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Bedbugs Send Ladrey Residents to Hospital

Search for new executive director put on hold.

A bedbug problem at Ladrey High Rise, which sent one resident to the hospital, was once again a topic of discussion at the ARHA Board meeting Monday night at Ladrey on Wythe Street. The problem first surfaced at the June session through resident complaints and a letter from William Harris, chair, Alexandria Commission on Aging, dated June 19.

During the June ARHA Board meeting, Willy Holloway, Ladrey Advisory Board, said that the "bedbug infestation at Ladrey had gotten out of control." Monday night one resident said it was so bad he had to discard his bed.

Also during the June Board meeting, Commissioner Carter Flemming reported that Colby Hatch, supervisor, Adult Services, Alexandria Department of Human Services, had attended the Ladrey Advisory Board's meeting and expressed concern that she had not been able to make contact with ARHA staff on the bedbug infestation. One resident was bitten so severely they sought medical treatment at Inova Alexandria Hospital.

Monday night Miller acknowledged that a contract had been approved for a pest control firm. However, "Today was their first day to operate under that contract," he explained to the Board and residents in attendance.

"There is a meeting scheduled for 10 a.m. this Friday for all interested parties to meet with the pest control firm. That's when they will present their plan for eliminating the infestation," Miller said.

Forty Ladrey units have some level of bedbug infestation, according to Marye Ish, director, Housing Operations, ARHA. "Eight of those have severe problems," she told the Board.

Flemming asked if all Ladrey units had been inspected for the problem. She was assured by Connie Lenox, administrative director, ARHA Development, that "100 percent of the units have been inspected."

Commissioner Ruby Tucker insisted, "We need to do what ever it takes to get rid of these bedbugs." Flemming reported that a second person has been treated at Alexandria hospital recently for bedbug bites.

DUE TO A MINIMAL RESPONSE from professional personnel search organizations, the Alexandria Redevelopment and Housing Authority's (ARHA) Board of Commissioners decided Monday night to put their quest for a search firm, to replace former Executive Director William Dearman, on hold until at least their August meeting.

Meeting in executive session following a report given to them by Board Vice Chair Carlyle C. "Connie" Ring, Jr., who is serving with Commissioner Kerry-Ann Powell as the search firm search committee, the decision was made to suspend the process until they receive an analysis from ARHA's interim executive director, Roy Priest.

"We decided to defer any action and asked for further recommendations on how to proceed from our interim executive director. He will give us a report at the August meeting," Ring said.

"There was no vote on the matter. We merely reached a consensus among ourselves on this course of action," he said.

During his report, Ring told the Board they had received only two definite responses to their Request For Proposal (RFP), even though it had been placed on the National Association of Housing & Redevelopment Organization's Web site and downloaded 57 times.

"The RFP was emailed to nine firms and hard copies were mailed to two other firms. We received only two proposals; one from Gans, Gans & Associates, Inc., and another from Areus Public," Ring told the Board.

"The first has conducted executive director searches for Pittsburgh, Newark, and Baltimore. The second conducted an executive director search for Roanoke Redevelopment and Housing Authority," he said.

Gans proposed a fee of $39,000 plus expenses for the firm's and candidate's travel. Arcus's fee was $20,000 with expenses capped at an additional $5,000, according to Ring.

"The search committee was disappointed that only two firms responded. At this point we have the following alternatives:

Evaluate and contact references for the two respondees and make an award to one; Re-advertise the RFP; Utilize the services of one of the two firms the City has under contract for services; or Conduct our own search as did the Richmond Authority," Ring informed his colleagues.

It was those options the Board took into executive session. They emerged with a fifth option calling for putting the process on hold until the August meeting and the report from Priest.

Dearman officially resigned April 23 after serving as ARHA's Executive Director for 10 years. His last official day was May 20. Priest, a 17-year veteran of the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development, began his interim duties in June.

Prior to Priest coming on board, A. Melvin Miller, ARHA chair, stepped down from the chairmanship to run ARHA on a day-to-day basis until Priest arrived. Priest heads his own consulting firm serving clients in both the non-profit and for-profit arenas.

Miller had predicted that the search for a full-time executive director would not be easy. "There are a lot of people out there with experience as directors of housing, but not many with experience in both housing and redevelopment," he stated last month. He was not expecting a problem in finding an executive search firm.

IN OTHER ACTIONS, the Board voted to approve:

* Additional set-asides for Section 8 Housing

* Authorization for staff to extend or replace the letter of credit pertaining to the Glebe Park Apartments which expires in September

* A contract for "substantial renovations" of the Cameron Valley/Yale Drive townhouses.