By Barbara Waters Since 1990, the Alexandria Commission on Aging’s Excellence in Aging Awards have honored individuals and organizations that have made superior contributions in advancing issues and projects that make a favorable impact on older Alexandrians. The commission is now accepting nominations for the 2019 awards, which will be presented on May 14 at […]
By Barbara Waters
Since 1990, the Alexandria Commission on Aging’s Excellence in Aging Awards have honored individuals and organizations that have made superior contributions in advancing issues and projects that make a favorable impact on older Alexandrians. The commission is now accepting nominations for the 2019 awards, which will be presented on May 14 at city hall. Awards are presented in four categories:
The Annie B. Rose Lifetime Achievement Award
The award recognizes an individual whose exemplary achievements span a lifetime of public service, and whose achievements have been devoted to significantly enhancing the community, especially to advancing social justice and aging concerns for all citizens. It honors the superior example of Annie B. Rose for her lifetime of outstanding service.
Last year’s honoree was Mary Hamil Parker, Ph.D. Prior years’ recipients include: William “Bill” Clayton and Carol Siegel (2017), Vanessa Greene and Gant Redmon (2016), Jane King (2015), Del Pepper (2014) and John Freeman (2013), who were honored for their outstanding service.
The Lois Van Valkenburgh Excellence in Aging Award
The award recognizes an individual who has made outstanding contributions to elevating the quality of life for older adults in Alexandria within the past year. This award is in honor of Lois Van Valkenburgh, a longtime Alexandrian, community leader and past chair of the Alexandria Commission on Aging. Van Valkenburgh was a tireless advocate of and expert in issues related to aging. Her strong spirit, steadfast dedication and extensive network helped to make Alexandria a better place in which its oldest citizens are able to age gracefully.
Recent recipients include Dolores Viehman (2018), Mary Lee Anderson (2017), Wanda Dowell (2016), Mitch Opalski (2015), Anestacia Graham (2014) and Dan Kulund (2013).
The Excellence in Aging Award for an Organization
The award recognizes an organization that has made outstanding contributions to elevating the quality of life for older Alexandrians. Recent awardees have included The Hermitage Northern Virginia (2018), Rebuilding Together Alexandria (2017), At Home in Alexandria (2016), Senior Services of Alexandria (2015), Yellow Cab of Alexandria, Inc. (2014) and the Ronald M. Bradley Foundation (2013).
The Public Service Award
The award recognizes City of Alexandria employees who have advanced, improved or otherwise contributed to making Alexandria a more livable community for all ages during the course of their jobs. Recent awardees have included Margaret Orlando (2018), Debbie Ludington and Arthur Thomas (2017), Robert Fulk (2016), Terah Chamberlin (2015), Mary Ann Griffin (2014) and Shane Cochran (2013).
Nominations are open and are due on April 12. The nomination package is available on the city’s website at www.alexandriava.gov/aging. Look in the “Highlights” section. You can also contact Debbie Ludington at 703-746-5694 or firstname.lastname@example.org. The awards will be presented at 5:30 p.m. on May 14 in the Vola Lawson Lobby of city hall at 301 King St.
The Alexandria Commission on Aging is a 21-member citizen body appointed by city council to advocate on behalf of older Alexandrians.
The writer is chair of the Alexandria Commission on Aging.
By Aleksandra Kochurova | email@example.com Undoubtedly the best part about a wedding is celebrating with the people you love. After Devin, my fiancé, and I got engaged, the first thing I did was call my parents, and the second thing I did was call my friends — I didn’t want to post anything on social […]
Undoubtedly the best part about a wedding is celebrating with the people you love. After Devin, my fiancé, and I got engaged, the first thing I did was call my parents, and the second thing I did was call my friends — I didn’t want to post anything on social media before sharing the news with my bridal party.
This is part two of “Unveiled,” a monthly column where I share the tips and tricks I come across as I embark on the long path that leads down the aisle. This month, I’ll be talking about assembling your wedding party.
I am very lucky to have found my core group of best friends freshman year of college. We lived together, became adults together, stumbled through the many ups and downs of college and became invested in each other’s families. It was a no-brainer to want all of them to stand next to me on my big day. Except — and this article wouldn’t exist if there weren’t a caveat — one of them is a guy.
Including my friend Max in my bridal party was an obvious decision, but it does go against traditionally gendered wedding parties. Traditionally, if Devin had a sister (he doesn’t), she would have been expected to be in my bridal party. But if they were close, why shouldn’t she be in his groom’s party? For me, including a member of the opposite sex in my bridal party was a no brainer, and it also allowed Devin to invite one of his close female friends to be his groomswoman.
More and more couples embrace mixed-gendered wedding parties because they “want their closest friends or relatives at their side during the wedding festivities, no matter their gender,” Alyson Krueger writes for the New York Times. This isn’t done to forget or disrespect tradition, but instead to have the people closest to you supporting you on your big day.
However, this concept — although trendy — is still new. When I told my mom, she responded jokingly, “Will he wear a dress?” to which I rolled my eyes and responded “of course.” And my mom hasn’t been the only one with questions. If you’re in the midst of planning a wedding and are including your opposite-gendered friend in your party, here are some of the questions you can expect to hear and how to answer them.
What are they going to wear?
No, Max isn’t actually wearing a dress. Rachel Miller from lover.ly wedding blog suggests styling each side of the isle. After you choose your wedding colors and decide what your bridesmaids and groom will be wearing, you can think about how to accent your bridesman’s clothing. My bridesmaids will be wearing burgundy dresses, and Max will likely have either a burgundy tie or vest to match.
However, those are not the only options. You can experiment with groomswomen wearing suspenders or bridesmaids wearing pantsuits. The goal is to have harmony in colors, and as long as you achieve that, your party will look great.
What do you call them?
I started by saying “bridal party” instead of “bridesmaids.” As far as the singular titles, you can do anything that feels right, such as man of honor, best woman, groomswoman, bridesmen, groom’s gal. Choose a term that you both are comfortable with, and don’t overthink it, Miller suggests.
What about bridal party gifts?
Are you dreaming about that beautifully posed photo of you surrounded by your bridal party, all wearing matching silk robes, like I am? Maybe skip the robe for him, but there is nothing in this theoretical wedding planning rule book that says your gifts for people have to match. Gift something of similar value, and consider including at least one gender-neutral gift for everyone.
How do they walk down the aisle?
Since Devin and I have an equal amount of people in each party, we are still planning on opposite-sex couples walking down the aisle together. However, if everyone is comfortable, there’s no reason not to mix it up, Miller writes. You can have each person walk alone, have a few same-sex pairs or have people walk in different combinations of ones, twos and threes.
And the last and most uncomfortable question you may be asked revolves around intimate feelings. It could be phrased in relation to your future husband/ wife, such as “Aren’t you afraid they have feelings for their groomswoman/bridesman?” But they could also be phrased toward you, such as “Why have you never dated your bridesman/groomswoman if you’re such good friends?” You might even be thinking them yourself, if your betrothed wants to ask their opposite gendered friend to be in the party.
The bottom line is, you have to have absolute trust in your partner — it is fundamental in a marriage. As for the other questions, remember that the people asking you don’t mean to be hostile or to offend you, Krueger writes, they might just be curious because this is still a new concept.
I am thrilled that Max said “yes” to being in my wedding, but mixing genders in a bridal party isn’t for everyone. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to stick with the bridesmaids tradition. The bottom line is that this day is to celebrate the union between you and your partner, and you should do what makes you happy.
By Missy Schrott | firstname.lastname@example.org City council deferred a decision on whether to approve a live poultry butcher shop on Colvin Street to its next legislative session, despite it being one of the most anticipated and controversial topics discussed at Saturday’s public hearing. The proposed business is a halal poultry market and live butcher shop […]
City council deferred a decision on whether to approve a live poultry butcher shop on Colvin Street to its next legislative session, despite it being one of the most anticipated and controversial topics discussed at Saturday’s public hearing.
The proposed business is a halal poultry market and live butcher shop that would be operated by DC Poultry Market, a nationwide halal meat operation also known as Saba Live Poultry. Customers would choose their chickens from a windowless holding room, then wait on the premises for the chickens to be killed and prepared for them to take home.
The halal meat preparation method is governed by Islamic law and designed to guarantee the humane treatment of animals throughout the process, according to the business’ special use permit application.
Nineteen people testified before council during the public hearing period, 10 against the proposal and nine in support of it.
Those opposed to the project expressed concern about the precedent an approval of this kind would set and its impact on neighboring pet and animal businesses. Within two blocks of the business’ proposed location at 3225 Colvin St. are Frolick Dogs, Dogtopia, Wild Bird Center, Pinnacle Pet Spa & More and Wholistic Hound Academy.
Several of the speakers also mentioned that Colvin Street is the location of Alexandria’s Love Your Pet Day, an annual block party at which Alexandrians celebrate their animals.
“I think it’d be really difficult to get Alexandria together to love your pets if you’re walking in front of a slaughterhouse,” Kevin Gilliam, co-owner of Frolick Dogs, said.
Others said approval could set a precedent for approving almost any proposed new business that is not explicitly forbidden in the zoning ordinance. In this case, the “overnight keeping of live animals” was not listed as a use within the city zoning ordinance, but it could be permitted to operate in industrial zones of the city with the approval of a special use permit.
“If city council moves to grant an SUP today, the city council is making a forever decision,” Mark Williams said. “The city council is making a determination that in fact, animal slaughter and other activities not at all contemplated under the current zoning ordinance are in fact appropriate for the industrial zoning category.”
The nine people who spoke in support of the proposal talked about the need for a halal butcher in Alexandria, the popularity of fresh meat and the aspects of the business that make it appropriate for Alexandria.
“It should be allowed when there is no good reason not to allow it,” resident Jeff Reid said. “There is even more at stake in this instance in the property rights of the proposed operator of this building.”
Several of those who spoke in favor of the proposal live in neighboring Fairfax County and said a live poultry shop in Alexandria would allow them to purchase their meat closer to home.
During council deliberations, councilors asked staff about logistics of the business, including air filtration, chicken delivery times, trash pick-up times, parking and inspections.
Regarding zoning, Mayor Justin Wilson said he found the use to be appropriate for an industrial zoned area.
“I do believe that this meets the zoning that is on this site,” Wilson said. “We cannot take a case that’s before us and rezone it on the fly and wish what the zoning would say. We have to apply the zoning that’s here. … This applicant is complying with the law.”
Addressing concerns about the location and nearby animal businesses, Councilor Mo Seifeldein said he hadn’t heard any evidence that the operation would cause harm to the animals in neighboring facilities.
However, when Seifeldein moved to approve the proposal, he didn’t have the buy in of his fellow councilors. Two attempts at motions to approve the proposal died for the lack of a second, despite Wilson’s support, since the mayor is not advised to make or second motions.
After the two failed motions, Seifeldein put forward a motion to defer the vote to council’s legislative meeting on March 26 so that council could have more time to look into the proposal and take a vote with all seven members present. Councilors John Chapman and Canek Aguirre were absent from Saturday’s hearing.
Vice Mayor Elizabeth Bennett-Parker seconded the motion, and it was approved by a vote of 4-1, with Wilson casting the dissenting vote.
By Missy Schrott | email@example.com Julie and Eric Black’s love story began in summer 2016 at a yoga studio. Julie, a seasoned instructor who has been teaching yoga for about 10 years, was the substitute teacher for a Yoga for Athletes class Eric was taking at Mind the Mat Yoga & Pilates in Del Ray. […]
Julie and Eric Black’s love story began in summer 2016 at a yoga studio.
Julie, a seasoned instructor who has been teaching yoga for about 10 years, was the substitute teacher for a Yoga for Athletes class Eric was taking at Mind the Mat Yoga & Pilates in Del Ray. At that point, Eric had only been practicing yoga for a couple of months.
“She subbed the class one day and as soon as I saw her, I was like, ‘Whoa, who’s that?’” Eric said.
From that first class, Eric said he knew there was something special about Julie.
“She’s incredibly strong and independent and I think that’s what drew me to her when I met her,” Eric said. “Her class compared to the other teachers … was so much more powerful and I was really drawn to that. I was like, ‘That was awesome,’ because I didn’t know yoga that way.”
Attracted to Julie and her class, Eric followed her on Instagram and began to like and comment on her photos. Julie said she was blind to his flirtatiousness at first.
“Because I teach yoga, I have people asking me often about classes and stuff so I didn’t really know what was going on,” Julie said. “One of my cousins was like, ‘So who’s the guy that’s flirting with you?’ And I was like, ‘I don’t know, who is he?’ And she pulled out her phone and was like, ‘This guy.’ And I was like, ‘He’s not flirting with me, he’s just asking about classes.’”
A couple weeks later, Eric took one of Julie’s classes at Radiance Yoga in Old Town.
“Then he showed up to my class,” Julie said. “I was super nervous and so the class was just really erratic. … The woman at the front desk was like, ‘How’d it go?’ And I was like, ‘That class was all over the map.’ And one of my students walked out and she was like, ‘What was wrong with you today?’”
While Julie was at the front desk, Eric lingered to try to talk to her.
“I kind of waited for her after class and she was kind of taking her time. She didn’t really notice me or care,” Eric said.
“I was talking to the woman at the front desk,” Julie said. “I was just, like, doing my thing and she was like, ‘He’s waiting for you.’ I’m like, ‘No, he’s not,’ and she’s like, ‘Yes, he’s waiting for you.’ And then he started to leave and she’s like, ‘Go down there!’
“So I walked out and started walking with him, and we started chatting … just both of us super awkward. So I pretended like I was walking to my car and he went to his car and I got to my car and realized that I had left all of my belongings at the studio,” she said, laughing.
Eventually, Eric asked Julie out for dinner.
“We went to Thai Peppers in Del Ray, and I guess the rest was history,” Eric said.
After that first date, the two started dating regularly, and Eric continued to take Julie’s classes every Tuesday and Sunday. The two found common ground with not only their shared love of yoga, but also traveling and cycling.
“We did a lot of trips together, a lot of supported cycling rides,” Eric said. “We would do car trips to Maine, Pennsylvania, New York, and just do 30- to 60-mile bike rides. We did a lot of that and it was really fun, just getting to know each other in the car and doing what we love. … We’ve seen a lot of cool places. We did a donut ride. You had to eat 12 donuts over 60 miles and they were like Amish donuts so they were huge. And then we went to Maine and had lobster at the end of that ride.”
“You go from farm to farm,” Julie said. “It’s along these different farms so at each of the stops, you could stop if you wanted to, and they had little foods and cheeses and stuff that they make there, whatever it is. … Apparently, we love food and cycling.”
“It made it easy to do things together and have those interests,” Eric said. “We didn’t really have to struggle to find stuff to do.”
A little over a year after they started dating, Eric decided to propose to Julie at the Lincoln Memorial one day after yoga class.
“It was a couple of times I was going to ask and none of them worked out,” Eric said. “So I was like, ‘All right, I gotta do this.’ So I just asked her to go for a walk after class.”
Having biked from work in D.C. to the yoga studio in Alexandria that day, Julie said she had just wanted to walk around Old Town.
“We put my bike on the top of his car, and I get ready to walk away and he’s like, ‘No we have to get in the car,’ and I’m like, ‘But we can just walk right here,’ and he’s like, ‘Would you just get in the car?’” she said.
“So we went to the Lincoln Monument,” Eric said, “and on the side of the building facing the bridge at night, your shadow casts on the wall really big and so that’s where I proposed to her.”
In between the engagement and their private courthouse wedding in Alexandria on May 25, 2018, Julie found out she was pregnant.
“My mom cried [when she found out,]” Eric said. “They never thought that we would have a child, just because we were so active and constantly running, they were like, ‘There’s no way they’d have a child.’ So they were happy.”
Julie and Eric’s son, Quinton, was born on July 17, 2018.
“The capacity of love that you can have for somebody, it really takes hold of you,” Julie said. “I’m just looking at his toes and I’m like, ‘Oh my God those toes!’ Or like when you see him and he smiles and just your whole day changes.”
Both Julie and Eric agreed Quinton appears to be taking after Eric.
“I think he has a lot of my personality, right now at least,” Eric said. “I’m much more laidback and nonchalant about things. He seems to be that way for the most part. But I think he likes her more than me right now. … When he sees her, he’s all happy, likes to give her hugs.”
“He gives you hugs!” Julie countered.
“Sometimes,” Eric said, smiling.
The couple said since Quinton was born, they’ve been figuring out how to balance their active lifestyles with raising a baby. Julie said she was back in the yoga studio less than two months after she had Quinton.
“I love teaching,” Julie said. “I really do it because I love it, and yeah, [Eric] makes it easy. I don’t think I could do it if it weren’t for him. He’s incredibly supportive of it. … Realizing that [exercise] is still an important part of our lives and to help each other make time for that, it’s really nice to have somebody who understands that.”
“I can’t take her class because I have to watch [Quinton],” Eric said. “Now I take other classes and they’re fine, but luckily I got the foundation from her. … I think my love of yoga and my understanding is from her, and that keeps me going with it and appreciating it.”
As summer approaches, Eric said he looks forward to doing outdoor activities as a family.
“I do miss doing things together, but I know that it will come probably in the next couple of months when he’s ready to get out and about and be social as the nice weather is coming,” Eric said. “Once it gets warm, I can put him on my back and we can go hiking again. We’ll find a way to put him on the back of a bike and we can go riding.”
Julie and Eric said they’ve been able to rely on each other as they navigate the new territory of raising a child.
“I would say my favorite thing about her is her strength,” Eric said. “In all aspects of her life and our relationship, that’s probably the thing I love about her most. It’s also the thing that’s a crutch, because I rely on her strength a lot.”
“I rely a lot on his patience,” Julie said. “And he’s got an extreme amount of patience, which I don’t possess a lot of … but yeah, he’s an incredibly generous man.”
By Missy Schrott | firstname.lastname@example.org Council voted unanimously to approve three new restaurant spaces at the former Robinson Terminal South site on the waterfront at Saturday’s public hearing. Applicant Alexandria Restaurant Partners will operate all three spaces, which include a 267-seat high-end, chargrill concept; a 232-seat open-air seafood restaurant on a pier in the Potomac […]
Council voted unanimously to approve three new restaurant spaces at the former Robinson Terminal South site on the waterfront at Saturday’s public hearing.
Applicant Alexandria Restaurant Partners will operate all three spaces, which include a 267-seat high-end, chargrill concept; a 232-seat open-air seafood restaurant on a pier in the Potomac and a 64-seat café that would also serve as the prep kitchen for the pier restaurant.
The project’s supporters who spoke at the public hearing said it was a realization of the waterfront plan that would activate the pier and the waterfront.
Charlotte Hall of Potomac Riverboat Company spoke on behalf of the Alexandria Chamber of Commerce as its 2019 board chair.
“Robinson Landing, with both residential and restaurants, is exactly what we envisioned when we adopted the waterfront plan several years ago,” Hall said. “We believe that these proposed restaurants are an exciting step toward the realization of a lively, active waterfront that will attract people to our city and provide another amenity to those who already work, live and play in Alexandria.”
While the proposal earned the praises of several speakers and councilors, it also drew opposition from some residents, who primarily expressed concerns about parking.
Former Vice Mayor Andrew MacDonald said he’s always been concerned about the waterfront plan.
“I think what happened when the waterfront plan was approved a couple of years ago, and with great opposition by many of us, the feeling was that the city wanted to turn this into another National Harbor,” McDonald said. “This project is anything but a balance between I think a lively waterfront with adequate or sufficient restaurant space and all of the other impacts. … It seems to me that we’ve gone way too far with this application.”
In response to concerns, ARP’s attorney Jonathan Rak said that in addition to developing a valet parking plan with 58 spaces that exceeds the city’s requirements, ARP will work with staff once the restaurants open to determine whether they need more parking. As of now, ARP plans to open them by summer 2020.
“We have to essentially implement the valet parking, then work with the staff through the parking management plan to determine whether there is a demand for additional spaces,” Rak said. “So there’s no specific number at this point, in fact, we’re hopeful that 58 will be enough, but it really is just more that there’s a mechanism to provide additional parking if we need it.”
With little discussion from the five council members who were present at the public hearing – Councilors John Chapman and Canek Aguirre were absent – council voted 5-0 to approve the special use permits for the restaurants.
After the approval, Councilor Del Pepper said she hoped the resident concerns about the project wouldn’t be forgotten.
“I hope that the attorney and Scott and anybody else that’s going to continue to be working on this project, I hope that you will take into consideration some of the issues that you heard today,” Pepper said, “because I think that they certainly are valid and they should be getting your attention as time goes by.”
To the editor: In response to the letter, “Learn to spot a stroke and save a life,” I wanted to share our family’s story so that others can be educated. My 54-year-old husband ran the Marine Corps Marathon on Oct. 28, 2018, his second time running it and getting a personal record. Later that evening […]
To the editor:
In response to the letter, “Learn to spot a stroke and save a life,” I wanted to share our family’s story so that others can be educated. My 54-year-old husband ran the Marine Corps Marathon on Oct. 28, 2018, his second time running it and getting a personal record. Later that evening he suffered a major stroke while we were sitting on the sofa watching TV.
Because of my first aid training for our volunteer sawyer work with the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club, I immediately recognized the ‘droop’ in his mouth and called 911. He was rushed to the hospital and after his CAT scan was given the tPA, super blood thinner, and went into surgery for the thrombectomy where they placed two stents – one in his forehead and one in his neck.
Two weeks before his major stroke, my husband’s left hand had gone numb. These types of symptoms can appear and last less than 24 hours before disappearing, but they can be a warning sign for an impending stroke.
Of the stroke risk factors – high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, obesity, cigarette or cigar smoking, diabetes, carotid or other artery disease, physical inactivity, excessive alcohol use, abuse of illegal drugs, diet high in salty, fried or greasy foods or obstructive sleep apnea, he only had some pre-hypertension which was controlled through diet and exercise.
We have been learning a lot about strokes and the fact that they can happen to young, healthy people is something that needs to be shared.
The warning signs of a stroke are:
• Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body;
• Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding;
• Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes;
• Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination;
• Sudden, severe headache with no known cause.
Is the person experiencing a sudden loss of balance or coordination? Is the person having trouble seeing in one or both eyes? Or double vision? Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop? Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward? Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Does the speech sound slurred? If you observe any of these signs, then it’s time to call 911.
To the editor: As someone who bikes from Old Town to Chinquapin Pool and back twice a week, I am thankful for the bike lanes on King Street, as well as on parts of Prince and Cameron streets. The bike lanes make for a pleasant trip, and I feel reasonably safe. I thank the city […]
To the editor:
As someone who bikes from Old Town to Chinquapin Pool and back twice a week, I am thankful for the bike lanes on King Street, as well as on parts of Prince and Cameron streets. The bike lanes make for a pleasant trip, and I feel reasonably safe. I thank the city for making travel in Old Town a pleasant experience for me.
I am also a user of Union Street on my bicycle to just about anywhere in the D.C. metro area. It is unfortunate that Union Street is one of the very few places in the area where a bicyclist has to ride on city streets, instead of on a bike path. It is too bad there is not a better solution for getting through Old Town on a bicycle.
Perhaps, with the continuing development of the Waterfront in Old Town, a bike path solution to getting through Old Town will be found. One thing that could be done to help the movement of bicycles along Union Street would be to eliminate stop signs on Union Street at cross streets that end at Union Street. This is already done at Pendleton, Princess and Quay streets, and could be done at Queen, Cameron and Gibbon streets.
Longer term, perhaps the west side of Union Street could be made one-way on the south side with the east side being a bike thoroughfare. Everything east of Union Street could then be “waterfront”, with no cars allowed. There would be no need for stop signs on Union Street, even for cars.
A speed limit of 15 mph might make a pleasant trip for everyone. In the few places where access to existing parking east of Union Street was needed, perhaps the “bike path” could go along the waterfront or along what is now The Strand. The idea would be to separate cars and bikes traveling through Old Town to avoid the conflicts between motorists and bicyclists that continue to grace these pages.
The entire newly-developing Waterfront in Old Town east of Union Street could be a nice place for strolling, hanging out, playing, bicycling or grabbing a bite to eat. I think it would be welcoming for tourists and locals alike.
I would like to see the city continue to encourage people to use some form of transportation other than their automobiles to get to and around Old Town.
To the editor: Anyone walking around Alexandria cannot help but notice all the electric scooters scattered hither and yon. How cute and harmless they look, reminding us of the scooters we rode as little kids, but these e-scooters are far from harmless, for they pose serious health and financial risks to scooter operators and the […]
To the editor:
Anyone walking around Alexandria cannot help but notice all the electric scooters scattered hither and yon. How cute and harmless they look, reminding us of the scooters we rode as little kids, but these e-scooters are far from harmless, for they pose serious health and financial risks to scooter operators and the general public.
Washington Post reporter Peter Holley has written extensively about e-scooter accidents and injuries around the country. For example, a woman from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, now lies in a vegetative state in a hospital after an accident on a scooter she was operating. No doubt there have been injuries to innocent pedestrians hit by an e-scooter.
E-scooters pose a financial risk, too. I have been advised that scooter operators are not covered by their homeowners or automobile insurance policies for accidents or injuries they cause.
If a pedestrian were hit and seriously injured by an e-scooter, who would that person collect from to obtain a financial recovery for medical bills, permanent disability or lost income? What if the scooter operator could not pay and instead filed for bankruptcy?
In authorizing the operation of e-scooters on city streets, the City of Alexandria supposedly has protected itself against any liability arising from scooter accidents. That protection, though, does not extend to scooter operators or to anyone or any property hit by a recklessly operated scooter.
Interestingly, e-scooters increasingly are recognized as a public health hazard. According to Holley, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “is studying the health risks associated with e-scooters by analyzing injuries to riders and pedestrians in Austin [Texas] over two months.” Holley reported that in Fort Lauderdale over a two- month period there were 40 incidents involving scooters, and 31 “… of them required someone to be transported to the hospital, and four of those were level-1 traumas,” the most serious form of a health trauma.
Fortunately, Alexandria has begun tallying scooter-related accidents and injuries so that council has that data when it decides whether to continue permitting e-scooters to operate on city streets. In the meantime, citizens should tell council members what they think about e-scooters.
Our city has not escaped the ravages of the national opioid crisis. Heroin and related narcotics have made a huge and unfortunate comeback over the past five years, but with an unusually deadly twist: the addition of fentanyl, an extremely powerful synthetic drug 100 times more potent than morphine. Drug users in search of a […]
Our city has not escaped the ravages of the national opioid crisis. Heroin and related narcotics have made a huge and unfortunate comeback over the past five years, but with an unusually deadly twist: the addition of fentanyl, an extremely powerful synthetic drug 100 times more potent than morphine.
Drug users in search of a greater high have been turning to fentanyl. In 2017, almost 60 percent of U.S. drug overdose deaths involved fentanyl or similar compounds as opposed to just 15 percent of deaths in 2010.
This particular opioid is so potent that police officers cannot conduct field tests on suspected fentanyl for fear that an officer may accidentally overdose through skin transmission. In an earlier article, I discussed the huge increase in opioid overdoses and deaths in the city. That trend has unfortunately continued unabated into 2019.
My office has partnered with several other law enforcement agencies, including the Alexandria Police Department’s Vice/ Narcotics Section, the Virginia State Police and the U.S. Attorney’s Office, to attack complex drug trafficking organizations that are bringing large amounts of heroin into the city.
During the past two years, we have successfully dismantled two DTOs responsible for the distribution of several kilograms of heroin, fentanyl and related opioids. On two occasions, Alexandria juries returned guilty verdicts in racketeering or conspiracy cases and recommended significant sentences. These results show that the citizenry is aware of the immense danger opioids present to the community and is taking distribution seriously.
Dismantling DTOs and holding racketeers accountable for their intentional profiteering off the misery of others is only part of the equation, in that these tactics attack the supply of opioids. Significant resources must also be brought to bear on the demand for these narcotics, and I sincerely believe that potential jail sentences are an ineffective deterrent to people caught in the throes of heroin addiction. Forward-thinking programs are needed to address drug dependence. This is why I am so excited about the city’s new drug treatment court, an idea whose time is overdue.
Our new treatment court is designed to break the paradigm of arrest and jail time for people who are caught possessing user amounts of narcotics. The treatment court is designed to provide intensive supervision and treatment for people suffering from addiction. National Institute of Justice statistics prove treatment courts have incredible benefits for the community: they reduce recidivism, thereby reducing crime, and lower costs for their communities.
Furthermore, the rate of participants successfully completing the program is usually high. This success rate is, to a degree, due to the intensive nature of the program. Participants routinely appear before the court, along with members of their treatment team, so that the court may be updated on the participant’s progress and adherence to the prescribed treatment regime.
More importantly, participants must truly want to be in the program. Treatment court is not forced on anyone, instead the offender must elect to participate. The fact that, to some extent, participants are self-selecting is an ingredient in a successful recipe. I also note that successful completion is neither easy nor assured from the outset; the program is intensive and designed to help a person who truly wants to address their underlying issues.
The treatment court project is also an example of the best city government has to offer. The program is a collaborative effort and a number of city agencies are involved, without which the court would never have gotten off the ground. A group of dedicated city employees just completed mandatory training on the treatment court and the program will launch by Aug. 1.
Law enforcement cannot solve the issue of opioid addiction alone. Education is a huge component. As a society, we must focus on explaining the damage narcotics use causes to young people. The best response to the demand issue is to prevent people from becoming addicted in the first place.
Where prevention fails, we simply must provide treatment and services to addicted citizens to break the cycle of despair. The city’s new treatment court is a huge step in the right direction.
The writer is Commonwealth’s Attorney for Alexandria.
To the editor: I am writing in response to the Feb. 28 Alexandria Times story “Contrabands in Alexandria” that details the talk given by Black History Museum Director Audrey Davis about contrabands and the statue “The Path of Thorns and Roses” that commemorates Alexandria’s contraband cemetery. That statue may seem like an ordinary, everyday sight […]
To the editor:
I am writing in response to the Feb. 28 Alexandria Times story “Contrabands in Alexandria” that details the talk given by Black History Museum Director Audrey Davis about contrabands and the statue “The Path of Thorns and Roses” that commemorates Alexandria’s contraband cemetery. That statue may seem like an ordinary, everyday sight to most. However, it bears a significant amount of weight to those who understand the history of it.
If one were to take a step back and analyze the sight from a more macro level, they would come to realize the importance behind the sculpture. The story of the contrabands in the Civil War is one that goes untold far too often. If one were to deconstruct the surface level reality, they would learn of how the contrabands were a group of slaves that escaped to the North in search of refuge at Ft. Monroe, Virginia.
These unsung heroes fought for freedom with their lives and paved the way for many others to follow behind. It is truly remarkable that it took more than 100 years for city leaders to recognize the site as a historic black cemetery. Stories of efforts toward freedom such as these ought to be widely projected more often to help everyday individuals come to de- construct their pre-existing, surface-level knowledge and reveal the facts.