It was a historic week in Alexandria. Here are some of the highlights.
President Joe Biden visited the Neighborhood Health COVID-19 vaccine site at Virginia Theological Seminary on Tuesday, just before announcing that the date for adults to get access to the vaccine has been moved to April 19.
The Alexandria School Board, on Thursday night, voted to change the name of T.C. Williams High School to Alexandria City High School.
The School Board also voted unanimously to reduce the distancing requirement in ACPS schools from six feet to three feet, all the while community support is growing to expand in-person instruction to more than the current two days a week. Summer school is currently planned to begin in July and will be four days a week, and ACPS is planning on reopening to five days a week at the beginning of the next school year.
Our top story was on the T.C. Williams Titans junior varsity football team walking off the field after an incident with the Robinson Rams on Monday night. Robinson Rams players allegedly spit at and made a racial slur against T.C. players. The incident has prompted Fairfax County Public Schools to announce a “stand-down” meeting for all athletic teams and coaches to discuss “appropriate behaviors required to play sports in FCPS.”
Additionally, six Alexandria Police officers were placed on administrative duties after a chase suspect died while in custody. Police responded to a call for shots fired in the 800 block of North Patrick Street, and multiple buildings and vehicles were struck. The driver of the vehicle crashed on Interstate 295, and then jumped over an overpass barrier and fell more than 20 feet and was tased by police, arrested and later died.
- Alexandria aims to adjust vaccination efforts as city moves into next phase
- Alexandria Police employees give Chief Brown mixed reviews
- Planning Commission approves controversial subdivision, plants potential loophole for future denial
- City says Taylor Run alternatives could cost far more than current estimates
- Crime increase prompts ARHA to install security cameras in Old Town
- City looks to Landmark Towers deal to save Arlandria
- ‘Beltway Bank Bandit’ sentenced 21 years for robbing Alexandria banks and area businesses
- Man arrested for threatening to burn down City Hall
- Wilson wins Alexandria Democratic Committee straw poll, Gaskins takes top spot over incumbents
- JUST IN: T.C. Williams JV football team walks off field after alleged racial slur, spitting incident
- BREAKING: Shots fired in Old Town leads to chase that ends in D.C.
- JUST IN: President Biden set to visit Alexandria vaccination site Tuesday
- National Park Service announces George Washington Parkway to go on a diet
- Neighborhood Health vaccinating thousands at sites in Alexandria, Arlington and Fairfax County
- JUST IN: Woman arrested after fight on King Street Metro station platform
- UPDATE: $8,500 reported stolen in terrifying West End robbery
- JUST IN: President Biden visits COVID-19 vaccine site at Virginia Theological Seminary
- COVID-19 update: Alexandria moves into vaccination phase 1C
- JUST IN: Six Alexandria Police officers put on administrative duties after chase suspect dies
- Fairfax County man arrested for three burglaries, released three days later
Have a safe weekend!
(Updated at 1:45 p.m.) Alexandria City Public Schools and Fairfax County Public Schools are investigating allegations that members of the Robinson Rams junior varsity football team spit at and made a racial slur against T.C. Williams High School football players in a game on Monday, April 5.
“Yes, I am aware of these reports,” Mayor Justin Wilson told ALXnow. “It is horrifying that our students were the victims of this abuse and assault. I have been in contact with the School Board Chair, Vice Chair and Superintendent about this incident. I have also connected with my counterpart in Fairfax County, Jeff McKay. I believe it is being investigated by both school systems and I hope it will be addressed promptly.”
The game was played at James W Robinson, Jr. Secondary School, and the Rams won 20-6, although T.C. players reportedly walked off the field in protest before the end of the fourth quarter.
ACPS Superintendent Gregory Hutchings, Jr. said that he is working with Fairfax County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Scott Brabrand and his team to “collaborate with the leadership of the Virginia High School League (VHSL) to address this issue and support our students.”
“I want everyone to know that we are taking this matter seriously and have been in communication with our students and coaching staff who were involved or who witnessed the incident,” Hutchings said in an email.
Hutchings continued, “These events in our schools continue to shine a light on the importance of our antiracism work at ACPS and across the nation and the need for an open dialogue about how this impacts our students and their social, emotional and academic learning. To that end, once we have developed next steps with VHSL, we will share additional communications with the ACPS community.”
The incident is the second of its kind in Fairfax County Public Schools in recent days. On March 5, members of the Marshall High School Varsity Football Team allegedly spat at and made racial slurs against their Wakefield High School opponents.
FCPS released the following statement to ALXnow:
Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) is aware of a number of allegations regarding the use of racially charged language and racial slurs in the past few weeks.
Our school division embraces diversity and strongly condemns hate speech and offensive, hateful language or racial intolerance of any kind on the sports fields, in school buildings or anywhere on or off school premises. We will hold anyone found to have used such language while representing any of our schools accountable for their words and actions.
FCPS will investigate any incidents thoroughly and will be taking swift and appropriate action if deemed necessary. Per Virginia High School League (VHSL) rules, players heard using such language will be ejected and suspended for additional game(s). Unsportsmanlike conduct will result in an immediate review of the game by officials and coaches.
The primary responsibilities of schools are to foster an open, respectful and inclusive learning environment for all students. We recognize that we have much work to do in our schools and will continue to strive to promote equity, sportsmanship, respect, and fair play on and off the field.
FCPS will be holding a “stand-down” meeting for all athletic teams and coaches to begin this important conversation to support student-athletes in demonstrating appropriate behaviors required to play sports in FCPS. This is not about one team versus another; it is about our responsibilities to one another as members of a community. We will do the work to come together in fair treatment and take necessary actions to ensure these efforts support inclusion both in the classrooms as well as across our athletic programs. We value each and every student and staff member, and we are committed to doing the work to ensure all are treated in this regard.
T.C. Williams High School Principal Peter Balas emailed students about the incident. He wrote that Titan Athletics Director, James Parker, and he met with the student athletes and coaches of both the varsity and junior varsity football teams. He also said that T.C. has contacted the Robinson athletics staff.
“These discussions were in response to allegations of inappropriate interactions between athletes on opposing teams at Monday night’s junior varsity football game,” Balas wrote. “Specifically, we were collecting information and statements to learn more about what happened regarding the allegations that one of our students was spat on during the game and called a racial slur.”
Balas continued, “Please rest assured that we will continue to work with our staff and students regarding this situation and that we will make sure our students are supported and protected. The work that we have been doing in our school division on becoming an anti-racist school division means that we must confront these issues head-on and be unapologetic in addressing matters around racism and racial equity.”
Beyer Offers Condolences to Family of Fallen Capitol Officer — “Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick gave his life in the line of duty to keep us safe. I mourn his loss, and I send my deepest condolences to his family.” [Twitter]
Governor Making State of Commonwealth Speech Tonight — “Tune in tomorrow at 7:00 PM for my 2021 State of the Commonwealth address.” [Twitter]
Alexandria Sheriff’s Department Mourns Fairfax County Sheriff’s Deputy to COVID-19 — “Our heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of Sergeant Frederick “Butch” Cameron and to our brothers and sisters at the Fairfax County Sheriff’s Office. We are so very sorry.” [Twitter]
Local Businesses Urged to Register with Health Department for Vaccine Schedule — “Have questions about vaccine distribution? #AlexandriaVA businesses that employ essential personnel are encouraged to register with the Alexandria Health Department so they can be alerted when the vaccine is available for their workers.” [Twitter]
Palestinian Roasted Chicken Restaurant Coming to Alexandria — “The rotisserie-style halal chicken with skin that snaps is brined for 24 hours, then coated with allspice, sumac, cumin, fenugreek, and cardamom before going into a specialty oven imported from Lebanon. Shababi is a takeout-only “ghost restaurant” operating out of Roro’s Modern Lebanese restaurant in Alexandria.” [Washington City Paper]
Alexandria Times Celebrates One Year of Podcasting — “In 2020, the Alexandria Times launched its first podcast, Speak Easy, and over the last year reporter-turned-managing-editor Cody Mello-Klein has spoken with the people who make Alexandria tick.” [Alex Times]
Today’s Weather — “Sunny skies (during the day). High near 50F. Winds SW at 5 to 10 mph… A few clouds overnight. Low 29F. Winds light and variable.” [Weather.com]
New Job: High Volume Servers — “We are BLESSED to Be BUSY! We are searching for Experienced Servers to join our Team at Vola’s Dockside in OLD TOWN! [Indeed]
Alexandria Health Department Holding COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic for High-Risk Groups — “The Alexandria Health Department (AHD) is currently registering essential employees for a COVID-19 vaccine clinic. The clinic is also open to residents with “underlying medical conditions and those over 65.” [Zebra]
New 12-Acre Park Coming to Mount Vernon Area of Fairfax — “By the end of this year, a new 12-acre park will open at the new North Hill development site. At a virtual meeting Wednesday evening, members of the Fairfax County Park Authority (FCPA) presented details on North Hill park.” [Alexandria Living Magazine]
Alexandria Times Podcast Celebrates One Year Anniversary — “In 2020, the Alexandria Times launched its first podcast, Speak Easy, and over the last year reporter-turned-managing-editor Cody Mello-Klein has spoken with the people who make Alexandria tick.” [Alexandria Times]
T.C. Students React to Capitol Hill Events — “Hundreds of T.C. Titans took to social media to further air out their frustrations and anger, comparing how the pro-Trump demonstrators were treated to how the Black Lives Matter demonstrators were treated a few short months ago.” [Theogony]
Visit Alexandria Capitalized on Wonder Woman Spotlight — “Calling all ‘Wonder Woman: 1984’ fans. Visit Alexandria is giving residents and tourists a look into how the film was made.” [Local DMV]
Staff photo by Jay Westcott
Biden Wins Virginia — “Virginia voters have overwhelmingly given former Vice President Joe Biden a sizable win over Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders in Tuesday’s primary election. According to unofficial state election returns, Biden has been called the winner of the state with 53.3 percent of what was a record primary turnout, and will capture the largest share of its 99 delegates.” [Patch, Washington Post]
City Holding Coronavirus Info Session — “The City of Alexandria, the Alexandria Health Department, Inova Health System, and the Alexandria City Public Schools will hold an online virtual information session on Thursday, March 12, from 8 to 9 p.m., to provide information and answer questions about the COVID-19 coronavirus. The session will be accessible at alexandriava.gov/Health.” [City of Alexandria, Alexandria Living]
North Old Town Quickly Developing — “Old Town North has been witnessing metamorphic change evolving before our eyes over the last two decades. Residential and mixed-use developments, including rental apartments, townhouses, condos, and retail spaces scattered throughout. Among notable additions are the Harris Teeter at The Kingsley, the Gables Old Town North with apartments, restaurants and retail built on the old Giant/ABC Store site. Redevelopment of the abandoned Bus Barn site has just commenced.” [Zebra]
Nearby: Redevelopment Floated for Shopping Center — “One developer is proposing putting 900 apartments where the Belle View Shopping Center — recently ravaged by a fire — now stands.” [Alexandria Living, Covering the Corridor]
T.C. Football Coach Steps Down — “James Longerbeam stepped down as head coach of the T.C. Williams High School football team on Feb. 3. Longerbeam has served as head coach since 2016, when he moved from Panama City, Florida to Alexandria to take the position. He cited his father’s recent passing and his mother’s dementia as reasons for his decision in a Facebook post.” [Alexandria Times]
Local Doctor Helps the Homeless — “Dr. William Mazzella has a message for the homeless living on the streets of Alexandria, Virginia. ‘I have the medicines,’ Mazzella said. ‘I have the bandages, the training, and I’m here to help you if you will have me…’ He has formed a nonprofit called MedStreet, which is accepting donations and seeking volunteers to help continue his work and help more people.” [WTOP]
Old Town Chocolate Shop Reveals Shape Secrets — “The owners of a Northern Virginia chocolate shop are urging customers to be aware of what’s in a box of chocolates before making a purchase this Valentine’s Day. If the customer’s preference is chewy over gooey caramels, it might be wise to consider rectangular-shaped versus square candy from a heart-shaped holiday box… said Robert Ludlow, who co-owns Alexandria, Virginia, shop Fleurir Chocolates.” [WTOP]
Investigators Reveal Massive Fire’s Cause, Cost — The massive fire at the South Alex development along Route 1 “started in the second-floor trash chute of the residential portion of a multi-use complex. The cause of the fire was improperly discarded smoking materials. Damage figures include the total loss of the main buildings under construction, 14 townhouses, and one trailer. The amount also includes damage to five apartment buildings, 14 additional townhouses, four single family homes, 29 vehicles, and multiple pieces of construction equipment. Damage total as a result of the fire is $48,171,075.” [Fairfax County Fire and Rescue]
Bar Owner to Lead St. Pat’s Parade — “The Ballyshaners have selected John Brennan, owner of Daniel O’Connell’s Restaurant and Bar as Grand Marshal of the 2020 Alexandria St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Brennan, of Kilkenny, Ireland and an Old Town homeowner has been an active member of Alexandria’s business community since opening Daniel O’Connell’s in 2006.” [Zebra]
Recycling Collection Still Delayed — “City recycling collection remains delayed due to winter weather earlier this week. Residents that did not receive collection service on their normal day will receive service on the following day.” [Twitter]
Old Town Store Expands to Tysons — “A new Tysons Corner Center store is selling hand-crafted furniture and accessories for people decorating in a French Regency-style. Tradition de France opened in November on the first level of the mall by Lord & Taylor and is the second location for the Alexandria-based, family-owned business.” [Tysons Reporter]
The confusion over what constitutes Alexandria continues as news outlets continue identifying areas of Mount Vernon, Fairfax County, as Alexandria.
The Washington Post tweeted about a fatal shooting on Dec. 20 that took place on Sausalito Place in the Mount Vernon area of Fairfax. In the tweet, the Washington Post said the person was fatally shot in Alexandria, Virginia, reigniting an old debate over whether or not to refer to the area south of the borders of the City of Alexandria as “Alexandria.”
One person fatally shot in Alexandria, Va. https://t.co/F6xOf99koN
— Post Local (@postlocal) December 30, 2019
Former Alexandria Fire Chief Robert Dubé responded that the shooting took place six miles away from the City of Alexandria in an area that is safely considered “Mount Vernon” both colloquially, on maps, and in Fairfax County documents. Dave Statter, a former reporter and volunteer firefighter who has a long-running gripe against outlets calling this area Alexandria, responded to the Post’s tweet with his own tweetstorm.
Statter also called on Fairfax County Police to stop calling the area in question the “Alexandria section of Fairfax County.”
(6) @FairfaxCountyPD knows if they use "Alexandria section of Fairfax County"-as they did this morning-the news media will likely shorten it to "in Alexandria". Their work is done. The public now thinks the shooting occurred in @AlexandriaVAGov & not @fairfaxcounty. (more) pic.twitter.com/43S0Zq2CYG
— Dave Statter (@STATter911) December 30, 2019
The confusion comes from a reliance on postal service designations, which gives some Fairfax residents and businesses in the area an Alexandria mailing addresses. The postal service designations can often be unreliable, with some parts of the City of Alexandria being labelled as Arlington.
The dividing line between Alexandria and Fairfax County was established as Cameron Run by 1871 and then the part of the West End north of the Beltway in the mid-20th century.
City Councilman John Chapman weighed in on the conversation and identified it as a “pet peeve.” In the past, city officials have said the lack of clarity over what is Alexandria and what is Fairfax County has resulted in errors like a Target inadvertently sending $1 million in sales tax to the City of Alexandria instead of Fairfax.
Thank you and Chief Dube for calling this out
This is definitely a pet peeve of mine!!!
— John Taylor Chapman (@j_chapman99) December 30, 2019
The pre-New Year’s spat might be responsible for some changes. The Washington Post’s story was updated to refer to Fairfax County’s “Mount Vernon area” and yesterday, when police announced an arrest in the case, it referred to the “Mt. Vernon homicide suspect” being arrested.
Alexandria Declares Climate Emergency — “On October 22, the Alexandria City Council unanimously adopted a resolution declaring a climate emergency, recognizing that climate change poses a grave threat to everyone in Alexandria and around the world.” [City of Alexandria]
City Council Passes Refugee Resolution — “The Alexandria City Council unanimously approved a resolution to notify the federal government of its continued support for resettling refugees in Alexandria. The action was taken in response to Executive Order 13888, issued on September 26, which provides that the federal government ‘should resettle refugees only in those jurisdictions in which both the State and local governments have consented to receive refugees.'” [City of Alexandria]
Next Weekend: Event for Little Historians — “Bring your little learners to the Alexandria Black History Museum for cultural stories and creative craft activities that introduce world history and folklore… All ages are welcome, but most suitable for children 3-5 years old.” [City of Alexandria]
Nearby: Belle View Fire Costs Millions — “Monday morning’s six-alarm fire at the Belle View Shopping Center began in the kitchen of one of the businesses in the center, the Fairfax Fire and Rescue Department said in a Tuesday press release… The fire caused more than $5.8 million in damages.” [Covering the Corridor, Fairfax County Fire]
‘Say Yes’ Star Opening Alexandria Salon — “The star of ‘Say Yes to the Dress Atlanta,’ Monte Durham, plans to open a hair salon in Old Town Alexandria, he announced this week. Durham, a resident of Alexandria, plans to call the salon ‘Monte.’ No word yet on an opening date.” [Alexandria Living]
APD Investigates Weekend Crashes — Alexandra police investigated a number of crashes over the weekend, including on the ramp to Telegraph Road from eastbound Duke Street, the intersection of North Beauregard Street and Seminary Road, the intersection of North Patrick Street and Madison Street, and the 500 block of North Columbus Street.
New Waterfront Cafe Under Construction — “Misha’s is moving forward on renovating the space for a second coffeehouse at 6 Prince St., near the waterfront, and that location is expected to have rooftop dining. A total renovation of the property is underway with the roof, floor and some walls being torn down.” [Alexandria Living]
Local Theater Staging Spooky Story — “The Little Theatre of Alexandria (LTA) is staging ‘The Haunting of Hill House’ from Oct. 19 – Nov. 9, 2019. Director Maggie Mumford said she is an absolute nerd about all things Shirley Jackson (novelist), and the novel upon which this play is based is what started that fandom.” [Gazette Packet]
Overheard on the Alexandria Police Scanner — “Scanner: APD responding to S. Pickett Street for a report of a man walking down the road, dribbling a basketball while wearing nothing but a jock strap.” [Twitter]
Nearby: Fire at Belle View Shopping Center — “More than 20 businesses were damaged overnight Sunday into Monday by a four-alarm fire at a shopping center in Fairfax County, Virginia. The fire broke out about midnight in the Belle View Shopping Center, located south of Old Town Alexandria and the Capital Beltway.” [NBC 4, WTOP]