Alexandria, VA

Several days of snowy weather have been a mild headache for Alexandria’s emergency management team, but all things considered: staff says things are going pretty well.

“Things are going good” said Jeff Duval, deputy director of Transportation and Environmental Services. “We’ve had a few days of challenging weather. The storms has been persistent, they’ve come and gone with multiple bands.”

Duval said the cycle of “snow, sleet, ice, back to snow, back to sleet” has been sort of a headache for traditional emergency management operations. The cause: Alexandria’s two-day snows are the result of two weather events coinciding.

“We’ve seen it all in the last couple days,” Duval said. “It’s actually two storms in the last two days; one from West Coast and a low pressure storm off the coast of Virginia. It made this one a little bit different, but nothing too crazy.”

Overall, Duval said there hasn’t been a particular spike in calls for service, largely because many of those who would be driving around and stuck in bad weather are at home due to the pandemic.

“It’s been fairly quiet,” Duval said. “A lot of folks are still working from home due to COVID pandemic, so traffic volume is down and schools already virtual. We didn’t have a lot of pressure towards getting schools open.”

Widespread working-from-home is windfall as the city faces heavy snowfall.

“This was, for us, the most significant [winter] storm we’ve seen in a couple years, so it was good to get back into the swing of winter operations,” Duval said. “We do tremendous prepping for winter operations, like tabletop exercises, but until you get a storm and can exercise a system — that’s when we get our best practices.”

The main challenge has been keeping crews safe and spirits high when they’re unable to gather in-person. Duval said crews traditionally have “muster meetings” at the beginning and end of shifts, but operations had to change to keep the teams safe.

“We’ve been at it for almost a year though with that and other activities,” Duval said. “We do an after-action after every significant event. We typically put drivers in a room and ask what went well, but we’ll have to do that a little differently.”

Now, Duval said his team has their eyes on the upcoming weekend as they wait to see whether there’s more snow in stock for the city.

“We’re watching the weather; there could be additional precipitation this Sunday,” Duval said. “It’s still a little far in advance to say, but thats’ what we do this time of year.”

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A former employee of Alexandria’s Dept. of Transportation and Environmental Services has been charged with embezzling from the city.

In a press release Thursday afternoon, police said the employee sold more than $10,000 worth of electrical cable owned by T&ES to scrap dealers.

The alleged embezzlement happened between January and July of last year. The employee was fired at the end of July and now faces felony charges.

More from an APD press release:

Arrian B. Mercer, a former traffic technician for the City of Alexandria, was arrested by Alexandria police officers on January 17 and charged with felony embezzlement of public property.

The City’s Department of Transportation and Environmental Services identified suspicious activity and notified the City Manager’s Office, which in turn directed the Police Department to conduct a criminal investigation and the Office of Internal Audit to conduct an internal investigation. These investigations determined that between January and July 2019, Mr. Mercer allegedly sold more than $10,000 worth of traffic signal cable to scrap dealers for personal gain. The City terminated Mr. Mercer’s employment on July 31, 2019.

An arrest warrant was obtained in December 2019. Mr. Mercer was arrested once his location could be determined. The City has implemented new procedures to enhance the security of public property, and additional measures are under review.

Photo via Alexandria Police Department/Facebook

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Some Alexandria residents scheduled for a Thursday curbside recycling pickup had their bins collected today due to a post-holiday rush at the place where the recycling is dropped off.

“The City of Alexandria is experiencing temporary curbside recycling service delays due to heavy volumes and wait times at the recycling facility following the holidays,” the city said via email Thursday. “The delays may affect some customers who have curbside recycling collection scheduled for today.”

“Customers whose recycling was not collected today will receive pickup service [Friday],” the city said.

Separately, Alexandria’s Dept. of Transportation & Environmental Services is reminding residents that curbside Christmas tree pickup will start next Thursday, Jan. 2.

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