What a week in Alexandria. Here are some of the highlights.
The Alexandria City Council on Wednesday approved its Fiscal Year 2022 $770.7 million budget on Wednesday, and it includes a 2 cent real estate tax reduction. It’s the first time that’s happened in 15 years, and the budget also fully funds Alexandria City Public Schools’ request and includes a 1% raise for city and state employees.
But perhaps the biggest news of the week came with City Councilman Mo Seifeldein’s proposal to eliminate School Resource Officer funding from the budget. The effort was supported along by Vice Mayor Elizabeth Bennett-Parker, Councilman Canek Aguirre and Councilman John Taylor Chapman, who voted along with the group after failing to save the program in a last-minute effort.
Crime stories dominated many headlines, and Police Chief Michael Brown spoke with us this week about his department’s efforts to reduce destructive elements throughout the city. More from that interview will be published next week.
In this week’s poll, we asked about the importance of political endorsements for local candidates. Out of 222 responses, 48% (107 votes) don’t consider endorsements while voting; 39% (86 votes) said endorsements influence their decision; and 14% (29 votes) feel that endorsements hold a lot of sway.
- City Council candidates clash on critical local issues, Part 1
- City Council candidates clash on critical local issues, Part 2
- NEW: Alexandria School Board shakeup looms as few incumbents have filed to run for reelection
- Election: Northam endorses Wilson for reelection
- Here’s which City Council candidates signed the new ‘Alexandria Constituents’ Bill of Rights’ pledge
- COVID-19 update: 40% of residents got first vaccine shot, 29% got second shot
- Old Town dominated the city in 2020 business grant funding
- NEW: Man sentenced 41 months for targeting Alfred Street Baptist Church, journalists and others in ‘swatting’ conspiracy
- Developer JBG Smith joins J.P. Morgan Global Alternatives to own and manage 2 million square feet of Potomac Yard
- ACPS could adjust grades in recognition of COVID challenges
- West End man with history of violent behavior taken into custody
- Appeal to save North Ridge home takes fight to City Council
- Girlfriend of murder suspect arrested for breaking into home and beating up witness
- Parking issues plague Potomac Yard, city looks to create residential parking district
- Knife pulled on woman who chases would-be thieves in Old Town
- D.C. man arrested after 130 mph chase leads to crash on Interstate 495
- Police: Armed robberies occur minutes apart in Del Ray and Arlandria
- Two injured in hit-and-run in Old Town, driver leaves car and flees on foot
- Too noisy? City Council is considering revising Alexandria’s noise ordinance
- Alexandria City Council to end School Resource Officer program at Alexandria City Public Schools
- Alexandria man arrested for firing gun at 7-Eleven door near Braddock Road Metro station
- Here’s the order that City Council candidates will appear on the ballot for the June 8 democratic primary
- JUST IN: Power outages across Alexandria as strong winds hit the city
- What’s next for GenOn and the rest of Old Town North?
Have a safe weekend!
Governor Ralph Northam on Friday endorsed Alexandria Mayor Justin Wilson for reelection.
“Local government is where the policy rubber meets the road, and we need effective leaders like Justin there to implement policies and innovate solutions to the problems of everyday Virginians,” Northam said in a statement. “Under Mayor Wilson’s leadership, Alexandria has consistently created a model for the entire Commonwealth. From COVID response to affordable housing coalitions to equitable transit, Justin has led on the issues most important to Virginians.”
The endorsement comes after Northam also backed a number of other candidates, including former Governor Terry McAuliffe in his bid to retake the governorship, Delegate Hala Ayala for lieutenant governor, and Del. Jay Jones for attorney general.
“I am honored to have Governor Northam’s support,” Wilson said in a statement. “Partnerships with our statewide leaders have allowed us to weather the current pandemic and preserve our local economy. Because of the coordinated effort between Alexandria and Governor Northam’s administration, we are in a place to rebuild stronger than when this pandemic started.”
I am honored to have earned the endorsement of our Governor @RalphNortham
The partnership with the Commonwealth has never been more critical, and we have worked together to support the residents of our City during this extraordinary time. pic.twitter.com/k0R41njroW
— Justin Wilson (@justindotnet) May 7, 2021
Virginia Governor Ralph Northam was in Alexandria Wednesday, and with Mayor Justin Wilson welcomed U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona to Ferdinand T. Day Elementary School.
Northam stopped by Pacers Running at 1301 King Street before the event with Cardona, where he met Wilson and spoke with employees about raising the minimum wage. Pacers has been paying its employees $15 an hour since last year.
“The $15 an hour is definitely better for morale,” Pacers manager Victoria Sanchez said. “We want to have our employees want to stay and to want to come to work every day and be able to afford, living in the area as well.”
Starting May 1, Virginia’s minimum wage will increase to $9.50 per hour, and then to $11 per hour starting Jan. 1, 2022, to $12 in 2023 and then $15 per hour in January 2026.
Northam then met with Cardona, Wilson, National Education Association of the United States President Becky Pringle and Virginia Superintendent of Public Instruction James Lane at Ferdinand T. Day Elementary School.
Cardona was at the school as part of his “Help is Here” school reopening tour. Also in attendance were Superintendent Gregory Hutchings, Jr. and School Board Chair Meagan Alderton.
“It was an honor to welcome Secretary Cardona, the Governor, the Superintendent of Public Instruction, the President of the NEA and more to Ferdinand T. Day Elementary School,” Wilson said. “Secretary Cardona pledged continuing support from the Administration as we continue efforts to return students to in-classroom instruction and provide supports for our kids during this time.”
As part of the tour, which launched in March, Cardona has visited schools around the country that have successfully reopened, as well as schools facing reopening challenges.
A special visit this morning from U.S. Sec. of Education @SecCardona and @VA_Supt Dr. Lane at @FerdinandTDayES! They are here as part of their #HelpIsHereTour to learn about the challenges and successes of reopening schools during the pandemic. pic.twitter.com/hd7g3wRb5J
— Alexandria City Public Schools (@ACPSk12) April 28, 2021
.@SecCardona, @VA_Supt & @BeckyPringle hearing from @FerdinandTDayES Kindergarten teacher Dora Cottrol, Support Staffer of the Year Alex Weinard, and EAA representative Dawn Lucas, among many others, about the successes and challenges of reopening schools. #HelpIsHereTour pic.twitter.com/UNxvBaUYbW
— Alexandria City Public Schools (@ACPSk12) April 28, 2021
— James Lane (@DrJamesLane) April 28, 2021
Images via Jason Taylor and ACPS/Twitter
Virginia Governor Proposes Legalizing Marijuana This Summer — “Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam proposed Wednesday moving up the legalization of simple possession of marijuana to July 1, nearly three years sooner than previously planned.” [Patch]
Lena’s Pizza opens spring dining experience — “Walking in, customers will also see green grass and butterflies.” [Zebra]
Made in ALX, Blue Room Studio launch Del Ray restaurant matchbook art competition — “Local artist Laurel Prucha Moran has created a watercolor painting of a matchbook from every independent restaurant in Alexandria’s Del Ray neighborhood — more than 30 in all. Now, Moran will put 12 of the most popular matchbook watercolor paintings, as determined by resident’s votes, on an art print that will be available for purchase only through Made in ALX.” [Alexandria Living]
Today’s weather — “Partly cloudy skies, with gusty winds developing during the afternoon. High 49F. Winds NW at 20 to 30 mph. Winds could occasionally gust over 40 mph… A few clouds. Low 29F. Winds NW at 15 to 25 mph. Higher wind gusts possible.” [Weather.com]
New job: Plant obsessed cashier — “Speedy Cashier needed for our busy and bustling garden center in the heart of Alexandria. Excellent people skills and proficient computer skills a must. This is a part time to full time position including weekends, with full time during peak seasons. Plant knowledge a big plus! Come grow with us!” [Indeed]
Governor Ralph Northam was in Alexandria Monday to sign into law a $72.5 million initiative making tuition free for low and middle-income students who pursue high-demand jobs.
Northam was flanked by democratic legislators today when h announced at Northern Virginia Community College that funding for his “Get Skilled, Get a Job, Give Back” initiative (G3) has been approved. The legislation was initially announced in 2019 but funding was held up doe to the pandemic.
“It’s almost like if our children don’t go to a four year college or university they’re not going to be successful,” Northam said. “But I’m here to tell you today there are thousands of jobs out there and they don’t necessarily require a four year college education.”
The G3 program, which goes into effect on July 1, allows students who quality for full Pell Grants to get $1,000 grants per semester and $500 during the summer to receive a certificate for studying health care, information technology, manufacturing and skilled trades, early childhood education and public safety. Participants will be required to give back two hours of community service, public service, or work experience for each credit hour in which they are enrolled.
Virginia Secretary of Education Atif Qarni said that the initiative is important for vulnerable populations.
“This initiative of G3 is really important for the Commonwealth,” he said. “This is really transformative because it is addressing wraparound services for the most students who are most vulnerable and have high needs, and financial fragility issues.”
Chief Workforce Development Advisor Megan Healy said that the effort will help students compete in a changing marketplace.
“It’s really about making sure that we can fill our jobs, making sure that we can wrap our arms around the students and make sure they can complete,” she said.
Glenn Dubois, chancellor of the Virginia Community College System, said that the impact of the day could not be understated.
“This is a really big day,” Dubois said. “It’s the biggest day in my career. It’s probably the biggest day since we were established (more than 50 years ago).”
Video: Gov. Northam Announces “G3” (“Get Skilled, Get a Job, Give Back”) Program (Includes "$145 million over the biennium to make tuition-free community college available to low- and middle-income students who pursue jobs in high-demand fields") https://t.co/YAxDizME6y
— Blue Virginia (@bluevirginia) December 12, 2019
— NOVAcommcollege (@NOVAcommcollege) March 29, 2021
Earlier today, I visited @NOVAcommcollege to sign legislation creating the G3 program, which will provide tuition-free community college and wraparound support to an estimated 36,000 Virginians pursuing degrees in high-demand fields.
— Ralph Northam (@GovernorVA) March 29, 2021
Northam Remarks on a Year of Coronavirus — “For far too many people, life will never be the same again. It has been a hard year, but I have been encouraged by the strength of Virginians in every corner of our Commonwealth.” [Patch]
Beyer Remarks on a Year of Coronavirus — “A year ago today Virginia’s first case of coronavirus was confirmed at Ft. Belvoir in Fairfax County. I remember it like it was yesterday, a frightening time. We’ve lost so many people since then, as the country endured misery and hardship. But we are going to beat this virus.” [Twitter]
Plant-Based Cottage Bakery Coming to Del Ray — “Soon, Del Ray residents and visitors will be able to follow their noses to a new place for flaky croissants and more: Le Petit Grump. The cottage bakery is starting small – really small, in fact. Owner Mel Gumina’s 437-square-foot home in Del Ray is the place where the magic has been happening for months as Gumina perfects her pastries in anticipation of a springtime opening.” [Gazette]
Capital Bikeshare Comes to West End — “West End: Another @bikeshare station has been installed…on Taney Ave., near Howard St. More stations on the way…” [Twitter]
Art Adorns Alexandria Trails in New Public Art Initiative — “Artist Cristina Fletcher spent Thursday moving ladders and hanging colorful birds from trees along Holmes Run Trail in Alexandria’s West End. She is one of three artists installing public art exhibitions on Alexandria park trails as part of a grant program from the Alexandria Commission on the Arts.” [Alexandria Living]
Today’s Weather — “Sunny skies. High 54F. Winds NW at 5 to 10 mph… Mostly clear skies. Low 37F. Winds light and variable.” [Weather.com]
New Job: Youth Soccer Coach — “Soccer Shots blends soccer, education, and fun into high energy 30-minute sessions to kids ages 2-8 throughout the DC/MD/VA area. You’ll laugh. You’ll break a sweat. And you’ll go home at the end of the day knowing that you made a difference.” [Indeed]
There have been 12 more coronavirus-related deaths in Alexandria, bringing the death toll from the virus to 119.
Six of the deaths were residents in their 80s, four were in their 70s and two were in their 60s. Five victims were women and seven were men.
Alexandria’s caseload now stands at 10,342. That’s 146 more cases since this time last week, according to the Virginia Department of Health.
There have also been 509 total hospitalizations in Alexandria since the onset of the pandemic, and the city’s seven-day moving average is now at 22.4, which is down from last Monday’s total of 26.6 cases.
Across Virginia, there have been 8,783 deaths and there are or have been 577,174 cases of the virus. There have also been 5.9 million PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests and the state’s seven-day positivity rate is 7.1% (down from 8.1% this time last week).
VDH is now releasing vaccine demographic data for Alexandria, and 20,317 residents have received at least one dose and 13,004 have been fully vaccinated. There are now more than 45,000 city residents on the vaccine waiting list.
White residents far outpace other races in the city for first doses and full vaccinations.
- White — 6,942 first doses, 3,493 fully vaccinated
- Black — 1,723 first doses, 1747 fully vaccinated
- Latino — 1,684 first doses, 809 fully vaccinated
- Other — 1,416 first doses, 667 fully vaccinated
- Asian of Pacific Islander — 505 first doses, 234 fully vaccinated
- Native American — 45 first doses, 13 fully vaccinated
“Some of the disproportionality among people of color compared to white populations may be due to the current vaccination focus on older adults,” reported the Alexandria Health Department. “In addition to AHD’s equitable vaccine prioritization process, AHD will use this data to reinforce existing engagement efforts, such as partnering with communities of color, to raise awareness about vaccine safety and effectiveness, and how to pre-register and how to obtain COVID-19 vaccination.” Read More
Virginia Rolls Back Some Restrictions on Dining, Outdoor Gatherings — Effective Mar. 1, Virginians will be able to buy and drink alcohol at restaurants, food courts, breweries, distilleries, and wineries until they are required to close at midnight. The changes to the current executive order come amid declining rates of hospitalizations and infections and rising vaccination rates in the Commonwealth, Northam said during a press conference this morning (Wednesday).” [Reston Now]
Alexandria Black History Museum Launches Online Exhibition — “Following George Floyd’s murder on May 25, 2020, the Alexandria Black History Museum (ABHM) requested that Alexandria residents share their thoughts, artwork, and more. ABHM wanted to document the Alexandria community’s response of this tragic event and preserve it for future generations. An online exhibition featuring the items received so far launched recently on the Historic Alexandria Online portal. The items collectively are called the Black Lives Remembered Collection.” [Zebra]
Leaders Predict What Alexandria Will Look Like in the Year 2050 — “You pop into the Torpedo Factory and delve into the immersive beauty of art and technology combined, then get your caffeine fix with ease as a retinal scan captures your regular favorite brew — fair trade of course, because all coffee is these days. With a coffee in hand, you board one of the free electric trolleys that departs every 10 minutes from King Street to any of the city’s neighborhoods — Potomac Yard, Inova West, Carlyle, Arlandria, Del Ray and more.” [Alexandria Living]
Council Approves Newport Village Development — “UDR Newport Village LLC, has received approval for a development special use permit to tear down two garden-style apartments and build a multifamily residential building with 383 units near Northern Virginia Community College. According to the plans, 24 units would be studios, 255 would be one-bedroom units, and 104 would be two-bedroom units. At least a dozen of the units would be affordable, and the developer is making a contribution to the affordable housing fund.” [Alexandria Living]
City Environmental Award Nominations Open — “Know someone who is committed to protecting the environment and sustaining Alexandria’s natural resources? Nominate them for the Ellen Pickering Environmental Excellence Award by March 25.” [Twitter]
George Washington Reenactor Conducting Community Conversations — “Join George Washington every Friday in February as he discusses his life during various periods of his life and engages the audience. The first week will be about his youth, the second week will delve into the American War for Independence, the third week will cover his post-war retirement at Mount Vernon and his time presiding over the Constitutional Convention, and the last installment will cover his Presidency and final retirement years.” [Visit Alexandria]
Today’s Weather — “Mainly sunny (during the day). High 52F. Winds NW at 10 to 15 mph… Partly cloudy (in the evening). Low 31F. Winds light and variable.” [Weather.com]
New Job: Pastry Chef/Baker — “Seeking a full time pastry and/or bread baker for high quality artisan bread and pastry company. We are looking for a creative self starter who has attention to detail and a variety of skills from cookies and brownies to cakes, ice cream, mousses, desserts and pies- laminating skills a plus but not necessary. Creativity, drive and a strong work ethic are critical. This position comes with a lot of freedom to develop new items and grow the business. You will be producing a menu of set items according to our recipes but we are looking for someone who can creatively and efficiently develop and add more items- this is a growth position.” [Indeed]
Volunteers Needed to Unload 40K Pounds of Food for Five Food Pantries — “Getting this food is a huge opportunity and we are excited to provide love and security to families in our neighborhood. Thank you for your help!” [Zebra]
Juvenile Robbed of Phone in West End — “The Alexandria Police Dept is investigating a robbery from a person in the 1400 blk of N. Beauregard St. A juvenile female had her cellphone stolen by a group of juvenile males. No injuries reported. Expect police activity in the area.” [Twitter]
Northam Gets Legislation Eliminating Death Penalty — “Abolition of the Death Penalty is on the Governor’s Desk. Thank you to everyone who has worked towards this moment. Virginia can start to lead the world again on human rights and justice.” [Twitter]
City Seeks Feedback on Community Policing Review Board — “Options for establishing an Independent Community Policing Review Board will be considered by Alexandria City Council on March 9.” [Patch]
Bill Reagan Named Living Legend of Alexandria — “Recently our Director, Bill Reagan, was announced as a 2020 Living Legend of Alexandria! Read more about how Bill started the Alexandria SBDC and his 25 years of unwavering service to the Alexandria small business community.” [Facebook]
Wonder Woman 1984 Drum Will Be Up Until the End of the Month — “The seven-foot drum prop from #WonderWoman1984 will be on display in Old Town until February 28.” [Twitter]
Today’s Weather — “Partly cloudy skies (during the day). High 63F. Winds SSW at 10 to 20 mph… Partly cloudy skies (in the evening). Low 38F. Winds WNW at 10 to 15 mph.” [Weather.com]
New Job: Team Member at Barca Wine Bar and Pier — “We are seeking high volume , servers’, bartenders, hosts and support team members as we open Alexandria’s newest waterfront treasure.” [Indeed]
It was a cold and snowy week in Alexandria.
Our top story this week was on plans to redevelop the GenOn power plant in Old Town North. It looks like deconstruction of the plant will start in 2023 and developers are looking at converting it into an urban, mixed-use property with housing.
The short work week started with news that Alexandria reached 10,000 cases of COVID-19. The latest figures show that there are 10,113 cases and 104 total deaths in the city, according to the Virginia Department of Health. The city’s seven-day moving average is now 35.1 cases.
A 49-year-old homeless woman was found dead in Arlandria on Tuesday morning, and the mayor told us that homelessness is on the rise in the city. ALXnow is following up with the city on the issue.
Tuesday morning also brought news that Alexandria City Councilman Mo Seifeldein abandoned his run for mayor and will not seek reelection to council. Seifeldein was hired as a trial lawyer by the U.S. Department of Labor in Jan. 2020, and while he can finish out his term on council, he can not run unless he files as an independent candidate.
In other election news, the race for city council is starting to get crowded, as Bill Rossello, a co-founder of the Bring Integrity Back to Alexandria Facebook Group, just threw his hat into the ring.
On the vaccine front, the waiting list has surpassed 45,000 and it may be until late summer that the vaccine is widely available in the city. On Thursday, Mayor Justin Wilson also asked the governor to open vaccine eligibility for restaurant, personal care and retail workers.
More than 200 people responded to this week’s poll on power outages. There have been a number of outages over tha last year, and 73% of respondents reported experiencing an outage, while 26% report that their homes haven’t been impacted.
In case you missed them, here are some other important stories this week:
- BREAKING: Alexandria Police Investigate Second Car Stolen While Owner Pumps Gas
- Reduced Real Estate Tax Rate Proposed in Upcoming City Budget
- Staff Proposes Overhaul of George Washington Masonic Temple Intersection
- Six Displaced After Bathroom Exhaust Fan Fire in Parkfairfax Rowhouse
- Photos: Snow in Alexandria
Here are our top stories of the week in Alexandria:
- Developers Lay Out Multi-Year Timeline for GenOn Plant Redevelopment
- BREAKING: Homeless Woman Found Dead on Mount Vernon Avenue
- Alexandria Boxer Troy Isley Goes Pro With Big Fight Next Week
- Seifeldein Not Running for Mayor, Leaving Alexandria City Council
- ALXnow’s Top Stories this Week in Alexandria
- Director of Finance: Alexandria’s Real Estate Assessments Are a ‘Tale of Two Markets’
- Local Business Owner Robbed of Car While Pumping Gas at Old Town Gas Station
- Torpedo Factory Overhaul Heads to City Council Next Month
- Snow: Up to 6 Inches of Snow and Ice Expected in Alexandria
- BREAKING: Alexandria Police Investigate Second Car Stolen While Owner Pumps Gas
- Local Facebook Watchdog Group Founder Bill Rossello Announces Run for City Council
Have a safe weekend!