Alexandria, VA

Beyer Rails Against Congressional Republicans — “I’m really sick of whining about ‘canceling’ from rich and powerful Republicans who tried to cancel our democracy.” [Twitter]

Deadline Extended for Landlords to Apply for Relief Program — The deadline for landlords to apply for the Rent and Mortgage Relief Program, to cover overdue rent or mortgage payments due to the COVID-19 pandemic, has been extended to March 1. Applications that have not yet been submitted can now include requests to cover rent payments through February 2021. Previously submitted applications are also eligible to include rent due in February through a contract amendment process.” [City of Alexandria]

City Council Affirms Commitment to Racial and Social Equity — “On Jan. 23, the Alexandria City Council unanimously adopted a resolution to acknowledge racial inequity in the past and present, and commit to adopting practices and policies that promote racial and social equity.” [Zebra]

City Councilwoman Amy Jackson Announces Run for Reelection — “I AM running for Re-election! With your support, I look forward to serving my hometown in this capacity for another term. Any contribution at any level helps! Thank you! #AlexandriaVA” [Twitter]

Alexandria Police Are Hiring — “Interested in becoming an Alexandria Police Officer? The first step is to take a written test. We have a few spots open for the next test on January 30th. Click the link below to start the process to become one of Alexandria’s finest.” [Twitter]

Power Outage Affects Some ACPS Teachers Tuesday — “Alert 1/26/2021 12:56 p.m.: There is currently an internet outage on the east coast that is impacting some of our staff. Please be aware as some teachers may not be able to connect to classes this afternoon.” [Twitter]

‘Groundswell’ Art Installation Coming to Waterfront Park — “A new art installation called Groundswell, featuring about 130 wood pilings in various heights, will adorn Waterfront Park in Old Town this spring.” [Alexandria Living]

Today’s Weather — “Except for a few afternoon clouds, mainly sunny. High 43F. Winds NNW at 10 to 15 mph. Overcast (in the evening). Low near 30F. Winds N at 10 to 20 mph.” [Weather.com]

New Job: Teacher – Head Start — “The Teacher creates, maintains, and manages an attractive, warm, and challenging learning environment for young children, incorporating developmentally appropriate learning activities that meet the needs of the group as well as those of individual children. The Teacher collaborates with all staff to facilitate the utilization of needed services to the children and their families. The Teacher is responsible for keeping accurate reports and records for each child and ensuring that all of the necessary forms are completed and properly maintained.” [Indeed]

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(Updated 2:05 p.m.) Alexandrians have had to deal with a frustrating uptick in power outages this year, and Mayor Justin Wilson said locals are getting tired of it.

The city has faced several large-scale power outages in 2020 — including a particularly large one in October that hit 12,750 residents in Del Ray, North Ridge, Rosemont, Seminary Hill and Potomac Yard. Dominion representatives said the outage was a fluke, but city representatives pointed to the recent spate of outages as evidence to the contrary. In a letter sent yesterday, Wilson outlined local concerns and what Dominion can do to improve the situation.

“Unfortunately, I write in frustration on behalf of the 160,000 residents of the City of Alexandria, of which 66,039 are direct customers of Dominion Energy,” Wilson wrote. “The residents of our community are frustrated with the recent reliability of the electricity service that they have received, Dominion’s response to these reliability challenges and the lack of meaningful infrastructure investments planned to prevent these challenges in the future.”

In the letter, Wilson listed 16 large-scale outages between April and December.

“As you know, the City has worked with Dominion to make the large-scale infrastructure investments required to improve reliability,” Wilson said. “Over six years ago, when Dominion approached the City seeking to construct a 230KV transmission line across out community using municipal right-of-way, we convened a multi-year community process, at taxpayer expense, to work with dominion to determine the proper route. After years of work, Dominion chose to abandon the project.”

Wilson also said that for the last 15 years, the city has been sharing funding with Dominion to perform utility under-grounding and has been requiring new private and public sector development to be undergrounded — only to find that very few undergrounding projects have been undertaken by Dominion.

“In fact, it has been the City’s efforts, either through development proffers or taxpayer-funded projects that have led to most of the undergrounding efforts in recent years,” Wilson said.

In response to the concerns, Wilson asked Dominion for:

  1. A multi-year infrastructure investment plan to improve reliability of electricity service for the City of Alexandria, including appropriate exercise of all available authority under the Grid Transformation and Security Act to accelerate implementation
  2. Improved transparency for customers relating to reliability data and recovery performance
  3. An enhanced Service Level commitment for customer requests (street light repairs, property constructoin/renovation, municipal projects, etc)

The letter was sent and signed by the City Council, along with City Manager Mark Jinks and five members of the Alexandria General Assembly delegation.

“We understand how critical reliable energy is for our customers,” said Dominion spokesperson Peggy Fox. “We take these concerns seriously and work to continually improve our service.”

Photo via Dominion Energy/Facebook

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Morning Notes

Fairfax Police Injured in Chase on Woodrow Wilson Bridge — “Three Fairfax County police officers were injured during a car chase involving a homicide suspect that ended with the person’s capture on the Woodrow Wilson Bridge on Wednesday afternoon, authorities said.” [Washington Post]

Power Outage in Carlyle — “We have about 2K @DominionEnergy customers experiencing outages in the vicinity of Carlyle. If you are out please report the outage online or by phone at 866-366-4357.” [Twitter]

Alexandria Man Sentenced in Kidnapping and Witness Tampering Case — “U.S. District Judge George J. Hazel today sentenced Henry Lee Kenner II, age 43, of Alexandria, Virginia, to 150 months in federal prison, followed by five years of supervised release, for kidnapping and witness tampering.” [Shore News Network]

Winter Village at Cameron Run Makes Coronavirus Adjustments — “The Winter Village will be open on weekends, holidays, and prime visitation nights from Nov. 20 to Jan. 3, and ice skating only will be offered on select days from Jan. 9 to Feb. 28.” [Patch]

Alexandria Law Enforcement Honored for Heroism — “Deputy Jason Bebow and Deputy Julio Ocasio were honored for their rescue of an inmate who had attempted suicide at the Alexandria City Jail. Deputy Devon Neckles and Officer Shakita Warren were honored for their successful intervention with a suicidal resident.” [Zebra]

Staff photo by James Cullum

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It was a historic week in Alexandria.

Alexandrians overwhelmingly helped reelect U.S. Senator Mark Warner and Congressman Don Beyer, and 80% of voters chose Democrat former Vice President Joe Biden for president over incumbent Republican President Donald Trump.

Out top story this week was election-related. It turns out that before election day several Alexandria households with Joe Biden signs were sent letters with a Northern Virginia postage mark stating that Biden is a pedophile. The Chair of the Alexandria Democratic Committee advised that anyone who receives such notes should call the police. The police, in turn, are sending along the information to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.

Additionally, 91 people participated in our weekly poll. This week we asked about election night plans, and 65% of respondents said they were staying home to watch the results, 24% had no eleciton night plans, 10% planned to protest that evening, and 1% were going to an election night event.

School News

Alexandria City Public Schools were back in action this week — sort of. While the ACPS opened in-person classes on Thursday, fewer than 10 students made it to class. There were about 60 students eligible to go back to school, since only kids with kindergarten through second graders with disabilities were allowed to attend Jefferson-Houston PreK-8 IB School.

It was the first in-person public schooling in Alexandria since the pandemic shut down schools in March. ACPS plans to expand opening for all citywide special education students by December. Meanwhile, however, hundreds of parents want the school system to open and have started the #OpenACPS messaging campaign.

Also in school news, a two-year-long court battle was settled with the city and 15 Alexandria homeowners were settled regarding the addition of stadium lights to Parker-Gray Stadium at T.C. Williams High School.

The Week in Crime

The week started with news that there were two shootings in Alexandria over the weekend.

The was also the story of a 17-year-old on the run since last month after allegedly stealing a car in the West End. The juvenile, who later admitted stealing the car, was seen by the victim — a federal law enforcement officer — driving past his house, and the victim got into another of his cars and followed the suspect. The victim got the juvenile out of his car and held him at the scene until police arrived, and the juvenile left the area after being charged.

We also covered the story of the ‘Beltway Bank Bandit’. Freddie Lee McRae, 34, of Washington D.C., pleaded guilty to three counts of brandishing a firearm during a series of bank and shoe store robberies in and around Alexandria in 2018 and 2019. He will be sentenced on February 23, 2021, and faces up to life in prison and a mandatory minimum of 21 years in prison.

Health and Business

As of Friday there were 76 deaths attributed to the coronavirus in Alexandria, and the case count stands at 4,444, according to the Virginia Department of Health. Latino residents continue to lead the case count.

We also reported that longtime Del Ray staple, Al’s Steak House, is for sale since the owner passed away.

This week also saw fewer continued and initial unemployment claims in Alexandria.

Here are ALXnow’s top stories of the week in Alexandria:

  1. Alexandrians with Joe Biden Yard Signs Get Anonymous Letters Saying Biden is a Pedophile
  2. Del Ray Staple Al’s Steak House for Sale After Owner’s Death
  3. Republican Jeff Jordan Running Uphill Battle Against Incumbent Rep. Don Beyer
  4. Braddock West Project Headed to Planning Commission Later This Year
  5. Identity Released of Old Town North Suspect Killed in Shootout
  6. Soft Opening for New Chicken Joint in North Old Town Today
  7. Alexandria Parents Start #OpenACPS Sign Campaign as School System Begins Partial Reopening
  8. Juvenile Allegedly Steals Car and is Tracked Down by Victim in the West End
  9. BREAKING: Massive Power Outage Reported in Alexandria
  10. The Alexandria Drive-In Just Kicked Off an Encore Series on Halloween
  11. Did You Know: The Tall Ship Providence Encountered a Ghost Ship in 1777

Have a safe weekend!

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Morning Notes

Dominion Says Sunday Power Outage Caused by Broken Pole/Cross Arm — “Update: A broken pole/cross arm caused the failure. We have been able to isolate the problem and are hoping to everyone back on line very soon.” [Twitter]

Retro Candy Shop Opening in Fairlington — “If you’re into nostalgic candy that will take you back to your childhood days, you’ll want to keep an eye out for the opening of Rocket Fizz, Soda Pop & Candy Shop at Fairlington Centre in Alexandria, according to signs posted in the windows.” [Alexandria Living]

Alexandria Film Festival Unveils 2020 Program — “The Alexandria Film Festival, which will debut virtually this year Nov. 12-15, announced on Tuesday its 2020 programming of 45 short and feature length fiction and nonfiction films.” [Gazette]

The Following Bills Are Due This Month — “Bills for the 2020 second half real estate tax, refuse fees and stormwater utility fees are due Nov. 16. Make payments online, by phone or mail, or in person. Those unable to pay due to COVID-19 may be eligible for payment arrangements.” [Twitter]

Check Out These Cool Pumpkin Carvings in Alexandria — “For some 20 years, Rick and Lynne White have carved the humble pumpkin into a work of art. Their festive Halloween display on Emerald Drive in Alexandria’s Waynewood neighborhood draws a crowd every year.” [Zebra]

Today’s Weather — “Abundant sunshine (during the day). High 49F. Winds WNW at 15 to 25 mph. Winds could occasionally gust over 40 mph. Clear skies (in the evening). Low 38F. Winds WSW at 5 to 10 mph.” [Weather.com]

New Job: Move-In Coordinator at Goodwin House — “The move-in coordinator is responsible for the move-in process; provides support to marketing director and marketing associate. Establishes a professional, supportive and caring relationship with the independent living residents. Coordinates necessary paperwork and support services to ensure that the move-process is as pleasant an experience as possible for the resident. Serves as a resource person during the move-in process.” [Indeed]

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What an intense week in Alexandria.

Our top story was on the massive power outages that affected tens of thousands of residents on Friday, October 23. Without providing specifics, Dominion Energy told City Council this week that outages in Alexandria and Arlington were “unique,” and caused by a piece of equipment that failed at its Glebe Road substation. City Councilors responded that there have been at least eight outages since May.

Monday started with news that an Alexandria Police officer was shot in Old Town and that the 27-year-old suspect was found shot to death near a construction site.

Police were called to the Holiday Inn & Suites in Old Town North after reports that shots were fired in the lobby of the hotel. Police chased two suspects on foot and a shootout ensued. The officer was shot in the lower body and was later released, and the other suspect later turned himself in to police.

On the coronavirus front, there are now 74 deaths in Alexandria and there are now or have been more than 4,200 cases since the pandemic began in March. Latino residents continue to lead the case count. This week the Alexandria Health Department reported that majority of recent coronavirus cases in Alexandria might be the result of contacts at home, indoor gatherings and eating out.

Restaurant-wise, we reported the soft opening of a new chicken joint in North Old Town.

Additionally, the Wrought, Knit, Labors, Legacies art installation at Waterfront Park will be taken down next month at Waterfront Park, and the installation will temporarily be moved outside of Old Town Pool (1609 Cameron Street).

We also reported that more than 50% of Alexandria voters have already cast their ballots.

Additionally, more than 240 people participated in our weekly poll. With Halloween on Saturday, this week we asked about trick-or-treating plans, and 38% of respondents are not celebrating Halloween this year, 31% are not trick-or-treating but have other plans, 17% plan to trick-or-treat with modifications, and 14% plan to trick-or-treat as usual.

Here are ALXnow’s top stories of the week in Alexandria:

  1. BREAKING: Massive Power Outage Reported in Alexandria
  2. BREAKING: Virginia State Police Seek Alexandria Man After Police Shootout
  3. School Board Shelves Plan to Reopen Schools in 2021, Students with Disabilities Transitioning Back Next Month
  4. Republican Jeff Jordan Running Uphill Battle Against Incumbent Rep. Don Beyer
  5. Here’s Where Alexandria Residents Might be Getting COVID-19
  6. BREAKING: Shooting Suspect In Custody, Police Announce
  7. Police: Man Killed in Car Crash on N. Van Dorn Street
  8. Identity Released of Old Town North Suspect Killed in Shootout
  9. Police: Shots Fired in Braddock Area on Monday Night
  10. The Chewish Deli Opens New Location in Old Town
  11. Police Assist Man With Psychotic Episode in West End

Happy Halloween!

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Dominion Energy representatives say that the massive power outages that affected thousands of homes in Alexandria and Arlington last Friday (October 23) were “unique,” and caused by a piece of equipment that failed at its Glebe Road substation.

“This was a unique. Typically, you might experience an outage on one single circuit,” Tim Sargeant, Dominion Energy’s external affairs manager in Northern Virginia, told City Council on Tuesday night. “Needless to say the outage occurred on multiple circuits.”

Sargeant reported that at around 7 p.m., a piece of equipment at the station failed, which caused an outage to 16,504 customers.

“Electric service was restored to 11,247 customers within one minute with the remaining customers restored in increments ranging from 53 minutes to 80 minutes,” Sargeant said. “After the first restoration, approximately 8,000 customers experienced multiple moments of brief service interruptions during the next two hours.”

Then at around 9:15 p.m., another outage affected 8,017 customers after Dominion rerouted electric service to other circuits.

“The additional load on the circuit triggered protective devices that interrupted service as a precaution, as service was restored one of those customers in increments of 18 minutes, 14 minutes, and seven minutes,” Sargeant said, adding that Dominion will send the city a report on recent outages.

City Councilman John Taylor Chapman said that power outages in Alexandria have been too frequent.

Mayor Justin Wilson, for instance, listed outages on social media on May 10June 17, July 7, July 22, August 2, August 8, October 12 and October 17.

“That does seem like a lot of outages for a pretty short amount of time,” Chapman said. “We definitely want our residents to believe that they have reliable power.”

Wilson said that he getting carryout at a restaurant on Mount Vernon Avenue when the lights went out.

“I did watch two restaurants right in front of me close down, because they just gave up because of power going on and off and customer after customer walking up and being told to go away,” Wilson said. “To have a Friday night off, it’s heartbreaking for them. That’s a lot of lost revenue.”

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Thousands of Alexandria residents are in the dark Friday night due to a massive power outage.

At 8 p.m., the utility company was reporting over 12,750 customers without power. As of 8:20 p.m., that number had gone down to 6,846.

More than 3,500 customers are also without power in parts of Arlington, across the Alexandria border.

The neighborhoods affected include Del Ray, Potomac Yard, and Fairlington. Some have reported the power flickering.

Power restoration is currently estimated between 10 p.m.-1 a.m., according to Dominion’s website. The cause of the outage is a malfunctioning circuit at a substation, according to a company spokeswoman.

Update at 9:35 p.m. — Alexandria police are reminding residents to treat dark traffic signals as a four-way stop.

“Dominion Power has reported a major power outage throughout the City of Alexandria,” APD said. “This outage has resulted in many intersections without power. Treat all intersections that are without power as a four way stop. Please stay alert and drive safely.”

Update at 9:15 p.m. — Power was briefly restored but is back off, according to a Dominion spokeswoman. A number of residents https://twitter.com/PeggyDomEnergy/status/1319808138497896448from around the city said on Twitter that they are still without power.

More via social media:

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Updated 1 p.m. — The Dominion Energy outage map shows the situation at Potomac Yard has been resolved

Earlier: Dominion Energy is reporting a large power outage enveloping Potomac Yard and crossing into the Del Ray and Braddock neighborhoods, leaving 3,570 customers without power.

According to the outage map, crews have been dispatched to the scene but power restoration could be anywhere between 12-5 p.m. The cause of the outage is currently unknown, though there are also power outages throughout the area after last night’s storms.

Some Alexandrians on Twitter said they experienced periodic power outages throughout the morning, waking up with reset clocks or fridges full of spoiling food.

Map via Dominion Energy

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Update at 4:40 p.m. — The Animal Welfare League of Alexandria and Port City Brewing have both reopened. AWLA will be open for business and adoptions until 7 p.m. The storm-related outage near Inova Alexandria Hospital is still ongoing.

Earlier: Some 250 Dominion customers in Alexandria are still in the dark following yesterday’s storms.

That’s down from the nearly 4,000 outages reported in the city last night, primarily in the West End, but the remaining outages are causing some problems.

The Animal Welfare League of Alexandria says it is “closed until further notice” due to an ongoing outage at its headquarters at 4101 Eisenhower Avenue. The shelter is not taking any additional animals from Alexandria animal control, per scanner traffic.

“Our power is out currently, though we have a backup generator so that we still have the functions essential to our animals’ (and staff’s) health and safety,” AWLA spokeswoman Gina Hardter tells ARLnow. “However, the outage limits the capabilities of some of our customer service functions, which is why we are currently closed for business.”

“Our team is working hard to make sure that the animals are safe and comfortable until power is restored, and we will announce on our website and social media when we reopen for business,” Hardter added.

Port City Brewing is also affected by the outage. Power is expected to be restored to Port City, AWLA and other affected Dominion customers along Duke Street and Eisenhower Avenue by 5 p.m., according to the utility company’s website.

For another storm-related outage near Inova Alexandria Hospital, affecting just over 100 Dominion customers, restoration is currently estimated between 6-11 p.m.

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