounge at 5820 Seminary Road at around 4 a.m. on July 16.

The Fairfax County Police Department announced that the suspect, 25-year-old Arlington resident Abdulkerim Halid, was arrested Wednesday in Alexandria without incident.

“Two adult females were injured from bullet fragments and debris,” FCPD said. “They were taken to a nearby hospital for injuries not considered to be life-threatening. Halid was identified as the shooter, but he left the scene prior to police arrival.”

Halid was charged with reckless handling of a firearm and is currently in custody without bond at the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center.

📈 Thursday’s most read

The following are the most-read ALXnow articles for Jul 27, 2023.

  1. Arlington man busted for allegedly selling stolen car to Alexandria man on Facebook Marketplace (1755 views)
  2. Pupatella Neapolitan Pizza opening before end of year in Old Town North, owner says (1506 views)
  3. Most and least expensive townhouses sold in Alexandria (June 2023) (558 views)
  4. New report suggests low rents and amenities give Alexandria’s office market an edge over neighbors | ALXnow (355 views)

📅 Upcoming events

Here is what’s going on today and this weekend in Alexandria, from our event calendar.

King Street Metro at sunset (Staff photo by Jay Westcott)

The price of riding on the Metro might go up and so could your tax bill.

Alexandria Mayor Justin Wilson said that the region will experience collective pain by bailing out the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority from its projected $750 million budget deficit.

Wilson said there are no solutions that the city can afford to take off the table.

“We will have to determine ways to reduce the cost structure, the stakeholders will have to chip in and riders will likely bear some of the cost,” Wilson told ALXnow. “It’s going to involve some pain all around.”

WMATA gets billions annually from Alexandria, D.C., Maryland, other Northern Virginia jurisdictions and the federal government. Alexandria’s commitment this year is $56.6 million in operating dollars and $16.6 million in capital contributions.

“Following the exhaustion of federal relief funding in FY2024, Metro expects an operating deficit of $750 million in FY2025,” Metro announced in a budget presentation. “This is more than a one-year challenge. The deficit is projected to continue its growth through FY2035 even with continued ridership recovery.”

Metro Board Chair Paul C. Smedberg, a former member of the Alexandria City Council, said that the region needs a reliable transit system.

“Customers would see longer waits, constant gridlock, higher fares and reduced operating hours and the region’s economy could stagnate,” Smedberg said.

Without a funding increase from Alexandria and its neighbors, WMATA reported “unprecedented operating deficits” will force it to make drastic cuts to rail, bus, and paratransit services across the region.

“Balancing the budget with service cuts would require eliminating two-thirds of Metro’s existing service, with no service after 9:30 p.m.,” WMATA announced last month. “All but 37 of 135 bus lines would no longer operate, customers would wait 20-30 minutes for trains on all lines, and MetroAccess would serve a much smaller area with less hours.”

‘Metro At The Precipice’ is at the top left of this WMATA budget document (via WMATA)

In his monthly newsletter, Wilson said a “reckoning is afoot” for the transit system now that federal subsidies have dried up and ridership is inching toward pre-pandemic levels.

As of May, Metrorail and Metrobus ridership was 50% and 88% of pre-pandemic levels, respectively, according to WMATA.

“Transit is essential to our region’s economy and our quality of life, but the financial model that has supported its existence for a generation is upside down,” Wilson wrote. “The work ahead requires defining a new model to sustain transit for another generation.”

Metro laid out these drivers for the $750 million deficit:

  • Jurisdiction Subsidy Credit: At the onset of the pandemic, Metro provided support to jurisdictions in the form of a subsidy reduction and forgone three percent increases. Had Metro not provided this support, the jurisdictional subsidy would be $196 million higher in FY2025.
  • Decreased revenue since the pandemic: Overall ridership is forecasted to be approximately 25 percent below pre-pandemic levels in FY2025. In addition, shorter distance and weekend trips, which result in less revenue than long distance weekday trips, have seen the fastest recovery. These changes and related impacts to parking and advertising revenues are expected to continue to keep revenue below pre-pandemic levels in the short and medium term. FY2025 total revenue is expected be approximately $288 million below pre-pandemic levels.
  • Inflation and collective bargaining agreements: Historic inflation caused by the pandemic and related supply chain impacts made everything more expensive, raising Metro’s personnel and non-personnel costs. The vast majority of Metro’s workforce which operates and maintains the system participates in collective bargaining. Metro must comply with mandated annual increases under the terms of the respective collective bargaining agreements, which indexes compensation levels to inflation. This cost growth is responsible for $266 million.

Erinn Roth credits her mother with everything.

Roth spent 24 years in the U.S. Army before starting Ms. Jo’s Petite Sweets in Alexandria in 2016. She literally had a dream about making cupcakes before retiring from the Army as a lieutenant colonel and told her parents she wanted to make desserts for a living.

“I told my parents that I was going to retire from the Army to cook cupcakes, and my mom said I should do it, that I’d be successful,” Roth said. “About a month later she and my father were on vacation and she passed suddenly. Our family dynamic changed. We were all like little planets orbiting around my mother.”

Roth started her catering business in ALX Community (201 N. Union Street), after attending the pastry school at L’Academie de Cuisine in Gaithersburg and participating in entrepreneurship programs at Cornell University, Georgetown University and the WeWork/Bunker Labs Veterans In Residence Program.

“I’m from Mississippi, where your reputation is based on how well you can cook,” Roth said. “Desserts are my passion, although I cook everything. My mother was my greatest influence, but everyone in my family cooked, and food was the center of family gatherings, whether they were weddings, birthdays, celebrations and even funerals.”

She named her company after her mother Jo Bradford Hardaway.

“My favorite part of my new life is when people ask me whether I’m Mrs. Jo, and I can tell them about my mom,” Roth said.

The business got a big boost in 2021, after Roth got runner-up in Crime Scene Kitchen, a reality cooking show on FOX. Last year, she opened Mrs. Jo’s Petite Eats Patisserie & Cafe (7940 Jones Branch Drive) in Tysons Corner.

“I didn’t foresee myself being a business owner being a chef,” Roth said. “I look at life a lot different now. I see the shades of green in trees. I see sunrises and sunsets differently, and I try to stay in the moment.”

Roth manages her business in Alexandria and wants to open more locations in the future.

“I call this my first location,” she said of her cafe. “But yes, I would love to another location particularly overseas at U.S. military bases. There are huge American communities that  don’t have cake makers, and I’d love to be able to offer that for that community.”

Images via Facebook

Alexandria Police lights (staff photo by James Cullum)

Alexandria Police arrested two men last month and, according to affidavits, recovered a large number of illegal narcotics, cash and other items.

The investigation into the suspects began in November, according to a recently released search warrant affidavit.

The Alexandria Police Department conducted the investigation for more than four months, and during that time APD observed one of the suspects “conduct hand-to-hand transactions in the parking lots of restaurants in the nearby area of the Seminary Road apartment,” police said in the search warrant affidavit.

One of the suspects, a 38-year-old Prince William County man, was arrested in the apartment during the execution of the search warrant. His roommate, a 41-year-old Washington D.C. man, was arrested that same day in the 4900 block of Seminary Road in Alexandria, and was allegedly in possession of 20 fentanyl pills, according to the search warrant affidavit.

Alexandria and Fairfax County Police found the following in their apartment in the 5600 block of Seminary Road in Falls Church:

  • Approximately 134.8 grams of crack cocaine
  • Approximately 12,955 fentanyl pills
  • Approximately 1.8 grams of MDMA (ecstasy)
  • Several hundred Adderall pills
  • Approximately 50-100 Xanax pills
  • $26,954 in U.S. currency
  • Three digital scales
  • Multiple cell phones
  • Gun ammunition and a magazine

Both suspects are convicted felons. The 38-year-old suspect was charged with possession of a weapon other than a firearm by a convicted felon, two counts of possession with intent to distribute Schedule I/II drugs and two counts of selling/distributing Schedule IV drugs. The 41-year-old suspect was charged with two counts of selling Schedule I/II drugs.

Both suspects are being held without bond and go to court on April 12.


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