Alexandria, VA

What a busy week in Alexandria.

Our top story this week was on Vice President Kamala Harris’ visit to Old Town shop fibre space on March 3. It was Harris’ first official visit outside of the White House since she was inaugurated, and she spoke about the American Rescue Plan with shop owner Danielle Romanetti.

Alexandria City Public Schools reopened for hybrid instruction this week, the first time since all school facilities were shut down on March 13. The school system reportedly welcomed back 1,200 special needs students in kindergarten through fifth grade. ACPS will open on March 9 for special education students, and then fully reopen its doors to hybrid learning for students on March 16.

On the coronavirus front, the number  of deaths due to the virus has climbed to 123, and cases are at 10,404 since the first case was reported on March 11, 2020. Mayor Justin Wilson says the city is doing well keeping the numbers down, although with a vaccine waiting list exceeding 45,000 and 3,000 vaccine doses being given out weekly, distribution will continue to be slow.

More than 550 people responded to this week’s poll on the proposed new names for T.C. Williams High School and Matthew Maury Elementary School. About 60% of respondents said they were happy with Alexandria High School, but not with Naomi Brooks Elementary School; 25% said they liked both names; 8% didn’t like either name; and 6% didn’t like the high school name and were happy with the elementary school name.

In case you missed them, here are some other important stories:

Here are our most-read posts this week:

  1. Just In: Vice President Visits Old Town Shop Fibre Space
  2. Alexandria Wants Feedback on Building Spray Park in Del Ray
  3. El Chapo’s Wife to be Isolated in Alexandria Jail for One Month Per COVID-19 Distancing Rules
  4. Consultant Proposes Replacing Community Shelter with Mixed-Use Development
  5. Alexandria Advocacy Facebook Group Parodied in New Blog
  6. Superintendent Proposes New Names for T.C. Williams High School and Matthew Maury Elementary
  7. Patrick Moran, Son of Former Congressman Jim Moran, is Running for City Council
  8. ACPS Reopens its Doors and Evaluating Grading System for Traumatized Students
  9. Man Arrested for High-Speed Vehicle Race on I-495
  10. Meronne Teklu Enters City Council Race
  11. Neighborhood Spotlight: Old Town is the New Town

Have a safe weekend!

Photo via Peter Velz/Twitter 

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Emma Coronel Aispuro, the wife of Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman Loera, will be isolated from the general population for a month in the Alexandria jail, in accordance with COVID-19 restrictions.

The Alexandria Sheriff’s Office has a contract with the U.S. Marshals to house inmates in the William G. Truesdale Adult Detention Center, and other details of Coronel’s stay have not been released, such as whether she will be secluded from other inmates after the month.

The 31-year-old Coronel was arrested at Washington Dulles International Airport on Monday and made a video appearance U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia  the following day. She is accused of participating in his escape from prison in July 2015, planning another escape before he was extradited to the U.S. in Jan. 2017, and is being charged with conspiracy to distribute heroin, cocaine and marijuana, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

Alexandria’s jail houses many federal inmates awaiting sentencing, including high profile cases like Paul ManafortChelsea Manning and ISIS members.

“She is under our COVID protocols, which is standard procedure for new intakes,” Alexandria Sheriff Dana Lawhorne told ALXnow. “This protocol went into effect in March 2020.”

Per the Sheriff’s office, Coronel will be held in seclusion for two weeks, then moved to another unit for another two weeks. The Sheriff could not comment as to whether she will be distanced from other inmates after that period, although Chelsea Manning reportedly spent her stay at the jail apart from the general population.

Photo via Alexandria Sheriff’s Office

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Morning Notes

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]

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It was a cold week in Alexandria.

With bits of snow and temperatures hovering at around freezing, our top story this week was on Allison Priebe, the local business owner who was robbed while pumping gas in Old Town. Police later released suspect photos and advise anyone pumping gas to keep their keys with them and lock their vehicles.

On the coronavirus front, Alexandria is now at 9,903 cases and no new deaths, which is an increase of about 150 cases since Monday’s report. Meanwhile, as the city contends with a growing vaccine waiting list, the Health Department is warning residents of COVID-19 vaccine scams.

More than 260 people participated in our weekly poll. This week we asked about voting in the upcoming City Council and mayoral elections, and 87% plan on voting in the primary and general election; 6% only plan on voting in the primary; 5% aren’t voting and 1% will only vote in the primary.

In case you missed them, here are some other important stories this week:

Here are our top stories of the week in Alexandria:

  1. Local Business Owner Robbed of Car While Pumping Gas at Old Town Gas Station
  2. BREAKING: Large Power Outage Reported in Old Town
  3. ACPS Releases Semifinalist Names for T.C. Williams High School and Matthew Maury Elementary School Renaming
  4. Just In: ‘QAnon Shaman’ from Capitol Siege Transferred to Alexandria Jail
  5. Poll: What Do You Think of the Proposed Heritage Development in Old Town
  6. Mayor: Brace Yourselves, It Could be End of Summer Before City Moves into Next Vaccine Phase
  7. BREAKING: Councilman Mo Seifeldein Running for Alexandria Mayor, Hatch Act Conflict in Question
  8. Alexandria Sheriff: Jailed ‘QAnon Shaman’s’ Organic Food Request is Normal
  9. Just In: James Lewis Files Paperwork to Enter City Council Race
  10. Photos: The Regal Potomac Yard Movie Theater is Being Torn Down
  11. City Councilman’s Virtual Super Bowl Party Ambushed by Racists and Nazi Trolls

Photo via Alexandria Police

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Morning Notes

Beyer Says COVID Relief Legislation Will Save Economy — “Today we answered the call of the American people by advancing big, ambitious legislation in @WaysMeansCmte to help end the pandemic and save the economy. We are working to meet the nation’s need with the scale and speed that this crisis requires.” [Twitter]

Northam Sends Letter to FEMA Asking for Increased Assistance With Vaccination — “Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, and DC Mayor Muriel Bowser sent a two-page letter to FEMA and HHS leaders requesting increased support for COVID-19 vaccination efforts of essential federal employees. It specifically asks that the federal government vaccinate its own workers, including contractors and WMATA employees.” [Zebra]

Photos: Alexandria Sheriff Trainees Get Sprayed in the Eyes — “The final day of field training for these recruits wasn’t a snow day, it was OC spray day! Deputies experience OC spray in a controlled situation during training so they know what to expect and how to keep focused if they’re exposed to it in the future.” [Facebook]

Alexandria Recycles 3 Million Pounds of Glass in Two-And-A-Half Years — “In 2.5 years, Alexandrian’s have recycled over 3 million pounds of glass at the drop off purple bins! You’re also keeping glass out of city-collected recycling carts…glass contamination is down from 26% to 10%. Keep it up! ” [Twitter]

Uncle C’s Chicken & Waffles Preparing to Open on Richmond Highway — “Richmond Highway will soon be getting a new spot for fried chicken and other Southern comfort foods. Uncle C’s Chicken & Waffles is opening at 6308 Richmond Hwy. The spot was previously home to Jerry’s Subs and Pizza, which closed in early 2018.” [Alexandria Living]

Today’s Weather — “Cloudy skies (during the day). High 33F. Winds NE at 5 to 10 mph… Cloudy in the evening. Low 28F. Winds light and variable.” [Weather.com]

New Job: Alexandria Police Officer — “Think you have what it takes to be one of Alexandria’s finest? The first steps are to apply and schedule a test. Apply today! Upcoming testing dates: 2/13 at 9:00 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. 2/18 at 5:00 p.m., 2/22 at 5:00 p.m.” [Twitter]

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Alexandria Sheriff Dana Lawhorne says that his staff at the jail are complying with the federal order granting “QAnon Shaman” Jacob Chansley an organic food-only diet, and that special diets are no big deal.

“Since he has been placed here, I have received numerous inquiries from people wanting further explanation,” Lawhorne told ALXnow. “We are used to addressing special diets. We also deal with hunger and hydration strikes every day. We got asked by the U.S. Marshal’s if our food vendor Aramark could comply with the court order, and we said yes.”

The 33-year-old Chansley gained notoriety for his outlandish outfit during the Jan. 6 siege at the U.S. Capitol. He is one of 43 people charged with interference with law enforcement, weapons crimes, threats or property crimes but not conspiracy or assault. He went on a hunger strike while in custody in Arizona, and reportedly lost 20 pounds before his transfer to a facility in D.C. Earlier this month, a U.S. District Court Judge ruled that he be fed organic food.

“Special diets are not new to us,” Lawhorne said. “We do them every day. This is not that different than when we alter dietary restrictions for religious observances or people with diabetics, and the like. It’s not out of the ordinary.”

Lawhorne could not comment on Chansley’s condition in the jail, and said that all questions regarding him must be referred to the U.S. Marshals. He arrived at the jail earlier this month.

“The driving force behind all of this is he arrived at our detention center with a court order,” Lawhorne said. “At this point I have no say on what he does or doesn’t get fed.”

Booking photo via Alexandria Sheriff’s Office

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Jacob Chansley, one of the rioters at the Capitol Hill insurrection in January who drew public attention and the nickname QAnon Shaman for his outlandish attire, has been transferred to Alexandria’s William G. Truesdale Adult Detention Center.

The move comes after the D.C. Department of Corrections requested Chansley be transferred following a court order that confirmed Chansley’s right to only be fed organic food, Buzzfeed News reported.

The Alexandria Sheriff’s Office confirmed the transfer, noting that the details of his custody are being handled by the U.S. Marshals.

Alexandria’s jail houses many federal inmates awaiting sentencing, including high profile cases like Paul Manafort, Chelsea Manning and ISIS members.

Chansley is one of 43 people charged with interference with law enforcement, weapons crimes, threats or property crimes but not conspiracy or assault, according to the Washington Post.

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The 14th Street Bridge going into Washington, D.C. has been completely shut down, and the Alexandria Sheriff’s Office and Police Department are among the law enforcement agencies that have blocked traffic on the bridge since 6 a.m. this morning.

“We’ve never been asked to do anything like this before,” Captain Sean Casey of the Alexandria Sheriff’s Office told ALXnow. “We’re at the bridge right now. It was quite a sight this morning, because there was still plenty of traffic. We started at just before 6 a.m. securing and shutting down the bridge. You now cannot cross the 14th Street Bridge, with very few exceptions.”

It’s all part of the heightened security around the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden, a direct result of the Jan. 6 siege on the U.S. Capitol by supporters of outgoing President Donald Trump.

Alexandria is just a participant in the U.S. Secret Service’s joint transportation plan surrounding the inauguration. Supporting agencies that have shut down bridges into the District include the Virginia State Police, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Arlington County Police, the Herndon Police Department and the U.S. Capitol Police.

“We want to help and be a part of a regional response when it’s necessary,” Casey said. “We want to be a part of whatever we can to make the region safer.”

There are about a dozen Alexandria Sheriff’s deputies assigned to the detail, and until ordered to leave are planted at the exit for the bridge along the George Washington Memorial Parkway going northbound.

Casey said that the department could spare the deputies, as the Alexandria courthouse will be closed over the next several days.

According to the Chief Judges of the Alexandria Courthouse:

“Due to potential threats to safety of employees and the general public due to the possibility of environmental and/or transportation disruptions, and due to Sheriff’s office personnel having to assist with maintaining security in the D.C. Metropolitan area on January 19 and 20, 2021, the Chief judges declare a judicial emergency pursuant to Va. Code Section 17.1-330, and, therefore, it is hereby ordered that the Alexandria Courthouse shall be closed to the general public on Tuesday, January 19, 2021 and Wednesday, January 20, 2021. Normal court operations will resume on Thursday, January 21, 2021.

Photo via Alexandria Sheriff’s Office

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Morning Notes

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]

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Morning Notes

Local Nonprofit Launches Sign Campaign — “Community Lodgings, an Alexandria non-profit, has started a campaign to spread messages of hope in the community.” [Local DMV]

Alexandria Deputy Retires — “Congratulations and best wishes to Master Deputy George Wooden! He retires this week following 26 years of outstanding service to ASO and the people of Alexandria. Thank you, Deputy Wooden!” [Twitter]

Statewide Bilingual Violence Helpline Launches Next Week — “On Monday, Jan. 4, 2020, victims of violence and injustice who live in Virginia and speak Spanish will have a new ally. That day, the Latinos in Virginia Empowerment Center (LVEC), based in North Chesterfield, will launch a hotline for those in need of assistance.” [Zebra]

Local Charity Serves 600 Families — “Tucked away in an unassuming warehouse on Alexandria’s east side, the Mother of Light Center, a charitable organization, identifies its mission as supporting the poor, the needy, and those experiencing homelessness. The organization runs in partnership with churches, city agencies and private donations.” [Zebra]

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