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Last updated: Tue, 20 Nov 2018 09:57:47 GMT

 Tackling canine obesity Fri, 16 Nov 2018 20:25:29 +0000
By Kim Gilliam Heading into the winter months, many of us start thinking about how to avoid weight gain, with cold weather threatening to limit outdoor activity and the prospect of holiday food indulgences. It’s a good opportunity to remember that dogs are not exempt from the battle of the bulge; they too struggle with […]Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

By Kim Gilliam

Heading into the winter months, many of us start thinking about how to avoid weight gain, with cold weather threatening to limit outdoor activity and the prospect of holiday food indulgences. It’s a good opportunity to remember that dogs are not exempt from the battle of the bulge; they too struggle with weight gain and the health problems that come along with it.

Dogs don’t realize the ramifications of eating to excess or not getting enough exercise. Keeping them healthy is their owner’s responsibility. Sadly, while most of us are very aware of the health hazards associated with a person being overweight, we don’t realize this also applies to our pets.

Studies show that as little as five extra pounds will make a dog susceptible to diabetes, heart issues, respiratory disease, hypertension, intra-abdominal cancer and osteoarthritis. Obese dogs can die up to 2.5 years earlier than dogs at their ideal weight, while suffering a decreased quality of life due to weight-related health issues.

A 2017 study by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention found 56 percent of U.S. dogs to be clinically overweight or obese – while 93 percent of dog owners think their dog is a healthy weight – making it one of the most common preventable diseases in dogs.

Not sure what your dog’s ideal weight is? Check with your vet. They consider your dog’s body condition and overall physique, looking for a distinct waistline behind the ribs when viewed from above, with the ribs slightly visible when viewed from the side and abdomen tucked in (no hanging belly). Similar to the Body Mass Index used for humans, they use a Body Condition Score grading scale from one-tonine for dogs, with an ideal body weight around five and a seven or higher indicating a dog is overweight or obese.

If you are trying to slim your dog down, here are some things to consider:

Count calories with your dog

One study found that dogs burn an average of 0.8 calories per pound per mile. This means a 20 pound dog walking at four miles per hour will only burn about 64 calories during a one-hour walk. Even at twice a day it’s only 128 calories. So be very conscious of the calories they are eating – measure their food and count caloric intake in the form of treats, table scraps, etc.

Don’t give in to a dog that looks hungry or begs

If your dog’s nutrient and caloric calories are met, then this is a behavioral issue. Dogs are master manipulators; don’t let them convince you that they need more food when they don’t. If needed, you can divide their food into more frequent meals, set aside some kibble to be used for rewarding positive behavior, distract them by playing with a toy or tug/fetch or use low calorie/carb options like carrots or broccoli to satisfy cravings.

Consider alternative methods of exercise

It may be cold and dark outside when you get home from work, but you’re going to have to step up the physical activity to burn extra calories. There are endless ways to increase activity, even in the house. Get them to run up and down stairs or expend energy by eating meals from a toy – smaller dogs can even swim in the bathtub. You can also schedule playdates with neighborhood pups or stop by your local dog gym.

Don’t be discouraged by a weight loss plateau

This can happen in any weight loss program, as the body needs time to adjust. Be patient and stick to the plan; with time and a consistent diet and exercise program, the weight loss will resume. Don’t succumb to frustration; remember this is important for the health of your dog and weight loss is never an easy task.

Communicate with non-compliant family members

There’s one in every house: someone who derails your dog’s weight loss program. While a tough challenge to tackle, the best approach is to take them along to the vet appointments and let them hear it straight from a professional that they are killing your pet with their “love” and it needs to stop.

Think it’s just not possible? Think again. Frolick Dogs recently partnered with FreshPet and Belle Haven Animal Medical Centre on the 2018 #FreshFit challenge. Over the last threeand-a-half months, the three contestants, Maddi the Lab, Buckley the bully breed and Chloe the Chiweenie, lost a combined total of a little under 27 pounds through diet and exercise. Check out the Oct. 27 episode of The Pet Show with Dr. Katy on NewsChannel 8 for more on their major results.

Kim Gilliam co-owns Frolick Dogs, an indoor dog gym in Alexandria, with her husband, Kevin Gilliam.

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 The threads that bind Thu, 15 Nov 2018 21:37:44 +0000
By Louise Krafft “Connecting Threads,” an exhibit celebrating how fiber connects us, opened Nov. 2 in the Del Ray Artisans Gallery at the Nicholas A. Colasanto Center. Show curators Dawn Wyse Hurto and Liz Martinez worked closely on the exhibit with show sponsor Artistic Artifacts’ Judy Gula and DRA member Christine Vinh. Gula has spent […]Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail
  • “The Dressing Room” by Judy Gula

By Louise Krafft

“Connecting Threads,” an exhibit celebrating how fiber connects us, opened Nov. 2 in the Del Ray Artisans Gallery at the Nicholas A. Colasanto Center.

Show curators Dawn Wyse Hurto and Liz Martinez worked closely on the exhibit with show sponsor Artistic Artifacts’ Judy Gula and DRA member Christine Vinh. Gula has spent a lifetime working with fabric, weaving, spinning, dying and collecting it. With a degree in fashion design and marketing, Gula now focuses on making art quilts and samples.

“After touring the show, I was impressed by the unique group of artwork and interpretations of the theme, ‘Connecting Threads,’” Gula said.

DRA president Drew Cariaso also highlighted a few of the works.

“The many creative works [in the show] include the roving/felt piece by 101-year old artist Maria Kennedy, the post-apocalyptic wearable art by leather artist Lynn Fernandez, and the poem about a beloved quilt worked into a touching piece by Jenny Nicholson,” Cariaso said.

Nicholson combines watercolor, gouache and calligraphy to transcribe a passage from Marguerite Ickes in “Anonymous Was a Woman.”

Below is a passage of Ickes quoting her great-grandmother:

“It took me more than 20 years, nearly 25, I reckon, in the evenings after supper when the children were all put to bed. My whole life is in that quilt. It scares me sometimes when I look at it. All my joys and all my sorrows are stitched into those pieces. … So they are all in the quilt, my hopes and fears, my joys and sorrows, my loves and hates. I tremble sometimes what that quilt knows about me.”

“Rebecca, Art Pillow” by Sandra Owusu-Ansah adds reclaimed materials, specifically up-cycled Venetian blind linen cords, with yarn, muslin, fabric, beads and colored pencils. After weaving a tube with a green yarn warp and the Venetian blind linen strips, Owusu-Ansah worked on the face.

The image was inspired by a neighbor’s coloring book page of an angel. Owusu-Ansah finished off the pillow with beadwork she made while sitting with her dad as he underwent chemotherapy.

Another item not to be missed is the 2D piece, “What that quilt knows about me.” 

“The Dressing Room” by Gula, a fiber, mixed-media art quilt offers up a memory of times past. Step back and look again at Shauna Shiff’s, “Rain Rolled in Quilt.” Think of looking out across the way on a rainy night – darkness except for the rain on the window and the blurred colors from lights in the distance.

Connecting Threads features 98 pieces created by 55 artists. The Curator’s Choice Awards were presented to Ly Fernandez for “Post-Apocalyptic Apothecarist” and Rusty Lynn for “An Autumn Trifle.”

Artistic Artifacts gave awards to Barbara Prentice for “A la Monana Memorial Lanterns” and “What that quilt knows about me” by Nicholson.

Gula, summing up the show that runs through Nov. 25, said, “Such diversity. As you enter the gallery, beautiful tactile work surrounds you in a wide range of mediums, from 2D to 3D, even words jump off the page and fiber cries out to be touched … but please only touch with your eyes.”

Two additional workshops are being offered in conjunction with this show. On Nov. 15, Hand Stitch will be held at Artistic Artifacts on Eisenhower Avenue. On Nov. 17, a needle felted jewelry workshop at the Colasanto Center is on the calendar. Registration is required for both workshops. Del Ray Artisans is collecting donations of new towels, any type, for the Carpenter’s Shelter from now until Nov. 25.

The Del Ray Gallery is located at 2704 Mount Vernon Ave. Gallery hours are Thursday and Sunday, noon to 6 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, noon to 9 p.m. For more information, see www.delrayartisans.org.

Louise Krafft is a freelance photographer and writer who lives in Alexandria.

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 The impact of hoarding on older adults Thu, 15 Nov 2018 21:19:04 +0000
By Bennie Blackley Hoarding is generally defined as the excessive acquisition of large quantities of objects and items that obstruct the living spaces in a home, and the inability or unwillingness to discard the excess objects.  Hoarding is not limited to any age, race, gender or nationality. Hoarding behavior can begin early in life, but […]Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

By Bennie Blackley

Hoarding is generally defined as the excessive acquisition of large quantities of objects and items that obstruct the living spaces in a home, and the inability or unwillingness to discard the excess objects.  Hoarding is not limited to any age, race, gender or nationality. Hoarding behavior can begin early in life, but it is more prevalent in older adults. The increased prevalence of hoarding by older adults negatively impacts their access to in-home personal care services.

Bennie Blackley

Ms. X is an 80-year-old citizen who has been diagnosed with chronic conditions that impair her ability to take care of her medical needs on her own. After a hospitalization, her physician recommended home health services to provide assistance in her home. Ms. X refuses the recommended home health services. A family member reveals that Ms. X is afraid to allow care providers into the home who may expose Ms. X as a hoarder. 

This scenario is an unfortunate reality for some older adults in the community who need in-home assistance. Hoarding is a multifaceted, complex problem that can be a barrier to access to needed community home health care. Some home health agencies are encountering homes that are too cluttered, too unsanitary, too unsafe or too hoarded to provide assistance to seniors who need help with daily living activities.

Elderly citizens with hoarding behavior present a special challenge regarding in-home personal care service provisions. Hoarded conditions increase the risk of falls and increase the risk of illness due to an unsanitary living environment. Hoarding prevents the use of living space for the intended function. Activities such as cooking, sleeping in a bed, using the bathroom, physical movement, bathing and grooming are difficult for the resident and difficult for caregivers who attempt to provide assistance with these activities. For some older adults, home health services such as physical therapy, occupational therapy or having a home health aide or nurse visit must be delayed or terminated due to hoarding-related, unsafe conditions in the home.     

Hoarding, particularly when it results in safety and health hazards, can be difficult to address and resolve. The City of Alexandria has a multidisciplinary approach to addressing hoarding. The Alexandria Hoarding Task Force is comprised of the following agencies: Code Administration, Adult Protective Services, Child Protective Services, Mental Health Services, City Attorney, Fire Department and Animal Control.

These agencies work collaboratively with citizens to address hoarding and offer professional supports. Hoarding resources are identified and recommended to citizens to assist in resolving safety issues. Resolving home safety issues caused by hoarding reduces risks to citizens and the community and enables older adults who are medically impaired to have access to options for in-home care when needed. 

For more information regarding home safety resources email the Alexandria Hoarding Task Force at hoardingtaskforce@alexandriava.gov or for in-home care information call the Division of Aging and Adult Services at 703.549.5999.

The writer is a Family Services Specialist II in the Alexandria Division of Aging and Adult Services.

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 Mature moves: Preparing to sell your long-time home Thu, 15 Nov 2018 21:13:10 +0000
By Peter B. Crouch It can be a bit daunting to make a move after many years in your home.  Once you have made the decision, however, there is a sequence of events that definitely works best – and keeps you on track. First, where are you going, and what is the floor plan?  This […]Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

By Peter B. Crouch

It can be a bit daunting to make a move after many years in your home.  Once you have made the decision, however, there is a sequence of events that definitely works best – and keeps you on track.

First, where are you going, and what is the floor plan?  This will tell you what you should keep, and what will not be coming with you. If you are going to a condo, for example, or a community serving older adults, they will have floor plans, and even suggestions on what furniture fits and what does not. There are also companies called “Move Managers” who will help in that process – and even completely set you up in the new location – including unpacking and hanging pictures. 

A word about what to keep and what not to keep. Many of us have collected a good bit of furniture and other “stuff” over the years. Most of us have even inherited possessions that were our parents’ or grandparents’.  Two truths: Our children likely do not want much of it, and it is not disloyal to get rid of our ancestors’ things. Keeping a few small, very personal items honors them just fine.

Peter B. Crouch
Specialist in Mature Moves
He holds the Senior Real Estate Specialist (SRES) designation from the National Association of Realtors, and was just awarded their national Outstanding Service Award. He is Associate Broker and Mentor at McEnearney Associates, and has assisted in many moves by Empty Nesters and Beyond. See www.CrouchRealtyGroup.com for more information.

A good way to manage those two truths is to decide what fits in the new place, then make an inventory of what you don’t plan to keep. Then send the list to all the kids and grandkids, asking if there is anything important to them that they would like. You can even make a photo inventory if you are so inclined. Right now is a great time to do that, as family items make great holiday gifts. Do not be hurt if not much is taken – styles change, and large pieces are not likely to mesh with their household possessions. 

Once you have decided what to keep and have gifted to those you care about, the hard part is over. This is when it is usually best to go ahead and move, if possible.

Get settled in the new place, which takes the stress off the rest of the process. You can even go back and forth trying out pieces that might fit better in the new place. If you have to sell the house before the move, that is fine – it’s just a slightly different process.

The next steps are usually as follows: 

• Sell remaining possessions that might be of value. Either an estate sale, or consignment-type for certain higher-value pieces.

• Donate items that do not sell but have value to any one of the many charities we have locally. 

• Discard the rest. There are certain good cleaning firms that will take the remaining contents and recycle if they can, discarding what they cannot.

Regarding the house itself, remember that preparing a house for market does not mean you have to remodel, or have the latest-greatest features. You can easily sell a home that has not been upgraded – the price will be lower than one totally up-to-date, but big projects are certainly not necessary. Why spend tens of thousands remodeling the kitchen – and endure the stress of the project – to get some of that money back in a higher price? It is one thing to have re-done the kitchen a few years ago and had the opportunity to enjoy it for awhile; it is another thing to do it just for sale. Generally speaking, don’t.

There are certain tasks or replacements that will add value, but be fairly inexpensive.  Recently, a client moved, and after the last contents were removed, we had the interior cleaned and painted, the floors sanded and a little landscaping improved. But we didn’t touch the decades-old kitchen or baths. That and strategic staging was all it took to get multiple offers within days of going to market. Good pricing and multiple offers are the best a market can give you as a seller.

Worried about the cost of some of these processes? Selling possessions generally makes you money, donations are usually free and cleaning/discarding is relatively inexpensive. Work on the house will have cost – but generally you do not do it unless it can dramatically improve the sale price. If there are not funds to spend on those things, some vendors will hold their bills until settlement; other vetted companies will advance you money – based on the equity in your home – to complete repairs or cost-effective improvements. So, there is a way to get things done to maximize your proceeds.

The key to the least stressful move is process. Lay out the process up front, and follow it as best you can. Bring in someone who has managed this process before; there is no need to do it alone or re-invent the wheel. Involve family if possible. Most of all, follow the steps, and you will move successfully.

The writer is Associate Broker and Mentor at McEnearney Associates.

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 Our View: What’s the rush Thu, 15 Nov 2018 20:29:18 +0000
Two important decisions with significant long-term implications for Alexandria are being rammed through the city approval process with minimal public input and arbitrary timelines. The first deals with resolving the capacity crunch at T.C. Williams High School and the second with whether the City of Alexandria should permanently run the Torpedo Factory. To which we […]Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Two important decisions with significant long-term implications for Alexandria are being rammed through the city approval process with minimal public input and arbitrary timelines.

The first deals with resolving the capacity crunch at T.C. Williams High School and the second with whether the City of Alexandria should permanently run the Torpedo Factory.

To which we respond: Why the hurry?

It’s vastly more important to make the correct decision, after alternatives have been thoroughly vetted, than to push through a quick decision. When the latter happens, it’s oh-so-tempting to do what’s easy rather than make the correct long-term call.

It’s been apparent for several years that T.C. Williams and the Minnie Howard campus in their current configurations are not big enough long-term for Alexandria’s high school-age population. They’re already overcrowded.

After new superintendent Dr. Gregory Hutchings, Ed.D., took over this summer, a process centered on programmatic offerings rather than brick-and-mortar solutions was launched, with the goal of making a decision by year-end. At last week’s school board meeting, Hutchings, after being prodded, admitted that satellite campuses were the administrative team’s preferred choice to carry out the programmatic plan.

We think this “programs-first” approach was geared from the start toward not building a second high school, despite ACPS statements that a new school was on the table. If a second school was a serious option, ACPS would have presented detailed data regarding potential sites around the city and their attendant costs.

It’s not acceptable to blithely say with a wave of the hand that there are no suitable sites for a second high school in Alexandria without actually doing the work to identify, and then eliminate if necessary, potential locations.

During the just-completed election campaign, incumbent Margaret Lorber, who was re-elected, and incoming member Michelle Rief both cited studies that indicate students perform better in smaller schools than in mega ones.

This project is too important, and the implications are too far-reaching not just for ACPS but for Alexandria as a whole, to ram this decision through so quickly – particularly given that alternative brick-and-mortar solutions apparently weren’t even considered.

We agree with student school board representative Ewan Thompson, who said the incoming board should make the decision. And that decision needs to include options for a new school.

The timeframe for considering the Torpedo Factory’s future is even more compressed and less transparent. Why, two years into a three-year “temporary” contract to manage the Torpedo Factory, does the future of this facility need to be decided in less than two weeks?

City Manager Mark Jinks notified stakeholders on Nov. 6, the day of the General Election, that the city wanted to retain permanent control of the facility, scheduled a presentation to city council for Tuesday’s legislative meeting and docketed the issue for Saturday’s public hearing. Whew – and why?

This is simply not an adequate timeframe to consider an issue this important, particularly given the many concerns artists have raised with the Alexandria Times in the past week.

For starters, artists shared documentation with the Times indicating the city is spending more than $500,000 annually on one part-time and five full-time employees, plus temporary staff, to run the Torpedo Factory. Many to most are performing functions that previously were done for free by volunteers.

Torpedo Factory founder Marian Van Landingham said it’s clear to her that city officials still don’t understand what the Torpedo Factory is – an artists’ workplace open to the public – and what it isn’t – a museum.

Perhaps most upsetting, the city ignored a proposal from the Torpedo Factory Artists’ Association last year that described a path forward to return the institution back to artist control. And now we have the city manager’s attempt to fast-track a permanent city takeover.

Council needs to resist this unseemly power grab and ensure that a decision is made only after all sides have been fully heard and all proposals publicly considered.

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 Letter to the Editor: Faith wins out over religious hate Thu, 15 Nov 2018 19:52:36 +0000
To the editor: I am writing this letter in response to the article written by you in the Nov. 8 Alexandria Times, “Alfred Street Baptist rises above bomb threat.” As an Alexandria resident, I was heartbroken to hear that members in our community were being targeted while practicing their faith. Alexandria is a diverse community […]Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

To the editor:

I am writing this letter in response to the article written by you in the Nov. 8 Alexandria Times, “Alfred Street Baptist rises above bomb threat.” As an Alexandria resident, I was heartbroken to hear that members in our community were being targeted while practicing their faith.

Alexandria is a diverse community where people all of races, religions, genders and ethnicities are welcomed. In recent current events, religious establishments have been targeted due to hate — some resulting in tragic losses. It is sickening that specific groups continue to be the focus of hate-related crimes, and we as a nation need to continue to make progress toward being a country of equality for all.

This is not just a problem in the United States: it is a problem around the world. After conducting further research, I found that religious hate crimes have risen 40 percent across England. If we want to enact change, then we must continue to spread awareness and have open dialogue surrounding the topic, which I believe you did a great job of addressing in your article.

I applaud the members of Alfred Street Baptist who, in this time of fear, supported each other and continued to put their faith first. I look forward to watching this congregation rise above the hate and to continue freely practicing their religion; a foundation on which this country was built. Thank you for sharing.

-Molly Overstreet, Alexandria

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 Filling in the Blanks with Dr. Gregory Hutchings: Unlocking the equation of student success Thu, 15 Nov 2018 19:49:01 +0000
We frequently talk about the vision of Alexandria City Public Schools – that every student will succeed. But what does that really mean? And what does that look like for our students, staff and community? “Every student” is easy to define. The term encompasses all our students across the spectrum — from 114 different countries […]Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

We frequently talk about the vision of Alexandria City Public Schools – that every student will succeed. But what does that really mean? And what does that look like for our students, staff and community?

“Every student” is easy to define. The term encompasses all our students across the spectrum — from 114 different countries and speaking 119 different languages. They are gifted, twice exceptional, have disabilities and come from all walks of life and socioeconomic backgrounds.

If you ask 10 people to describe what success means to them, however, they will give you 10 different answers. By its very nature, the definition of success is dependent on the person defining the word.

Success means different things to each of our students. Success may mean being able to read something one couldn’t read at the start of the year or learning to ride the bicycle when they never thought they would. This child may not get a trophy or be highlighted in the media, but their progress deserves to be celebrated as much as a student heading to an Ivy League university.

Success is almost impossible to achieve alone. By providing a solid foundation of support and removing barriers that may be preventing a student from reaching their full potential, students are more likely to succeed. Just as important is support from caring, determined and nurturing teachers and staff.

The educators who made deep contributions to my success in life were those who believed in me when I did not believe in myself. They were the ones who never gave up on the idea that I could be successful and fulfill dreams I didn’t yet know I had. We must have the audacity as educators to believe that every young person, regardless of their life’s circumstance, deserves to be engaged in a high-quality education every day.

A successful student also has mentors – unofficial and official, among parents, friends and community members. They have support from businesses to get hands-on experience in the business world and coaching from business and community leaders who can provide inspiration when they need encouragement to get them to the next stage.

Success is also dependent on a community that is willing to take on expanding the educational experiences and opportunities for young people so that they are not only supporting the student to become the best they can be, but also supporting the city in that goal, too.

Along with volunteering and mentoring, support also means advocating for investment in education. It means supporting our schools so that our educators can live and become vested members of the same community in which they teach.

Success means supporting the allocation of resources to professional learning so that our staff know they are worth the investment of time and resources and want to stay and grow with our school division rather than moving elsewhere. It means simply saying “thank you” to our ACPS employees for their hard work and dedication each day in our schools.

I would not be who I am today without some of the amazing ACPS educators who helped me reach my full potential: Mrs. McKenzie, my kindergarten teacher, who gave me guidance in those critical formative years; Mrs. Lewis who helped me through second grade difficulties; Mrs. Johnson and Mrs. Maness who provided the structure I needed a pivotal time before adolescence.

In junior high school, Dr. Montenegro and Mrs. Finney earned my trust at a critical age when all boys need mentors and role models; and Principal John Porter, Mrs. Barnwell and Mr. Kokonis at T.C. Williams High School helped me understand my skills before I understood myself.

Now it is my turn to instill this same sense of worth in every ACPS student I serve.

To see every student succeed, it takes every teacher, every staff member, every parent, guardian, higher education administrator, business partner and community leader. If we all make that commitment – whether as a teacher, parent, staff member, mentor or community member – we can surely change the trajectory for students who deserve our support.

Who will our young people acknowledge when asked who changed their life? Will it be you?

The writer is superintendent of Alexandria City Public Schools.

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 My View: Musings as we commemorate the ‘Great War’ Thu, 15 Nov 2018 19:42:28 +0000
When I was a small child in the early 1960s, the impact of World War II was still being felt. My parents were children during that war, but slightly older adults, including one of my uncles, had fought. Most communities and far too many families had lost loved ones in the war, and everyone remembered. […]Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

When I was a small child in the early 1960s, the impact of World War II was still being felt. My parents were children during that war, but slightly older adults, including one of my uncles, had fought. Most communities and far too many families had lost loved ones in the war, and everyone remembered.

Conversely, World War I, though it happened earlier in the same century, might as well have been ancient history. It just wasn’t talked about, even though everyone age 60 or older would have remembered it.

The only person I knew who had fought in that war was my great-Uncle Wyatt in Georgia. Uncle Wyatt had been wounded in the “Great War” and was in a wheelchair. I thought he was fascinating with his Civil War money and the bullet casings and Indian arrowheads he had found. To me, he seemed mysterious and heroic, but in reality he was sick and sad, and he took his own life before I turned 10.

Another WWI vet was part of our family lore, though this incident took place in the mid-1950s before I was born. My dad, who was only 19 at the time, came to visit my mom’s family for the first time in rural Indiana. Dad was visiting on approval and wanted to make a good impression. What dad didn’t know was that my grandmother had a neighbor named Russell who had served in WWI – and he was clearly still traumatized. The man would drink to excess and then start shooting his shotgun at random targets.

The day after dad arrived he went to take a shower, which was rigged up in an outbuilding (because my grandmother’s house didn’t have an indoor bathroom at that time.) Well, the neighbor started shooting, and shouting, and he was close. All of a sudden, my dad streaked out of the shower, towel in hand, and raced into the house, covering himself as he ran.

He wasn’t harmed, but my aunts relished trotting that story out through the years.

Uncle Wyatt and Russell from Indiana were just two of the millions of World War I veterans from America and Europe who never recovered, mentally or physically, from their service.

As various events are being held to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of the Great War, it’s instructive to ponder how the world was turned upside down during those four years from 1914 to 1918.

• Most sources agree upward of 16 million soldiers and civilians, European and American, were killed during the war. Up to 24 million more were wounded.

• The war was fought in trenches, which must have been simply horrific, and modern weapons of destruction like poison gas and airplanes were used for the first time.

• Although the U.S. only actively fought in the war for about eight months, more than 100,000 American soldiers died, and an additional 300,000 plus were wounded.

• Layered on top of the fighting was the great influenza pandemic of 1918-19 that killed around 50 million people worldwide. In fact, more American soldiers died during 191718 from flu than fighting.

• In 1917, the Bolshevik revolution was launched in Russia, and that civil war raged simultaneously with the pandemic and world war.

To get a better sense of what that time was like, I recommend two books we read in a long-ago book club. Both provide fascinating and heartbreaking windows into those years. The first is “Pale horse, pale rider” by Katherine Ann Porter, a short novel about the pandemic. The second is “A very long engagement” by Sebastien Japrisot, a story of war and unending devotion.

“This is a war to end all wars.” – President Woodrow Wilson, 1917.

The writer is publisher and editor of the Alexandria Times.

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 Amazon selects Crystal City for HQ2 Thu, 15 Nov 2018 19:32:58 +0000
By Missy Schrott | mschrott@alextimes.com   After more than a year of deliberation on a location for Amazon’s second headquarters, the company announced Tuesday that two new headquarters would be established in Arlington and New York City. The Arlington headquarters will be located in National Landing, a newly branded neighborhood adjacent to Reagan National Airport […]Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

By Missy Schrott | mschrott@alextimes.com

 

After more than a year of deliberation on a location for Amazon’s second headquarters, the company announced Tuesday that two new headquarters would be established in Arlington and New York City.

The Arlington headquarters will be located in National Landing, a newly branded neighborhood adjacent to Reagan National Airport that will encompass parts of Pentagon City and Crystal City in Arlington and Potomac Yard in Alexandria.

As part of the project, Virginia Tech will develop an Innovation Campus in National Landing to fill demand for high-tech talent in the region, according to a city press release. While Amazon’s initial development plans will focus on properties in Arlington, the Virginia Tech Innovation Campus will be developed on the Alexandria portion of the site.

“I think for Alexandria that is the biggest gain for the city is getting a cutting edge research institution,” City Manager Mark Jinks said. “… We don’t have a higher ed campus in the city, so this is something we needed. This is a great step forward for the city.”

Amazon will invest $2.5 billion in the National Landing location and establish more than 25,000 jobs, according to the release. The new area will include 4 million square feet of energy-efficient office space with the potential to increase to 8 million square feet.

“Having 25,000 jobs come in – it’s equivalent to, you know, we had the National Science Foundation come to Alexandria and that’s about 2,000 jobs, and that’s about on average how much Amazon would be adding per year for the next 12 years,” Jinks said.

Amazon first made public a Request for Proposal to municipalities for the location of HQ2 in September 2017. Since then, Arlington County and the City of Alexandria have been working together in a regional partnership to deliver a proposal to Amazon. The Virginia Economic Development Partnership led the collaboration with Arlington, Alexandria and developer JBG SMITH.

“Throughout this process, we have worked with our colleagues in Arlington to highlight the collective strengths of our communities – our workforce, education, infrastructure and our unparalleled quality of life – all of which will be strengthened by this new investment from Amazon, the Commonwealth and our localities,” Mayor Allison Silberberg said. “… This is a game changer for us and Virginia Tech and our region.”

Vice Mayor Justin Wilson said developing the proposal with other jurisdictions resulted in new partnerships being forged.

“In the past in this region, economic development has been done every man or woman for themselves,” Wilson said. “Arlington on their own, Alexandria on their own, Fairfax County on their own. In this case, we recognized that this was a big enough effort and a win for any of us was going to be a win for us all. So we all went in together, and we did this together, and we put aside our parochial interests to make this happen.”

Stephanie Landrum, president and CEO of the Alexandria Economic Development Partnership, said the successful proposal proved that two of the smallest communities in Northern Virginia had been successful by combining forces. She said Arlington and Alexandria are committed to continue working together over the coming years as National Landing is developed.

“We’re not just next door neighbors – the average person doesn’t know when they’ve crossed the line from Crystal City to Potomac Yard,” she said. “We’ve worked really hard to literally erase that boundary, and moving forward we’ll be doing more to erase that.”

Landrum said Northern Virginia’s proposal to Amazon focused on three main categories: transit and transportation, affordability and the tech-talent pipeline. The proposal presented Amazon with a 150-acre site composed of existing vacant buildings and developable land. It highlighted the three Metro stations within walking distance and the opportunity to establish a major headquarters in a thriving urban environment.

One major benefit to come out of Amazon’s selection of Northern Virginia will be state investments in education, transportation and housing.

One positive aspect for Alexandria is that state funding will enable the southern entrance to be added back onto the Potomac Yard Metro Station. The city had previously removed this entrance in the spring, sparking outrage from the community.

In addition to up to $195 million in state funding for transportation, Alexandria and Arlington together plan to invest $570 million in transportation projects to manage the growth in the region, according to the city press release.

The state will also provide $150 million from the state housing authority to go toward affordable and workforce housing over the next decade, according to Jinks.

“We had the state come to the table with some very significant assistance,” Wilson said, “… with not only the second entrance, improvement to the road network and safety nearby, expansion and enhancement of the Metroway service that runs on Route 1, as well as significant investments from the Virginia Housing Development Administration for affordable housing.”

Regarding impacts on Alexandria, Wilson said the increased density in Alexandria had been expected. He said Oakville Triangle – the section of Potomac Yard to be included in the new National Landing – had been planned with the effects of increased density in mind when the small area plan was developed.

“We’re not starting from scratch here,” he said. “This was a plan we approved years ago. And we envisioned this amount of density, and we envisioned how we would address it and handle it from a variety of different perspectives – transportation, open space, housing, all the different impacts on quality of life.”

Landrum said when the plan for Oakville Triangle was approved three years ago, it had been prepared for this exact type of mixed use.

“This is going to jumpstart a development that was on hold,” she said.

Jinks echoed that any increased density would be readily absorbed not only in Oakville Triangle, but in Crystal City.

“There had been some concern expressed about 25,000 [jobs], what does that do for the transportation network?” Jinks said. “One point that has not been in the press yet and that is Crystal City is down about 25,000 jobs from their peak about 15 years ago. In effect, Amazon just brings them back to where they used to be.”

Regarding Amazon’s economic impact on Alexandria, Will Wiard, managing broker for Weichert Old Town Alexandria and a member of the board of directors for Virginia REALTORS, said the majority of the effects from Amazon’s relocation would be positive.

“[There’s] a tremendous amount of tax revenue as well as talent coming to the region that I don’t think D.C.’s even seen,” he said. “It’s going to be rejuvenation. It’s going to be great. I think all the reports and data analytics that I’ve pulled on have showed nothing but positive outlooks so I’m really excited,” he said.

He said the new headquarters would especially benefit the real estate market.

“If you have all spectrums of real estate, looking at having a company such as Amazon … coming to that area, I think it’s going to not only increase prices or build even more inventory from a condo or apartment perspective, but also bring another wave of investors and other people to the area that I don’t think we’ve seen yet. So where it currently is, we’re going to grow it even more,” Wiard said.

Jinks also said the positive impacts on the regional economy would far outweigh any negative impacts brought on by increased density.

“It’s a regional impact, that’s the way to measure it,” he said. “We will see by all accounts, the studies that have been done show that every dollar they spend means another dollar and 40 cents will be spent in the community. That’s been kind of the math in Seattle, so what we’ll see is related businesses will come here to grow here and particularly commercial property values, which has been a problem for the city, we’ll see those increase.”

Since Amazon’s headquarters will be located in Arlington, Jinks said Alexandria won’t collect any taxes directly from the company, but will see secondary benefits.

“They will end up hiring Alexandria residents, they will hire people from other parts of the country who will move here, who will move to the city, who will spend their dollars in our restaurants and our retail stores, so that’s the kind of secondary benefit we’ll see in sales taxes and property taxes,” he said.

The other Amazon headquarters site will be established in Long Island City, New York. The two new headquarters will join Amazon’s Seattle, Washington headquarters as the company’s three headquarters in Northern America. Hiring at both of the new locations will begin in 2019.

“This is a major game changer for the region, for Northern Virginia and for Alexandria,” Jinks said. “… I can’t say enough good things about the state economic development agency and putting together what we understood from Amazon to be one of the better, more thorough proposals of all the 238 they got across the country.”

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 Council to mull whether Torpedo Factory remain under city management Thu, 15 Nov 2018 19:24:12 +0000
By Missy Schrott | mschrott@alextimes.com It appears the city is about to be permanently in the arts business. City Manager Mark Jinks presented a proposal to council Tuesday night for the city to assume permanent control of the Torpedo Factory Art Center, just a week after alerting Torpedo Factory artists of the suggested change. Council […]Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

By Missy Schrott | mschrott@alextimes.com

It appears the city is about to be permanently in the arts business.

City Manager Mark Jinks presented a proposal to council Tuesday night for the city to assume permanent control of the Torpedo Factory Art Center, just a week after alerting Torpedo Factory artists of the suggested change.

Council voted unanimously to receive the proposal and docket it for Saturday’s public hearing.

The proposal has drawn concern and opposition from several Torpedo Factory artists, who spoke to the Times on the condition of anonymity and said the art center would be better managed by artists than the city.

The Torpedo Factory has been under city control for the past two years after the Office of the Arts took over management on Oct. 1, 2016. While city management had been expected to be temporary, Jinks said in a memo to Torpedo Factory artists on Nov. 6 that the management structure had “proven to work well promoting broader community engagement and open communication.”

“Continued city management of the building is critical to its continued use as an arts anchor in the community as the city is only organization capable of the level of investment needed that can ensure that the community’s interests are also considered in future substantial capital improvements to the building,” Jinks said in the memo.

The artists, however, disagree. They said not only had vibrancy decreased since the city had taken over, but the entire culture of the space had changed.

Some of the negative changes they cited included not being allowed to display art outside of their studios, requiring them to barricade pets and purchase special insurance for them and interfering with an effective, anonymous jurying process for studio spaces.

Marian Van Landingham, the founder and first director of the Torpedo Factory, said the city’s management has demonstrated that they don’t understand the concept of the Torpedo Factory.

“I think there are people in the city government who still don’t realize what we are in a sense. That seems strange,” Van Landingham said. “We’re not competing with the museums in Washington. … We don’t have budgets or want to bring shows, quote unquote, from somewhere else. I once had someone from the city [say], ‘I’m sure the Virginia museum would loan you something.’ Defeats the purpose. It showed a complete and total misunderstanding of what we are. They’re used to museums. And we’re certainly not that.”

The jurying process for studio space is one point that has caused artists to clash with the city over the past two years.

“They haven’t yet accepted fully even though it’s been explained many times how our outside jurying system works,” Van Landingham said. “It’s totally above board. You never even see the people who are applying for the space. They present their work. Outside judges who change each year look at the work – they’re gallery people, they’re professors at universities, people of that order who make up the juries. And the juries change. That’s one reason there’s no one aesthetic in the art center. The people there have been chosen by very different juries over time.”

The artists said the city has not been using this system when studio space becomes available. They expressed concerns about what it could mean if the city got involved in the process, saying that even though the process is blind and anonymous, information could be FOIA-ed if the city is involved, and disgruntled artists who were not accepted could retaliate.

Regarding studio space, the artists said the city had not handled turnover the way the Torpedo Factory Artists’ Association had in the past, and that in several cases they had used the space for non-art purposes, such as offices and conference rooms.

“As far as the spaces, they did take one really good studio and make it into a conference room,” Van Landingham said. “… They put the little gift shop in what was a studio space. Then there’s another space that I don’t think any of us understand; it’s very small but the Office of the Arts seems to think it’s important. Then an artist died up on the third floor and they didn’t go through the jurying system to place somebody there. … So there’s some concern there’s been some loss of studio space.”

In addition to the city’s impact on the art center’s processes and procedures, the artists said government management of the facility’s programming had not been beneficial.

They said the city employs several full-time staff members to oversee management of the Torpedo Factory, and that one of those positions focuses solely on programming. Despite full-time Programs Coordinator Daniel Guzman being in charge of program development, the artists said certain offerings like the Art Safari were more successful under volunteer control.

Another event they cited as being unsuccessful was the Beer and Wine Torpedo Garden in September. They said it had been a flop because of a rule banning visitors from taking alcoholic beverages into studios.

Including the programs coordinator position, the city employs five full-time and one part-time staff member, Deputy City Manager Emily Baker said at Tuesday’s meeting.

Documentation obtained by the Times lists the total that the city spends on Torpedo Factory personnel at more than $540,000.

The artists said several of the duties fulfilled by these positions were previously – and better – handled by volunteers.

While this allegedly unsatisfactory management has taken place in past years, the TFAA has not sat idly by. In an attempt to assume control of the art center itself, the organization sought outside consultation to put together a proposal for the city.

“The artists’ association working with consultants actually developed a fairly extensive plan for operating it themselves,” Van Landingham said. “And gave it to the city over a year ago, and there was absolutely no comment from the city. Artists spent a good bit of money and a lot of energy to do it. And there’s been no response.”

The 55-page plan, developed at the personal cost of the artists, covers everything from marketing to governance to finances to managing studio space.

“The artists’ proposal would be run totally by the artists,” Van Landingham said. “It would be self-perpetuating. It was based on something called the Spanish Village in San Diego. Which has been in existence for a very long time. The artists ran the building for about 10 years in the 1990s. There were no financial crunches. It did work. … We’ve had four different consultants to look at us. And nothing’s come out of them.”

Beyond the poor management, the artists said they were upset at how rapidly Jinks’ proposition for city control was being put through council, after only being alerted of it in last week’s memo.

The artists said they felt blindsided by the proposal and wanted more time for community engagement.

At Tuesday’s legislative session, staff said they would work with artists to improve operations and vibrancy over the next year. 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.

Mayor Allison Silberberg was the only member of council to bring up concerns about the speed of the process.

“I have heard from some in the community that they felt … it was very recent that they learned that this was coming forward, and to be docketed for Nov. 17, … I think some people didn’t realize it was coming so soon for whatever reason,” she said.

Despite artists’ concern, council received the proposal unanimously and planned a final vote on whether the city will assume permanent management at the public hearing on Saturday.

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