In Ward 8, vigil for Marion Barry moves from mourning to celebrating

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Dana Hall, center, lights a candle during a vigil along Martin Luther King Jr. Ave. SE as people gathered to remember the life of former mayor Marion Barry on Nov. 23. Barry died early that same day. (Matt McClain/The Washington Post)

Though it could be days before an official memorial honors former D.C. Mayor Marion Barry, impromptu gatherings in Anacostia brought hundreds of residents together Sunday evening to dance, sing, shout and pray.

A candlelight vigil began shortly after sunset Sunday at Anacostia’s Big Chair and picked up steam as it went along.

Teenagers leaned on the giant legs of the chair. Babies perched on their parents’ shoulders, peering over the group of Ward 8 residents, who loved Barry so much.

Vigil organizer Damian Bascom passed around a megaphone to speakers who ranged in age from recent college graduates to seniors who remember Barry’s rise to fame.

Hector Rodriguez, 72, was among a small group of Latino residents who yelled “Viva Marion Barry!” Rodriguez worked on Barry’s cabinet when he was mayor. But he also remembered meeting Barry when he “still had his Afro.”

The rest of this article can be found here as it appeared in the B section of The Washington Post.

Dashed streetcar plans spread uncertainty along Columbia Pike, Crystal City corridors

Zulkuf Gezgic, owner of Attila's Restaurant on Colombia Pike, says he doubts another project is going to come to the area any time soon. (Miles Parks/The Washington Post)

Zulkuf Gezgic, owner of Attila’s Restaurant on Colombia Pike, says he doubts another project is going to come to the area any time soon. (Miles Parks/The Washington Post)

By: Patricia Sullivan and Miles Parks

Arlington County’s abrupt cancellation of two long-planned streetcar projects on Tuesday has upended plans to redevelop the Columbia Pike and Crystal City corridors and poses new uncertainty for those interested in transforming the aging neighborhoods, say business and civic leaders.

Some property owners along the congested Columbia Pike strip are now recalculating prices at which they think they could sell, predicting softer demand from developers who had been intrigued by the creation of a trendy streetcar line. Others, however, said they were relieved to hear that the projects were canceled — because they feared streetcars would bring gentrification that could force them out.

Advocates of revitalization, meanwhile, said county leaders must quickly commit to funding other transportation improvements if they want to preserve the corridor’s potential — a commitment Arlington County Board Chairman Jay Fisette (D) promised to make.

“The risks have risen significantly for those who want to invest,” said Takis Karantonis, executive director of the Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization. “There is no credible transportation proposal in the works. So we find ourselves in limbo.”

Zulkuf Gezgic, owner of Atilla’s Restaurant on Columbia Pike, put his restaurant up for sale more than two years ago for $275,000. He is still waiting to sell and said he’d now take $220,000 if the buyer was willing to pay in cash.

The rest of this article can be found here as it appeared on page B1 of The Washington Post.

Andrew Schmuhl denied bond in torture, stabbings of McLean couple

The second Springfield lawyer accused of brutally stabbing a McLean couple last week was denied bond Tuesday after new details emerged about the attack that prosecutors have described as a “torture session.”

Andrew Schmuhl, charged with two counts of malicious wounding and abduction by force, appeared at a hearing in Fairfax County.

Prosecutors say he broke into the McLean home Nov. 9 and left homeowners Leo Fisher and his wife, Susan Duncan, with life-threatening injuries. Prosecutors say Andrew Schmuhl was accompanied by his wife, Alecia, who had recently been fired by a law firm where Fisher is managing partner.

The rest of this article can be found here as it appeared in the B section of The Washington Post.

Students jive to Charlie Parker and Count Basie during Montgomery blues program

Montgomery County fifth-graders enjoy a morning of jazz music in the Music Center at Strathmore in Bethesda. (Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post)

Montgomery County fifth-graders enjoy a morning of jazz music in the Music Center at Strathmore in Bethesda. (Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post)

The band’s beats and chords squished together like putty and dangled apart across subtle silence, and 1,600 pairs of little eyeballs widened as trombone tones danced to a Caribbean groove. Children jived and twisted in their seats as notes barreled and swayed around them.

It was 10:30 a.m. on a Wednesday, a time when these children would normally be doing long division or working on comma placement. But this rainy, chilly October morning was different: It was a perfect day for the blues.

Droves of 10-year-olds came to the Strathmore arts center from all over Montgomery County as part of a decade-old partnership with the county’s school system that exposes children to live music at the organization’s massive music hall in North Bethesda.

The live blues program fits directly into Montgomery’s music curriculum, which fifth-graders are working on, said Katherine Murphy, the county’s content specialist for K-12 general and choral music. It aims to expose students to the music and its cultural importance.

“They are learning chord changes and the 12-bar blues form,” Murphy said. “They’re also learning about nontraditionally classical instruments like the drums and the electric guitar.”

The rest of this article can be found here as it appeared on page B1 of The Washington Post.

New D.C. rules on carrying gun in public will be put to legal test next month

U.S. District Judge Frederick J. Scullin Jr. was quick Friday to dismiss a last-ditch request for reconsideration of his July ruling to legalize carrying a gun in public in the District.

Scullin told Andrew Saindon, of the D.C. attorney general’s office, that by the lawyer’s arguments, he was unsure how closely he had read his original decision. The hearing ended in less than an hour. “I think we’ve been through this a number of times,” Scullin said. “The motion for reconsideration is denied.”

After ruling the city’s gun law to be unconstitutional, Scullin gave city officials 90 days to rewrite what had been one of the strictest anti-gun policies in the country. The stay expires Wednesday.

Those officials have complied — grudgingly. The D.C. Council voted unanimously Sept. 23 to put a regulatory structure in place that allows city residents who own registered handguns and nonresidents with a state carry license to apply for a permit to bear a concealed weapon in the District.

D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D) signed emergency legislation into law Oct. 10 that will let people start applying by Wednesday. The emergency legislation is in effect for 90 days, which officials said gives them time to refine the law.

“We really don’t want to move forward with allowing more guns in the District of Columbia, but we all know we have to be compliant with what the courts say,” Muriel E. Bowser (Ward 4), the Democratic nominee for mayor, said last month.

The rest of this article can be found here as it appeared on page B1 of The Washington Post.

Main Street Winter Haven Internal Inquiry Finds No Conflict of Interest

WINTER HAVEN | While Main Street Winter Haven has officially denied conflict of interest allegations involving its executive director in an internal investigation report sent in to the state, a claim in the report has stirred new controversy.

The 12-page report not only denies the claims made to the state in January by Jessie Skubna, co-owner of Jessie’s Lounge, but it also says the board reached out to her to expand on her complaint about Main Street Executive Director Anita Strang having a conflict of interest.

Skubna, however, said she never heard from the committee conducting the investigation.

“(Skubna) declined to respond to our request for additional information,” the committee wrote in the report sent July 17 to the Florida Division of Historic Resources, which oversees the Main Street operation.

The report, issued nearly six months after the complaint was filed, said Skubna did not reply to a letter that was sent to her seeking her comments.

But the letter was sent to the wrong address for Jessie’s Lounge. Jessie’s is located on Third Street Southwest, but, according to the report, the letter went sent to Third Street Northwest.

“I was actually really surprised the board never contacted me,” Skubna said. “I don’t get that. They could have emailed to see if I got (the letter). They could have called. Nothing.”

You can read the rest of this article here as it originally appeared on page B1 of The Ledger.

Courses turn to footgolf to raise revenue

My A1 feature about footgolf, a new sport designed to bring younger players and more revenue to golf courses, was picked up by the A.P. Here’s the story (with great photo from Ernst Peters):

ZACK SHRIVER KICKS A BALL off the tee box while playing footgolf at the largo golf course on Wednesday. the sport, which is akin to golf but played with soccer balls, has brought in a new demographic and more revenue. (Ernst Peters)

ZACK SHRIVER KICKS A BALL off the tee box while playing footgolf at the largo golf course on Wednesday. the sport, which is akin to golf but played with soccer balls, has brought in a new demographic and more revenue. (Ernst Peters/The Ledger)

WINTER HAVEN | Zack Shriver looked out of place.

In a land of bland polos and tan khakis, the 21-year-old sported a red, white and blue jersey and a tattoo sleeve.

He jogged up to his tee in shorts. The noon sun glinted off the grass at Largo Golf Course, but it looked dim compared with Shriver’s neon cleats.

A Budweiser perspired in his right hand as he readied for his first shot. Shriver stepped back, placed the beer on the ground, and then:

BOOM!

A beauty.

He kicked his ball straight down the fairway.

Shriver and his two buddies, Hunter Maricle and Danny George, are soccer players. Shriver plays for Louisberg College in North Carolina, George plays at Florida Gulf Coast University, and Maricle played the last three seasons at Virginia Tech.

The three headed out to the Largo course at about noon Wednesday, at a time when the course would have been empty, said Jason Wilson, the course’s golf supervisor. The three brought their own soccer balls.

In October, Largo began offering a new sport, footgolf, at its city golf course. Footgolf has brought in a new demographic as well as a new revenue stream.

The sport is coming to Polk County and Winter Haven’s Willowbrook Golf Course in August.

“Right now we are the only course in Tampa Bay offering this, but soon we won’t be,” Wilson said. “And that’s almost a good thing, to help the sport grow.”

When asked if he was sure other courses were going to begin offering the sport soon, he said he didn’t have any proof but had a hunch.

“It would be foolish not to,” he said.

The rest of this article can be found here as it appeared on page A1 of The Ledger.