News Briefs

News Briefs

<sh>Jones Testifies in Homicide Case

<bt>In an emotional day of testimony on Tuesday, Eric Jones took the stand to defend himself against the commonwealth's accusation that he killed his best friend. Jones is being tried in Circuit Court for the March 8 homicide of Cory Hargrow in the 700 block of North Fayette Street.

"I did not kill my friend," said Jones, fighting back tears as members of the jury silently watched. "I can't understand why this is happening to me. I have been accused of something I did not do."

No gun was ever retrieved by police, and no DNA evidence or fingerprints link Jones to the crime. The commonwealth built its case from eyewitness testimony — specifically two witnesses who say they saw Jones shoot Hargrow.

Jones disputed their stories, saying that he and Hargrow were approached by a group of strangers, one of whom fired several shots.

At press time, the jury had not yet reached a conclusion in the case.

<sh>Kilgore's MS-13 Claim Debunked

<bt>In remarks last week, Republican gubernatorial candidate Jerry Kilgore claimed that the street gang MS-13 had ties to the international terrorist organization al-Qaeda.

But on Monday, Alexandria Commonwealth's Attorney Randy Sengel said Kilgore is simply trying to score political points by playing on voters' fears.

"It panders to the fears of the community," Sengel said. "It just makes the problem worse for the people trying to deal with this issue on the front lines."

Speaking on a conference call with reporters, sponsored by the Democratic Party of Virginia, Sengel said the MS-13/al-Qaeda link has been thoroughly debunked by the FBI.

"[Kilgore] runs the risk of engendering unnecessary fear in the community," Sengel said. "I think that is inappropriate."

While on a Charlottesville radio program Thursday, Kilgore said MS-13 was "working in partnership" with al-Qaeda.

<sh>Free Health Care for ACPS Students

<bt>The school nurses of Alexandria City Public Schools are sponsoring a student health and immunization fair Wednesday, Aug. 31, at Hammond Middle School from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. The event is free and open to all ACPS students in grades K-5.

Several community partners are joining the school nurses in this fair including Inova Health System's Partnership for Healthier Kids, Unicare and the Alexandria Health Department. Students will receive free physicals, lab testing, tuberculosis screenings, and immunizations. Information for families on general health care and guidance in how to apply to health insurance programs will also be available.

All students should be accompanied by a parent or guardian and bring copies of their immunization records, and health histories and allergy information. Families may pre-register by calling 703-321-1990. For more information on the Student Health and Immunization Fair, call Robin Wallin, ACPS Nurse Coordinator, at 703-824-6652.

<sh> Classes Offered at Durant Center

<bt>New classes featuring music, dance, theatre, and visual arts will be offered at the Dr. Oswald Durant Memorial Center, the city’s multicultural center for the performing and visual arts, located at 1605 Cameron St.

Classes designed specifically for children and their parents include Just Imagine, a multi-sensory exploration of play to enhance a physical, social, and cognitive development; Little Picasso's, a watercolor class for children ages 2 to 6.; Stage KIDS, How to Get your Toddler into TV, Film and Print Media; and Kinderballet, a class for children 2 to 5 offering training in elementary ballet positions and modern dance techniques.

Classes designed specifically for adults and seniors include Senior Dancing with Bob & Bev, where seniors will learn social dances including Foxtrot, Waltz, Rumba, Cha Cha, and Swing; and Adult Acting, and Beginning Piano & Drawing.

A variety of classes are scheduled following the school day as part of the expanded after-school activities for middle and high school students. Most classes begin at 4:30 p.m., and school bus transportation is provided from T.C. Williams, Minnie Howard and George Washington Middle Schools. Parents will be required to arrange for bus transportation through their child’s school.

For more information, to register, or for a complete list of classes available, call the Durant Center at 703-519-3494 or visit the Department of Recreation, Parks and Cultural Activities’ Web site at

<sh>Schedule of Services for Labor Day

<bt>City government offices will be closed Monday, Sept. 5, in observance of Labor Day. Finance and Treasury Offices will be closed Saturday, Sept. 3, and Monday, Sept. 5. Residential trash and recycling will not be collected Sept. 5. All collection services will be delayed by one day the week of Sept. 5. On Sept. 5, all City recreation centers will be closed, except for the Chinquapin Park Recreation Center, which will be open from 6 a.m. - 3 p.m. City libraries will be closed Saturday, Sept. 3, through Monday, Sept. 5. DASH bus service will operate on a Sunday schedule on Sept. 5. In accordance with Virginia law, the Alexandria Police Department will suspend enforcement of parking restrictions at metered spaces, as well as time restrictions in residential permit parking districts and other areas with signed parking time limits on Sept. 5. Additionally, HOV restrictions on Washington Street and Route 1 will be lifted.

State offices in Alexandria, including the Circuit, General District, and Juvenile and Domestic Relations District courts, the Clerk of Court Office, and the Alexandria Health Department, will be closed.

The Alexandria Office on Women emergency hotlines will be fully staffed and operational Monday, Sept. 5. The domestic violence hotline, 703-838-4911, and sexual assault hotline, 703-683-7273, as with all Office on Women hotlines, operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

<sh>Commission To Host Grant Workshops

<bt>The Alexandria Commission for the Arts will host two grant workshops to provide information on its programs and services, and annual grant program, which provides funding for various local arts programs. The workshops will be held Monday, Sept. 19, and Wednesday, Oct. 5, from 7 - 9 p.m. at the Dr. Oswald Durant Center, 1605 Cameron St.

Copies of the FY 2006 - 2007 Guide to Funding and application forms for all grant categories are available online at or by visiting the Commission’s office at 1108 Jefferson St. Completed grant applications must be submitted to the Commission’s office by 5 p.m. Friday, Nov. 18.

For more information on the Alexandria Commission for the Arts and its annual grant program, call Cheryl Anne Powalisz, Cultural Arts Administrator, at 703-838-6348.

<sh>Inova Receives Stroke Center Certification

<bt>Inova Alexandria and Inova Fairfax hospitals have been awarded the Certificate of Distinction for Primary Stroke Centers. The Gold Seal of Approval recognizes centers that make "exceptional efforts to foster better outcomes for stroke care."

Granted by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations, the designation honors those centers that provide services which include critical elements to meet the special needs of stroke patients. About 70,000 people experience a new or recurrent stroke each year, which is the nation's third leading cause of death.

"Stroke is a prevalent problem in Northern Virginia, and the third leading cause of death for people in this region," said Mary Palm, clinical nurse specialist, Community Health Division, Inova Health System. Both hospitals have designated stroke units, with teams specialized in stroke treatment.