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The Top 10 Stories in Alexandria


Compiled by Charles W. Hall
Wednesday, December 25, 1996; Page V01

1. A FIGHT OUTSIDE A summer school session July 3 at George Washington Middle School left Romulo Eric Ardila, 16, fatally stabbed. The suspect, Jimmy Hernandez, 16, was tried as an adult and found guilty of involuntary manslaughter on Dec. 18. The slaying highlighted a growing problem with youth violence and prompted a series of anti-gang initiatives by city officials and residents, including improved recreation programs and more efforts to reach out to the Latino community.

2. TEACHER KAREN Mitsoff was killed March 25 in a murder-suicide by a former boyfriend who had been charged with breaking into her West End condominium apartment. Mitsoff, 52, a teacher at William Ramsay Elementary School, had lived with Fasseha Senbet, 40, from 1988 to 1989, and they started dating again in 1995. Her death led to calls for tougher measures against domestic violence. The city began giving cellular phones to domestic violence victims.

3. KERRY J. DONLEY (D), 40, was elected mayor, and Republican-turned-Democrat David G. Speck, 51, won a seat on the City Council in a realignment set in motion by the election of former mayor Patricia S. Ticer (D), 61, to the state Senate.

4. ACHIEVEMENT SCORES fell in seven of eight grades tested in Alexandria schools. Scores for third-, eighth- and ninth-graders were below the national average, but school leaders described the drop as mild and expressed confidence in changes in the system intended to raise academic performance.

5. THE ALEXANDRIA Redevelopment and Housing Authority solicited proposals to replace the Berg public housing complex in Old Town with privately owned homes. Residents of the low-income housing complex protested, saying they will be forced out by gentrification. The plan remains under study.

6. TWO DISABLED students were left inside George Washington Middle School for 90 minutes after all other students had been evacuated because of a bomb threat in April. Under a policy enacted for fire emergencies, they were put in a fireproof room but were forgotten while police searched the building.

7. FAULTY REPAIR WORK on a gas main led to an explosion that destroyed a town house on the edge of Old Town. No one was hurt in the July 17 blast, which did $630,000 in damage. Washington Gas took full responsibility and modified administrative and construction procedures.

8. A HABITAT FOR Humanity home near Old Town was razed by an arson fire in July but was quickly rebuilt by dozens of determined volunteers. The house was the fourth in Northern Virginia to be built by the group, an affiliate of 20-year-old Habitat for Humanity International, which has built 48,000 houses worldwide for low- and moderate-income families.

9. DEVELOPMENT OF THE Eisenhower Avenue corridor intensified with the January opening of the new federal courthouse and construction of a Time-Life building. In April, work began on a new Eisenhower Avenue Beltway interchange.

10. DOROTHY MORAN, 5-year-old daughter of Rep. James P. Moran Jr. (D-Va.), made a dramatic -- though still incomplete -- comeback two years after she was found to have cancer in her spinal cord and brain. Her family and doctors said a series of unconventional treatments, including massive doses of vitamins, may have contributed to her improvement.

© Copyright 1996 The Washington Post Company

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