Alexandria, VA

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.

Important stories

Top stories

  1. BREAKING: ‘Alexandria City High School’ chosen as replacement name for T.C. Williams High School
  2. JUST IN: Dr. Stephen Haering suddenly retires as director of Alexandria Health Department
  3. Southern Towers residents nervous as landlord steps up eviction proceedings
  4. Man stabbed at Old Town intersection
  5. NEW: Locals chase down suspected shoplifters in Del Ray
  6. JUST IN: T.C. Williams JV football team walks off field after alleged racial slur, spitting incident
  7. Man faces 10 years for DWI in horrific West End crash in Safeway parking lot
  8. Planning Commission approves controversial subdivision, plants potential loophole for future denial
  9. JUST IN: Video released of police arresting chase suspect who died in D.C.
  10. JUST IN: Six Alexandria Police officers put on administrative duties after chase suspect dies
  11. JUST IN: West End murder suspect faces life plus 13 years in prison

Have a safe weekend!

Photo via ACPS/Facebook

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Morning Notes

Mayor gets vaccinated — “On Christmas Eve our Health Dept vaccinated 251 healthcare workers. Since that time, 51K+ Alexandrians have received at least a dose. Today, my name was called. I’m excited to receive the J&J vaccine. Thanks to our staff and volunteers!” [Twitter]

Council considers changes to taxi regulations — “Since the arrival of taxi network companies, TNCs, like Uber and Lyft in 2015, the taxi industry has been struggling to adapt to a rapidly changing market. The COVID-19 pandemic did not help the situation for an already challenged industry, and the city’s proposed code amendment aims to provide support for local taxi companies by easing specific regulations.” [Alex Times]

Wilson, Silberberg differ on stream restoration plans — “Wilson advocates moving forward with natural channel restoration; Silberberg wants to go back to the drawing board.” [Alexandria Living]

Alexandria Sportsman’s Club hosting famed sportswriter — “Len Shapiro, the Pulitzer Prize-nominated sportswriter, editor and columnist for more than 40 years for the Washington Post, will be the featured speaker for the April 21st meeting of the Alexandria Sportsman’s Club.” [Gazette]

Today’s weather — “Partly cloudy skies during the morning hours will give way to cloudy skies and rain in the afternoon. High 66F. Winds N at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 60%… Showers in the evening, then cloudy overnight. Low 48F. Winds NE at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 60%.” [Weather.com]

New job: Sushi helper — “The Handover is hiring sushi assistants willing to work hard and be open to learning new skills. We are a small restaurant looking for candidates with the ability to accurately prep, cut vegetables, prepare maki rolls and follow chef’s direction. Both full- and part-time positions are available. Competitive hourly pay commensurate with experience level.” [Indeed]

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(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.”

Photos via T.C. Williams Football Boosters/Facebook

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Morning Notes

Coronavirus vaccine eligibility expandedEvery Virginian 16 and older will be eligible for the #COVID19 vaccine by April 18–but several health districts have already expanded vaccinations to all adults or will be doing so in the coming days.” [Twitter]

Alexandria expanding vaccine phase 1C — “AHD follows the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) guidance that considers a frontline essential workers’ vaccine eligibility based upon their workplace location. This means that there are Alexandria residents working in essential frontline roles outside of the city limits of Alexandria who have yet to be vaccinated as a result of their employer jurisdiction’s supply availability. Therefore, before moving to Phase 2, AHD will offer vaccine appointments to all Alexandria residents who work in Phase 1 industries, regardless of their workplace location. If you are an essential frontline worker in Phase 1a, 1b, or 1c living in Alexandria and have not yet received a vaccine appointment, pre-register online or update your pre-registration record to ensure that the job category in your profile is correct.” [City of Alexandria]

Wilson announces endorsement list in reelection bid — “I am proud to have the support of so many elected and former elected officials who know the challenges of governing not just in the good times, but in times of struggle, and have been a part in building longstanding solutions for Alexandrians.” [Zebra]

Today’s weather — “Sunny (during the day) along with a few clouds. High 79F. Winds NNE at 5 to 10 mph… Partly cloudy (in the evening). Low 52F. Winds ESE at 5 to 10 mph.” [Weather.com]

New job Boxing instructor — “An Inner Champion lives inside us all at every fitness and skill level. It’s just waiting to be released. Mayweather Boxing + Fitness – Old Town West in Alexandria, VA will offer an authentic experience for those who want to learn from Floyd Mayweather’s techniques and training regimens, while getting in the best shape of their lives in a high-intensity group fitness setting. We are currently recruiting for Instructor(s) to join the excitement and be a part of our tight-knit community at the Old Town West location.” [Indeed]

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Earl Lloyd, the first Black man to play in the National Basketball Association, will be honored on Saturday when his statue will be unveiled at the Alexandria African American Hall of Fame at  Charles Houston Recreation Center.

The City Council approved the gift from Lloyd’s wife, Charlita Lloyd, last summer. The statue, which is three feet wide, nine feet long and six feet tall, is exactly like the statue of Lloyd dedicated at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2003.

Lloyd, who graduated from Parker-Gray High School, was an All-American athlete at West Virginia State University, and on October 31, 1950, at the age of 21 was the first Black player to play in an NBA game as a member of the Washington Capitols. After seven games, Lloyd was drafted into the U.S. Army to serve in the Korean War, and then went back to professional basketball in 1952. He would play more than 560 games, and he won an NBA championship five years later. He was later a scout and coach for the Detroit Pistons. Lloyd passed away in 2015.

Lat year, the city also approved a request to name the 1000 block of Montgomery Street in Old Town after Lloyd.

The event will be held at 1 p.m. and streamed live online. It is closed to the public.

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Morning Notes

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]

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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:

  • Cheerleading
  • Cross country
  • Field hockey
  • Football
  • Golf
  • Volleyball

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.”

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Morning Notes

Carjacking at Gunpoint Near Potomac Yard — “The Alexandria Police Dept. is investigating a carjacking in the 400 block of Calvert Ave. It happened just before 5pm. Victim’s vehicle stolen at gunpoint. No injuries were reported. Expect police activity in the area.” [Twitter]

Port City Brewing Co. Turns 10 — “We can’t celebrate 10 years of PCBC w/ a big in-person event so we’ve put together a Virtual Event to celebrate 10 years. The Anniversary video includes a message from our Founder, a Tasting Room update, 2021 beers, & a Colossal X tasting w/ a brewer!” [Twitter]

Dozens of Trees Planted at Four Mile Run Park — “55 trees were installed along the eastern edge of Four Mile Run Park. At maturity, the tree buffer will improve sightlines, expand habitat fauna, and create shady areas for park and trail users to enjoy. We look forward to seeing this project continue to grow!” [Twitter]

Snow Sculpture in Oronoco Bay Park Honors Disappeared Duck — “Thus, when the snow came down in Alexandria Monday, February 1, Robert decided to pay homage to Lex by sculpting the Snow Duck, which he named Lex Jr.” [Zebra]

Today’s Weather — “Sunshine and some clouds (during the day). High 38F. Winds SW at 5 to 10 mph… Partly cloudy skies during the evening will give way to cloudy skies overnight. Low 28F. Winds light and variable.” [Weather.com]

New Job: Tennis Instructor — ” We are looking for positive coaches with communicative, motivated, life-experienced/educated, and relevant qualifications. We value diversity. Your work here is both independent and team collaborative. You will be a key valued team member.” [Indeed]

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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.

Photo via Tim L. Productions/Unsplash

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Alexandria boxer Troy Isley has just gone professional and is headed into a fight next Saturday with something to prove.

“I’m feeling good,” Isley said. “I’m ready. I’m eager and getting anxious.”

Isley recently signed a multi-year contract with Top Rank, a boxing promoter, and has his first fight on Saturday, Feb. 13. For Isley, it’s part of a hopeful comeback after narrowly missing a chance to compete at the Olympics.

“I didn’t get to go to the Olympics, don’t have quite the following I would, but I still have a good following with three years on the team,” Isley said. “I’m still well known. Right now, I’m using that chip on my shoulder. I’ve got to win… I’ve been going all out, working hard, and it’s giving me that extra push. It didn’t come through on the Olympic dream, I gotta make this.”

Isley started boxing as a child with the Alexandria Boxing Club but said it wasn’t until late in high school when he started seriously considering it at a career path.

“It’s not that I didn’t believe in myself, I was confident when I got in the ring — but when I got on the team senior year was when [it sunk in],” Isley said.

While coronavirus has shut down athletic activities, Isley got relatively lucky: he needed about a year to recover from shoulder surgeries near the start of the pandemic.

“It didn’t quite impact me as bad,” Isley said. “I had to get two shoulder surgeries, so I was rehabbing and recovering. It didn’t really do anything from me, I had to recover anyway. It really came right in time.”

Isley said boxing gave him an avenue he’d never expected to success, and said he hopes others in Alexandria can come out of the pandemic with similar passions they can believe in and stick to.

Photo via Top Rank Boxing/Facebook

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