ANC Commissioner Janis Hazel (7D05) has called 68-year-old Raymond Tolson a “neighborhood jewel, a native Washingtonian, and our community’s historian.” Hazel met Tolson at a community meet-up during President Barack Obama’s 2012 campaign, and they have worked together since. A lifelong Ward 7 resident, Tolson is constantly serving his community, whether as secretary of the Central Northeast Civic Association, photographer, or church deacon. However, it is his work with fellow seniors and youth advocacy that keeps him the most active.
The Community Foundation for the National Capital Region (CFNCR) initially leased the building now known as the 6D Substation to the city for a dollar per year. In February 2008, the city renewed the lease for $180,000 per year for three years, with the option to opt out after a year and a half; MPD planned to vacate the property by late 2009. While this did not happen, rumors circulated again in 2010 and earlier this year, when Mayor Vincent Gray and public safety officials broke ground on the new MPD Sixth District Headquarters and Youth Investigations Division in February.
The Washington Post once called Benjamin Thomas an “unofficial mayor of the city,” due to community advocacy work in his Benning Heights neighborhood. “This government doesn’t hear very well,” the Post quoted him, “but I don’t give up very easily.” That was 16 years ago. “I feel so disappointed in what’s going on now,” said Thomas, who will turn 91 this month. However, he is still speaking out against an unresponsive government.
With [Jabari] Jefferson’s academic successes, his parents hope that he will continue changing others’ perceptions of African-American men in Ward 8. “One time Jabari was taking the bus and the police stopped him because he fit the description of a man who broke someone’s window,” said Raquel, Jefferson’s mother. “Luckily he was saved by a witness.” Despite situations like this she and Eric continue show their son that there is more to life than spending time on the street corner. “We hold an open-door policy with our children,” Raquel said. “We’re honest. If there are things he needs to answer for, we talk about it.” Eric agreed and added this piece of advice: “Listen and talk to your kids … We deal with the same issues, but we don’t use it as an excuse.”
While it received support from Ward 7 Councilmember Yvette Alexander, the mural project was at a standstill in the fall. After learning that Mayor Vincent Gray will be making the final decision, Thomas talked to him during MuralDC’s event for their Ben’s Chili Bowl mural. “When I spoke with [Mayor Gray] at the event he said that his people were handling it.” However, according to Thomas, a small group of residents convinced the mayor to block the project. While Mayor Gray is a Ward 7 resident, Lyons stated, “the Mayor doesn’t get involved. This was an anomaly.”
Janis Hazel is upset. A representative for the 7D 05 single-member district (SMD), Hazel noticed that her Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC), 7D, has been accruing extra money over the last few quarters. “We have relatively few expenditures over the years,” she said. “Usually the money is used for office rent and bank fees.” However, she accused the ANC of refusing to spend its allotted money on those few expenses.A look into ANC 7D’s financial records seems to confirm her accusations. The Commission spent $698.22 for office rent during the first quarter of the 2013 fiscal year; in the 2012 fiscal year, it paid over $2,000 in the first and fourth quarters. However, the second and third quarters show no expenses. While her fellow commissioners did not comment on the situation, Hazel’s concerns raise questions about ANC finances.
As the youngest in her family, Sofine Williams says she was last at everything. While her siblings are married with children, she is still single. However, when she opened The Last Shall Be First Consignment Boutique in Ellicot City, Maryland, she became the first in her family to own a business. A year later Williams opened her second store in Historic Anacostia.
Since August 2012, Uniontown Bar and Grill has stood shuttered on Martin Luther King, Jr. Avenue. Once considered an example of Anacostia’s economic renewal, Uniontown was a popular hangout for community members and visitors until unpaid rent and legal troubles forced it to close. The closing was a major setback for a community in transition, but news of potential bidders gave community members hope. Now that Gabriel Tripodo has signed Uniontown’s lease and has begun the process of obtaining a liquor license, Anacostia residents could soon return to their neighborhood-friendly restaurant.