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Last updated: Tue, 13 Nov 2018 15:18:40 GMT

 J.McLaughlin to open in Old Town on Friday Sat, 10 Nov 2018 13:00:15 +0000
J.McLaughlin’s location in Old Town is opening on Friday, the brand announced this week. The sportswear retailer is opening at 1125 King St. in a 1,000-square-foot space and will offer men’s and women’s clothing and accessories. The store will open featuring the brand’s Holiday 2018 collection, including faux fur, Buffalo plaids, slides and a collaboration […]Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

J.McLaughlin’s location in Old Town is opening on Friday, the brand announced this week.

The sportswear retailer is opening at 1125 King St. in a 1,000-square-foot space and will offer men’s and women’s clothing and accessories.

The store will open featuring the brand’s Holiday 2018 collection, including faux fur, Buffalo plaids, slides and a collaboration with Sarasota-based artist John Pirman. 

The Old Town location is J.McLaughlin’s fifth location in Alexandria. Other outposts are located in Charlottesville, Richmond, Middleburg and the Reston Town Center.

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 City manager to propose that Torpedo Factory remain under city management Fri, 09 Nov 2018 20:56:43 +0000
By Alexa Epitropoulos | aepitropoulos@alextimes.com City Manager Mark Jinks is proposing that the city’s Office of the Arts continue to be the managing body responsible for the operations of Torpedo Factory Art Center, according to a memo released to artists on Tuesday. Jinks will bring the recommendation forward at city council’s legislative meeting on Nov. […]Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

By Alexa Epitropoulos | aepitropoulos@alextimes.com

City Manager Mark Jinks is proposing that the city’s Office of the Arts continue to be the managing body responsible for the operations of Torpedo Factory Art Center, according to a memo released to artists on Tuesday.

Jinks will bring the recommendation forward at city council’s legislative meeting on Nov. 13. A final vote on the city’s management would take place at the Nov. 17 public hearing.

Management of the Torpedo Factory by the Office of the Arts began on Oct. 1, 2016 and was intended to be temporary and for up to three years. Jinks said in the memo, however, that the management structure has “proven to work well promoting broader community engagement and open communication.” 

Several artists at the Torpedo Factory, who spoke to the Times on the condition of anonymity, have criticized the timing of the city’s attempt to make its management of the Torpedo Factory permanent. The announcement came the evening of the General Election on Tuesday and the final decision is anticipated to come less than two weeks later on Nov. 17. 

Jinks said in the memo that the Torpedo Factory was a key fixture in the city’s future and an “anchor” of the King Street Corridor Initiative. He said because of that, the city’s ongoing management is “critical” and emphasized that the city is the “only organization capable of the level of investment needed that can ensure the community’s interests are also considered in future substantial capital improvements to the building.”

The docket item itself calls for the development of a “Vibrancy and Sustainability Plan,” for an acknowledgment that capital funding of between $10 to $15 million will be required to be invested in the Torpedo Factory and that the Office of the Arts continue as the “long-term managing entity” for the Torpedo Factory. The full docket item can be read here.

 

 

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 Foodie: Gorgeous, delicious and nutritious pumpkin Thu, 08 Nov 2018 21:20:09 +0000
By Elizabeth Holm This time of year, we are constantly reminded of pumpkins. Jack-O-lanterns at Halloween and pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving are traditions that many of us would never miss. There is nothing easier than opening a can of pumpkin to make a pie. Given its nutritional value, I use canned pumpkin year-round in breads, […]Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

By Elizabeth Holm

This time of year, we are constantly reminded of pumpkins. Jack-O-lanterns at Halloween and pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving are traditions that many of us would never miss. There is nothing easier than opening a can of pumpkin to make a pie. Given its nutritional value, I use canned pumpkin year-round in breads, muffins, pies and even yogurt. 

But, the joy of making a pumpkin pie in the fall is using fresh, sweet pumpkins bought straight from the farmers who grow them. The wonderful taste and bright orange color create an amazing end to any dinner. My favorite is a Kabocha or Sunshine pumpkin. You can find a variety of fresh, sweet pie pumpkins at your local farmer’s market. 

Pumpkin is a member of the squash family so look for them in a pile with other winter squashes. Its vibrant orange color is created by beta-carotene, a powerful anti-oxidant that can help prevent certain cancers and may protect our eyes from macular degeneration. Beta-carotene is also converted in our bodies to Vitamin A, which is essential for maintaining our skin and our eyesight. 

In addition, pumpkin is a great source of fiber, potassium and vitamin C, which are helpful in regulating blood sugar, blood pressure and the immune system. So, if there is any pumpkin pie leftover from your Thanksgiving dinner, eat it as a delicious and healthy addition to your breakfast the next day.

Recipe: Best Pumpkin Pie Ever

Ingredients

  • 2 cups fresh* or canned pumpkin puree
  • 2 T corn starch
  • 1 1/3 cups sugar
  • ¼ t salt
  • 4 eggs
  • ½ cup milk
  • ¼ cup whiskey
  • 1 unbaked 9 ½ inch pie crust
  • Nutmeg
  • Cinnamon

Directions

  1. Stir together pumpkin, cornstarch, sugar and salt. 
  2. Add eggs, milk and whiskey. Beat 1 to 2 minutes until smooth.
  3. Pour into an unbaked pie crust.
  4. Sprinkle with nutmeg and cinnamon.
  5. Bake at 450 degrees for 10 minutes.
  6. Reduce oven to 350 degrees and bake 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  7. Cool before serving.

*To make fresh pumpkin puree: cut a fresh pumpkin in half and place the halves flesh side down on a baking sheet. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 1 ½ hours or until the pumpkin flesh is tender. Remove and discard seeds. Scrap the pumpkin from the pumpkin skin and mash into a smooth puree.

Elizabeth Holm, DrPH, RDN is a Registered Dietitian and Nutritionist in private practice in Alexandria. She can be reached at emholm@verizon.net.

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 Meet Alexandria’s 9-year-old braille champion Thu, 08 Nov 2018 20:43:08 +0000
By Missy Schrott | mschrott@alextimes.com Noa Hottin’s life is far from ordinary. Hottin, at 9 years old, has already lived in three countries and speaks four languages – he’s also been blind since birth and spent a period of time selectively mute. As such, he’s faced challenges that many of his fourth grade peers have […]Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

By Missy Schrott | mschrott@alextimes.com

Noa Hottin’s life is far from ordinary. Hottin, at 9 years old, has already lived in three countries and speaks four languages – he’s also been blind since birth and spent a period of time selectively mute.

As such, he’s faced challenges that many of his fourth grade peers have never even had to think about. Despite his unusual set of circumstances, he has continued to tackle challenges and to thrive while doing so.

Most recently, Hottin became a national braille champion when he placed first in his age group at the Braille Institute’s 2018 Braille Challenge – the only academic competition of its kind in North America for students who are blind or visually impaired, according to the Braille Institute. 

The competition tests fundamental braille skills including reading comprehension, spelling, speed and accuracy, proofreading and charts and graphs. 

Hottin recently competed in the national championship in Los Angeles in June after competing in a regional competition in Baltimore earlier this year. Preliminary competitions were held in 51 regions throughout the U.S. and Canada, but only 50 contenders – those with the top 10 scores in each age group – earned a spot at nationals. 

Even though Hottin placed third in his age group at the preliminary competition, his score was among the top 10 in his age group of those who competed in all 51 regions.

Noa Hottin (bottom row, fifth from right) at the national Braille Challenge in Los Angeles in June. (Courtesy photo)

“I came in third place in my age group, which is like five people,” Hottin said. “I came right in the middle, and when I walked out of there, I was like, ‘Okay, this is probably over.’ Little did I know that I was going to be one of the top 50 kids to go to Los Angeles in the finals.” 

After finding out he had qualified in May, Hottin spent the next month preparing for the competition.

“I love this little boy’s diligence,” Hottin’s mom, Lisa Buzenas, said. “For the full month before the competition, he read for an additional hour every day, just kind of practicing, and I mean, he just read voraciously. I remember I went to the Duke [Street] library, they have a braille section on the second floor, and I checked out every book they had. I think I got probably like 27 books for his age range. He finished them in two days.”

During the awards ceremony after the competition in Los Angeles, Buzenas said she was surprised to hear her son’s name announced as the winner for his age group. 

“I remember I was talking to one of the testers later,” she said, “… and I just told her I was really surprised that he won and she said, ‘I wasn’t.’ I said, ‘Really?’ and she said, ‘No I talked to Noa beforehand, I could tell he was really bright.’ And I said, ‘Yeah, but he came in third place out of five,’ and she said, ‘That’s because he’s never done this before. Those other kids have all gone to regionals before. They knew what to expect, so after Noa went through regionals, he knew what to expect out of the test. That’s why he won here.’” 

Buzenas said Hottin has always been a fast learner. He started learning how to read and write braille when he was about three years old. 

In addition to learning braille, Hottin had an unorthodox experience with language as a child. His mom is in the Foreign Service and the family spent a lot of time moving. 

Noa Hottin and his mom, Lisa Buzenas, explore Los Angeles while on the west coast for the Braille Challenge competition in June. (Courtesy photo)

He was born in Arlington before moving to Bangkok, Thailand at eight months old, and later Brussels, Belgium at three years old. By the time he moved back to Alexandria at six years old, he knew English, Thai and French. 

Buzenas said that between speaking French at school and Thai with his nanny, Hottin didn’t speak a word of English for four years, so when he started first grade at Cora Kelly School, it took about two months before he started speaking English again. 

While he spoke at home, though, Hottin had gone selectively mute about a year before leaving Brussels and he was not speaking in school.

In second grade, Hottin transferred to Mount Vernon Community School and began to learn Spanish through the school’s dual language program. It took time, however, for him to grow out of his selective muteness.

“I would take videos of Noa at home doing his schoolwork while reading out loud just so I could send it to his teachers so they knew that he was understanding the homework,” Buzenas said. “My concern was that [if] he is not responding in class, then they don’t know what he knows and what he doesn’t know.”

In addition to the videos, teachers and staff at Mount Vernon had Hottin video-call his dad during the school day in order to bring a familiar voice into an uncomfortable environment. Gradually, Hottin became more comfortable as he neared the end of second grade, and he started talking. 

Mount Vernon Principal Liza Burrell-Aldana said she remembered the day it happened.

“The kids, when they heard his voice, it was beautiful,” she said. “With the teachers and the students, we were like, ‘If Noa starts talking, do not make a big deal [about it]’ – not because it wasn’t, but because we don’t want him to feel shy again. So when the kids heard him, the teachers told me they were just trying to hold it and the teachers were trying to hold it … and of course he couldn’t see that, but what he didn’t know was that everyone around him, we were all excited and making faces.”

Buzenas said she had been hesitant about sending Hottin to traditional elementary schools in Alexandria in the first place.

“I was a little worried because he’s only gone to school for special needs children and this was the first time we mainstreamed him,” she said. “I really wanted him to be around children with sight to understand what it would be like in the world and not to live in a bubble.”

However, because of the principals and teachers at Mount Vernon Community School, Hottin has adapted quickly to his new environment. He has overcome his muteness and now takes talented and gifted classes. He’s even working on a project with his friends to encourage students to be quieter in the cafeteria. 

Hottin’s biggest learning tool that allows him to take ordinary classes in school is his BrailleNote, a device he uses to read and write.

“I just create a document on here and then I just read my homework and type my answers and then I save it onto a hard drive,” Hottin said. “That way, we can plug it into the computer, and that way my teachers will be able to read my homework, so it’s pretty cool.”

Hottin also has a personal aide who helps put his assignments on the BrailleNote and print his work once he’s completed it. 

Burrell-Aldana said it was the partnership with Hottin’s family that helped not only make accommodations for Hottin, but to bring awareness about special needs to the school community.  

“We didn’t have any braille signage or any system here at Mount Vernon. It is because of Noa that we now have it at Mount Vernon, so he brought a lot of awareness to all of us – the awareness of the different types of learners, and that we need to meet those needs and fit their learning style,” she said.

Noa Hottin waves from a convertible as the grand marshal of the Del Ray Halloween Parade on Oct. 28. (photo by Will Niccolls/DRBA)

Because of Hottin’s growth as a student and impact on the school, Burrell-Aldana said, staff at Mount Vernon chose to name him the grand marshal of the Del Ray Halloween Parade on Oct. 28. 

“He represents who we are as a school,” she said. “The diversity that we have in our school is so big – backgrounds, languages, learning needs, experiences, stories and how just that partnership with the families is going to make such a great impact in helping our students achieve.”

Looking to the future, Buzenas said Hottin wants to participate in more braille competitions. He’s also not stopping at the languages he knows already – he in the midst of learning his fifth language, Mandarin, in preparation for a move to Beijing, China with his mom next summer.

“We’re both looking forward to it,” Buzenas said. “I’m fortunate that Noa’s very adaptable. If you could imagine how difficult it is for a child to move all over the world, to have to make new friends, and then you have to put on additional languages and different curriculum, … and then on top of that you throw on that he’s blind so he’s having to learn new homes, new buildings, how to get around.”

“It’s a lot to ask of him,” she said. “It takes a village and I’m really, I mean, I could not be happier with the experience we’ve had in Alexandria.”

Burrell-Aldana said she’s proud to have been a part of Hottin’s journey. 

“I know Noa’s going to do amazing things in life,” she said, “but it’s just beautiful to know that maybe some of that started in elementary school and that we were part of it. That is beautiful. That is what I think education should be about.”

– mschrott@alextimes.com

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 Alexandria Fire Department to use future Sunrise Senior Living site for training Thu, 08 Nov 2018 15:39:57 +0000
The site of the new Sunrise Senior Living, which will be located at 303 N. Washington St., will be used for Alexandria Fire Department training drills over the next week, according to a news release. Sunrise is allowing AFD to use the abandoned building space at the location before construction officially starts. Two-hour AFD training […]Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

The site of the new Sunrise Senior Living, which will be located at 303 N. Washington St., will be used for Alexandria Fire Department training drills over the next week, according to a news release.

Sunrise is allowing AFD to use the abandoned building space at the location before construction officially starts. Two-hour AFD training sessions will take place from 8 a.m. to 3:25 p.m. on Nov. 8, 9 and 12. AFD often looks to hold training sessions at sites that provide real world experience for firefighters, according to the release.

“We are aggressively pursuing any opportunity to use a building we are not familiar with,” Fire Lieutenant Raymond Ginman said in a statement.

Construction on the Sunrise of Old Town is tentatively scheduled to begin by the end of 2018, Sunrise spokesperson Jennifer Clark said.

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 Community members gather to discuss Alexandria’s health priorities Thu, 08 Nov 2018 15:36:08 +0000
Alexandria community members met to examine results from a recent citywide health survey at George Washington Middle School on Nov. 3. Attendees discussed the many factors affecting health in Alexandria, such as housing, education and transportation. Community members also talked about how health issues differ across neighborhoods in Alexandria. The citywide health survey was conducted […]Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Alexandria community members met to examine results from a recent citywide health survey at George Washington Middle School on Nov. 3.

Attendees discussed the many factors affecting health in Alexandria, such as housing, education and transportation. Community members also talked about how health issues differ across neighborhoods in Alexandria.

The citywide health survey was conducted from early September through Oct. 28 and had invited participants to identify strengths, health issues and opportunities for improvement in Alexandria. More than 1,600 community members had submitted responses.

The Nov. 3 meeting is part of a larger project facilitated by the Alexandria Health Department alongside regional and local partners to identify key health priorities in Alexandria.

Survey results and information about upcoming meetings are available at alexandriava.gov/health.

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 Our View: Assessing Alexandria’s local election Thu, 08 Nov 2018 15:15:56 +0000
Nationwide the vaunted blue wave was real, and though not the tsunami predicted at one point, in Alexandria it helped lift the full Democratic slate to easy victory. Here’s how complete the Democrats’ victory was in Alexandria: they took the top six slots in every one of the city’s 29 precincts. The closest a Republican […]Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Nationwide the vaunted blue wave was real, and though not the tsunami predicted at one point, in Alexandria it helped lift the full Democratic slate to easy victory.

Here’s how complete the Democrats’ victory was in Alexandria: they took the top six slots in every one of the city’s 29 precincts. The closest a Republican came to sniffing victory was in the city hall precinct, where Republican Kevin Dunne finished 16 votes shy of Canek Aguirre for sixth place.

Dozens of women nationwide gained high office on Tuesday, aided in part by the #MeToo movement, and its effect was evident in Alexandria as well, with three women – Elizabeth Bennett-Parker, Amy Jackson and Del Pepper – among the top four council vote-getters. They form the first trio of women elected to city council since 2000, when Pepper was joined by Claire Eberwein and Joyce Woodson on the dais.

Bennett-Parker, who will serve as Alexandria’s new vice mayor, garnered impressive support citywide: she was the leading vote-getter in every precinct, often by a wide margin.

She received 16.27 percent of all votes cast and a whopping 43,887 overall. To put the magnitude of her performance in perspective, Mayor-elect Justin Wilson became vice mayor in 2015 with 11.67 percent of votes cast and 15,852 overall, though it must be noted that turnout was much lower three years ago and two extra Republicans on the ballot helped dilute the winners’ percentages.

It will be interesting to see when, or whether, Bennett-Parker, who also was council’s leading vote-getter in the June Democratic primary, can parlay her city-wide support into a strong, independent voice on council.

Also impressive was the second-place finish of former teacher Jackson, who, as the only council member with children currently in Alexandria City Public Schools, is expected to play a leading role in advocating for school-related issues.

Several observations about the new council, and things to watch for:

The continued lack of business experience on council is concerning.

With the city dealing with ongoing, big-dollar projects with private sector developers, it would help to have someone with banking or large-company experience. Incumbent Councilor John Chapman and Bennett-Parker have limited private-sector experience, but only with smaller businesses.

The learning curve of this group is going to be steep, and possibly painful to watch.

Perhaps the only positive aspect of having such a long gap between the June primaries and the following January, when new council members take office, is the time it affords the winners to study city issues. With four new members who have never held elective office, everything from parliamentary procedure to nuances of important issues are, to some extent, going to be learned on the fly.

How will its youth and relative lack of life experience impact this council’s decision making?

Will the new council members understand, and respect, the valid livability concerns of residents who have lived here for decades?

Do these young, incoming councilors understand the treasure that is Alexandria’s history, and will they prioritize its preservation?

This isn’t just an age-related concern; it’s geographic. For the first time in recent memory, no one on council lives in Old Town. It’s also economic, as Alexandria’s
history drives our lucrative tourism industry.

It will be fascinating to see how everyone adjusts to their new roles. How will Wilson wear the mayor’s mantle? How will Chapman and Pepper, seasoned council members, deal with being bypassed for the vice mayor’s chair? How will feisty Mo Seifeldein, who challenged his colleagues in primary debates, mesh with them on the dais?

One thing is likely: the next council term won’t be boring. Like the rest of the
city, we look forward to seeing how it plays out.

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 Athletes from past six decades inducted into ACPS Hall of Fame Thu, 08 Nov 2018 15:06:55 +0000
Alexandria City Public Schools inducted seven athletes representing 60 years of outstanding athletic performance at the high school level into the Athletic Hall of Fame on Nov. 2. At the ceremony, ACPS also honored Steve Osisek, a 1950s basketball coach at the then George Washington High School. The inductees included Paul Shu, a football player from the first […]Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Alexandria City Public Schools inducted seven athletes representing 60 years of outstanding athletic performance at the high school level into the Athletic Hall of Fame on Nov. 2. At the ceremony, ACPS also honored Steve Osisek, a 1950s basketball coach at the then George Washington High School.

The inductees included Paul Shu, a football player from the first graduating class of G.W. in 1935. The other athletes were basketball stars Karen Bowles, Kihlon Golden and Earl Quash; Carl Carr, a football player who went on to play for the National Football League; Eduardo Lopez, a soccer player who went on to play professionally for the Baltimore Blast and Kelli Flynn, a track and field star who was the greatest high jumper in Alexandria history.

“It’s wonderful to be able to celebrate our athletic successes and the history of athletics at T.C. Williams High School,” Superintendent Dr. Gregory Hutchings, Ed.D., said. “Athletics are essential for a well-rounded high school experience and the skills that athletes hone through sports — grit, endurance, teamwork, leadership and sportsmanship — all contribute to creating students who go on to see all-around success throughout their lives.”

Since the Hall of Fame’s inception in 2014, ACPS has inducted 44 athletes and honored seven coaches. All were nominated by the public and selected by the Athletic Hall of Fame Advisory Committee.

 

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 Alfred Street Baptist Church rises above bomb threat Thu, 08 Nov 2018 14:55:23 +0000
By Alexa Epitropoulos | aepitropoulos@alextimes.com Alfred Street Baptist Church didn’t cancel its first Sunday service – or the next one, or its last one – after receiving a bomb threat during its worship service on Saturday evening. Alfred Street Pastor Howard-John Wesley, who has led the historic Old Town church for a decade, said the […]Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

By Alexa Epitropoulos | aepitropoulos@alextimes.com

Alfred Street Baptist Church didn’t cancel its first Sunday service – or the next one, or its last one – after receiving a bomb threat during its worship service on Saturday evening.

Alfred Street Pastor Howard-John Wesley, who has led the historic Old Town church for a decade, said the message the church sent by continuing on with its three Sunday services is clear.

“We need to let whoever this was know that, ‘No, you didn’t win and you’re not going to.’ No matter how much you threaten, we will still worship. If this building is destroyed, we will be somewhere else and doing what we are called to do,” Wesley said.

Wesley said the church was nearing the end of its 6 p.m. Saturday service shortly after 7 p.m. when a staff member informed him that the Alexandria Police Department
had blocked off the area and recommended that members of the congregation remain seated. He was later informed that police were searching for unmanned packages outside of the church.

“[A staff member] came back in and said, ‘Police are asking you to shut your phones off’ and that’s when people knew it had to be bomb-related,” Wesley said. “We kept things very calm and sang songs and worship just continued. There was no panic, no chaos.”

Alexandria Police Department Spokeswoman Crystal Nosal said police received the bomb threat via phone call and responded to the scene at 7 p.m. The police didn’t find a bomb or anything suspicious at the scene, and cleared it at about 9 p.m. Nosal said police were still investigating the incident and no arrests have been made at this point.

Wesley said the crowd of between 700 to 800 people left the church through an exit designated by police without incident. He said Alexandria Police swept the building with dogs trained to detect explosives and returned with the dogs after
each Sunday service.

“I can’t say enough about the Alexandria City Police and the ways in which they responded quickly, efficiently, gave us information on the spot, helped exit our members and get them out safely,” Wesley said.

Though the scene was cleared and the incident went as well as could be expected, the threat at Alfred Street Baptist comes at a time when incidents of violence against religious institutions are growing in number and escalating.

The interior of Alfred Street Baptist Church in Old Town (Photo Credit: Alexa Epitropoulos)

It comes less than two weeks after the fatal shootings at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and three years after another deadly shooting rampage at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in June 2015 in Charleston, South Carolina. Both Tree of Life and Emanuel AME are, like Alfred Street, historic institutions with an expansive membership.

Alfred Street dates back to 1803, when members from another regional African American Baptist church separated to establish their own church in the city. The church was formally established in 1806 and the church has been at its current site since 1818, according to the church website.

Councilor John Chapman, who has attended Alfred Street Baptist since 1995, said the threat is a reflection of rhetoric from political leaders and an increase nationally in violence and threats of violence.

“I think we’re seeing just a wave of either violence or politically motivated harassment across the country and it’s unfortunate it’s struck home in Alexandria as well,” Chapman said. “I think we’ve seen an escalation over the last couple of years. We’ve seen KKK posters that have popped up in different places across our community. Now we have this. It’s unfortunate, but it’s kind of where our country is, what our country is dealing with and when you have political leadership that is spitting hateful rhetoric, this is what happens.”

Virginia Lieutenant Gov. Justin Fairfax released a statement about the threat on Saturday night.

“I condemn these cowardly and evil acts in the strongest possible terms. I have
worshipped at Alfred Street many times, and I look forward to doing so many times
in the future. Hate will lose, as it always does,” Fairfax said.

Wesley said, in the aftermath of the threat, he began to think about the recent acts of violence in conjunction with the history of bombings and violence against black churches during the Civil Rights Era.

“I think for me the thing that resonates the most is when now the Tree of Life Pittsburgh and Alfred Street are put together in the same sentence – that’s when it begins to dawn on me what really happened,” he said.

He said his main priority in the incident and its aftermath is protecting the congregation, but that he has felt the impact of it as well.

“Personally, I think I’ve been so busy that it hasn’t really weighed on me, but thinking about not being here for my kids – that’s when it becomes real,” Wesley said.
“So, we’re talking through it, praying it through, addressing it.”

He said those who were impacted emotionally by the bomb threat are able to go to Alfred Street’s staff counselor. The church has always had extensive security, with Alexandria Police Department officers on scene during every service and an in-house security detail.

Wesley said, though he expected some hesitancy for members to attend the 7:30 a.m. service on Sunday, a crowd still came. They continued coming for the services
at 9:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m.

He said the way he and the congregation are looking to move forward, in light of violence across the country, is by denouncing hateful speech and actions and rising above.

“We have to address this rhetoric of hate and division, whether it comes from the White House or from your co-worker. Language has power and we must use language of love and healing, not division and hate,” Wesley said. “I think it’s up to people who are like-minded to rise above, to not yield. … For me, rising above it for me is going above and beyond with acts of love, to pray for him, to pray for our president, to pray for those who feel different, to pray for those at rallies who are being ignited with hatred, to be kind and loving and to be clear we’re not going to give in.”

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 Democrats sweep the city council race, while newcomers, incumbents elected to school board Thu, 08 Nov 2018 14:46:10 +0000
By Missy Schrott | mschrott@alextimes.com Alexandria voted to elect all six Democratic city council candidates during Tuesday’s general election, with a record number of city voters turning out at the polls for a non-presidential year, according to the Office of Voter Registration and Elections. Turnout by 4 p.m. on Tuesday was 46.5 percent without absentee, […]Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

By Missy Schrott | mschrott@alextimes.com

Alexandria voted to elect all six Democratic city council candidates during Tuesday’s general election, with a record number of city voters turning out at the polls for a non-presidential year, according to the Office of Voter Registration and Elections.

Turnout by 4 p.m. on Tuesday was 46.5 percent without absentee, in comparison to 39.87 percent in 2017, and 57.89 percent with absentee, contrasted with 46.90 percent in 2017.
In addition to electing all six Democratic nominees chosen during the June primary, voters officially selected Justin Wilson, who ran unopposed, to be Alexandria’s next mayor.

First-time candidate Elizabeth Bennett-Parker will become the city’s next vice mayor, having earned the most votes of all council candidates at 16.27 percent. She was followed by Amy Jackson with 14.67 percent, incumbent John Chapman with 13.94 percent, Del Pepper with 13.50 percent, Canek Aguirre with 12.83 percent and Mo Seifeldein with 12.64 percent. All candidates, save for Chapman and Pepper, are newcomers to the dais.

The closest challenger was Republican Kevin Dunne with 6.14 percent, followed by Republican Michael Clinkscale with 4.58 percent and, in last, Independent candidate Mark
Shiffer with 4.41 percent. Write-ins garnered 1.02 percent of council votes cast.

In the mayoral race, Wilson received 92.73 percent of the vote, while 7.27 percent went to write-ins.

“We’re going to have a very different council in January which I think is exciting,” Wilson said at the Alexandria Democratic Committee’s watch party Tuesday evening at Glory Days Grill. “You know, we’ve got new ideas, new focuses and it’ll be fun. I’m excited.”

In the race for Alexandria School Board, voters elected a combination of incumbents and newcomers. In District A, Michelle Rief had the most votes by far with 22.45 percent, followed by Jacinta Greene with 19.24 percent and Christopher Suarez with 17.56 percent. Bill Campbell, the longest tenured incumbent candidate of the five who ran, lost his bid for reelection, earning 12.18 percent of the vote.

Contrarily in District B, voters re-elected all three incumbents, with Veronica Nolan receiving the most votes with 28.02 percent, Cindy Anderson with 23.98 percent and Margaret Lorber with 23.43 percent. They beat the nearest challenger, Jewelyn Cosgrove, who had 13.97 percent of the vote, by more than 10 percentage points.

In District C, newcomers earned the most votes. Newcomer Heather Thornton earned 25.66 percent of the vote and fellow newcomer Meagan Alderton received 23.40 percent. Incumbent board chair Ramee Gentry earned the third seat with 17.55 percent, narrowly beating John E. Lennon, who received 16.94 percent.

Despite the rainy election day weather on Tuesday, spirits were high throughout the night at the Democratic watch party as candidates and their families, ADC members and
other residents gathered to watch local and national results come in.

Leslie Tourigny, Wilson’s mother, said many of the watch party attendees were primarily interested in election results across the nation for the United States Senate and House of Representatives.

“We’re not worried about the local election – it’s around the country,” Tourigny said. “… I hope we get back to being the country we were before the last couple of years, and we do away with hate, and we go back to being something that the world could emulate.”

ADC  Chair Clarence Tong said the impressive voter turnout could have been influenced by widespread disappointment in the national government.

“I think Democrats are incredibly motivated to vote,” he said. “They see what’s going on across the river, and they want to see something different here, and I think people aren’t going to take their vote for granted.”

In Virginia, voters re-elected Democrats U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine and U.S. Rep. Don Beyer. Kaine beat opponent Corey Stewart 56.88 percent to 41.12 percent across the state, while Beyer beat opponent Thomas Oh 76.17 to 23.61. In blue Alexandria, their margins were even more pronounced: Kaine received 81.01 percent to Corey Stewart’s 16.30 percent, while Beyer got 79.14 percent of the vote in Alexandria to Oh’s 20.63 percent.

Dak Hardwick, a former Democratic council candidate, made an appearance
at the party and said he was happy with the way the congressional races had gone in
Alexandria.

“I see historic turnout across the country. I think it’s reflected here locally. I am not surprised,” he said. “You could see that we have a motivated electorate right now. They are looking for change. They’re looking for a different direction. I saw a poll today that said almost six out of 10 Americans said the country’s on the wrong track. And when you have a poll like that and people go to the polls with that in mind, then they’re going to look for change.”

Once the local race had been called around 9 p.m., the six councilor-elects and mayor-elect gave speeches to thank those who had voted for them and who had helped them campaign.

Chapman, one of the two incumbents re-elected, said this had been the hardest of his three campaigns for council.

“This election before others has been probably one of the toughest ones that I’ve ever been through,” he said. “If you recall in the primary, there were folks in the community who wanted incumbents gone. ‘Chapmaniacs,’ my campaign team, lined up behind me and we pushed forward. Our theme was to survive and advance. We did that. We did that by talking about the issues that we are working on on council, the future of our city and how we move forward together.”

Bennett-Parker attributed her success to working hard to spread her message.

“In the primary I worked really hard. … I did in the past few months as well,” she said. “I personally knocked on the doors of more than 5,000 voters and my team did 20,000 so our team worked hard to get our message out and I think that message resonated with a lot of people.”

Matt Gaston, a Democratic precinct captain in Del Ray who attended the watch party, said it would be interesting to see such a new council in January.

“There’s a lot of new people, a lot of fresh perspectives,” he said. “Hopefully they’ve got ideas on how to deal with things like the school situation and some of the other things … but it’ll be interesting to see how things play out and how the dynamic changes with a virtually completely new council.”

Wilson said he had already been working with the Democratic nominees to get them up to speed on the issues facing council.

“We’ve had a lot of meetings and we’ll continue to do that once they become official,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of work to do. We’re trying to wrap up a number of issues that have been pending on the current council, particularly the issues that are midflight. We want to get those resolved by the end of the year so we don’t have to start over on some things. … We’ve got some big issues coming ahead of this council in the next three years and we needed all the head start we could have.”

Outgoing Mayor Allison Silberberg made an appearance at the party to congratulate local winners and watch the national results.

“I congratulate all of the winners and I look forward to being of help if I can,” Silberberg said. “I’m certainly proud of all that we have accomplished in a very short time while I’ve been mayor … and we’re not done yet. We’re gonna go right up to the last minute of the last hour and run right through the tape.”

Just a short distance away from Glory Days, local Republicans gathered at Ramparts for a watch party of their own. Shortly after 8 p.m., it became apparent that there wouldn’t be an upset by council challengers. Dunne said, though it wasn’t the outcome he hoped for, it was to be expected.

“I think it’s the nature of where we are and a context where voters aren’t too focused on city issues,” Dunne said. “I’ve had a few people who are Democrats who I’ve approached and said, ‘I’m running for city council, I’m a center-right conservative just trying to make an impact in the city’ and they said ‘If it were any other year, you might get my vote, but this year we need to do a protest vote.’”

Dunne said national politics had affected Republicans’ chances in the city.

“I think it’s really a perfect storm for Republicans, at least in this area,” he said.

Dunne said voters had given city government a “clear mandate,” though, and it was a result that he respected. He said he wasn’t sure if he would run for office again, but didn’t rule out the option.

“I think Alexandria has a bit to improve upon in getting rigorous answers out of their candidates. In all but I think one forum – and this exception was small – members of the audience were simply not allowed to come forward with questions,” Dunne said. “I would really like us to improve this process … in terms of the way in which questions are formed and the back-and-forth.”

Alexandria GOP Chairman Sean Lenehan said that he was pleased that candidates brought important issues to light.

“It’s not looking locally like maybe we would have hoped for, but the message … the biggest issues they were talking about at least got brought up in the dialogue,” Lenehan said.

Lenehan said those issues included the city’s high tax rate, both on residents and on restaurants. He said it wasn’t clear how national issues affected the local results. He said, ultimately, the next council would be dealing with hyper-local issues.

“Our issues have nothing to do with the national level – our concerns are public safety, our concerns are solid schools, our concerns are strong infrastructure. All of that has zero to do with who is in the White House,” Lenehan said. “… I know that when city council is seated in January, those are the issues they’ll be facing.”

Current council and school board members will serve through the end of 2018, and the newly elected members will be sworn in at a ceremony on Jan. 2.

Alexa Epitropoulos contributed to this report.

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