These summer weeks are flying by, and another one is in the books in Alexandria.
This week, readers responded to a number of issues in the city, including the tragic story behind the city’s first murder, crime in Arlandria and another protest outside of the acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary’s home.
There was some fun news, too, like the official announcement that drive-in movies will make their way to the city at the end of the month, and that Holy Cow Del Ray made a new burger of the moment, “The Alexandria HS,” in an effort to add its two cents in a community discussion on what to rename T.C. Williams High School.
What stories impacted you this week? Let us know in the comments.
Here are our top stories this week in Alexandria.
- BREAKING: Murder Suspect Was Released After COVID-19 Court Delay, Allegedly Kills Former Girlfriend Before Trial
- Friends and Neighbors Seek to Name Alley After Retired Judge Nolan Dawkins
- Man Arrested for Attempted Rape Behind Arlandria 7-Eleven
- Drive-In Movies Coming to Alexandria on August 29
- Protestors Promise to Keep Demonstrating at Acting DHS Secretary’s Alexandria Home
- Alexandria Summer Camp Closed Early Due to Coronavirus Exposure
- BREAKING: Alexandria Police Ask for Public Help in Finding Man Wanted for Murder
- Here’s the Latest on Development Projects on Beauregard Street in the West End
- Another Protest Planned This Weekend Outside DHS Secretary’s Home
- West End Development Returns to City with Scaled Down Density and More Open Space
- Alexandria’s COVID-19 Death Count at 60, Hospital Concerned About Rising Cases
- Holy Cow Del Ray Wades Into Another Local Controversy With Another Burger
Have a safe weekend!
A case of coronavirus has canceled a summer camp at the Nannie J. Lee Memorial Recreation Center, and participants and parents have been asked to self-quarantine for two weeks and get tested.
J-Lynn Van Pelt recently received an email from administrators at the center advising parents that the therapeutic recreation summer camp, which was supposed to run from July 6 to August 14, would close on July 31. She then received a phone call from the Alexandria Health Department advising her on what to do.
“My main concern is that there’s been a large exposure with children, and no one knows about it in the community, which is important so that they can help keep their families safe,” said Van Pelt, whose 11-year-old daughter attended the camp. “A person from the health department called and told me that they were certain that everyone was exposed July 27, 28 and 29, and that we get tested. We have, and we’re waiting on the results.”
There were 44 campers and 15 staff members in the camp program, according to NBC4.
The city will not acknowledge that there was coronavirus at the camp, and city spokesman Craig Fifer said that there is not a public health need to know in this instance.
“When a person tests positive for COVID-19, their close contacts are identified and notified,” Fifer said. “There have only been two cases in Alexandria so far when it was necessary to notify the public because not all the close contacts could be identified.”
Van Pelt said that staff at the recreation center have been professional, and that precautions were taken at the facility to keep safe her child. Still, she says that the community should be aware of the exposure.
“I feel like the community has the right to know,” she said. “I really think they did everything in their power to prevent this with tons of planning, but this disease is virulent, and it still got through. So, the larger question is why don’t why doesn’t the larger public know?”
Map via Google Maps
Beyer Says Unemployment Lapse Inevitable — “We are out of time to extend enhanced unemployment benefits that tens of millions of Americans are depending on. Senate Republicans and the White House still can’t even start negotiating a compromise because they’re arguing with each other. A lapse looks unavoidable now. Ugh.” [Twitter]
COVID-19 Cases Increase by 21 — “The latest update from the City on COVID-19: Positive tests up 21 to 2,639 in the City; 7-day Positivity Rate is 6.7%; 0 new hospitalizations. Still safer at home, wash hands, wear masks and support our essential workers.” [Twitter]
Woodbine Tot Lot Renovated by Make-A-Wish Foundation — “Whitaker selflessly wanted one wish: the renovation of the Woodbine Tot Lot in his ‘hood. With leadership from Make-A-Wish Mid-Atlantic, partnership from the City and donations from individuals and business, it happened!” [Facebook]
AMC Hoffman Theater Reopening Delayed — “The company previously set its reopening date for July 15 and then delayed it to July 30. The theater chain now plans to open locations in “mid to late August,” according to multiple reports.” [Patch]
Alexandria Summer Camps Go Virtual — “For many families, instead of lathering up with sunscreen and packing a lunch, getting ready for summer camp is as easy as turning on a computer.” [AlexTimes]
Today’s Weather in Alexandria — Scattered thunderstorms likely throughout the day and cloudy — “[Weather.com]
New Job: Grocery Shopper — “Shipt is a membership-based marketplace that helps people get the things they need, like fresh produce and household essentials, from stores they trust. Help people save time and have fun while you’re at it – there’s never been a better time to join Shipt.” [Indeed]
The city is rationing out spots in summer camp programs reopening soon, but even some in the city’s leadership are unclear on why space will be so limited while the city has a preponderance of unused space and resources.
“Summer camp programs are starting,” said Jim Spengler, director of Recreation, Parks and Cultural Activities in a recent joint meeting between the City Council and the School Board. “They are aimed at essential workers and will expand beyond essential workers based on enrollment.”
But Mayor Justin Wilson noted that with Phase 3 going into effect next week, many jobs are going to start expecting those employees to come back. With many summer camps canceled, those parents will be left without options for childcare programs.
“If that happens will expect to see a whole crunch of workers going back to work,” Wilson said. “To the extent that we have space, we can be essential in helping out frontline workers go back to the workspace. We have a lot of unused space, so I want us to explore our options before we say ‘we can’t use that capacity.'”
Wilson said staff needs to look at school facilities and city facilities to see what kind of space is available to be used for summer programming.
“It seems like we should be looking for every opportunity we can in this environment,” Wilson said. “I’m constantly hearing from parents who are very concerned about their ability to go back to work, particularly when bosses start to expect it. I feel like we can be part of that solution, and there’s money available for us to be part of this, but we have to work out the facility side of this.”
There are complications beyond just facility space, however. Spengler said limits with social distancing mean some spaces that aren’t being utilized aren’t viable as summer program spaces.
“As schools are finding with school buses, for example, social distancing really controls how many people you get together more than the aggregate number you’re given by the Governor,” Spengler said. “The other is if we were able to enroll more students, then we have a staffing issue. We don’t have the staff available because we didn’t do normal summer hiring, so we don’t have the staff capacity to expand much beyond where we are right now.”
But city leaders said that with the city still facing high unemployment figures, not having staff shouldn’t be a problem.
“I feel like that’s a solvable problem,” Wilson said. “I’ll be crystal clear, that seems like something we should be able to figure it out. It seems like this is not a normal circumstance and we can find staff, there’s a lot of people looking for jobs.”
“I would echo the mayor’s sentiment,” City Councilman John Chapman said. “This is an extraordinary time, but we do have a number of people looking for opportunities. Capacity is something that we just need to work through. I don’t think it’s something that we stop at and say ‘We can’t do it’ because if we’re vocal about looking for people, I think we’ll get quality people who would be able to run some of our programmings.”
Wilson added that a good place to start would be hiring from canceled summer camp programs.
Staff photo by James Cullum
City Urges Residents to Use Caution Outside — “The City and the Alexandria Health Department urge everyone to follow Governor Northam’s order to #stayhome except for essential trips such as food purchases and medical care, and maintain physical distancing when possible.” [Twitter]
Beyer Lashes Out Against Senate Republicans — “Senate Republicans are refusing to consider more help for the American people during pandemic. Instead they are now prioritizing investigations of the President’s political rivals. They previously said they didn’t have time to hear from witnesses during the impeachment trial.” [Twitter]
Alexandria Wants Parental Feedback on Summer Camp — “The City of Alexandria Department of Recreation, Parks and Cultural Activities (RPCA) is asking parents in a survey to “tell us how modified summer programs will meet your family’s needs for a safe and enjoyable summer.” Options include half day camps, full day camps and a yes/no question on whether parents are interested in online or virtual camps.” [Alexandria Living]
Story Time: Alexandria Sheriff’s Deputy Reads ‘The Lorax’ — “Time for a classic from Dr. Seuss! Learn a lesson from “The Lorax” with Lieutenant Sean Casey.” [Facebook]
West End Business Association Happy Hour at 4 p.m. — “Each person will be able to give their one-minute introduction, and should also answer two questions: What Business-to-Business efforts have worked for you these past two months? What will be on your grill this weekend for Memorial Day?” [WEBA]
Old Town Artist Todd Healy Packs it Up — “It is with a heavy heart we share the news that after 40 years of making Alexandria his muse, our treasured Alexandria Legend Todd Healy is packing up his paints and canvases.” [Facebook]
ACPS Early Childhood Center has Message on Littering — “We’ve been learning all about Reduce, Reuse, Recycle at the ECC, and today we’re learning all about littering! Go on a walk with Bo and see if he can find any litter in his neighborhood!” [Facebook]
The Hard Times Cafe Horse is Wearing a Face Mask — “Thanks to the folks at Hard Times for letting us have some fun today! Mask from Mission Masks by KH Giving. Get one through the link below and you’ll be entered to win great prizes that KH Giving has bought from Alexandria businesses!” [Facebook]
Bishop Ireton High School Thanks Longtime Educator — “Congratulations to Mr. Sean Casey, winner of the inaugural Peter G. Davey Service Award, for his service as the president of the athletic boosters club. Under Mr. Casey’s leadership the past two years, a number of facilities and team improvements were made, highlighted by the new press box installed on Fannon Field.” [Facebook]
New Job: Toastique 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]
Summer Camp Guide Released — “Registration for 2020 summer camps offered by the City of Alexandria’s Department of Recreation, Parks and Cultural Activities will begin at 9 a.m. on February 12 for City residents and February 14 for nonresidents. Registration will be available online, or in-person at the Lee Center (1108 Jefferson St.).” [City of Alexandria]
Women’s Guest House Profiled — “In the heart of Alexandria’s Del Ray neighborhood, there is a place that’s been quietly offering hope and rebuilding lives for 45 years.” [NBC 4]
Superintendent Serves as Substitute Teacher — “Dressed down in a hoodie and T-shirt, he looked every bit the young, enthusiastic teacher ready to handle whatever this class of lively fourth graders could throw at him. And while ACPS Superintendent Dr. Gregory C. Hutchings, Jr. admitted to feeling a little apprehensive when he introduced himself to students at Lyles-Crouch Traditional Academy last Wednesday, he soon felt right at home.” [Zebra]
Parent Liaison Named Living Legend — “She’s been a much-loved and respected figure as the Parent Liaison at Mount Vernon Community School for the last twenty years and has touched the lives of thousands of children and their families in that time. Now Rosa Landeros has been bestowed a major honor — named as one of just a handful of outstanding citizens who become Living Legends of Alexandria each year.” [ACPS]