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Last updated: Sun, 19 Aug 2018 21:16:26 GMT

 Our View: Serial promise-breaking erodes trust Thu, 16 Aug 2018 18:13:09 +0000
Increasingly in Alexandria, it seems that promises are made to be broken. It’s particularly disturbing when this breach of trust comes from those we look to, or have elected, for leadership. In 2015, our longtime mayor, Bill Euille, refused to accept the Democratic primary result after narrowly losing to current Mayor Allison Silberberg in a […]Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Increasingly in Alexandria, it seems that promises are made to be broken. It’s particularly disturbing when this breach of trust comes from those we look to, or have elected, for leadership.

In 2015, our longtime mayor, Bill Euille, refused to accept the Democratic primary result after narrowly losing to current Mayor Allison Silberberg in a three-way race. Opposing the victor of a fair primary violated his party’s by-laws, and rendered moot a party unity pledge Euille had signed.

The city appears poised to jettison a verbal pledge made to neighbors in the early 1960s when T.C. Williams High School was being contemplated. That verbal promise – to never install lights on the school’s playing fields – was later written in a Development Special Use Permit in the 2000s when the school was rebuilt.

Then, of course, there’s the ongoing saga of the Potomac Yard Metro Station, where nearby residents were levied an extra tax and were repeatedly promised a convenient southern entrance to the yet-to-bebuilt station. FOIAed documents show that city staff, and members of city council, continued to repeat this falsehood long after they knew that entrance needed to be removed from the plans. And yet, taxes continued to be collected into city coffers, while townhouses and condos continued to be sold, benefitting developers.

In recent weeks, we have learned that the homeowner’s association at Chatham Square, located in north Old Town, has petitioned the city for on-street parking. This, despite it being codified in the development’s DSUP that Chatham Square residents, most of whom have twocar garages, would not be allowed to park on the street and take spaces from nearby residents, most of whom do not have off-street parking.

Here’s the problem: promises do matter. They matter individually and collectively.

In each of the individual cases mentioned above, the promises made verbally or in writing were trusted. When people vote for candidates, even in this cynical age, they at least hope the politicians will keep their word. When people buy property or don’t oppose developments based on promises – in these instances, pledges of no lights at T.C., easy Metro access and no on-street parking – it’s at least in part because they trust city officials.

There are people who will defend each of the broken promises listed above, and some of the arguments do have merit. But we think the promise is more important than the particulars:

• A defeated candidate should not wage a write-in campaign.

• A promise made, particularly to poor, previously mistreated residents, should be honored.

• The elimination of the Potomac Yard Metro south entrance should have been revealed much sooner.

• DSUPs, particularly ones as recent as the T.C. rebuild and Chatham Square, should be enforced, not altered.

Trust is a two-way street. That’s true in relationships of all kinds, including between citizens and their government. When one side controls the relationship by always forcing their will on the other, that bond is going to break.

Residents who pay their taxes and follow the laws in our city are upholding their end of the bargain. Our local leaders need to try harder to keep the trust they’ve been given, even if that means sometimes not getting their way on a particular project.

The collective result of serial promise-breaking is the erosion of trust. Once trust is gone, it’s pretty much gone for good.

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 City receives 2.89 percent rate of sale for bonds Thu, 16 Aug 2018 17:58:15 +0000
After recently having its bond ratings reaffirmed in July, the city announced on Monday that it has secured low interest rates on the sale of new general obligation bonds. The city issued $40.9 million in tax-exempt bonds on July 25, according to a city news release, which went toward schools, Metro, parks and public buildings. The bonds, […]Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

After recently having its bond ratings reaffirmed in July, the city announced on Monday that it has secured low interest rates on the sale of new general obligation bonds.

The city issued $40.9 million in tax-exempt bonds on July 25, according to a city news release, which went toward schools, Metro, parks and public buildings. The bonds, which will be repaid over 20 years, were sold at a true interest cost – a term that refers to total cost of the debt, including interest payments and fees – of 2.89 percent to financial services firm Robert W. Baird & Co. The city said it received 12 bids in all.

The 2.89 percent true interest cost is, however, higher than last year’s. The city news release attributed that to rising market interest rates.

“We are proud of the strong credit ratings that made these low interest rates possible,” City Manager Mark Jinks said in a news release. “Our receipt of 12 very competitive bids reflects our sound financial management and the good work of city staff.”

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 AHDC to break ground on The Bloom, new Carpenter’s Shelter Thu, 16 Aug 2018 17:56:02 +0000
The new Alexandria Housing Development Corporation development, which will include nearly 100 units of affordable housing and a new Carpenter’s Shelter, will break ground on Aug. 29. The development, built on the longtime First Street location of the Carpenter’s Shelter, will include 97 units of affordable housing called The Bloom and a new shelter. The […]Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

The new Alexandria Housing Development Corporation development, which will include nearly 100 units of affordable housing and a new Carpenter’s Shelter, will break ground on Aug. 29.

The development, built on the longtime First Street location of the Carpenter’s Shelter, will include 97 units of affordable housing called The Bloom and a new shelter. The building will also have underground parking, a 1,600-square-foot produce garden, a playground and space for community gatherings.

The affordable housing units will be reserved for households that make less than 60 percent of the median income, which is $70,320 for a family of four. The Bloom will also include 10 permanent supportive housing units for former Carpenter’s Shelter residents who are prepared to transition from the shelter. The Carpenter’s Shelter has moved out of its building on First Street and is temporarily occupying part of The Landmark Mall.

The groundbreaking, which Gov. Ralph Northam, Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) and Alexandria city leaders plan to attend, will take place at 3 p.m.

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 Seniors: How to incorporate brain-healthy foods into your diet Thu, 16 Aug 2018 17:53:32 +0000
By Katie Hilburn Extensive studies have suggested that certain foods can reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia and increase overall health and wellness. It’s easy to incorporate a brain-healthy diet into your life. Keep these recommendations close by to help you stay on track. A recent study has shown that the MIND diet (an […]Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

By Katie Hilburn

Extensive studies have suggested that certain foods can reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia and increase overall health and wellness. It’s easy to incorporate a brain-healthy diet into your life. Keep these recommendations close by to help you stay on track.

Katie Hilburn (Courtesy photo)

A recent study has shown that the MIND diet (an acronym for Mediterranean Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay), a diet heavy in berries, leafy greens and seafood, appears to have a positive impact on cognitive ability. The MIND diet is a combination of the Mediterranean diet and the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet.

A study conducted by researchers from the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago and the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston found that participants that strictly adhered to the MIND diet were 52 percent less likely to be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.

Although the study’s findings are not able to show the exact correlation as to why a healthy diet has such a huge positive impact on cognitive ability, it is still a great start toward better understanding the connection between our diet, health and steps we can take now to prevent the onset of dementia.

The building blocks of a brain-healthy diet:

Avocados

Avocados, one of the fattiest plant-based foods in existence, are loaded with monounsaturated fat, which triggers healthy blood flow. They lead to reduced inflammation and their high amounts of potassium, which surpass the
amount in bananas, are responsible for lowering blood pressure.

Blueberries

Researchers have found that blueberries help reduce oxidative stress on the brain and may reduce age-related effects like Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Diets rich in blueberries significantly improved learning capacity and motor skills.

Broccoli

Broccoli is rich in Vitamin K, which enhances cognitive function, including
thinking, reasoning, imagining and learning words.

Nuts and seeds

Nuts and seeds are rich in vitamin E, which are linked to less cognitive decline and aging. Healthy nuts include walnuts, hazelnuts, Brazil nuts, almonds, cashews, peanuts, sunflower seeds and flax seed. Pumpkin seeds are rich in zinc, which is known to enhance memory and thinking skills.

Oily Fish

Eating wild salmon and other oily fish high in omega-3s has been associated with less brain shrinkage. Omega-3s, which are essential for brain function, cannot be made by the body and must be obtained through diet. High levels of essential fatty acids have been linked to lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s and memory loss. Other fish that are an abundant source of omega-3s include trout, mackerel, herring and sardines. Vegetarians can obtain these benefits through seeds and nuts like flaxseeds, soybeans pumpkin seeds and walnuts.

Sage

Sage has long had a reputation for improving memory. Sage as an
essential oil can be used for soothing baths, massage oils or topically for clearer skin. The scent stimulates the limbic system, which is the brain’s center for memory and emotion. Fresh sage can also be added to your diet by sprinkling it on food for extra taste.

Tea

Freshly brewed tea has a modest amount of caffeine, which promotes
healthy blood flow, boosts brain power and enhances memory and focus. Keep in mind that powdered teas, or sweetened teas with added sugars and milk, reduce nutritional value, so stick to freshly brewed.

Tomatoes

Lycopene is a powerful antioxidant found in tomatoes, known to protect
against cell damage that can occur in a brain affected by dementia and Alzheimer’s. Tomatoes are also rich in vitamin C and have nutrients that support cardiovascular health.

Vitamin B

Vitamin B6, B12 and folic acid are known to reduce risk of stroke, cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s. Studies show that a group of patients with mild cognitive impairment who had regular doses of B6, B12 and folic acid had significantly less brain shrinkage compared to a group given a placebo vitamin.

Whole Grains

Whole grains such as oatmeal, whole-grain breads and brown rice are a healthy supply of energy for the brain, which improves our ability to focus.
They also reduce the risk for heart disease and promote all-around cardiovascular health. Because whole grains are slowly and steadily released into the bloodstream, the brain is kept mentally alert throughout the day. For healthy brain activity, avoid red meat, butter, cheese, pastries and fried food.

Katie Hilburn is an administrator at Silverado Memory Care in Alexandria.

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 Compass shakes up Alexandria’s real estate market Thu, 16 Aug 2018 17:45:30 +0000
By Alexa Epitropoulos | aepitropoulos@alextimes.com Compass has made waves since launching in the Alexandria market in June with top-selling real estate team The Goodhart Group as its founding partner. Just two months later, Compass has a team of 15 Alexandria-based agents – many of whom were recruited from competing real estate firms in the city – working out of […]Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

By Alexa Epitropoulos | aepitropoulos@alextimes.com

Compass has made waves since launching in the Alexandria market in June with top-selling real estate team The Goodhart Group as its founding partner.

Just two months later, Compass has a team of 15 Alexandria-based agents – many of whom were recruited from competing real estate firms in the city – working out of a temporary office space at Alx Community at 106 N. Lee St. in Old Town.

More growth and a permanent office space are in the works for Compass by the end of the year, Compass D.C. general manager Kim Harris said.

Compass was founded in 2012 in Manhattan and expanded into D.C. shortly after. Its leaders have long eyed Alexandria for expansion. Compass moved into neighboring Arlington in January.

 “Alexandria has been on our radar ever since we moved here,” Harris said. “It’s a historical gem. It has a thriving community. It gets attention as one of the best places to live, has a rich history, growing population, diversity. So, we always knew we wanted to be there, but we wanted to find the right partner, the right founding partner.”

Harris said the Goodhart Group, led by Sue Goodhart, Allison Goodhart DuShuttle and

Sue Goodhart (Courtesy the Goodhart Group)

Marty Goodhart, had a willingness to try new approaches that fit well with Compass’ tech focus. The Goodhart Group had long been part of McEnearney Associates.

“When we look at partners, particularly founding partners, we want a group or a team that believes in innovation,” Harris said. “We want people that understand and connect to our mission – not just from a business perspective, but from an emotional one.”

Harris said, since the team joined in June, they’ve made a mark.

“When you think about world-class professionals – within real estate and beyond – they are truly top-notch in terms of how they think, the way they innovate, the way they manage their team. They’ve exceeded every expectation,” Harris said.

In addition to the Goodhart Group, Holly Beville, the Jessica Richardson and Patricia Petkosek team, the MaryAshley Rhule and Helena Soprano team, as well as Jennifer Halm and Paul Pavot, have joined Compass in Alexandria. Compass has 18 listings in the city at the moment, including 14 properties for sale and four for rent, according to Harris. 

Compass recently surpassed 400 agents in the D.C. region, Harris said. The company is expanding into multiple markets with the same speed – 18 markets, from The Hamptons to Seattle to Los Angeles to Florida’s Gulf Coast, are listed on its website. Harris said the company seeks to use technology to give agents time to focus on relationships.

That technology includes a real estate platform, which uses analytics and marketing to help realtors make decisions, like when to list a property. It also uses a high-tech lawn “for sale” sign, that is being patented, with embedded information about each neighborhood.

“As we grow our business, our main strategy is to focus on people and do everything we can to elevate the experience of our agents, so they can serve their clients better,” Harris said.

Allison Goodhart DuShuttle, chief operating officer for the Goodhart Group, said she had been aware of Compass for years from attending Inman Connect real estate conferences and had been impressed by their marketing and overall philosophy.

“We had always been intrigued by them, but we weren’t necessarily planning on making a

Allison Goodhart (Courtesy the Goodhart Group)

move,” Goodhart DuShuttle said. “We sat down and talked with Robert Reffkin, the CEO of Compass, and when he laid out the future of Compass and the way the world was going, it blew us away, to be honest.”

Goodhart DuShuttle said Compass’ in-house advertising and design agency and its approach to technology stood out for them.

 “From an agent perspective, it makes life a little bit easier because agents are doing so many different things and we really want to be spending most of our time with clients,” she said. “They have the vision of embracing technology. … It’s out-of-the-box thinking. Real estate hasn’t been revolutionized in years and they’re [asking], in the world of Amazon and Alexa and Uber, how can we make things easier for the agent?”

Goodhart DuShuttle said the transition to Compass has been relatively easy.

“It’s been great. We were [at McEnearney] for a long time and we were very happy there. Obviously, we have nothing but good things to say about our experience there, but it’s been a very exciting transition. It’s just completely different,” she said.

Though Compass has recruited a number of heavy-hitters in Alexandria’s real estate industry, it’s the newcomer in a crowded real estate market. The city has an array of firms in addition to McEnearney and Compass, including Berkshire Hathaway, Weichert, Long & Foster, TTR Sotheby’s and Coldwell Banker, among others, competing for a finite number of properties.

Harris said, despite the competition, Compass has an edge.

“Our biggest differentiator is that we provide the technology, support and community to help our realtors grow their businesses,” Harris said.

“We’re remodeling and taking the old brokerage approach and putting a new spin on it.The average agent that joins Compass grows their business by 25 percent in their first year. We’re not resting on our laurels – we’re continuing to build new infrastructure and tech. … Our key differentiator is providing full-service, end-to-end support for our agents, so they can be empowered to do what they love.”

Looking ahead, Harris anticipates more developments in the coming months and years, including with the not-so-remote possibility that Amazon’s HQ2 will settle in Northern Virginia.

 “We’ve all been talking about Amazon potentially coming to Northern Virginia and what impact that could have on Alexandria,” Harris said. “… I think this is an exciting time. We’re on this new frontier of development.”

She’s also optimistic about Compass’ future in Alexandria, and said the group is actively seeking opportunities to work with developers to grow the city.

“Alexandria over the last 12 months has had about $4 billion in real estate volume. We’re seeing increases in median home sales of about seven percent,” Harris said. “Our goal is really to support that growth and to help Alexandria really, really take real estate to the next level.” 

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 Justice Matters with Bryan Porter: Real world forensics versus the TV version Thu, 16 Aug 2018 17:39:23 +0000
By Bryan Porter A prosecutor preparing a case has a very real conundrum to consider: How to deal with jurors who harbor unreasonable expectations about the government’s ability to present incriminating forensic evidence. In legal circles, this very real phenomenon is known as the CSI effect, given that television shows like “CSI:Miami” have been the […]Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

By Bryan Porter

A prosecutor preparing a case has a very real conundrum to consider: How to deal with jurors who harbor unreasonable expectations about the government’s ability to present incriminating forensic evidence. In legal circles, this very real phenomenon is known as the CSI effect, given that television shows like “CSI:Miami” have been the source of so many misconceptions.

In the fantasy world of a television police procedural, a detective can run a DNA search on his handy portable tricorder and within seconds see a picture of the perpetrator underneath a flashing 24-point, bright red banner reading “MATCH.” Because a television investigation can only span about 44 minutes – a one-hour episode minus advertising – the detectives never conduct a fruitless crime scene search. Everything meshes together, and the investigation quickly produces an airtight case.

Not surprisingly, things are usually not that easy in the real world. Police departments and state-run forensic labs have limited budgets, and therefore have limited resources. Laboratory examination of potential evidence for the presence of DNA is both time-consuming and expensive. In serious cases such as murder, diligent efforts are made to conduct analyses likely to produce incriminating evidence. The fact remains, however, that it is impossible to exhaust all potential examinations. The defense can always argue that one more analysis should have been conducted.

More importantly, in the majority of investigations, no incriminating forensic evidence is located at all. On television, every examination attempted produces results. In reality, relevant DNA evidence is located in only about 10 percent of cases. The deposition of DNA is affected by a number of environmental factors, to include the temperature, level of humidity, length of time in situ, the surface on which the DNA was deposited and the relative oil content on the depositor’s skin. If the culprit was smart enough to wear gloves, it is almost impossible that his DNA was left at the scene.

Finally, it is axiomatic that in order to locate DNA evidence, the investigators must know where to look for it. Collectively, these factors make the identification of incriminating DNA from a crime scene the exception, not the rule.

Compounding this problem is that, on occasion, non-incriminating DNA evidence may be located. Imagine a scenario in which your home has unfortunately been burglarized, thankfully while you were away. The police determine that the burglar used the rear door to your home as his avenue of egress, breaking the lock in the process. Given that he likely touched the lock and door handle when entering your home, the police swab those areas for DNA, hoping to find the profile of the thief.

Whose DNA will be found on the door handle? Obviously, your profile could be there, as well as any other person living in the home. If you have children who play in the backyard, their DNA could be there. If your children had invited playdates over, their DNA – as well as that of their parents – could potentially be isolated. What if you had hosted a dinner party the week before? Any of the guests may have deposited their DNA on the back door. Since none of these people have felony criminal records, and therefore are not in the DNA database, if their DNA is recovered, the police will not be able to identify who deposited it.

Take the scenario one step further. The police later identify a suspect and arrest him. The suspect wore gloves during the crime and his DNA was, therefore, not discovered. However, an unidentified male DNA profile was isolated from the back door. In reality, that DNA was left by one of your dinner guests, but the police have no way of knowing that. Instead, the defense attorney is presented with an obvious argument for the jury: “Ladies and gentlemen, my client is innocent. His DNA was not located at the scene. Instead, some other man’s DNA was found on the back door – an unidentified profile that belongs to the real burglar.” A jury not weaned of the CSI effect may well agree with this line of reasoning.

For that reason, prudent prosecutors must spend quite a bit of time discussing the limitations of real-world crime scene investigations to try to inoculate their cases from unreasonable juror expectations.

The writer is the Commonwealth’s Attorney for Alexandria.

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 Letter to the Editor: Chatham restrictions should be applied citywide, not waived Thu, 16 Aug 2018 17:32:02 +0000
To the editor: I would like to comment on your article, “Chatham Square seeks parking revision,” in the Aug. 9 Alexandria Times. While this article was specific to Old Town, I believe it is an issue that is pertinent to all Alexandria residents. Granting permits to these residents would not only limit the ability to […]Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

To the editor:

I would like to comment on your article, “Chatham Square seeks parking revision,” in the Aug. 9 Alexandria Times. While this article was specific to Old Town, I believe it is an issue that is pertinent to all Alexandria residents. Granting permits to these residents would not only limit the ability to visit residents and businesses within a few blocks of Chatham Square, but also set a bad precedent for parking in other areas of the city where development of similar sized homes, and garages, will similarly affect parking.

First, I would challenge the comment by one of the residents that two cars will not fit in a garage at Chatham as well as challenge the statement that 20 by 20 foot is industry standard. Most townhome developments within Alexandria have garage sizes similar to those at Chatham; it is size within Alexandria that we should be comparing as a standard, not garage sizes for homes well outside the beltway. We happen to have a garage size with similar dimensions and are able to comfortably fit two vehicles, a midsize and compact SUV.

I believe the real problems that are impacting parking is how families utilize their garages, as well as not factoring smaller sizes of those garages when making a home purchase in Alexandria. We live in Cameron Station, where our homeowner’s association rules specifically state that garages should not be utilized for storage in a manner that prevents parking of vehicles in the garage, yet many homeowners use garages for bulk storage and park their vehicles on local streets.

We are fortunate in Cameron Station in that we have dedicated visitor parking that residents are not permitted to utilize and as a result vehicles that should be parked in garages are not taking away spots that our guests can utilize when visiting. This tendency for using garages for other than vehicle storage is not unique to Cameron Station, or townhomes for that matter, and as development continues throughout Alexandria we can expect families to do the same and park vehicles on streets, thereby limiting parking for neighborhood guests and businesses.

I suggest that current and future townhome residents need to factor in smaller sized garages, with appropriately sized vehicles for those garages, when purchasing in Alexandria. Living in townhomes in Alexandria requires a conscious decision to sacrifice home, garage and vehicle size. But as we have found, that sacrifice is insignificant compared to the public and local benefits of living in Alexandria.

I would also welcome similar parking restrictions that apply to Chatham residents in other areas of the city. Public parking is a community space and preserving the availability and accessibility of it for all Alexandria residents and businesses, helps preserve access to Del Ray, all sections of Old Town, parks, fields and all other parts of Alexandria.

-Leo Ochoa, Alexandria

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 Letter to the Editor: We must save the Potomac Yard wetlands Thu, 16 Aug 2018 17:26:35 +0000
To the editor: Alexandria and Arlington are losing natural habitats to so-called smart growth development at an alarming rate. Elected officials say that such density and growth will expand the tax base, which they argue we need in order to grow sustainably and smartly. But is this expansion really green and really all that smart? […]Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

To the editor:

Alexandria and Arlington are losing natural habitats to so-called smart growth development at an alarming rate.

Elected officials say that such density and growth will expand the tax base, which they argue we need in order to grow sustainably and smartly. But is this expansion really green and really all that smart? Let’s take a look at Potomac Yard, where the City of Alexandria plans to build a new Metro station to encourage higher-density commercial and residential development.

Alexandria’s preferred option, known as Site B, will destroy and degrade a few acres of wetlands situated between Potomac Yard and the George Washington Memorial Parkway. The new station will also degrade the quality and character of the G.W. Parkway and the Potomac Greens Scenic Easement, which includes the wetlands.

This entire situation raises serious legal questions given that the National Park Service failed to protect the Parkway, wetlands and scenic easement.

These remaining wetlands were once part of a much more extensive network of freshwater tidal wetlands along the Potomac River. Such places should be protected and further restored, not destroyed. But the city rejected alternatives presented in the Environmental Impact Statement that would have prevented the destruction of these wetlands and other natural habitat.

The decision to build the station in the wetlands was pushed through Alexandria’s city council by politicians like Vice Mayor Justin Wilson, who will likely be our next mayor. He argues that locating the new Metro station closer to the Parkway will free up more space for about 13 million square feet of new development and get more cars off the road. OK, but what about the environmental and monetary costs?

The Potomac Yard Metro project is now expected to cost Alexandria taxpayers millions more than it might have if another option that doesn’t impact the wetlands or Parkway had been chosen. To reduce the price tag of the Site B station, city council – without any public knowledge – recently dropped a key entrance from the proposed design.

The only thing currently standing in the way of the destruction of the wetlands is the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which must issue a permit approving the filling in of the wetlands.

The idea that marshes and wetlands are “improvable” has been with us since the founding of Alexandria. And we can see the results all around us. There are fewer and fewer marshes, and it’s harder and harder to clean up the Potomac and restore its ecological integrity, especially in the age of global warming.

This is not sustainable, nor is it smart, but it is still preventable at Potomac Yard.

-Andrew Macdonald, former Alexandria vice mayor

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 Bishop Ireton girls’ volleyball prepares for an encore Thu, 16 Aug 2018 17:20:41 +0000
By Duncan Agnew | dagnew@alextimes.com Bishop Ireton Volleyball Head Coach Owen Ranger isn’t letting transition lessen his expectations for this fall. The girls’ varsity volleyball team lost seven key contributors to graduation in June, and an eighth team member moved away. Among those seven graduates were two of the best players in school history, Ranger […]Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

By Duncan Agnew | dagnew@alextimes.com

Bishop Ireton Volleyball Head Coach Owen Ranger isn’t letting transition lessen his expectations for this fall.

The girls’ varsity volleyball team lost seven key contributors to graduation in June, and an eighth team member moved away. Among those seven graduates were two of the best players in school history, Ranger said.

Despite a seemingly insurmountable loss of talent, Ranger said B.I. volleyball now thrives on a winning culture, and he has high hopes once again.

Purely based on accolades and post-season success, last year’s team was one of the best in Bishop Ireton history. The Cardinals finished as the runner-up in both the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference and the Virginia Independent School Athletic Association, eventually falling to perennial powerhouses Holy Cross and Flint Hill, respectively. After such an impressive 2017 campaign, B.I. faces a new challenge this fall.

“It’ll be a very different style, but I always try to adapt the system to fit the personnel,” Ranger said. “And I think that we’re not the only team that lost significant people in the WCAC, but I think we can still be very competitive both there and in the state.”

Nine players — most of whom comprised the B.I. bench last season — will be returning to the varsity team this fall. After spring open gym sessions, Ranger said he expects several juniors who led the junior varsity team in 2017 to round out the roster.

Ranger said he is fortunate to have the problem of too many players to choose from. Last August, 50 girls competed for about 45 spots on the three Bishop Ireton volleyball teams: varsity, junior varsity and freshman. Ranger said he wouldn’t be surprised to see as many as 60 try out this month.

“I used to coach at a school where I had to beg other sports for their JV cuts sometimes, and now I have to turn girls away, which I never want to do,” Ranger said.

Among other players, Ranger expects senior backrow passers Casey Hoffman and Kaitlin Becht to make an impact this fall. Becht holds the school record for serving percentage, and Hoffman will be a key defensive specialist for the Cardinals. In addition, sophomore setter Taylor Wilmot, B.I.’s only returning player who saw regular game action last season, earned honorable mention all-conference honors as a freshman.

Ranger said he sees every team in the WCAC as a dangerous opponent. Last year, the Cardinals barely hung on to beat last-place Elizabeth Seton, and the seventh-place team actually beat B.I. in five sets.

“It’s tough top to bottom,” Ranger said. “… There are no off nights in the league.”

Ranger, who moved to D.C. in 2006, attended Pepperdine University and took a class in volleyball instruction taught by the school’s legendary men’s volleyball head coach. Outside of that course, the extent of Ranger’s volleyball playing career involved pick-up games at the beach every summer.

“I eventually just found a home with volleyball, even though my playing experience is minimal,” Ranger said. “… But it’s the sport I feel that I coach best.”

Going into his second season as the Bishop Ireton head coach, Ranger gave all the credit for the team’s success to the players.

“The culture has changed enough that [the players] expect to be good on their own without needing to be pushed as much to be good,” Ranger said. “They’ve become a better program all on their own that way.”

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 Electrical fire on Wolfe Street Thu, 16 Aug 2018 17:20:33 +0000
The Alexandria Fire Department responded to an electrical fire on the 100 block of Wolfe Street on Tuesday afternoon. The department responded to the call at around 6:59 p.m., according to a spokesperson for the Alexandria Fire Department. The fire broke out in the four-story townhouse at 114 Wolfe St. from a ceiling fixture that experienced an […]Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

The Alexandria Fire Department responded to an electrical fire on the 100 block of Wolfe Street on Tuesday afternoon.

The department responded to the call at around 6:59 p.m., according to a spokesperson for the Alexandria Fire Department.

The fire broke out in the four-story townhouse at 114 Wolfe St. from a ceiling fixture that experienced an electrical failure on the third floor. The light fixture, as a result, ignited the ceiling of the third floor and the floor of the fourth floor. The fire was contained to that area and extinguished quickly, according to the spokesperson.

Earlier in the day at around 2 p.m., IAFF Local 2141 had responded to smoke at a townhouse on the 100 block of Wolfe Street, according to its Twitter account.
No fire was found at that time.

The fire caused an estimated $15,000 in damage. The structure was condemned, displacing one occupant who is now living with family.

The department has concluded its investigation and found that the fire was accidental.

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