It was another busy week in Alexandria. Here are some of the highlights.
This week, ALXnow profiled Mayor Justin Wilson and his opponent, former Mayor Allison Silberberg. The pair are facing off in the June 8 Democratic primary, and have vastly different ideas on city governance.
Alexandria Police released its 2020 crime data this week, revealing a 19% increase in Part 1 crime and 15% reduction in Nuisance crimes. ALXnow also reported a number of noteworthy crime stories, including the release of a video showing a chase suspect who died after his arrest in D.C. on April 12, and the indictment of a West End murder suspect.
This week also brought the unbelievable story of locals chasing down suspected shoplifters in Del Ray.
On the vaccine front, the Alexandria Health Department paused Johnson & Johnson vaccinations, following new concerns about potential side effects.
In school news, Alexandria City Public Schools will shift to three feet distancing in classrooms on April 26. Additionally, the School Board has started a conversation on reducing the number of members from nine to six.
- ‘Dogs Of Del Ray’ mural to be finished next month
- Bullet strikes 7-Eleven door near Braddock Road Metro station
- JUST IN: Gubernatorial candidate Sen. Jennifer McClellan highlights race, women issues in Old Town
- T.C. Senior Sara Abbas surprised with $40,000 Titans In Tech Scholarship
- Spring2ACTion fundraiser sets $2.5 million goal for Alexandria nonprofits
- ACPS will go to 3 feet distancing in classrooms on April 26
- BREAKING: ‘Alexandria City High School’ chosen as replacement name for T.C. Williams High School
- JUST IN: Dr. Stephen Haering suddenly retires as director of Alexandria Health Department
- Southern Towers residents nervous as landlord steps up eviction proceedings
- Man stabbed at Old Town intersection
- NEW: Locals chase down suspected shoplifters in Del Ray
- JUST IN: T.C. Williams JV football team walks off field after alleged racial slur, spitting incident
- Man faces 10 years for DWI in horrific West End crash in Safeway parking lot
- Planning Commission approves controversial subdivision, plants potential loophole for future denial
- JUST IN: Video released of police arresting chase suspect who died in D.C.
- JUST IN: Six Alexandria Police officers put on administrative duties after chase suspect dies
- JUST IN: West End murder suspect faces life plus 13 years in prison
Have a safe weekend!
Photo via ACPS/Facebook
(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 Asks for Pause After 500,000 COVID-19 Deaths — “500,000 Americans have now died from COVID-19. Every one of them was a person with a story, friends, a family. It’s a tragedy that’s too large to comprehend, but we should take time today to think about them, and strengthen our resolve to do all we can to end this awful pandemic.” [Twitter]
Eviction Moratorium Extended to March 31 — “The CDC moratorium on residential evictions has been extended thru March 31. If you received an eviction notice, call the Office of Housing at 703.746.4990.” [Twitter]
T.C. Williams High School Kicks Off Football Season — “Watch the Titans kick-off their football season under first year Head Coach Rodney Hughey vs. the Robinson Rams LIVE tonight (Monday night) streaming online. Show your support and post online to Facebook or Twitter. Let us hear from you Titans Fans – Students – Alumni – Parents – Friends!” [Facebook]
Howard Hughes CEO Excited About Landmark Mall Future — “O’Reilly broke his silence about Landmark in an interview with the Washington Business Journal after being named the company’s permanent chief executive in December. He stopped short of calling the project a done deal, but he believes Howard Hughes has assembled a strong team with Inova, developer Foulger-Pratt, architect Cooper Carry, and Seritage Growth Properties (NYSE: SRG), the real estate entity spun out from Sears Holdings Co. that owns the old Sears store at Landmark.” [Washington Business Journal]
Community Group Hosting Taylor Run Stream Presentation — “Learn more about stream restoration from environmental experts and residents who have been studying the Taylor Run project for more than a year and hear what we think should be done to restore Taylor Run, protect Chinquapin Park, and help the Bay.” [Environmental Council of Alexandria]
The Chamber ALX Women’s Forum is March 11 — “After almost a year full of the unexpected and the unprecedented, this forum will bring together women at all stages of their careers for an interactive discussion filled with inspiration and insight, centered around this year’s theme of resiliency, and learning how to find the opportunities amidst the challenges.” [The Chamber ALX]
Today’s Weather — “Partly cloudy skies (during the day). High 53F. Winds WSW at 15 to 25 mph. Winds could occasionally gust over 40 mph… Mainly clear early (in the evening), then a few clouds later on. Low 32F. Winds W at 10 to 15 mph.” [Weather.com]
New Job: Front Office Agent — “And just like our hotels, no two colleagues are the same. So we’re curious about you. How will you inspire the eclectic rhythm in our hotels? How will you bring the local neighborhood story to life? At Hotel Indigo® hotels, we’re excited to meet spirited characters who can delight the most curious guests.” [Indeed]
Fall sports are back at ACPS starting next week.
Superintendent Gregory Hutchings made the announcement official at a School Board meeting last Thursday, but said that students and parents shouldn’t expect it to look like it used to.
“Fall season of athletics will begin on February 15, just so that everybody is aware,” Hutchings said. “We will be following CDC guidelines, so it won’t look exactly the same as it used to.”
Fall sports starting Monday, Feb. 15, include:
- Cross country
- Field hockey
Hutchings clarified later that precautions include masks and limiting spectators at sporting events after School Board member Margaret Lorber expressed concerns about jumping into reopening with an activity that requires physical contact and students breathing on each other.
“Students will have to wear masks at all times for the sports being played, it’s not optional,” Hutchings said, “and we’re not going to be able to have spectators at all of the events.”
Hutchings said next week will mark the beginning of the fall sports season after ACPS canceled plans for winter sports in November.
“We withdrew from participating in winter sports, which I still stand behind, but as you saw with community health metrics now we’re not at the highest risk level,” Hutchings said. “We never intended to not be a part of the fall sports season.”
Practicing begins as ACPS begins phasing students into in-person classes, starting with K-5 special education programs and English learner programs in early March. Hutchings said initially, only students whose families selected the hybrid option on a survey sent to parents will attend school in-person. Throughout March, ACPS will begin to transition the rest of the hybrid students into the schools in phases.
The T.C. Williams High School Football Boosters expressed enthusiasm about the planned opening on Facebook.
“If you haven’t heard the football season is on!” the group said. “Practice starts Monday and then a shortened 8 game season will begin Monday night February 22.”
Well it’s the Superbowl, I guess.
In a national championship game sapped of all build up and anticipation by a year of pandemic and political upheaval, some local restaurants are still using the upcoming event to promote specials.
Zebra noted that some locations like Northside 10 in Del Ray and Sweet Fire Donna’s in Carlyle have Super Bowl specials. In Old Town, Irish bars O’Connell’s and Murphy’s will also have Super Bowl specials, Zebra reported.
A little outside of Alexandria, Black Rose Lounge at 5815 Seminary Road is planning to host a Super Bowl viewing party, though with Alexandria at now over 100 dead from the coronavirus pandemic: gathering in person is still discouraged.
For those hoping to order food, though, the football event occurs amid Alexandria’s extended Restaurant Week. Many of the specials compiled by Visit Alexandria are still applicable.
Every slice at Lost Dog Cafe Alexandria is a touchdown. Order pizza from us this weekend to enjoy with the big game! Which team will you be rooting for? 🏈🍕 #food #pizza #pizzatime #pasta #salad #sandwich #bacon #foodstagram #lostdog #alexandriava pic.twitter.com/MCwmYImnMe
— Lost Dog Alexandria (@LostDogCafeAlex) February 3, 2021
Photo via Tim L. Productions/Unsplash
Alexandria Man Has Washington Football Team Name Trademarks — “Phillip Martin McCaulay, 61, has made dozens of submissions to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for almost a dozen potential names and other iterations of them.” [WTOP]
Police Department Celebrates 150th Birthday — “150 years of exemplary service to the citizens of Alexandria! Happy anniversary to the Alexandria Police Department founded on this day, July 15, 1870.” [Facebook]
Alexandria, Arlington Apply for Grants to Fund MV Trail Widening, King Street Improvements — “Arlington County and the City of Alexandria are applying for a pair of grants that would bring significant changes to the Mt. Vernon Trail and a portion of King Street near Fairlington.” [ARLnow]
The Heritage Development Gets Smaller — “The original proposed plan included 842 new units with parking underneath the park area. After receiving feedback and concerns about the height and mass of the original plan, the proposed number of units has been reduced to 777, with 774 parking spaces underneath the new structures.” [Alexandria Living]
Carpenter’s Shelter Gets $15K Donation — “Carpenter’s Shelter has not stopped serving the homeless during the pandemic. Recently, the organization received a $15,000 donation from the nonprofitAmerican Water Charitable Foundation and Virginia American Water.” [Zebra]
New Job: Team Member — “Toastique in Old Town, Alexandria and is seeking team members to help create smoothies, gourmet toasts, and run the POS system. Employees will be joining a team to create a fun, clean, fresh environment for a gourmet toast and juice bar in bustling Old Town! No specific skills or experience needed, but applicant must be excited to interact with customers and serve healthy, fresh food to the community.” [Indeed]
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]
Memorial Service for Coach Boone — “Family, friends and complete strangers on Saturday remembered Herman Boone, the iconic T.C. Williams High School head football coach who led the team to a championship in 1971.” [Fox 5, Facebook, WTOP]
Local Group Celebrates 50th Anniversary — “In May 1969, a group of concerned Alexandrians from several churches met to discuss how they could ‘re-emphasize the role, and renew the efforts, of the local churches in providing assistance to people in need.’ The group formed a nonprofit organization called ALIVE!… At a legislative meeting last month, city council issued a proclamation acknowledging ALIVE!’s 50th anniversary.” [Alexandria Times]
More On Juvenile Detention Facility — “More than two-thirds of the cells at the Northern Virginia Juvenile Detention Center are empty on this gray, rainy morning in December, and not just because the 22 teenagers housed there are in classes or meetings in other parts of the facility… The three Northern Virginia communities — Arlington, Falls Church and Alexandria — that share the $5.8 million operating cost of the facility just south of Landmark Mall in Alexandria are wondering whether there is a better option.” [Washington Post]
Freedom House to Expand — “An expansion of the Freedom House Museum and renovations to the historic building it is in are in the works. Earlier this year, the Northern Virginia Urban League put the historic townhouse at 1315 Duke St. it owns up for sale for $2.1 million, after going through a difficult period keeping up payments on the property.” [Alexandria Living]
Former NFL Cheerleader Opens Salon — “From a loft-like space off a busy street in Alexandria, Stephanie Prinzbach runs the one-woman-show that is District Chic Hair Co., providing hair styling to over 115 customers spanning from Washington, DC to Richmond.” [Northern Virginia Magazine]
Treatment Court Shows Results — “In August, the City of Alexandria launched the Alexandria Treatment Court (ATC) as an alternative to jail for people accused of nonviolent felonies with significant substance use disorders… re-arrest rates of treatment court graduates are approximately half or less than that of non-treatment court graduates — which not only saves the judicial system money but also changes lives.” [Zebra]
New Rail Bridge, Expanded VRE Service Announced — “Virginia will build a new rail bridge over the Potomac River connecting Arlington and the District to significantly expand commuter and passenger train service over the next decade, Gov. Ralph Northam (D) announced Thursday.” [Washington Post, ARLnow]
(Updated at 4:25 p.m.) Herman Boone, the T.C. Williams High School football head coach for the school’s 1971 state championship-winning team, has died at 84 years old.
Boone was famously memorialized in the 2000 biographical film Remember the Titans, where he was played by Denzel Washington. The film dramatizes the Titans’ famous 13-0 season after Alexandria’s high schools were integrated.
In 2016, Boone was inducted into Alexandria’s Living Legends group not only for his coaching, but for fighting to get 50 scholarships for the team’s African American athletes, according to the group’s biographical page.
“Boone held clinics to help players with their homework, keeping them eligible to play and helping them get into college,” the Living Legends group said in its biography. “Boone took an active interest in the lives of players and kept in touch with former players, such as [then] Alexandria Police Chief Earl Cook.”
Boone also volunteered with civil rights organizations like the NAACP and the Urban League of Northern Virginia, engaging in “kitchen table” discussions with local civil rights leaders. His death comes just months after the death of the team’s defensive coach Bill Yoast, who was also featured prominently in the film.
A long-time local resident, Boone was married and a father of three daughters.
Alexandria Mayor Justin Wilson hailed Boone as “an irreplaceable part of our history and integral in building the community we enjoy today.”
Sad to hear of the loss of an Alexandria legend and pioneer.
Coach Boone was an irreplaceable part of our history and integral in building the community we enjoy today.
RIP, Coach Boone https://t.co/ZhJPqdJk4I
— Justin Wilson (@justindotnet) December 18, 2019
More from an Alexandria City Public Schools press release, below: